I've tried to ignore this story, bit it's just too much fun:
"The Mayor's revelation that he might not stand again, made in the Evening Standard, created shockwaves in Conservative circles."It is so early in the electoral cycle that no clear camps have emerged in City Hall. Even the mechanism of a selection process is not in place. But already a clear picture has emerged of some of the likely candidates — and who would be the choice of Central Office.""[Cameron] would be presented with the choice of a City Hall insider, who would inevitably be close to Mr Johnson and associated with his regime, or finding a candidate to take on Labour in what would be a mid-term referendum on the Government. Already Conservative Central Office figures have formed a view that they would rather have a high-profile candidate who would energise the election, not a local government figure."
Ha ha. Love it.
"One name widely touted is youth worker Shaun Bailey, 37, who is currently Tory candidate for Hammersmith, and a rare commodity as a black Conservative who already has a profile.A Tory source said: “There is no doubt that Shaun is young, gifted and black, which would make him very difficult for Labour to attack.”Today Mr Bailey told the Standard he was open to the idea.
Brilliant. Anyone else up for it?
"Within City Hall, Kit Malthouse, is emerging as the clear favourite. Regarded as highly capable, he is already the Mayor's deputy on the Metropolitan Police Authority..."
Good old loyal Kit eh?
"Other options are the deputy leader of the Tories on the Assembly, James Cleverly, Assembly members Victoria Borwick and Andrew Boff, Conservative candidate for Richmond Park Zac Goldsmith and policy adviser Nick Boles."
Boris for PM?
Now I'm always suspicious of these kind of stories, not least because you never know who is spinning them and for what purpose.
But having said that, it has long been an open secret that Boris is at the very least doubtful about wanting to stand for another term.
On top of this, there are a couple of Conservative MPs, who have been telling anyone who will listen, that Boris will make a run for Downing Street as soon as he reasonably can.
Now in order for him to do that, Boris would need to secure a seat in the Commons with enough time for a leadership contest in the run up to the next general election but one.
And that means standing down in 2012.
At this point, somebody normally points out that there's no way Boris would give up the chance to be Mayor during the Olympics etc etc. But I mean come on. Do you really think he cares that much about waving a flag that he would be willing to drop his only chance to ever become PM?
A Disloyal Band
The other interesting part about this story is the speed at which other tories have rushed to get their names on the ballot.
Unlike Ken, who had (and still has) a loyal team behind him, Boris Johnson entered City Hall with an uneasy mix of London councillors, Cameron placemen, and unknown think tank wonks.
The short term result of this mix was the steady conveyor belt of hirings and speedy firings, eighth floor rows and briefings that marked the start of Boris's term.
The long term result is that at the slightest sign of Boris's sweet white ass heading for the exit, those around him have rushed to boot it out the door.