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30 April 2012

Ken tries to toxify Boris’s brand

New poster depicts Boris as a martian as the Mayor extends his poll lead to four points.

By George Eaton

In a final attempt to toxify Boris Johnson’s brand, Ken Livingstone’s new poster depicts him as a martian (“The Tories are on a different planet”) alongside the similarly blue-skinned David Cameron and George Osborne. It’s a riff that Ed Miliband has regularly used, with some success, against the Prime Minister (“Planet Cameron”). But while the Conservatives are falling in the polls, Boris keeps rising. The latest YouGov poll shows that the Mayor of London’s lead has increased from two points to four points over the last week. Given the scale of the Tories’ woes, that is some achievement. But then one of the stories of this campaign has been Boris’s ability to differentiate himself from his party. While he outpolls the Tories by 12 points (the “Boris bounce”), Ken trails Labour by three points (“the Ken drag”). As the LSE’s Tony Travers notes, “Boris is still way ahead on likeability. This suggests it is an election between Boris and Ken – not the Conservatives and Labour.”

With three days to go, the gap between the two candidates is still narrow enough for Ken to stand a chance of victory and tying Boris to the Tories is probably his best hope. But the odds are against him, not least because of YouGov’s exemplary London polling record. In 2004 and 2008 it called the results right to within one per cent (Ken had earlier lodged a formal complaint against the polling company, alleging that its methodology was “fundamentally flawed”).

One striking finding from the poll is the degree of Liberal Democrat support for Boris. In the second round, the Lib Dem vote splits 70 per cent to 30 per cent in favour of the Mayor, up 10 per cent from last week. It looks like Boris’s re-election will be a true coalition effort.

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