Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
November 2022, Virtual
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
I want to shift focus from national politics in this column and take a look at London.
The Westminster circus is poised to get back into full flow as the political class decamp for conference season to Glasgow, Brighton and Manchester – but something interesting is happening back in the capital, too.
What I want to sketch out is the battle that is beginning to take place within Labour for who will be nominated as the party candidate in the London mayoral election.
Infrastructure matters to business travellers and, if there is any political role that is wrapped-up in infrastructure, it is that of the London mayor. Relatively lacking in power in comparison with other mayors of global cities, Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson in the past have used their control of Transport for London and their ability to command media attention to create and influence the infrastructure the capital needs to compete. Think ‘Boris Island’ or Crossrail 2 and you get the idea of the type of projects that the mayor can promote and lobby for.
If Boris doesn’t run again then the next election in 2016 is likely to be the first without an incumbent running, and Labour thinks it has a real chance to take back what it views as a ‘Labour city’. This means the selection battle is important and features some relatively big beasts limbering up.
First off, we have Ed Miliband’s close ally, Sadiq Khan MP, the campaign manager who helped put the Labour leader in position, and current shadow Minister for London. A former Minister of State for Transport (albeit cut short by the 2010 General Election defeat), incumbent at the formal introduction of the High-Speed 2 (HS2) project, he has to be seen as the front-runner as he will presumably get the leader’s backing at some point.
Second, we have Tottenham MP David Lammy, a London politician through-and-through. He is a former minister who gained stature from his response to the London riots and is the leading Labour advocate of Crossrail 2. Where he stands with regards to airport capacity remains to be seen.
Tessa Jowell MP, the minister who oversaw the Olympic project and, as such, has unparalleled political experience of infrastructure delivery, is also weighing up whether to throw her hat into the ring. The Blairite amongst the candidates, she would be the runner that attracts the New Labour gang to her banner.
Stella Creasy MP is also rumoured to be considering taking a crack at the nomination. The 2010 intake MP for Walthamstow is creating an impressive profile for herself. Unencumbered with a big job, she can rove around and get stuck into issues where she sees fit.
The best-placed to talk about infrastructure is our final candidate here, Lord Adonis. A former Transport Secretary and arch-proponent of HS2, he is a bona fide policy-wonk when it comes to transport-related infrastructure. Already he is touring Constituency Labour Parties, talking about life after Boris – a sure sign of someone preparing the ground for a tilt at the candidature.
So, while all the cameras are focused on conferences and reshuffles, we should keep an eye on the Labour ranks within London, and on the positions that those seeking the nomination for London mayor are taking on the big infrastructure questions facing the capital.
Gareth Morgan is a political lobbyist and director with Cavendish Communications (www.cavendishpc.co.uk). He is an advisor to the GTMC.