Archive for June, 2012

Boris: ‘I want supreme power.’

June 18, 2012 Uncategorized Comments Off

Consider this the unofficial launch of the Boris4PM campaign. In a lighthearted interview with a US magazine, Boris explained that the main reason he wants “supreme power in England” is so that he can oversee the creation of a new hub airport. Perhaps realising that he’d got a bit carried away, he urged the journalist “For God’s sake, don’t quote me saying that.” Too late, Boris. Much too late…

Read the whole interview here.

Boris v Ken: some final thoughts.

June 17, 2012 Boris Johnson Comments Off

This is admittedly six weeks late, but frankly it’s taken this long for my analysis of the election to reach a more advanced level than simply punching the air every time I hear Ken Livingstone’s name. Some final thoughts on the great Boris v Ken battle:

Boris’ victory. Perhaps because the polls and the betting markets always had Boris ahead, the scale and impressiveness of the victory – when it happened – was quite substantially understated. Certainly barely an eyebrow was raised in the media. Look at the context, though: this was a victory secured at the mid-term point of a hugely unpopular Tory-led government, in a traditionally Labour city, with the polls showing the Tories upto 20% behind Labour in London, with the London Assembly results swinging hugely in Labour’s favour, with the cabinet doing little to contradict the stereotype of out-of-touch Old Etonians, one week after the country re-entered recession, just six weeks after one of the most politically inept budgets in living memory, and with a hugely experienced – if controversial – opponent.

All reasonable psephological analysis pointed towards a Boris defeat. That he secured victory in those conditions makes it one of the most remarkable individual results in British political history.

Boris’ personality. Much of the post-result analysis argued that the victory had been secured thanks to – quite simply – Boris’ personality. Whilst it certainly played a huge part – particularly when compared to Ken Livingstone’s generally more bitter nature – to suggest that the election was won on personality alone is pretty lazy analysis, and frankly does a disservice to both Londoners and Boris’ campaign. That’s also the main reason lefties particularly like it as an excuse – “Oh well, Boris only won thanks to his jokes.” (ignoring the fact that Boris made very few jokes at all during the campaign) is a much easier explanation for them to stomach than “Well Boris has done a pretty competent job, met 91% of his 2008 pledges, has a very high approval rating, and had far superior policies on jobs, investment and the economy.”

Boris’ mandate. Although his margin of victory was slimmer than in 2008, Boris’ electoral mandate is now much stronger. Boris’ 2008 victory was as much the result of protest votes against Gordon Brown and Ken than it was about him and his policies. This time around, his is a very personal victory, secured despite party politics not because of it. Consequently, he’s now also in a much more powerful position nationally – something that I can’t imagine is filling David Cameron with a huge amount of joy. 

Labour activists let down. Amongst Labour activists that I spoke to before and after the election, the most common emotion was one of frustration. They passionately wanted to return a Labour mayor – on which I naturally differed, but respected them for nonetheless – yet were constantly let down by Ken and his campaign team. These were people who were stood at tube stations leafletting at 6am before work, or who went canvassing in the pouring rain after college – only for their hard work to be undone by Ken’s Jewish insults, tax affairs and deranged sobbing, or hilarious (for me) incompetence from Ken’s digital team. I know of one person who was campaigning for Ken day and night back in January, but who had given up entirely by May.

Team Ken’s inconsistency. On the subject of Ken’s team, their inconsistent campaigning betrayed a huge lack of confidence and strategy. Take, for example, their approach to negative tactics. They started in a vicious mood (Boris was evil, we were told. Boris is like Hitler, Ken insisted), before moving to a more playful but immature approach (videos of chickens running past City Hall). Then it all started to backfire, and they realised that there was far more anti-Ken material than they could ever hope to dredge up on Boris, so suddenly we were told that they would be ceasing negative campaigning with immediate effect. A few weeks later, when a semi-positive approach had borne no fruit either, they resorted to posters depicting Boris as an alien.

It was just a mess; ill-thought through and wholly lacking in any kind of professional strategy. One can only hope that the same people are entrusted with Labour’s strategic planning at the next general election.

SackBoris. While we’re on the subject of comically incompetent negative campaigning, let’s give a round of applause to the chaps over at ‘SackBoris’, as well as the other assorted trainspotting-fetishists who led the anti-Boris cavalry. For negative campaigning to work, it has to resonate with the electorate – put simply, theirs didn’t. They typically made the naive error of assuming that the things that get them angsty are the same things that would appall the electorate into rejecting Boris – “You what? Boris spends an hour on his Sunday afternoon off writing a column? OMG. #SACKBORIS” “If we beam ‘SACK BORIS’ onto the side of some buildings, that’ll make people vote Ken, right?” “OH EMM GEE. I’ve just measured the size of the stairwell in the new Boris bus. You won’t believe it. There is NO WAY he can win the election now.” Comical.

Evening Standard. Lefties seethed and fumed over the Standard’s support for Boris, and what they perceived to be partial reporting. It wasn’t nearly as bad as they tried to make out, but even if it had been, here’s a tip to all parties: if you want a newspaper’s support, don’t pick a candidate who was once suspended from his job for hurling Nazi abuse at one of their journalists.

Eddie Izzard. Has anyone on the ‘Better Together’ campaign yet asked Eddie Izzard if he fancies helping Alex Salmond out? If he did, the chance of Scottish independence would surely be instantly and irrevocably ended. Having now backed the Euro, Gordon Brown, AV and Ken, Izzard’s political touch is developing a reputation for utter ineptitude.

Boris Backer: back.

June 17, 2012 Boris Johnson Comments Off

After six weeks of non-taxpayer funded celebratory libations, I’m pleased to say that Boris Backer has risen from the dead. Like a political Easter, if you will. 

Given this blog’s sole raison d’être was to support Boris in his re-election endeavours, the natural inclination after victory was secured was to let it die a slow and painless death; rendering it nothing more than a heady electoral memory. But as the intervening weeks have passed, so it’s seemed to me that there’s still space in the blogosphere for some Johnsonian commentary.

The prose of governance is, by nature, less entertaining that the boisterous poetry of electoral campaigns, so the blog’s remit probably needs to broaden a bit. Whilst commentary of Boris’ mayoral activities will continue, expect too speculation on Boris’s future (by which I mean, obviously, laying the groundwork for a ‘Boris for PM’ campaign), a focus on the Tories’ 2016 London mayoral campaign (in which Londoners should be asked to vote cleverly/Cleverly), and a more frequent look at the national political scene.

It’ll be fun…

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