It’s now just over 46 hours until polling stations open on Thursday morning (though many people, myself included, have already voted by post).
You won’t be surprised to learn that I voted for Boris Johnson. In case you are still struggling to make up your mind, here’s why.
First, I think he’s done a good job. He’s cut down on waste at City Hall and, as a result, has been able to cut our Council Tax bills (whereas Ken Livingstone more than doubled them). And he’s been an effective advocate for London with the Government - whereas Ken had a strained relationship with Tony Blair, Boris has done business with both Gordon Brown and David Cameron, not letting party politics get in the way with the former and not just toeing the party line with the latter.
Second, on the crucial issue of transport it is Boris who has the best policy. Ken says that if he wins he will cut fares but he’s promised that before and not delivered it - and independent experts say that the only way he could do it is by slashing desperately needed investment in our transport system. He’s also far too close to Bob Crow and the leadership of the RMT, who regularly inflict misery on the travelling public,
Third, Boris has taken far more of an interest in outer London boroughs like Croydon than Ken did. He’s been here more in four years than Ken managed in his eight years. He’s set up a specific fund for outer London - we were one of the first boroughs to be awarded funding (for a scheme to regenerate Central Parade in New Addington). He’s invested in improving the frequency of services on our tram network. And in the wake of the riots he’s provided nearly £25 million to help regenerate our economy.
Fourth, and most importantly, the Mayor needs to be a unifying figure. London is an incredibly diverse city, home to people of all different faiths and ethnic backgrounds. In our globalised world, that can be one of its greatest strengths but what we don’t need is a divisive figure like Ken Livingstone who seeks the support of some communities while ignoring others. In this election, he has promised to make London “a beacon of Islam” while alienating London’s Jewish community. There’s nothing wrong with the former - London’s Muslim community make a huge contribution to our city - but why the contrast? Because he thinks the former will vote for him, but the latter won’t. That is not the type of leadership our city needs.
If the polls are to be believed, more and more people are coming to the same conclusion as me. Despite the Government having had a very bad few weeks, Boris remains ahead with a significant number of Labour supporters saying they can’t vote for Ken, including high profile figures like Lord Sugar and Lord Winston.
But if you’re not convinced, here’s a final argument put to me by someone I met in Pickering Gardens a few weeks ago. In these difficult times, wouldn’t you rather have a Mayor who puts a smile on everyone’s face?