The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 12 May 2012

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David Cameron, the Prime Minister, declared that he would ‘focus on what matters’ after the Conservatives’ poor showing in the local elections brought accusations that pursuit by the coalition of such aims as gay marriage and reform of the House of Lords was alienating voters. On the eve of the Queen’s Speech he appeared at a tractor factory in Essex with Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, who had done disastrously in the local elections. ‘I’m really sad,’ Mr Clegg had said of the results. Labour had gained an extra 823 wards, the Conservatives lost 405 and the Liberal-Democrat party 330, leaving it with the lowest number of council seats since its foundation in 1988. Plaid Cymru declined, the Greens grew, and Ukip polled 13 per cent of the vote in wards where it stood, but won only nine. The British National Party lost all six of its seats in contention. The Liberal Democrat candidate at Edinburgh Pentland polled fewer votes than Professor Pongoo, who campaigned as a penguin. Turnout was 32 per cent.

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Boris Johnson was re-elected as Mayor of London, with 1,054,811 votes, including second preferences, against 992,273 for Ken Livingstone, who said he was leaving competitive politics. Brian Paddick for the Liberal Democrats was beaten into fourth place by Jenny Jones for the Greens. In the London Assembly, Labour gained control of two seats: Ealing & Hillingdon and Barnet & Camden. Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, Wakefield, Coventry, Leeds and Bradford voted against having a mayor; Bristol voted in favour and Doncaster voted to keep one. British scientists suggested that the flatulence of dinosaurs led to global warming 150 million years ago.

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Passengers arriving at Stansted airport faced delays of two hours.

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