Monday, August 06, 2012


Look Out Dave! Boris is After Your Job!

One of the political by products of the Olympics is that Boris seems to have accumulated shed-loads of good press. Quite undeservedly he has contrived to suggest to the nation that the success of the meda sports-fest is mostly his doing. Boris has never been one not to claim political credit apparently floating around not tied unmistakably to someone else. And this despite Lyn Truss's acid observation on radio 4 that the opening ceremony had been so enjoyable because at no stage did it involve the Turkish descended mayor of our capital city.

The implications of his runaway popularity is beginning to permeate through the political system, especially the Conservative Party. Tory MPs have been unhappy with Cameron over many things: his poor 2010 election campaign which some feel robbed them of their chance of governing alone; his allegedly craven curbing of his true Conservative beliefs (some think he has none of course) in deference to his feeble deputy and coalition partner Nick Clegg; and his small, close circle of privately educated advisers. It is sometimes forgotten that the Tories have not won an election since 1992; they currently trail Labour by 12 points in the polls.

They are looking for that elusive political phenomenon: a star. New Labour had Blair, who went on to win them three successive elections. Some think Boris could be such a miracle worker. And some Tories with deep pockets think the same way. Rupert Murdoch, damaged by the phone hacking but still powerful, seems to have adopted the podgy classicist as his protege and on Sunday the papers contained lots of articles tipping the mayor as a genuine threat to Cameron. Is he?

Writing ihn The Observer, his biographer, Sonia Purnell, is not so convinced. She rubbishes the idea that Boris has a record of which he can be proud:

While his stint as mayor has undoubtedly been brilliant for Project Boris, it is far from clear that London has equally benefited. The capital has some of the highest public transport fares in the world, yet offers an unreliable service. Its police force has undergone its worst internal crisis for a generation, with the mayor burning through three commissioners in as many years. The Boris Bike hire scheme, while popular, is a financial swamp costing more than £100m; we are in danger of breaching EU rules on pollution; the cycling death rate is rising; there are disturbing trends in some areas of crime. Does this qualify him to become prime minister in times like these? Secondly polls show 24% of voters wanting Boris to replace Dave but over half unsure. When asked if they would be more likely to vote Tory if Boris were leader, 19% said yes, but 17% said no and 55% said no difference. Thirdly, and maybe conclusively Number 10 are said not to be too worried about him. Sure he has the gift of making people laugh and using his charm to disarm criticism of his many gaffes, but he is a risk taker and may have a string of skeletons in his cupboard which Dave knows would sink him should he ever pitch for the main prize. Certainly, my picture, above left, is one of the very few of him in the company of the woman to whom he is married with whom he has children.

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