Next Thursday, London finally returns to the polls.
The 2021 London mayoral election – postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic – will be one of the most crucial elections faced by the capital in years, with so much at stake.
A record 20 candidates are standing this year, all vying to make it to City Hall for the next three years. From youth workers to YouTubers, Londoners have a truly diverse choice of candidates to pick from. It is all to play for.
As the incumbent mayor, all eyes have been on Sadiq Khan, who has been the mayor of London since 2016. Despite the adversity faced throughout his tenure, he remains the favourite in the upcoming election, in what is still a city controlled by the Labour Party.
Khan has made bold promises focused on rebuilding London for a post-COVID world: more jobs, better housing and increased opportunities for young people. It is a manifesto which should appeal to the masses, not to mention his sustained popularity within the left.
However, it will not be all plain sailing for Khan.
For all of his promises on crime, crime rates have risen by 6% during his time in City Hall, tripling to 18% when excluding the 2020 pandemic year. A failure to tackle crime is one of the biggest failures of his reign, making it all the more difficult for Londoners to place their trust in him to fix London’s crime epidemic once and more all.
Nonetheless, Khan is the most popular choice at the time of writing, maintaining a strong lead in the polls. Whether his competition is strong enough to challenge is unlikely, but anything can happen in politics.
If anyone is going to beat Khan, it will be Shaun Bailey.
The Conservative candidate realistically has the best chance of displacing his Labour compatriot on 6th May, moulding his manifesto around giving London “a fresh start”.
Bailey’s plans include reopening police stations – previously closed by his own government – introducing zero-emission buses and opening up new youth centres. While the promises may prove popular among voters, it is his own reputation which could come back to bite him.
Controversial comments regarding domestic violence have emerged recently, along with previous derogatory remarks about girls from Bailey. Especially amid recent events with the death of Sarah Everard, the Tory candidate is at risk of jeopardising millions of voters.
While polling shows a decent gap between Bailey and Khan, a final push could prove crucial in Bailey’s bid for the mayorship. He remains an outsider and a strong contender simultaneously, providing Londoners with a mainstream alternative for years to come.
Khan and Bailey are not the only options on the ballot paper, with 18 other candidates to choose from.
Sian Berry of the Green Party could be a popular choice for many voters, with the demand for more environmentally friendly policies growing year by year. The Liberal Democrats’ Luisa Porritt will be looking to rebuild the party’s status in London and arguably beyond, focusing on affordable housing and cleaner air.
Debates ensue, campaigning continues and the race for City Hall will go on right up to polling day, when Londoners will choose their next mayor.
It is Khan’s race to lose, establishing himself within the capital thanks to his five-year tenure as mayor. Although there may be a notable change in his share of the vote, can we expect to see a swing monumental enough to displace Khan from the mayorship?
For all the talk of Khan versus Bailey, the Liberal Democrats’ revival charge and the independent candidates’ chances, it will all come down to 6th May. London will decide.
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