OPINION - The Standard View: Susan Hall narrows the gap on Sadiq Khan

Sadiq Khan and Susan Hall are battling it out in the mayoral election  (ES)
Sadiq Khan and Susan Hall are battling it out in the mayoral election (ES)

The gap is narrowing. An exclusive YouGov poll in the Standard puts Tory candidate Susan Hall on 27 per cent, up three points from February, while Mayor Sadiq Khan drops three points to 46 per cent. Neck-and-neck it isn’t, but a 19-point lead is less comfortable than 25 points, particularly if the tightening continues as analysts expect.

As ever, there is a striking difference between outer and inner London. Hall is just five points behind Khan in the so-called “doughnut”, suggesting the Tory candidate’s anti-Ulez extension platform is cutting through. Conversely, the Mayor has further broadened his lead in the capital’s inner boroughs to a remarkable 50 points.

That Khan’s overall polling lead is shrinking even as the Labour Party’s nationally is widening may be instructive. It suggests voters are not simply going to grant him a third term without at least examining his record over the past eight years — and his promises for the next four.

In the weeks and months prior to the 2021 election, Khan regularly polled 20 points ahead of Tory rival Shaun Bailey. On election day, the Mayor’s first preferences lead shrank to five points. Past performances are no indication of future results, but they do provide a warning against complacency.

Now de-escalate

What would once have been considered shocking now feels priced in, yet the risk of further escalation and a regional war is no less pressing. Following Iran’s unprecedented missile and drone attack on Israel last week, Israel has delivered what appeared to be its response, reportedly launching limited strikes inside Iran.

While the source of last night’s attack remains unconfirmed, Israel has a right to defend itself against strikes on its territory. Key now is de-escalation. The region remains in convulsions amidst the war in Gaza, and the continued fighting between Israel and Iranian-backed proxies, most notably Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

The international community must now redouble its efforts to bring about a ceasefire in Gaza and ensure aid gets through to the people in desperate need.

Double delight

You didn’t expect Taylor Swift to release an album with no surprises, did you? The singer has this morning delighted fans by dropping an additional 15 songs.

The great double albums are not quickly forgotten, from the Beatles’ The White Album to Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Still, more isn’t necessarily better.

The Standard’s El Hunt gave the first half of the record two stars out of five, bravely stating that, sonically, “The Tortured Poets Department feels like ground that has already been trodden”. Beware of Swifties bearing grudges.