June 12, 2004
Summary: The use of an IRV electoral system in
London enabled incumbent candidate Ken Livingstone to win a second term of
office through second preference votes.
(London)Ken Livingstone won a second term as mayor of
London last night after securing a narrow victory over his Tory rival, Steve
Narrow Victory for Mayor Who Returned to the Fold: Ken Livingstone Gains
Second Term Despite Iraq War Backlash
By Hugh Muir
June 12, 2004
Standing this time as a Labour candidate, Mr Livingstone
failed to win a simple majority of votes cast across the capital, but retained
his job after second-preference votes were redistributed from unsuccessful
candidates. He beat Mr Norris's 542,423 first-preference votes and 667,178 votes
on the final count by 685,541 and 828,380 votes respectively.
Eighteen hours after polling stations closed Mr Livingstone
had to wait for confirmation of a second term, having seen his ratings slump as
a result of the government's unpopularity and a backlash from the Iraq war.
Many anti-war protesters remained loyal to Mr Livingstone,
despite his return to the Labour party, because of his personal opposition to
the conflict. But a large number who voted for him as an independent last time
either endorsed other candidates or stayed at home. There were reports in east
London of large groups of Muslim families rushing to the polls just before they
closed at 10pm.
His narrow victory will come as a relief to Tony Blair, whose
officials spent an anxious day monitoring his progress and calling activists in
the capital. They were told to safeguard the mayoralty at all costs, even if it
meant diverting resources from other candidates. While he survived, the anti-Labour
tide hit the London assembly, raising the prospect that Mr Livingstone will have
to negotiate with Greens and Liberal Democrats to avoid having his yearly
budgets voted down.
Amid the horse trading there will also be recriminations.
Members of Mr Livingstone's team say the decision by the executive of the Rail
Maritime and Transport union to schedule a strike on the London underground for
election day cost vital votes on the assembly. Only Bob Crow, the general
secretary, has been absolved of blame.
A source said: "That was the moment Ken could have lost.
The publicity was bad enough, but it meant that for a week we could not get
other messages out. The approach we took this week, appealing to Lib Dems and
Green voters, should have been the focus last week, but had to be put on hold.
In the meantime Steve Norris was able to pick up speed."
The source said the campaign was forced to concentrate on getting the strike
called off. "Had it not been for Bob Crow putting his personal authority on
the line, the strike would probably have gone ahead. We think it cost us two to
three percentage points and we had hoped that Ken could pull the assembly up in
his slipstream. It is hard to describe how angry we are."
Until then, Mr Livingstone's campaigners say, they had been
progressing smoothly, with one factor being the failure of the Liberal Democrats
to mount a coherent threat. Simon Hughes stated that his strategy was to
overtake Mr Norris and put himself in a position to beat Mr Livingstone in the
second stage, when the second-preference votes were counted. But most of his
attacks were levelled at Mr Livingstone. One source in the Livingstone camp
said: "It was great for us, but it was astoundingly incompetent."
Mr Hughes produced a newspaper linking Mr Norris, the Jarvis
chairman, with the Potters Bar rail crash. But the attack was not maintained.
"He talked about taking votes from Norris, but didn't do much to achieve
that. We just left him to shoot himself in the foot," said the source.
Labour tailored its tactics to meet the challenge from Mr
Norris. As he focused on crime, Labour rolled out pronouncements on various
subjects. "We saw Norris as a one-shot golfer. He was focused on crime. But
Londoners are almost as concerned about quality of life and transport."
Unlike four years ago - when Mr Livingstone went into virtual
hibernation for 18 months, prompting cries of "where is the mayor" -
he wants to hit the ground running at the beginning of his second term. The
government will announce its level of grant for London in July and Mr
Livingstone will press for generous funding as well as confirmation that
ministers will go ahead with the ¬£10bn Crossrail project linking east and west
Also high on his list is the ¬£600m East London line
extension, which would see the existing tube line extended to link Highbury and
Islington in the north with West Croydon and Clapham in the south.
Mr Livingstone will need funds to press on with his plans to
provide free childcare for every parent who wants it in London and to allow his
expansion of London's bus services to continue.
to the election results