Rolling coverage as voters in England, Scotland and Wales go to the polls – and Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone prepare to find out who will be London’s next mayor
Our community coordinator Hannah Waldram has this update from readers helping to cover the local election campaigns.
Our #Mayor2012 map allowed readers to help us track the London mayoral candidates – and the map shows Jenny Jones was quite active, according to users to tracked her progress.
Here it is.
We also tracked Joris Luyendijk’s local election journey from John O’Groats to Cheltenham via the Google map below – we’ve plotted some of our readers’ thoughts and comments on the local elections in their area alongside Joris’s notes.
You can add yours to the map too here.
The big question in Wales is whether Labour will sweep back into power in heartland seats such as some of the valley councils and traditionally left-leaning cities in the south like as Newport and Swansea, writes Steven Morris. It lost power in many such places at the time of Gordon Brown’s unpopular premiership.
This time it has run a two-pronged campaign asking the electorate to use the election as a referendum on the Tory-Lib Dem coalition. But it has also tried to put control in the hands of activists, asking local parties to produce individual manifestos tailored to the needs of their own communities.
It is expected to be a tough night for the Liberal Democrats, who have had power – in various partnerships – in councils including Newport, Swansea and Wrexham. A key test will be whether they can retain control of their jewel-in-the-crown council, Cardiff.
There are elections in 21 of the 22 unitary local authorities. Anglesey misses out this time following a critical report on how the island was being run by the auditor general for Wales.
Another interesting element to look out for is how the nationalists, Plaid Cymru, fare having just elected a new leader, Leanne Wood, whose radical and republican views have attracted UK-wide headlines.
Labour strategists were disappointed by the weather. There was heavy rain – and flooding in some parts. The fear was that the waverers might be tempted to stay in and stay dry.
He’s sent me this picture.
Alexandra Topping interviews Joe Anderson, the Labour candidate and favourite for elected mayor.In Liverpool,
Anderson tells her:
I think having a mayor for the city is good because it engages and involves everybody right across the city in making the decision on who should run the city on their behalf … If the mayor doesn’t deliver on the promises that they’ve made, then they can vote them out and it’s not somebody that is actually there at the behest of a group of supporters from their same party. It will be up to the people of Liverpool to decide when and if to get that person out because they haven’t delivered.
Hamza Yousaf, the SNP’s Glasgow MSP, has made a bold prediction, writes Severin Carrell: he thinks the SNP will beat Labour by two to three seats in Glasgow – taking the city after decades of Labour dominance.
Yousaf, out campaigning in the constituency held by Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, said: “We’re getting a good reaction. My prediction is we will be two to three seats ahead of Labour. A majority is going to be tough but I think we will get the mandate we need to form an administration.
“I’m getting great news from the west end [of Glasgow]. I’m hearing that the SNP are getting a lot of people on the ground.”
One SNP voter in Corkerhill, Lamont’s Holyrood seat, is Ishtiaq Ahmad. He used to vote Labour. No longer. “I feel bitterly betrayed by Labour because of the way they’ve conducted themselves at Westminster. They took us into an unnecessary war in Iraq and they’ve demonised the Muslim community: everyone thinks every Muslim is a terrorist, and that’s something which really pissed me off.”
how the Tories can win voters’ trust in the north of England again. To my mind Geoff Lawler of Leeds-based political consultancy the Public Affairs Company, former Conservative MP for Bradford North, gets closest to the truth:Over at the Northerner blog, political experts and politicians are debating
For the electorate in [northern suburbia], the Tories did not quite de-toxify enough by the last election, despite what the likes of Tim Montgomerie assert. The problem is that given that many of these constituencies have large numbers of the more comfortably-off, public sector electors, in the current climate they are hardly likely to be enthused about voting Tory. Coupled with a completely and unnecessarily politically misjudged budget, the Conservatives have gone two steps back.
