Reading the runes

It felt quite extraordinary to be waking to a London with Boris as Mayor. We are so used to the Islington electoral landscape of Labour vs Lib Dems, that Tory victories are a bit of a shock It’s a healthy reality check to find that everything looks the same as usual in Islington this morning; Labour activists apart, people seem very relaxed about the result rather than having a collective hangover.

The media reported the Mayoral election as the Ken vs Boris show, and that in turn unfairly marginalised Brian Paddick. Brian really grew as a campaigner during the election; he didn’t lose the straight-talking honesty that really reached people when he met them, but he did get more relaxed and confident at hustings and with the media. If all voters got to hear from all the candidates, Brian’s vote would have been much higher. He brought a serious approach to the issue of how we tackle crime and violence in London, from which I hope the new Mayor will learn. It will take more than a new generation of City sponsored boys’ clubs to tackle this problem.

Londoners clearly found Boris an acceptable and electable alternative to Ken Livingstone. Boris rightly recognised that this does not mean that London has suddenly turned Tory; Islington certainly has not.But there’s no doubt that the celeb cred of Boris combined with the meltdown of the Labour government – and the desperate response of local Labour activists – made Lib Dems vulnerable to an anti-Tory squeeze in Labour areas.

We do not yet know the breakdown of votes in Islington, but Meral’s vote across London NE (Islington, Hackney and Waltham Forest combined) was significantly ahead of the London-wide trend, making her the most popular Lib Dem GLA candidate north of the river.

Meral’s been a brilliant candidate, engaging people who don’t normally get involved in politics, both from the Turkish community and across the borough. One email I got yesterday said “I voted yesterday for your colleague Meral Ece. We have yet to find out whether she won, but as the only candidate who took the trouble to canvas me (and I am not registered as one of your supporters) I felt she deserved my vote.” So this is a personal achievement by Meral and one that reflects well on the local campaigning in Islington.

Nationally Liberal Democrats got a bigger vote share than Labour, a shift that would see Westminster seats like Islington South & Finsbury go Lib Dem. Although if I were in Gordon Brown’s place I’d not be contemplating a General Election any time soon. We didn’t elect him last year, and we certainly wouldn’t elect him now.



  1. Re: ‘ . . making her the most popular Lib Dem GLA candidate north of the river . ‘ Up to a point, Lady Copper. Stephen Knight polled more votes [49,985 vs 28,973] and nearly twice the % [26.09% vs 14.64%] in South West, which straddles the river with the larger part [LB Hounslow and 11/18 wards of LB Richmond u Thames] on its northern Middlesex side.

  2. bridgetfox said

    A fair point on the geography Chris, although politically I think SW London is, well, SW London.

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