Election Update 10:12

Well, that’s one way of looking at it – the Tories were expected, not least by the Evening Standard, to take a good number of Labour seats in London – they’ve taken some, but not nearly enough and crucially there were some holds for Labour that weren’t expected, like Glenda Jackson in Hampstead.  Conversely ex-Mayoral candidate Susan Kramer suffered from the Lib Dems startling late decline, losing to Routemaster pamphleteer Zac Goldsmith who, if you remember, was allowed to burnish his green credentials by Boris at the first, biased, People’s Question Time session in Hillingdon a couple of years back.  Indeed, the fortunes of Kramer and fellow ex-Mayoral candidate Frank Dobson are rather notable, Dobbo holding on comfortably in the end despite a lot of talk about him being under threat.  The inevitable hung parliament was, ironically, confirmed when Labour held Erith & Thamesmead.

So what happened?  Inner London stuck with Old Labour, basically, who fought a good campaign (which, since it was led by Ken’s old Chief of Staff Simon Fletcher will annoy the tits off Andrew Gilligan).  Karen Buck holding on in Westminster North and Andy Slaughter in Hammersmith (beating high-profile Look-the-Tories-aren’t-racists Shaun Bailey and his gang of PR merchants, no less) were indicators to me that good local Labour MPs with a personal following were resistant to the Boris charm.  Conversely our Brownite MP Ann Keen lost, a victim of expenses and, if truth be told, not a great constituency record, and Tony McNulty suffered the same fate again due presumably to expenses.  Alan Keen held on in the other Hounslow constituency, Jon Cruddas was safely returned and John McDonnell in Harlington too. The two Islington constituencies remained Labour, crushingly so.

Council elections – notables so far appear to be a Labour hold in Greenwich, Labour gain in Enfield and possibly Islington and Labour hold, amazingly, in Haringey where they were batting on a wicket that redefined ‘sticky’, post Baby Peter and massive, justified criticism of the way it’s run.  Political Animal is on record as pointing out that 2006 was a low point in Labour fortunes, so the council elections weren’t likely to produce further erosion of a low Labour vote.  It’ll be interesting watching that get tested in the rest of the capital.

So where does this leave Boris?  Well, when elected he was supposed to use his charisma to deliver London to Cameron, which would have won him the Premiership.  Instead Boris has been decidedly low-profile, after being opportunistically beaten up by Labour over the East London Line opening (which was then delayed) he rather skulked – apart from that he’s done walkabouts in key areas, which don’t seem to have produced much – where Labour seats were lost there appear to have been extraneous factors like an undefendably low majority or expenses scandals rather than a Boris Halo – even then his walkabout in Feltham doesn’t seem to have damaged Alan Keen much while high profile visits to Hampstead nearly pulled it off, but Jackson held on by 42 votes with the Lib Dems a very close third.

Perhaps, then, he spread himself too thickly in the West – Angie Bray in Ealing Central & Acton won fairly comfortably, while the real damage was being done out east where a string of supposedly wobbly Labour seats returned a red rosette; Eltham, Erith, Poplar, Dagenham.  Perhaps pissing off the entire South East London area by scrapping transport schemes and reneging on the impossible promises over tidal flow in the Blackwall Tunnel may have lost Boris’s old mate Cameron the chance of power and paradoxically opened the way for a Boris-led right-wing coup?  It’ll be interesting to see where the ambitious Mayor goes from here, particularly with the borough election results.  More later.

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