Incumbent London mayor Boris Johnson has defeated former london mayor Ken Livingstone in Thursday’s election.
After leading first preference votes 44% to Livingstone’s 40%, Johnson defeated Livingstone on the count of second preference votes by a margin of 51.5% to 48.5%.
It is a striking win for Johnson and one of the few bright spots for a Conservative Party that lost nearly 800 council seats in Thursday’s local elections, which have already set tongues wagging about a potentially bright future for Johnson in national politics if he tires of London politics — a possibility that even Livingstone noted in his graceful concession speech Friday night.
Even on a day when Labour has done amazingly well in local elections across the United Kingdom, Labour leader Ed Miliband can’t seem to get a break, having been hit with an egg in Southampton while otherwise on a bit of a victory tour.
It’s still been a better 24 hours for Miliband than for Conservative prime minister David Cameron, who’s now apologized to his party for the dismal local election result — for what it’s worth (not much), if translated into a general election vote, Labour would have won with 39% to just 31% for the Tories (but ask William Hague how his 1999 win in local elections turned out for his Tories in the 2001 general election).
Labour has taken over 700 council seats from the Tories and from their governing coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats, who have had an even worse election than the Tories. Labour has also shined in Wales and in Scotland, which is somewhat of a damper for the nationalist parties as well.
In London, Labour is winning 42% of the vote to just 33% for the Tories, and even the race for mayor is closer than expected — incumbent Boris Johnson is still leading Labour candidate and former mayor Ken Livingstone.