There is no silver bullet solution but certainly some astute advisers at No.10 and the Treasury who either know, or genuinely understand, what it is like to consider that 20p on a pasty actually is a lot, would help. A large rebalancing of the amount spent on infrastructure away from the south and towards the north, so creating jobs both in the short-term and in the long-term through making the region more attractive for investment, would also help.
Gordon Matheson struck lucky twice as he geed up voters in Townhead, writes Severin Carrell from Glasgow: firstly he found lifelong Labour voter Catherine Corson, who celebrated her 90th birthday today and is a beneficiary of £100 Glasgow council funded winter fuel payment, and secondly engineering graduate Alasdair Smith, from Ness on Lewis, who was on his way to vote, and as a Glasgow-based graduategets city-funded work grants.
Corson was succinct. Is she voting Labour? “Yes. Of course.” Smith had never heard of Glasgow’s Commonwealth fund for graduates, but Matheson’s speil had worked: he would get Smith’s second vote. But he had this to say about Matheson: “I found him very good: he wasn’t too forward. He did sound a little bit too me, me, me. I thought he would’ve said ‘me and my team’.”
Salford council has been Labour-controlled for decades and the party’s candidate Ian Stewart is the bookmakers’ favourite to win today’s race for elected mayor, reports Helen Carter.
Stewart wants to develop a co-operative city with local food co-ops. But the Liberal Democrat candidate Norman Owen and Conservative Karen Garrido are equally keen to win the post of mayor. Garrido says she wants to deliver lower council tax without harming services, and declared the city open for business.
Owen said he would ensure every child’s education counted and would fight poverty and deprivation.
The self-styled “Mr Big” of Salford, ex-con turned businessman Paul Massey, could also grab votes with his promise to be the voice of Salford. English Democrat candidate Michael Felse has campaigned on slashing council tax by half and recalling a £730m regeneration programme to assess whether it represents value for money.
Ukip candidate Bernard Gill describes himself as a pensioner concerned about the decline of the city. Michael Moulding, of the Community Action Partyn said 2011 was Salford’s annus horribilis due to the riots and the murder of student Anuj Bidve. John O’Neill, of the Green party, wants to reduce the poverty gap as well as protecting the environment and public services. Independent candidate Pat Ward’s policies are “zero tolerance, helping our children and elderly.” The BNP is also fielding a candidate, Edward O’Sullivan.
The count for Salford’s first directly elected mayor begins tomorrow at 11am and the result is expected between 3 and 5pm.
Correction: my colleague Helen Carter has just phoned to say that the count for the Salford mayoral race won’t begin until 11am tomorrow and the result is due in between 3pm and 5pm.
More views from readers post-voting:
Big turnout in Camden – was rather moved to vote straight after three generations of Muslim women.
I am now back from voting in East Kilbride – Wonderfully sunny up here today with temp around 18 celsius.
Looking at the names crossed off in my ward, the turnout so far is extremely low; hopefully it will increase later on.
just got back from voting (in Birmingham). only the big three parties and the Greens are standing, I was surprised that Respect didn’t stand anyone but I should have guessed since we weren’t getting leaflets.
Here is some more information about when we might get some results in.
The polls close everywhere at 10pm.
About two thirds of councils are counting overnight in the traditional manner, with results expected to start coming in at around midnight and be complete by about 5am.
The Liverpool mayoral result is due around 5am, but the count for the Salford mayoral race won’t begin until 11am tomorrow and the result is due in between 3pm and 5pm tomorrow.
The London mayoral election and about a third of councils are counting votes during the day tomorrow. Results should start coming in around 11am tomorrow and continue until about 7.30pm.
The London mayoral result is expected between 6pm and midnight.
The updates on the London mayoral count mentioned earlier will be for the first round only – before the second preferences of the losing candidates are redistributed. So it’s possible they may be misleading.
(My feeling is that Ken Livingstone will gain fewer first-preference votes, and more second-preference votes, than expected, as many leftwingers express their dissatisfaction with him by voting for someone else in the first round.)
