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London Mayor 2012: Siobhan Benita

    In a campaign dominated by two candidates so well-known that they are immediately recognisable by their first names alone, it is a new face in London politics which appears to have caught attention.

    Independent candidate Siobhan Benita has walked away from a 15-year career as a senior civil servant to take on Boris and Ken and run to be Mayor of London.

    She has the backing of former cabinet secretary Lord O'Donnell, who acts as a mentor and, says the mother-of-two, "brings a new dimension" to the mayoral race. Celebrity backers, including Dragons Den's Peter Jones, are promoting her candidacy.

    Ms Benita is supported by Jewish activists working to help her collect the 330 signatures (10 from each London borough) needed to stand.

    She said: "The way London took in my mum [as a young girl from India in 1959] is a story that's replicated across London. It's a very tolerant city and we should make more of that. It's about time we reminded ourselves.

    "I think people are realising there's quite a lot of substance to what I'm saying in terms of how the machinery of government works and how you get things done. I think that sets me apart.

    "The mayor should be a positive role model for all Londoners and be more inclusive than the current and past mayor."

    Ms Benita "has a problem" with Mr Johnson and his predecessor, and feels voters are tired of the pair offending different sections of the electorate. She added: "People have never been so disengaged from party politics. The role of mayor was never set up to be held by party politicians. It was supposed to encourage people to vote for a leader for London."

    If elected, Ms Benita plans to increase co-operation between minority communities and help them build networks across London, a plan she hopes Jewish communities will support.

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