Londoners will decide in May who they want to run the nation’s capital. 16 candidates have entered the race so far, with more almost certain to join as the election draws closer.
So who is in the running and what do the polls say about who will be next to run the city?
*NB – following a decision by the UK government, the London mayoral election was postponed by a year as a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Sadiq Khan – Labour
Sadiq Khan is the incumbent Mayor of London and the Labour candidate for the 2021 election. Formerly the MP for Tooting, Khan served briefly as Transport Minister under Gordon Brown and is described as being on the centre-left of the Labour Party.
Whilst in office, Khan has been a vocal critic of Donald Trump and Brexit for its effect on the capital, launched the Night Tube service on the London Underground and backed plans to expand London City Airport.
However, Khan has come under criticism for an increase in knife crime in London, with more than 15,000 offences reported in the city so far this year.
Shaun Bailey – Conservatives
Shaun Bailey is a Conservative member of the London Assembly and was selected as the Tory candidate for London Mayor last year.
Bailey is fighting his campaign of making London safer for residents, calling for more police on the streets and taking a zero-tolerance approach towards gang activity. He also plans on raising more money for TfL by selling station name rights to private companies.
However, he has faced controversy over remarks he made in the past, referring to Sadiq Khan as the mayor of ‘Londonistan’ in a tweet in 2017.
Sian Berry – Green Party
Sian Berry is co-leader of the Green Party and leader of the party in the London Assembly. She also ran for the position of London Mayor in 2016, coming third with 5.8 percent.
As well as calling for greater action on cleaner air in the capital, she backs the introduction of rent controls and opposes further airport expansion in London – including the proposed third runway at Heathrow.
Luisa Porritt – Liberal Democrats
Luisa Porritt is a former journalist and former Liberal Democrat MEP for London. She was nominated as the Liberal Democrat candidate for the 2021 election after their original candidate, Siobhan Benita, withdrew from the race due to its postponement and subsequently quit the party altogether.
Her campaign calls for ‘big ideas and urgent action’ to face the challenges of the pandemic, and pledges to stand up for London at this ‘critical moment for our city’.
Mandu Reid – Women’s Equality Party
Mandu Reid is the leader of the Women’s Equality Party and has been described as the first black and bisexual leader of a UK political party. Reid became the candidate for the party in February this year after provisional candidate Professor Sue Black was forced to withdraw from the race due to complications from a vaginal mesh implant.
The Women’s Equality Party, which campaigns for equal rights and opportunities for women, came sixth at the last mayoral election with two percent.
Peter Gammons – UKIP
Former Brexit Party member and motivational speaker Peter Gammons announced their candidacy for the mayoralty in November 2020 on behalf of UKIP.
His platform aims to tackle the issue of affordable housing, rising knife crime and unused bike lanes in London. His policies include utilising abandoned tunnels and streets under the capital to address congestion, make affordable housing a top priority, oppose further lockdowns of London and increase police numbers on the streets. He would also end the ‘war on motorists’ in the city and tackle carbon emissions by encouraging tree planting.
Winston McKenzie – Unity In Action
Winston McKenzie is the former Commonwealth spokesman for UKIP and former member of the English Democrats. In 2017, he formed his own party – Unity In Action. However, the party’s website lists no policies of pledges for his campaign.
Kam Balayev – Renew
Running for the centrist Renew Party is Kam Balayev. His policies include developing London into a hub for technology companies, developing technology to replace stop-and-search, and protecting the high street from tax-avoiding online competitors.
Rosalind Readhead – Independent
Rosalind Readhead is an environmental activist, who has spent five years campaigning for private cars to be banned from London.
Her campaign focuses on the climate emergency and demands a hierarchy for energy use, regular car-free days to cut emissions and free trees for every garden. Readhead also supports a ban on automation in motor vehicles and the introduction of a universal basic income.
Charlie Mullins – Independent
Charlie Mullins is a businessman and the founder of the London-based plumbing firm Pimlico Plumbers. The company attracted national attention last year displaying a ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ sign at its premises in Waterloo.
Mullins was a former Conservative Party donor until 2018, when he announced his plans to fund the Liberal Democrats to try and stop Brexit and his intention to run as a candidate in the London mayoral election.
He has pledged he would make travel free for all registered apprentices under the age of 25, as well as basing an ambassador for London in Brussels.
