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22 May 2015

Who’s who on Team Sadiq

The Labour London mayoral candidate's team includes Heidi Alexander, Marcus Roberts and Polly Billington.

By George Eaton

After launching his long-expected London mayoral bid nine days ago, Sadiq Khan has quickly gained momentum in the race to win the Labour nomination. The former shadow justice secretary and Tooting MP won the backing of past rivals Ken Livingstone and Oona King earlier this week and the support of City businessman Rajesh Agrawal, the chief executive of RationalFX, who is advising him on economic policy. In an article on Monday, he appealed to those Jewish voters alienated by Labour, promising to “call out anti-Semitism wherever it arises”, not to be “distracted into using the Mayoralty to offer commentary on foreign policy issues” and to work with all Jewish organisations and charities “to bring our communities together and promote understanding”.

Khan has also assembled a strong team to lead his bid, including:

Heidi Alexander (campaign chair) The popular Lewisham East MP led the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign and was London whip in the last parliament, building close relationships with the city’s other MPs. She previously served as deputy mayor of Lewisham and cabinet member for regeneration.

Marcus Roberts (campaign manager) The former deputy general secretary of the Fabian Society is regarded as one of Labour’s sharpest minds. After serving as field director of Ed Miliband’s leadership campaign he became increasingly critical of his strategy in office, warning long before the election that the party was on course for defeat. At the Fabian Society he authored reports, including Labour’s Next Majority: The 40 per cent strategy and Revolt On The Left: Labour’s Ukip problem and how it can be overcome. Roberts also worked on the Al Gore, John Kerry and Barack Obama US presidential campaigns.

Manoj Ladwa (senior adviser) Ladwa served as communications director on Narendra Modi’s successful election campaign in India last year. He is the founder and CEO of MLS Chase consultants.

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Polly Billington (communications) Billington has been bought in to add experience to Khan’s communications team. The former BBC journalist, who served as a special adviser to Ed Miliband and as head of campaigns at Citizens Advice, was narrowly defeated in the Conservative seat of Thurrock at the election.