"Sian Berry, for the Greens, on the other hand, has been an articulate, imaginative and effective advocate for her cause. With her programme for a greener London, with more cycle-lanes, cheaper public transport, more small shops and eco-friendly housing, she has come across as a forward-looking politician, committed to a better quality of London life. We hope she can continue to find a voice in the national debate.
So consonant are her priorities with those of this paper that, if we could vote for mayor today, we would place our first-preference cross against her name. This would underscore the importance of the environment to both London and to the rest of the nation. Then, and with rather heavy heart, it would be illogical to do anything other than make Ken Livingstone our second choice."
"Many Londoners feel that they have the unenviable task of choosing between a whining, boozing and not-so-unreconstructed Marxist, a braying shambolic Old Etonian and a smug, self-righteous non-entity."
Just the sort of charmless observation we might expect from a mouthy, self-important Murdoch newspaper that thinks it's really gear. It then provides a long list of things Livingstone has done that it approves of, before criticising him on the grounds that he's offering more of the same. There's logic for you. On the other hand, it says of Johnson:
"His eccentricities are, it should be remembered, basically harmless and inoffensive whereas Mr Livingstone's various attempts to summon up the political spirit of 1968 and cosy up to political thugs and merchants of hate most definitely are not."
Harmless and inoffensive? I'd suggest the Times tries to imagine what it felt like to be on the wrong end of them.
"The thrust of Mr Johnson's policy suggestions on crime, transport and planning are sensible."
Balls. Livingstone has allowed himself to look complacent on crime. Yet although Johnson has talked about the subject more, he isn't offering anything more or better. The efficacy of zero tolerance is contested and his proposal to make the police less accountable for stop and search is a piece of dangerous populism. The suggestion about buses has attracted ridicule and he has almost nothing to say about the Tube. His proposals on planning are good in parts, but no better than Livingstone's on the whole and depend for their success on giving the boroughs greater freedom. Keep that thought in mind.
"His candour is welcome."
But there's been very little candour. His minders have policed it out of him. That has been a feature of his campaign.
"He is alive to Londoners' very deep concerns about drugs, stabbings and gangs, disappointment about persistent poverty and housing shortages, as well as their frustrations at traffic jams, empty bendy buses and an Underground network that is held to ransom by Bob Crow and the RMT."
Alive to them, yes. Offering policies better than Livingstone's for dealing with them? The Times doesn't mention any. Perhaps it hasn't bothered finding out what those policies are. Also, I haven't heard Johnson say a single word about bendy buses being empty. And his chances of getting Crow to sign up to a no-strike deal? On the slim side, I'd say.
"The responsibility of office will discipline Mr Johnson and will soon convince him, as it did Mr Livingstone, that a strong mayor who is more than the plaything of the boroughs is vital if the capital is to be prosperous."
So much for that "sensible" housing policy, then. What a shoddy bit of work. It's enough to make you vote for Livingstone.