'I put the majority of Londoners first,' says mayor, in face of bleak poll
KEN LIVINGSTONE has come out fighting after the latest poll ranked him 12 percentage points below Tory rival Boris Johnson for 1 May's London Mayoral election.
The current mayor held up his plans for charging big-engined cars UKP25 a pop for driving in central London as an example of the difference in approach between the two main candidates.
"Boris Johnson puts first a small selfish minority who want to drive around the city in gas guzzlers and for others to pay for the pollution they create," said Labour candidate Livingstone.
"I put first the three-fifths of Londoners who want their environment protected and the UKP30m a year the charge will raise for public transport, cycling and walking."
In surveys, 60 percent of Londoners asked about the issue say they support Livingstone on the gas guzzlers, but that's about the only piece of poll evidence likely to put the trademark sleepy grin on the Mayor's face.
A poll for YouGov, taken a few days ago in the aftermath of accusations of croneyism at City Hall, had Johnson on 49 percent, Livingstone back on 37 and third-placed runner, Liberal Democrat Brian Padddick, on 12 points.
Livingstone's hope is that the croneyism furore will fade away to be replaced by what he sees as more substantive issues.
"Some people attempt to portray this election as about personality - a celebrity big brother," said Livingstone. "It is not. The stakes are very high. It is about the most vital issues for the future of London affecting the lives of all Londoners for years."
The snag for the two-time Mayor is that it was largely his engaging personality that won him office in the first place, eight years ago.