London elects new mayor today: Livingstone and Johnson lead the race
Following months of diligent campaigning that saw Boris Johnson in on-air debates with Ken Livingstone – off-air in a lift, a parody poster of the Tories comparing them to a blue skinned alien and tears running down Mr Livingstone’s eyes, only to be poked fun at by the incumbent candidate – the mayor of London will finally be decided today as Londoners cast their vote.
Despite seven candidates competing for their time in office, Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone are the leading candidates to win the election. Liberal Democrat candidate Brian Paddick was seen to make the election a three-way race but his campaign turned into disappointment as he was largely overshadowed by the Conservative and Labour candidates.
A recent YouGov poll result showed Boris Johnson as a leading figure to win the election, as he took a six-point lead over Ken Livingstone with 53% to 47%. To add further injury to Mr Livingstone’s campaign, only 62% of his supporters said they were certain to vote, whereas Boris Johnson’s supporters reached 68%. However, opinion poll could merely be just that, as the candidates are campaigning one last time hoping for a change of heart among Londoners in their favour.
Having lost the popularity contest to Boris Johnson, Mr Livingstone opted for a more united approach, aligning himself with the Labour party’s manifesto – unlike his counterpart who tried to set himself away from the Conservatives’ shadow. Ed Miliband was present to support his mayoral candidate in the revelation of Mr Livingstone’s manifesto, citing the former mayor as the underdog who had “fought his way back into this race because of the power of his ideas”.
Ken Livingstone aims to improve Londoners’ lifestyles by cutting down their expenditure, reducing transport fares, rents, heating bills and providing EMA to school children. His manifesto promises an average fare saving of 1,000 over four years in public transport and up to £120 off heating bills. Boris Johnson, in contrast, seeks to provide a better lifestyle by spending more money on improving the status of London, and promising more jobs and a greener environment. His nine-point plan for greater London promises 200,000 new jobs over the next four years and a saving of £445 by freezing the mayoral share of council tax.
The polls close at 10pm.