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Siobhan Benita, future Mayor of London?

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Brogan Driscoll
WVoN co-editor 

With May 3 fast approaching, Londoners have their eyes fixed on the mayoral elections.

Although you could be forgiven for thinking it is a two-horse race between Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson, there are other candidates.

And this time round, there are two women, one of whom – Siobhan Benita – is standing as an independent.

But Benita has her work cut out for her, with the latest poll putting her in joint fourth place and the bookmaker Paddy Power putting her odds at 20-1.

To add to her problems, the current electoral guidelines of many UK broadcasters only give airtime to candidates from parties with either a track record in previous elections or evidence of support in polls.

The Guardian newspaper was outraged, pointing out in a recent editorial that: “Politics in London needs something much better than the established parties are offering so far. It is not too late to shake things up for good.”

But Benita reckons she has pulling power and that voters will be attracted to her independence, saying that: “An independent Mayor can bring together people, groups and organisations who are usually divided by party politics.”

You have to admire her courage in standing. Framing herself as “not a politician”, she was a senior civil servant until she resigned from her job earlier this year to run for mayor.

A 40-year-old mother of two, she is fighting under the slogan of “A mum for London”. Her manifesto includes a commitment to appoint an Education Commissioner, to create a fixed-price housing market, improve transport in London and build better, safer neighbourhoods.

Whatever you think of her politics, she clearly deserves to be heard above the male-dominated personality-driven campaigns that represent the Ken and Boris show.

And you never know, she may surprise us all. We can but hope.

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