Good news for the Conservatives! There will be a member of Parliament in the race to become their party’s candidate for the London mayoralty. Bad news for the Conservatives! That member of Parliament is Andrew Rosindell, the Conservative MP for Romford.
Predictions are often a mug’s game, but getting them wrong is also a useful learning point, so it’s in that spirit that I make this one: a Rosindell candidacy guarantees a landslide result in the London mayoral race. It’s just that the landslide is a Labour one.
If the name “Andrew Rosindell” is ringing any bells it will be because he featured on a racially-charged leaflet for the local elections that warned that a Labour win in Havering would see “the cherished union jack flag” taken down, the borough “ruled by Mayor Khan” and would lose its Essex character and become more like Camden, Tower Hamlets, Barking and Newham. It was condemned not only by Labour and the Liberal Democrats but by CCHQ’s chair, Brandon Lewis, and the senior backbench MP Nick Boles.
To get back into contention in London, the Conservatives need to do three things: cleanse Londoners’ minds of the memories of the dogwhistle campaign they ran in 2016, defuse Heathrow and Brexit as electoral pain points, and do at least a passable impression of not disliking the city they are seeking to run.
Picking Rosindell means switching the dogwhistle for a loudhailer. He is a committed Brexiteer and he voted for airport expansion. And he is on the record having attacked four of London’s boroughs by name. And yes, while all four of those boroughs are Labour-run, they contain with them a number of voters who both prefer to vote Tory and quite like their home borough. Strange things do happen in politics, it’s true: but it is extremely difficult to get people to vote for you if you are on the record insulting the place they live in.
His candidacy would have two major winners: Sadiq Khan, and anyone who is curious to find out what the exact size of the core Conservative vote in the capital is.