Archive for June, 2011

Design a t-shirt for Boris.

June 30, 2011 Boris backers, Boris Johnson Comments Off

The BackBoris2012 team recently announced plans to set up an online shop – an e-shop, if you will. I’m personally looking forward to giving friends (including the lefties) and family nothing but Boris merchandise for birthdays and Christmas…

Anyway, amongst the merchandise available will, of course, be t-shirts. I know, I know. Exciting. But it gets even better. The campaign team are launching a competition – you can design a t-shirt to be sold in the shop. If that isn’t enough to get your creative juices (whatever they are) flowing, the winner will also get to have their photo taken with Boris, while he’s wearing their shirt.

Always dreamt of a career in fashion? Want an excuse to play on Paint all evening? Click here for details.

Livingstone “is coming across as tired and grouchy”.

June 29, 2011 Ken Livingstone, London mayoralty Comments Off

I’ve only just stumbled across this article by Andrew Neather from last Friday’s Evening Standard. Neather says Ken Livingstone’s campaign is already stalling – he is losing support, making enemies, campaigning very negatively, looking “bloody miserable” and “coming across as tired and grouchy”. I’ve re-posted the article in full:

Time was when Ken Livingstone was the irrepressible cheeky chappie of London politics. Crazy, huh? He’s been cutting a dour figure of late. And that mood is unlikely to be improved by this week’s YouGov poll putting Boris Johnson seven points ahead of him.

The real problem for Livingstone is that while Labour are well ahead in London, more than one in five people who say they would vote for them in a general election told pollsters they intend to vote for Johnson. It won’t escape Team Ken that YouGov most accurately predicted the 2008 result.

The stakes could scarcely be higher. The mayoral race is already national news in a way the previous contests never were. This week the Prime Minister was reported to have told Johnson, “I recognise that there is no way you losing would be seen as anything but a disaster for me.” Quite so. Likewise for a shaky-looking Ed Miliband, it will be a significant setback if Johnson is still pedalling down to City Hall next May 4.

Yet Livingstone’s campaign gives the impression of stalling already. Polls suggest he has lost support over the past few months.

So why don’t those Labour voters like Ken? As in 2008, he is coming across as tired and grouchy – and still resentful over his last defeat. By contrast, one of Johnson’s great skills as Mayor has been his ability to project optimism and good humour. He tends not to make enemies, even among political opponents. Livingstone makes plenty.

Ken has woken up to the fact that he needs to campaign in the outer boroughs, whose voters Johnson so assiduously targeted in 2008. How effective he’s proving is less certain. One Labour activist in Croydon tells me that when Livingstone arrived to campaign there, “he looked bloody miserable”.

Meanwhile, his “Tell Ken” meetings focus largely on national politics. His campaign is banking on the cuts hitting hard by next spring. He could be right: Johnson is well aware of the risks of being associated with an unpopular Tory government. Yet the Mayor’s challenges to ministers on issues such as the immigration crackdown and the housing benefit cap have come across as being made in London’s interests.

Perhaps more important, Labour’s strategy of hoping that painful cuts and hatred of the Tories drive people to vote Ken isn’t very, well, positive.

Livingstone’s great strength as Mayor was that he made the mayoralty in his own image: a big man for a big city. It is a model that, as in New York, can cut across traditional party ties: witness Democrats’ support for Republican mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg. That sort of slippage worked in Livingstone’s favour in 2000 and 2004. Now he must hope that Johnson hasn’t pulled off the same trick against him.

Quote of the day: my father.

June 29, 2011 Politics, Quotes Comments Off

“I remember there were a lot of teacher strikes just after I finished teacher training college. I actually received a letter from a union asking if I’d like to sign up. I replied, tersely of course, explaining that I certainly would not, that I opposed their strikes and that they could stick their offer…well, you know.”

(My father.)

Labour voters disenchanted with Ken’s candidacy.

June 22, 2011 Boris Johnson, Ken Livingstone, London mayoralty Comments Off

Probably the most interesting statistic in yesterday’s YouGov poll – other than the fact that Boris has opened up a reasonable lead – was that only 63% of Labour supporters would vote for Ken Livingstone if the mayoral election was tomorrow. Although it’s easy for us to guess why that might be, it’s more useful to hear the actual views of one of those people who would class themselves as a Labour supporter yet isn’t at all enamoured with Ken. Cue Janice Turner – a left-wing Times columnist:

With the poll suggesting nearly 20% of Labour supporters would vote for Boris at the election, it seems that Turner is not alone in her frustration at Ken’s candidacy.

Brian Haw was no war hero.

June 21, 2011 Politics Comments Off

I wouldn’t wish to denigrate a recently deceased man, but some of the emotional hyperbole used to praise the life of Brian Haw – the peace campaigner who died on Saturday – has been utterly ridiculous. The Guardian asked if he was a “hero for our times” whilst Jenny Jones, the Green Party’s London mayoral candidate, said he was “another war casualty”. Jones’ comment could be the most absurd of the lot. To compare an anti-democracy protester who abandoned his seven children to sit in a tent for a decade with those brave troops who lost their lives serving their country is frankly preposterous.

