The old political adage that elections are lost, not won seems to apply to the London Mayoral race of 2012.
Boris Johnson has managed to win the position of London Mayor, in the face of a countrywide defeat for the Tories.
Part of it has been personality, partly keeping his head down and the other, the benefit of running against Ken Livingstone.
On paper they should have, his policies seemed good and promised much.
However, the political baggage that Livingstone drew along from his questionable tax activities to his communalism soured many people’s attitudes towards him.
In the last few years of his previous administration, Livingstone showed an insensitivity and arrogance which were his undoing.
Rob Marchant, a solid Labour member and previously a Labour Party manager, was just one who felt he couldn’t vote for Ken.
“Despite a late wobble, Johnson was predicted to have secured a four-point lead on first preferences in London, enough to protect him even if the bulk of second preferences of other candidates went to his dogged Labour rival, Ken Livingstone. Labour activists rounded on Livingstone for crassly insulting Jewish voters. It was pointed out that in seats with strong Jewish communities, such as Barnet, the Labour candidate outpolled his Tory rival by 21,000, yet in the mayoral election in the same seat Johnson beat Livingstone by 24,000.”
But let us not weep for Ken Livingstone, he’s not poor or without earnings.
If nothing else he can prostitute his principled and work for Press TV, again.
Update 1: Hugh Muir in the Guardian makes similar points, but uses some unfortunate language:
“How much damage did he inflict by failing to make peace with the Jewish political establishment, still sore over conflicts past: the insult to a Jewish reporter, the embrace of Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi? When he met secretly in March with a group of senior figures who hoped to reach accommodation, why didn’t he make nice? Instead he upset some again by referring to the Israeli government as Zionists and implying that “rich” Jews wouldn’t vote for him anyway. “I can’t say words that I do not feel in my heart,” he once declared.
And yet the Livingstone who pitched up at Finsbury Park mosque was amiability itself. Misjudgment clothed as high principle.
On 23 January, two polls put Livingstone slightly ahead of Johnson. Two weeks later, he handed another gift to his opponent. No one seriously questions his stance on equalities. But it was not smart to tell Jemima Khan the new-look Tory party was “riddled with gays”.
Self-harming and some accidents. He wasn’t to know perhaps, that the real people in his election video – whose concerns reduced him to tears – were actors recruited by an advertising agency, but these misfortunes count when the plot is unravelling. For every step forward, two back.”
Update 2: The Indy argues:
“As Mayor, he made the bold move of introducing the congestion charge, which no one else would have dared do, and was sufficiently popular that the Labour Party – from which he was expelled in 2000 – welcomed him back so he could be their candidate in 2004. While his strengths included his immense knowledge of London, his attention to detail and a willingness to take risks, he was hampered by a love of controversy which involved him in pointless scrapes and alienated most of the capital’s Jewish community. At one point, he was suspended from office by some obscure body with the authority to do so, because had insulted a Jewish journalist.
In the current campaign, he added to his difficulties when it became known that his substantial earnings were paid into a company so he could avoid income tax, after he had insouciantly condemned other tax avoiders. He could blame his defeat in the 2008 mayoral election on the unpopularity of the Labour government, but yesterday’s defeat was personal. “
Update 4: One of his supporters says, Farewell, Ken.
“In truth, it would have been an astounding result if Ken had won – given the fact he has inevitably assembled so many enemies over such a long period; given the sustained media campaign against him; and given the lack of scrutiny of Boris Johnson, which I wrote about here. It was closer than it could have been. It is fanciful to believe that a candidate such as Oona King – who would have been savaged as a lightweight and an unswerving loyalist, against an independent-minded Boris – would have done as well. But Ken’s defeat was unavoidable. And there is a lesson for left-wing politicians. If they’re out to get you, don’t give them ammo. “
This piece seems to forget there was a “sustained media campaign against” Ken before and yet he won.
Update 5: Even the LRB has a view, Livingstone’s Last Election.
Update 6: The real reasons Boris won and Ken lost by Adam Bienkov.
Update 7: On Labour List, there is a host of posts on the defeat.
Update 8: A long term critic of Livingstone pulls no punches:
“I have stopped counting the number of Labourites complaining and coming out against Ken Livingstone, while campaigning for him just the other day. It is hard to stomach.
Except a few honourable party members, like Dan Hodges,who gave his vote to Boris Johnson, or my friends Peter Watt, who criticised Labour for trying to bully people into voting Livingstone, and Rob Marchant, who explicitly said – prior to the election – that he would find it impossible to support him, the Labour Party gave collective legitimacy to a morally indefensible man.”
Update 9: Some of Livingstone’s fan add their commiserations, A tribute to Ken by Jon Lansman and the ever supportive Dave Hill, So, Boris Johnson remains mayor – and it’s not all Ken Livingstone’s fault.