Boris Johnson Increases Lead Over Ken Livingstone In Mayoral Race

Boris Widens Lead Over Ken

Boris Johnson increased his lead over Labour challenger Ken Livingstone to four points in an opinion poll as the campaign for London mayor entered its final week today.

But Livingstone's team insisted they were not dispirited by the YouGov survey for the Evening Standard, which gave Conservative Mr Johnson a four-point lead of 52%-48%, after second preferences were taken into account.

Labour said the race remains "neck and neck" with just three days to go before voters across the capital cast their ballots on May 3.

Livingstone released a poster today portraying Mr Johnson, Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne as blue-faced aliens under the slogan "The Tories are on a different planet", as he sought to drive home his claim that the Conservative candidate is out of touch with voters' needs as Britain returns to recession.

Meanwhile, Johnson will make the UK's biggest ever conference call this evening, contacting more than 50,000 Londoners by phone in an hour.

The mayor is expected to take questions from hundreds of people across London using the iNHouse Connex system developed in the US.

Days after Britain entered a double-dip recession, today's poll of 1,231 Londoners found that 28% believe Mr Johnson is best-placed to lead the city back to recovery, against 23% for Mr Livingstone, according to the YouGov poll.

Johnson was seen as the best candidate at tackling crime by 29% of those questioned, compared to Livingstone's 21%, with Liberal Democrat and former Metropolitan Police officer Brian Paddick on 19%.

Under London's two-round voting system, some 44% of those taking part in the poll said they would make Johnson their first-choice vote, three points ahead of Livingstone on 41%, with Paddick trailing on 6%. Independent Siobhan Benita, Ukip's Lawrence Webb and Green Jenny Jones each had 3% support.

After the backers of less successful candidates were redistributed for the second-round run-off between the two front-runners, Johnson secured 52% against Mr Livingstone's 48%.

There were indications of a decrease in the so-called "Livingstone drag" effect which has made Labour's candidate less popular than his party in London polls. Only 9% of those planning to vote Labour in the London Assembly elections said they would back Mr Johnson in the mayoral ballot - compared to 13% two weeks ago.

Livingstone said: "Tory fare hikes, Tory recession, Tory police cuts, Tory scandal over phone-hacking all mean we need Labour values and a Labour administration in London.

"If I am elected, London will have a Labour mayor who from day one will work to make London commuters on average £1,000 better off by cutting fares. I will cut fares, reinstate education maintenance allowance, help with the cost of childcare and household energy costs, and reverse the Tory police cuts.

"The alternative is a Conservative mayor who stands for a privileged minority, raising fares and campaigning for lower taxes for the richest."


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