Voting is under way in London to elect the city’s mayor, with a record number of 20 candidates running for City Hall.
The polls suggest that Labour’s Sadiq Khan will be re-elected, beating the Conservatives’ candidate Shaun Bailey, the Lib Dems’ Luisa Porritt and Green Party’s Sian Berry. But there are plenty of other, more colourful, candidates on the ballot paper.
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The satirical candidate created by comedian Jon Harvey, who went up against Boris Johnson in the Uxbridge constituency in the 2019 general election, describes himself as a “friendly neighbourhood space warrior campaigning for justice, lasers, Lovejoy and the return of Ceefax”.
As HuffPost notes: “Britain has a rich recent history of eccentric candidates running for office despite having little chance of success, and every chance of losing their deposit.” Count Binface personifies this eccentricity. His 21-point manifesto includes capping the price of croissants at £1, tying ministers’ pay to that of nurses for 100 years, and renaming London Bridge after Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
The controversial English actor and leader of the “anti-Woke” Reclaim Party said he wanted to join the otherwise “dreary race” to ensure lockdown was lifted immediately and to fight against “extreme political correctness”, reported The Telegraph in March.
The New Statesman’s Rachel Cunliffe calls Fox “the anti-Khan”, who “delights in being as provocative as possible – sometimes to get his point across, sometimes just for the fun of it”. But she adds: “I get the sense that he has tapped into something the mainstream parties are wary of: a year’s pent-up anger and desperation at the cruelty of Covid restrictions.” The latest YouGov poll puts him in fifth place, only two points behind the Liberal Democrats.
While Brian Rose appears on billboards as a “grey-haired man in a suit and tie”, he is “in contention to be the most colourful candidate”, says The Times. The “boxing, breakdancing former Wall Street banker” runs an online talk show and associated “academy” that aims for “mass scale transformation of humanity”.
The most popular video on his YouTube channel is an interview about “sexual exercises for men” and last month Guido Fawkes uncovered footage of him drinking his own urine and describing it as “not bad at all”. As the Times says, he is “certainly no enemy to hyperbole”, having declared ahead of today’s vote: “I honestly think we’re going to pull off the biggest upset in political history.”
The other YouTubers
There are two other independent candidates on the list who have found fame on YouTube. The Guardian’s Joel Golby describes Niko Omilana as a “glossy US-style vlogger who does bombastic stunts like opening a fake McDonald’s or filling his house with packing peanuts”, and Max Fosh as “a more homely domestic YouTuber”, whose “whole shtick is trolling Laurence Fox”.
Golby concludes: “Though they might scoop up a few votes for banter, that’s not what the masterplan is about – they’ve recognised a joke mayoral campaign can be a source of content and followers, and turned it alchemy-like into that.”
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