Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

Runners and riders

Lewis Baston profiles the candidates in Labour’s London mayor candidate selection

Diane Abbott has been member of parliament for Hackney North and Stoke Newington since 1987, when she became the first black woman ever elected to parliament. Before being elected she was a civil servant and a broadcast journalist. Although she did not take ministerial office, she has served with distinction on the Treasury and foreign affairs select committees, and contested the Labour leadership in 2010.

Tessa Jowell is the most experienced of the candidates, having been MP for Dulwich from 1992 until 2015. She was also a Camden councillor and parliamentary candidate for Ilford North in the 1970s. She was secretary of state for culture, media and sport 2001-7 and oversaw London’s successful bid for the 2012 Olympics. She was minister for London 2007-8 and continued to be Olympics minister throughout the Labour government.

Sadiq Khan has been MP for Tooting since 2005 and was a minister of state in Gordon Brown’s government before joining the shadow cabinet shadowing the Ministry of Justice (adding shadow minister for London in 2013). His professional background is as a solicitor specialising in human rights matters, and he was chair of Liberty for three years. Between 1994-2006 he served on Wandsworth council.

David Lammy has been MP for Tottenham since 2000; he served very briefly as a London assembly member in 2000 before he was elected MP. From 2001 to 2010 he served in several ministerial positions including a period working with Tessa Jowell in the culture ministry in 2005-7. His career is an example of aspiration in action – from a tough background in Tottenham to Soas and Harvard law schools and a pre-politics career as a barrister.

Gareth Thomas surprised many people by becoming Harrow West’s first Labour MP in 1997; he has held the seat since in good times and bad. He worked in several ministerial roles on international development and trade during the Blair and Brown governments. He has been chair of the Co-operative party since 2000.

Christian Wolmar is a journalist whose particular specialism is public transport issues. His emphasis is on housing and transport and the need to make London streets safer and more liveable by taming the dominance of the car. He was a strong critic of rail privatisation and opposes the construction of High Speed Two.


Lewis Baston is a contributing editor to Progress


Photo: Aigle Dore

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Lewis Baston

is senior research fellow at Democratic Audit and author of the Progress pamphlet, Marginal Difference

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