Thomond spoke to Greenwood at the Shree Hindu temple polling station in Little Horton, and the council leader told him Galloway was not going to show his face tonight because he knew he would face defeat. Galloway was in London, Greenwood said.
Right that minute a green Respect party double-decker battlebus came round the corner with Galloway at the front shouting through a megaphone. “That kind of thing just pisses everyone off,” said Greenwood, making no reference whatsoever to his earlier comments.
Helen Pidd sends this video report from Little Horton.
Alexandra Topping has just arrived in “the marvellous Victorian glory” of Liverpool city centre, where she has already heard some opposing views about the city’s first vote for an elected mayor today.
• Joe Anderson (Lab).
• Jeff Berman (Liverpool independent party).
• Tony Caldeira (Con).
• John Coyne (Green).
• Liam Fogarty (independent).
• Adam Heatherington (Ukip).
• Richard Kemp (Lib Dem).
• Tony Mulhearn (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition).
• Steve Radford (Liberal).
• Paul Rimmer (English Democrats).
• Peter Quiggins (National Front).
• Mike Whitby (BNP).
Gary Baker, 47, a taxi driver in the city said having a elected mayor had to be a good thing for the city. His first argument in favour was in keeping with many Liverpudlians’ belief that they live in the People’s Republic of Liverpool. “It takes a lot of the budget from Whitehall and I would rather Liverpool distributes its own money, rather than having those decisions taken in London,” he said.
Having a mayor would have other benefits too, he thought. “It cuts out a load of the bureaucracy, and it’s good for business because there is only one bloke in charge; if he says it’s going to get done then it will get done.”
He was supporting Joe Anderson, current Labour leader of Liverpool city council and the clear favourite to win today’s election. “I like Joe; he’s local, he’s charismatic and he talks a lot of sense,” he said.
Another taxi driver (they’re cheap here – honest, ed) said he wasn’t going to bother voting because “it doesn’t matter who gets in power, nothing ever changes”. He felt that there should have been a referendum on the decision to have an elected mayor.
“It’s been pushed on us, it would have been better to have had a choice. They talk about the extra money, but we won’t see it. And we don’t know how much this new mayor will be paid yet,” he said.
complained about broadcasting rules that prevented her from getting equal coverage to other candidates.Gus O’Donnell, the former head of the civil service who is supporting independent Siobhan Benita in the London mayoral race, has
I’m afraid to say my experience of this London mayoral election is that … would I stand as an independent under these rules as interpreted by the broadcasters? Absolutely not. Basically, there is a massive bias towards the status quo in the system. The current rules can’t pick up on new candidates who haven’t stood before and new candidates who haven’t gained in strength. They haven’t worked out how to manage these circumstances. In the absence of previous electoral support, how do you determine whether someone’s got support or not?
I was having a discussion with a member of the BBC the other day; in the absence of solid evidence about support, there’s very much a chicken and egg situation here, a whole Catch-22 as well. I was saying the betting odds were one thing you might want to look at. They said “you can’t possibly do that”. Or the polls even.
We’ve now got a situation where there are people polling in the London mayoral election who’ve been involved in all the debates, and got party election broadcasts, and some others who are polling virtually the same who didn’t get any of those things. That can’t be a sensible electoral system.
Either the interpretation of the rules is wrong or the rules themselves need to change. It could be a lasting legacy of this campaign that we could actually think very carefully about whether these rules are fit for purpose for the 21st century.
Lib Dem Brian Paddick and Green Jenny Jones were invited to take part in many of the mayoral debates that have taken place over the last few weeks, such as this ITV one. Yet their polling figures in today’s YouGov poll are not much better, or actually worse, than candidates such as Benita and Lawrence Webb (Ukip), who were not invited to take part.
To recap, Brian Paddick (Lib Dem) is on 7%, Lawrence Webb (Ukip) on 4%, Siobhan Benita (independent) on 4%, Jenny Jones (Green) on 3%, and Carlos Cortiglia (BNP) on 1%.
