The Evening Standard has come out in support of Conservative London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith the day before Londoners are due to take to the polls.
The paper, which previously backed outgoing Tory mayor Boris Johnson, showed its colours in a leader column today together with a postive front page story about Goldsmith.
The clincher for the Standard seems to have been Goldsmith’s credibility as a green campaigner.
“On one key issue Zac Goldsmith has shown himself to be the stronger candidate,” it said. “He has a vision of how London can grow in such a way as to be a green and beautiful city as well as a big and prosperous one.”
While the Standard praised Labour’s Sadiq Khan (currently ahead in the polls by nine-points according to its political editor) as having fought “ably and well” and oddly noting it was “to his advantage that he is a Muslim” because “a London Muslim mayor would signify that this is a unified and cohesive city”- it ultimately backed Zac, saying: “Mr Goldsmith is not a combative politician and his wealthy background is a problem for some voters, but his vision for the future of London as a safe, beautiful and harmonious city is an attractive one.
“Of the two strong candidates, he has more compelling ideas on tackling pollution and congestion. That is why we support him. Now our readers must make up their own minds.”
For many Standard readers this choice may not come as a surprise. Research released by the Media Reform Coalition, part of Goldsmiths university, last month found that Standard news coverage of the campaign had been “overwhelmingly” in favour of Goldsmith.
It found news coverage showed “a consistent editorial slant favouring the Conservative candidate’s campaign” with articles focusing on one or both of the candidates twice as likely to favour him over Khan.
The study found this was not the case when it came to editorial and comment pieces which were evenly balanced.
Polling stations for the London mayoral election will be open across the capital from 7am until 10pm tomorrow.