Tessa Jowell, the frontrunner for Labour's mayoral nomination. Photo: Getty Images
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Tessa Jowell secures the backing of more than half Labour's local authority leaders

Tessa Jowell's campaign has recieved another boost with the endorsements of more than half of London Labour local authority leaders. 

13 of the London Labour party’s 21 local authority leaders have endorsed Tessa Jowell’s bid for the party’s mayoral nomination in an open letter to the New Statesman.

The council leaders – who come from across the capital and include the elected Mayors of Hackney, Jules Pipe, and Newham, Sir Robin Wales – highlight Jowell’s popularity. “Labour hasn’t won a general election or a mayoral election since 2005,” the council leaders warn. The party “must start winning elections again, starting with the London mayoral election in 2016”. They describe Jowell as the candidate with “the best prospect of success in that contest”, highlighting a recent poll that found she was the only candidate who polled above Zac Goldsmith, the likely Conservative candidate, beating him by 57 per cent to 43 per cent.

The council leaders have been joined by three Labour group leaders, Emma Dent-Coad, Adam Hug and Alison Moore, who represent the party in opposition on Kensington, Westminster and Barnet councils.

The full letter is below:

Labour hasn't won a general election or mayoral election since 2005. The Labour Party must start winning elections again, starting with the London mayoral election in 2016.

We believe that our work across our boroughs to promote ambition, aspiration, jobs, and growth, together with our support for the most vulnerable in our communities provides a strong base for Labour success. But it's vital that Labour chooses the Mayoral candidate who can reach out to voters across London - and recent polls show that Tessa Jowell would defeat the likely Tory candidate by 57% to 43%.

Tessa will provide the Labour Party with the best prospect of success in that contest. Her One London message represents the values and visions that we share, and she has a record of delivery for Londoners that is unparalleled. We are proud to endorse Tessa as Labour's best chance of winning again in London.

Cllr Jas Athwal (Leader, Redbridge council)

Cllr Julian Bell (Leader, Ealing council)

Cllr Stephen Cowan (Leader, Hammersmith and Fulham council)

Cllr Sarah Hayward (Leader, Camden council)

Cllr Denise Hyland (Leader, Greenwich council)

Cllr Peter John (Leader, Southwark council)

Cllr Clair Kober (Leader, Haringey council)

Cllr Tony Newman (Leader, Croydon council)

Cllr Lib Peck (Leader, Lambeth council)

Mayor Jules Pipe (elected Mayor, Hackney council)

Cllr Chris Robbins (Leader, Waltham Forest council)

Cllr Darren Rodwell (Leader, Barking and Dagenham council)

Mayor Sir Robin Wales (elected Mayor, Newham council)

Cllr Emma Dent-Coad (Labour group leader, Kensington and Chelsea council)

Cllr Adam Hug (Labour group leader, Westminster council)

Cllr Alison Moore (Labour group leader, Barnet council)

 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics. 

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Why Philip Green's fall should bring down the honours system – but won't

Sir Shifty may fall in disgrace, but our ridiculous system will endure. No matter what's happening in the rest of politics.

Sir Philip Green’s Efficiency Review (2010) is his Das Kapital and it is still, happily, online. You can, if you wish, smirk at his recommendations to the government, which were solicited by David Cameron, I imagine, because when he stood next to Green he looked not like a 17th-century woodcut but like a tall, handsome semi-aristocrat.

“There is no motivation to save money or to treat cash ‘as your own’,” Green grumbles, before complaining, “There are inconsistent commercial skills across departments.” I am weeping with laughter at the whole report. But I’m not one of those BHS employees watching their pension ­vanish as the hideous cushions, throws and bedspreads pile up on the Green family yacht Lionheart. I instantly rename the yacht 14-Day Return Policy No More.

