Londoners will decide next month who they want to run the nation’s capital. A record-breaking 20 candidates have entered the race, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 the last 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”.
Piers Corbyn – Let London Live
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.
Max Fosh – Independent
25 year old YouTuber Max Fosh announced he was running for mayor of London in March, with the sole aim of defeating anti-lockdown candidate Laurence Fox, who attended the same school as Fosh. Fosh’s slogan is ‘Let’s turn London up to the Max’.
Laurence Fox – Reclaim Party
After gaining notoriety after an appearance on BBC debate show Question Time, Laurence Fox has become one of many leading faces in an ‘anti-woke’ movement, criticising moves for equal rights. Fox launched his own ‘Reclaim Party’ in late 2020, with a focus on protecting freedom of speech and anti-lockdown policies.
He announced his plans to run for mayor of London in March 2021, on a platform of defending ‘freedom’ from those who want to ‘rewrite history’ and from lockdown restrictions.
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.
Richard Hewison – Rejoin EU
Running for Rejoin EU is Richard Hewison, running on a platform of ‘correcting the mistake’ of Brexit. Hewison, who describes himself as ‘politically homeless’ has lived in the capital for 28 years. He is encouraging voters to cast their first vote for him and then use their second to choose between Labour incumbent Sadiq Khan and ‘his right-wing challenger’.
Vanessa Hudson – Animal Welfare Party
The Animal Welfare Party is contesting its first London mayoral election, with leader Vanessa Hudson running for the post. Her campaign aims to shape London that leads the world for people, animals and the environment. Her policies include putting an end to ‘speciesism’, pushing for carbon net zero status for the capital by the end of their first term in office and incentivising public transport use to improve air quality. Hudson has previously run as a candidate in previous elections, most recently in Bethnal Green and Bow in the 2019 general election, where she won 0.7 percent.
Steve Kelleher – Social Democratic Party
SDP’s Steve Kelleher is running for the mayoralty on a platform condemning the major political parties stance on the coronavirus pandemic, considering much of the restrictions imposed to amount to a breach of civil liberties. His policy priorities are on improving housing, crime and transport in the city and being a real alternative to the Conservatives and Labour.
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.
David Kurten – Heritage Party
Former UKIP candidate David Kurten formed his own party – the Heritage Party – last year, and announced his plans to run as mayor of London in January 2020. The Heritage Party calls for the principles of liberty, freedom of speech, and traditional family values to be upheld.
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.
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.
Valerie Brown – Burning Pink
Formed in June 2020, Burning Pink calls for a political revolution, with the replacement of the British government with citizens’ assemblies to tackle the climate emergency, amongst other political issues. Standing for the party to be the ‘last mayor of London’ is Valerie Brown.
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, adding that the capital needs a ‘truly independent’ mayor to step up and work with professionals and practitioners to make the city safer and more affordable for everyone.
Niko Omilana – Independent
Niko Omilana, 23 year old Barnet-based YouTube prankster and founder of the ‘Niko Defence League’ (NDL – a comedic parody of the far-right English Defence League or EDL), announced his candidacy for London mayor in early April this year. In a video on Twitter announcing his political run, he said he is taking the campaign ‘extremely seriously’. Omilana has over 3 million subscribers on the platform.
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.
Brian Rose – London Real Party
Brian Rose, former banker and 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.
The most recent opinion poll predicts Labour’s Sadiq Khan will win the election in the first round; a scenario which has not happened in the position’s 21-year history.
Labour is currently polling at 53 percent, to the Conservatives 28 percent, whose candidate Shaun Bailey is down seven percent on his party’s 2016 performance. The Greens and the Liberal Democrats meanwhile are in a close race for third place, with both parties tied at seven percent each.
Amongst other parties, UKIP is polling at two percent, the Women’s Equality Party is polling at one percent, and others on three percent.