With just under a month to go until the 3rd of May, the campaign to become the next Mayor of London is hotting up.
Boris Johnson seeking re-election for a second term, and Ken Livingstone his main challenger. The Labour candidate, who was the inaugural London Mayor in 2000 and who held the post for eight years, is seeking to prove to Londoners
that he deserves his old job back.
Last week saw the debate shrink down to one issue - the tax affairs of the main candidates. After the debate on London's LBC, things turned nasty in the lift, with Boris accusing Ken of "F****g lies" after his Labour rival accused him of paying himself through a TV company - something the disclosure of his tax records later in the week suggested he hadn't done, at least not since 2008.
The latest poll shows Boris five points ahead, with evidence that Livingstone's tax efficiency measures (paying lots of his salary into a holding company which appears to do nothing) and his highly controversial comments about Jews have const him support.
But despite Boris' lead some Tory strategists believe the end result will be a lot closer than expected, particularly if the Conservative Party continues to suffer a drubbing in the national press and opinion polls, as they have done in recent weeks since an unpopular Budget and rows about cash-for-access to Number 10 Downing Street.
We'll be covering the build-up to the election on our live-blog below, plus you can read every story related to the contest on our Big Mayoral Election News Page here.
|@ GuidoFawkes : Dave bigs up Boris a lot in his speech about mayors. Says Boris has been dogged in pestering him on behalf of London.|
|@ MikeSmithsonOGH : Could Boris be out of a job next week? His YouGov lead down to just 2% http://t.co/wcKCeIpL|
|@ PSbook : Evening Standard owner tells #Leveson that Boris Johnson is a "personal friend". Quelle suprise! (via @paulwaugh)|
|@ JohnRentoul : Boris v Ken on tax: voters know less and care less than is often assumed http://t.co/mMUES7nm|
The race for London Mayor remains tight as Ken closes the gap between him and his Tory rival.
According to the latest poll by YouGov, Boris leads Ken by just 2 points - well within the margin of error.
This comes as, according to the same poll, Labour's lead over the Conservatives increases to 19%.
Lord Sugar has intervened in the London Mayoral election race, telling Londoners not to vote for the Labour candidate Ken Livingstone.
Labour Peer Lord Sugar tweeted this afternoon
"I don’t care if Ed Miliband is backing Livingstone. I seriously suggest NO ONE votes for Livingstone in the Mayoral elections"
"Sky doing live Mayoral interview with candidates at 8pm today Johnston v Livingstone is real issue. Livingstone must NOT get in on 3rd May," he tweeted to his 1.9 million followers.
Veteran Labour MP Austin Mitchell has criticised Ken Livingstone's Mayoral campaign as having "no life, no fun [and] no drive".
In a tweet this morning, he lamented that the campaign had been swept up by "tired self-justification".
He said his comments were meant, when talking to HuffPost UK, adding that the campaign was "tired out".
Boris has revealed his great appreciation for the chocolate digestive.
In a webchat with Mumsnet users, the Mayor revealed that not only was it his favourite biscuit, it also represented his political philosophy.
"The important point about a chocolate digestive is that it combines the temptation of the chocolate with the nourishment of the wholemeal biscuit pabulum stuff" he said.
"Each biscuit delivers on that promise, time after time, until you get to the bottom of the packet. It is about consistency and reliability. It does what it says on the packet. That is the essence of my commitment to London" he added.
Independent Mayoral Candidate Siobhan Benita has attacked the "dysfunctional" standard of government.
Speaking to HuffPost UK, she criticised the nature of party politics.
“It’s all about how do you get a headline, how many policy announcements can you make in any one week, before they’re probably thought through, before the risks are properly understood. So actually a lot of the time what ministers are putting out to the public is never going to work. And the public haven’t been brought in to shape that.”
She said that she stood for Mayor as she wanted to provide something "different".
According to a new poll, Boris is seen as "Mayor for the Rich".
However this has apparently not damaged his chances of winning re-election as he has maintained his lead in the race for City Hall.
This finding, from the latest YouGov survey conducted for the Evening Standard, found that 37% of Londoners felt the Conservative Mayor fought for the wealthy more than any other group.
Only two per cent of people polled said Johnson would focus on the poor, compared with 21 percent for Ken Livingstone.
The poll showed Johnson has surged ahead of Livingstone to a popularity rating of 53%, while Livingstone is on 47%.
|@ DenisMacShane : Just transferred my Oyster card to its fetching "Sack Boris" holder. Terrifiic journo, fun pol but worst Mayor of any city in world|
|@ AllisterHeath : Boris Johnson is a Tory Labour leaning Londoners actually like, writes @stephanshaxper | City A.M.: http://t.co/iuYq0Y8L|
|@ ayestotheright : Ken Livingstone will be the guest speaker at today's lobby lunch. Let's hope he is as entertaining as Boris was a few months back!|
|@ peterdominiczak : Boris' new video. "This is the most important job I'll ever do." Expect to see that replayed during 2018 campaign http://t.co/NPbhnKwq|
|@ GdnPolitics : Ken Livingstone v Boris Johnson: who is right on police numbers? http://t.co/A5zU5eke|
|@ Tony_McNulty : Vote Ken, get Ken Vote Boris, get Boris Vote Paddick, Boris Vote Green, Boris Vote UKIP, Boris Vote BNP, Boris Vote independent, Boris|
Last night the leading candidates for City Hall met - with Ken and Boris coming to blows over the London riots.
