In just under a week London will go to the polls to decide its next mayor. A huge thing in this election is the sheer amount of candidates, which stands at 20 in total, a record high, why you might ask. Well normally to run you need a 10,000 pound deposit and 20 signatures per borough, however due to covid-19 restrictions, you only need 2 signatures per borough. This has led to youtubers such as Max Fosh, who I had the pleasure of interviewing ( and also Niko Omilana, who is now polling at 5%.  Joke candidates have been around for years and are nothing new, the monster raving loony party were first created in 1983, but with Donald trump actually winning is there a more sinister undertone to these types of campaigns.


A classic example of joke candidates winning was Stuart Drummond, the first and only elected mayor of Hartlepool. He was originally the mascot for local club Hartlepool United before deciding to run for mayor with a £500 budget from the club. He ran under the name “H’angus the monkey” with his only policy being give children free bananas in schools. Drummond was at first shocked, with no plan at all to run the town. However, he quickly adjusted and went on to run twice more in 2005 and 2009 before the people of Hartlepool voted to stop the elected mayoral system. He was even a finalist in the world mayor competition. Undoubtably there is a lot to take from the story of Stuart Drummond, he was a joke candidate but once in office did remarkably well.  


On the other hand, this sort of spiralling can get into populism, classic phrases such as “lets fight against the career politicians and big businesses” can often sound appealing but in reality don’t deliver. We see this in1 key case studies, Brexit. It was always seen as a vote against the establishment. In the case of Brexit there was nothing anti-establishment about it. Nigel Farage loves to claim he is a normal person and is a banker not a career politician, but Mr Farage has been in politics since 1994. Boris Johnson another key backer of Brexit is now the prime minister, the most establishment job there is. Linking this back to the Mayoral race we can link these sentiments to players like Brian Rose.


Niko has now released his manifesto, whilst at a first glance it may just seem like another joke manifesto, he has some serious political sentiment behind some of the policies. One policy calling for anyone who clapped for the NHS and voted conservative be forced to participate in an annual purge. While evidently a joke it makes a serious political point about the fact nurses are paid so little under the current government. There are others that attack the government for lack of youth funding, criticize the sun newspaper, the rise in tfl prices for young people and the racial bias of stop and search. Whilst many complain a vote for Niko would be a vote wasted, I wholeheartedly disagree. He is resonating with young people at the moment currently polling at 19% for 18–24-year-olds, and that confidence might not be so badly placed. The issues he talks about such as lack of youth funding are so detrimental to our generation and a vote for Niko could send a message to Kahn and bailey!


If you are a young person voting in the mayoral election I implore you to read up on all candidates before you blindly vote for Niko, and that is not what this article is about, however if Niko does represent what you believe in by all means vote for him!