Boris still leads Ken in London mayoral poll

Boris Johnson holds a seven-point lead over incumbent London mayor Ken Livingstone, a poll suggests.

The Evening Standard newspaper and pollsters YouGov give the Conservative candidate an increased lead over his Labour rival, while Liberal Democrat candidate Brian Paddick trails in third place on 12 per cent.

But Mr Paddick gets 37 per cent of the second preference vote, however, with over half of those giving him their second choice having first backed Mr Livingstone.

This means in the event of neither gaining an outright majority – at present the most likely outcome – Mr Johnson’s lead is just six per cent, down on the 14-point gap seen a month ago.

His capacity for an occasionally flippant approach to politics, as seen with his “global itinerary of apology” retracting a string of inappropriate remarks during his time on the Conservative frontbench, does not appear to be damaging his prospects.

Forty-three per cent agreed with the statement that he is “not serious enough to be an effective mayor” but 36 per cent disagreed.

By contrast 63 per cent said Mr Livingstone had made “extremely bad appointments in picking his closest advisers”, after racial adviser Lee Jasper was forced to resign over corruption claims.

Meanwhile the British National party, which needs five per cent to gain a seat on the London Assembly, appears to be suffering a severe downturn in support.

YouGov gave its candidate Richard Barnbrook one per cent of the vote, while Sian Berry of the Green party is on three per cent. The BNP took 4.8 per cent of the popular vote in the 2004 mayoral election.