Who will step into Boris’ shoes? Meet the candidates hoping to walk into City Hall as London Mayor 2016

The face of London politics will change for the first time in eight years when Boris Johnson steps down from the role as Mayor in three months’ time.

The Conservative politician gave up the chance to be the first three-term London mayor, instead heading to the House of Commons by winning the Uxbridge and Ruislip South seat in last year’s general election.

Now, with the countdown to May 5 heading into its last three months, we look at those in the running to step into City Hall for a four-year term of their own.

SADIQ KHAN, Labour MP for Tooting

Sadiq Khan featured image
SADIQ KHAN: Poll frontrunner © Sadiq Khan

Sadiq Khan’s story is a very well-known tale, he has held the Tooting seat since 2005, before which he was a councillor for Wandsworth from 1994, but it is his background that gets the most attention.

The son of a bus driver, Mr Khan lived on a council estate and trained to study law at the University of North London, practicing in human rights prior to his political career.

He also has held numerous roles in the Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet, including Minister (and Shadow Secretary) of State for Transport and Shadow Minister for London, later ousting Tessa Jowell and Diane Abbott to be Labour’s mayoral candidate.

His main principles are for Londoners to maintain the opportunities he was offered, affordable home and transport, notably looking to freeze fares for four years.

Mr Khan has also said he won’t be a ‘patsy’ to anyone, and will stand up to government, whether that is David Cameron or his party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

But Mr Khan has faced criticism in recent weeks, notably from Zac Goldsmith and George Galloway, citing that he has no record of working with others on business issues.

ZAC GOLDSMITH, Conservative MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston

Zac Goldsmith flickr Policy Exchange
ZAC GOLDSMITH: Against Heathrow expansion © Policy Exchange

The Goldsmith family are no strangers to politics. Both of Mr Goldsmith’s grandfathers were Conservative MPs, while he also supported the career of Michael Gove before launching his own political campaign in 2005.

Five years later, and Goldsmith joined Khan as an MP in south west London and was re-elected in 2015, increasing his majority from 4,000 to more than 23,000 votes in Richmond Park and North Kingston.

Mr Goldsmith spent his early life working in think tanks and for The Ecologist magazine, and is openly against the Heathrow expansion and is seen as a Euro-sceptic.

Defeating the likes of former footballer Sol Campbell to the Tory role, Mr Goldsmith is in favour of right-to-buy schemes for new homeowners, while also looking to improve the transport system should he become Mayor.

The aristocratic background of Mr Goldsmith is something which has drawn the contrast from Mr Khan’s working-class upbringing, although the Labour man slammed Goldsmith for being an ‘underachiever’ in politics.

PETER WHITTLE, United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) culture spokesman

Peter Whittle courtesy Peter Whittle
PETER WHITTLE: Hope to improve UKIP’s chances

Peckham-born Peter Whittle is currently the only LGBT candidate standing for any of the major parties, and became UKIP’s general spokesperson in 2013.

Mr Whittle, who has the backing of party leader Nigel Farage, missed out on a potential Eltham seat in the 2015 General Election, coming third with 15% of the votes.

But Mr Whittle, who is also against the expansion of Heathrow, has work to do to overturn the disappointing mayoral showing of 2012, where UKIP accrued just 2% of the vote under candidate Lawrence Webb.

Mr Whittle sees the control on immigration as being the main catalyst for the supply and demand of housing and social services within London.

SIÂN BERRY, Green Party councillor for Highgate, Camden council

Sian Berry courtesy Green Party
SIÂN BERRY: Green credentials ©

Ms Berry has already made waves in politics as part of the driving force behind then-mayor Ken Livingstone’s decision to put higher congestion charges for vehicles with high emissions.

The Alliance Against Urban 4x4s campaign, known for ‘theatrical demonstrations’ was part-founded by Berry, an advocate for green issues through her role as Camden Borough Councillor for Highgate ward.

Read our in-depth interview with Siân Berry here.

CAROLINE PIDGEON, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group

Caroline Pidgeon via the Liberal Democrat Campaign and Elections team
CAROLINE PIDGEON © Liberal Democrat Campaign and Elections team

Caroline Pidgeon has worked her way up the political spectrum, starting her career in local government as a councillor for Southwark before becoming a cabinet member and a deputy leader of the council.

Since then, she held off the surging Tory comeback in the 2010 General Election seat of Vauxhall, although was still beaten into second by Labour, a year after launching the one hour ticket campaign for London buses, a scheme which is still being discussed today, and could be implemented depending on who sits in City Hall in a few months.

Like most candidates, Ms Pidgeon is pushing for more affordable homes across the capital.


George Galloway flickr KNLphotos2010
GEORGE GALLOWAY: Supports the war on terror © KNLphotos2010

George Galloway was involved in politics heavily since the late-1980s as an MP for Glasgow Hillhead when he was part of the Labour party. The Scot stayed in the Commons for 23 years at Glasgow Kelvin and Bethnal Green and Bow, the latter of which as an MP for the Respect party after being expelled by Labour.

Having appeared in the Celebrity Big Brother House in 2008, Mr Galloway returned to the more political House in 2012, taking the Bradford West seat in a by-election although he lost to Labour in the 2015 General Election.

Mr Galloway remains a strong advocate of the war on terror, believing he is in the best position to prevent London from a ‘Paris-style attack’.

As well as kitting up police officers, the Respect party candidate is keen to launch a Prevent strategy that stops young people being lured to extremism, separatism and violence.

DAVID FURNESS, British National Party (BNP)

BNP banner via David Furness Youtube
DAVID FURNESS: Place in the race is already in jeopardy © David Furness

David Furness was announced as the BNP mayoral candidate, but the party has yet to pay the Electoral Commission and so their position on the ballot is in jeopardy.

Mr Furness previously stood in the 2011 Feltham and Heston parliamentary by-election, but lost out to Labour candidate Seema Malhotra, the start of a tricky period for the BNP after their financial crippling in 2010.

PAUL GOLDING, Britain First

Paul Golding Britian First image courtesy of BBC
PAUL GOLDING:  Former BNP councillor © BBC

Britain First’s Paul Golding announced their surprise place on the ballot in September, with their leading having been unsuccessful in the 2010 General Election for the BNP.

However, deputy leader Jayda Fransen said in a Facebook post that they wanted to ‘hang their adversaries’ for ‘ruining our country’.

WINSTON MCKENZIE, British Democrats

Winston McKenzie Big Brother via Channel 5 YouTube
WINSTON MCKENZIE: © Big Brother/Channel 5 via YouTube

Croydon-born Winston McKenzie may have a record of sorts – for being a member of the most political parties!

The British-Jamaican began his political life with Labour, but subsequently went to Conservative, Liberal Democrat then UKIP, while also standing as an independent candidate.

Mr McKenzie now represents the British Democrats, and also appeared in the Celebrity Big Brother house in 2016 to boost his party’s name.

SOPHIE WALKER, Women’s Equality Party

SOPHIE WALKER: New party hopes to makes waves © Women’s Equality Party

The Women’s Equality Party may be still be in its infancy stage, but it is widely recognised as being one of the fastest growing political parties in the UK.

The party was formed in a bid to reduce gender inequality in the UK, with journalist of 20 years Sophie Walker linking up with radio host Sandi Toksvig, despite the former not having a direct political background.

WEP possesses a key schemata of six goals: Equal representation in politics and economics, equal representation in education, equal pay, equal treatment in the media, equal parental rights and an end to domestic violence of women.

Featured picture courtesy of CpaKmoi, with thanks

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