London mayoral election, 2008

London mayoral election, 2008
United Kingdom
1 May 2008

Turnout 45.3%
Candidate Boris Johnson Ken Livingstone Brian Paddick
Party Conservative Labour Liberal Democrat
1st Round vote 1,043,761 893,887 235,585
Percentage 43.2% 37.0% 9.8%
2nd Round vote 1,168,738 1,028,966
Percentage 53.18% 46.82%

City of London London Borough of Hillingdon London Borough of Hounslow London Borough of Richmond upon Thames Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames London Borough of Sutton London Borough of Croydon London Borough of Bromley London Borough of Bexley London Borough of Havering London Borough of Redbridge London Borough of Waltham Forest London Borough of Enfield London Borough of Barnet London Borough of Harrow London Borough of Brent London Borough of Ealing London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea City of Westminster London Borough of Wandsworth London Borough of Merton London Borough of Lambeth London Borough of Southwark London Borough of Lewisham Royal Borough of Greenwich London Borough of Tower Hamlets London Borough of Newham London Borough of Barking and Dagenham London Borough of Camden London Borough of Islington London Borough of Hackney London Borough of HaringeyA coloured map of the boroughs of London
About this image
First preference votes by London borough. Blue boroughs are those with most first preference votes for Boris Johnson and red those for Ken Livingstone

Mayor before election

Ken Livingstone

Elected Mayor

Boris Johnson

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The London mayoral election, 2008 for the office of Mayor of London was held on 1 May 2008 and was won by Conservative Party candidate Boris Johnson.[1] It was the third London mayoral election, the previous elections being the first election in May 2000 and the second election in June 2004.

Boris Johnson became the second Mayor of London and the first Conservative to hold the office since its creation in 2000. This became the first London Mayoral election in which the incumbent mayor was defeated by a challenger. The popular vote achieved by Boris Johnson remained the largest polled by winning mayoral candidate until Labour candidate, Sadiq Khan, received 1,148,716 first-preference votes in 2016.[2]


Mayor of London election 1 May 2008 [3]
Party Candidate 1st Round % 2nd Round Total  First Round Votes  Transfer Votes 
Conservative Boris Johnson 1,043,761 43.2% 124,977 1,168,738
Labour Ken Livingstone 893,887 37.0% 134,089 1,027,976
Liberal Democrat Brian Paddick 235,585 9.8%
Green Siân Berry 77,347 3.2%
BNP Richard Barnbrook 69,710 3.2%
Christian Peoples Alan Craig 39,249 1.6%
UKIP Gerard Batten 22,422 1.2%
Left List Lindsey German 16,796 0.7%
English Democrat Matt O'Connor 10,695 0.4%
Independent Winston McKenzie 5,389 0.2%
Conservative gain from Labour

Candidate selection process

Conservative Party

On 27 September 2007, Boris Johnson was announced as the Conservative candidate, having received 75% of the vote in an election open to the entire London electorate.[5]

The primary election was originally to be held in October 2006. Candidates who applied by the 4 August deadline included Richard Barnes, London Assembly member for Ealing and Hillingdon, who withdrew in July 2007 and announced his support for Boris Johnson;[6] Andrew Boff, former Hillingdon and Hackney London Borough Councillor; Nicholas Boles, Policy Exchange think-tank director, who withdrew in July 2007 for health reasons; Dr Robert Frew, a cultural policy and management specialist; Victoria Borwick, Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Councillor; Warwick Lightfoot, also a Kensington and Chelsea councillor; and Lee Rotherham. Steven Norris, Conservative mayoral candidate in 2000 and 2004, ruled himself out.[7] Broadcaster Nick Ferrari also ruled himself out, having considered seeking the nomination.[8]

Boris Johnson, the Conservative candidate, giving his victory speech

Come the 4 August 2006 deadline, however, Conservative Party Chairman Francis Maude announced the process was being delayed for six months to allow time for further candidates to submit applications.[9][10] Prospective applicants who subsequently publicly declared were Lurline Champagnie, a London Borough of Harrow councillor; Winston McKenzie, a former boxer;[11] and disc jockey Mike Read.[12] Read withdrew in July 2007 following a change in the voting system for Conservative candidates, giving his support to Johnson.[13]

In April 2007 the Conservative party confirmed it had approached former Director-General of the BBC Greg Dyke. Dyke stated he would not stand except on a joint ticket with the Liberal Democrats. The Liberal Democrats stated this would be against its party's constitution.[14] Around this point former Conservative Prime Minister Sir John Major was considered a possible candidate, but he turned down an offer from David Cameron.[15]

Following media and members' criticism over the party's selection procedure,[16][17] the party chairman announced a revised timetable requiring a candidate to be in place before the party conference at the end of September 2007.[18] In June 2007, the party published a detailed timetable confirming that the result of the selection process would be announced at 10 a.m. on 27 September 2007.[19]

On 16 July, shortly before the noon deadline for nominations, Johnson confirmed he would seek the Conservative nomination.[20] A final four of Johnson, Boff, Borwick and Lightfoot were chosen on 21 July for the primary election,[21] which Johnson won.

