London mayor

Could Corbyn thwart Sadiq’s mayoral bid?

Is next year’s London mayoral contest a done deal? When the Tories first started the process of candidate selection, the general sense was that they had little chance of taking the mayoralty from Sadiq Khan. However, as the Labour mayor has faced a voter backlash over his support for Ulez (the ultra low emission zone), the race looks closer than previously thought. What’s more, there is one man who could decide it. Step forward Jeremy Corbyn. The former Labour leader – who is currently banned from standing as a candidate for the party – could deny Khan a third term as London mayor if he decides to run as an

Daniel Korski and the lives of others

The news has been coming so thick and fast of late that every week there are dozens of stories we don’t have time to linger over. Major scandals take up all our attention, only to fizzle out or be replaced by new ones. All the while there are little bits of roadkill that are at least as suggestive. Bear with me as I address one such recent fatality. We seem to expect everybody in public life to have the sexual history of an especially devoted nun Daniel Korski was the deputy head of the No. 10 policy unit when it was David Cameron’s turn to be prime minister. Korski quit politics

The real Dick Whittington and the folklore legend

In that dark world the air pulsed with the melancholy clangour of bells. If, as legend has it, the chimes of St Mary-le-Bow told Dick Whittington to turn again, then what were they saying to all the other medieval Londoners, dwelling in houses so crowded on fouled streets that the sun could not break through? In the shadow of implacable plague, even London’s super rich were piercingly aware of life’s fragility. Their homes were scented with lily, lavender and the smoke of applewood. They had to be. The city was a close maze of abattoirs and tanneries and streams sluggish with excrement. Yet here, too, were brightly ornamented religious houses

London’s mayoral election is an embarrassment

Count Binface, a man who claims to be a 6,000-year-old ‘independent space warrior’, is running to be London mayor. In the normal run of things, this sort of joke candidate would get little to no attention – but the 2021 London mayoral contest is not your average election. In fact, it is potentially the worst election of any kind ever witnessed in a liberal democracy. Londoners, desperate for something that has been utterly lacking from all the major candidates, have scoured Binface’s manifesto and found that amongst the joke policies, there are some not half-bad ones in there. ‘No shop to be allowed to sell a croissant for more than

In defence of Shaun Bailey

It’s possible I am alone in not minding about Shaun Bailey’s observations during the hunt for poor Sarah Everard. Before her body was found, he tweeted that ‘as a father and husband it breaks me to think that my wife and daughter have to live in fear in their own city. It doesn’t have to be this way. As Mayor, I‘ll ensure that we are working to deliver for the safety of women and girls in London.’ Was that wrong? We saw last night at that catastrophically mismanaged vigil at Clapham Common that women’s safety is a live issue. The subject of women living in fear was all anyone could talk

What can Laurence Fox hope to achieve with his bid for London mayor?

As if the politics of the Western world wasn’t well past parody already, this weekend sees Laurence Fox throwing his hat into the ring to be London’s next mayor. Before I start making fun of this idea, let’s try and give Mr Fox the benefit of the doubt. The London mayoral contest, which should have been put out of its misery last May, has been dragged into 2021 on account of the coronavirus crisis. The extra year hasn’t made the contest any more inviting to those of us who live in the capital. We still have an incumbent Labour mayor who is a disappointment on every possible level, but who

Will there ever be another Conservative mayor of London?

Even in these strange political times, it looks very difficult for a Conservative politician to become Mayor of London. In the 20 years since the advent of the mayoralty and the introduction of the London Assembly, only Boris – as we all know, an unusual politician – has managed to beat Labour, with successive terms in 2008 and 2012. He succeeded in this by being more popular than the Conservative party in London; a politician, even then, with an independent brand. In contrast, Ken Livingstone was less popular than the Labour party at the time. These favourable winds are unlikely to blow again. On the contrary, the political ructions of

Where’s the outrage over Shaun Bailey’s slur on ‘cheeky’ boys?

Much outrage this afternoon over the Tories’ mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey. In a pamphlet for the Centre for Policy Studies think tank in 2005 on his experiences as a youth worker in West London, Bailey wrote that ‘good looking’ girls in the area ‘tend to have been around’. Since those quotes were published by Buzzfeed, critics have been quick to call out Bailey over his sexist comments. But the question that’s bugging Mr S is: why no similar outrage about what Bailey said about boys? In that same pamphlet, Bailey wrote that the ‘cheeky’ boys are those who are the most likely to have ‘been around’: ‘I say to the

Yes, Zac lost. So isn’t it time to stop bashing him?

It’s easy to see the allure of ongoing Zac bashing. Can there be a pleasure more satisfying for all of us, stuck in our daily work-home, bread-butter routine, than watching a public humiliation of a wealthy tree-hugger, son of a billionaire with ‘a face carved out of caramel by angels’. Let’s kick him while he’s down, and again, and again. What? His brother Ben described him as ‘unstoppable’? Does it mean Zac still wants a career? Let’s kick him so that he never forgets, and never gets back into the public life. Leading the gang of detractors is a wealthy Guardian journalist: Owen Jones. It remains unclear what exactly drives

No Khan do

Let’s try a thought experiment, shall we? If a senior adviser to my old boss, Boris Johnson, had celebrated John Smith’s heart attack, mocked Gordon Brown for talking about his dead son and referred to senior members of the Labour party as ‘scum’, how long do you think that person would have kept their job? Thankfully, however, this particular mini-Trump, the former reality TV star Amy Lamé, was appointed (as London’s ‘night czar’) by a Labour mayor, and her -targets were all Tories, so it’s fine. As, apparently, are Lamé’s years of virtue-signalling on social media for higher spending and taxes while arranging to receive her own City Hall salary

