The test for Ken
Once the dust has settled on today's election, and, as looks likely, Boris Johnson settles back into the Mayoral suite on the 8th floor of City Hall, the post-mortem on Ken Livingstone's campaign will begin. For me the acid test for Ken candidacy is clear: did he out-perform the Labour vote on the London Assembly?
In 2008 there was an unpopular Labour government and Ken polled 37 per cent in the first round, and Labour secured 28 per cent in the Assembly vote. A net Ken 'bonus' of 9 per cent -Boris' net bonus was also 9 per cent. This time around with Labour riding high in both the national and London opinion polls, Ken is 6 points behind Boris. And it looks probable that he will score lower than the Assembly vote, in effect a Ken 'penalty'. If this penalty is more than a few percentage points it will to lead to criticism of Ken, his campaign, and the Labour party machine that hastily selected a candidate in the fog of electoral defeat and a national leadership contest.
Yes, Boris has proved a more competent, likeable Mayor than most expected, and beating the incumbent is always challenging. But we are in a double-dip recession and the government has had a terrible post-budget spell - so a victory for a Labour candidate, in what is still, in essence, a Labour-leaning city, should have been a shoo-in. If Labour want to win back the mayoralty in 2016 they will need to learn the lessons of this campaign and make sure that the candidate selection process and the candidate themselves build on the party's strength in the capital, not sap it.