In precisely one month's time, one year late, Londoners get their chance to vote for a new Mayor. They won't, they'll vote for the old Mayor, because Sadiq Khan is so far ahead in the polls he's effectively unstoppable. But we do now know the 19 people who won't replace him, at least 16 of whom are destined to lose their £10,000 deposit. Here's my clickable summary.
The mainstream three
• Shaun Bailey(Conservative Party): Shaun's the least competent Conservative candidate of the millennium, which is saying something given his predecessor was Boris Johnson. He was selected three years ago from a longlist devoid of big names, and since then has made few positive ripples. He shouts loudest on crime because he used to be a youth worker, but also has a talent for exaggeration, bandwagon-jumping and getting the wrong end of the stick (as evidenced when he went to Watford where people can't vote for him to campaign against the closure of a tube station the current Mayor isn't intending to close). A typical Shaun-ism is his claim that Sadiq is introducing a £5.50 Greater London Boundary Charge when in fact a) it's only a proposal b) it'd be £3.50 unless you had a high-polluting car c) nobody who lives in London would have to pay it. Shaun also wants to introduce commercial sponsorship to the tube network, cut the congestion charge, revoke Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and scrap the ULEZ extension, policies that play well with the car-owning outer London demographic, so it is perhaps just as well he's going to lose and lose badly. I suspect the Conservative Party are regretting picking him, but they'd have been hard pushed to find anyone to beat Sadiq this year.
• Luisa Porritt(Liberal Democrats): Luisa is 33 and used to be a member of the European Parliament until that job wasn't needed any more. Her priorities are jobs, homes and clean air, which are at least things the Mayor has some responsibility for. She intends to introduce a London Apprenticeships Hub, a London Housing Company and some kind of road pricing system. But it's 2004 since a Liberal Democrat last got over 10% of the Mayoral vote and 2008 since one last got over 5% so Luisa faces a real uphill struggle to get elected.
• Sian Berry(Green Party): Siân ran for the Mayorship in 2008 (when she came fourth) and again in 2016 (when she came third), and like Luisa is currently a Camden councillor. Her transport policies include introducing a single fare zone across the capital, making London the world's first zero carbon transport city and (like Luisa) scrapping the Silvertown Tunnel.
The one-track idealists
• Mandu Reid(Women’s Equality Party): Mandu claims to be the first black leader of a UK political party and hopes to make London the first gender-equal city in the world. Her party's potentially attainable goal is to get a seat on the London Assembly where they'd fight for women's rights, but I haven't been able to find a manifesto detailing policies in any other area.
• Vanessa Hudson(Animal Welfare Party): Vanessa wants "to help shape a London that leads the world – not only for people but for animals and the environment too", including the creation of an Animal Welfare Committee within the London Assembly, the promotion of plant-based diets and of course "fostering a culture where speciesism is rejected".
• Kam Balayev(Renew): Kam's a lawyer, originally from Baku, whose focus is on creating an interconnected business-friendly digital society. A lot of his policies can be boiled down to 'making London a better place' but one of them is that "senior citizens should be eligible for free travel across London" which makes me think he doesn't know our capital city as well as he thinks he does.
• Valerie Brown(The Burning Pink Party): Valerie's unique in that she wants to make herself redundant. Her plan is for "legally binding Citizens Assemblies to replace the traditional mayoral role and put Londoners in control", which however idealistic you might be plainly isn't going to happen.
• Richard Hewison(Rejoin EU): Richard wants to be "the leading advocate for Rejoining the EU", even though it's not really within the Mayor's remit and that ship has sailed. His party is supported by Volt, a pan-European party who currently have one German MEP and three seats on the Dutch national legislature.
The lockdown skeptics
• Peter Gammons(UKIP): Yes, UKIP is still going, despite having achieved its aim and the party having been reduced to an unstable rump. Yes, Peter's surname really is Gammons, leading to the unintentionally hilarious Twitter handle Gammons4London. And yes, this is one of his key policies... "There are over 2 million miles of unused tunnels, streets, and chambers beneath London. This abandoned network was secretly built by the Ministry of Defence, Post Office, and BT. I want to convert these disused spaces into walkways, safe cycle lanes, and create the world’s first underground ‘Pod’ transport system. This ambitious project will speed up the city and clear up London’s congestion." ...so I think we can safely sideline Peter as unfit for public office.
• Brian Rose(London Real Party): Besuited businessman Brian has a bigger advertising budget than all the other independent candidates so is plastering his dapper face across billboards and social media willy nilly. "I can no longer sit idly by and watch our current crop of politicians drive this incredible city into the ground", he says, resting his hopes on the implementation of entrepreneur-friendly science-based protocols. He also wants to "rethink empty cycle lanes" and despairs at "a completely disproportionate response to the virus" because of course he does.
• Piers Corbyn(Let London Live): His brother wasn't unsuccessful enough so wildcard Piers is standing on a platform of No Lockdowns, Masking, Distancing; Covid Rules NEVER! Resist, Defy, Do NOT Comply! because the pandemic is allegedly a hoax. He's also against Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and extending the ULEZ, again for perverse contradictory reasons. And he is not alone.
• Laurence Fox(The Reclaim Party): Laurence wants to free London from the tyranny of the woke mob because central government no longer allows the common sense freedoms he believes in. Restrictive rules and leftist behaviours are an anathema to Lozza, and lockdown's wrong, and vaccines are dangerous, and all the usual cockwombleness.
• David Kurten(Heritage Party): David's been on the London Assembly as a UKIP member since 2016 but is now breaking away via his own Heritage Party. He doesn't believe in lockdowns or vaccines because they're not freedom enough, ditto Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and pop-up cycle lanes, but he would complete the Silvertown Tunnel.
• Steve Kelleher(Social Democratic Party): Steve's Twitter bio describes him as an iEntrepreneur, businessman, father of five, rock singing, cricket loving Brexiteer. His SDP isn't the mild-mannered 80s incarnation but a two-fingered party with a "left on economics, right on culture" mantra. He's not as lockdown obsessed as the other five, I think, but it's very unclear what he'd do with the Mayoralty.
The classic eccentric
• Count Binface: Hurrah for intergalactic space warrior Count Binface.
The outlier independents
• Farah London: Farah is a young entrepreneur who aims to "Bring London Back". Like Shaun she wants to reopen closed police stations, like Brian she supports our cabbies and like Laurence she wants to gift us several months of free travel after she's elected.
• Nims Obunge: The Reverend Nims wants a "safe, affordable, electric and prosperous city" with a focus on improving the lives of the young and the excluded. His website promises a set of final policies to be announced in March 2021, so that's going well.
• Max Fosh: Max is a 25 year-old YouTuber with 400,000 subscribers standing partly for the LOLs, partly because he reckons it'll make cracking video content but mainly with the aim of earning more votes than Laurence Fox. Like and subscribe.
• Niko Omilana: Niko's another YouTuber, this time with 3.3 million subscribers, who appears to specialise in takeaway-related prank videos. He's not taking it seriously, but would probably be a better candidate than one or two of the above.
There might be fewer candidates when the next Mayoral Election comes round in 2025 because the government havesignalled they intend to replace the current Supplementary Vote system with First Past The Post, but so long as egos remain larger than the required deposit I wouldn't bet on it.