With London’s mayoral election set to go ahead on 6 May, who are the candidates standing to be the next Mayor of London and what issues are they campaigning on?
It goes without saying that bouncing back from the COVID-19 pandemic will be a prodigious undertaking for the next Mayor of London. With the city now amid the vaccine rollout and a Brexit transition, Londoners will select a new leader. Who is up to the task?
Recent polling suggests that incumbent Mayor Sadiq Khan is set to achieve a record-breaking victory. Leading the Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey by 19 per cent, Khan could be the first candidate in the mayoralty’s 20-year history to win the position solely on first preference votes.
This year’s election has a wide field of candidates with more than 15 people having announced their candidacy so far. With three months still to go before Londoners cast their votes – it is all to play for. So who is standing?
Here’s an overview of the highest polling candidates and those also in the running:
Incumbent: Sadiq Khan, Labour
Khan led the capital through a tumultuous year of socioeconomic challenges as the pandemic brought about record unemployment, thousands of deaths, widespread protests, and a Transport for London funding crisis. Having served an extended term of five years, he now seeks re-election.
Notably, economic recovery remains top of mind for Khan. In a recent interview he said he plans to remain focused on creating jobs and attracting tourists back to the capital, as well as supporting London’s creative industries as new EU restrictions hit the sector. In line with his commitment to keep London on track to net-zero by 2030 Khan has emphasized the need for a green recovery that tackles poor air quality and encourages active travel.
Will Khan be able to sustain his lead, or will closer scrutiny of his record have an impact as election day draws nearer?
Shaun Bailey, Conservative
Following Khan’s lead is the Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey, a Member of the London Assembly since 2016 and former youth worker.
So far, Bailey has been focused on tackling crime and ensuring the city is affordable for Londoners. His proposals include investing in policing, youth services and affordable housing as well as promising to work with the government to fix Transport for London’s finances. Bailey’s campaign has been aggressive and controversial on occasion, but his messages seem to be struggling to break through. Can he change that as the race enters its final stages?
Luisa Porritt, Liberal Democrat
The youngest candidate in the race at 33 years old, Porritt is a former journalist. She was selected as the party’s candidate following Siobhan Benita’s withdrawal from the race.
Porritt is an advocate for reinventing high streets, repurposing office buildings into homes and ending London’s cladding scandal. She has been critical of the lack of diversity in London’s policing and the government’s decision to scrap free transport travel for under 18s.
Polling in third place, Porritt is currently 18 points behind Bailey. Can she narrow the gap in the next three months?
Sian Berry, Green Party
Berry is a local councillor in Camden, a London Assembly member and co-Leader of the Green Party. She was also the Green Party’s candidate for Mayor of London in 2008 and 2016. Berry believes London needs a green mayor to make transform the city. So far, her campaign has promised a higher London living wage, police reform and safer roads for pedestrians and cyclists.
Green parties around Europe have been gaining momentum in recent years but currently polling behind Porritt at nine per cent, Berry may be left fighting for third place again.
Others in the running…
Other candidates in the running include Peter Gammons of UKIP, Mandu Reid of the Women’s Equality Party, London Assembly Member David Kurten, Laurence Fox of The Reclaim Party, Steve Kelleher of the Social Democratic Party, Kam Balayev of the Renew Party, Richard Hewison of Rejoin EU, Vanessa Hudson of the Animal Welfare Party and Valerie Brown of Burning Pink.
Several independents have also joined the race including YouTubers Max Fosh and Niko Omilana, weather forecaster Piers Corbyn, businesswoman Farah London, former banker Brian Rose, faith leader Nims Obunge, space politician Count Binface.
While Khan currently looks to have a strong lead in the polls, it will be interesting to see how this holds as the campaign heats up and we get closer to a post-pandemic London. Will the other candidates be snapping at his heels when Londoners eventually cast their vote on 6 May? Only time will tell.
Note: This blog post was updated on 8 April 2021 to include the full list of official mayoral candidates