Sunday, 23 March 2008
It looks like Boris
The polls are suggesting that Boris Johnson is favourite to become the next Mayor of London. Part of the story is, of course, that a lot of people are fed up with Ken. London's problems are manifold and no one person can solve them, however big a mouth they have. Former man from the Met Brian Paddick is standing for the Lib Dems. The problem with him is not that he is gay (which will probably get him more votes than he will lose) but questions about his policing strategy in Brixton.
Winning the London mayoralty will be a great coup for Dave Cameron. (Incidentally, one thing Dave and Bozza share is a propensity to jump red lights on their bicycle, although there is no photographic evidence of Bozza going the wrong way down a one way street). But could it turn out to be a poisoned chalice? Bozza is being kept under wraps by his minders and we are told that there is a new, serious Boris Johnson, but will the old clown type figure emerge once he is in charge? And will that help the Conservatives?
Of course, voters like Bozza because he is a maverick, 'one of us' (despite an Eton and Oxford education not enjoyed by most Londoners) rather than 'one of them', 'them' referring to the political class, the existence of which is a challenge for British democracy. There is no doubt that Bozza's opposition to the 'nanny state' (what academics would call the 'regulatory state') resonates with voters. Once again he has a point.
Apparently Bozza has given up alcohol until polling day. Rival candidate Brian Paddick comments, 'What Londoners have got to realise is, four years is a long time for the mayor to be kept out of the media so he doesn't make any gaffes and for him to give up drink'.
So it does look like a case of 'Ken Leavingsoon' to use Bozza's phrase? I have met Ken and I do think he is a bit of a machine politician, but perhaps you have to be in that role. As a Londoner born and bred, I really don't like the idea of Boris Johnson being the powerful mayor of a great world city.
What I find particularly sobering is the thought, suggested to me by an analyst of London politics, that the BNP may win an Assembly seat. They only just missed out last time and since then have consolidated their power base in Barking, as well as trying to cultivate a more respectable image.
As has been highlighted in a recent BBC television series, the political exclusion of the poorest parts of the white working class, along with their social and economic exclusion, is a real challenge which does not always receive the attention that it should. Once again there are no simple answers, certainly not those advanced by the BNP.
There is information on all the mayoral candidates here: Spoilt for Choice
It is interesting that both UKIP and the Respect Coalition have split. It's reminiscent of Monty Pynthon's 'Life of Brian'.