Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read blogs from today, on Mandelson, the Speaker and campaign gaffes.

1. Exclusive: Mandelson's favourite to be parachuted into Stoke Central?

The historian Tristram Hunt, a friend of Peter Mandelson's, could be parachuted into the safe seat of Stoke Central after missing out elsewhere, reports the FT's Jim Pickard.

2. My favourite campaign gaffe of the year so far

Liberal Democrat Voice's Mark Pack enjoys the embarrassment suffered by a Tory PPC after she backed a spoof harbour in a landlocked village.

3. Was this the moment Bercow signed his own death warrant?

PoliticalBetting's Mike Smithson says the Speaker, John Becow, is almost certain to face a challenge after preventing the Tories' Theresa Villiers from raising Labour's links with Unite during questions in the Commons.

4. Budget 2010: Housing investment must continue

Over at Left Foot Forward, Jon Cruddas says that the social and economic case for increased housing investment is unarguable.

5. The Times lists itself in arbitrary "five best political websites"

Finally, Political Scrapbook reports that, despite the obvious conflict of interest, the Times has chosen to list itself in a compilation of the "five best political websites".

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Sadiq Khan gives Jeremy Corbyn's supporters a lesson on power

The London mayor doused the Labour conference with cold electoral truths. 

There was just one message that Sadiq Khan wanted Labour to take from his conference speech: we need to be “in power”. The party’s most senior elected politician hammered this theme as relentlessly as his “son of a bus driver” line. His obsessive emphasis on “power” (used 38 times) showed how far he fears his party is from office and how misguided he believes Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters are.

Khan arrived on stage to a presidential-style video lauding his mayoral victory (a privilege normally reserved for the leader). But rather than delivering a self-congratulatory speech, he doused the conference with cold electoral truths. With the biggest personal mandate of any British politician in history, he was uniquely placed to do so.

“Labour is not in power in the place that we can have the biggest impact on our country: in parliament,” he lamented. It was a stern rebuke to those who regard the street, rather than the ballot box, as the principal vehicle of change.

Corbyn was mentioned just once, as Khan, who endorsed Owen Smith, acknowledged that “the leadership of our party has now been decided” (“I congratulate Jeremy on his clear victory”). But he was a ghostly presence for the rest of the speech, with Khan declaring “Labour out of power will never ever be good enough”. Though Corbyn joined the standing ovation at the end, he sat motionless during several of the applause lines.

If Khan’s “power” message was the stick, his policy programme was the carrot. Only in office, he said, could Labour tackle the housing crisis, air pollution, gender inequality and hate crime. He spoke hopefully of "winning the mayoral elections next year in Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham", providing further models of campaigning success. 

Khan peroration was his most daring passage: “It’s time to put Labour back in power. It's time for a Labour government. A Labour Prime Minister in Downing Street. A Labour Cabinet. Labour values put into action.” The mayor has already stated that he does not believe Corbyn can fulfil this duty. The question left hanging was whether it would fall to Khan himself to answer the call. If, as he fears, Labour drifts ever further from power, his lustre will only grow.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.