Jowell is the candidate to beat in Labour's London mayoral race

The frontrunner announces she will stand down as an MP at the next election just days before debating Adonis, Abbott, Khan and Lammy.

Tessa Jowell is leaving parliament but, one suspects, not politics. Her announcement that she will stand down as an MP at the next election is the biggest hint yet that she is planning a bid to become Labour's London mayoral candidate in 2016. 

When questioned on the subject at the Labour conference, Jowell replied: "I am thinking about it and I am sure others [Sadiq Khan] on this panel are thinking about it." She will have been further encouraged by a YouGov poll published last month showing that she is the frontrunner for the post. Asked who would be "the best Labour candidate for London Mayor in 2016?", 21% said Eddie Izzard (who has said that he will not stand until 2020), with Jowell in second place on 17%. Diane Abbott was third (9%), followed by David Lammy (7%), Andrew Adonis (6%) and Sadiq Khan (5%), all of whom have publicly expressed interest in the job. (Although the one officially declared candidate, transport expert Christian Wolmar, was not included.) 

The race will heat up next week (as Adam Bienkov notes) when on Monday evening Progress hosts what is effectively the first hustings (disguised under the title "How can we win a mandate from London in 2015?") with Jowell, Khan, Lammy, Adonis and Abbott all on the panel. Other possible contenders include Oona King, Livingstone’s defeated rival from the last selection contest, and Margaret Hodge, the redoubtable chair of the public accounts committee. 

Jowell is undoubtedly the candidate to beat. She is lauded for her role in bringing the Olympics to London, well liked across the party despite her Blairite politics and, as I've noted, ahead in the polls. But keep an eye on Sadiq Khan. The shadow justice secretary is one of Labour’s most articulate and energetic performers (as he demonstrated again on Question Time last night) and was recently named shadow minister for London, a post that will allow to regularly meet and engage with the Labour activists and supporters who will determine the outcome. Borrowing the metaphor used by Boris Johnson to describe his prime ministerial ambitions, he has remarked: "If I was at the edge of the box and the ball came free and I thought I had the best chance of shooting and scoring, then I might do it. But let’s see if the ball comes free."

Whether "the ball comes free" may yet rest on the result of the general election. "Sadiq might feel duty-bound to serve as justice secretary if Labour wins," one party figure told me, noting that he had held the brief since Miliband’s first reshuffle. For this reason, Labour is likely to delay the selection contest (which will be a closed primary) until after 2015, to avoid candidates’ bids being viewed as a judgement on the party’s election chances. 
 
The (literal) joker in the pack is Eddie Izzard. The stand-up comedian will not run this time (despite leading in the polls) but has pledged to do so in 2020, suggesting that he either expects a Labour defeat or plans to challenge an incumbent. The announcement prompted one Labour MP to refer me to "the curse of Izzard": "He campaigned for the euro and for AV. What could possibly go wrong?"
Tessa Jowell speaks at the Labour conference in Brighton last year. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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There is no mandate for cutting immigration at the expense of living standards

Leave voters were asked if they would pay a price to cut immigration. The answer was clear. 

The Tories are in a mess on Brexit. The nation remains divided. But everyone accepts the need to prioritise reducing immigration, even at the expense of lower living standards.

These are the three key truisms of post-referendum Britain. But it turns out that only the first of those two propositions is actually true. The third, that there is a popular will to lower immigration at almost any cost, is not true at all. The latest poll from YouGov shows that even a majority of Leave voters are unwilling to accept any reduction in their living standards at all in order to curb immigration.

In the era of "fake news", it is important to begin with the facts. YouGov conducted its latest poll on Brexit on January 11 and 12. It found that the nation was indeed split and only marginally changed from the June referendum outcome.  In this poll, 44 per cent of all voters said they would to Remain and 43 per cent said they would vote Leave. This is well within the margin of error (as was the June referendum itself), and there was little recorded movement from one side of the divide to the other.

By introducing the question of immigration the YouGov pollsters made the responses much more decisive, and quite at odds with the received wisdom on the issue. YouGov asked only Leave voters what is the maximum amount of money they would be willing to lose "in order to regain control of immigration". The responses ranged from nothing at all to accepting a loss of over £200 or month per month and all points in between. The clear majority opted for nothing at all. They were willing to make no financial sacrifice at all. 

Remember, this is solely among Leave voters. It cannot be ruled out that some minority of Remain voters are willing to give up income to see immigration. But this would surely be a minority, possibly a tiny one. Therefore, the overall majority of voters, Leavers and Remainers combined are not will to let their living standards fall in order to lower immigration.

This stands in complete contrast to widespread assertions that the narrow Leave win in the referendum was "really" about curbing immigration. Theresa May herself has said that voters gave a very clear message they wanted tighter controls on immigration.  But of course immigration was not on the ballot. We know that popular sentiment is not pro-immigration. How could it be when voters have been told for years that it is the cause of all their woes?

Still, the clear evidence from the latest YouGov poll (and others) is that voters are unwilling to accept any decline in their living standards to achieve lower immigration. This makes it clear that immigration is not the paramount issue. Living standards are, as they usually are.

This has clear implications for all political parties. YouGov’s poll shows us that Labour cannot win by promising to cut immigration at the expense of living standards, which would surely follow any decision to quit the single market. Indeed, 65 per cent of the 2015 Labour voters voted to Remain. Among the minority Labour Leavers, two-thirds would not be willing to see any fall income in order to reduce immigration. The net result is that just 1 in 10 Labour voters in 2015 are willing to cut see their incomes fall to curb immigration.

Labour’s winning strategy will be to focus on its economic programme for government. Our electoral strategy will show people how Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell's economic plan can make the overwhelming majority of people better off. And keep on showing them. The reactionary Tory agenda can only make people worse off.

Diane Abbott is Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, and shadow home secretary. She was previously shadow secretary for health.