With the London Mayoral Elections just a couple of weeks away, now is a good time to reflect on how the candidates have conducted their campaigns and how they might fair at the ballot box.
From a campaigning point of view the Mayoral Elections, together with other local elections, have been put well and truly in the political shadows by June’s EU Referendum. With the Conservative Party divided on the referendum, the Government is dedicating huge amounts of resources and time to ensure that its messages are heard. This has meant the debate around who will be the next Mayor of London has been put on the back burner. A lack of central support for the Party’s candidate may cost Zac Goldsmith votes on polling day.
Whilst Zac’s campaign has picked up over the last few weeks, for the majority, his tour of the Capital has looked like a burden, rather than an inspired effort to become leader. Whilst he is now coming over as a polished media performer who is capable at both hustings and on the street, at this stage being able to win friends on TV may not be enough.
The polls suggest that Zac has not done enough to win outer London and sufficiently compensate for Labour’s ‘safe seats’ in central areas. At this stage under Boris, the polls put the Conservative’s 12 points ahead in outer London, under Zac they are two points down. The writing may well be on the wall.
Sadiq’s campaign could not be more different. He has put himself out there and taken on the ‘council estate boy’. Whilst political consistency may not be his forte, he has consistently sought to please. There has been a real focus on transparency and he has tried to answer all his critics head on. However, he hasn’t always managed this and it is inevitable that he will be portrayed as flimsy due to his constant flip flopping. Sadiq is not as natural as Zac in front of the camera but he compensates by appearing approachable and confident. His upbeat tone has probably inspired enough Labour voters to justify his ‘favourite’ tag.
Interestingly, he has not looked to involve his party leader. Whilst Jeremy Corbyn remains hugely influential online, on the ground, politicians still seem to be reticent to use him in their campaigns. In spite of eight years of Boris, the Mayor of London may be perceived as an ‘easy win’ for the Labour Party due to the demographics. Nonetheless, Corbyn’s role has been bizarre, especially when you consider he has not exactly been outspoken on the European Referendum. This could have been an opportunity for him to show his value at the polls, instead he has remained in the shadows.
As much as many would have liked a third party candidate to emerge, this was always unlikely. The public must now decide between two candidates. Unlike the previous two Mayoral elections, 2016 has missed the superstar element. There is no ‘Boris Factor.’ Instead this year’s campaigns have provided an interesting starter to June’s main course. Here’s looking forward to the Referendum.
Aaron Bass, Account Manager