This election was originally due to have taken place in May last year, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A total of 20 candidates are standing for mayor this year, with those from mainstream parties such as the Liberal Democrats and Greens going up against everyone from former actor Lawrence Fox – running on an anti-lockdown agenda – to Count Binface.
Who are the candidates?
Sadiq Khan – Labour
Formerly MP for Tooting from 2005, Sadiq Khan was elected mayor in 2016, comfortably beating the Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith. Before entering politics, he worked as a human rights lawyer and chaired the Liberty advocacy group. Considered to be on Labour’s soft left, he was brought into the cabinet by Gordon Brown as a junior minister in both the communities and then transport departments. His major policies as mayor have included a freeze on transport fares, introducing the Hopper bus fare with unlimited journeys in one hour and expanding charges on polluting vehicles.
Shaun Bailey – Conservative
Born and raised on a housing estate in North Kensington, Shaun Bailey later founded a youth work charity called MyGeneration and in the late noughties was seen as a rising star in the revitalised Cameron-era Big Society Tory party. He was selected to run for the Hammersmith parliamentary seat in 2010 but lost to Labour. In 2012 his charity was wound up due to financial problems, but he was appointed as special advisor to David Cameron on youth and crime issues. In 2016 he was elected to the London Assembly, but a year later he failed in a second bid to become an MP in the Lewisham West constituency. His main policies include hiring 8,000 more police officers, cutting council tax, and building 100,000 new homes.
Luisa Porritt – Liberal Democrat
A journalist, communications consultant and political advisor, Luisa Porritt joined the Liberal Democrats days after the Brexit referendum in 2016 and in 2018 was elected a councillor in Camden, where she grew up. A year later she was elected to the European Parliament for the London constituency and became the Liberal Democrats’ deputy leader in Brussels briefly before the UK left the EU in 2020. She won the party’s nomination after their initial candidate for London mayor – Geeta Sidhu-Robb – was suspended following allegations of antisemitism. She describes her priorities as more homes, cleaner air and better jobs for Londoners.
Sian Berry – Green
Making her third bid for London mayor after failed runs in 2008 and 2016, Sian Berry has been the co-leader of the Green Party since 2018. After a childhood in Cheltenham, she moved to London following university and has been an active campaigner for the Greens for 20 years. She has been a local councillor in Camden since 2014, and is also a member of the London Assembly. Her pledges include reversing cuts to youth services, declaring a climate emergency in London, and strengthening protections for renters.
Peter Gammons – UKIP
The UK Independence Party candidate Peter Gammons says his party is not just about Brexit but restoring power to the people. He grew up on a council estate and claims to be a political centrist who can represent all Londoners. An evangelical preacher, motivational speaker and entrepreneur, Mr Gammons also claims he has spoken at events around the world to crowds numbering in the millions and has “advised” prime ministers and presidents, as well as acting as a faith healer. His policies include increasing police numbers, opening more local police stations, stopping bike lanes and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, and more affordable housing.
Laurence Fox – The Reclaim Party
Laurence Fox was born into the Fox acting dynasty and after graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in 2001 started a career in film and television. His most famous role was as Detective Sergeant James Hathaway inLewis, the ITV spinoff from Inspector Morse. He was married to fellow actor Billie Pipe from 2007 to 2016, but in recent years has become famous as a campaigner against “wokeness” and political correctness. He has hit the headlines attacking the presence of Sikh soldiers in a World War One drama, boycotting Sainsburys over their response to Black Lives Matter and more recently encouraging people to not wear masks or abide by lockdown rules. His manifesto promises to “unlock” London, stop plans to remove controversial statues, tackle knife crime with tougher policing, and stand up for freedom of speech.
Piers Corbyn – Let London Live
The older brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is running as the candidate for Let London Live, another anti-lockdown movement. After time spent as a housing rights activist and Marxist campaigner in London in the 1970s, he then he ran his own weather forecasting company which denied the scientific consensus on climate change and claimed to be able to predict earthquakes based on solar activity. He quit the Labour Party over the Iraq War, and as well as frequently peddling climate change denial, he has more recently also promoted untrue conspiracy theories about Covid and vaccines. He is currently facing charges over breaching lockdowns to hold protests in London. His policies include ending all lockdowns, opposing vaccine passports and stopping the extension of the Ultra Low Emission Zone.
Mandu Reid – Women’s Equality Party
Mandu Reid is the leader of the Women’s Equality Party and the first black person and bisexual to lead a political party in the UK. She grew up in what was then known as Swaziland in southern Africa during the apartheid era with a black mother and white father. She moved to the UK to attend sixth form, before working as a civil servant in the Treasury, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and finally the Greater London Authority under previous mayors. She is also the founder of a charity providing menstrual products to those suffering period poverty in the UK and East Africa. Her priorities are to end violence against women, ensure affordable childcare for all, and invest in a “care-led recovery”.
Count Binface – Independent
The satirical candidate is back, fresh from standing against Boris Johnson at the 2019 general election. Played by 41-year-old comedian Jon Harvey, Count Binface is a self-proclaimed interplanetary space warrior from Sigma Quadrant, who has crowdfunded his run for City Hall online. Among his manifesto pledges are the renaming of London Bridge as Phoebe Waller Bridge, London rejoining the EU, and ensuring no croissant is sold in the capital for more than £1.
