Sadiq Khan has been given a new role in Labour’s election campaign, running a unit charged with dealing with the threat from the Green Party over the next seven months. The New Statesman’s George Eaton reveals that Khan has been handed the job by election co-ordinator Douglas Alexander.
The Tooting MP’s previous stint as chair of Liberty, the civil liberties campaign organisation, means he is widely considered as well-placed to recapture socially liberal voters lost during the New Labour years. With lots of recent attention being given to how to regain voters lost to UKIP, there are private worries than any rightward shift in policy designed to counter the UKIP threat could result in losing some voters to the left. The Greens are heading into next year’s election with a policies including a higher minimum wage than Labour are proposing, and renationalisation of the railways, which also goes further than Labour’s plan.
The Green Party are currently considering legal action to force their way onto televised leaders’ debates next year, after proposals from broadcasters released this week did not include a place for Green leader Natalie Bennett. Their hope will be that Bennett could have the same “unknown” factor that Nick Clegg benefited from in 2010. David Cameron is rumoured to be privately in favour of the getting Bennett on the platform, holding the belief that her inclusion could split the left vote.
What does this mean for a potential Mayoral bid from Khan? There is very limited Green support in Khan’s own constituency, but their support across London is much higher than elsewhere in the country. Fighting off a threat from the left isn’t really an attribute Khan can display in his own seat, but if the Green vote is suppressed in the capital, then it is likely he will use it as proof of his electoral versatility in a selection contest next year.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see what strategy the unit comes up with.