Blog Post

What’s in the London mayoral manifestos?

We look at what the top four polling candidates have promised in their manifestos and whether their plans match up with own asks.

You would be forgiven for not having read any of the London mayoral manifestos cover to cover. Of the top four polling candidates, the shortest manifesto amounts to 33 pages and the longest, 102. But given that the manifesto is traditionally where candidates lay out their vision and make all of their policy commitments in advance, we’ve had a look through them and considered whether they match up to our own asks.

Sadiq Khan, Labour

Khan’s manifesto reflects on a tumultuous five years, from Brexit to national political instability, tragedies and terrorism, as well as unsurprisingly, the pandemic that pushed the elections back by a year. The enormity of the challenge facing the next Mayor is no secret to Khan, who frames his plan as one that will ensure the recovery leads to a better city.

So what of his policies? Khan’s manifesto covers everything from creating jobs and reviving central London’s economy, to tackling crime, working to put Transport for London on a sustainable footing and increasing the number of affordable homes. At the heart of the manifesto is the incumbent candidate’s pledge to a 10 point ‘Green New Deal’ covering greener transport, air pollution, access to nature, a clean energy revolution and protection of the Green Belt.

Some of Centre for London’s recommendations have made their way into his manifesto. There’s a pledge to review how to further involve local communities in planning decisions. He commits to consulting on charters for creative freelancers and on-demand work to drive up standards. There’s even the suggestion that he may bring a Devolution Bill forward in Parliament in reponse to a lack of movement by government. But on other issues that we have called for change on, such as road pricing, the language is less committal.

Shaun Bailey, Conservative

Next up, the current Mayor’s closest competitor in the polls, Shaun Bailey on his plan ‘to give London a fresh start’. Unsurprisingly Bailey sets himself up in complete opposition to Khan, primarily focusing on safer streets, affordable homes, a better transport network and a lower cost of living. Increasing police numbers has been at the heart of Bailey’s campaign to date, and his policies to tackle crime make up the largest portion of his manifesto.

Bailey also pledges various measures to cut costs for Londoners – setting out his proposals to scrap the Congestion Charge ‘hike’, the ULEZ extension later this year, as well as cut council tax. Like Khan, he commits to job creation en masse, promising just short of a million new jobs through a housebuilding boom, new opportunities in green sectors as well as at his proposed London Infrastructure Bank. And like Centre for London, Bailey backs lobbying the government to devolve suburban rail to London and extending shared e-bike provision to beyond the city centre, as well as ensuring local communities are the heart of decisions about local regeneration. His manifesto does however roll back current road charging schemes and commit to introducing 30 minute free parking in outer London: both proposals we’ve disagreed with in the past.

Luisa Porritt, Liberal Democrat

Luisa Porritt’s plan for London positions her as a Mayor that would embrace change, and take London forward, with a particular focus on jobs, homes, clean air and safer streets. Some of Porritt’s big policy proposals include supporting plans to convert empty offices to homes, making the Santander cycle scheme free every Sunday for a year and creating a London Apprenticeships Hub to unlock more opportunities and support young people to find them.

She explicitly commits to publishing a Statement of Community Involvement and establishing a ‘Good Developer’ accredition scheme – both recommedations directly taken from our recent public involvement in planning manifesto. Porritt also backs a smart, fair pay-as-you go road user charging scheme, as we recommended in Green Light, among other policies to ‘green’ London. Other proposals on high street renewal and supporting culture in the West End reflect our work too. Whereas both Khan and Bailey’s manifestos consider how they’d approach London’s future relationship with government, Porritt attacks the government’s handling of Brexit and promotes pro-EU policies such as a London Passport.

Sian Berry, Green Party

Last, but by no means least, is Sian Berry. No stranger to the mayoral race – this is Berry’s second punt at the top job, and like Shaun Bailey, she is also a seasoned London Assembly member. It’s no surprise then that this manifesto is packed with policy commitments – nor  that her vision is for London to be the greenest city in the world. Berry’s manifesto covers a wide range of issues including transport, housing, safety, health, economic transformation and a promise to put power in the hands of the people. Her green and transport policies are the centrepoint of her manifesto, with commitments to flatten fares and create a single fare zone, bring electric scooters and other new vehicles into the city safetly, and make the transport network zero carbon by 2030.

In line with Centre for London recommendations, Berry calls for devolution of the railways and pledges to introduce a road pricing plan within her first two years in office. Like Porritt, she specifically namechecks the Community Statement of Public Involvement and also calls for property taxes to be devolved to London. She has less to say on our ask for a unifying voice for London –  in the aftermath of turbulent relations in the previous mayoral term – instead focusing on policy areas in which to lobby them.

In summary

Overall the direction of travel for the four top polling mayoral candidates is broadly on the same track. Though their responses vary, they all at least share our analysis of the major challenges facing the city – climate, jobs, homes and transport – and are sharply focused on recovery, as well as the need to make London a better place to live. There are also several issues that most of them broadly agree on. All four are committed to protecting free travel for the under 18s and over 60s, and three explicitly mention protecting the green belt.

Ultimately whoever becomes Mayor will be limited by the powers and resources bestowed on the role – and whatever policy problems unfurl over the next term. We look forward to working with the next Mayor whoever that may be, to tackle London’s challenges in the years ahead.

We looked at the manifestos of the top four polling candidates, according to surveys undertaken by Savanta ComRes and Redfield & Wilton in April 2021. Other candidates in the running include Kam Balayev, Valerie Brown, Count Binface, Piers Corbyn, Max Fosh,  Laurence Fox, Peter Gammons, Richard Hewison, Vanessa Hudson, Steve Kelleher, David Kurten, Farah London, Nims Obunge, Niko Omilana, Mandu Reid and Brian Rose.



Amy Leppänen is Acting Communications Manager at Centre for London. Follow her on Twitter. Read more from her here.