Sadiq Khan starts his first day as Mayor today, and has spent more of his weekend distancing himself from Jeremy Corbyn than he has been talking about London. He made a series of pointed references to the need for his party to win elections and that ‘we only do that by speaking to those people who previously haven’t voted Labour’. And the Labour leader didn’t attend Khan’s swearing-in ceremony at Southwark Cathedral due to ‘capacity problems’, which is probably an excuse those in charge of seating in the Cathedral don’t hear that often.
It is clear that Khan doesn’t think there is much merit in appearing close to Corbyn in any way, even now that he has won his election. But what will be interesting is how critical the new Mayor decides to be of his party leader. Labour moderates are hoping that at the very least he will be what one described as ‘another woodpecker at the tree’, chipping away at the party leadership with similar comments to the ones he made over the weekend about the importance of actually winning elections. Some hope he could be a more powerful predator than that, and want to harness him when they do eventually try to launch a coup, something I wrote about in the magazine recently.
The pair will talk before tonight’s parliamentary Labour party meeting - and it will be interesting to see how those MPs opposed to Corbyn’s leadership use their new woodpecker to chip away at their chief.