Khan is London's new Mayor, but how much heart should Labour take from the victory?by John Curtice / May 7, 2016 / Leave a comment
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Were you up for Sadiq Khan? Probably not given the failure of London Elects (once again) to announce formally the outcome of the contest for the country’s biggest electoral office before most people had gone wearily to bed. So just in case you did miss it, Khan did indeed win, securing 57 per cent of the vote after voters’ second preferences had been distributed. This result was exactly in line (for once!) with the figures anticipated by the opinion polls.
After 24 hours during which Labour losses of English council seats proved to be not only well below the 150 that had been widely anticipated, but also a little less than the losses suffered by the Conservatives, Khan’s victory was the apparent icing on the cake for Jeremy Corbyn. He, after all, had delivered a major electoral prize that Gordon Brown had lost and Ed Miliband had proved unable to regain.
But, of course, it is not quite as simple as that. It was not the Conservative party that won the London mayoralty in 2012—it was Boris Johnson, the individual. Labour won the parallel London Assembly election quite comfortably. On the two ballots for that institution, the party enjoyed leads over the Conservatives of ten points in the constituency battles (where a “first past the post” system is used to elect Assembly members in much the same way that MPs are elected) and nine points on the “list vote” (a system that “tops up” Assembly membership on a proportional basis.) However, in a testament to his personal popularity, Boris Johnson still managed to secure a four point lead over Ken Livingstone in the first preference vote for Mayor.
The Conservatives’ standard bearer this time, Zac Goldsmith, is not in Johnson’s class when it comes to charisma. Nor, in truth, is Khan in the same league as Livingstone on that score—in Livingstone’s hey day, that is. Thus, despite the attempt of the Conservatives to turn the contest into a judgement on…