If this support remains solid in the lead-up to polling day on May 6, he will become the first mayoral candidate in the capital to win victory without requiring second-preference votes.
In the London mayoral elections, which operate under the supplementary vote system, a candidate is elected when they receive 50% of the vote.
There are plans afoot from the government to change the London mayoral elections and other local elections to the first-past-the-post system – which is used for general elections – but this won’t have happened before the May poll.
The Opinium survey is only one of many giving Khan a more than 25-point lead over Bailey, even though Rory Stewart – who would have stood last year as an independent – is no longer there to potentially split the Tory vote.
Question marks have been raised about why Shaun Bailey is doing so badly, but the crudest answer may be that Khan is pro-European and a Labour man in a city that was firmly for Remain and has largely voted for Labour at recent elections.
While he has his strong critics, particularly when it comes to housing, Khan has also been praised by many as being a strong figurehead for London. According to YouGov, he is the second most popular Labour politician and the fourth most famous, while he is generally held in high esteem by the millennials who make up a big chunk of the London population.
In the Opinium poll, some 47% of respondents approved of Khan’s performance as mayor, with 31% disapproving. He had similar approval ratings in inner and outer London.
Although the Mayor of London has limited powers, it is a position which holds a lot of soft power, profile and global kudos, with a personal mandate that dwarfs any other politician in the UK given the size of London’s population.
Here, we take a quick look at the main candidates and what some of their housing proposals are.
Sadiq Khan, Labour
In his relaunched election campaign, Khan has put ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ at the front and centre of his pitch to Londoners, making this his top priority if he wins a second term in City Hall. This isn’t surprising given the Covid-19 crisis but marks a move away from the central plank of his 2020 campaign, which he said would be a referendum on rent controls.
His original campaign in 2016 was labelled as a referendum on housing, with that being the key issue for London voters at the time.
He relaunched his election campaign with a rallying call for a 1945-style programme for economic recovery, with a ‘top priority’ for his second term being to protect Londoners’ jobs and help to create new ones to replace the more than 300,000 lost in the capital. The Mayor has also pledged to continue his ‘relentless focus’ on tackling crime, building council homes and cleaning up the city’s air.
He says he will get central London’s economy back on track with £5 million of investment dedicated to attracting Londoners and domestic tourists back into the West End, as well as maximising City Hall’s expenditure to support London’s recovery and help create or retain jobs.
He has also pledged to transform small business support in London by making it simpler for business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs to access advice and support, as well as promising to introduce 4G on the Tube if he wins re-election.
As for housing, not much has changed in his stances, which include plans to build more council and affordable housing, continuing to help the capital’s homeless and demanding the powers to levy rent controls.
The Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker will continue to be used to name and shame rogue operators and put tenants’ minds at rest, while loans will be given to developers to keep them building genuinely affordable homes even despite Covid-19.
Shaun Bailey, Conservatives
A member of the London Assembly since 2016 and a former youth worker, Bailey has set out his campaign for the mayoralty with the tagline of “A fresh start for London”.
His plans include 8,000 more police officers and a new youth centre in every borough, as well as restoring order to Transport for London’s finances (badly affected by the pandemic) to ensure ‘a transport network fit for a global city’.
He has also promised that 100,000 homes would be sold for £100,000 each under his watch, to help first-time buyers under forty get on the housing ladder.
He also insists his plan will create 940,000 jobs over the next five years, as well as cleaning London’s air, reversing the congestion charge hike and reversing the 10% council tax hike to save every household £307. Furthermore, he insists he will be standing up for London’s outer boroughs by scrapping Khan’s plans to charge people £5.50 to drive into outer London, as well as introducing 30-minutes free parking for outer boroughs.
He has also been a vocal critic of London’s Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – even though these are central government policy and have broad support from voters.
Despite these various pledges and more media attention as the vote edges nearer, Bailey is struggling to cut through, with The Sunday Times recently claiming that the Tories are in crisis over the race, not helped by various setbacks and controversies.
Sian Berry, Green Party
The co-leader of the Greens alongside Jonathan Bartley since 2018, Berry is now on her third bid to become London Mayor after previous attempts in 2008, when she came fourth, and 2016, when she came third. She has been a member of the London Assembly since 2016 and is an outspoken figure when it comes to the rights of tenants in London.
She has made housing the central part of her latest pitch to Londoners, outlining a range of proposals to ‘strengthen the rights’ of the capital’s growing number of tenants. This includes greater security against evictions, helping co-ops buy out landlords, calling for an end to the housing benefit cap and lobbying national government for powers to introduce rent controls in the capital.
She speaks from experience as a London renter herself – she is now in her sixth rented apartment since moving to the capital a quarter of a century ago – and wants rent controls imposed if she proves victorious.
Berry, who is also in favour of ending Section 21 no-fault eviction rights for landlords, said: “London needs a mayor who will be a real champion for renters, bringing down skyrocketing rents and bringing up the standards of housing.”
She said that as Mayor she would ‘push the government until London gets the powers we need’, including by making common cause with Mayors of other cities to secure them.
Berry argues that nearly every other major city has lower rents than London and almost every other EU country has better protection for tenants. In the past, she has commissioned research into how housemates renting together can become home co-owners and has championed the work of the controversial London Renters’ Union.
Further policies include financial backing for co-op housing and new Build to Rent policies. Polling suggests Berry will be in a two-way fight with the Liberal Democrat candidate, Luisa Porritt, for third place.
Luisa Porritt, Liberal Democrats
Replacing Siobhan Benita as the Liberal Democrat candidate for London Mayor (Benita was the candidate for last year’s vote until it was postponed and subsequently pulled out of the race for City Hall citing financial pressures), Camden councillor Porritt has also made housing a key part of her campaign.
She says she will create a central housing company to take control of building homes in the city, if elected.
During the launch of her ‘take London forward’ campaign in mid-March, Porritt – who served as an MEP for London from 2019 to 2020 – argued that jobs, homes and clean air are ‘three basic needs’ and she would do all she could to give Londoners what they need, ‘so that every person can thrive in our recovery beyond the pandemic’.
Porritt said that a specially created London housing company would enable City Hall to ‘take control of building the homes we need directly’, while she also announced that she would commission a study looking at converting offices into homes, with the pandemic likely to lead to more empty office space coming onto the market than ever before in the coming years.
Along with the Greens, the Lib Dems are currently polling at around 7%, with a narrow fight expected for third place, albeit well behind the two main contenders.
While these are the four main contenders, a number of other candidates are expected to be on the ballot paper – and they make for interesting reading.
The colourful list includes Brian Rose, a former New York banker who founded the media firm London Real, Winston McKenzie, a 2016 Celebrity Big Brother contestant and founder and leader of the Unity In Action party, anti-woke/anti-lockdown campaigner and actor Laurence Fox from the Reclaim Party, Drillminster, a London-born drill rapper running as an independent, Jeremy Corbyn’s controversial older brother and lockdown sceptic Piers, UKIP’s Peter Gammons, and Count Binface, a self-proclaimed interplanetary space warrior who has gone up against Boris Johnson and Theresa May in recent general elections.
The results for the London mayoral elections – which also includes the election of 25 London Assembly members – will be announced on May 6. More than six million people are registered to vote in the capital, with the elections usually taking place every four years.
It’s not 100% clear if the next elections will be held in 2024, as planned, or if they will be pushed back a year moving forward to give the elected mayor a full four-year term in office.