Thursday, 1 May 2008

Boris and Ken: a Canadian view

Montreal, Quebec: Extracts from the Globe and Mail:

One is a hard-drinking socialist who has five children by three different women. Another is a some-times quiz-show host who once called black children 'pickanninnies' and admitted that he tried cocaine, but squeezed instead of snorted. The third is an openly gay former top policeman.

No, they're not contestants on the latest reality TV show - they're the leading contestants to become mayor of London. A campaign that is supposed to be about key issues ... has often seemed more like an open-mike night at a comedy club.

The piece ends my quoting one of my fave political scientists Philip Cowley from Nottingham: 'You've got two maverick politicians ... They both have great strengths, but they're both deeply flawed as well.'

My guess is that Boris will win. In academic work one is not supposed to take anecdotal evidence seriously as one risks committing an individiualistic fallacy, but sometimes a vox pop can give you a useful intuition. One London voter commented that he would vote for Boris because it would be more fun.

Whether it will be an easy ride for the Conservatives we shall have to wait and see. We are told that men (and some women) in suits will actually run the city. But Boris will still be the symbolic leader of one of the great cities of the world - and he once said that voting Tory 'will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW.' Will he be able to keep his mouth shut?

Equally I can understand why Londoners are fed up with Ken. It doesn't speak well of the calibre of political leadership in modern politics.

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