Today I was delighted to be one of 11 London MPs supporting Oona King in her campaign to become our Labour candidate for mayor of London.
I’m supporting Oona because she is the best and brightest hope for Labour, for the future and for London. She is a candidate who can rightfully claim to represent the capital in all its diversity. And if elected, she would be the first woman to hold that position. She is someone who represents the new politics we need to embrace. She’ll listen, not harangue; she’ll respond to ordinary Londoners’ needs and aspirations, not to sectional interest and she’ll deliver on the issues that really matter to Londoners, not focus on the narrow politically fashionable debates.
As a former London MP who represented one of the most deprived constituencies in the capital, Oona understands the scale and urgency of the problems we have to tackle. When I worked with her in parliament, she was a tireless campaigner on issues like affordable housing, poverty and inequality. We need a really radical rethink on how we tackle current issues in a new context. For instance, how can we ensure more good housing at a price people can afford in an era when public resources will be constrained? Oona has the energy and intellect to develop new innovative ideas to do this, as well as the ability to bring together different communities and organisations to shape policy.
I know that Oona is also really committed to reconnecting the mayoralty with people in the outer London boroughs who for too long have felt neglected. The failure to connect with communities in the outer boroughs has been a real weakness and it would also be fatal to Labour’s chances of taking back City Hall to make this mistake again.
I’ve known Oona for many years and the qualities that make her a good friend, a great communicator, a fantastic local MP and yet a real person would also make her a fantastic mayor. She was an exceptionally hard-working MP whose warmth and empathy enabled her to establish a real connection with her constituents. She is someone who listens and who brings people together.
We don’t want a rerun of the 2008 election – and neither do Londoners. Oona’s campaign is about the future, not the past. I believe she has what it takes to reclaim City Hall for Labour and to be a mayor for all of London.