The Conservative party will retain their South West seat at the London Assembly, following an electoral result closer than anticipated as the Liberal Democrats doubled their 2016 performance.
Nicholas Rogers finished the race with 69,212 votes, 31.93% of the total, while Lib Dem Gareth Roberts obtained 61,222 votes, in the constituency seat representing Richmond upon Thames, Kingston and Hounslow.
Rogers, the newly elected assembly member, thanked his husband in an emotional victory speech.
He said: “Very importantly I need to thank my husband Liam who has been my rock, he’s been my chief adviser, he’s been my confessor, my shoulder to cry on.
“He’s brought me those all-important post-campaigning gin and tonics. He’s been fantastic, so thank you Liam, I love you so much.”
He claimed that after a long campaign he was looking forward to a good night of sleep and rest.
Rogers, who has worked as a manager of Waterloo station and is currently an Incident Controller for Network Rail, has vowed to address the issues pressing on south west London from day one.
He said: “I want to use my real-world experience in transport, policing and as a community campaigner to fight and stand up for south west London.
“To push for improving our transport, to make our streets safer and to improve our environment.
“South West is the finest that this city has to offer, the best in London.”
The Conservative vote share was trimmed by 7.54 percentage points, having won 31.93% of the vote in comparison to the 39.47% obtained by Rogers’ predecessor five years ago.
The Liberal Democrats outperformed themselves, finishing second to the Tories and nearly doubling their 2016 result, with 28.25% of the vote, compared to 14.34% obtained in 2016.
Rogers said: “The Lib Dems fought a great campaign.
“Gareth Roberts is a formidable opponent, and he did very, very well, but ultimately the Conservative vote turned out.”
Roberts congratulated Rogers and celebrated the party’s result.
He said: “Well, I’m obviously disappointed that we didn’t win.
“We threw everything that we could at the campaign, we couldn’t have asked for more, but we just didn’t quite make it.
“However, I’m hugely proud! We went from 30,000 votes to 60,000 votes, starting almost from scratch.
“It’s been a privilege to fight this campaign and I think the Liberal Democrats will be back to fight it out again in 2024.”
The father of three currently serves as leader of Richmond Council, where he says to be holding the Tories in Westminster and Labour in City Hall to account.
He added: “The Conservatives are currently riding high, they’re doing very well out of the vaccination program and they’re quite rightly capitalising on that as much as they possibly can.
“But that bit of guilt on that particular piece of gingerbread will start to fade, and fade very rapidly, and people will start to see this Conservative administration.”
Roberts thanked his voters, who he described in many cases as die-in-the-wall Conservatives, Labour supporters and Greens, and credited his own management of Richmond Council with the successful result.
He concluded: “To all those people who voted for me, thank you: it’s made a huge difference, it’s put a spring in my step, and we will be back.”
The Labour candidate, Candice Atterton, finished third with 26.27% of the vote.
Atterton and her team refused to comment on the electoral results, following internal disarray within the party after poor results in local elections across the country this week.