Just before midnight, Boris was declared the Mayor of London – again.
Boris delivered his acceptance speech, which was a version of his stump mixed in with some gracious observations about Ken (Boris even invited him to have a drink afterwards) and those Conservative London Assembly members who had lost their seats. Ken’s concession speech struck me as being typically graceless and undignified – blaming his defeat on media ‘smears’. He claimed this was his last election, but quite frankly I didn’t believe him. As we had found out only too well in the reams of research we conducted during the campaign, Ken has made a career of saying one thing and doing another (indeed, just weeks later he was elected to Labour's National Executive Committee).
Nevertheless, his speech was a shame. If this really was his last election, he should have gone out with the dignity of a statesman, not a bitter man.
We jumped into a cab and made our way to what we could now officially call the victory party in Millbank Tower, which overlooked the glittering lights of the city. The city we had re-captured. When we arrived, the atmosphere was strange. It was if we had arrived at a pub just after last orders had been called. People had been at the party since around 6pm and they were mostly very drunk and tired. Many had already gone home. By contrast, we were stone cold sober.
Boris arrived a few minutes later to a rapturous reception. I began the chant of “four more years”, which everyone picked up straight away. He waded his way through the admirers and up to the stage. The microphone didn’t work very well, so he had to shout to be heard – although by this stage his voice was hoarse. He did a re-hash of his speech the night before, and repeated his line about surviving the Budget and David Cameron’s endorsement. It got the same thundering laughter.
I shook his hand afterwards and he gave me a bear hug. I congratulated him on a job well done, and then he was swallowed back up into the crowd.
It was approaching 2am and the bar had shut. I said goodbye to Crosby and the remaining members of the campaign team and stepped into a cab with my wife Robyn and set off for home and a long, much needed sleep. A sleep safe in the knowledge that my job was done, and Ken Livingstone was never to return – at least for now.
Another behind the scenes exclusive from "Victory in London" by Alex Crowley - the insdie story of the Boris campaign
Buy your copy HERE
Buy your Ebook here