Sadiq Khan and Tessa Jowell appear to be neck-and-neck in the running to be Labour’s candidate for the London Mayoral elections next year. But how do their policies compare? Kat Hanna, research manager at the Centre for London, takes a look.
This time tomorrow Labour’s candidate for London Mayor will be confirmed. While it is Corbynmania which has been grabbing the headlines, Centre for London has focused its attention on the Mayoral race. From the first full Labour candidate hustings held back in June, the candidates spent the summer canvassing and campaigning. But it’s been a race that has been largely unremarkable, save from Sadiq Khan’s U-turn on airport expansion and recurring accusations of policy poaching, though of course imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Polls and odds indicate that the final run-off is more or less a dead heat between Sadiq Khan and Tessa Jowell. When it comes to policy, the two are equally close, with a handful of meaningful policy differences between them. In order to save Londoners the trouble, we’ve set out their policies alongside one another in the table below. It is by no means exhaustive — the candidates having put out press releases on a near daily basis over the summer — but covers a range of main policy areas including housing, transport and the environment.
There a few observations to be made here.
Both sets of policies are strikingly similar, especially where housing is concerned. One may suggest that both candidates have sought to address as wide an electoral base as possible, making the right noises about foreign buyers and rent caps at a time where the party appears to be veering leftwards.
If there is a defining issue to separate the two candidates it is airport expansion. Khan, who backed Heathrow expansion while transport minister, came out AGAINST a third runway at Heathrow in June, expressing a strong preference for expansion at Gatwick. While Jowell has not been unequivocal in her support for expanding Heathrow, that she has not campaigned against the idea of a third Heathrow runway is significant. But let us not forget that while airport expansion has proved to be one of the most contentious issues of the campaign, it is one of the policy areas where the Mayor has the least power to intervene. There is a more nuanced difference in the candidates’ stance on the London Living Wage, with Jowell clearly prioritising a statutory London Minimum Wage rather than the voluntary Living Wage.
While the frontrunners’ policies are close in content, there are areas where Jowell’s policies appear further developed. She has produced a series of ‘mini-manifestos’, covering issues including cycling, women and apprenticeships, setting out proposed initiatives in more detail. It could be that declaring earlier in the Mayoral race and having stood down as an MP, has allowed her greater time to formulate policy positions and flagship initiatives.
Labour Londoners may have found themselves voting based on the content of character as much as the content of manifestos. This is perhaps unsurprising given personality politics of previous Mayoral elections. With Zac Goldsmith himself somewhat a London political celebrity — and likely to win the Conservative nomination — the 2016 election looks set to be a battle of the big names, whoever triumphs tomorrow.