James Forsyth

Why Ken is talking up a Mandelson challenge

Why Ken is talking up a Mandelson challenge
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Ken Livingstone has added fuel to the fire that Fraser started with his News of the World column revealing that Peter Mandelson was being talked about as a possible Labour candidate for Mayor of London by saying that he had been warned to expect a challenge from Mandelson. But it strikes me that Livingstone might be engaged in a typically cunning spin operation.

Mandelson is the ideal opponent for Livingstone. He is an establishment figure and so allows Ken to run as an outsider. At the same time, Mandelson doesn’t have the support or connections in the London Labour party that Ken has. In any primary contest against Mandelson, Livingstone could expect to win comfortably.

What Livingstone wants to avoid is a race against either David Lammy or Oona King. Livingstone fears that a race against either of them would be all about race or gender.  And Livingstone, a practioner of identity politics, knows how divisive that could be.    

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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