London Mayoral Election: The polls are open

Boris Johnson is 1.08 on Betfair to win today's London Mayoral Election

Whilst most of the country was still sleeping, and probably Boris himself, the polling stations opened this morning as the capital sets about finding its next Mayor. Eliot Pollak explains...

Another feint hope for Ken could be fraud in boroughs such as Tower Hamlets, where voters traditionally take advantage of postal voting in a very literal sense.

The polls have opened. Four words that strike fear into the heart of any elected politician - except Vladimir Putin and other similarly 'elected' ones.

The campaigning is over, the television news must stay silent, and the nation now counts down the hours until old David Bumblebee tells us the exit poll results. Professor Anthony King is dripping with excitement as we speak.

Nerves will be particularly on edge in London, where the loser of Ken v Boris; the Sequel, will find their political career in tatters. Ken won't ever be back as a serious Mayoral candidate, whereas for Boris, the stakes could not be higher. Lose today, and his chances of being the next Tory Prime Minister drop dramatically. Win, and he is the most popular politician in the country.

The morning's papers seem clear - Boris will beat Ken. Even the Guardian, whose support for Livingstone throughout the campaign has been pathetically resolute, headline their piece, "Boris Johnson poised to return to City Hall." The paper points to a crucial Yougov poll indicating that more people want to go for a drink with BoJo - as that is of course how Londoners decide where to put their cross. (I personally suspect more Londoners will vote Boris simply to annoy the cretins at the Guardian, rather than because they fancy a pint with him.)

So what can Ken-fans cling to? The weather is often cited as a factor in elections, with Labour voters tending to be more familiar with rain, and hence not put off by it. Tories of course, spend their time in tax havens and panic when it gets wet.

Of course, this may all be psephological nonsense, but it will rain in London later today, although probably not enough to rain on Boris' parade. We are in drought after all don't forget.

Another feint hope for Ken could be fraud in boroughs such as Tower Hamlets, where voters traditionally take advantage of postal voting in a very literal sense - by filling in six or seven ballot papers for deceased relatives, people who don't exist, Shergar etc. Again, it is almost invariably Labour voters in Muslim-populated areas who get up to such shenanigans.

The Betfair market doesn't seem too interested in rain or fraud however, with Boris now trading at a staggering 1.081/12. Of course, persistent political punters will recall the overwhelming odds on a George Galloway victory in Bradford just last month. It isn't all over yet.

Either way folks, get out there and do your democratic duty. Vote early, vote often.

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