The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Siobhan Benita Headshot

Forget Boris and Ken - Vote for Me

Posted: Updated:

Well - this is it - Election Day. When I left my job to run as a candidate for Mayor of London, I had no idea how the campaign would go. It's been a truly remarkable four months. I have been to every borough, visited numerous charities, businesses, community groups and other organisations. Everyone I've met has been tremendously welcoming and I've been inspired by so many of those working selflessly in communities across London.

Despite having no party machine and scant broadcast coverage my campaign has made a real impact. I've made education and youth an election issue and highlighted fundamental problems with the current broadcasting rules and election processes, which must be addressed after the 3 May (watch this space...).

Throughout April, I have polled well against Brian Paddick and Jenny Jones and ahead of UKIP's Lawrence Webb. The bookies have put me in third place and contrary to Lib Dem belief, I don't have wealthy friends putting bets on me! Most recently, I've had positive leader articles in the Times, Guardian and the Independent. As I write this, Jonathan Ross has declared his support!

I've achieved all of this with virtually no funding, something that has baffled political party members and old-school commentators. Once I remove the money required for the deposit and contribution to the London Elects booklet I have spent less than £5,000 on the campaign. My team and I have used public transport on all but a few occasions; we've printed two copies of my manifesto - one for an elderly gentleman who doesn't use a computer and one for me to keep to hand. It's been - by necessity and choice - a very green campaign.

Of course, I couldn't have done this on my own. I have made many new friends and built up a fantastic team of volunteers who have helped me through every phase of the campaign. Family, friends and supporters have lent me their time and their skills, for which I am extremely grateful. Whatever happens today, and once I have caught up on some sleep, I will get round to thanking everyone properly because this has been a truly extraordinary team effort.

The polling stations are open until this evening. So, if you are a London voter and still undecided then take a look at my manifesto on my website. I have a strong range of policies across all areas, showing that you don't need to be a single issue, or a monster raving loony candidate, to stand as an independent. I have support from people of all political persuasions, who agree with me that in the Mayor of London should not be party-political. I've also realised, however, that whilst people like the fact I am independent they do want to know my stance on key issues; where I lie on the political spectrum, what I 'stand for'. With that mind, I took a spontaneous decision to film this video, unscripted, of me answering the questions that I have been asked most often during the campaign.


Finally - having spent the last 16 weeks on the campaign trail where I have watched the dominant BorKen show up close, I'm more sure than ever that we need new voices in UK politics and much more diversity of public leaders. We need politicians who are in touch, more willing to listen, less egotistical and not stifled by inflexible party lines. We need more women (in my opinion, the biggest single error of judgement in this campaign was the Fawcett Society's decision not to allow me on their hustings), more ethnic minorities and people with different life and professional experiences.

Today Londoners will decide who will be the next Mayor of London; who will be the leader and public face of the capital for the next four years. It is our one opportunity to vote for an individual and not a political party. I hope that many of you choose to give your first vote to me.

Around the Web

Siobhan Benita: Is London's Independent Mayoral Candidate Really Independent?

London Politics for $500 | Who is Siobhan Benita?

Letters: Even independents need policies

London mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone on 'ex-gay' buses, policing and the ...

Siobhan Benita: Whitehall's candidate for mayor

London mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita plans fixed-price housing market

London mayoral election: Last minute campaigning

Siobhan Benita: The mum who would be mayor