The days when Green could write efficiency reviews for people to ignore are gone. It is said that he could lose his knighthood, because that would be exciting and pointless. If so, I hope the ceremony features the formal rending of a garment from the BHS sale bin – perhaps a torn sock will be flung at his head? The Queen will not be happy, because de-knighting makes the ancient system of patronage look as ridiculous as it really is. Do intercessors between man and God make mistakes? Would they raise a man the Daily Mail now calls “Sir Shifty”? (I checked whether there was a Sir Shifty among the knights of the Round Table who flogged the Holy Grail to a passing tinker. There was not.)

Lord Melbourne advised Queen Victoria not to attempt to make her husband, Albert, a king, for if the people knew that they could make kings, they might unmake them. Green will discover this in his tiny way. But the elites should not hide their baubles. One fallen knight will not destroy the system (and I cannot think that Green will take £571m from his Lionheart cushion budget to save his knighthood by replenishing the BHS pension fund, because a knighthood is, in essence, just a tiny Bentley Continental that you wear over your nipple). One fallen knight should destroy the system but it won’t, because human conceit and docility are without end. Green will be shunned. Nothing will change.

One might have hoped that the Brexit vote would have alerted Cameron to the abyss between the electorate and the elected. (Even Alastair Campbell, chomping against Brexit, seemed to forget that he was as complicit in the alienation of voters as anyone else: government by sofa, teeth and war.) The response was glib, even for Cameron, a man so glib that I sometimes think he is a reflection in a pond. Brexit hit him like someone caught in a mild shower without an umbrella. He hummed at the lesson that history dealt him; he hummed as he left his page. It was the hum of the alpha Etonian caught out in a mistake, yes, but it was still a bloody hum.

His next act was to increase pay-offs to favoured courtiers against civil service advice and at public expense; then, it was reported, he nominated his spin doctor Craig Oliver and his former spin doctor Gabby Bertin for peerages, because the upper house needs more PRs. He has learned nothing. I wish him a relaxed retirement in which he will, apparently, write his four-page memoir, David Cameron: My Struggle (sub-subtitle: Eton Mess?). I hope he does not attempt to deny “the prosciutto affair”, because there is no need. It was not true. It was too pure a metaphor.

So the honours system, an essential part of our alienating politics, alongside dodgy donors, duck houses and George Galloway, endures in its worst form as conventional politics fails. It is a donkey sanctuary for political friends and Bruce Forsyth. I am not suggesting that everyone who has been honoured is dreadful – some lollipop ladies deserve to be patronised with an OBE (when there is no E any more), I am sure, and the lords, some of whom are excellent, are the functional opposition now – but the system can no longer be defended by the mirth potential of watching politicians ponder what light-entertainment celebrities might swing a marginal before being posthumously accused of rape. We must find something better before the house burns down. Perhaps a robust parliamentary democracy?

The problem is best expressed by the existence of a specialist consultancy called Awards Intelligence, which engages in “VIP brand-building” by soliciting awards. It sells “awards plans” from £795, which I could well imagine Philip Green perusing as he bobs about aboard Lionheart, were it not too late. The Awards Intelligence website tells us so much, though obliviously, about the narcissism of modern politics that I am tempted to reproduce it in full. But I will merely report that it asks:

"Did you know that you can join the House of Lords on a part-time basis as an Independent Crossbench Peer or a political peer affiliated to one of the main politial parties – even if you have ongoing work, family or community commitments!"

The message from Awards Intelligence, which boasts of a 50 per cent success rate, is clear: the legislature is part-time, it exists to “instil trust, add credibility and provide a platform for you to have your say” – and it can’t always spell “political”.

Sir Shifty and Awards Intelligence do not constitute the worst crisis in the history of honours, dreadful though they are. During the First World War the royal German cousins were stripped of their garters, so that British soldiers would not have to kill men of higher rank. But it is time for the Queen to stop pinning toys on nipples. They are part of a political system sweeping us, swiftly, towards the night.

This article first appeared in the 28 July 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Summer Double Issue