London : Conservative MP Boris Johnson has capped a series of devastating electoral wins for Britain’s main opposition party by unseating Labour’s London mayor Ken Livingstone in what is being described as a ‘May Day massacre’ for the government.
Johnson, former editor of the right-wing Spectator magazine, ended Livingstone’s eight-year reign by 1,168,738 first and second votes to 1,028,966 to become the UK’s most powerful Tory, in charge of London’s Pnds 3.3 billion (Dlrs 6.6 bn) budget.
The series of local elections on May 1 saw overall support for Labour slump to just 24 per cent, the lowest in more than 40 years, losing control of nine local authorities across England and Wales while suffering the lose of 331 seats.
In contrast, support for the Tories rose to 44 per cent putting David Cameron’s opposition party on course to wing the next parliamentary elections that are due to be held by June 2010.
In his victory speech just after midnight Friday, Johnson paid tribute to Livingstone, who helped London win the 2012 Olympics, describing London’s first-elected mayor “a very considerable public servant”.
“You shaped the office of mayor. You gave it national prominence and when London was attacked on 7 July 2005 you spoke for London,” he said.
The elections saw the Tories increase their share of the 25 London Assembly seats by three to 11, ahead of Labour’s eight, while the first member of the extreme right-wing British National Party was also elected.
Murad Qureshi also retained his seat for Labour as the only Muslim member of the assembly after first being elected four years ago in 2004.