Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tales from Londonistan: Red Ken vs Blond Boris

The battle for the job of Mayor of Londonistan is on in all earnest. On May 01 it'll be Ken Livingstone or Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. The campaigning in the UK's capital is heating up nicely, and the choice, kind of, couldn't be starker. Other than red Ken and blond Boris there's my good friends, the Lib Dems who have chosen as their choice of losing candidate Brian Paddick, an openly gay ex cop with sensible views on most things. There's also the usual rabble of weirdos like the BNPs Richard Barnbook.

Anyway, good ol Ken has been a central figure on Londonistan's political stage for some three decades, no less than 8 of which as the capital's mayor. Frankly, by any standards, he hasn't made a hash of it. He is rapidly increasing the quantity of affordable accommodation in the capital, has introduced the congestion charge to get at least some car nuts people to use Londonistan's public transport system, he has been consistently supportive of women's, gay and ethnic minority issues and so on and so forth. Still, there has been the odd corruption scandal, but nothing, it seems that would have benefited him or his family financially in any way.

Blond Boris main claim to fame is that he ran the SPECTATOR, a conservative reasonably intelligent magazine. He also makes oodles of money as a regular commentator in THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, a right-wing broadsheet. As an MP for the conservative party he has rarely been heard of, except when making oddly disparaging remarks about all sorts of people both in the UK and elsewhere. He suggested at one point that men should vote for the Conservatives, because this would translate into their wife getting bigger breasts, and they'd be more likely to drive a BMW M3 (nice car, btw). While this is all quite amusing, and I kind of like Johnson's quirkiness, no doubt, this makes him unelectable by most peoples' standards. Why anyone of sane mind would consider this bloke for mayor ... beats me.

It seems as if lots of people are plain tired of seeing Ken Livingstone's face as mayor. There might be a surprising hang-over if people suddenly discover that their not very reflective boredom with an old policy wonk like Livingstone might suddenly translate in Boris Johnson becoming the mayor of London. Scary thought, but there you go.

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