Would it be better for Miliband if he was?
Back in 2004 Labour’s electoral genius, Tony Blair, took a massive gamble to ensure that his party would win at least one big prize at that year’s local elections. Ken Livingstone, who had first won the London mayoralty four years earlier as an independent, was controversially brought back into the party to be LAB candidate for Mayor.
Nikki Gavron, who had been fairly and squarely selected as candidate months earlier, was stood down and Ken fought for his second term under the Labour banner.
Blair understood the critical symbolism of the London mayoralty and fought off many within the movement, including Gordon Brown, to have Ken as LAB candidate. The plan worked and the local council defeats were over-shadowed by Ken winning for Labour.
We are barely eight weeks away from the 2012 mayoral contest and Ken is entangled with a tax controversy which doesn’t look good in the current economic context. It also does not fit well with Ken/LAB’s positioning on taxing the rich.
However many council seat gains the red team make on the Thursday night it will be eclipsed by the City Hall outcome whichever way it goes. A defeat for Boris will be the icing on the cake.
Conversely CON needs it simply because it would overshadow the drubbing that it is expected to receive at the hands of LAB in many of the other elections that are taking place on the same day.
The polling has Boris with a small lead although YouGov does not filler for likelihood to vote. Amongst those demographic groups most likely to turnout Boris has a clearer margin
The danger is that Ken’s tax news could impact on Labour turnout which would make the party’s challenge even harder.
Could, even at this late stage, a new candidate be brought in? I have no idea but if the Ken tax story develops then the red team might.
If you are betting then lay Ken rather than back Boris.