Big task looms for Boris Johnson
(Updated on May 3 with new headline, election results, reaction and photos)
The man described by some as a joke, by others as a brilliant mind has ended Ken Livingstone’s eight-year reign at City Hall.
The verdict is still out on what exactly Boris Johnson’s victory means for the Conservative Party overall but his performance as mayor could help determine whether people will vote for the Tories in a general election next time.
Johnson, whose experience of running big projects is limited, will lead one of the world’s most high-profile cities with an 11.3 billion pound budget to run public transport, police and fire services and promote the economy of this global financial centre.
The Labour Party may be hoping that the gaffe-prone “blond bombshell” will prove incapable of doing the job and thus damage the Conservatives chances of winning the next election. Johnson will have to get cracking soon with strong policies to bolster his image and become the ambassador that the Tories need him to be as the capital’s mayor.
Johnson paid generous tribute to Livingstone in his victory speech, describing him as “a very considerable public servant” and acknowledging that many who had voted for him had been wavering when it came to casting their votes.
“You shaped the office of mayor. You gave it national prominence and when London was attacked on 7 July 2005 you spoke for London,” Johnson said after he was declared winner in what had turned out to be a marathon vote count lasting well over 12 hours, partly due to a record turnout of 45 percent.
Livingstone in return offered to help Johnson and said that the responsibility for his defeat lay with him and him alone.
The Conservative candidate won with 1,168,738 first and second preference votes, compared with Livingstone’s 1,028,966.
|MAYOR ELECTION RESULTS|
|NAME||PARTY||1st PREFERENCE||%||2ND PREFERENCE||FINAL|
Source: London Elects
The Johnson victory in London has added to Conservative delight at pushing Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Labour Party to its worst performance on record in local elections elsewhere in England and Wales.
Senior Conservative sources said they would be “gobsmacked” if Johnson did not win the mayoral contest, the Daily Telegraph said.
Even Minister for London Tessa Jowell conceded as we waited for the final result: “You’re absolutely right that it looks, at the moment, as if Boris Johnson is ahead,” she told the BBC.
Confidence of a Tory win was boosted after one bookmaker announced it was paying out on a Boris Johnson victory hours before the official result is expected later this evening.
Opinion polls had put Livingstone and Johnson neck-and-neck, with LibDem candidate Brian Paddick a distant third.