Tuesday, July 17, 2007

 

'Bozza' a High Risk Candidate for London Mayor


It seems maybe a little churlish of Polly Toynbee to excoriate old Boris Johnson, after her views on poverty have been so celebrated by Dave Cameron, but I think she has made some shrewd points, if not accurate predictions. Boris, as we know has thrown his blond mop into the London Mayoral ring. He havered for a while but the pressures from within the party and without proved finally irresistible- he can never resist entreaties from his audience. Unfortunately neither can he resist the temptation to play to each audience's gallery.

The Tories have had, and still have, a problem with the London Mayoralty. Remember all that fuss about Jeffrey Archer which ended in grief? John Major backed him as a serious candidate and he certainly thought he was going to win until past crimes came back to derail his campaign. Steve 'Shagger' Norris was a superior candidate to the second rate novelist but lacked the artillery to take on Everyman cheeky chappie, Ken Livingstone. Then we had the false starts of candidates such as Greg Dyke and several others-including, according to one report, Michael Portillo- who were canvassed and declined.

Toynbee's argument is that:
i) Boris will perpetuate and strengthen the impression that the current Conservatives are toffs, wholly divorced from the concerns of ordinary people.
ii) Boris, though able, is not really a serious politician with any capacity for absorbing and implementing policy.
iii) Beneath the clownish exterior there is a very rightwing person, as any analysis of his journalism reveals.
iv) Worst of all, Boris is gaffe prone; in other words, trouble. He has charmed and won over millions with his disarming idiocy but he also cannot resist playing the fool and saying something outrageous. We have seen the results in Liverpool, Portsmouth and indeed other parts of the world as far flung as the 'cannibals' in Papua.

Polly predicts this will be seen as Cameron's 'worst mistake' and concludes the Tories must be 'desperate' to 'put up a clown to run a great global city'. Time will tell if that call is justified but welcoming as a candidate someone with Boris's track record as an instinctive controversialist and rule breaker is high risk indeed. Livingstone may be not dissimilar in some ways but he is at heart a serious politician, with a proven track record and an established following which to some extent transcends party. Boris might well find that he is about to come up against a very painful reality- it will be fun watching though.

Comments:
Just for the record Skip - is Boris still shadow minister for (higher) education?

And his shagging exploits were much more entertaining than Steve Norris's
 
This sort of a slagging off by Polly is just what Boris Johnson wants IMO. The more the establishment line up to attack him the better he will be. In fact, as I suggested at my blog if he's sensible he'll use quotes from Ms T in his camapign.
 
Roy
I think he's already resigned from his shadow job; agree he seems even more qualified than Norris in that department- but there will be a backlash involved I suspect.
Dirty Dingus
Disagree. It may be old fashioned to suggest this but I think most London voters want someone who can do the job rather than be an entertaining upper class twit orscalliwag
 
It was William Hague who enthusiastically backed the Archer candidature. Sir John's curtain had fallen by then.
 
Interesting analysis by Toynbee - I don't think (i) will be an issue; agree with (ii) through (iv) and ultimately, your point above is right - we may well be hugely entertained by Boris's candidature, but we will want evidence that he can do the job. If his campaign can't show that, then he will be giving Ken another four years. The electoral maths does not, however, look too overwhelming for him if he can give the aforementioned evidence - the Boris backing Fawkes blog points out the low turnout last time which exaggerated Ken's actual victory!
 
The point on the low turnout is a good one, Livingstone is certainly not unbeatable and Boris is the only Tory candidate with a very good chance. I am glad he has been chosen.

I also think you are wrong Skipper. You just seem a bit rattled, and I don't blame you. Livingstone looked unassailable.

1) Boris goes beyond Toff. In any case him being a Toff isn't a problem with most people. The problem with Dave and his set is that he seeks to deny opportunities to the middle classes(ie all decent people who aspire to better themselves and free themselves from the state) that allow social mobility. He is a hypocrite. Boris isn't, ergo no problem.

2) Nonsense. He is a very intelligent man. Anyone who has read his work will realise the man's intellect. It would be foolish to confuse eccentricity with stupidity. He ran the Spectator. In any case he will never be considered as irresponsible as Livingstone. Londoners are unlikely to forget his meeting with Chavez and other terrorists when he had a city to run.

3) Being right-wing won't bother most Londoners. They voted for Howard at the last election, they elected Thatcher and they have elected a hell of a lot of right wing councillors. The contrast with Dave's pathetic psuedo-ideology should only help Boris when it comes to policy.

4) I think most people find it amusing. People inclined to be so thin skinned tend to vote Lib Dem anyway. I don't care for their votes, and judging by recent opinion polls, they are somewhat thin on the ground anyway.

Polly never quite got over university did she? To see her hissy fit when Boris wins is the best reason I can think of to vote for him. He'll win.
 
Michael
You may be right of course; that's what makes the contest so interesting this year. Not sure what you mean about Polly and university: she failed the 11+, as everyone knows, but did make it to St Anne's College Oxford eventually. Not aware of being rattled- Johnson is an attractive personality but one suited- to date- with journalism and transient TV programmes. He needs to undergo a major conversion to shape up enough to win this election.
 
Polly is typical of so many who get to University and then find that people who attended public school just have a better all round education. That is why so many bright children coming from comprehensives do so badly at interview stage for decent universities. No fault of their, merely the mediocre schools they attend. The moron press call this discrimination, but they don't really get it. No all round education, rather like a lot of the Labour MPs who scoffed when Dave mentioned Demosthenes...as though there stupidity and lack of historical knowledge was somehow a badge of pride. Polly got to university and met boys like Boris, who were just better than her in every possible way. And she has never quite got over it. The bitter old witch can cry as much as she likes, but people like Boris, and a damn sight more of them have heard of him than some mediocre twisted old hag.

As for the contest. Of course it is very open, and after eight years of Livingstone, the Tories owed London a decent candidate. Boris is that. But I think you give the electorate too much credit. For most voters(unfortunately "educated" in schools where they barely learned the basics), it will be a popularity contest. If Boris is smart, he will play to the gallery and exploit a lot of Livingstone's less popular ideas(and there are a few). If he does this(and avoid being banded with the ridiculous Cameron), I would make him the firm favourite.
 
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