Conservative leader David Cameron has publicly backed the party’s candidate for Mayor of London as officially launched his campaign this morning.

He said Boris Johnson would be a “brilliant” mayor, claimed that “London’s real problem is a lack of leadership” and said incumbent Mayor and Labour candidate Ken Livingstone had lost touch with the voters.

Londoners go to the polls on May 1st to elect the Mayor and the 25-member London Assembly.

Mr Johnson said he wanted a “bolder and more imaginative” approach to the job.

A poll for the Evening Standard published today put the Tory hopeful on 47%, with Ken Livingstone on 37% and Lib Dem Brian Paddick on 10%.

The poll found Mr Johnson also ahead in second preference votes, which are likely to decide the final outcome.

With second preferences included, the YouGov poll puts Mr Johnson on 56% to 44% for Mr Livingstone.

Launching his campaign in north London this morning, the Tory candidate, who is also MP for Henley, said:

“For too long we have assumed that the job of Mayor had to conform to a certain template because the office has only been held by one man and he has conceived it in a certain way.

“I want to do it in a way that will be in some ways less bullying and intrusive and in other ways bolder and more imaginative.

“We can either go on with a political culture that feeds grievances or else we can try to end them and to bring people together.”

Ken Livingstone today launched his housing manifesto and pledged to keep the policy that 50% of all new housing in London should be affordable

His campaign claimed that Mr Johnson “is not a candidate for the 21st century, he is the 19th century candidate for Mayor of London.

“He is one of the few politicians defending George W Bush’s refusal to sign the Kyoto treaty on climate change; his proposal to abolish the 50 per cent target for affordable housing would price young people off London’s property ladder.

“Boris Johnson supported the launching of the Iraq War while Ken Livingstone joined Londoners demonstrating against it; Boris Johnson backed the anti-lesbian and gay Section 28 law but has revealed he didn’t even know what it was.”

Lib Dem candidate Brian Paddick today welcomed Brenda Stern to his campaign.

She previously worked in senior position in the London Development Agency but was removed after blowing the whistle on serious maladministration in Ken Livingstone’s Diversity Works programme.

“I am proud to publicly state my support for Brian Paddick to be London’s Mayor,” said Ms Stern.

“I used to support Ken but he has let Londoners down and now he is out of touch and out of ideas.

“Brian offers real change and serious solutions for London’s problems.”

Five candidates for Mayor have confirmed they will attend a hustings organised by gay equality organisation Stonewall.

Mr Livingstone, Mr Johnson, Mr Paddick, Green candidate Sian Berry and Respect – The Left list candidate Lindsey German will all speak and answer questions at the event at BFI Southbank on Saturday 19th April.

PinkNews.co.uk is proud to be Stonewall’s media partner for the hustings, which will be held at the between 11am and 12.30pm.

The event is open to everyone, but in order to ensure a seat you must register here.

Full list of candidates:

Richard Barnbrook

British National Party

Gerard Batten

UK Independence Party

Siân Berry

Green Party

Alan Craig

Christian Peoples Alliance and Christian Party

Lindsey German

The Left List

Boris Johnson

Conservative Party

Ken Livingstone

Labour Party

Winston McKenzie

Independent

Matt O’Connor

English Democrats

Brian Paddick

Liberal Democrats

The Stonewall hustings will be the last before Londoners go to the polls on May 1st.