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London's Mayoral Election: The Lowdown

With up to 5.4m Londoners eligible to vote in today’s Mayoral election, it’s one of the biggest events in the British political calendar. Dan Hancox profiles the four main candidates

IllustrationAdrian MorrisTextDan Hancox

Boris Johnson (Conservative)

After failing an audition for Fraggle Rock as a child, London’s Mayor swore to wage vicious revenge on a world that had wronged him. Like so many evil geniuses, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was raised in a series of magical castles – first in Eton, then Oxford, where he was a member of super-rich restaurant-trashing douche collective The Bullingdon Club.

Adopting the disguise of a classics teacher lost in a maze, he has spent most of his four years in office fiddling with his fringe while the bits of London that aren’t Kensington and Chelsea burn to the ground. Last August he confidently telephoned in a verdict from western Canada that the London riots had “nothing to do with” the police killing unarmed Mark Duggan (calling him ‘Michael’ twice, just to prove he was on the ball), and refused to cut short his holiday and fly home for a full 48 hours of rioting.

Ken Livingstone (Labour)

Since his 2008 defeat, ‘Lacertilian Ken’ (as the tabloids know him) has worked day and night to convince Londoners of the value of Noam Chomsky’s observation that you shouldn’t feel bad about picking the lesser of two evils, because you end up with less evil. This hasn’t been an easy task – not least because as Mayor he championed the grotesque totem to late capitalist hubris that is the Shard, aka Mordor. Throughout this campaign he’s been dogged by claims he used legal but reprehensible loopholes to avoid paying £220,000 in tax.

On the other hand, Ken has promised to tackle parasitic landlords and estate agents by setting up a London Lettings Agency, to reverse Boris’s obscene public transport fare rises, to reintroduce the Education Maintenance Allowance, and, perhaps crucially, to not be Boris Johnson.

Brian Paddick (Liberal Democrat)

As a senior south London cop in the early 2000s, Brian Paddick famously inspired the Hamsterdam episode of The Wire, instructing officers to turn a blind eye to cannabis use in Brixton. Despite this and a gay marriage to a Norwegian civil engineer he met in Ibiza, Paddick is rather dull; his wicked sense of humour only evident in his continued membership of the Liberal Democrats.

Paddick’s big talking point is the riots; he seems to be the only person with any relationship with the Metropolitan Police, past or present, who has noticed that the force’s profiling, harrassment, and indeed killing of London’s ethnic minorities might perhaps need addressing. You can’t help wondering whether the Met need him rather more than the Mayoralty does.

Jenny Jones (Green)

Briefly Deputy Mayor under Ken Livingstone, Jenny Jones has promised to address London’s drastic wealth inequalities, create more affordable housing, reduce fatally poisonous pollution levels, invest in cheaper public transport, make London safer for cyclists, tackle the economic causes of the riots, defend the right to protest, and attack Tory cuts and social cleansing – in particular the purging of poor Londoners from the capital via the housing benefit cap. She has been polling around 3-5%.

Disclaimer of possible (slight) editorial bias: the day after the 2008 London Mayoral election, the author hosted a house party in which an effigy of Boris Johnson was ceremonially burned, and an Autonomous Zone of Noboris declared. And a fat lot of good it did, too.