|Londoners believe in Ken|
|Monday, 23 January 2012 09:50|
This article originally appeared on Labourlist on 20th January 2012.
Ken Livingstone was trending on Twitter yesterday. That’s not a sentence you might expect to read every day, but interest in Labour’s campaign for London Mayor should not be surprising, particularly in light of yesterday’s YouGov London poll, which shows Ken Livingstone taking a lead in the London election – 51% to Boris Johnson’s 49%, after second preferences are allocated.
Compare that to the last YouGov poll that put the Tory Mayor 8 points ahead, and you can see that Labour has got something to talk about: Ken Livingstone and Labour are winning the argument on the future of London.
Johnson – the Tory Mayor with the £250,000 job at the Telegraph – faces a growing credibility problem. Just 13% see him as ‘in touch’ with the concerns of ordinary Londoners, compared to 40% for Ken. While Londoners are being squeezed by wage freezes, high inflation, rising transport fares, cuts to services and climbing unemployment, they need to know that their Mayor is in their corner.
This poll shows that Londoners look at Boris Johnson and see a celebrity Mayor who is failing to deliver on the most important job the Mayor of London has – to represent all Londoners, and stand up them for when the going gets tough.
In fact, when the going gets tough, Tory Boris gets out of here. When riots broke out across London last summer, where was he? Nowhere to be seen. For three days, as Londoners watched their city burn, he refused to cut short his summer holiday to come back to the city he is supposed to lead.
When above-inflation fare rises bit hard for the fourth year running at the beginning of January, was he on the television justifying a policy that would hit Londoners’ pockets and hurt the city’s economy? No, he was on a skiing holiday in Italy.
While crime is rising and police numbers are being cut, his official diary shows he meets bankers more often than the police.
So far we haven’t had a real analysis by mainstream media commentators of the Mayor’s record, but here’s mine: it’s poor. And Londoners appear to agree with me. 40% surveyed in yesterday’s YouGov poll think Ken has more to show for his time as Mayor than Boris Johnson, whose Mayoralty has been defined by inactivity and obfuscation. This Mayor has done nothing for the overwhelming majority of Londoners, and people are starting to wake up to this fact.
I can see this on the doorstep, at phone banking sessions and in the emails and letters I get on a daily basis from constituents. So it’s no surprise activist recruitment and activity outstrips 2008 levels, and crucially, beats the Tory campaign at every level.
On January 3rd, probably the most difficult morning of the year to get out of bed and campaign, over 2000 activists headed to their local tube and railway stations to campaign against Boris Johnson’s painful fare increases. A huge achievement, and a testament to the energy and drive of our activists. Our contact rates are good across London, and we have 50,000 registered supporters on YourKen.org and a highly successful text channel to communicate with voters and mobilise the grassroots.
It remains to be seen whether Boris Johnson can translate his undoubtedly media-friendly but lightweight style of politics into activists on the ground.
Ken’s campaign has stayed pretty tight-lipped about YouGov’s poll yesterday, pointing out that the only poll that really matters is in May. As Tessa Jowell said yesterday, this poll is encouraging, but there will be many more polls between now and the real poll on May 3rd.
One thing is clear – this is a two horse race and we’ve just nosed ahead. Now we’ve got just over 100 days to drive our message home – that a vote for Ken on May 3rd is a vote for the Mayor who will put ordinary Londoners first.
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