From the Times: May 3, 2008
Ben Macintyre in City Hall
Boris Johnson was declared the victor last night in London's fiercely-contested mayoral election, announcing a new era in which the Conservative Party had once again become “a party that can be trusted”. Rumpled but clearly ecstatic, the new mayor-elect paid tribute to his vanquished rivals, and proclaimed, in typically ebullient form: “Let’s get cracking tomorrow, and let’s have drink tonight.”
In the space-age surroundings of the City Hall chamber, before a bank of cacti after a prickly election, Mr Johnson was announced winner by 1,168,000 votes to 1,028,000 for Ken Livingstone, after an election count that extended deep into the night. The outgoing mayor, hoarse and emotional, gave a brief concession speech. “I’m sorry I couldn’t get the extra percentage points . . . the fault for that is entirely my own. This is the most amazing city to be elected mayor.”
Mr Johnson also paid tribute to the Liberal Democrat candidate, Brian Paddick, for his great “common sense and decency”. Mr Paddick won 235,000 votes in the first round of voting. Mr Johnson’s campaign involved the calculated repression of an exotic personality, but flashes of the Boris we know returned last night. The Tory mayor-elect has foresworn alcohol since the new year, but made two references to his desire to get off the wagon as soon as possible. His four children, some as flaxen-haired and shaggily-coiffured as their father, clapped and cheered as the result was announced.
Mr Johnson saluted Mr Livingstone for “the sheer exuberant nerve with which you have stuck it to your enemies — especially those within new Labour”. But as midnight struck, he also tied to build bridges with the many Londoners who had opposed his election. “To the vast millions who voted against me, I will work flat out to win your trust.”
London had waited for Boris through much of the night. As the hours of counting ticked by, and the long-awaited announcement was delayed and delayed, the assumption that Johnson would be the next mayor of London gradually took hold of the press, the pundits, and the public. The large turnout was cited as the reason for the delay, with voters streaming to the polls in record numbers. According to one estimate, at least half a million additional Londoners have voted this year, after an election that has gripped the capital for seven months.
In the plaza beneath City Hall, on the banks of the Thames, Romanian student Irina Paletscu asked one of the stream of journalists filing into the building: “It is The Boris, yes?” It is one level of fame to be known only by a first name, even among visiting tourists from Eastern Europe. It is another level of fame altogether to have developed a definite article, even before the results have been announced.
On the ninth floor of City Hill, the building Mr Livingston once referred to as the “glass testicle”, the journalists waited in a nervous scrum. There is nothing in the world more anxious than a group of journalists that thinks it knows the answer, but dare not yet write it.
One of the candidates counted himself out long before the final result. “It was always going to be hard,” said Brian Paddick. “We were up against two giants. Someone who had already been mayor and a celebrity.”
Mr Paddick wore that resigned look of a policeman who has seen too much larceny to be surprised by anything. He did, however, take time to round up some of the usual suspects, and beat them up. He said: “If you have read the London print media this week you would have thought that there were only two candidates running.” A whiff of sour grapes was detectable around Steven Norris, the two-time failed Tory contender. “I’d have loved to have run, not least because I would have won.”
A tug floated on the river outside City Hall, with a banner reading “Working Together for a Tidal Thames” — a superbly meaningless slogan of the sort municipal governments have always favoured. Has the Thames become more tidal under Ken? Would it continue to ebb and flow with the same efficiency under Boris? These, and other questions, remained unanswered, but high in City Hall, the tide had turned.
Note from Radarsite: "the tide had turned" is this the signal we have been waiting for? Has Europe finally had enough of PC multiculturalism? If nothing else, it is certainly a great encouraging sign. This summer should be a real test of wills. Will there be more riots in the immigrant-dominated cities of Europe? Will the Muslim attacks on their host countries continue to escalate? Will the responses from these newly-elected governments be more effective this time around? We shall certainly be watching closely. At least we can see a ray of hope. Thank God for that. -- rg