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.
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…
The London mayoral results are now being counted.
At the moment, the first preference results are as follows: Boris – 45%, Ken – 39%, Jones – 4%, Benita – 4%, Paddick – 4%, Webb – 2%.
You can follow the results here.
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.
Whatever your political views, whatever your opinion of David Cameron or Andrew Gilligan, I think most reasonable, tolerant, moderate people would say that to compare either of them to Anders Behring Breivik – the Norwegian monster who killed 70 kids – is pretty reprehensible. Of course, Ken Livingstone isn’t reasonable, tolerant or moderate, and has done precisely that. As seen in the video over at Harry’s Place, Ken says all three men are on the same right-wing “spectrum of intolerance”.
But who was the last person to make such crude and depraved comparisons? Ah yes – step forward Lee Jasper, Ken Livingstone’s £120,000-a-year stooge in City Hall. Just days after the horrific events last summer, Jasper joked that Breivik and Boris “could be brothers”. Then, a few weeks ago, he claimed that Breivik is the Tories’ “soul brother” and that Conservative politics had “inspired Breivik”. Jasper and Ken are evidently two peas in the same particularly nasty pod.
Just as polls show that Ken is losing the support of even Labour supporters, let alone floating voters, and just as he needs to put on a more moderate, inclusive, unifying front, his bitterness and divisiveness can’t help but shine through.
Let’s be quite clear, here. We’re backing two concurrent campaigns. There’s the campaign to get Boris re-elected – and I blogged yesterday on his tremendous set of achievements as mayor – and then there’s the campaign to end the political career of one of the most divisive politicians in British politics. By turning out and voting for Boris tomorrow, Londoners have the chance to do both.
The choice that Londoners have on Thursday couldn’t be made much clearer than this…
Boris needs your help on Thursday…
Yesterday I gave you 50 reasons to not vote Ken. Today, in no particular order, and in what is by no means a comprehensive list, I give you 50 reasons to back Boris.
- London’s murder rate is now at its lowest since 1969(£), down 26% since Boris took office.
- Tube delays are down 40% since Boris took office. He pledges to cut delays by another 30% if he wins a second term.
- London Underground is now the safest metro system in Europe, with tube crime down by 20% since Boris took office.
- Boris has fully-funded, fully-costed plans to create almost 200,000 new jobs across London over the next four years.
- Boris has launched the biggest upgrade of the Tube in its history – increasing capacity by 30%, new signalling, new trains, station upgrades, air-conditioned trains, vastly improved disabled access and more.
- Boris froze the mayor’s share of council tax for his first three years, and cut it this year. He pledges to cut it by a further 10% over the next four years.
- Boris has met 91% of his 2008 manifesto pledges – as outlined in his ‘Progress Report to Londoners‘.
- Crime overall is down 12% since Boris became mayor.
- Boris delivered the New Bus for London - complete with cutting-edge, environmentally-friendly, hybrid technology. He pledges to put 600 on London’s streets by 2016, if he wins a second term.
- Boris has quadrupled the number of Rape Crisis Centres in London.
- Boris has cut £2billion of waste from across the GLA group, with plans to save a further £1.5billion next year.
- Boris has created 54,000 apprenticeships, with figures showing that 84% remain in continued employment. He pledges to generate a further 250,000 apprenticeships by 2016.
- Boris has delivered 52,000 new affordable homes since he took office. He’s on course to reach 100,000 by 2015.
- Boris is investing £221million to transform local high streets and support small businesses.
- Boris, more than any other candidate, is able to unite London – uninterested in playing different communities off against each other.
- Boris pledges to boost Safer Neighbourhood Teams, with an extra 2,000 police, including adding up to three police officers and three specials to every team.
- As part of a cycling revolution, Boris has introduced Boris Bikes and delivered Cycle Superhighways. He pledges to expand the hire scheme across London and treble the number of superhighways if he wins a second term.
