Every town has a mayor, but its London’s mayor who receives nationwide attention. Why is this, you might ask? Well, for starters, it’s the capital city. However, the fact it’s playing host to the Olympics this summer means the world is watching. The Mayor of London is, quite simply, an elected politician, who along with the London Assembly (25 members) is accountable for the government of Greater London – that is, makes decisions as to how the city is best run.
(Boris Johnson, left, Ken Livingstone, right)
Conservative Boris Johnson has held the position since May 4th 2008. You might recognise him without even realising; his blonde mop isn’t hard to miss. If you live in London, or have visited, you might also be familiar with the term the ‘Boris Bike’ (the Barclaycard public access bikes you might have seen parked on pavements) which encourage people to cycle. The position was previously held by Ken Livingstone from the creation of the role on May 4th 2000 until succession by Johnson.
With the elections looming again, the time has come again to ask the question – Who is going to be the next London mayor? Boris and Ken last shared a platform on May 2nd 2008, when Boris was elected mayor following Livingstone’s eight year supremacy.
Nearly four years later and it looks like we’ve got another battle between the rivals on the cards. Polls open again tomorrow (Tuesday) and the results will be announced on 3rd May – it all feels terribly familiar.
However, it’s looking like it’s going to be a hard election to call. Recent polling has given the Labour camp hope (N.B. Ken) as the lead Boris had enjoyed since June last year disappeared when a YouGov poll published just over a month ago put Ken narrowly head by two percentage points (51%-49%).
One of the main issues in winning or losing Londoner’s support is that of transport costs. The findings indicated that the former mayor’s (that is, Ken) flagship pledge to cut public transport fares by 7% appealed to Londoners, who were hit by a New Year fare rise.
However, another poll in the Evening Standard last week showed Boris closing the gap to secure a narrow lead again. What is certain, however, is that this race has two main competitors and the pressure is on for both Ken and Boris to avoid any mishaps.
Tony Travers, director of the Greater London group at the London School of Economics, says that in such a close-run race, any significant slip by either candidate could determine the outcome.
“Whereas normally the odd gaffe, the odd mistake or wrong statistic cited wouldn’t be a problem in a race that is largely predetermined; in one where it could come down to 200 or 1,000 votes, then any one mistake could be fatal. In this kind of two-horse race, which is very very tight, then the slightest slip-up could make all the difference.”