Sir Keir Starmer is facing a major nightmare after being warned Jeremy Corbyn could split the Labour Party vote if he runs to become the next Mayor of London. Mr Corbyn is being urged by his supporters to stand as a Left-wing independent candidate in the next London mayoral election in 2024. He could potentially emulate former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, who failed to win the Labour nomination for the mayoral elections in 2000 but famously stood as an independent and won.
But there are fears Mr Corbyn’s possible candidacy in the London Mayoral elections could inflict a huge blow on Labour’s chances of hanging onto the premier role in the capital.
Sir Keir Starmer’s allies are reportedly fearful of Mr Corbyn mounting a bid to become London Mayor, warning he could split the Labour vote in the 2024 contest and potentially hand victory to the Tories.
Alistair Jones, Associate Politics Professor at De Montfort University Leicester, warned there is a strong possibility of this happening in a move that could see the Labour candidate losing the first ballot.
He told Express.co.uk: “If Corbyn was to run for Mayor of London, it would split the Labour vote. The likelihood would be the Conservative candidate topping the first ballot (but not winning 50% of the vote).
“The question would then be how the anti-Conservative vote is re-allocated. Depending upon who comes second, will Labour voters back an independent Corbyn, or will Corbyn supporters vote Labour? Will non-Labour voters back either Labour or Corbyn? These are the great imponderables.”
But Professor Jones is unsure whether Mr Corbyn, if he were to stand in the contest as an independent MP, would be able to generate enough interest in his London Mayor candidacy.
TYhe politics expert added: “As to even the potential of a Corbyn candidacy, this generates interest in the position of Mayor of London.
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“The problem is, as with many candidates to the Left of Labour or to the Right in the Conservatives, Corbyn is something of a marmite figure: people either love him or loathe him.
“There tends not to be a middle ground. The same could be said of Ken Livingstone and of Boris Johnson. Whether Corbyn is able to generate the levels of support achieved by either of those former mayors will remain to be seen.
“Being outside of the Labour Party means he will need to develop an electoral machine to be able to challenge Labour and the Conservatives. It is not clear whether he could generate that level of support.”
Now key allies of the former Labour leader are confident he could run in the 2024 election, with one telling the Mail on Sunday: “Jeremy would win and plenty of people around him are urging him to do it.”
The prospect of Mr Corbyn running in the mayoral election in 2024 and ultimately winning the contest has triggered a furious reaction from the Conservatives.
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Susan Hall, leader of the GLA Conservatives London Assembly, told Express.co.uk: “It is difficult to imagine what would be worse – another four years of failure under Sadiq Khan, or the horrifying prospect of a Mayor Corbyn. Londoners deserve better than this.”
But former London Mayor Mr Livingstone has thrown his full weight behind a possible challenge from Mr Corbyn, claiming he would be “bloody good” in charge of London.
He told the Mail on Sunday: “I will support Jeremy whatever he runs for. He’s a man of absolute integrity.”
Mr Livingstone has also backed Mr Corbyn to hold onto his Islington North Commons seat as an independent.
The former Labour leader has held the seat since 1983 but is currently barred from standing there again as Labour’s candidate after claiming two years ago that antisemitism in the party was exaggerated when he was in charge.
Mr Livingstone said: “I’m sure he will win if he stands as an independent. Jeremy’s been there for nearly 40 years – he’s incredibly popular.”
Islington North MP Mr Corbyn has insisted his priority is to stand again as Labour’s candidate in his current North London seat where he won with a huge majority of more than 26,000 in 2019.
He said: “I am proud to be the MP for Islington North. The whip was wrongly removed, and it should be restored. So, too, should the rights of Labour Party members to choose who represents them in Parliament.”