(Reuters) - London will be the key battleground in local and mayoral elections on Thursday.
Following are brief portraits of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat candidates for London mayor.
The 62-year-old maverick, a collector of newts, has run London for a total of 13 years. He was leader of the Greater London Council from 1981 to 1986, when he earned the nickname “Red Ken”, and has served two terms as Mayor of London since the post was created in 2000.
He became a Labour MP in 1987 but a year later expressed his contempt for his colleagues in typically blunt style. “Parliament is worse than I thought it would be,” he said. “It’s like working in the Natural History Museum, except not all the exhibits are stuffed.”
Livingstone joined the Labour Party in 1969 but they have had a love-hate relationship almost ever since.
He was elected mayor in 2000 as an independent because the Labour Party did not want him to be its representative. He was re-elected in 2004 as a Labour candidate.
No stranger to controversy, a disciplinary tribunal in 2006 found Livingstone guilty of bringing his position into disrepute and suspended him from his post for a month after he likened a persistent Jewish reporter to a concentration camp guard.
He has pioneered policies to tackle climate change, including the congestion charge to try and reduce traffic.
The 43-year-old former journalist with a quick wit but loose tongue and trademark unkempt appearance has battled to shake off his image as a gaffe-prone buffoon.
Johnson is the Conservative MP for Henley, west of London. He was forced to apologise publicly after an editorial in the magazine he edited accused the people of Liverpool of “wallowing” in their “victim status” following the 2004 murder in Iraq of Liverpudlian Ken Bigley.
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is the great grandson of a Turkish journalist who was briefly a minister in the defunct Ottoman empire.
He was born in New York and educated at Eton College and Oxford University, where he was president of the Union debating society and a member of the exclusive Bullingdon dining club alongside Conservative Party leader David Cameron.
Johnson has become something of a television personality, renowned for his quips which are often replayed. He once described the rather staid Conservative Party as “the funkiest, most jiving party on Earth.”
While they attack each other in public, Johnson and Livingstone are known to have great respect for each other.
The 50-year-old former top policeman was dubbed the “cannabis cop” after he instructed his officers in south London not to arrest or charge people possessing the drug, so that police could focus their time and energy on more serious crimes.
Openly gay, Paddick hit the public spotlight as senior Metropolitan Police Service spokesman on arrangements for the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997 and after the July 7 London transport bombings a decade later.
He quit the police force in early 2007 and was selected later that year as Liberal Democrat candidate for London mayor.
He lives with his Norwegian long-term partner and has said they plan to enter a civil partnership after the elections.
Reporting by Jeremy Lovell; Editing by Catherine Evans