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Eccentric Tory sworn in as London mayor

LONDON — London's new mayor, an eccentric Conservative lawmaker, was sworn in Saturday after ousting the left-wing incumbent in a vote that capped the worst local election results for Prime Minister Gordon Brown's party in four decades.

Idiosyncratic ex-magazine editor Boris Johnson said his triumph over Labor's incumbent Ken Livingstone offered a glimpse of Britain's likely political future.

The result — Johnson polled 1,168,738 to Livingstone's 1,028,966 — capped a disastrous performance for Brown's governing Labor in the party's first electoral test since he assumed power when Tony Blair quit last June.

Johnson won 53.2 percent of the vote, compared with Livingstone's 46.8 percent.

"The Hair of London" read the headline in Saturday's edition of the Sun newspaper above a photo of Johnson from the forehead up comparing his trademark tousled coiffure to a golden crown.

Johnson's self-deprecating sense of humor showed as he joked about nearly tripping on his way to the podium after signing the declaration of office Saturday.

"Until that time, I imagine there are shredding machines quietly puffing and panting away in various parts of the building," Johnson said.

Brown's main political foe, opposition Conservative Party chief David Cameron, said his party's gains in the capital and in a longtime weak spot in northern England represented a key moment on the path to ousting Brown in the next national election.

Results from the 159 local councils that held ballots in England and Wales on Thursday showed the Conservatives gaining 260 seats, and Labor losing 333.

But no Conservative victory was more symbolic than the one in London. Johnson becomes the first Conservative to hold a high-profile national post — controlling a budget of billions and charged with planning for the 2012 Olympics — since his party's thumping 1997 national election defeat by the Labor Party.

Eccentric Tory sworn in as London mayor 05/03/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 4:28pm]
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