The London mayoral candidate Neville Watson has dropped out of the race due to a lack of money. “As we have not been able to raise the required financial commitment to run, our mayoral 2021 challenge ends today,” he told the Right Dishonourable last night.
Mayoral candidates must stump up a £10,000 deposit to enter the race, forfeiting the money if they fail to get 5% of the first round vote. By comparison, those running for the House of Commons only need a £500 deposit, which is returned if they get 5% of their constituency’s votes.
London mayoral candidates wishing to have an election address published in the official booklet delivered to London voters must pay an additional £10,000. Mayoral candidates can also spend up to £420,000 to promote themselves during the official campaign.
Watson, who was running for the 5 Star Direct Democracy party, had been seeking to raise £25,000, covering his mayoral candidacy, the booklet, and a £5,000 deposit for contesting the assembly as a city-wide candidate. This latter deposit is returned if the candidate or party receives 2.5% of the vote.
Watson said he had “no problems with the financial implications of running for office”, adding that, “Ultimately the responsibility to attract the requisite amount lies with me, so on that level I failed.” He added that he would focus on the next mayoral election.
His exit highlights the punitive costs of running to become London mayor. Electoral deposits are often justified as a means of keeping unserious candidates off the ballot paper, although the current London mayoral election includes Count Binface, anti-woke campaigner Laurence Fox, and YouTuber Max Fosh who seems to be running solely to embarrass Fox.
Correction: This article previously described Watson as an independent candidate. It has been amended to reflect that he was running for the 5 Star Direct Democracy party.