Mayoral election too close to call

So we are now into the final dramatic twists and turns of the London mayoral contest - and what a good old tussle it has been.

Away from the big battle between Boris and Ken, however, we have also been doing some analysis looking at all six of the previous elections in London - the two general (2001/2005), two mayoral/Assembly (2000/2004) and two borough (2002/2006) elections.

This has produced some interesting insights. Firstly, our analysis suggests there will be ten new faces on the Assembly, including some really experienced Conservative 'heavyweights' such as Richard Tracey - a former minister - and Kit Malthouse, former deputy leader of Westminster.

We may also see the first black Conservative Assembly Member - James Cleverly. This will mean much tougher scrutiny of Labour's policies in London, whether or not their mayoral candidate wins, especially as we predict Labour's Assembly members by contrast staying the same.

Secondly, voting in the mayoral and Assembly elections tends to follow borough elections, rather than national ones. For example, there are no Conservative MPs in Brent or Harrow, but their borough councils are Conservative/Lib Dem and Conservative, respectively. We therefore expect the Assembly seat there (Brent & Harrow) to stay Conservative.

Two of the other Assembly seats are likely to change colour too - Enfield & Haringey going Conservative and the South West going Lib Dem.

Finally, with the big result so finely balanced and turnout likely to be up, possibly to 38 per cent, minority parties really will be key.

Sian Berry has campaigned well and we think the Greens could go back up from two to three seats, with UKIP gaining the other non-major party seat. And of course a bigger turnout will decrease the chance of the hideous BNP getting a seat.

And so what, you may ask, will be the main result? Well I'm afraid it's just too close to call.

What our analysis does suggest is that second preference votes will be crucial, so whether Boris or Ken gets in will be less about who Londoners vote for first, and more about who they put second.

Public Affairs, p11

Mayoral Election Special, pp16-17, 19

Luke Blair is a director at London Communications Agency.

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