The decision by the London Labour Party to re-select Ken Livingstone and the sitting Assembly Members for next year’s GLA elections is hardly the most surprising of developments.
However the ongoing failure by the Tories to select a candidate for the top job is increasingly becoming an electoral liability.
The Londonwide ‘open primary’ announced by David Cameron and Francis Maude was a bold and brave attempt to do something new. Unfortunately the pair failed to think beyond the headlines the announcement would generate, neglecting to consider the consequences of having to select their candidate from a field of political unknowns – exactly the position they now find themselves.
For weeks now Mayor Livingstone and Labour insiders have been making plain their intentions to brand the eventual candidate ‘Cameron’s Second Choice’.
Today’s comments by Len Duvall that:
“whoever is selected as the Tory candidate will be damaged from the start as their leader’s second choice after Cameron’s botched attempt to ditch them.”
are a clear indication of what awaits the ‘lucky’ victor.
The delays to the Tory selection once again put the party in a position where, with less than a year to go, there’s no single face to front their campaign against Livingstone.
For reasons unfathomable to anyone outside Tory HQ selecting a candidate for one of the biggest jobs in British politics is being treated with all the importance of adopting a borough council candidate in a no-hope by-election.
As we’ve argued before, the Tories need to select their candidates sufficiently ahead of the elections that they have a credible chance of building a profile. They need to be properly funded and resourced ahead of a campaign and treated as if they were ‘Leader of the London Opposition’.
Allowing a incumbent, especially one in constant campaign mode, to dominate the stage for the next 6 months is a dangerous decision for the Tories and one which threatens to kill off their campaign before it’s even underway.