Tom King, BA Politics
SOAS alum and Tottenham MP David Lammy has announced his intention to stand to be Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London in 2016.
Lammy, who served as a higher education minister in the last Labour government, will seek to replace Boris Johnson on a platform of extending opportunity to all Londoners. He is the first major candidate to declare his candidacy but is likely to be joined by former Olympics minister Dame Tessa Jowell, shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan and leftwing backbencher Diane Abbott in the race for Labour’s nomination.
The party will select its candidate next year in a US-style closed primary, in which Labour-supporting Londoners will get the chance to vote. In a Yougov poll of Labour voters conducted over the summer, Hackney MP Diane Abbott came out top; with Lammy trailing in third place with the backing of just nine per cent.
Graduating from SOAS in 1993, Lammy went on to become the first black Briton to attend Harvard Law School, where he became friends with a young Barack Obama. He first entered British politics as a member of the London Assembly before being elected as MP for Tottenham in a by-election in 2000.
Announcing his candidacy, Lammy described himself as “in the centre of British politics” but gave his backing to plans for rent caps and higher council tax bands for more expensive homes. However, he opposes plans for a ‘mansion tax’ on houses worth over £2 million as a “tax on London”.
To date, potential Labour candidates have been reluctant to come forward before next year’s general election, but Lammy says it is now time for people to make their intentions known. “I don’t think anyone really believes my decision to throw my hat into the ring for London will swing the next General Election.” he said.
“I believe it is important to be honest. The converse is being dishonest.”
Outsider Christian Wolmar, a transport expert, was the only declared candidate before Lammy’s announcement.
The current London Mayor Boris Johnson intends to stand for Parliament next year while remaining in office at City Hall for the remainder of his term. Lammy said Johnson risked becoming a “lame duck Mayor” as a result and has pledged to quit Parliament if he is picked to be the Labour candidate.
“My feeling is that you can’t be Mayor with the responsibility for all Londoners and have the conflict of your own constituency. You can’t do both jobs and I think that’s the pickle Boris has got himself into.” he said.
If elected, Lammy, one of five children to immigrant parents, would be London’s first black mayor.