It was the slightest of slight leads for Lammy – a mere 1% of party supporters – but his campaign took it as evidence that their guy was finally breaking through and headlined that week’s campaign newsletter with news of his “momentum”.
Though they seldom engage with me, I’m told by colleagues in other outlets that Sadiq’s camp were keen to play down his slippage into third place as a mere blip contradicted by the reaction to his campaign among actual party members and registered supporters.
That’s a wholly reasonable line to take – there’s a lot of positive social media noise for Khan, some big names have endorsed him, pollsters have got things spectacularly wrong before and Lammy’s lead was as thin as a wafer can possibly get.
But today a survey – not a scientific, weighted poll – conducted by LabourList suggests both that the Tooting MP isn’t making the progress he needs to win and that rivals are catching up with him.
In July a survey for the site put Khan in second place with the support of 18% of respondents – 17 points behind Jowell. This month his rating is 23% – up 5 points – but he’s now tied with Diane Abbott whose support has shot up by 11 points.
This echoes the Standard’s July YouGov poll which showed just a 2% increase in support for Khan but a 7% increase for Lammy.
It would be ridiculous to write off Khan’s chances based on one poll and one very unscientific survey and it’s entirely possible the next Standard poll – which should come out soon assuming they’re running them monthly – will return him to a clear second place.
But there is now a credible prospect that a man who started the race as a “front runner” could find himself not only not winning but finishing third.
I’d suggest one reason for the growth in support for Lammy and Abbott is that Khan has largely targeted Jowell rather than spreading his fire equally on all of his rivals.
At the Standard’s hustings earlier this week he was happy to nod along as Lammy derailed Jowell with a series of assaults on her role in bringing in fixed odds betting machines.
Instead of encouraging Lammy, Khan could have scored a serious hit by pointing out that the Tottenham MP also voted for the Bill which allowed the introduction of the very machines he now complains blight his local high streets.
Khan wasn’t an MP at the time and so has genuinely clean hands on this. But by firing solely on Jowell and then endorsing other candidates’ attacks on her, he lets other would-be Mayors get away scot-free.
They also have records to defend and his failure to hold them to account risks costing him dearly.