Once seen as the popular choice to replace Gordon Brown as leader of the Labour Party, Alan Johnson was quick to rule himself out of the job last week and back his former cabinet colleague David Miliband.
Now it seems Johnson may soon be in the running for another leadership position — that of London mayor. According to the London Evening Standard‘s Paul Waugh, “Johnson is being urged by pals to run against Boris Johnson”. The next mayoral elections are in 2012 and Waugh notes:
Allies of the former home secretary would love to see a “Johnson v Johnson” contest and believe their man is the type of big figure needed to knock out Boris.
A skilled media performer, AJ’s easy charm and quick wit would ensure a mouth-watering clash with Bojo. But he also has impeccable Londoner credentials.
Born and bred in Notting Hill when it was an impoverished collection of tenements rather than the Cameroonian haven it is today, he was brought up by his teenage sister after his mother died. He then became a London postie — and can still remember the streets he pounded across the city — before rising to become leader of the postal workers’ union and then an MP.
It’s a tempting prospect for any would-be Labour candidate. Not only would you oversee a £3bn budget and inherit the Olympics, you would also become (bar a premature collapse of the Lib-Con coalition) the most powerful Labour politician in the land.
So will it be BoJo versus AJ in two years’ time? It’s an intriguing prospect.