Labour Party

Ken Livingstone, the Labour candidate, speaking after the results had been announced.

On 3 May 2007 the Labour Party announced Ken Livingstone, the incumbent mayor, had been selected as their mayoral candidate. The announcement was made following consultations with London Labour Party members.[22]

The Left List

Following a split in the RESPECT Party at the end of 2007, the George Galloway-led faction (also referred to as Respect Renewal) retained the rights to the use of the name in elections, as Linda Smith was registered as party leader with the Electoral Commission. The Socialist Workers Party dominated faction put forward Lindsey German under the Left List banner. Galloway's faction did not put forward a candidate, but Galloway declared his support for Ken Livingstone.[23]

English Democrats

In July 2007, the English Democrats Party announced that talkSPORT presenter Garry Bushell had been nominated as a candidate to stand against Ken Livingstone in the 2008 election. In January 2008 Garry Bushell stepped aside (due to work commitments) in favour of Fathers-4-Justice Campaigner Matt O'Connor, who successfully stood against Andrew Constantine, a City of London Banker, in a selection contest. O'Connor is also their last London-wide list Assembly candidate. O'Connor withdrew on 25 April, after he fell out with the party over leadership, campaign funding and tactics.

Liberal Democrats

Brian Paddick, the Liberal Democrat candidate, speaking in City Hall after the results of the London mayoral election had been announced, 3 May 2008

The Liberal Democrat candidate was former police chief Brian Paddick. The party drew up a shortlist in September 2007 with a final choice made by a one member, one vote ballot of party members.[24] Simon Hughes, the party's 2004 mayoral candidate, did not stand.[25] On 13 November 2007 it was announced Paddick had been selected from the shortlist, defeating Chamali Fernando and Councillor Fiyaz Mughal.

British National Party

On 9 May 2007, the British National Party announced that Richard Barnbrook, leader of the opposition on Barking & Dagenham Borough Council, and a member of the party's National Advisory Committee, had been selected to stand for election in 2008.[26]

UK Independence Party

At the UK Independence Party (UKIP) 2007 party conference, Gerard Batten who is the UKIP MEP for the London region was selected to contest the London Mayoral Election.

In October 2006, UKIP announced that talkSPORT presenter James Whale might stand against Ken Livingstone in the 2008 election.[27] The government's media authority Ofcom told Whale that becoming Mayor would prevent him from continuing his radio show. Whale subsequently stated on his programme he would not be the UKIP candidate, but he did not rule out standing for election.[28]

Green Party

Siân Berry speaking at the London mayoral announcement

On 12 March 2007 the party announced that it had selected Siân Berry as its mayoral candidate in a ballot of its London members, receiving 45% of the vote.[29] The other candidates were Shahrar Ali, Shane Collins, Katie Dawson and Terry McGrenera. Berry is also one of their Assembly candidates.[30]

Winston McKenzie

In December 2007 former boxer Winston McKenzie told the BBC that he intended to stand for Mayor of London as an independent on an anti-gang crime platform, having failed to secure the Conservative nomination earlier in the year.[31]

Christian Choice

On 12 February Alan Craig was selected by the Christian Choice Party to stand in the Mayoral election.[32] The Christian Choice Party are an alliance between the Christian Party and the Christian People's Alliance.

Potential candidates who did not stand

There were a significant number of people who claimed that they were planning to stand, but did not submit valid nomination papers.

One London Party

The One London Party announced that their leader, Damian Hockney, would be their candidate in 2008[33] but on 27 March 2008 Hockney withdrew from the mayoral race. He blamed a lack of media opportunities for smaller parties such as his, and claimed the race was "a media election, fought just in the media".[34]

Time Out

The London listings magazine Time Out announced it planned to recruit a self-financing candidate to stand on a manifesto agreed by its readers.[35] In February 2008 it confirmed that columnist Michael Hodges would be its candidate, standing on a reformist ticket.[36] However, he decided not to stand, citing the bureaucratic legislative requirements for candidates and instead pledged to "fight on" to open the system up to ordinary Londoners to stand as independents.[37]

John Bird

In March 2007 following widespread speculation that John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, would seek the Conservative nomination,[38] he announced that he would stand as an independent, on a platform of "social inclusion". In October 2007, he withdrew from the race and instead promised to launch a new social movement around tackling poverty.[39]


Chris Prior planned to stand on a platform to abolish the congestion charge[40] for the London Assembly but pulled out of the mayoral race shortly before the close of nominations.