O’Donnell raises some interesting points about how the media generally deals with smaller parties and candidates, and how it decides who is and isn’t worthy of full coverage.
It’s an issue that will soon raise its head at a national level, too, if YouGov’s poll numbers for Ukip are more than just a blip. YouGov had Ukip polling at 8%, the same level as the Lib Dems. If the Lib Dems fail to regain the ground they have lost since the general election and Ukip holds its ground, it will be hard for the media to justify concentrating on the so-called “three main parties” in the conventional way.
The Scotsman’s report this morning appears to have captured the theme about the parties working hard to bring out their voters amid fears of a low turnout, Severin Carrell reports.
It helpfully points out that the turnout in 1995, the last time there were stand-alone council elections in Scotland, was 44.9%, a figure few parties expect to hit today.
The paper reports: “Party campaigners will stage a near 17-hour marathon today in a bid to bring disinterested voters to polling stations.”
The Scotsman’s website has a story on each party leader’s arrival at polling stations this morning, with Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont voting in Pollock, deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon in Uddingston, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson in west Glasgow and Willie Rennie, the Scottish Lib Dem leader casting his in Pitreavie, Fife.
First minister Alex Salmond is at a family funeral today: we can assume he voted by post, if not in person.
Helpfully for all the parties pushing out their voters in Glasgow, the sun is shining brightly; forecasters anticipate temperatures hitting 18 or 19C this afternoon.
A number of readers have asked why David Cameron and Ed Miliband voted in London – surely they are registered to vote in their own constituencies (Witney and Doncaster North respectively)?
The answer, according to the Electoral Commission, is that you can be registered to vote in more than one place if the electoral registration officer deems you spend a good deal of time – “a considerable degree of permanence” is the phrase used – in both locations.
This means that in a general election people such as Cameron and Miliband will get polling cards delivered to two addresses, and must choose which one to use and where to vote. But they are only allowed to vote in one place.
asks Polly Curtis on her Reality check blog. Oxford academic and election specialist John Curtice says it doesn’t:Does the weather affect voter turnout,
We’ve had one or two general elections when it’s been raining in some parts of the country and not in another and there has been no significant variation in turnout. Nobody has ever really done the analysis for local elections. It’s one of the most common theories of turnout but nobody has ever found the evidence to back it up. We tend to avoid elections in December and January because snow can make a difference. Just because there’s a little bit of rain in the south east people think it’s relevant.
In the comments below this blog, meljomur asked:
I wonder why it is, when turnout is high it is more likely that the vote goes to the more left leaning candidates? I know in the USA, that the Republicans love to put barriers in the way of voting for people, because when voter turnout is high, the Democrats tend to win the elections.
Curtice can answer that one too:
It’s certainly true that turnout tends to be lower in places where the Labour party is stronger. There is a correlation between social deprivation and turnout. However as long as that turnout differential is between wards rather than within wards it doesn’t make a difference. If people in Labour areas are less likely to vote whether they are Labour or Tory it’s not relevant.
She’ll be updating it throughout the day.
another short low-budget video exhorting Londoners to vote for him.Boris Johnson has put up
He urges them not to “lurch back to the waste and arrogance and divisiveness of the Ken Livingstone years”.
In a message on Facebook, Ukip leader Nigel Farage asks his party’s supporters in London to give their second preference votes to Mr Johnson. In a post which starts off in a deceptively mild tone and then goes straight off the deep end, Farage writes:
Londoners – please vote Ukip first and Boris second to keep the Socialists out of City Hall – that includes all the others. Let’s get Ayatollah Livingstone out of London politics once and for all.
Paul, you wrote that “in London, the count for the mayor and the assembly will not start until tomorrow morning”.
Does that mean that we will have to wait till tomorrow to get even partial results??
Or will there be some EXIT POLL results tonight so that we can go to sleep with a rough idea on who’s going to rule the city??
