The London mayoral poll was the lone bright spot for the Labour party as voters across Britain cast their crunch ballots that will decide the political fortunes of many and may well provide the impulse for another independence referendum in Scotland.
During most of the day, voters trickled in to polling booths on what was termed in the media as “Super Thursday”. Results will be announced from late Thursday onwards, after voting ends at 10pm GMT.
The local elections are the first major test for Labour chief Jeremy Corbyn, whose leadership has come under increasing question in recent months. Besides being called ‘unelectable’, there have been murmurs of a coup against him in the near future.
Besides the next London mayor, voting was held for the assemblies of London, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Scottish parliament, local councils, and police and crime commissioners.
Voting percentage during the last round of local elections in 2012 was 31%, conforming to the trend that local elections turnout is usually half of that recorded for general elections. Opposition parties tend to do well soon after general elections.
However, Labour is projected by pollsters to lose nearly 150 seats in local councils, an estimate disputed by Corbyn. Losing majority in any Labour-held council will raise the decibel level of criticism against him.
A victory for Labour’s Sadiq Khan in London is likely to be sold as a reaffirmation of Corbyn’s leadership. The mayoral election is also important because it could lead to the metropolis having its first Muslim mayor with a budget of nearly 17 billion pounds.
A victory for the Scottish National Party in Scotland may be seen as a reconfirmation of its main plank of independence, and lead to demands for another referendum. Party leader Nicola Sturgeon has said another referendum was likely if the June 23 European Union referendum goes in favour of Britain leaving the EU.