London mayoralty becoming a contest: Oona King leads almost 2-1 among MPs

Oona King, who is seeking Labour’s mayoral nomination, will tomorrow announce she has the backing of at least eleven London Labour MPs – almost double the number who support her rival, Ken Livingstone.

Livingstone’s support among London MPs has risen only gradually – from four to six – since he formally declared his candidacy more than two weeks ago. But King’s team is hopeful of several more names over the next few days and is looking to get more than half the 38-strong London parliamentary party.

Tomorrow’s announcement, at an event in Westminster, is the latest sign that Oona wants to make it “game on” with Ken. Quite a serious team, including a number of former Labour policy advisers, has been assembled.

As far as I can tell the MPs are Siobhain McDonagh (Mitcham & Morden), Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar & Limehouse), Stephen Timms (East Ham), Margaret Hodge (Barking), Joan Ruddock (Lewisham Deptford), Mike Gapes (Ilford South), Heidi Alexander (Lewisham East), Stella Creasy (Walthamstow), Andy Love (Edmonton), Rushanara Ali (Bethnal Green and Bow) and one other (I had thought it was Teresa Pearce, but she says she’s neutral.) None is as big a name as Ken’s latest backer, Jon Cruddas – but they may make up for that in numbers.

Unlike in the national leadership election, MPs’ votes will have no special weight  – but the fact they have, so far, gone almost two-to-one for King is pretty significant. It signals the deep concerns the party’s election-winners have about Livingstone’s ability to perform the same feat.

It also signals that MPs feel King is a competitive candidate (otherwise why bother hacking off Ken?) All she needs now is a few policies…

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