The main candidates for London Mayor and London Assembly seats have been racing round the capital today seeking to maximise support before tomorrow’s London elections amid concerns that the pandemic and the seemingly commanding lead of Labour mayoral incumbent Sadiq Khan will combine to produce a low turnout.
Khan, whose first preference opinion poll leads over his closest rival, the Conservative Shaun Bailey, have ranged between 12 and 19 percentage points in the last week, has been making a particular point of urging Londoners to vote, including by post, in the knowledge that low turnout tends to affect Labour candidates more badly.
When polls take into account second preferences for Mayor – which have come into play in every mayoral election so far – Khan could be on course for a win almost as big as he secured against Tory challenger Zac Goldsmith five years ago.
But he has been taking no chances on the campaign trail, meeting residents of Newham, Redbridge, Waltham Forest on a whistle-stop tour of strong Labour areas and hammering home core messages about social justice, his love of London’s diversity and describing the national Conservative national government as “anti-London”.
Bailey has been repeating messages on Twitter, claiming that crime is “out of control” and that reopening 38 police stations closed due to Metropolitan Police budget cuts will “make our streets safer“. The closures of recent years continue a programme of police station sell-offs and other “front counter” facilities that began under the mayoralty of Boris Johnson in 2013.
The Tory has been criticised for making a series of false claims about power he would have as Mayor and supposedly “tax” increases Khan intends to make, including by the use of misleading leaflets and websites.
Today, Bailey failed to receive the endorsement normally bestowed on Tory candidates he Evening Standard newspaper, which restricted itself to advising Londoners to choose whichever candidate they think would be best at reducing “knife crime”.
Square Mile newspaper City AM described the mayoral contest as “insipid” and Khan’s record, including on crime and housing as “mixed”, but said the Labour man has been “more pro-business than many expected” and an admirable cheerleader for London who conveys the sense that he “wants and loves the job”.
City AM could not say the same for Bailey, and described his manifesto as thin on detail on policing and crime, making “airy fairy claim” about job creation, and said his flagship housing policy was hard to imagine working in practice.
On London has urged its readers to give one of their mayoral votes to Khan and neither to Bailey and also to consider supporting other candidates or their parties when deciding to cast their two votes for Mayor and two for the Assembly.
Green Party candidate Sian Berry, who is also seeking to retain her Assembly seat, has been campaigning at a community garden in Tower Hamlets, underlining her opposition to the Silvertown Tunnel and encouraging supporters to give Khan their second preference vote in order to ensure Bailey’s defeat. The Greens are hoping to increase their representation on the Assembly from two AMs to three.
Liberal Democrat Luisa Porritt has concentrated her final efforts on the city’s suburban south-west, which is fertile ground for her party, and insisting she is a more viable challenger to Khan than Bailey. The Lib Dems have finished fourth in the last two mayoral elections and aim to add to their solitary AM this time.
Other parties hoping to make an impact of the Assembly are the Londependnece Party, whose candidate list is led by Bella Roberts, and the the Womens Equality Party, which came close to winning an Assembly seat last time. Their mayoral candidate is Mandu Reid and their Londonwide list candidates are led by Harini Iyengar.
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