I have just spoken to the Electoral Commission, the BBC, and Sky News and none of them are aware of or are commissioning any exit polls tonight – so I’m afraid you will have to go to sleep with the results still up in the air. We won’t know for sure who is the next London mayor until between 7pm and midnight on Friday evening.
In the comments, some of our readers have been telling us about their experience of voting this morning:
My local council elections in Newport (that south Wales place, you know, near Ireland) is of interest since it is a traditionally strong Labour area but the council is at the moment run under Conservative/Liberal coalition- in a sense the local politics reflects the national (as in UK) politics.
The comparisons are tenuous but are still there. Labour have been relatively low key in their canvassing while the Conservatives have barely bothered in my ward. Driving around I’ve seen more Liberal electioneering – this makes sense since Wales in general has been traditionally quite Liberal although in recent years Plaid have eaten into that support.
While I won’t be waiting up all night it will be interesting to see the results. For Newport I predict a shoe-in for Labour but on a wider scale I’m pondering the results for independents in many parts of Wales, I think there might be a few surprises. Equally one might speculate that Plaid should make gains from the Liberals in predominantly Welsh speaking regions.
I have already voted “Dems vote early” and all that. Did not take a picture unfortunately but a quite nice polling station in Hammersmith.
Not much to report. Other than in the run up absolutely not a peep from the Lib Dems (my area is usually a contest between Labour and Lib Dems) but Tories eventually popped a leaflet through last night. Not that you could tell it was the Tories until you got to the very minute print. A lot of red and orange in the leaflet too. Anyway no picture of Boris, just all stuff about Ken’s taxes and Alan Sugar quotes.
re-engage” with UK politics, according to the Independent. He has apparently hired a spin doctor as part of an attempt to raise his domestic profile. Comment is free is running a poll isking if you would welcome his return to British politics.Tony Blair is keen to “
Severin Carrell sends more from Scotland. He says that with the stakes so high for both the SNP and Labour in today’s council elections, one key question troubling the parties is turnout.
There are fears, shared somewhat by the Tories too, that the turnout could be low. Some predict it may fall even as far as 25%; the SNP and Labour are predicting somewhere around the 33% mark while Tory sources point to 40%. So across Scotland, with Glasgow in particular, the parties are working their core vote very hard: all the party leaders are “getting the vote out”.
Labour is putting particular stress on the high number of postal ballots: there are about 550,000 issued this year, for an electorate of 4m, and postal voters do so early and often. The postal voting rate hit 77% in 2011. Many are pensioners, a key audience for Labour in Glasgow.
The key issue here is that for the first time since 1995, this is the first stand-alone Scottish council vote. There was some chaos in 2007 when voters struggled with two different proportional voting systems for Holyrood and councils; 140,000 ballot papers were spoilt. So council and Holyrood polls were “decoupled” to avoid confusion.
Even for Holyrood in 2011, when voters were faced with arguably the most successful and charismatic Scottish leader in a generation, Alex Salmond, the turnout was just over 50%.
Even so, the weather today is unlikely to influence matters and John Curtice, the elections expert at Strathclyde university, is extremely dismissive of predictions of a low turnout.
With council voting levels in England and Wales now back up around 45%, he cannot see any reason why Scotland should be different, particularly given Salmond’s push on independence. “Given the degree to which there has been political excitement in Scotland in the last few months, it’s not obvious me why this [low turnout] should be,” he said.
If it does drop to 30% or less that will be a failure by Scotland’s parties: “there would have to be questions collectively to the Scottish political classes to persuade voters of the importance of what they’re doing … It would constitute a significant snub to Scottish political classes.”
Curtice is deeply sceptical too about the notion that high postal votes makes any difference to turnout, or any particular party’s performance: “It’s true that those who vote by post are more likely to vote, however, it’s also true that those who vote by post are also more likely to vote anyway. There’s very little evidence that the growth of postal voting has actually increased overall turnout.”
Referendums are being held in 10 cities in England, and Birmingham, once seen as a certainty to follow London and back its own mayor, is said to be a much closer contest than expected despite strong yes champions, including business leaders, Labour and Tory parties, and the local media. There has been a patchy no campaign, and Labour has said little at national level.
