KEN LIVINGSTONE is on the comeback trail according to the latest opinion in the run-up to the London mayoral election on 1 May.

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The ICM survey for today’s Guardian has Livingstone on 41 percent and his main rival Boris Johnson on 42, which, given the usual margin of error in these polls, is a statistical dead heat.

Just last week Livingstone was ten percentage points behind Tory Boris Johnson, and the week before 12 points down, though the latter figures were from a different polling organisation.

It is thought that now the dust has settled on last month’s accusations of croneyism against Livingstone and now that the campaign has become more about London rather than personal issues, so the incumbent has benefited.

This is reflected in one of the poll’s other findings; that Livingstone leads by 46 points to 35 on the question, which candidate best understands the needs of Londoners. The current mayor is also seen by a sizeable majority to have done a good job in his eight years on the job and is ahead on key issues such as transport and the environment.

Speaking in Merton, Livingstone said he was “particularly pleased by those, in addition to Labour supporters, who have said they are going to vote for me in the first or crucial second rounds – Jonathon Porritt, Greg Dyke, and the Green Party, for example – because these are part of the progressive majority coalition that represents London against the narrow conservative one around Boris Johnson.”

Livingstone is right to concentrate on those second preferences as the one bit of bad news for him from the ICM poll is that most of Liberal Democrat Brian Paddick’s predicted 10 percent will be passed on to Johnson.

Johnson has also been backed by the racist British National Party on the second preferences front.