On 21 February 2008 Dennis Delderfield announced he would stand for the New Britain Party. He said he would abolish the Mayoral office and the Greater London Authority (GLA).[41] He did not submit a valid nomination.

John Flunder was to be the Senior Citizens Party candidate for Mayor of London[42][43] but did not submit a valid nomination., a social networking site aimed at selecting a member of the public to contest the election with a £50,000 campaign budget, was set up in March 2008.[44] The winning candidate did not submit any nomination however, with the site's founder David Smuts claiming that electoral authorities' bureaucratic obstructions failed to get them the required access to the electoral register to validate their nomination.[45]

In April 2007 Richard Fairbrass, the lead singer of pop band Right Said Fred, announced that he may stand for Mayor of London on a platform of opposition to the London congestion charge.[46]

In December 2007 peace protester Brian Haw was reported to have announced his intention to stand for Mayor of London as "the only Pro Peace candidate"[47][48] but nothing to support this appeared on his website.[49]

Voting system

Ballot boxes at a count centre

The supplementary vote system is used for all mayoral elections in England and Wales. Under this system voters express a first preference and (optionally) a second preference. If no candidate is the first choice of a majority of voters (i.e. more than 50%), the top two candidates proceed to a second round. Voters whose first choice has been eliminated have their second preferences scrutinised, in order to determine which of the remaining candidates is favoured by a majority of all voters who have expressed a preference between the two. This gives a result whereby the winning candidate has the support of a majority of votes cast (at least by those who expressed a preference among the top two).

Second preference recommendations

Various parties recommended a variety of second preferences to their supporters. Labour and the Greens announced a second preference pact, urging Livingstone supporters to give their second choice vote to Berry and vice versa. Left List also encouraged their supporters to vote Livingstone second, while the BNP encouraged theirs to vote Johnson second, although Johnson stated during the campaign that he did not want the second choice votes of BNP supporters. Brian Paddick was regularly pressed through the campaign to recommend a second preference choice to Liberal Democrat voters, with Livingstone and the Labour Party keen to be chosen, but Paddick refused to make such a recommendation, revealing after the election that his second preference vote was for the Left List.

Vote counting

E-counting vote scanner

Votes were counted using an optical scan voting system, where a computer scans the ballot papers and registers the votes. A digital image of the ballot paper was also taken so if there were problems with any of the papers, they could be examined by humans. In 2008, due to the large turnout, the counting took over 15 hours. However, if counted manually the process could - according to London Elects - take up to 3 days.[50] Election observers[51] have declared "there is insufficient evidence available to allow independent observers to state reliably whether the results declared in the May 2008 elections for the Mayor of London and the London Assembly are an accurate representation of voters’ intentions."[52] London Elects have been unable to publish an audit of some of the software used in the count.[53] The Open Rights Group reports that there was equipment directly connected to the counting servers to which observers had limited or no access and that the presence of error messages, bugs and system freezes indicates poor software quality.[54]

Opinion polling

Pollster Date Johnson Livingstone Paddick Berry Batten Barnbrook
Conservative Labour Lib Dem Green UKIP BNP
Actual Result 01/05/08 43.2 37.0 9.8 3.2 0.9 2.9
You Gov/Evening Standard 01/05/08 43 36 13 2 1 2
You Gov/Evening Standard 28/04/08 46 35 12 2 1 2
mruk/Sunday Times 27/04/08 43 44 9 - - -
Ipsos MORI/Unison 24/04/08 38 41 12 - - -
YouGov/Evening Standard 18/04/08 44 37 12 3 1 1
mruk Cello/Sunday Times 14/04/08 44 45 9 - - -
YouGov/Evening Standard 11/04/08 45 39 12 2 1 1
Ipsos MORI/Observer 09/04/08 46 40 11 2 1 0
Ipsos MORI/Unison 07/04/08 40 41 14 5 0 *
YouGov/Evening Standard 04/04/08 49 36 10 2 1 1
ICM/Guardian 01/04/08 42 41 10 4 - 1
YouGov/Evening Standard 25/03/08 47 37 10 2 0 1
YouGov/Evening Standard 14/03/08 49 37 12 1 0 1
YouGov/ITN 21/02/08 44 39 12 1 1 1
Ipsos MORI/Labour Party 12/02/08 38 42 16 2 1 1
YouGov/ITN 24/01/08 40 44 8 1 2 1
YouGov/ITN 21/12/07 44 45 7 - - -
YouGov/London Policy Institute 09/11/07 39 45 8 - - -

