As I publish this at 6pm, there are exactly four hours left until polling stations close. Boris has voted, but have you?
Although the final YouGov poll gave Boris a lead, it wasn’t big enough to guarantee victory, and reports suggest that turnout is much lower than expected. Low turnout makes it far more possible for the likes of Galloway’s gang and the fraudulent votes in Tower Hamlets to have a deciding say in the election. Unless Boris’s supporters get out and vote over the next four hours, there’s still a very real chance Ken could be declared the winner tomorrow.
And then what? A victory speech, riddled with self-satisfaction, before four years of rocketing council tax, rocketing crime, profligate waste, massive congestion charge expansion, corrupt cronies, negligently low levels of transport investment, and attacks on certain minorities more befitting of a pariah state.
If you want positive, tolerant, responsible, cost-effective, unifying government in London, and you haven’t yet voted, please get down to your polling station in the next couple of hours and back Boris.
One of the biggest criticisms of politics these days is that there isn’t enough difference between the main parties; that it makes no real difference who you vote for. Well, that’s not a charge that can be levied at the two main London mayoral candidates.
Londoners have a choice…
- …between Boris, who has overseen a 12% cut in crime and the murder rate fall to its lowest since 1969, and Ken, who insisted he felt “no responsibility” for the murders of young Londoners.
- …between Boris, who is driving through the biggest and most needed upgrade to the Tube in its history, and Ken, who wants to cut the transport budget by over £1billion.
- …between Boris, who has frozen or cut council tax each year, and will cut it by another 10% over the next four years, and Ken, who increased it by 152% – costing the average household an extra £964.
- …between Boris, who has fully-costed plans to create an extra 200,000 new jobs over the next four years, and Ken, whose six main policies make no mention of jobs or employment whatsoever.
- …between Boris, who has cut £2billion of waste from across the GLA group, and Ken, whose mayoralty became synonymous with profligate waste.
- …between Boris, who has a fully-costed, fully-funded manifesto, and Ken, whose manifesto includes £2.7billion of unfunded commitments.
- …between Boris, who has met 91% of the pledges he made in his 2008 manifesto, and Ken, who broke his promises – particularly on fares – at every juncture during his mayoralty.
- …between Boris, who has positively and optimistically united our great capital, and Ken, a truly divisive politician, who plays different communities off against each other.
Given that clear choice, many people seem to be under the impression that Boris is certain of victory; that the race is won already. They’re wrong. With George Galloway stirring up religious divisions, with Lee Jasper doing his best to provoke racial tensions, with Bob Crow trying to arm-twist his members, with Tower Hamlets apparently a hive of electoral fraud, and with the last YouGov poll giving Boris just a 3% lead, there’s still a very real chance Ken could win.
It’s absolutely imperative that anyone who wants positive, tolerant, responsible, cost-effective, unifying government in London gets down to their polling station and backs Boris.
With polling day now just five days away, all the campaigns have turned their attention to the crucial ‘Get Out the Vote’ efforts.
As I’ve written repeatedly for the last 18 months, and as I’ll happily keep saying for the next five days, the result of this election is likely to be supremely close. The winner is quite simply going to be the campaign that can best persuade people to turn out and vote – on what will probably be a miserably rainy day!
If you have any time to spare between now and 10pm on Thursday, please consider using it to help Boris. Go here to see how you can help.
Are you sure you’re registered to vote? Are all your Boris-backing friends registered? Is your father’s friend’s Boris-supporting daughter definitely registered? A reminder from Team Boris…
— BackBoris2012 (@BackBoris2012) April 15, 2012
Four hundred and forty five pounds. Or £445, if you’re a fan of digits. That’s how much more council tax the average London household would have paid between 2008/09 and 2012/13 had Boris continued with Ken Livingstone’s average annual increase of nearly 13%. That increase, a total rise of 153% over Livingstone’s eight years as mayor, amounted to an extra £964 cost for every household in London.
By contrast, Boris has frozen City Hall’s share of the council tax for his first three years in office, and today announced that he will cut it for the first time in the history of the mayoralty. The cut itself is small, but what it represents, what it stands for and the extent to which it underlines the difference between the two candidates, is huge.
City Hall under Ken Livingstone threw cash around as if it grew on trees – always seemingly oblivious to the fact that the money is the taxpayers’, not the mayor’s. Remember the independent Forensic Audit Panel saying that the London Development Agency had squandered tens of millions pounds of public money – it had “misspent money on a massive scale”, they said. Remember Ken changing the employment severance rules just before he was kicked out of City Hall meaning his cronies were entitled to a £1.6million pay-off. Remember (pp.39-44) the hundreds of thousands of pounds spent by Ken’s cronies on foreign travel. Remember Ken spending £36,000 of taxpayers’ money on a trip to Cuba and Venezuela (you may remember Ken visited Havana more often than he visited Hillingdon during his eight years as mayor). Remember (p.10) Ken spending £20,500 of Londoners’ money on a lunch with his socialist mate Hugo Chavez (he’s the one who offered his support to Colonel Gaddafi last year). Remember Ken spending £28million on publicity and advertising. Remember Ken spending £2.8million on the The Londoner propaganda sheet.
