The Thick of It

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Ken V Boris: too close to call, dirty, exciting

After last week's YouGov poll put Ken Livingstone ahead of incumbent mayor Boris Johnson in the race to lead London, LBC and ComRes have released their own poll. This again gives the former mayor a slender lead of 51% to 49%.

This is remarkable for a candidate who lost the mayoralty in 2008 after looking tired, disinterested and didn't focus on the issues mattering most to voters, as his rival Johnson managed to. As the likes of Adam Bienkov point out, that position is now reversed. Johnson is the one talking about protecting bankers, while Livingstone is talking about the rising cost of living and transport fares.

Interestingly, Livingstone is under performing against Labour's expected polling in London, while Johnson is more popular than the Tories. Despite that, Labour's candidate will be far happier as we enter the last 100 days of the campaign.

The Back Boris campaign is in a bit of a mess. Complacency about victory must have evaporated, along with his poll lead. I quick scan of London news sites and blogs shows a campaign not in control, clutching at straws or making false claims.


  • Mayor Watch today reports that Back Boris is claiming Johnson began and implemented London Overground, when in fact, as the TfL website points out, Livingstone started it in 2007, a year before the buffoon took power
  • Left Foot Forward highlights that Johnson used his Telegraph column to blame young people and their lack of skills for sky high youth unemployment
  • Boris Watch notes that Johnson's primary vanity project, his new bus, is getting ever more expensive, with another prototype being ordered at a staggering £547,000
It is all getting very political. The first new bus for London is due on our streets in May 2012, election month. TfL are running an advertising campaign to highlight improvements over the last three years, which conveniently coincides with BJ's mayoral term. 

Our old pal and former Livingstone nemesis, Andrew Gilligan, now at the Telegraph, is at it again with a regular column of Livingstone-loathing. Fortunately fewer potential Labour voters read the Telegraph than the Evening Standard, his former home, so his distortive effect may be limited this time.  


What does this leave us with? A content that is too close to call, will inevitably turn dirty and one that will be great to watch.

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