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 You are in: Special Report: 1998: London Referendum  
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London Referendum Friday, 8 May, 1998, 06:49 GMT 07:49 UK
Is anybody out there?
Church House hall - empty
Possibly the least successful party in London
Londoners have said 'Yes' to a new elected mayor and a Greater London Authority - or at least some of them have.

In fact it was just over a third of the eligible voters in London who said 'Yes'. The rest chose not to vote - a situation which the 'No' campaign says casts doubt on the legitimacy of the referendum.

All parties have expressed concern over the low turnout - Local Government Minister Hilary Armstrong said "I hate the low turnout" - but the Labour government has said it will go ahead with proposed plans in line with the landslide 'Yes' vote.

Barking and Dagenham had the lowest turnout at only 24.7%. The highest turnout was in Richmond with 44%. The average was 34% where it was expected to be more like 40%.

Only one venue seems to have been less popular than London's polling booths - and that was the hall in Church House that had been decked out to host the 'Yes' celebration party.

In fact one BBC reporter said that he could only see six people in the hall - and two of them were policemen.

Hilary Armstrong
Hilary armstrong: "very disappointing" turnout
Transport Minister Glenda Jackson, told the BBC: "The low referendum turnout can be attributed not to apathy but to certainty."

Hilary Armstrong admitted that it has been a disappointingly low turnout but dismissed the questions of legitimacy.

She said: "Of course it doesn't [question the legitimacy] ... It really is about time that in such an important city, the capital, that we have something that can represent London."

Ken Livingstone MP
Ken Livingstone says local voters may turn up some surprises
Ken Livingstone told the BBC that there was a low turnout because no major party had opposed the idea of a mayor and assembly for London.

"Because no major party was opposed to it, you couldn't get people worried that it might be lost. If the Tories had opposed it, we would have been in the position of having a much higher turnout."

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Hilary Armstrong says "I hate the low turnout" (1'29")
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