Official campaigning in today’s Mayoral elections got under way today as Labour’s Ken Livingstone and Green Party candidate Sian Berry launched their campaigns and Tory candidate Boris Johnson embarked on a day of campaigning.
Mr Livingstone formally launched his campaign at a packed event at the Royal Festival Hall which was also attended by Labour’s candidates for the London Assembly.
Livingstone sought to portray the choice facing voters on May 1st as a stark choice between “progressive” policies under him and a return to “right-wing” dogma under Boris Johnson.
The incumbent said “there is a majority in London that wants to keep moving our city forward – economically, socially, in a multicultural city and on the environment. If that majority votes on May 1st it will win again.”
Mr Livingstone sought to revive memories of the 1980’s and his advocacy of equal opportunities and claimed that the Tories had opposed every significant protection of the rights of minorities.
He said this approach had meant the capital enjoyed a fall in the number of racially motivated attacks at a time when such attacks were increasing nationally, adding “in contrast Boris Johnson’s campaign uses the right wing dog-whistle politics that attack “political correctness”.
Tonight Mr Johnson will be addressing Wales in London, a non-party political organisation that champions Welsh interests in London. Speaking earlier Johnson said he had “44 days to convince Londoners that they can make a difference, they can vote for change to make this city great again.”
Speaking of “pensioners who feel scared to get on a bus at 3.30 in the afternoon” and the “young city couple who can’t afford a place to call home” Mr Johnson said “once upon a time, Ken Livingstone stood up for these people, he seemed to understand, he acted like he cared. But that man who was first elected Mayor back in 2000 has clearly had his day.”
“He avoids questions over what has happened to taxpayers’ money, protecting his friends or booking his next trip to see one of his foreign dictators or working out how to fund another pet projects of his closest friends and politics.”
“Staying at home on 1st May will mean no new ideas for London, more of the same for four more years.”
Green candidate Sian Berry kicked off her campaign in Parliament Square this afternoon with a pledge to press for the repeal of laws limiting the ability to protest outside Parliament.
Commenting ahead of her launch Ms Berry said she wanted to “”create a Parliament Square where protest and free speech are welcomed. The SOCPA rules are stupid and authoritarian, and they do not belong in a modern democracy. They are also a huge waste of police time and our money.”
“It’s the Mayor’s job to represent the city and ensure its standing internationally. Frankly I’m embarassed that the centre of my city is subject to these idiotic and illiberal laws and I’ll make it my job to force the government to change them.”
The LibDem candidate Brian Paddick sought to portray himself as “the only candidate who can beat Ken Livingstone.”
Citing results from recent council by-elections Mr Paddick said “The only polls that matter are the ones on polling day, and these show that the Liberal Democrats are winning across London”
“The London election is a two-horse race – between me and Boris. The way the voting system works means I am the only candidate who can beat Ken Livingstone.”
“I have the capability and leadership to deliver real change. I have 30 years experience improving people’s lives and fostering trust amongst our communities. Londoners want a clean pair of hands they can trust running their city. Londoners want Brian Paddick on May 1st.”