Boris scrapped The Londoner as soon as he became mayor (even despite the obvious benefit it provided to incumbents) and has continued his campaign against excessive waste ever since. It is that prudence which has saved Londoners nearly half a grand since 2008. What’s more, on top of huge savings, Boris has also made City Hall far more transparent and accountable, publishing City Hall expenditure over £500. What underlies all of this is that Boris, like most Conservatives, respects the financial sacrifice that households make in paying taxes, and understands the duty and responsibility that politicians have in ensuring the money is properly spent. Ken, like most socialists, treated the taxpayers’ money as if it was a gift from Londoners with which he could do whatever he chose. In these times of financial difficulty, Londoners need far more of the former and far less of the latter.
(Bear with me on the post title; there’s method in my madness.) Unlike most left-wing commentators, I’m willing to cover bad polls as well as good ones. Today’s YouGov poll puts Ken 2% ahead of Boris – 46-44 in the first-round and 51-49 when second preferences are taken into account. As ever, particularly after a look at the background data, there are positives and negatives to be drawn.
Let’s start with the bad stuff. Clearly the headline deficit isn’t good; it marks a pretty major turn around from previous polls and suggests that Ken’s fare policy has gained quite significant traction. Similarly bad is that Labour lead the Tories 49-34 in London, and that Londoners believe Ken achieved more than Boris as mayor (though the latter is perhaps unsurprising, given Ken was mayor for more than twice as long as Boris has been).
And now for some good stuff. Boris is performing well ahead of his party, whereas the opposite is the case for Ken. Boris leads Ken 51-49 amongst women (it’s the blasted men who put Ken in front). Boris leads Ken by a massive 64-36 in that demographic most likely to vote – those aged 60+. Boris has a 53-47 lead amongst Lib Dems (whose second preferences could be crucial in this tight contest).
Another positive is the tiny size of Ken’s lead. Bear in mind that the polling for this was done between 10th-16th January. That’s the week after transport fares went up in London, the week after Ken had been particularly noisy and visible over his fares pledge (that’s the pledge he’s twice admitted he can’t afford) and the same week that Ken launched his huge online and print advertising campaign. Compare all that to a relatively quiet couple of weeks for the Boris campaign, and then ask whether a mere 2% lead (in itself within the margin of error) is good enough for Team Ken.
But here’s the really good bit about today’s poll. Boris is losing. Yes, you read that right. Bear with me. I’ve repeatedly written about my fear of complacency amongst Boris’ supporters (last February, July and November, to name but three times). Tim Montgomerie has warned of complacency, Andrew Gilligan has warned of complacency, Graeme Archer has written of the desperate need to take the fight to Ken. Yet still we’ve heard Tory activists, Boris supporters and even many more neutral commentators expressing the view that a Boris victory is assured. It isn’t, and it never has been.
If this poll ends those innocent assumptions, that naive complacency, today could turn out to be a seminal moment in Boris re-election campaign. Boris has one almighty fight on his hands. And if it hasn’t already started, that fight must begin today. He needs to be stronger when elocuting his message, firmer on Ken’s lies and clearer when describing his vision for the capital.
How many Londoners know that Ken has admitted twice that he can’t afford the fares cut he’s promising? How many Londoners know that even Brian Paddick – essentially a neutral observer of the main tussle – has confirmed that Ken is lying about TfL having a surplus for a fares cut? How many Londoners know that TfL is in around £6billion of debt? How many Londoners still remember that at every single major juncture since the office of Mayor was created, Ken has made a loud and noisy pledge on fares, only to renege on it at a later date? How many Londoners know how essential the tube upgrade is, and what it will mean in practical terms? The answer to all of those questions is probably ‘very few’. That’s just one policy area in which Team Boris needs to refine its message and then shout it from the rooftops for the next fifteen weeks.
So no more waiting, no more tiptoeing around, no more gentle political foreplay; it’s time for the full throes of campaigning passion. Boris and his team have a massive role to play there, of course, but they wouldn’t win it on their own. All Tories, all Boris backers, wherever they live in the country, can help. Live in London? Go leafleting. Live in Scotland? Get on the phone to voters. Everyone can get involved.
So go here, volunteer, chuck the kitchen sink at Ken’s record, and shout loudly about Boris’s – crime down by 10%, youth violence down by 16%, the lowest murder rate since 1978, 1,000 more police officers on the streets, crime on buses down by 30%, a quadrupling of rape crisis provision, a massive investment in the tube network, securing Crossrail investment, Boris bikes, the new bus for London, scrapping bendy buses, freezing City Hall’s share of the council tax for four consecutive years, scrapping the ‘The Londoner’ mayoral propaganda sheet, greater City Hall financial transparency, 50,000 new affordable homes, more green spaces, 10,000 new trees, delivering the Olympics on time and under budget, 40,000 new apprenticeships…
Never let it be said that support for Boris is anything other than global. Boris backers can apparently be found as far away as Sydney…
Are any other Boris backers going abroad in the next few months? Photos of Boris merchandise in other similarly exotic locations would be gratefully received…
I’m about a month behind on this (not an uncommon lag, truth be told), but it’s great to read of the £4,000 donation that London Conservative Future have made to Boris’ re-election campaign.
I fully expect Conservative Future to really come into its own over the next few months, unleashing literally thousands of young-ish Boris backers onto the streets of London to help with the campaign. That London CF is also able to make such a significant financial contribution is a cracking added bonus.
[Nicolas Clark and Richard Allen, Chairman and Treasurer of London CF, are pictured with Boris.]
December 3, 2011 Boris backers Comments Off
Kudos to the team at Cole Coachworks who have designed and built a great looking fixie for a fellow Boris backer to shoot around London on during the campaign. How long before Boris commandeers it?
Do you think I gave enough hints as to what I wanted for my birthday?
[You can buy it all, and more, here.]