David Lammy has declared his interest in being Labour's London mayoral candidate. Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

David Lammy launches his mayoral bid: what does this mean for his rivals?

Labour backbencher and Tottenham MP David Lammy is the first politician to declare his wish to be Labour's London mayoral candidate.

The Evening Standard is reporting that David Lammy has launched his campaign for the London mayoralty. In an interview with the newspaper’s editor, he said, “the kind of mayoralty that I want is one that extends opportunity to all Londoners . . . At its best this is a city of opportunity, as it was for my parents. But I worry whether that prosperity is now available to everyone.”

It has long been expected that the Labour backbencher and Tottenham MP would run to be a candidate for the mayoralty. However, this is the first formal bid for the role among the Labour politicians thought to be lining themselves up for the job. As my colleague George Eaton reported last month, Lammy has been gearing up to break the “unwritten agreement” between Labour hopefuls “to postpone their bids until after the general election”.

With that truce broken by Lammy today, a very early declaration ahead of the party’s conference in a fortnight, what does this move mean for the other hopefuls?

Lammy – who knows he is not the favourite for the post, being less of a high-profile, senior figure than others reportedly in the running – now has a big head-start. He is a backbencher, and therefore simply has less to do in parliament ahead of 2015 than some of his rivals. For example, shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan – who often polls as the favourite – has his frontbench duties to concentrate on, which is partly behind him waiting to announce his bid, though it is widely known he is likely to stand. He also must focus his efforts on Labour's election campaign, as a senior figure in the party, and someone close to its leadership.

Then there’s Margaret Hodge – chair of the Public Accounts Committee – who may be waiting to see whether or not Labour wins the general election. If it does, she could be in line for a ministerial post, considering how much of a positive profile she’s gained from her committee chairmanship. Although she said to my colleague Caroline Crampton this time last year, “I’m not trying to climb any greasy pole any more”, she did admit, “I’ve got lots of ambition”.

Tessa Jowell, the veteran Labour frontbencher who resigned from the frontbench in 2012, is the frontrunner. Perhaps her popularity in the polls and position as a heavyweight political figure mean she can afford to wait to announce her bid.

One hopeful who is likely to follow Lammy’s lead and make an early declaration is Diane Abbott, the MP for Hackney who was reshuffled from the frontbench last year. She surprisingly topped a poll as Labour’s favourite for London mayor this summer and may want to work fast to keep that momentum going.

But now the battle to succeed Boris is officially underway, it may be difficult for all these hopefuls to hold their nerve up until May 2015.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

Getty
Show Hide image

As Donald Trump once asked, how do you impeach a President?

Starting the process is much easier than you might think. 

Yes, on Friday, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. And no, you can’t skip the next four years.

But look on the bright side. Those four years might never happen. On the one hand, he could tweet the nuclear codes before the day is out. On the other, his party might reach for their own nuclear button – impeachment. 

So, how exactly can you impeach a President? Here is our rough guide.

OK, what does impeachment actually mean?

Impeachment is the power to remove an elected official for misconduct. Here’s the relevant clause of the US Constitution:

“The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Impeachment is actually a legacy of British constitutional history, and dates back as far as 1376, but according to our own parliamentary website, in the UK “this procedure is considered obsolete”. 

It’s up to the US Congress to decide whether to impeach and convict a President. Both houses are controlled by the Republicans, so impeaching Trump would mean turning against one who is – technically at least – one of their own. Since he’s already insulted the neighbouring country, supported discrimination against Muslim immigrants and mocked a disabled reporter, their impeachment threshold seems pretty high. But let’s imagine he surpasses himself. What next?

The impeachment process

Members of the House of Representatives – the lower chamber of the Congress – can start the impeachment process. They in turn may be encouraged to do so by voters. For example, there is a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to people who tried to impeach Barack Obama. One Impeach Obama supporter simply gave his reason as stopping the President from “pushing his agenda”. Another wanted to do so on the grounds of gross incompetence...

But for an impeachment attempt to actually work, the impeacher needs to get the support of the house. If a majority agree with the idea of impeaching the elected official, they nominate members to act as prosecutors during the subsequent trial. This takes place in the Senate, the upper house of Congress. In most impeachments, the Senate acts as judge and jury, but when a President is impeached, the chief justice of the United States presides.     

Two-thirds of the Senate must vote for impeachment in order to convict. 

What are the chances of impeaching Donald Trump?

So if Trump does something that even he can’t tweet away, and enough angry voters email their representatives, Congress can begin the process of impeachment. But will that be enough to get him out?

It’s often assumed that Richard Nixon was kicked out because he was impeached for the cover up known as the Watergate Scandal. In fact, we’ll never know, because he resigned before the House could vote on the process.

Two decades later, the House got further with Bill Clinton. When it emerged Clinton had an affair with Monica Lewinsky, an intern, he initially denied it. But after nearly 14 hours of debate, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives decided to impeach him on grounds including perjury and obstruction of justice.

In the Senate trial, Clinton’s defenders argued that his actions did not threaten the liberty of the people. The majority of Senators voted to acquit him. 

The only other Presidential impeachment took place in 1868, when President Andrew Johnson, removed a rabble-rouser from his Cabinet. The guilty vote fell short of the two-thirds majority, and he was acquitted.

So, what’s the chances of impeaching Trump? I’ll leave you with some numbers…

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.