Those who support the idea of city mayors are upset with a lack of clarity over the role’s powers and a general anti-politics mood.
Senior politicians had their wives at the ready for the traditional polling station photo-opportunities this morning.
Here are Mr and Mrs Cameron (great outfit – not you Dave).
Here is Ed Miliband and his wife Justine.
Here is Ken Livingstone and his wife Emma Beal.
And here is Boris Johnson and his wife Marina.
Ignoring all convention and precedent, Nick Clegg failed to bring his wife along to vote with him this morning – but he did have some photos taken in front of this lovely tree.
today’s YouGov poll, which gives Boris Johnson a health six-point lead in the London mayoral race. Livingstone said:Ken Livingstone has responded to
Today, Londoners can vote Labour to cut their fares and save themselves on average £1,000, and in doing so ensure that the Conservative party is not rewarded. Every Labour voter must turn out today or the Tories will get away with it – they will carry on with policies that have led to recession, fare rises and police cuts.
The £1,000 figure is a reference to his plans to cut the capital’s transport fares by 7%, which he says will save the average Londoner £1,000.
Of course, we are the underdogs. The Tories were always going to benefit financially, in terms of media backing, and in terms of support from the most powerful. Though it doesn’t carry the imprint of the Tory party, London’s only daily paper [the Evening Standard] has now become a true blue freesheet.
The piece returns by returning to the theme of financial self-interest:
By spending just a few minutes at the polling station the average fare-payer can make themselves £1,000 better off. There are not many ways you can make £1,000 in less than half an hour. But that is what the average London fare-payer can do from 7am to 10pm today … Polling day poses the clearest possible choice – four years of Tory fare rises, or a Labour fares cut that will save the average fare-payer £1,000.
There is lots of good coverage of the elections in today’s Guardian.
• Hélène Mulholland looks back at the London mayoral race, quoting this analysis of Ken Livingstone’s campaign from Tony Travers, director of the Greater London group at the London School of Economics:
It looks as if the Labour party has asserted some authority over what has been a below-par Livingstone campaign. It is a powerful traditional political intervention and it was the right thing to do because it was clear it was Livingstone who has been badly underperforming under a resurgent Labour party, while Boris was outperforming a seriously wounded Conservative party, so they had to turn it into a straight Labour versus Conservative fight.
• Michael White looks at the English cities where voters are taking part in referendums today on whether or not to have elected mayors. He finds that in city after city “the yes campaign seems to have failed to generate enough momentum to overthrow scepticism, apathy and the status quo”. Meanwhile, voters in Doncaster are being asked today to abandon their mayoral experiment: there is a deadlock between councillors and their elected English Democrat mayor.
With one or two exceptions people seemed to look at politics as a talent show with really boring contestants. You could follow it, or you could ignore it – a lifestyle choice. Either way, it would make no difference to your life. “Without wanting to sound ageist,” a girl in Newcastle told me, “I suggest you go find some older people if you want to talk about the elections. That generation still cares about these things.”
• Helen Pidd returns to Bradford, the scene of George Galloway’s recent byelection triumph, and finds a political race dominated by the firebrand leftwinger – even though he isn’t standing. He might run for mayor if Bradford votes yes in its referendum, though, Pidd reports.
Voters … who were backing Anderson often cited his achievement in bringing a cruise liner facility to the Mersey as their reason for supporting him. But the terminal is just one item in an Anderson manifesto that is remarkably upbeat, given that he runs a council badly hit by the coalition’s cuts, and also pro-business to a degree that would make Peter Mandelson proud. It starts with the declaration: “This is an exciting time for Liverpool” and promises 20,000 new jobs, partly generated by a mayoral development corporation. Anderson refuses to be pigeon-holed as New Labour or Old Labour, but he’s passionate about investment, and quite happy to say he would like the private sector to account for a larger slice of the Liverpool economy.
