Labour was today celebrating significant gains in council elections across Britain, but failed to win the mayoral race in London, where Boris Johnson's victory provided a consolation prize for Conservatives on a grim day for both coalition parties.
The Conservative polled 1,054,811 to the Labour candidate's 992,273 following a deeply personal and bitter campaign battle that saw the two men clash furiously in public and in private.
Mr Johnson vowed to continue "fighting for a good deal for Londoners" from government as he thanked voters for giving him a "new chance".
The Mayor outperformed his party, which suffered a significant drubbing nationally, but failed to secure the massive win predicted by polls over recent days that had put him as far as 12 points ahead.
Early results in the contest also suggested the incumbent was significantly in the lead and even senior Labour figures conceded the Tory was poised to win. But later count declarations saw the gap reduce, fuelling speculation Mr Johnson's victory was not the done deal that had been tipped.
No candidate won enough votes in the first round to secure victory, meaning second preferences had to be counted.
Labour secured eight of the London Assembly's 14 first-past-the-post constituencies, gaining two from the Tories, which left them with six.
Results: Electorate 5,804,790, turnout 2,208,475 (38.05%, -5.81%)
Boris Johnson (C) 971,931 (44.01%, +0.81%)
Ken Livingstone (Lab) 889,918 (40.30%, +3.30%)
Jenny Jones (Green) 98,913 (4.48%, +1.28%)
Brian Paddick (LD) 91,774 (4.16%, -5.64%)
Siobhan Benita (Ind) 83,914 (3.80%, +3.58%)
Lawrence Webb (UKIP) 43,274 (1.96%, +1.03%)
Carlos Cortiglia (BNP) 28,751 (1.30%, -1.58%)
Eliminated: Siobhan Benita, Carlos Cortiglia, Jenny Jones, Brian Paddick, Lawrence Webb
Distribution of Benita's, Cortiglia's, Jones's, Paddick's and Webb's votes:
Boris Johnson (C) 1,054,811
Ken Livingstone (Lab) 992,273
Elected: Boris Johnson