Sadiq Khan will serve a second term as Mayor of London, after beating Conservative rival Shaun Bailey “quite comfortably”, according to the capital’s leading political pundit.
The London Mayoral election result was declared late on Saturday night, with Khan requiring the second-round, second preferences to register 55.2 per cent of the popular vote, leaving London Tories claiming some kind of Pyrrhic victory simply because Bailey did better than most people expected, and Conservative HQ feared.
On a weekend of impressive and encouraging results for the Green Party, Sian Berry was third, ahead of LibDem Luisa Porritt. Porritt was a late-replacement candidate for the Liberal Democrats, drafted in last year when Siobhan Benita withdrew from the covid-extended campaign.
The LibDems lost their £10,000 election deposit, too, as Porritt garnered less than 5 per cent of the vote.
The London elections had been delayed by 12 months because of the covid-19 pandemic, with the campaign of the past few weeks subdued and restricted through lockdown measures.
Bailey’s increasingly desperate campaign was widely criticised when he started using leaflets and websites which were not obviously from the Tory Party, and which included invented “facts” about Council Tax and Transport for London. Bailey also falsely claimed that Khan had made TfL bankrupt before covid-19 devastated its finances.
Khan’s winning margin of 10.4 per cent was smaller than his 13.6 per cent lead from 2016, but it was larger than the victories of Boris Johnson in 2008 and 2012. Ken Livingstone holds the record for the biggest ever mayoral win – 15.8 per cent when he ran as an independent in 2000.
Khan received 1,013,721 first preference votes and 192,313 second preferences for a final total of 1,206,034.
Turnout for the mayoral election was 42 per cent – the third-highest of the six mayoral elections so far, despite the impact of covid-19. Significantly, a record 1,131,544 Londoners used postal votes.
Khan’s victory was one of a series of mayoral successes for the Labour Party across the country declared yesterday, but in the end it was not the emphatic, first-round knock-out that had been predicted nor hoped for. The Mayor since 2016, Khan’s reputation had suffered because of the continuing delays with Crossrail, and the Tory government settlement imposed after Transport for London ran out of cash when its fare revenues vanished during the first coronavirus lockdown.
On Saturday night, with a covid curtailed three-year term ahead of him, the Tooting bus driver’s son (what do you mean, you never knew?) promised “to strain every sinew to help build a better, brighter future for London”.
Khan said, “I will always be a mayor for all Londoners, working to improve the lives of every single person in this city.
“The results of the elections around the UK shows our country, and even our city, remains deeply divided. The scars of Brexit have yet to heal. A crude culture war is pushing us further apart.
“Economic inequality is getting worse both within London and in different parts of our country.
“As we seek to confront the enormity of the challenge ahead, and as we endeavour to rebuild from this pandemic, we must use this moment of national recovery to heal those damaging divisions.”
Tim Donovan, BBC London’s political editor, offered this analysis: “In the end Sadiq Khan won quite comfortably – but it didn’t always feel like that.
“His team got panicky on polling day when voting was slow. In fact turnout – though not at 2016 levels – was higher than previous elections unhindered by a pandemic.
“Then there were jitters on the first day of counting when the margin between Mr Khan and Mr Bailey was narrow on the first constituencies announced.
“Mr Khan’s winning margin as an incumbent mayor eclipses Boris Johnson’s in 2012.
“He would have liked today to have been about sheer success – a victory to lift Labour hearts beyond the boundaries of the capital. It’s not worked out like that. And compare Mr Khan’s result to Andy Burnham in Manchester, Andy Street in the West Midlands and Ben Houchen in Teesside – all of whom increased their victory margins.
“That will hurt.”
Read more: Tories are tipped to cling on to Croydon and Sutton seat
Read more: Conservatives’ anti-London policies have put Bailey in the dock
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