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London Elections - Boris Tipped To Win, Tactical Voting Predicted

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BORIS KEN TURNOUT SIOBHAN BENITA
Boris Went Into Polling Day For The London Elections Ahead In The Polls | PA

Polls have closed in the London Mayoral and Assembly election and while there is no formal exit poll, Boris Johnson is widely expected to have retained City Hall.

Click here or scroll down for live updates

But we're making no such predictions - it's been a strange day at the polls - many suspect there's been a low turnout, and The Huffington Post UK has heard widespread reports of tactical voting.

Voters backing a candidate they don't expect to win on first preference comes forth in several flavours, and with a strong health warning - it's only anecdotal.

However if it turns out to be widespread it could lead to strong showings for UKIP and the Green party, and perhaps exceptionally so for the independent candidate Siobhan Benita.

Although she's never claimed to be, Benita appears to have become something of a conduit for Labour supporters who've signed up to the "Not Ken Again" mantra. She can be expected to do well if lots of disillusioned Labour voters decide to send a message to the party - that they allowed the wrong candidate to stand and made a mess of the selection process.

Many think Ken was picked to stand too soon - the contest happened in autumn 2010 at the same time as Ed Miliband's leadership election. Not enough time was given, some say, for the party to regroup and work out what it wanted to stand for in this election. The result was that Ken's formidable internal party machine steamrollered over any other contenders.

One die-hard Labour supporter - who happily voted for Labour candidates in the assembly elections - told The Huffington Post UK they'd voted for Benita first but made no second preference.

They said they really hoped would Ken do badly. Similar anecdotes have been heard elsewhere and gleefully tweeted by Tories.

See also:

The Early Council Results That Will Form A National Projection

Low Turnout Feared In Local Elections

Scots Go To The Polls To Elect Councillors

On the Tory side, there seems to have been a few people who decided to vote UKIP or for the Greens first, with Boris their second preference.

This seemingly has nothing to do with Boris and everything to do with attempting to push Brian Paddick and the Lib Dems into fourth place. Or even fifth.

Again these are either Tory party workers or loyal supporters - but as The Huffington Post UK has heard this sort of tactical voting among Tories from several unconnected sources, it's not beyond the realms of conspiracy theory to suggest some kind of orchestrated campaign took place here. "It's all about making the Lib Dems look stupid," one Westminster based staffer told The Huffington Post UK earlier.

Will any of this affect the final result? That's impossible to say, and we're in for a long wait before we know the answer. Counting of votes in London won't begin until 8:45am on Friday, and it'll take most of the day to get a sense of what's going on. Most expect second preference votes to tip the election one way or the other.

In the meantime here's the liveblog of the day so far - check back to The Huffington Post UK all day tomorrow for rolling coverage as the results come in - we'll be at City Hall near Tower Bridge with the latest all day.

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So over 41 hours after polls opened on Thursday morning, Boris Johnson is mayor of London and we can all go to bed to dream analytical dreams about what the results mean for the country.

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Probable ETA of a declaration is about an hour, hopefully less (please)

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London Elects statement:

We have results in from 13 of the 14 constituencies in the Mayor of London and London Assembly election. The final constituency is Brent & Harrow. The Greater London Returning Officer has been in touch with the CRO for Brent & Harrow to establish the reason for a delay. All batches of ballot papers were registered and scanned. Two batches went to storage without some ballot papers being manually entered as required. Manual entry is required when a scanner cannot read a ballot paper – for example if a ballot paper is damaged. It is not an issue with the scanners. The issue was identified during the verification stage. These two batches are being re-processed. To make this happen as quickly as possible we have separated out into several smaller batches. This is why the progress screens appear to show a changing number of verified ballot papers.

We will declare as soon as possible but it is obviously important that every vote is counted.

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Well we don't entirely know. The latest is that at least two ballot boxes were found unscanned at the Brent count, and they're now being counted by hand, for some reason.

There are rumours that Ken's team has asked for a full recount in Brent, which would delay things for another few hours.

London elects thinks it'll be only another 20 mins, but they've been saying that for nearly two hours.

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@ tnewtondunn : The Sun's pollster Peter Kellner of YouGov calls it - "Boris has won. He has too big a lead for Ken to overturn".

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It's leading to a sharp narrowing in the polls between the two candidates. On 1st preference votes Boris now has 44% and Ken 40% - 8 out of 14 constituencies have now declared.

