Sunday, April 27, 2008

Please - stop Boris

Hat tip to Bob Piper for picking up on this fine video from the Stop Boris campaign.

Even more interesting is the path of the polls listed on UK Polling Report. Bob has pointed out the the money is moving away from Boris on Political Betting and if you look at the polls, the current has turned there as well. YouGov has been polling for the Evening Standard and even at the start of April, was showing a 13 point first preference lead for Boris over Ken - which translated into a 12 point second preference win. More recently, this has declined to a 7% first preference lead and other polls - mruk/Sunday Times and Ipsos MORI/Unison give Ken a lead of 1-3% on first preference and a 2-4% win on the key second preferences.

How on earth have the Tories managed to throw away such a lead?

Boris's PR team worked hard to keep him on a short leash - to an almost subterranean level prior to the campaign proper kicking off - well aware of his propensity to make mistakes. In direct debate, he has shown himself to be significantly weaker than Livingstone and relying on his admitted puppyish charms. Since the campaign started, though, Johnson has to be out and about and he's fallen over again and again. On a new generation of Routemasters, he forecast that this would cost £8 million, only for this figure to be shown to be some £100 million short of the true cost. Boris stuck to his guns in interviews, but then told a member of the public that he agreed with higher figure.

While London is a peculiar electoral beast, much heavier on personality politics than the national scene, this isn't good news for the Tories. To have their candidate so utterly undermined over the course of the campaign - despite the vitriol-fuelled support of the capital's main newspaper, The Evening Standard which has dedicated itself to the destruction of Ken, and now additional backing from The Sun, does not bode well for the national campaign which is expected to major on the joys of Cameron. But then, just as Boris has faltered under pressure, when Cameron gets questioned on the detail, he looks a lot less competent.

But here's a thought for the pot. While the Tories want to win in London, would they also be peculiarly happy with a narrow loss? The fact is that every time Boris makes a mistake - and by God, he'd make them - or misspeaks, that will be national news and will damage the Conservative Party across the country. A close defeat shows that the Tories can compete with Labour - even over a man with a huge personality cult in London, but doesn't expose them to the frailities and incompetencies of the Boris cannon rolling about the gundeck.

We'll see on Thursday. But in the meantime, back to my own campaign....

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