Drillminister – Indepdendent
A rapper based in the capital, Drillminister announced his intention to run in the mayoral election in January.
In an interview with Victoria Derbyshire, he explained he aims to fight discrimination in the media during his campaign and represent the ‘democracy of what Londoners want’. He is campaigning to reduce homelessness, improve transport, diversify the Metropolitan Police force and improve air quality in the city.
David Kurten – Independent
‘Brexit Alliance’ member of the London Assembly, Kurten was originally elected as a UKIP candidate but quit the party earlier this year.
Kurten, who has previously been criticised for suggesting homosexuality could be linked to paedophilia, has said he would have a zero tolerance approach to crime, scrap the Cycle Super Highway and opposes moves to improve air quality as action would be damaging for business in the capital.
Nims Obunge – Independent
54-year-old pastor and charity worker Nims Obunge is running as mayor on a platform of tackling London’s issues with violent crime.
Count Binface – Independent
A satirical candidate portrayed by comedian Jon Harvey, Count Binface announced his intention to run in the mayoral election in London in February. Binface had previously run for election in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip in last year’s general election – he came seventh with 69 votes.
Harvey went viral during the 2017 general election for standing in Theresa May’s constituency of Maidenhead as ‘Lord Buckethead’. However, a dispute with the originator of the character resulted in the creation of Binface as a new persona.
Binface has pledged to finish the Crossrail project, provide free parking between Vine Street and the Strand in Westminster for electric vehicles, rename London Bridge to Phoebe Waller, after the Fleabag actress, and have the capital join the European Union.
However, he does not rate his chances of winning the race, saying in a YouTube video that Labour candidate Sadiq Khan is “obviously going to win it”.
He is currently crowdfunding the £10,000 deposit needed to run for election as mayor and has promised to donate any money over the target to the charity Shelter.
Farah London – Independent
Croydon-born businesswoman Farah London announced her candidacy for the mayoralty in October last year with a platform of moving London away from party politics in the wake of the pandemic.
Formerly a Conservative, she plans to improve the cost of living in the capital and tackle the ‘shameful’ rise in knife crime by recruiting 6,000 new police officers. She would also cut the congestion charge to £12 and reduce it to only five days a week.
Brian Rose – Independent
Brian Rose, founder of YouTube channel London Real, has announced his intention to run for the mayoralty in London. Rose came to national prominence after his interview with infamous conspiracy theorist David Icke was broadcast on the TV station London Live – a move which prompted Ofcom to sanction the station for broadcasting harmful statements about the coronavirus pandemic. He has also aired falsehoods about the pandemic on London Real.
Rose is a strong free-speech advocate, and has claimed to be fighting against ‘unjust censorship’ by social media platforms. However, he has faced criticism for fundraising to fund a free speech platform, without transparency over where the money will go.
His ‘Transform London 2021’ platform includes getting the capital back to work by cutting business rates and removing the congestion charge, removing all on-street parking in central London, adopting a zero-tolerance policy to knife crime and provide free high speed broadband access to all Londoners.
Piers Corbyn – Independent
Brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Piers Corbyn is an anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown activist and conspiracy theorist who has described the coronavirus pandemic as a hoax and rejects the consensus on climate change.
Corbyn has been repeatedly arrested over the last year for contravening coronavirus rules and regulations and has spoken at a range of anti-lockdown protests in London.
In a YouTube video published on New Year’s Eve announcing his candidacy, he pledged that he would end the ‘covid con’ that is destroying jobs and culture in the capital, end homelessness in London and introduce rent controls for private rented tenants.
Other potential candidates
A selection of other political parties have run for London Mayor in the past but have yet to announce their candidate for the election. Nigel Farage’s Reform Party, which won close to 18 percent in the European elections last year in the capital as the Brexit Party, have also not announced a candidate as yet.
Rory Stewart, former Conservative MP, had intended to run in the election as an independent candidate but announced his withdrawal from the race on May 6th 2020.
The most recent opinion poll gives Labour a strong lead of almost 20 percent ahead of the Conservatives in the first round, with the Tories down seven percent on their 2016 performance. The Greens and the Liberal Democrats meanwhile are in a close race for third place.
Such a result would put Khan close to winning the mayoralty without the need for a second round; this would be the first time this has occurred since devolution was introduced to the capital in 2000.