The London press must get out more. It needs to make a much more conscious and deliberate effort to report Scotland and Wales to England, as well to discharge a British responsibility to report to and for Scotland and Wales themselves.England needs to decide whether it cares. Watch the way the local election results are debated over the coming days. For the metropolitan political class, left and right, it will all be about two things: the London mayor and the overall impact on Westminster politics. But local elections are actually about local government everywhere. A better way to assess the 2012 local elections might be to measure what they say about the slow disintegration of British politics and political institutions.
The Scottish council elections have far greater significance than usual this year, Severin Carrell, the Guardian’s Scotland correspondent, writes: with the Scottish National party pushing on towards the independence referendum due in 2014, its performance today will be a key test of public opinion and its wider vitality.
This is the first major test of popularity for Alex Salmond, the first minister, and the SNP since their landslide election victory in last May’s Holyrood elections. He is expected to launch his independence referendum campaign in a matter of weeks. Also, he is expected to win today too, on numbers of votes and councillors at least.
Winning control of Glasgow is the biggest single prize – and most expect a very tight race with Labour there, but Salmond insists the main goal is to be Scotland’s largest party by number of councillors and share of the vote.
Given Scotland’s use of the single transferable voting system in large multi-member wards for council elections, the SNP slogan has rhythm and simplicity: Vote SNP, 1, 2, 3.
The SNP is defending 368 seats against Labour’s 337, but was marginally behind Labour on first preference votes in 2007. This time – even the Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont predicts this – the SNP are expected to increase that number comfortably. If the opinion polls are reflected today, it will win most first preference votes too.
It is standing 612 candidates – well up on 2007, against 497 for Labour, 362 Tories and 247 Lib Dems. The Scottish Greens have 86 candidates while 691 independents and others, such as UKIP and Tommy Sheridan’s party Solidarity, are standing too.
The trick then is for the SNP to convert that lead into council control: it is in coalition or minority control of 13 of Scotland’s 32 councils, while Labour is control or coalition at 11. All Scottish votes are being counted on Friday, with the final results due during the afternoon and into the early evening for larger councils such as Glasgow. So the first thing to watch for on Friday is: could the SNP win enough to run Scottish cities on its own?
In Dundee, Edinburgh, Perth, Aberdeen or Stirling for instance? In Glasgow, most observers believe the SNP could just form a ruling coalition, unless Labour’s intense efforts there pull off the victory Lamont and Ed Miliband crave. In these cities, turnout is key.
YouGov have published two new polls.
Lib Dem: 8%
SNP/Plaid Cymru: 3%
That’s a 10-point Labour lead, with a very strong showing for Ukip.
YouGov’s final London elections poll for the Evening Standard shows Boris Johnson on 53% and Ken Livingstone on 47% with the other candidates removed.
In the first-choice vote, Johnson is on 43%, Livingstone on 38%, Brian Paddick (Lib Dem) on 7%, Lawrence Webb (Ukip) on 4%, Siobhan Benita (independent) on 4%, Jenny Jones (Green) on 3%, and Carlos Cortiglia (BNP) on 1%.
In the 2008 London mayoral election, Johnson won 42.48% of first-preference votes to Livingstone’s 36.38%. In the second round, Johnson won 53.17% and Livingstone 46.73%. The results of today’s poll are strikingly similar.
The YouGov poll found that where Londoners were asked to vote for a party, rather than a person, their views were very different:
Lib Dem: 7
That means Johnson’s personal popularity and Livingstone’s unpopularity have the effect of outweighing a 13-point Labour lead.
YouGov’s prediction for the 25-seat London assembly is:
Lab: 11 (up 3 from 2008)
Con: 8 (down 3)
Lib Dem: 2 (down 1)
Ukip: 2 (up 2)
Green: 2 (no change)
BNP: 0 (down 1)
I just checked with the Electoral Commission when all the results are expected.
In London, the count for the mayor and the assembly will not start until tomorrow morning.
