“I’m not going to demonise people who earn in a week what the chancellor pays for his annual skiing holiday.”
So shrieked Ed Miliband at Prime Minister’s Questions earlier today (watch here from about 6:55 onwards). Quite apart from it being a silly little snipe (surely Osborne has bigger faults than taking family holidays), Miliband also completely messed the line up. Because he’s either saying that Osborne’s skiing holiday cost £400, or he’s saying that nurses, cleaners and dinner ladies earn around £5,000 a week. Back to the calculator, Ed…
“Yet there is also a danger for Boris. The two key risks to his re-election are that the economy tanks and that his supporters become complacent.”
(It’s no Churchillian quote, but Andrew Gilligan rightly warns against complacency. With still more than five months to go, Boris hasn’t even nearly sealed the deal yet. If any of his backers think he has, I will personally hunt them down and force them to watch a video of Neil Kinnock’s Sheffield Rally.)
Paul Waugh tells an amusing story from earlier today…
“It’s the eve of the Autumn Statement and the Chancellor is on a trip to Battersea to plug the Coalition’s investment in infrastructure projects.
The only wee problemo is that Boris Johnson has to be present too because this particular project is for a rail line – and that is well within the Mayor of London’s remit.
And so, as the pair gather in hi-vis jackets, what does Boris do?
Well, Boris being Boris, he makes a gag about George falling into a huge bloody great hole dug in the ground.
As the pair posed for the cameras, the Mayor grinned mischievously and said:
“George, come and stand near the edge…..”
Cue gags about Osborne’s financial black hole… The story adds fuel to the rumour that the two men don’t particularly get on. Certainly they are very rarely seen together. The Boris/Osborne rivalry will fill many a column inch over the next decade…
November 28, 2011 Boris Johnson Comments Off
Boris was today named Britain’s most influential man – just above David Cameron and Prince William – by GQ magazine. Here’s some of what they had to say:
“When he says jump… the prime minister tries to guess how high. When Boris comes back from holiday, as he did during the London riots, David Cameron comes back. When Boris says he’s wearing a morning suit to the royal wedding, Cameron performs an embarrassing sartorial U-turn.
Don’t judge the book by… his bumbling persona. The real Boris is a flint-hard political operator, who has turned being mayor of London, not much more than a trumped-up transport chief, into a political platform second only to Number Ten.”
Oddly, Ken Livingstone came nowhere in the top hundred…
A new poll out today shows Boris has marginally increased his lead over Ken Livingstone since the last poll (way back in June), with a 48-40 split of first preferences. Taking second preferences into account, Boris leads Ken 54-46.
The background data is particularly interesting. It shows that Boris is more popular than Ken amongst both men and women, and across all socio-economic groups. He is more popular than Ken across every age category apart from 18-24 year olds, and leads Ken 64-36 amongst the demographic most likely to vote – those aged 65+.
On specific policy issues, Londoners trust Boris more than Ken on the Olympics, crime, the economy and policing. The confidence Londoners have in him on crime and policing comes as no surprise to those of us who think he has a record to be proud of, but will stagger those rather simple lefties who cynically insist that crime is rising, the city’s close to implosion etc.
One concern for Boris is that the poll shows Londoners currently trust Livingstone more than him on transport. That does now seem to be the policy area on which he needs to refine his message. I’m sure his choice of investment over cuts is the right one, but he needs to better explain its value and benefits.
Away from mayoral issues, some interesting questions are also asked on the subject of Wednesday’s public sector strikes. Given the statement “By going on strike public sector workers are holding the public to ransom”, 50% agree and just 37% disagree. Given the statement “Public sector workers should show that we all share in the economic pain by accepting the changes to their pensions”, 48% agree and just 34% disagree. This suggests that Boris is – as ever – far more in touch with public opinion than his socialist opponent.
In the run-up to May’s election, Boris can rely on the support of Boris backers from across the country. This is a cracking effort from West Cheshire Conservative Future…
A post over on Ken Livingstone’s site boasts euphorically of the broad support that Ken is receiving. “Leading figures including Jarvis Cocker” are apparently queuing up to back his policies. Indeed, there was a lengthy list of signatories on a letter to the Guardian declaring support for Ken’s unfunded, unaffordable fares-cut pledge (not the words they used). Except when you actually look at the list of backers (below), they can be summarised thus: 16 Labour politicians, 2 Guardian writers, 2 union leaders, a musician and a poet.
Even by Ken’s divisive standards, that’s amusingly narrow support…
- - - - - - - -
Jarvis Cocker - Musician
Benjamin Zephaniah - Poet
Len McCluskey – General Secretary of Unite the Union - Union leader
Billy Hayes – General Secretary of CWU - Union leader
Zoe Williams - Guardian writer
Owen Jones - Guardian writer
Heidi Alexander – MP for Lewisham East - Labour politician
Jon Cruddas – MP for Dagenham & Rainham - Labour politician
Mike Gapes – MP for Ilford South - Labour politician
Meg Hillier – MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch - Labour politician
Andy Love MP – MP for Edmonton - Labour politician
Theresa Pearce – MP for Erith & Thamesmead - Labour politician
Joan Ruddock – MP for Lewisham Deptford - Labour politician
Andy Slaughter – MP for Hammersmith - Labour politician
Malcolm Wicks – MP for Croydon North - Labour politician
Val Shawcross – London Assembly member for Lambeth & Southwark - Labour politician
John Biggs AM – London Assembly member for City & East - Labour politician
Cllr Julian Bell – Leader of Ealing Council - Labour politician
Cllr Stephen Cowan – Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Labour group - Labour politician
Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg – Leader of Westminster Labour group - Labour politician
Cllr Steve Reed – Leader of Lambeth Council - Labour politician
Cllr Catherine West – Leader of Islington Council - Labour politician
“I cry at the Antiques Roadshow. You know, when someone comes in with some family heirloom and it’s often the last bit in the programme and the expert says, ‘Do you know how much this is worth? It’s valued at X thousand pounds’. And they say, ‘I’m amazed it’s worth that much, but it means more to me than money.’ Incredibly emotional.”