N.B. These polls apply to First preference votes only. Source: UK Polling Report[55]

See also


  1. "Johnson Wins London Mayor Race in Body Blow to Brown". 2008-05-03. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  2. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 May 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  3. "2008 election results for the Mayor of London and the London Assembly". London Elects. 2 May 2008. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  4. "London Elects". London Elects. 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2012-05-04.
  5. "Johnson is Tory Mayor Candidate". BBC News. 27 September 2007. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  6. "Richard Barnes pulls out and backs Boris". ConservativeHome LondonMayor Blog.
  7. Woodward, Will (4 August 2006). "Norris opts out of Tory primary contest for London mayor". GuardianOnline. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  8. "Ferrari Will Not Be Tories' Mayor". BBC News. 2 August 2006. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  9. "Conservatives Delay Mayoral Selection Deadline". MayorWatch.
  10. "Tories delay London mayoral race". BBC News. 4 August 2006. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  11. "Mayoral fight for boxer's brother". BBC News. 7 November 2006. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  12. "DJ Read joins 'X factor-style' Mayor race". London: Daily Mail. 2 January 2007.
  13. Read, Mike (17 July 2007). "I'm Backing Boris". London: Comment is Free (Guardian Online). Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  14. Dowell, Ben (18 April 2007). "How the 'Greg Dyke for London mayor' story snowballed". The Guardian Online. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  15. Webster, Philip (28 April 2007). "Cameron snubbed again as Major rules out mayor race". The Times. London. Retrieved 2008-05-03.
  16. "Fallout From the London Nightmayor". Iain Dale.
  17. Deedes, Henry (20 April 2007). "Tories at war over Cameron's failed bid to get Greg". London: The Independent Online. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  18. "Conservative candidate to be announced at Party conference". ConservativeHome LondonMayor Blog.
  19. "Mayoral Selection Timetable". ConservativeHome LondonMayor Blog.
  20. "Boris Johnson standing for mayor". BBC News. 16 July 2007. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  21. "Tories Select Mayoral Shortlist". MayorWatch.
  22. "Livingstone Confirmed as Labour Candidate". MayorWatch.
  23. Galloway, George (25 January 2008). "Why I back Red Ken". London: Comment is Free (Guardian Online). Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  24. "Opik 'won't run for London mayor'". BBC News. 1 August 2007. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  25. "Hughes Claims Cameron Reforms 'Are Failing'". MayorWatch.
  26. "Richard Barnbrook Adopted as Mayoral Candidate". British National Party.
  27. "Radio host 'could challenge Ken'". BBC News. 24 October 2006. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  28. "Whale again rules out being UKIP London Mayor candidate". Democracy.
  29. "Berry is Green mayoral candidate". BBC News. 12 March 2007. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  30. "The Next Mayor of London". New Statesman.
  31. "'I'll knock out the opposition'". BBC News.
  32. "Mosque critic brands himself the 'Christian choice' for mayor".
  33. "Politics | Hockney quits London mayoral race". BBC News. 2008-03-27. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  34. "The Battle to be Mayor of London - Time Out London". Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  35. Help Hodges 2008
  36. "Time Out's Mayor Battle Goes To Parliament". Retrieved 2012-05-04.
  37. Duff, Oliver (8 March 2007). "Bird's the word to stop Ken (but don't mention it until April) - Pandora, Columnists - The Independent". London: Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  38. "Politics | Big Issue founder targets poverty". BBC News. 2007-10-18. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  39. "Abolish the Congestion Charge". Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  40. "Events Programme 2008". New Britain. 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  41. "Senior Citizens Party". Senior Citizens Party. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  42. Jacquie Bowser (2008-03-04). "Livingstone faces social networking rival in mayoral race". Retrieved 2012-05-04.
  43. LondonelectsYOU!
  44. "Right Said Fred: I'll stand for London Mayor - News - Evening Standard". 2007-04-18. Retrieved 2012-05-04.
  45. "UK Indymedia - London Mayor 2008". Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  46. "London elections May 2008". City Mayors. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  47. "Brian Haw Peace Protester". Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  48. London Elects - E-Counting Process Archived 5 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  51. "Kable - Observers criticise London e-count - 2 July 2008". Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  52. Bobbie Johnson, technology correspondent (2 July 2008). "London mayoral election: doubts over 41,000 votes counted by machine". Guardian. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  53. "Mayoral voting intention - First preference". UK Polling Report. Retrieved 2008-04-09.
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