Although many rightly objected to the filthy mess that his campsite caused, the bigger objection, in my mind, was with his selfish hypocrisy whereby he benefitted hugely from the freedoms which we are so fortunate to have in this country – the freedom to protest, freedom of speech – whilst campaigning against the liberation of Iraq, where such freedoms were never permitted under Saddam Hussein.

As John Rentoul argues,

“Haw was not a well man, who abandoned his family to shout abuse at democracy. He deserved our pity. Those who deify him as anything to do with principle or peace deserve our scorn.”

Quote of the day: Boris.

June 21, 2011 Boris Johnson, Quotes Comments Off

“Soft is the perfect way to enjoy French cheese, but not how we should approach punishing criminals.”


Work to be done despite Boris’ seven-point lead.

June 21, 2011 Boris Johnson, Ken Livingstone, London mayoralty Comments Off

A YouGov poll released today shows Boris to have a seven-point lead over Ken Livingstone in the London mayoral race. This is a pretty significant change from YouGov’s previous poll on the subject, which (if I remember correctly) showed Ken to be 45-43 ahead.

The poll – and its background figures – prompt various thoughts, which can be broken down into two groups – things which should encourage Boris, and things which Boris should be wary of.

Boris will be encouraged that just 63% of Labour supporters back Ken. 19% of them are more likely to back Boris. That’s a significant figure. If Ken can’t even muster the strong backing of Labour supporters, how can he reasonably expect to gain the necessary support of floating voters?

Boris will be encouraged that Lib Dem supporters (who still make up a not-insignificant 8% of the vote) split 46-33 in his favour. Only time will tell how important that is, but in a tight race – which I still expect it to be – second preferences could play a big role in deciding the outcome. What’s more – as MayorWatch suggested to him in an interview in March – Ken’s continued calls for Londoners to “deliver a body-blow to the government” will alienate Lib Dems (who, lest we forget, are part of that government) even further.

Boris will be encouraged that it is YouGov who have given him this lead. As Mike Smithson on Political Betting points out, YouGov predicted the outcome of the 2008 race to within 1%, when virtually all other pollsters said it was too close to call. It is their polls which we should pay most attention to over the next ten months.

Finally, Boris should be encouraged that he has developed this decent lead despite (or perhaps because of?) the unions’ threat of impending strikes and turmoil on the tubes. The figures would suggest that despite Ken’s desperate #GetAGripBoris campaign every time a tube is as much as a minute late, the public aren’t blaming Boris for the unions’ militancy. Indeed, with the strong support and funding that Ken’s campaign receives from the striking unions, there is an obvious association between the two. For as long as Ken gives the impression that he rubs his hands with glee whenever strikes occur, he will be unable to use any tube issues to his advantage.

And now for the things which Boris should be wary of – and which should prevent Boris backers from getting complacent. He will note that Labour lead the Tories by nineteen points (51-32) in London. That difference in support puts Ken at a massive advantage. Given most would expect the gap between the two parties to be even greater by next May, Boris still faces an almighty battle to convince London to give him another four years.

Boris will also note that the Labour leadership’s ratings are about as pitiful as they could be, right now. An improvement from – or a replacement of? – Ed Miliband would give Ken’s campaign a boost given the relatively major role you’d expect the leader to play in it.

Finally, Boris will note that the fieldwork for this poll was done in the week after his huge newspaper mailshot was sent out to two million London households (7th-9th June). One imagines it had an impact on these results. Whilst it is hugely positive that Londoners respond well to a detailed reminder of Boris’ achievements, it was perhaps partly responsible for the size of his lead. By the time of the election, Ken will be spending bucketloads of union cash in what will be a more level playing field.

All of which means that while this poll is an interesting guide to current opinion – and should give Boris backers a spring in their steps – it should not be used as ‘proof’ or ‘evidence’ that Boris is sailing comfortably towards a second term. The work has only just begun.

Quote of the day: Nigel Farage.

June 20, 2011 Boris Johnson, Quotes Comments Off

“The Mayor of London is clearly the only senior politician with an ounce of sense.”

(Nigel Farage.)

A birthday gift for Boris? How about a donation?

June 19, 2011 Boris backers, Boris Johnson, London mayoralty Comments Off

I’d like to wish Boris a very happy birthday…

Depending on your allegiances, you might be inclined to give Boris a gift on his special day. But what to give him – he’s probably got enough ties, and wine’s so hard to send in the post. Have you considered contributing towards his campaign? Unlike Ken, he’s not able to rely on the unions (that’s the same unions who are gearing up to cause untold disruption across London) to fund virtually his entire campaign. Instead, he relies solely on the backing of his supporters in his bid to accumulate a sufficiently hefty war-chest.

Boris is asking supporters for just £12. That’s £12 for 2012. What’s more, five randomly selected donors will win the chance to meet with Boris. So if you’d like Boris to still be mayor on his next birthday, I say give early, give often, give generously. Click here to donate.

Ed’s unanswered questions.

June 15, 2011 Ken Livingstone, London mayoralty 1 Comment

With much fanfare, Ed Miliband today embarked on a question-and-answer session on Twitter. Always one to embrace a more open politics, I welcomed the opportunity to send the Leader of the Opposition a few of my own questions…

Although he did find time to answer important questions on, amongst other things, Cheryl Cole’s political leanings and his love of blueberry muffins (no really), Ed’s yet to get back to me on any of mine…

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