Little more than a week after both were selected, Labour Mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan has used an interview with the Sunday Mail to savage party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
This is a surprising intervention, given that Khan was one of the MP’s who nominated Cobyn and spent months successfully wooing his supporters, allowing him to overtake mayoral frontrunner Tessa Jowell.
His ambition is simple – to escape the 5 years of opposition now facing the party because of the lacklustre general election campaign spearheaded by him and former leader Ed Miliband by moving to City Hall next May.
And it seems nothing is to be allowed to get in the way of that ambition.
During Corbyn’s victory speech he referred to Khan as his “great friend” and pledged to campaign alongside him in the fight to win back the mayoralty. The look on Khan’s face as he listened did not come close to resembling his justifiable look of glee just 24 hours earlier when he scored a resounding victory in the mayoral selection.
He knows that an association with the hard left will not help him win back the thousands of normally Labour minded voters who backed Boris over Ken in 2012.
That’s why, with the votes now counted in his favour, Khan has suddenly discovered Corbyn’s links with Palestinian terror groups and decided that they’re a risk to London’s cohesion.
In distancing himself from the leadership, Khan is clearly hoping to associate himself with Boris and Ken’s reputations as rebels willing to take on their own parties when it’s right for London.
But all he’s achieved today is to piss off many of those who backed him just a few days ago or might have campaigned for him without making himself any more desirable to segments of the party unhappy at his and Corbyn’s victories.
Stomach-churning sycophancy towards royalty by @SadiqKhan in today's Mail on Sunday….Really puts me off campaigning for him next year….
— Danny Daly (@Rebels4Ever) September 20, 2015
Sadiq Khan taking a big risk attacking Corbyn. Some will vote Galloway and could let Goldsmith in.
— Susan (@marthasydenham) September 20, 2015
Since Khan was selected I and other London journalists have heard from a host of Labour figures at all levels in the party identifying a Khan loss next year as the most justifiable way of tipping Corbyn out of the leader’s office.
Many figures are already looking for excuses not to be around when Khan needs backup at campaign events and fundraisers in the hope that their inaction will help ensure Zac Goldsmith (should the Tories pick him) succeeds Boris Johnson.
Now Khan’s Mail interview risks costing him support from the party’s left wing, further reducing his chances in the mayoral contest and making it easier for his Tory opponent to cast doubt on his judgment and reliability.