Lost the battle but not the war

It was a sad scene on the night of the 2nd of May, seeing Ken leaving the institution he did so much to give a profile and such energy too. For my generation of Londoners who grew up in London during the 1980s, he had been our political compass and thus gave us our bearings very often in all sorts of political matters beyond just local government as well.

Saying this, Ken and Labour at the GLA did much better in London then the party in the rest of the country on the 1st of May. Ken’s first preference total was 36 per cent and much the same as his percentage in 2004, that is 12 per cent higher then Labours national score and the Labour vote in Labour actually want up across the whole of London to 28 from 24 per cent, gaining an additional seat in the Assembly in Brent & Harrow to a total of 8, holding Enfield and Haringey and increasing the majorities in all our GLA constituencies and finally holding our 2 seats from the top-up lists. This reflects well on the progressive coalition and policies that Ken presented on transport, housing and privatisation and redistribution which was a good deal more popular than that been offered in other parts of the country throughout local and regional government by Labour.

It was just that Tory vote came out much more strongly then we anticipated both in the suburbs and in central London while the Lib Dem vote took a hammering both in the Mayoral and Assembly contest. Johnson got 42 per cent first preferences and when the second preferences were distributed it was 47 and 53 per cent to Johnson. In the meantime, there was a haemorrhaging of the Lib Dem vote where Paddick only polled 9.6 per cent and its vote on the London Assembly went down by 6.88 per cent compared to 2004, resulting in the loss of 2 Assembly seats. The best example of the suburban vote was the over 50 per cent turn out in Bexley and Bromley where more then 50 per cent voted Tory. While in the City and East London where we probably have the greatest concentration of Muslim communities, the turnout was in the region of 39 per cent. That is over 1 in 3 voted in the latter while in the former it was just over every other person. Its those margins which made the difference for the Tories.

Furthermore, the smaller parties like Respect and Christian Alliance did not fare well at all but for the BNP, who got their 5.3 per cent to get their first London Assembly member onto the London Assembly. From 2004, the far right party managed to get a further 40,000 votes added to their 90,000 then to critically get them over the 5 per cent threshold. This is a return to the peak of far right support in the 1970s at the GLC elections of May 1977 where the National Front polled 5.23 per cent but because of the first past the poll system did not get any representation in the GLC. After that a combination of the National Front disintergrating internally and Maggie Thatcher coming into power in 1979 stopped the move to the far right any further. Are we going to see something similiar will be very interesting in the next few years.

In West Central where l contested the election, we had a 48.5 per cent turnout and managed to increase the Labour vote just over 3 per cent from 2004 with a total of nearer to Ken’s total vote in 2004. At the same time we saw the Tory vote increase by a greater percentage, so it was not just ” outer London wot won it ” for Johnson and the Tories while Kens vote is still 12,000 votes higher then the Labour vote.

I will continue the fight in the GLA, remembering that the battle may of been lost but not the war, as much of what Johnson does over the next 4 years will be undertaken within an agenda and context set by the outgoing Mayor. So bring on 2012 election which will be just before the Olympics games in London and lets see how Johnson handles this and the other big projects like Crossrail, deliveries on his manifesto promises and promotes London as a global city. Rest assured that after the honey moon period over this summer, this is how he’ll be judged, as many will see the Johnson adminstration as giving us an insight into what a Cameron regime running the UK will be like.