With London’s mayoral elections just around the corner you might be forgiven for thinking you know all the candidates and big names dominating the race.
A record 20 candidates have put their names in the hat for this year’s City Hall contest after the 2020 race was delayed by a year due to the pandemic
The current polls show Sadiq Khan is in the lead, followed by Tory hopeful Shaun Bailey, a former youth worker who has served in the London Assembly since 2016.
But some new younger rivals have come forward to give Sadiq a run for his money and take on the front-runners with a uniquely Gen Z approach to the campaign trail.
The YouTubers emerging as unlikely but entertaining stand out candidates are Max Fosh, 26, and Niko Omiilana, 23.
Both have taken to their huge social media followings to create hype around their mayoral bids, and appeal to a younger crowd with some light relief and pure comedy moments.
Max Fosh who went to Harrow, the same school as Laurence Fox, has admitted he is running simply to wind up his right-wing provocateur.
Fosh paid 10k to be on ballot paper with two aims, to get more votes than his rival candidate Fox, and to get more young people voting, but not necessarily for him, as by his own admission ‘he’d make a terrible mayor’.
His antics, so far, have included following Fox on the campaign trail with a picture of his red car pulled up next to Fox’s red bus receiving 19,000 likes on Instagram.
He has also stood outside Reclaim Party’s London HQ with lecterns and doorstepped his rival after Fox failed to debate him after agreeing to.
Fosh and Fox are currently neck and neck, with both sharing 1% of the vote, hilariously hashtagged #battleofthe1% and his YouTube video ‘I confronted My Rival for the Mayor of London’ has generated over 200k views.
His mission to hold a debate against Lozza has also got him noticed by former speaker of the house John Bercow who appears to have given him his backing in one of his videos.
Bercow describes Fox as having some “wacky, misguided ideas” and if it’s “Fox v Fosh, Fosh must prevail”.
This seems to have struck a cord with younger voters.
Comments generated have included: “As a Londoner, I’ve never been more entertained with an election.”
Another person said: “Cannot believe I have met the actual primary endorser of the Max Fosh mayoral campaign, it’s a real career highlight for Mr. Bercow.”
“Genuinely this is the best thing to happen in UK politics in my lifetime,” said another.
‘FISH! FASH! FOSH!’
Youtube prankster Max Omilana, 23, is the youngest candidate to run in the mayoral race and is also making waves.
He has 3.4 million YouTube subscribers and is the first choice for City Hall for five percent of Londoners, according to an ITV London News poll.
He is the second most popular candidate after Mr Khan among the 18-24 age group, where 19 per cent say they are prepared to give him their vote.
Twelve percent of Londoners aged 25 to 34 also said they would vote for Mr Omilana, who wears children’s sunglasses and whose main policy is to force Boris Johnson to “shush”.
His Niko Defence League (NDL) is the LDN abbreviation written backwards, and he claims victory in the May 6 election is “written in the stars”.
In a post on YouTube that has been viewed almost 3.6 million times, he said he was standing because politicians failed to take young people seriously.
Laying out his manifesto he said: “There is no greater leader in the country than me… vote Niko for Mayor or London on May 6 or your breath stinks.”
The surge in support for Mr Omilana is the most unexpected development in a mayoral race and if were to secure five per cent of the first preference votes, he would see his £10,000 deposit to enter the race returned.
During his campaign Mr Omilana pretended to “secure” an interview with BBC London after protesting with a cardboard placard for a day outside Broadcasting House.
YouTube star KSI and TV presenter Maya Jama are among his celebrity followers.
If he secures five per cent of the first preference votes, it means his £10,000 deposit to enter the race will be returned.
Sadiq is currently leading but critics say he’s not done enough to tackle knife crime and was too slow to give TfL staff face masks during lockdown.
Other candidates include UKIP’s Peter Gammons, Mandu Reid for the Women’s Equality Party and the Greens’ Sian Berry.
One Poll suggests Laurence Fox and UKIP’s Peter Gammons have as much support as Count Binface.