Vanessa Hudson – Animal Welfare Party
The leader of the Animal Welfare Party since 2010, Vanessa Hudson is running for mayor for the first time. She grew up in Nottinghamshire and has lived in Hong Kong and Sydney, before arriving in London. She works as a producer in the media industry, has been a vegan for 26 years, and was a founding member of Vegan Runners UK. Her policies include aiming for London to be carbon net zero by 2045, promoting plant-based diets, and expanding London’s biodiversity.
Nims Obunge – Independent
Nims Obunge is the senior pastor at the Tottenham-based church Freedom’s Ark and is also a financial adviser, governor of a further education college, and chief executive of the Peace Alliance, a charity tackling violent crime. He is a regular on London boards and committees, especially those addressing knife crime and youth services, and also started the London Week of Peace. His manifeso includes recruiting more community police officers, building more homes, creating a Covid business recovery fund, and pushing for a greener city with electric transport.
Kam Balayev – Renew
Renew is a centrist political party founded in 2017 in opposition to Brexit and announced Kam Balayev as its candidate for London mayor in 2020. He has crowdfunded donations to run his campaign, which revolves around building a new tech economy in London. Born in Azerbaijan, he worked as a lawyer for the country’s Ministry of Justice before moving to London to study. He has worked around the world on security, diplomacy and justice issues. His policies include rebranding the capital as “e-London” to attract new jobs, reclaim money made from Londoners by Big Tech firms overseas, and to freeze TfL fares.
Max Fosh – Independent
Max Fosh is a YouTuber with 419,000 subscribers on the video sharing website, and former private school pupil, now 26. He is running largely as a prank, claiming in his announcement video there should always be at least one “posh bloke” on the ballot paper and that his main aim was to get more votes than Laurence Fox. Mr Fosh’s YouTube videos often revolve around pranks, most famously when he parked a car outside BBC Radio 1 HQ with his CV emblazoned in huge type on the roof in an effort to get a job at the station. His manifesto, which is published on a website using the URL laurencefox.org, includes carpeting the M25, making every carriage on the DLR the front carriage, and filling the Thames with sparkling water.
Steven Kelleher – Social Democrat Party
Standing on behalf of the rump party which refused to merge with the Liberals in the late 1980s, Steven Kelleher is a native Londoner who grew up in Elephant and Castle. He works in recruitment in the City, is a volunteer cricket coach and father of five. His policies include building 50,000 new council houses, boosting police numbers by 10,000 officers, and making public transport free to the under-25s.
Valerie Brown – Burning Pink
Valerie Brown is running to be the last mayor of London, pledging to abolish the post in favour of legally binding citizens assemblies if she is elected. She is standing for the Burning Pink party, whose goal is to launch a revolution to tackle the climate crisis by superseding traditional politics. Ms Brown is closely linked with Extinction Rebellion and last week was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage after she was involved in a protest against HSBC’s investment in fossil fuels which smashed the bank’s windows. Burning Pink have regularly doused other party’s headquarters and council buildings in pink paint to protest their inaction in tackling climate change.
Richard Hewison – Rejoin EU
Richard Hewison is standing under a simple banner of re-joining the European Union. He has lived in London since 1993, works in the financial services industry and is an LGBT rights campaigners. He is open about his belief that Sadiq Khan will comfortably win re-election as mayor, but is urging Londoners to vote for him with their first preference as a protest against Brexit, while then using their second preference to choose a more credible candidate.
Farah London – Independent
Born and raised in Croydon, Farah London has spent most of her career working in the insurance industry. She is also the founder and chief executive of several small businesses, and has volunteered with charities working in mental health, social justice and homelessness. She said she decided to stand as a non-political independent candidate as a result of Covid, and her pledges include championing London as a tech hub, cutting the Congestion Charge, and prioritising animal welfare.
David Kurten – Heritage Party
A former chemistry teacher, David Kurten has been a member of the London Assembly since 2016. He was elected as a UKIP candidate (and has run to be national leader of the party several times) but last year he left the party and founded his own Heritage Party, which focused on socially conservative policies. He has campaigned against the Covid lockdowns and has spread false conspiracy theories about coronavirus vaccines. His policies include reopening all London businesses as normal, taking out cycle lanes, and defending free speech.
Niko Omilana – Independent
A YouTuber with nearly 3.5million subscribers, Niko Omilana is a 23-year-old whose channel is normally focused on pranks and challenges. The influencer announced he was running for mayor earlier this month, describing himself as the “founding father and supreme leader of the Niko Defence League”. His main policy would be to tell Boris Johnson to “shush” but in a recent poll five per cent of Londoners said they would vote for him, placing him narrowly behind the Green and Liberal Democrat candidates.
Brian Rose – London Real Party
After a career in banking and a time battling heroin addiction, American-born Brian Rose has run the London Real YouTube and podcast channel since 2011. London Real hosts interviews with a wide range of people, but attracted condemnation last year when broadcasting an interview with the notorious conspiracy theorist David Icke who falsely claimed the pandemic did not exist and 5G phone masts could harm people. YouTube eventually removed the video. The Camden resident says he had spent more than £1m of his own money funding his campaign, and his promises include abolishing the Congestion Charge, 250 new community centres, a 31-day festival to get London working again, and ending the “war on the commuter”.
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