London mayoral election: 15 memorable moments in the race for City Hall

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

It may not have grabbed the attention of Londoners to the extent sought by the candidates, but the 2024 mayoral race was not without its highlights.

Here are 15 of the best.

Sadiq Khan’s election day doughnut mystery

Early in the morning of polling day, Dunn’s bakery in Crouch End began selling jam doughnuts bearing Sadiq Khan’s face. Two hours later they were withdrawn from sale, as they were classed as a “special order”.

There may be more to this story: could Mr Khan’s day have a sticky end?

Taste test: the Sadiq Khan jam doughnuts in Dunn’s bakery (Supplied)
Taste test: the Sadiq Khan jam doughnuts in Dunn’s bakery (Supplied)

BBC London’s Having a Mayor podcast

BBC London’s political team – Tim Donovan, Karl Mercer and Susana Mendonca – broke new ground with a weekly podcast, which made the campaign sound far funnier than it was.

It also featured the occasional contribution from the Evening Standard.

Evening Standard endorses Sadiq Khan

As the voice of London, what the Standard says in its editorial column matters. On Wednesday, the message was clear: this election is about the future, and the best person to work with a likely Labour Government is Sadiq Khan, even if he needs to do far more to tackle violent crime.

According to the political journalist (and former Standard deputy political editor) Paul Waugh, this was the first time the Standard had backed a Labour mayoral candidate.

 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

Susan Hall: ‘I was a raver back in the day’

Unveiling her plan to expand the Night Tube to the Hammersmith and City line, the Tory candidate Susan Hall visited a pub in Hammersmith. Did she ever use the Night Tube, the Standard asked?

Not much these days, she said - she prefers a quiet restaurant dinner with family – before revealing she was a “raver back in the day”.

Sadiq Khan declares Susan Hall the ‘most dangerous’ candidate he has faced

At the fast-paced LBC radio hustings – one of few face-to-face debates between the candidates – Sadiq Khan made the extraordinary claim that Susan Hall was the most dangerous candidate he had faced, prompting her to describe the remarks as outrageous.

Zoë Garbett: Keep Hammersmith bridge as a walking and cycling bridge

Hammersmith bridge closed to vehicles five years ago. The failure to get it reopened is seen as symbolic of the failures of politicians to work together.

Green candidate Zoë Garbett said the bridge was now “working by accident” as a river crossing for pedestrians and cyclists, and should remain that way in future – saving an estimated £250million.

Zoë Garbett at Hammersmith Bridge (Supplied)
Zoë Garbett at Hammersmith Bridge (Supplied)

Susan Hall unveils heritage Routemaster as election battle bus

Just like Boris Johnson, Susan Hall used the iconic London bus in her bid for City Hall.

Unfortunately, when it was unveiled, it rolled up with Ms Hall on board but without a destination on the front – and then promptly drove straight into a cul-de-sac, as BBC London’s Karl Mercer pointed out on that night’s TV bulletin.

Rob Blackie renames Silvertown tunnel the ‘Sadiq Khan motorway’

The Lib-Dem candidate focused almost exclusively on his plan to “fix” the Metropolitan police – but scored a hit when he criticised Sadiq Khan’s decision to spend £2billion building the Silvertown tunnel.

Due to open in summer next year, the tunnel is regarded as eco activists as Mr Khan’s “dirty little secret”. Mr Blackie suggested renaming it in the mayor’s honour.

Name game: Lib-Dems want to rename the Silvertown tunnel the Sadiq Khan Motorway (Andy Sillett)
Name game: Lib-Dems want to rename the Silvertown tunnel the Sadiq Khan Motorway (Andy Sillett)

Susan Hall’s advertising van not Ulez-compliant

Launching her manifesto in a car repair garage in Bexley, former teenage mechanic Susan Hall also posed alongside an advertising van bearing digital posters critical of Sadiq Khan.

Alas – or perhaps deliberately – the van did not meet the Ulez exhaust emission rules, the Standard revealed soon after. But unlike Sadiq Khan’s ad van, at least Ms Hall’s turned up.

 (Ross Lydall / ES)
(Ross Lydall / ES)

Sadiq Khan’s infant army dubs Tory rival ‘Susan the sandwich snatcher’

With the polls narrowing, Sadiq Khan was keen to promote his policy of making free school lunches for all school children permanent, should he be re-elected.

Five primary school kids got up early to praise the free meals – and proved unexpectedly critical of Ms Hall, who has only pledged to keep the meals until the cost of living crisis eases, and has questioned whether “millionaires’ children” should be dining at the taxpayers’ expense.

Susan Hall’s unexpected support on the stump in Golders Green

Walkabouts are fraught with danger, especially alongside journalists bearing cameras, but Susan Hall received a warm reception in Golders Green.

One elderly woman told her she was “wonderful” – “oh, gosh!” replied Ms Hall - while two lads, quite possibly playing for laughs, posed alongside her and said: “We are with the future mayor.”

Laurence Fox is barred from standing as mayor

Former actor Laurence Fox stood on an “anti-woke” platform in the 2021 election, coming sixth. Since then his notoriety had risen.

But attempts to stand again fell foul of the requirement to have the signatures of 10 voters in all 33 boroughs, meaning his application papers were rejected as invalid.

BBC broadcasts Susan Hall’s party political broadcast in Sadiq Khan’s slot

The main candidates were granted several minutes of prime-time TV to make their pitch to Londoners. Unfortunately for Mr Khan, his carefully crafted film – which revealed details of his plans for four more years of free school meals and to eradicate rough sleeping by the end of the decade – did not run as planned.

Instead viewers unexpectedly saw Ms Hall’s film – compounding the anger felt in the Labour camp. This was rectified the following day when Mr Khan’s film was eventually broadcast.

Dancing Queen: Sadiq Khan gets to be a DJ

On a visit to a youth project in Croydon, Mr Khan – a keen ‘dad dancer’ – got to try his hand at being a DJ.

His choice of music was decidedly retro: Dancing Queen, by Abba. His teenage audience looked suitably unimpressed.

The BBC’s Having a Mayor podcast captured Sadiq’s dancefloor vibe.

Count Binface croissant pledge hit by cost of living crisis

Even intergalactic space warriors are not immune to political backtracking.

Having caught the eye in 2021 with a pledge to restrict the price of croissants to £1, Count Binface raised the threshold to £1.10, saying he had fallen victim to the cost of living crisis – but denied it was a full U-turn.