Labour centrists celebrate a rare victory over Corbynistas
Centre-left candidate Damien Egan won the race to be Labour candidate for mayor of Lewisham.
Labour party members could be forgiven writing off the chances of non-Corbynite candidates in their internal elections.
Earlier this month, Jeremy Corbyn received a major boost when his two favoured candidates were easily elected to a key committee.
Seema Chandwani and Billy Hayes had the backing of Momentum and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy for their bids to sit on the crucial Labour’s Conference Arrangements Committee. That helped them to defeat Gloria de Piero and Michael Cashman, who were supported by Progress and Labour First.
A few months earlier, long-serving Labour member and local councillor Philip Glanville was elected mayor of Hackney after getting the backing of the local Momentum group.
So hats off to Damien Egan who has just won the race to be Labour’s candidate for mayor of Lewisham – even though he was not backed by Momentum and has shown no obvious signs of being a Corbynite.
Egan, a councillor and trade unionist from the centre-left, stood on a "pro-EU, pro-migrant" platform. He saw off a strong challenge from Paul Bell, a vocal Corbyn supporter who had the backing of Momentum and the GMB.
It means that Egan starts next year’s contest as the red-hot favourite to replace Sir Steve Bullock, who is retiring.
As the result came in, Bullock - who voted for Owen Smith in the 2016 leadership contest - gave Egan the thumbs up. "He has the ideas, dedication and skills needed in these times to lead Lewisham - I look forward to working with him," said the man who has been mayor since 2002.
The result was also hailed as "brilliant news" by Richard Angell, director of the Progress campaign group which has traditionally been supportive of Tony Blair and New Labour.
And it was greeted enthusiastically by the centrist and centre-left Labour MPs Steve Reed, Peter Kyle and Heidi Alexander.
Meanwhile, allies of the Labour leader kept their powder dry.
Photo credit: Press Association.