It will take place at three centres across London: Olympia, Alexandra Palace and the Excel centre in the Docklands.
We will gradually get a sense of who is winning over the course of the day. As soon as results from four constituencies are in, those results – including mayoral results for those areas – will be announced. When the next four are in, these will be announced, and the same with the next four, and then the final two. It could be quite an exciting process. The final result is expected at some point between 7pm and midnight on Friday night.
The London Elects website is going to produce live bar charts showing who is winning throughout the day.
Some councils across the country are beginning their counts straight after the polls close, in the traditional way, and those results will be in at some point in the early hours of tomorrow morning. Other councils are going to wait until tomorrow morning to begin counting, meaning those results will be in at some point tomorrow afternoon.
Here is an article explaining it in full, but the key points in voting for the mayor are below.
For this contest, you can cast two votes: one vote in the first column for your first choice, the second vote in the second column for your second choice. Vote with a cross not a number.
If a candidate receives more than 50% of the first-choice votes, he or she is elected.
If not, the two candidates with the most first-choice votes – almost certainly Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone – go to a run-off, with all the other candidates eliminated.
All the ballot papers where eliminated candidates are down as first choice are looked at again, and any second-preference votes for the top two candidates are added to the totals for those candidates.
The candidate with the most first- and second-choice votes combined wins.
1. If you are voting for Livingstone or Johnson as your first preference, your second preference will almost certainly not count. Second preferences are only redistributed when a ballot paper has as its first preference someone who was eliminated in the first round – and neither Livingstone nor Johnson are likely to be eliminated in the first round.
2. If you are in favour of Lib Dem Brian Paddick, Green Jenny Jones, independent Siobhan Benita, Ukip’s Lawrence Webb, or the BNP’s Carlos Cortiglia, put them as your first preference rather than your second. This is the only way they stand a chance of making it into the second round. If you give them a second-preference vote, this will only count if they get enough first-preference votes from other people to get into the second round.
3. Because the second round is likely to be between Ken and Boris, if you have voted for any other candidate as your first choice, it might be a good idea to choose between Labour and the Conservatives for your second – as then you will still get some say in who will run London even if your real favourite is eliminated.
Some people have asked me (and I’m afraid this question may betray some anti-Boris bias) whether giving their first preference vote to Brian Paddick, Jenny Jones, or one of the other minor candidates, rather than to Livingstone, makes it more likely that Johnson will get above 50% of the vote in the first round, and thus win outright. The answer is no. Whoever you vote for, it does not make any difference to Johnson’s vote or his share of the vote (as long as you vote for someone).
To give a clear example, let’s say 8 people vote for Johnson, and there are 10 other voters.
If 5 of those others vote for Livingstone and 5 for Jones, there are still 8 votes for Johnson and 10 for other candidates, meaning Johnson does not get 50% of the vote.
If 7 of the non-Johnson votes go to Jones and 3 to Livingstone, there are still 8 votes for Johnson and 10 for other candidates, meaning Johnson does not get 50% of the vote.
Please post any other questions below the line and I’ll try to answer them too. They can even be about how to keep Ken Livingstone out.
Hello and welcome to today’s election day live coverage. Andrew Sparrow and I will be live-blogging around the clock from today, when voters start going to the polls in local elections in England, Scotland and Wales, until late on Friday night, when we expect to find out whether Boris Johnson or Ken Livingstone will be the next mayor of London.
As well as the battle for London mayor and elections to the London assembly, which acts as a check on the mayor, there are also elections to 130 councils in England (of a total of 353), all 32 councils in Scotland, and 21 of 22 Welsh councils (elections to Anglesey Council postponed to next May).
Meanwhile two other cities are voting for an elected mayor: Salford and Liverpool.
And 10 cities will hold referendums to decide whether they should have an elected mayor: Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wakefield.
My colleagues on the Datablog have put together this map that shows which councils are voting and who controls them now.
I cast my vote this morning at a polling station in the surprisingly pretty Laycock Centre, a conference venue, in Islington, London.