The race for the next London Mayor is on. With seven months to go to the fifth Mayoral and London Assembly elections, you could be forgiven for thinking that there are only two candidates in the running for Mayor.
So, why aren’t Caroline Pidgeon (Liberal Democrat) and Sian Berry (Green Party) receiving the same level of media coverage as Sadiq Khan (Labour) and Zac Goldsmith (Conservative)?
The narrow media focus so far is demonstrated by headlines such as this from the Guardian: ‘London mayor: will the Beautiful One succeed the Crumpled One next May?’. Meanwhile, a recent poll in the Evening Standard (9 October) only surveyed people’s views on Goldsmith and Khan as potential Mayors. Surely Berry and Pidgeon should also be included at this stage, due to the requirements of balanced reporting?
Both Pidgeon and Berry have extensive political experience. Pidgeon was elected to the London Assembly in May 2008, is leader of the Lib Dem Group, Deputy Chair of the Transport Committee and Deputy Chair of the Police and Crime Committee. Berry was elected to Camden Council as a Green Councillor for Highgate Ward in May 2014, and she was previously the Principal Speaker and Green Party Campaigns Co-ordinator. She also stood for election in the 2008 London mayoral election.
More comprehensive reporting of the run-up to the 2016 contest could persuade more Londoners to vote. Three years ago, the turnout was just 38.1%, suggesting that hundreds of thousands were disengaged with the Mayoral election.
Wider political commentary from journalists, highlighting the voice of all top four candidates, could galvanise more interest in the decision-making by the Mayor and Assembly Members that affects the daily lives of Londoners. There is a need for balanced reporting of all the main parties in the Mayoral race. At a time when there is debate about the lack of female representation in politics, reporting should reflect the fact that two women are standing for the main parties in this important election.