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Margaret Hodge Says Being London Mayor Would Be 'Fantastic', But Will She Decide To Run?

"Lots of people are asking me to stand," Margaret Hodge says. But what will be the point at which the chair of the public accounts committee and terroriser of tax avoiders makes a decision?

A YouGov survey this week suggested Diane Abbott was the favourite among Labour supporters to be the party's candidate for mayor of London in 2016.

None of the likely big beast candidates have officially declared. Tessa Jowell has been seen as the frontrunner and is still probably the one to beat, but the survey might shake the shadowboxing up a bit.

Abbott secured the support of 17% of those asked. Jowell was backed by 14%, David Lammy followed on 9%, Sadiq Khan got 8%, Doreen Lawrence got 6% and Andrew Adonis got 5%.

Interestingly around 25% of Labour supporters did not know who they wanted to be the party's candidate and 14% said they did not want it to be any of the names listed. Those figures could give encouragement to one possible candidate not listed in the poll - Margaret Hodge.

The Barking MP, who helped see off the BNP in 2010, has stayed quite tight lipped in public about whether she will try and succeed Boris. She told me rumours circulating this week, perhaps designed to smoke her out, that she was about to announce her candidacy were "rubbish" and "not true".

But she left herself a whole load of wiggle room for a future announcement. "Lots of people are asking me to stand," she breezily admitted. "It would be a fantastic job." Why are people asking her to stand? "I've got some attributes and some experience."

However Hodge insisted that she had "more than enough to do" at the moment in her job terrorising ministers, civil servants, businessmen and tax avoiders as chair of the public accounts committee. She might be "focused" on the PAC but she doesn't pretend it hasn't crossed her mind. "I'm not going to decide at this point," she said.

When that point would be Hodge did not say. But it might have a lot to do with how likely it is she thinks Ed Miliband will become prime minister in May 2015.

Hodge, who has been a London MP since 1994, has used her job on the PAC to give her a significant public profile and a place in the BBC's most powerful 100 women. But if Miliband wins the election she'll have to give it up, as the chairman of the committee is selected from the Opposition. A run at City Hall may appeal more than a return to the backbenches.

If David Cameron gets back into Downing Street, Hodge may be more than happy to stay on at the PAC in a job she told The Huffington Post she feels gives her more power than she had as a minister.

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