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By The Political Team


Wednesday, April 9, 2008.


As Operation Black Vote launches a new campaign to get black Londoners to register to vote against far Right politics in the May 1 Mayoral election, an opinion poll shows Mayor Ken Livingstone neck and neck with the Conservative Boris Johnson.


Livingstone - a favourite among Black London voters according to past exit polls - is facing a tough battle against a formidable Johnson.


The battle for the biggest directly elected job in British politics could hardly be more dramatic, in a reversal of last week's poll, Livingstone now holds a wafer-thin advantage over his Tory opponent at 51% to Johnson 49% - once second preferences have been allocated under London's alternative voting system.


Brian Paddick, the Liberal Democrat candidate, is in third place on 14%.


The new survey conducted by Ipsos Mori shows the race remains incredibly tight. An earlier survey carried out by Guardian ICM put Johnson on 51% and Livingstone at 49%, while another internet poll conducted by YouGov gave Johnson a 13-point lead.


These new figures from Ipsos Mori will be welcome news for Livingstone.


"We believe the ground has shifted towards us in the last week," his campaign spokeswoman said. "With two established polling companies giving essentially the same neck-and-neck result within a week, this shows that the YouGov study is wildly inaccurate."


Meanwhile, Operation Black Vote (OBV) is joining forces with London-based faith groups including The Muslim Council of Britain, Board of Deputies of British Jews, leading Church Groups and rising Rap sensation Bashy to unite against the threat from far Right political groups.


This unprecedented coalition launched a 100-foot billboard poster across the city warning of the critical danger from the far Right at the upcoming elections.


OBV says its research indicates that far Right groups such as the BNP could win up to two Assembly seats in this London election, giving them the balance of power in City Hall.


If turnout is low, far Right groups could gain political ground under the proportional representation voting system. The organisation estimates that if 50,000 more Black Londoners vote than in the last London elections along with other communities the far Right could be defeated.


Voters can register to vote until April 16 and Simon Woolley, OBV director said: “We in the Black community don't have the luxury not to vote. Our enemies are blatant racists, masquerading as democrats. Our task is urgent but simple: we register to vote by the 16th April and vote on the 1st May. These actions will be a fitting tribute to the death of Dr Martin Luther King, 40 years this month.”


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