Coffee House

When it comes to personality, Boris will always win 

10 April 2012

3:11 PM

10 April 2012

3:11 PM

The fight for London Mayor election has well and truly descended into a
clash of personalities. Policies have all but disappeared while candidates trade attacks in the press. The Guardian, duly unimpressed, has written a scathing leader attacking both sides for this strategy:

‘The early days of the London campaign have fallen well short of what the voters are entitled to expect. Almost everything has been focused on the egos, lifestyles and personalities of
the two main candidates, Boris Johnson of the Conservatives and Ken Livingstone for Labour.

Mr Johnson, arguably a better mayor than some feared but evasive and woolly on the detail as ever, has run a deliberately negative campaign with little vision. Mr Livingstone, an ageing
machine politician with surprisingly little new to say, has promised hazily costed fare cuts and flirted with some nasty ethnic politics.’

But the Times don’t seem to have such a problem with this dimension of the race. In fact today, they released (£) the results of their focus group in Bromley — a key battleground — to see how they feel about Boris
and Ken. The pro-Boris sentiment of 2008 appears to have weathered his first term pretty well:

‘Residents in a key suburban borough defended his privileged background, work ethic and even his extramarital affairs. Praise for Mr Johnson was expressed in terms rarely heard in
connection with domestic politicians, as members of the focus group suggested that he combines Margaret Thatcher’s principled resolve with the Duke of Edinburgh’s outspoken


There was less enthusiasm for Ken, who was described by the residents of Bromley as ‘slimy, dishonest and damaged.’ But the most extraordinary comment was likening Lady
Thatcher to Boris. ‘We need a strong leader, another Margaret Thatcher,’ said one resident. ‘At least she had the courage of her convictions. She’s like Boris Johnson, but in a different
way. In a dress.’ Even Boris might dismiss that one.

This sort of clash was inevitable when two such strong personalities were pitted against each other once again. But focusing the election on these lines was always going to benefit Boris. 50 per
cent of Londoners think the current mayor is ‘charismatic’ while just 13 per cent who say the same about his predecessor. Ken’s mistake was to begin on a negative footing with his ‘fare
pickpocket’ and ‘chicken-feed’ slogans; had he made the race about transport or housing or living standards, he would be in a much better position. This may well be his undoing, as the
concerns of Londoners fall into the background and 3 May is all about blonde vs bald.

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Show comments
  • Jan Cosgrove

    Oh yes, like Maggie indeed. The Essex factor. Near to Dagenham, close to Barking. Rejoice!

  • Keith

    Boris will win in London but I don’t see that Cameron should take much comfort from that. If I lived in London I would vote for Boris but I would not vote for Cameron again.

  • Andy Carpark

    Austin Barry, You are taking a flight to Julian Maclaren-Ross land again. You have just described the character that turns up at the end of ‘Of Love and Hunger’ and proceeds to consume a raw onion on the hero’s couch.

    Heliotrope. That’s his name, Heliotrope.

  • Halcyondaze

    Boris needs to beware: a vast number of us EX-Conservatives will be voting UKIP from now on. I expect the BNP will do better than expected also. And the Tories have Cameron and his “all spin, no substance” approach to thank for it. They’ve done s*d all to sort out any of the REAL problems. Now it’s payback.

  • Wilhelm 1

    The Devil visits London.

    He sees blacks rampaging through the streets, rioting, looting and killing. Then he sees muslims molesting and raping young girls.

    The Devil says to himself ” Not much for me to do here, this place reminds me of home.”

  • Fergus Pickering

    Ah well, if you say so, Frank P.

  • The Crunge

    Typically lazy sanctimonious left-wing bollocks from the Guardian. No doubt the nasty little Johan Hari will find a safe berth there with his ‘Mum’ Polly ‘the idiot’ Toynbee.

  • Tulkinghorn

    @Frank P-but a megawanker superstar!

  • Austin Barry

    There is something irredeemably seedy about Ken.

    He resembles one of those whey-faced raincoat men smelling of stale beer, tobacco and various congealed biofluids one used to see sliding into Frith Street bookshops during the 1950s, or a bookies runner perhaps. And you just know that if you ever ended-up in the nick, you’d be greeted by an unctuous, whining, snout-wheedling old lag resembling Ken.

    Quite why any sentient Londoner, even those of his Bidonville constituencies, would consider voting for such a faded, forlorn figure is beyond me.

  • dontcare

    Boris supports an amnesty for illegal immigrants.
    He’s not a conservative (like most of “The Conservatives”).
    I’ll be voting UKIP & BNP!

  • Frank P

    “… he combines Margaret Thatcher’s principled resolve with the Duke of Edinburgh’s outspoken honesty.”

    Jesus H Christ! The eye of the beholder has a very large mote in it. If he had even a scintilla of the integrity of either, which he hasn’t, it would diluted and subsumed in the tsunami of self regard that spurts from his every pore each time he thrusts himself into the public eye. The man is is a megawanker.

  • George

    Vote for Boris and you will get the same tired old vote for rich at the cost of the not so rich

  • Sebastian Payne

    John Jones: Yep the outer London one. It’s a classic place Boris would indeed do well but Ken had a major strategy to target the suburbs..hasn’t gone so well it seems.

    PayDirt: Be aware in the most recent ComRes polling, only 3 people named her as their first preference. Don’t think she’s going to go far.

    Russell: As I’ve written before, tax certainly remains a major issue. But Team Ken negative campaigning has pushed Team Boris to negatively campaign with that even more.

  • Russell

    “Ken’s mistake was to begin on a negative footing with his ‘fare pickpocket’ and ‘chicken-feed’ slogans”


    Did you deliberately miss out the elephant in the room? Livingstone and his hypocritical tax affairs! That is usually reserved for the Guardian.
    The definitions of low life and liars may need to be changed after former mayor Livingstone.

    He will be utterly wiped out in this election, not one or two %.

  • PayDirt

    Boris may win in the Comedians Personality of the Season series, but Siobhan Benita is the one to watch, now placed 3rd in the betting for Mayor/Mayoress.

  • Fergus Pickering

    You wish. So do I, come to that, but Alas, Alas, it will not be so. Not the last two parts anyhow. Not yet.

    Could Boris be mayor and PM simultaneously? And Archbishop of Canterbury perhaps.

  • John Jones

    That IS Bromley, Kent isn’t it? Certainly NOT Bromley-by-Bow, which would have very little time for such of the ilk of Boris! Is anyone surprised that a poll carried out in Bromley (no matter how vital it might be in any mayoral election) would put Livingstone ahead of Johnson? Not at all a fair assessment of who might be likely to win I wouldn’t have thought – and neither will many others I believe…

  • Tulkinghorn

    2012 Election Triumph followed by Olympic Triumph.
    2014 Cameron Deposed.
    2015 General Election Triumph.