(Ed Balls confirms my long-held suspicion that he’s got a screw loose.)
Regular readers will know I rate betting markets as the best indicator of how political campaigns are going. Opinion polls only reflect current opinion, often skewed by very recent events or impacted by dubious weighting approaches, whereas betting markets reflect longer-term, objective analysis. The best recent example came at the time of the AV referendum. Early on in the campaigns, the polls frequently showed ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ to be neck and neck, but the betting markets remained convinced – ultimately correctly – that ‘No’ would prevail.
With this in mind, I keep a keen eye on the mayoral betting markets, and am always fascinated by the movements. Perhaps the most interesting spell was around the time of the London riots. Boris’ chances fell a bit immediately after the riots, before rising to a higher point than they’d been before when he launched his response (the £50million fund to restore damaged high streets, £20million for riot-hit Tottenham and Croydon, hastily re-launching the Croydon tramlink service and arguing against government police cuts, amongst other things).
Fast forward a couple of months, and a move on the markets today leaves Ken Livingstone in his worst position since he was selected as Labour’s mayoral candidate last year. bet365 are now offering 2/1 on a Livingstone victory, with Boris the heavy favourite at 4/11. Given most bookies put Barack Obama near evens in his election campaign, that means they now reckon Boris’s chances of re-election are considerably better than Barack’s. What’s more, the markets haven’t moved in Livingstone’s favour at all since he announced his fares-cut policy – punters clearly expect it to be revealed as the deceit that it is.
The winner of next year’s mayoral contest won’t necessarily be the candidate who makes the biggest claims of achievement, nor necessarily the candidate who makes the most attractive sounding pledges. After all, the electorate are rarely so foolish as to take what they’re told at face value. Instead, the winner will be the candidate whose claims and pledges seem most credible and reasonable, the candidate whose claims can be backed up with evidence, the candidate whose pledges are demonstrably affordable.
That’s why it’s so important that Londoners be reminded how plainly unaffordable Ken’s proposed 5% fare cut is. It may sound attractive; so too does a 10% cut or a 50% cut or (hell, why not?) a complete scrapping of all fares – but none are affordable. The extent to which it’s an impossible pledge to deliver (without implementing huge cuts elsewhere) is almost comically obvious. Clearly Boris would love to be able to make such a commitment as he seeks re-election, but he’s chosen instead to be open and honest with the electorate.
In a similar vein, the left are desperate that Boris shouldn’t appear strong or credible on crime stats. If the electorate believe him – and they should – Ken’s got no chance of winning the mayoralty back. But the interesting thing here is the trend that’s developing. The trend – if I can briefly spell it out for you – goes something like this: 1) Boris makes claim to have achieved something – a rise in police numbers or a cut in crime, as examples. 2) Ken’s supporters spend weeks denying, refuting, counter-claiming, mocking and generally contradicting Boris’ claim. 3) Independent evidence shows Boris to have been telling the truth. 4) Most of Ken’s supporters quietly row back on their earlier refutations, whilst some simply continue with what can only be described as lies.
Let me give you some examples. One of the Boris’ key policies and biggest achievements is the rise in police numbers (by the election, there’ll be around 1,000 more officers on the streets of London than there were when Boris became mayor). As lefties protest that there’ll be no such increase at all, and as many persist with frankly sick scare-tactics along the lines of ‘think how many more rapes there’ll be thanks to Boris’ police cuts’, all independent evidence shows Boris to be telling the truth. Months and months ago, the Evening Standard declared that Boris had met his pledge on police numbers. Sure enough, even the Guardian’s Dave Hill (Ken Livingstone’s biggest advocate in the mainstream media) had to grudgingly acknowledge that “the evidence is there to back [Boris'] claim”. What’s more, those police officers are achieving far more per person since the introduction of single patrolling (which will mean a million more patrols in 2012 than there were in 2008).
This rise in police numbers and patrols has contributed to a sizeable fall in crime (made all the more impressive when one remembers that crime traditionally rises at times of economic strife). Crime in London has fallen by 9.4% overall since Boris became mayor, robberies are down by 19%, youth violence is down by 16%, transport crime is down by 30% and the murder rate is at its lowest since 1978. But look, don’t take my word for it – see for yourself on the Metropolitan Police website. This page shows that the total number of crimes committed in London in 2005/06, 2006/07 and 2007/08 (the last three years under Ken) was 2,767,936, whilst this page shows that that the number of crimes committed in 2008/09, 2009/10 and 2010/11 (the first three years under Boris) was 2,497,694 – a fall of 9.76%. Amusingly, Adam Bienkov – another of Ken’s online admirers – attempted to disprove these stats in a blog-post on Thursday, only to have to admit in an update that he’d been using the wrong figures in his calculations (and, by inference, that crime has indeed fallen by a “whopping 9%” under Boris).
It is imperative that Londoners vote with full knowledge of these stats (these independently verifiable stats, at that), however hard lefties may try to shout down the facts with utter duplicity.