In defence of Zac Goldsmith

I’m baffled by the reaction to Zac Goldsmith’s decision to resign as the Conservative MP for Richmond Park. It is being interpreted, even by MPs on his own side, as an act of opportunism, a chance to rehabilitate himself with the metropolitan elite after his bruising defeat in the London mayoral election. Surprisingly few people seem willing to entertain the idea that he might be acting on principle. Exhibit A in the case for Zac’s defence is the fact that he’s the MP for Richmond Park in the first place. Zac could have applied to be the candidate in any number of safe Conservative seats in 2010 and, given his

Sadiq Khan boosts party morale as Corbyn forgets his lines at PLP meeting

Although Labour MPs have been encouraged not to brief what happens at meetings of the PLP to lurking journalists, Jeremy Corbyn’s team have no issue briefing out what the leader will say at the meeting before it even occurs. Today hacks were told that Corbyn would use the meeting to clampdown on party in-fighting as members are sick of MPs ‘parading on the media to give a running commentary’. However, what he actually said is another story. The Labour leader toned down his prose considerably — presumably in the quest for party unity — even though his harsher warning was already readable online. Despite this slip-up, the meeting was one of

George Galloway’s battle bus lives on to fight another day

With George Galloway predicted to have won roughly one per cent of the vote in the London mayoral election, his dream of becoming Mayor is fading fast. So, barring a drastic recount, the next question to ask is: what will become of his battle bus? Barely a day has gone by in the campaign when Galloway has not been spotted in the bright blue bus touring the streets of London. Happily, Steerpike understands that Londoners can expect to see more of the Respect politician and his vehicle. Rather than return the vehicle, Mr S hears that Galloway now owns the bus and plans to paint it as he requires for his

Tom Goodenough

The Spectator podcast: Erdogan’s Europe

To subscribe to The Spectator’s weekly podcast, for free, visit the iTunes store or click here for our RSS feed. Alternatively, you can follow us on SoundCloud. Has Erdogan brought Europe to heel? In his Spectator cover piece, Douglas Murray argues that the Turkish President has used a mixture of intimidation, threats and blackmail to do just that and throw open the doors of Europe to Turkey. Douglas says Erdogan is a ‘wretched Islamist bully’ who has shown just how the EU works. But in pushing Europe around, is Erdogan now more powerful than Merkel, Juncker and Cameron? And how does the Turkish PM’s resignation this week changed the country’s

I’m not surprised Zac Goldsmith lost – his campaign was a catastrophe

Zac Goldsmith has spent much of the past few weeks telling us that the London mayoral vote ‘will be very close’. But it wasn’t, in the end: he lost by a fairly large margin. Some political campaigns are failures; others are simply tragedies, and Zac Goldsmith’s falls into the latter category. As I found out when I spent some time on the campaign trail with him. The candidate himself is an amiable enough soul, though his thin CV and past business failures scarcely qualify him to stand up as the candidate of enterprise against what he classes as the ‘divisive’ figure of Sadiq Khan. Khan seems dim and slippery and could have been beaten


Jemima Khan distances herself from her brother’s mayoral bid: ‘sad that Zac’s campaign did not reflect who I know him to be’

Following Thursday’s elections, Sadiq Khan is on course to be the new mayor of London, with his rival Zac Goldsmith trailing a distant second. With Goldsmith’s campaign billed as ‘racist’ and ‘divisive’ by critics, the Tories will now need to work out who is at fault for his disastrous mayoral bid. However, while Goldsmith could do with all the friends he can get right now, even his own sister is unimpressed with his efforts. As Khan was crowned mayor, Jemima Khan took to Twitter to congratulate the Labour MP: Congratulations to @sadiqkhan-1st Muslim Mayor of London- a city for all cultures, backgrounds & religions. A great example to young Muslims — Jemima Goldsmith (@Jemima_Khan) May 6, 2016

A toe-curling tragedy

Zac Goldsmith spent almost every day out on the stump during his London mayoral campaign dressed in the formal dark suit he inherited from his father, and had recut on his death in 1997. At least that is what a member of his team told me as I was out observing proceedings one day. I think that detail was offered as a bit of journalistic ‘colour’ to show Zac’s sense of filial duty, but that was the only sense in which his painfully understated campaigning could be said to have owed anything to Sir James Goldsmith’s bombastic, manic style when he ran the Referendum party. Some political campaigns are failures;

May 2016 elections: The Spectator guide

Britain goes to the polls this week, as electoral contests take place in London, Scotland, Wales and across England. They’re the elections which James Forsyth described in the Spectator last week as the ones ‘no one has even heard of’. So what will happen on Thursday night and when will the results be announced? Here’s The Spectator’s run-through of the May 2016 elections: London Mayoral election: Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan go head-to-head in the London Mayoral contest. In 2012, Boris and Ken ran a close-fought race, with Boris getting 971,000 first-round votes to Ken’s 889,918. The relatively small margin between the two meant the result didn’t filter through until

The Spectator podcast: When the right goes wrong | 30 April 2016

To subscribe to The Spectator’s weekly podcast, for free, visit the iTunes store or click here for our RSS feed. Alternatively, you can follow us on SoundCloud. Is crazy all the rage in today’s politics and are conservatives going a little bit mad? That’s the topic for this week’s Spectator cover piece in which Freddy Gray argues that in America and in Britain, the right is tearing itself apart. Whilst Brits might be busy pointing and laughing at Donald Trump, all over the world conservatism is having a nervous breakdown, says Freddy. And the EU referendum is starting to prove that British Conservatives can be as barmy as everyone else.