The site suggests that Tory HQ want to offer a shortlist – already announced as only having two or three names on it – which represents London’s diversity. This approach is almost certain to ensure the inclusion of Phillipa Roe and Syed Kamall alongside Zac Goldsmith.
I’ve never met Roe or Kamall. Nothing I say below is a criticism of them or what they could bring to City Hall. But like Conservative Home I strongly believe Stephen Greenhalgh deserves a place on the Tory shortlist.
Just as it was right that Labour ensured Christian Wolmar, the only non-MP seeking that party’s nomination, got a hearing, so it’s right that Stephen Greenhalgh gets the opportunity to put his message to party members and supporters.
He doesn’t have the star power of Zac Goldsmith and his selection doesn’t almost guarantee victory over any Labour rival not called Tessa Jowell. But if the Tories only want hear from a candidate who polls suggest is joint-favourite to win next May, why bother having a selection at all? Why not just anoint Zac and get the campaign underway?
While Stephen may lack Zac’s fame and built-in cross-party appeal, he has something no other candidate can boast: executive experience within City Hall.
As Boris’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime he’s overseen a period of major and important structural change in the Met.
He’s led the way in providing political cover for the Commissioner to close down under-used police stations to protect the frontline, and he’s personally overseen the process of selling off those now empty buildings, setting tough rules on their disposal to ensure taxpayer value.
And more importantly he’s genuinely passionate about ensuring this vital public service looks like the London it serves and respects the Londoners who rely on it.
Of course, he’s got things wrong during his three years on Boris’s team. His first appearance before the Assembly was a disaster and, in my view, he was utterly wrong to agree to the Met’s request for water cannon and he bungled the sale of the Met’s portfolio of residential properties.
But with the Labour and Tory selections packed with non-City Hall figures, Greenhalgh is the lone voice of experience among next year’s likely victors. Only he knows how the apparatus of the Mayoralty works and, having sometimes learnt them the hard way, its limits.
The Mayoralty was never intended as just a star vehicle – it’s an elected office with oversight of billions of pounds of public money and responsibility for the world’s biggest public transport network and the strategic direction of one of the largest police forces in any democracy.
London’s Tories can show they understand that by ensuring members and supporters get the chance to tick a box next to Stephen Greenhalgh’s name.