London Mayoral And London Assembly Elections 2024: A Brief Guide

By M@
London Mayoral And London Assembly Elections 2024: A Brief Guide
A polling station sign, saying way in to the right
Image Matt Brown

When is the 2024 Mayoral Election?

The election will be held on 2 May 2024. It's the seventh time Londoners have gone to the polls to elect a Mayor.

Who else are we electing that day?

Importantly, the election day is not just to determine the new Mayor. Londoners will also vote for London Assembly members — 25 in total. 2 May will also see local elections across the country for councillors, mayors and crime commissioners.

Who are the candidates for Mayor of London in 2024?

Labour: Incumbent Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced in January 2022 that he would seek re-election as the Labour candidate. He remains the man to beat. If successful, he will become the first person to hold the role for a third term.

Conservative: Susan Hall has been selected from a shortlist of relative unknowns. Hall is a noted fan of both Boris Johnson and Donald Trump and is riding a populist (if not yet popular) ticket to City Hall. She had the most direct experience on the shortlist, having served on the London Assembly since 2017. Her right-wing views may not be the easiest fit for many Londoners, but she is at least able to garner press coverage and has even become a meme.

Green party: Hackney councillor and NHS inequalities advisor Zoë Garbett is the Green candidate. The Greens have increased their vote share at each subsequent Mayoral election.

Liberal democrats: Life-long Londoner and startup tech advisor Rob Blackie has been selected to represent the Lib Dems. His previous experience includes serving as former Lib-Dem leader Charles Kennedy's Director of Research.

Reform UK: The right-wing populist party is fielding Howard Cox, a small-business advisor with a track record of campaigning for lower motor fuel prices.

Independents: Natalie Campbell, a CEO and university chancellor, entered the race as an independent in October 2023. Campbell had hoped to stand as Tory candidate but was not shortlisted. Her chief pledge at this stage is to look at reinstating the Bakerloo line extension, which is on indefinite hold due to TfL's financial troubles. Inventively, she's planning on basing her manifesto largely on feedback from a survey of 100,000 Londoners.

No other independent candidates have entered the ring at this stage. Perennial candidate Count Binface has expressed interest in standing (read our interview). Rumoured candidates include both Jeremy Corbyn and a returning Boris Johnson.

What does each candidate stand for?

London has entered a golden era of council house building sign
Khan is getting in early with his campaign messaging. Posters like this appeared recently across the tube. Image Matt Brown

Incumbent Mayor Sadiq Khan will be looking to consolidate his current big projects, such as cutting air pollution and building more council housing. His 'Superloop' bus idea will also figure prominently in campaigning.

Tory candidate Susan Hall would scrap ULEZ expansion and presumably lots of low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs). She’s also vocal about cracking down on muggings and burglaries in the capital. “Safer with Susan” is her Partridge-esque slogan.

The Green party's Zoë Garbett doesn't yet have any concrete pledges but lists her values as tackling injustice and inequality, and a greater emphasis on working with local communities to set policy. Reform UK want to see cheaper motoring.

The Lib Dem's Rob Blackie says his campaign will focus on "tackling crime, keeping London welcoming for European citizens and others who are threatened by Home Office incompetence, and cleaning up London’s rivers".

Quick reminder: Who were the previous Mayors of London?

Only three people have served as Mayor of London since the role was created at the turn of the millennium. The election takes place every four years (with one anomaly caused by Covid).

  • Ken Livingstone ruled the roost from 2000 until 2008, having performed a similar role as head of the Greater London Council in the 1980s.
  • Boris Johnson succeeded him in 2008, and remained in post for two full terms until 2016. (Although some would say his attentions had wandered elsewhere in the final years.)
  • Sadiq Khan took on the mantle in 2016. He was re-elected in 2021 in an election delayed for a year because of Covid-19.

(Hilariously, Chat-GPT thought that Shaun Bailey had also served as Mayor, when we asked a few months ago. He was the defeated Tory candidate in the 2021 election.)

What powers does the Mayor of London actually have?

The new City Hall in Docklands
City Hall, home of the Mayor of London and the London Assembly. Image Matt Brown

For such a high-profile position, the Mayor of London has surprisingly limited direct authority — and most of this power is concentrated in a few pockets: transport, policing and housing.

And they can't just do as they please. The Mayor's initiatives are scrutinised and held to account by the London Assembly. Mayor and Assembly together form the Greater London Authority (GLA), which works closely with local councils and is required to follow central government guidance.

So while a Mayor has the power to, say, develop planning strategy, it's down to local councils to approve this — and, in turn, central government is in control of how these councils are allowed to raise the requisite funds.

An outline of the role can be found here.

How does Mayoral voting work?

It's all change this year. We're moving to a first-past-the-post system. In the Mayoral election, the candidate with the most votes wins. Simple as.

You may recall that in previous elections, you had to express a first and second preference for Mayor. If no candidate won an absolute majority (i.e. more than 50%) of first choice votes, all but the top two candidates were eliminated, and votes for eliminated candidates were redistributed according to the voters' second choice candidates.

How does the London Assembly vote work?

You'll vote for your Assembly members at the same time as casting a Mayoral vote. Here, you get to vote twice:

1) Vote for a constituency member. London is divided into 14 constituencies, which are typically pairings of neighbouring boroughs, like Greenwich and Lewisham, or Croydon and Sutton. A number of candidates will stand in each constituency, and you select the one you'd most like to represent you. Again, first-past-the-post wins.

2) You also get a say in who gets to be London-wide Assembly Members. Here, however, you vote for a party rather than an individual. Once votes are counted, 11 London-wide Assembly Members are appointed based on party share of vote, with individuals drawn from pre-published lists.

Who can vote?

If you're over 18, registered to vote and live within one of London's 33 local authorities, then you're good. The ballot box beckons for all registered electors who meet those criteria, be they British, Irish, Commonwealth or European Union citizens. Find out more about registering here.

Will I need ID to vote?

Yes, voter ID will be required, along similar lines to the recent council elections.

Who's the favourite to win?

We're a long way from the finish line, with proper campaigning yet to begin and only three candidates announced. Still, people are already conducting opinion polls. The latest, published on 17 June 2023, has Khan with an eight point lead. That could change a good deal if Susan Hall puts on a good show, or if a charismatic independent enters the fray.

It also remains to be seen if the ULEZ expansion will upset the applecart. The London-wide emissions charging kicks in on 29 August 2023. It's a policy that attracts strong criticism, particularly from some Outer London motorists. And it's a policy that's heavily associated with Khan — even though he had little choice but to implement it under demands from central government. Nobody seems to have a definitive answer on just how many Londoners will be affected, and are thereby more likely to bear a grudge against the Mayor. It certainly seems to have been a factor in the Tories holding on to Boris Johnson's former seat at the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election.

Then too, some of the anti-Khan fury might be offset by the large numbers of Londoners who don't have cars and support his measures to cut pollution, through ULEZ and other schemes. It'll be fascinating to watch this one play out.

When will we know the result

Barring any mishaps, the votes should be counted and results announced on 3 May 2024, the day after the election.

Last Updated 23 October 2023