- Boris has a +20 approval rating, the kind of popularity that Cameron (-27), Miliband (-41) and Clegg (-53) would probably kill for.
- Boris is a moderate, centrist, tolerant representative of London. According to opinion polls, Boris has a huge lead amongst Londoners when it comes to who they want to represent them both abroad and at the Olympic Games.
- Bus crime is down 32.9% since Boris become mayor.
- Boris scrapped the Western Extension of the Congestion Charge Zone, resulting in a negligible impact on congestion or traffic speeds, but providing a boost to local businesses.
- Boris scrapped the bendy buses (otherwise known as ‘Ken’s Chariots of Fire’).
- Boris has delivered 10,000 street trees and pledges to increase the number to 20,000 if he wins a second term.
- Boris supports a green economy, pledging to retrofit tens of thousands of homes to reduce households’ energy bills, rolling out electric car charging points across London and investing £6million to improve 300 acres of parkland.
- Boris rolled out the use of Oyster cards on National Rail and Thames Clipper services.
- Boris secured £22billion of investment – thought to be at risk, due to the government’s cuts – for Crossrail and the tube upgrades.
- There are now 1,000 more police on London’s streets than there were when Boris took office.
- Boris has made knife crime a priority – taking over 11,000 knives off the streets and tackling reoffending with initiatives such as the Heron Unit at Feltham.
- Boris launched the Outer London Fund, aimed at addressing the historic neglect of the outer boroughs.
- Boris has visited every London borough more times in four years that Ken Livingstone did in eight years.
- Boris has helped deliver the Olympics on time and on budget, and with the enthusiasm of a genuine sports fan.
- There are now one million more police patrols each year than there were when Boris took office.
- Boris introduced the highly successful ‘Earn Your Travel back’ scheme, whereby young people have their free travel removed for bad behaviour, and can only earn it back by volunteering in community activities.
- Boris pledges to introduce the first driverless (though not unmanned) trains on the London Underground, ending union barons’ ability to hold Londoners to ransom.
- Boris launched Team London, liaising with hundreds of organisations to mobilise thousands of volunteers across London.
- Robberies are down 16.3% since Boris took office.
- Youth violence is down 13.8% since Boris took office.
- Boris launched the Mayor’s Fund for London, a charity aimed at helping children and young people get out of poverty.
- Boris has doubled the number of Special Constables in London, from 2,500 to 5,000, since he became mayor. He aims to double the number again if he wins a second term.
- To aid transparency and accountability, Boris ensured that all spending decisions over £500 are published online. He now pledges to go even further – by publishing all spending over £250 across the GLA group, as well as the expenses of all senior staff and mayoral advisors.
- Boris introduced a permit scheme for road works, reducing road works by 17% and saving London 150,000 days of street works in just 12 months.
- By a significant margin, opinion polls show Boris’ policies are thought to be the best to boost businesses, create jobs and help London get out of recession.
- Boris has a good working relationship with the government, and has been able to secure significant funding and concessions as a result.
- Boris scrapped Ken’s highly unpopular Thames Gateway Bridge plans, which had prompted nearly 5,000 objections during the public consultation.
- Boris maintained the Freedom Pass, extending it to 24 hours and for disabled people. He pledges to reverse the last Labour government’s decision to stop Londoners getting their Freedom Pass at 60.
- Boris has fully-funded plans for a true Olympic legacy – including 10,000 jobs, 11,000 new homes, and a £30million sporting programme which will benefit 250,000 Londoners.
- Boris pays all his taxes. (Yes, Ken, we’re still waiting…)
- Boris will create Safer Neighbourhood Boards in every borough, giving local Londoners and victims a greater voice, giving them a say in offenders’ ‘Community Payback’ and investing in their local and hyperlocal crime prevention projects.
- Boris pledges to launch a new £70million London Growth Fund, investing in job and skill creation programmes, and providing low-cost loans to small and medium-sized businesses.
- And finally… Boris is a one-man gangbuster - rescuing a woman from an armed group of “oiks”.