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London Mayor Friday, 5 May, 2000, 08:04 GMT 09:04 UK
What the votes cast tells us
As well as deciding who gets to hold high office, votes cast in elections tell us much more. BBC News Online analyses the results.

Low turnout

One of the most notable results of the mayoral election is the low voter turnout. The dramatic twists and turns of the long-running race had been expected to boost voter participation in what was, technically, a local election.

Ken Livingstone's independent candidacy was also expected to dramatically increase the number of people who would make their way to the polling booths in the capital on 4 May.

But the turn-out across London of 35% confounded those expectations - and disappointed those who believed, like Tony Blair, that the introduction of directly elected mayors would revitalise voters' interest in local government.

Livingstone's 'big tent'

A striking feature of Mr Livingstone's performance is that he has pulled off the New Labour trick of appealing across the social and demographic divide - rather like mr Blair's "big tent" approach to politics.

Breaking down the voting patterns for mayor, the Brent East MP's share of the vote in the DE social grade was at 43% - just 6 points higher than the 37% he won amongst the AB group.

And he has done as well among middle-aged (35 to 64 years old) voters, with 46%, as he has among the young, with 47%. Only among older people has Mr Livingstone performed less well, winning 31% support.

Spoiled ballots

The evidence from Brent and Harrow, the first Greater London Assembly seat to declare its result, indicated a high proportion of spoiled or rejected ballot papers in this election.

In the votes for the first-past-the-post constituency seat no less 12% of ballots were spoiled or blank, while in the "top-up" party list vote 6% were spoiled.

In the second preference for mayor vote, nearly one in five voters failed to use it. If these figures are repeated across the capital, they will raise questions about whether the government sufficiently explained the new voting system to the electorate.

Uneven pattern across England

In the local elections, meanwhile, the votes cast show clear variations in party performance.

Labour's vote has fallen most heavily in wards where they were first in 1996 - the last time these seats were contested - or where they were second to the Tories.

On average, Labour's vote in these seats is down 16 points. Elsewhere, Labour's vote is down on average by just seven points.

And the Liberal Democrats have advanced in wards Labour won in 1996, but have fallen elsewhere. In seats Labour was defending, the Lib Dem vote is up by six points. But it is down by three points elsewhere.

The Conservatives have performed best in wards which they won in 1996, up 14 points. Elsewhere their vote is up by just 10 points.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's June Kelly
"Ken Livingstone has already started to celebrate"
See also:

05 May 00 | UK Politics
05 May 00 | London Mayor
04 Apr 00 | London Mayor
04 May 00 | UK Politics
05 May 00 | Local elections
05 May 00 | UK Politics
05 May 00 | Local elections
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