Have you seen Boris Johnson? The Mayor of London has been surprisingly absent from the Conservatives’ floundering campaign so far. He was not chosen to be member of the core team fronting the campaign — Sajid Javid, Nicky Morgan, Theresa May, William Hague and George Osborne in case you’d forgotten. His most prominent appearance was standing alongside the Chancellor at an event focused on London. Today’s Times splashes with the story that some Tories are beginning to worry, and wonder, why the Mayor isn’t being used more often.
The numbers alone suggest Boris should be on TV screens every night to promote the Conservatives’ cause. According to a poll from YouGov/The Times today, nearly two thirds of the public think Boris is fulfilling his job as the Mayor of London well — including 90 per cent of Conservative voters, 71 per cent of Lib Dems and half of Labour voters. More importantly, 65 per cent of Ukip voters reckon he is doing a good job. Could Boris be the weapon against Nigel Farage the Tories have been desperately searching for?
Last year, YouGov asked who was the most able and likeable figure out of the political mavericks. Boris Johnson was easily seen as the most likeable: 47 per cent said so, compared to 11 per cent for Alex Salmond and ten per cent for Nigel Farage. 29 per cent also said they felt Johnson was the most capable — five points ahead of Salmond and ten ahead of Farage.
Back in 2013, Lord Ashcroft reported that Boris was the second most recognisable politician in the country, just two points behind the Prime Minister. Following the 2012 Olympic Games Boris outranked Cameron, Clegg and Miliband on every leadership characteristic, from being charismatic to sticking to what he believes in.
Ordinary folks don’t know their Morgan from a Javid, so it seems mad that Boris isn’t front and centre of the Tory campaign. Even David Cameron admitted he wants Boris back in frontline politics because of what he has to offer:
‘I want him to get back in parliament. I think he’s great. It’s a bit like football — if you have got a great striker you want him on the pitch’
So why isn’t the party making greater use of him? Paul Goodman has previously mooted the idea that Boris should be made party chairman after May. It’s too late for such a radical move now but given the Tories’ inability to pull ahead of Labour in the polls, they should give serious thought on how to ensure their greatest electoral asset is used to its full advantage. And quickly.
UPDATE: Tory sources say Boris is being used and will feature highly in the campaign but has to work around his mayoral duties, overseas trips and, of course, promoting his Churchill book.
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