Could Sol Campbell be the man to kill off Labour’s recovery?
The Sun reports today that former England footballer Sol Campbell has launched his campaign to become the Conservatives' London mayoral candidate.
Campbell tells the paper that he "wants to give something back" and claims he's "in it to win it".
Politics.co.uk understands Sol held talks with the current mayor Boris Johnson earlier this year to discuss a possible run. The two men met for drinks during the general election and subsequently telephone canvassed together.
A spokesperson for Johnson told Politics.co.uk that Boris wouldn't be endorsing any particular candidate but "welcomes the widest possible field of candidates".
Campbell believes his high public profile and working class background make him the perfect Tory candidate to reach across party lines in London.
On the face of it Campbell's hopes don't seem particularly bright. His inexperience and unpopularity among many London voters means the Tories seem unlikely to turn to Sol. Paddy Power are currently offering 66/1 on Campbell becoming the next mayor of London, which is very good value if you fancy losing some money.
However, Campbell's announcement comes as several other Tory candidates get set to throw their own hat into the ring. Politics.co.uk understands that at least two other Tory hopefuls will announce their campaigns within the next few weeks, with Zac Goldsmith also expected to join the race.
The Sun reports today that Goldsmith will take part in the first Tory mayoral hustings alongside Campbell next month. If true, this would confirm our report last week that he is likely to announce his campaign for mayor within weeks.
However, the hustings organisers tell me that while they have invited Goldsmith, he has yet to reply.
The rush of interest in becoming the next Tory mayoral candidate follows in the wake of the party's better than expected general election performance. Until last month, the Conservatives gave the appearance of all but giving up on next year's London mayoral race. But many Tories now believe that Labour can be beaten again, even in their London stronghold.
With Labour so far behind nationally and in Scotland, next year's mayoral election could be their only chance for a big electoral victory in the next five years.
But while winning City Hall is a big prize for Labour, keeping them out of City Hall would be an even bigger prize for the Tories. Despite winning a number of new seats in London, Labour continue to do badly in London's suburbs. Boris Johnson won twice by getting outer London Tories to turn out to vote, while many inner London Labour voters stayed at home.
If the Tories choose the right candidate, there's no reason why they can't pull off the same trick again. If that happens, Labour's hopes of a post-election recovery would look all but dead.