A year ago many political pundits and City Hall watchers thought that this weekend would see Dame Tessa Jowell celebrate her election as Mayor of London.
Boy, did we call that wrong.
We were still months away from learning the full scale of the Corbyn surge and the experienced, familiar former cabinet minister looked like a shoo-in for Labour’s nomination.
Polls repeatedly suggested she was who Londoners wanted as Mayor and told us that of her and Sadiq Khan, only she could beat Zac Goldsmith.
But that of course turned out to be bunkum.
Shortly after midnight on Saturday a crowd of bleary-eyed journalists and sleep deprived City Hall staff watched as Sadiq basked in the glory of securing the biggest direct mandate ever won in this country.
I’ve always said Londoners don’t elect mayors simply on the colour of their rosette. London may be a Labour city but we know that simply being the Labour candidate isn’t enough to win – if it were Ken Livingstone wouldn’t have lost in 2008.
And we know that being on the receiving end of a bruising Tory campaign isn’t enough to make Londoners elect you out of sympathy – otherwise Ken would have taken back City Hall in 2012.
No, to win you have to have a special something which connects with the voters.
You need to be able to appeal beyond party affiliation and reach out both to those who have no political tribal loyalty and, because of the need to win second preferences, to those who are firm supporters of a rival.
I can still clearly recall Ken’s victory over the huge New Labour machine in 2000.
It was a political upset unlike anything we’d ever seen in this country and, despite Ken’s apparent desperation to detract from his record and the achievements of his mayoralty, remains the stuff of political legend.
Boris’s win in 2008 was also a huge moment for London politics, it shook to the foundation a lazy sentiment found in many who thought the governance of this city was Labour’s by right.
But in a healthy democracy victories have to be won. They’re not, as some seem to think, like an Amazon pre-order which is guaranteed to arrive on a stated day.
Sadiq’s win, which saw him get 1,310,143 votes, dwarfs those of his predecessors. It is a huge, personal mandate of which he and those who know and care for him should be rightly proud.
It’s also a win which deserved to play out in prime time to an audience of millions, not to a crowd just desperate for the whole night to come to an end so that we could finally get some sleep.
But even more importantly, it’s a mandate which Government ministers should respect.
One of the least talked about aspects of the Tory campaign has been a quiet suggestion that Sadiq would find it difficult to secure good deals for London from Government.
At times the line felt like a threat that Tory ministers would wreck revenge on the “engine room of the economy” should voters dare elect him.
It’s imperative that ministers now make clear that no such thing will happen, and that the mandate of the new mayor to speak up for London will be recognised and honoured.
A couple of final thoughts – it was great to see turnout soar to an impressive 45.6%. I’ve always believed that the mayoralty matters, it’s why I’ve spent 16 years hanging around City Hall covering it. I’m looking forward to seeing where our new mayor takes us.
And yes, like many I called the election wrong. I thought Tessa would be mayor. I thought Sadiq’s win, if it came, would be tighter than the bookies and pollsters predicted and instead it turned out to be as clear and as certain as they said it would.
There’s no shame in calling these things wrong but there is in pretending otherwise and hoping no-one remembers, or are simply too polite to remind you of, all those times when you said ‘ah, but here’s how things could be different’.