In the end, it was closer, much closer, than many expected, but Boris Johnson has just won another four years in City Hall. In his valedictory address, a visibly emotional Ken Livingstone announced that he would not stand again for election, adding that this was the defeat he regretted the most because “these are the worst times for 80 years.” Meanwhile, in yet another blow to the Liberal Democrats, Brian Paddick was pushed into fourth place by Green candidate Jenny Jones, a triumph for her party.
Below is the result in full. Boris’s margin of victory was three per cent, a far smaller lead than predicted by the final polls (YouGov had him six points ahead, Populus 12). Yet with Labour around 15 points ahead in the London Assembly elections, the fact Boris won at all is a remarkable personal achievement.
1. Boris Johnson (Conservative) 971,931 (44.01%)
2. Ken Livingstone (Labour) 889,918 (40.30%)
3. Jenny Jones (Green) 98,913 (4.48%)
4. Brian Paddick (Liberal Democrat) 91,774 (4.16%)
5. Siobhan Benita (Independent) 83,914 (3.80)
6. Lawrence Webb (UKIP: Fresh Choice For London) 43,274 (1.96%)
7. Carlos Cortiglia (BNP) 28,751 (1.30%)
1. Boris Johnson 1,054,811 (51.53%)
2. Ken Livingstone 992,273 (48.47%)
Majority: 62,538 (3.06%)
Boris’s re-election is an extraordinary feat. He has won again in London, a Labour city, at a time when the Conservatives are more unpopular than at any point since the general election and when the economy has double-dipped. The mayor’s success owes more to his remarkable character than it does to his politics, but that won’t stop Tory MPs urging David Cameron to emulate Boris’s brand of unashamed conservatism. After all, Johnson has now won two elections. Cameron is yet to win one. The mayor has gained the largest personal mandate of any politician in Europe, bar the French president. That gives him considerable clout in the Conservative Party. Should he wish to return to the Commons in 2015, Tory MPs will happily make way for him. Although Boris has promised to serve a full-term, there is no constitutional obstacle to him combining the roles of MP and mayor. Indeed, there is a precedent. After the 2000 mayoral election, Ken Livingstone remained the MP for Brent East until 2001.
For Ed Miliband, Ken’s defeat is a significant disappointment, the only stain on Labour’s near-perfect night. But the scale of the party’s gains elsewhere means that Boris’s victory is much less of a problem for him than previously imagined. All observers are agreed that this was a defeat for Ken, who ran a calamitous campaign, not a defeat for Labour.