Thursday, September 27, 2007

Boris to the fore

Boris Johnson is the Conservatives' official candidate for Mayor of London.

It's a sentence so ludicrous that it warrants being written twice.

Boris Johnson is the Conservatives' official candidate for Mayor of London.

Just to remind ourselves, this is the man who...

  • allowed The Spectator to accuse Liverpudlians of "wallowing in their victim status" straight after the execution of Ken Bigley
  • branded the inhabitants of Portsmouth as being a bunch of overweight junkies
  • referred to Papua New Guinea as a country of "orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing"
  • lists the scrapping of bendy buses in favour of bringing back the old Routemasters, because, well, they're rather sweet, aren't they?

Okay, so none of these are hanging offences, but they hardly fill me with confidence that he'd be capable of handling the pressures of being mayor of London. His supporters often like to say that he's a master of disguise; a sky genius who plays the fool. But is it possible for someone who is virtually never taken seriously to take on one of the most important jobs in the country? London is an economic powerhouse, and one of the largest cities in Europe - being its mayor will require more than opening a few fĂȘtes or posing for photo ops with pensioners and babies (or, in Boris's case, hosting the odd TV quiz show). Is this really the best candidate the Tories can find?

He might be exactly that. Say what you want about Boris, but the man is popular, with Tories and non-Tories alike. He comes across as amiable, as someone who'd go down well at a dinner party. Let's see, what other prominent politician was first voted in largely because of his "laid-back" and "trusty" attitude rather than his policies? Yes, that's right, one George W Bush. And who else can we think of who hails from a career in the entertainment industry (okay, so Boris is an MP, but most of us arguably know him from the print and television media much better than through his speeches at Westminster), but was voted in to head up one of the world's top economic regions? The Conservatives are trying to take City Hall through the Schwarzenegger effect rather than by offering what's best for London.

* * *

UPDATE: Ha! What did I tell you about the Tories and the Schwarzenegger effect? No sooner did their Blackpool conference kick off than we were treated to a videolinked speech by none other than the Governator himself, trying to appear genuinely sorry for having been forced to stay in sunny California rather than spend a week in freezing miserable Blackpool, and giving his strings-free support to David Cameron. But will Our Dave's shameless use of celebrity endorsement carry any weight in the sober (sorry, "dour") Brownite Time of Change??


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