Not for the first time there’s speculation that Labour’s Alan Johnson might seek the party’s 2016 nomination for Mayor of London.
This time the catalyst is an interview in The House magazine where he says he “thought about” running for the nomination in 2010, decided against it but refuses to rule out standing next time.
Pushers of a Johnson candidacy insist he has a compelling backstory and anyway, it’s all fine because he was born in London.
Personally I find a man who opted not to run for party leader, was rejected as deputy leader and who decided not to run for Mayor when there was a vacancy less than compelling.
And while Johnson was born in London, it’s Hull that he’s been serving in Parliament all these years. I’m not aware of any speech he’s given on London-specific issues. If he has some grand and deeply felt vision for the capital then I confess to being in the dark about it.
So why the possible interest in the 2016 Mayoral race?
The Hull and East Riding gazette suggests he could stand “if he loses his seat at the next general election in 2015, or if he fails to secure a seat after the boundary changes.”
This is known as the Lembit Opik approach to the Mayoralty – when your own party and/or the voters who know you decide to say ‘no thanks’ you pop a couple of hundred miles down the motorway and offer yourself to a new set of voters who know nothing about you.
I can’t be the only London voter who’d like Labour to try a little harder than that when it comes to selecting a candidate?
The next race isn’t going to feature Ken Livingstone and is unlikely to include Boris Johnson.
If Alan Johnson really wants to stand he should decide before the General Election, not seek re-election to Westminster, and spend some time telling Londoners why he’s the man for them.
Londoners deserve better than for parties and politicians to see their Mayoralty as a consolation prize for the rejected, the never-weres and the has-beens.
They already have the House of Lords for that.
Update 17.19: On Liberal Conspiracy Sunny sets out why he thinks Johnson won’t be selected.