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Here's the latest.

london shocker

People are talking about 50/50 odds between Ken and Boris. The atmosphere at City Hall has changed dramatically in the past half hour.

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Ed Miliband, speaking in Southampton, has declared that Labour is "coming back".

This comes after Labour took control of Southampton from the Conservatives.

He railed against the "out of touch government in Westminster".

"David Cameron promised change, not for the better but for the worse. Today in Southampton, it is a rejection of the economic failure of this government, and the unfairness of this government". he added

He also boasted that Labour is "beating back" the SNP in Scotland.

He recognised the low turnouts, saying it showed there was "still more to do".

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Conservative MP Peter Bone has said that the PM has 'one hand tied behind his back'.

"Worst of all, we've got the Liberals holding us back" he added

The results signified the "beginning of the end of the coalition", he told the BBC.

"We're seeing Boris winning as a Conservative in London, yet the Coalition losing against Labour. So the message must be let's come out of this coalition as soon as possible." he said

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Liam Byrne, who quit the Shadow Cabinet in preparation for running for Birmingham Mayor, has just tweeted this

@ LiamByrneMP : A huge thanks to ALL who supported Yes2Mayor, Albert and me: our job now is to get 4-square behind our brilliant new Lbr council #brummayor

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@ SmithTonyD : Brum result: Leader 120,611, Mayor 88,085. 57.8 Per cent "no" #BrumVote12

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@ oflynnexpress : Brum votes No to a Mayor. Has anyone noticed people like voting No in refs? No2EU

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With 56 of 79 seats declared, Labour currently lead over the SNP by 29 to 20.

Barring a major upset, Labour will resist the SNP advance in Glasgow.

@ suemacmillan : Labour holding its majority in Glasgow is a whopper of a result. Well done @scottishlabour

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@ JenWilliamsMEN : Ian Stewart is mayor of Salford.

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@ baddogOTM : Labour win CHIPPING NORTON! David Cameron, Rebekah Brooks, Elisabeth Murdoch, Steve Hilton + Jeremy Clarkson now have a LABOUR council.

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With 166 of 181 councils declared, Labour have gained more than 700 council seats.

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Former Libdem leader Paddy Ashdown has said the Liberal Democrats should "keep on doing" what it is doing.

Speaking to the BBC, Lord Ashdown said the party's mettle has been "tested" by the results.

"The party's mettle has been tested, it has been tested before. We should keep on doing what we're doing" he said

"It doesn't look as bad in terms of hanging onto our seats that we have got as it might have been." he added.

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According to the Guardian, Ken Livingstone's team are privately conceding defeat.

They reportedly also think Boris Johnson will increase his majority.

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A council candidate dressed as a penguin called Professor Pongoo has received more votes than the Liberal Democrats in Edinburgh.

Professor Pongoo (real name Mike Ferrigan) was an independent candidate who had pledged to wear the penguin outfit to every council meeting if he was elected.

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From the votes counted so far, Labour are on 44%, Conservatives are on 33% and the Greens are on 8%.

The LibDems dwell at 7% while Ukip are on 5%.

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Harman castigated Watson for his "hold your nose and vote for Ken" comment - and was a bit hesitant to agree that Ken had been the right candidate in the first place...we thought.

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Clearly annoyed, Farage has arrived at City Hall and says that the ballot paper fail was UKIP's fault, not London Elects. But he's blaming it on UKIP's poor performance. They're currently trailing in 6th place behind Siobhan Benita

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Ukip leader Nigel Farage is reportedly furious that his party's candidate for Mayor of London, Lawrence Webb, was listed on the ballot paper as Fresh Choice for London.

webb

He says it was a 'cockup which undoubtedly cost UKIP votes' and could have helped Boris Johnson's bid for four more years at City Hall.

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Also here is a round-up from HuffPost of Tory dissent following the local elections drubbing. A few themes emerge. Many Tories think House of Lords reform is a distraction - a couple but don't like gay marriage, but the overwhelming narrative is there needs to be a growth strategy.

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In an update to previous news about the BNP's difficulties, it has emerged that the party has lost every single one of the 12 seats it has been defending.

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@ Kevin_Maguire : Looks like Labour will win London but lose the Mayoralty, getting most votes/seats in the Assembly but Blue Boris beats Red Ken

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@ StewartHosieMP : 16 out of 16 #SNP win outright control of Dundee

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