Sunday, 30 March 2008

Would a Win for Boris be a loss for the Tories?

Have the Tories landed an Albatross?

The Left once convinced themselves that Boris Johnson couldn't win. But now it is clear that he can, a new assumption is taking shape. The new assumption is that a win for Johnson would be a loss for the Conservatives. The assumption that Mayor Johnson would be a dead albatross for Goodship Cameron. But is this the case?

Recent reports show that David Cameron is all too aware of the pitfalls that lay ahead and is making detailed preparations to keep Boris finger's off the red buttons. Ex-Evening Standard editor Max Hastings also suggests that Boris would be more of a chairman than a chief executive.

However, it is quite possible that even this could be overplaying his role. Boris handling of the job could be as light as his treatment of the job application. Boris signs off a policy here, endorses an initiative there. A Boris mayoralty could be one long line of rubber stampings and carefully arranged photo calls, while the Conservative party get on with their agenda behind the scenes.

So although Boris' capacity for gaffes should not be underestimated, neither should the Conservatives determination to prevent them.

But where the real problem for Boris will arise, is that when problems do come, Boris would no longer have the power to shake them off. All the leeway that Boris has enjoyed so far would be gone and the scrutiny he had avoided would be upon him. He would no longer have the comfort blanket of failure nor the mask of comedy to shield him. And when his problems come a' knocking, the walls will start a' rocking.

Because the media love a good story and there would be no better story than a Boris fall from grace. And the slightest sign of weakness would set the whole press pack upon him.

And Boris' old gags would wear desperately thin and the day to day job would wear even thinner for him. And the charm would be lost and the tempers would flare and a restless Mayor Boris would tear out his blond hair.

But when the dust settles will the Tories really be in a worse position, or could a Boris win be just the first of many to come? Clearly it is a huge risk that they are willing to take. And certainly a bored and boring Boris would be but a small price for the Tories to pay. But if things start to go wrong, the benefits for Londoners themselves are much harder to see. 

So before you vote Londoners, think long and and think hard. Is this really an experiment in which you're willing to take part.

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