Sadiq Khan retains his lead over fellow mayoral hopeful Zac Goldsmith according to a new poll conducted by ComRes for ITV London and LBC.
The poll suggests Labour’s Khan is the preferred choice of 42% of Londoners with Goldsmith three points behind on 39%. Mr Khan’s lead widens to 6 points after second preferences are taken into account.
While the Labour candidate remains ahead, his lead is smaller than suggested by a recent poll carried out by Opinium for the Evening Standard which put him 10 points ahead in the final face-off.
Mr Khan also leads on the the issues poll respondents say matter to them most, with 43% choosing the Labour candidate when it comes to who is best at understanding the needs of Londoners (compared to 27% who say Goldsmith) and 41% saying he would be best at standing up for Londoners. 29% pick Goldsmith.
Tom Mludzinski, Director of Political Polling, ComRes said: “This first in a series of polls shows that the race to become Mayor of London is by no means over.
“While Sadiq Khan enjoys a small lead, and will draw comfort from the fact the he leads Zac Goldsmith on the two most important characteristics voters want from their Mayor, the high levels of people saying they don’t know which candidate is best on these characteristics shows that many people are still getting to know both Zac and Sadiq.
“How voters react when they see and hear more from the candidates could be crucial in swinging the election either way.”
The poll’s publication coincides with the official start of the race to succeed Boris Johnson.
Mr Goldsmith spent the first morning of the official campaign meeting voters in South East London where he also addressed activists and supporters, warning them that final result would come down “to a few thousand votes”.
Speaking of his rival, Goldsmith said: “Khan is a deeply partisan politician who has cynically changed his position on every issue depending on who he is speaking to. He is a man with no principles and who will trample on anyone and anything to advance his career. He would be a disaster for our great city.”
The Richmond MP is seeking to harness Boris Johnson’s popularity, featuring the outgoing Mayor prominently in much of his campaign literature.
Today he pledged to “build on Boris’s success, and I will make it work for all Londoners by fixing the housing crisis, growing the transport network, making our streets safer and making London the greenest and cleanest city in the world.”
But he also warned that the election would be close, telling his audience: “Boris beat Ken Livingstone by just over 62,000 votes. 62,000 votes out of an electorate of 5.9 million people – that’s just 1,954 per borough. With the result coming down to a few thousand votes, your vote will make the difference.”
Over the past few months Mr Khan has been the subject of what many supporters see as a smear campaign by the Conservatives who have sought to link him to a number of radical and extremist figures and organisations.
These include attacks for appearing at events also supported by senior Tory politicians.
As a result Mr Goldsmith has been criticised for pandering to racial stereotypes and accused of running a “racist” campaign.
However today’s Comres poll may suggest the Tory attacks have had some impact.
Asked who would be best at keeping Londoners safe from terrorist attacks, 31% name Goldsmith while 24% pick Khan.
The polling company also finds: “Just 56% of Sadiq Khan voters say that the Labour candidate would be best at keeping London safe, compared with 72% of Conservatives who back their candidate.” “I will always support and encourage the majority of mainstream British Muslims to speak out and challenge the extremists.”
Sadiq Khan MP
Today Mr Khan gave a major speech on London’s security in which he pledged to be “the British Muslim who takes the fight to the extremists”.
The former shadow Justice Secretary said the capital needs “to be ready to deal with an attack like that on Mumbai” and pledged to “order a full and comprehensive review of London’s emergency services capability to deal with a major terrorist incident” on his first day as Mayor.
In an effort to distance himself from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was criticised after failing to support the use of lethal action by the police, Mr Khan also pledged to “give my full backing to our armed officers to take the decisions necessary to keep us safe”.
He also said: “As a British Muslim, I will always support and encourage the majority of mainstream British Muslims to speak out and challenge the extremists.
“This is so, so important – we need mainstream British Muslim voices to speak out loudly and clearly. Not because they are more responsible for extremism than anyone else, but because they can be most effective at challenging the poisonous ideology.”
And he closed his speech by saying: “There really is nothing more important to me than keeping Londoners safe.
“As Mayor, I will be the British Muslim who takes the fight to the extremists. Who gives our experts and emergency services the resources they need to keep us safe. And who tackles the underlying conditions that allow extremism and radicalisation to take hold.”
Londoners will elect a new Mayor and the 25 members of the London Assembly on May 5th. Other candidates for Mayor include Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon, the Green party’s Sian Berry and UKIP’s Peter Whittle.