Margaret Hodge quits the mayoral race. Cui bono?

Written by 3/1 Sadiq Khan on 4 February 2015 in Diary

Labour’s London mayoral race is hotting up with one of the front-runners out of the picture.

Margaret Hodge recently saw her backing from Labour supporters climb from 10 per cent to a substantial 16 per cent. But she today bowed out of the battle to become the party’s candidate to take over from Boris in 2016.

Who will she throw her weight (and potentially thousands of votes) behind now? David Singleton offers a few odds...

Hodge has just told the Standard that “the time is right for us to have a non-white mayor” and many Labour types think that Sadiq is the man she has in mind. After a particularly active Labour conference where he popped up at fringe events left,right and centre, recent polling has shown the shadow justice secretary leaping forward in the support stakes. He is now attracting 19 per cent backing from Labour supporters – and politicians always like to back a winner. He was described by Hodge today as “an assertive fighter” who also has “a good story to tell”.

5/1 David Lammy
First out of the traps, Lammy was chairman of Ken Livingstone's campaign in 2012 and is believed to have the backing of many of the ex-mayor's supporters – not all of whom would be natural bedfellows with Hodge. He has even turned to a trendy PR agency to boost his appeal. But despite the PR offensive, Lammy’s backing recently fell from 17 per cent to 14 per cent. Hodge today gave a somewhat lukewarm assessment of the Tottenham MP, describing him as “a really important symbol” of modern London with “an important back-story to tell”. Yet Lammy appears keen to woo the Public Accounts Committee chair, stating on Twitter today that she is "a great friend, a ferocious campaigner and would have been a formidable mayoral candidate".

8/1 Baroness Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence’s mother could yet enter the mayoral race and is supported by six per cent of Labour supporters. Labour policy chief Jon Cruddas has described the Baroness as "a class act and going from strength to strength". He also said last year: "People in Westminster are -starting to tip her as a potential mayor... Now that is an interesting idea." Hodge is yet to comment on Baroness Lawrence's prospects but sources say that she has long admired the tireless campaign for justice fought by Stephen's mother. Could an all-female Lawrence/Hodge ‘dream team’ herald a new dawn at City Hall?  Stranger things have happened....

20/1 Tessa Jowell
Today’s news will come as a great relief to Team Tessa, who had been worried about Hodge, a fellow Blairite of sorts, eating into their vote share (currently a healthy 20 per cent). Today’s comments suggest that Hodge will not be throwing her support behind the front runner, but has she left the door slightly ajar? The select committee chair told the Standard that Tessa had been “incredibly successful at delivering the Olympics” and would be a “good consensual advocate for London”.

50/1 Diane Abbott
Hodge appeared to rule out anything like support for Diane Abbott, who she said was “the most distant from my own politics”. She is not the only one who is turned off by the Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP. Abbott’s support fell from 20 per cent at the end of last year to 12 per cent in January.

100/1 Christian Wolmar
Asked about transport expert Christian Wolmar, the outsider in the Labour selection race, Hodge replied mischievously: “Who?” Needless to say, Mr Wolmar was not massively impressed. “Pretty juvenile considering known each other for 30 years,” he stated on Twitter today. “Most labour ppl I've met have welcomed outside candidate.”



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