London’s ‘statutory’ deputy mayor, Richard Barnes, and the chairman of the London Fire Authority, Brian Coleman, both of whom are openly gay, are among the Conservative Assembly Members to have lost seats to Labour, in what has been a rather poor day for the Tories across the country.
Mr Barnes was appointed by the incumbent Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, as a deputy Mayor for London in 2008. Last year, he was accused of racism over comments he made to a City Hall worker. He also dismissed Ken Livingstone as a “retread” and a “pensioner” in an interview with this publication.
Having served in the Greater London Assembly (GLA) for 12 years, he was ousted from Ealing and Hillingdon by Labour’s Onkar Sahota, a general practitioner.
Meanwhile, Mr Coleman, who was elected as the chairman of the GLA in 2006, lost his seat to Labour’s Andrew Dismore, who scored 20,000 more votes than the former in the Barnet and Camden constituency.
Mr Coleman has been a controversial figure in the GLA. Being one of the highest paid Tory councillors in the country, he was initially reluctant to reveal details of his expenses in 2009, before eventually being forced to do so. He was also found to have broken Barnet council’s code of conduct, on account of failing to treat a blogger “with respect.”
Mr Dismore, speaking of his dramatic win, said: “I haven’t seen Brian Coleman for days, the last time I saw him was when I saw a video of him in a shop. There are some reasons for this win in Barnet and some in Camden.” He added that his opponent had suffered a “heavy battering” and would need “time to lick his wounds,” but that “politics in London would be less colourful” without him.
The loss of Messrs Coleman and Barnes is not good news for Boris Johnson, as he might not get the requisite number of assembly members to prevent his budgets for the City Hall and the Metropolitan Police being voted down. Neither candidate could be reached for comment.