Livingstone accused the Mayor of a "catastrophic misjudgement" in refusing to come back once the riots had started last year.
Meanwhile Johnson shot back that his Labour rival was "playing politics". "I think such attempts are pretty low" he added.
So in the past week both Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson have launched their mayoral campaigns.
Boris, speaking in Richmond, promised to be a "mayor who'll bring Londoners together, not one who plays one group off against another, because of some cynical calculation,"
Meanwhile Livingstone, speaking in Greenwich, reiterated his promise to cut fares. He also screened his party election broadcast and seemed to well up - blaming the emotional burden of the campaign.
First reported in the FT over the weekend, Boris has been guarded on Cameron's idea of getting all the elected mayors to have regular round-table meetings with the PM.Boris suggested that Mayoral sovereignty should be interfered with, and the FT suggests the power is flowing away from Whitehall to various City Halls around the country. That was what Cameron wanted, wasn't it?
Seems like last week's spat with Ken has produced a significant poll lead for Boris - but it's less than the eight point lead he enjoyed in a poll two weeks ago.
William Hill say Boris is now their 1/3 favourite to win the London Mayoral Election.
They've shortened his odds from 4/11 following last night's Newsnight debate
William Hill say:
Boris seemed to emerge unscathed without any of his rivals managing to land any significant blows on him and punters have responded by backing him down to the shortest odds he has been since winning last time out.
To Win London Mayoral Race:
1/3 Boris Johnson
9/4 Ken Livingstone
100/1 Brian Paddick
200/1 Jenny Jones
200/1 Siobhan Benita
250/1 Lawrence Webb
500/1 Carlos Cortiglia
500/1 Femi Solola.
The figures, published on Ken's election website, suggest Livingstone paid just under £35,000 in tax last year on a total income of £94,500 - a rate of 36%. The figures confirm that since losing the London Mayoral election of 2008, Livingstone's income has increasingly come from company dividends, rather than from a direct salary.
The U-turn by Ken on Thursday afternoon followed his apparent reluctance to follow Boris Johnson and Brian Paddick - his two main rivals in the London Mayoral Election - in publishing their tax figures.
Here's what the candidates promised. Ken is now saying that he will only publish his details to an independent commission, and if the other candidates do so as well.
But crucially Ken is now saying that he'll only do this if the candidates' entire household incomes are published. Which is slightly different to what he promised on Wednesday night:
The Green party candidate says her full disclosure will come after the Easter break. She already has a breakdown of her salary on the London assembly here. Clearly there is more to come, though, based on her register of interests published on the London City Hall Website:
Areas where she has been paid in addition to her London Assembly salary of £53,429 include:
Name(s) of employers/people who have appointed me to work for them:The Guardian (occasional writing)
National Policing Improvement Agency (occasional as part of an assessment panel)
She also has property where she gains a "beneficial interest" in south London - but this could be her own home.
We will have to wait and see how much she gets from these other areas!
Ken Livingstone has just said:
What Londoners need to know in this election is whose policies will make them better off. I will cut the fares to save London fare payers £1,000 and under my pledges all London households can save huge sums on other items like cutting electricity bills or restoring Education Maintenance Allowance. London fare payers alone will lose £1,000 on Boris Johnson's policies.
It is because they are desperate for the election not to centre on the real issues that deeply affect Londoners’ living standards that the Conservative candidate and his leading media-backers have raised issues about my income and tax and that of my wife.
I will lodge the details for the last four years with an independent body or individual, to be published simultaneously when all four main candidates have provided them. I will set out income to my company over the last four years, how much my wife and I received and how much tax was paid. Full household income and tax must be released by all candidates because the question of the overall household income and tax has continuously been the subject. This fully meets the terms agreed on Newsnight.
Nothing really new from his previous statement...
Ken' campaign manager has said: “We believe household publication is necessary for full disclosure as the question of Ken’s income and his wife’s income and their tax has been central the coverage of this issue. Publication of Ken’s returns alone will not address many of the questions that have been raised.
“The only way to answer all the questions about this issue and to move the debate on the real issues facing London is for full household income disclosure.
"This should apply to all the candidates equally to avoid any further questions about the income and tax affairs that may or may not be applicable to them through their households."
Boris Johnson's Tax details going back to 2007:
"As a gay man I found that very offensive", says Paddick. Ken makes an appeal for tolerance on all fronts.
"I'm an atheist, I like a drink," says Ken. "There's no way I"m going to make this a Muslim city."