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Big task looms for Boris Johnson

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(Updated on May 3 with new headline, election results, reaction and photos)

**For full coverage of the elections go to our special page**

The man described by some as a joke, by others as a brilliant mind has ended Ken Livingstone’s eight-year reign at City Hall.

The verdict is still out on what exactly Boris Johnson’s victory means for the Conservative Party overall but his performance as mayor could help determine whether people will vote for the Tories in a general election next time.

Johnson, whose experience of running big projects is limited, will lead one of the world’s most high-profile cities with an 11.3 billion pound budget to run public transport, police and fire services and promote the economy of this global financial centre.

The Labour Party may be hoping that the gaffe-prone “blond bombshell” will prove incapable of doing the job and thus damage the Conservatives chances of winning the next election. Johnson will have to get cracking soon with strong policies to bolster his image and become the ambassador that the Tories need him to be as the capital’s mayor.

Mayoral hopefuls take the Shakespeare test

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Should Shakespeare be a factor for Londoners voting for their next mayor on May 1?

The three leading mayoral candidates revealed their knowledge of the Bard on Friday in a live phone-in debate with host Vanessa Feltz on her BBC London morning radio show .

Mayor of London Q&A answers

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city-hall.jpgReuters Online invited readers to send in their questions to the four leading candidates in the Mayor of London election.

Transport and the Congestion Charge dominated your questions, but you also wanted to know about race relations.

Paddick promises personality surprise

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Brian PaddickLiberal Democrat candidate Brian Paddick admits he lacks the name-recognition status enjoyed by Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson in what many regard as a personality contest to be elected Mayor of London.

But the man once styled “the UK’s most senior openly gay police officer” told me at a Reuters Newsmaker event that he plans to boost his personal image in the countdown to the May 1 vote.

Paddick won’t serve in a rival’s City Hall

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Brian PaddickIn the first televised debate between the three main London mayoral candidates, we learned that former police chief Brian Paddick would not accept a job in a rival’s administration.

Paddick, who needs a huge swing in support to have any chance of election, has said that as mayor he would personally chair the Metropolitan Police Authority, which oversees the capital’s police.

Call him Johnson

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boris1.jpgEvery time Labour ministers call the Conservative candidate for London mayor by first name alone they’ll have to pay £5 into a ‘swear box’.

“What we have to avoid is a situation where people think this election is a joke and that the future of London is not serious,” Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell told Sky News.

Choose your advisers with care

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paddick1.jpgBrian Paddick criticises the suggestion that Conservative London mayor candidate Boris Johnson could run the capital as a kind of chairman supported by expert advisers.

“I think a lot of people are prepared to entertain the idea of Boris Johnson as mayor on the assumption that he will be surrounded by advisers, who will effectively run London for him,” the Liberal Democrat candidate said in an interview with Reuters.

Ken narrows the gap

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kenlivingstone.jpgLast week in an interview with Reuters Ken Livingstone dismissed his rival Boris Johnson’s 12 point lead in the race for London Mayor in a YouGov poll as a quirk, resulting from its method of surveying voters over the internet.

He said a Guardian ICM poll using more traditional methods — telephoning a sample of voters — would show him in a much better position.

The Ken and Boris show

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boris.jpgSitting at the Evening Standard’s London Mayor debate last night, it occurred to me how cosy this election is. Whoever wins the contest on May 1 will lead one of the world’s most high-profile cities with an 11.3 billion pound budget to run public transport, police and fire services and promote the economy of this global financial centre. Yet at times the candidates seem to think they are engaging in some kind of school debating contest.

First there was breathless Boris, who bounded up to the podium like a precocious teenager and raced through his speech to cram in as much as possible during his allotted eight minutes. Then a more nervous, and far less exuberant delivery from the class swot — Brian Paddick — the former policeman turned Lib Dem mayoral candidate, who delivered a serious and earnest “Why I should be head boy” speech.

Put your questions to Mayor of London candidates

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assembly.jpgHow will Ken Livingstone, Boris Johnson, Brian Paddick or Sian Berry spend London’s annual 11 billion-pound budget if they are elected mayor on May 1?

How will they tackle youth crime and congestion,  and how will the capital maintain its position as a global cultural and financial hub?

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