New poll gives Ken hope

Boris just two points ahead of Ken in first YouGov poll on mayoral race.

Don't write off Red Ken just yet. The first YouGov poll on the London mayoral race puts Boris ahead on first preferences by just two points (46 per cent). There are still other candidates to come, not least from the Greens and the Lib Dems, who could cut into Ken's vote ("Liberal Democrat candidate" is on 4 per cent and "some other candidate" is on 7 per cent), but this poll will reassure Labour officials rattled by an earlier ComRes survey that put Boris nine points ahead.

The significant support for Ken suggests that his age (he will turn 67 in June 2012) and his political baggage aren't necessarily barriers to his re-election. The poll also found that 56 per cent of voters approve of his time in office and that Ken is seen as more competent (52 per cent to 45 per cent) and in touch (44 per cent to 40 per cent) than Boris.

There is still plenty of ground to make up: in a straight contest between the pair, Boris would beat Ken by 46 per cent to 41 per cent, and 58 per cent of voters approve of his record. But this poll provides the Livingstone campaign with plenty of reasons to be cheerful.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Tony Blair won't endorse the Labour leader - Jeremy Corbyn's fans are celebrating

The thrice-elected Prime Minister is no fan of the new Labour leader. 

Labour heavyweights usually support each other - at least in public. But the former Prime Minister Tony Blair couldn't bring himself to do so when asked on Sky News.

He dodged the question of whether the current Labour leader was the best person to lead the country, instead urging voters not to give Theresa May a "blank cheque". 

If this seems shocking, it's worth remembering that Corbyn refused to say whether he would pick "Trotskyism or Blairism" during the Labour leadership campaign. Corbyn was after all behind the Stop the War Coalition, which opposed Blair's decision to join the invasion of Iraq. 

For some Corbyn supporters, it seems that there couldn't be a greater boon than the thrice-elected PM witholding his endorsement in a critical general election. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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