Today’s Evening Standard reports that Jon Cruddas is winning “high-level backing” to stand as Labour’s candidate against Boris Johnson in the 2012 mayoral election. It’s not hard to see why. Cruddas is an exceptional campaigner with high levels of support among Labour members and the non-aligned left. As someone with an excellent record on working-class and ethnic-minority issues, he is ideally placed to run the capital.
It’s thought that Cruddas will stand only if he loses his Dagenham seat (current majority: 7,605) at the next election, and while there may seem little chance of this at the moment, it would be surprising if he wasn’t tempted all the same.
A Cruddas bid would pose a major threat to Ken Livingstone’s hopes of recapturing City Hall in 2012. While Livingstone will be almost 67 by the time of the election, Cruddas will only be 50.
Despite persistent speculation that Cruddas plans to run for the Labour leadership following this year’s general election, he has already effectively ruled himself out. In a little-noticed interview with Mary Riddell he said:
I’m not interested in Westminster, or parliament really. [The leadership] doesn’t interest me. There are certain identikit characteristics which a leader has to have, and I don’t have them. I don’t have the certainty needed to do it. I couldn’t deal with it. I have a different conception of how I want to live my life.
The opening words of this passage suggest that Cruddas, a campaigner at heart, does not long to become a great House of Commons man. The more pluralistic environment of London politics would offer him a perfect way out.