Livingstone bucks trend to win re-election

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Ken Livingstone won re-election as Mayor of London last night when he saw off a challenge by the Tory candidate Steve Norris to win a second four-year term.

Ken Livingstone won re-election as Mayor of London last night when he saw off a challenge by the Tory candidate Steve Norris to win a second four-year term.

Mr Livingstone won a total of 828,380 votes (55 per cent) when first and second preferences were taken into account, to 667,178 for Mr Norris (45 per cent). The result was closer than in the first Mayoral contest four years ago, when Mr Livingstone won 58 per cent and Mr Norris 42 per cent.

Although Mr Livingstone's decision to rejoin the Labour Party may have harmed his prospects, Tony Blair will be hugely relieved at the London result, which gave him a welcome respite on a black day for Labour.

Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat candidate, came a distant third whereas there was a strong showing by the anti-EU United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which came fourth. The anti-war coalition Respect finished ahead of the British National Party and the Green Party.

Mr Livingstone, who won as an independent four years ago, said Mr Norris had posed "more of a threat than I would have liked". He said the Government could learn from the campaign he fought on public services. "Tony Blair can win a third term but we have got to get across to people what we are doing with hospitals and education."

Mr Norris said he had achieved an "extremely creditable result" that showed the Tories were a force in London. Praising his Labour opponent, he said: "I have to say I admire somebody who, whether you like it or not, sticks to his principles. I am sorry I lost, but if I had to lose, I am proud that I lost to Ken Livingstone."

Mr Livingstone won 685,541 first preference votes and Mr Norris 542,423. The second preferences of people who voted for the other eight candidates were redistributed to give the tally for Labour and the Tories.

Labour's celebrations were tempered by a collapse in its support in the elections to the London Assembly, where it won only a quarter of the votes.

Fringe parties picked up a quarter of the votes amid advances by UKIP - which won two seats - and Respect. Labour and the Tories won 56 per cent of the votes between them.

Labour suffered a high-profile casualty when Lord Toby Harris, the leader of the Labour group on the assembly, lost his constituency seat of Brent & Harrow to the Tories by a majority of 4,686. "It has been a tide against us," he said.

The assembly results were a setback to Mr Blair because the capital is a key general election battleground with 74 Parliamentary seats. The differential between Mr Livingstone's personal vote and Labour's showing in the assembly elections will be seen as a reflection of his opposition to the Iraq war and the Government's unpopularity in the capital.

The new make-up of the assembly is: Tories nine seats (unchanged); Labour seven (down two ); Liberal Democrats five (up one); UKIP two (up two) Greens two (down one).

Mr Livingstone may find his wings clipped by the assembly, which monitors the work of the Mayor. The 25-strong assembly can amend the Mayor's budget if two thirds of the members agree to such a proposal.

The Tories, who won nine seats, won 31.2 per cent of the votes (down 2 points), whereas Labour, with five seats, slumped by 6.9 points to 24.7 per cent. Liberal Democrat support fell by half a point to 18.5 per cent and the Greens' vote was down by 2.6 points to 7.7 per cent. UKIP picked up more than 10 per cent and Respect gained 4.6 per cent.

Brent & Harrow was the only one of the 14 assembly constituencies in the capital to change hands as minor parties piled up support at the expense of their mainstream rivals. In a blow to the Tories, their leader Eric Ollerenshaw lost his seat under the proportional representation system.

THE LONDON MAYOR

First preferences:
KEN LIVINGSTONE (Lab) 685,541 36.7%
STEVE NORRIS (Con) 542,423 29.0%
Simon Hughes (Lib Dem) 284,645 15.2%
Frank Maloney (UKIP) 115,665 6.2%
Ms Lindsey German (Respect) 67,731
3.6% Julian Leppert (BNP) 58,405 3.1%
Darren Johnson (Green) 57,331 3.1%
Ram Gidoomal (CPA) 41,696 2.2%
Ms Lorna Reid (Ind Work) 9,542 0.5%
Dr Tammy Nagalingam (ND) 6,692 0.4%

After redistribution of second preferences:
KEN LIVINGSTONE 828,380 55.4%
Steve Norris 667,178 44.6%

THE LONDON ASSEMBLY

Seats Change
Labour 7 -2 Conservative 9 = Liberal Democrat 5 +1 Green 2 -1 UKIP 2 +2

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