Sunday, 23 March 2008

No Joke - Boris On Course To Win

Boris Johnson has moved ahead dramatically in the polls over the past week, to such an extent that he is now almost two to one odds on favourite to win the London Mayoral Election on May 1 (Political Betting). Ken Livingstone is correspondingly almost 2/1 against at Betfair.

Exactly what has happened to bring about this jump in support for Boris is unclear. The lead-up to the election has been particularly negative, with supporters of the candidates seemingly being outnumbered by 'anyone-but' campaigners. The Stop Boris website linked to by Paulie is a case in point. The site is unaffiliated to any particular campaign (there is even a poster aimed at convincing Conservatives that electing Boris will end up reflecting badly on the party).

Unfortunately for Ken and his team, the negative tactics may well be playing right into the hands of the Boris campaign. For one thing, for obvious reasons it will generally be much more effective to use such an approach against an incumbent than a challenger, particularly when he is also representing the party of government (it is credible that the drop in support for Ken may be related to the unpopularity of the recent Budget).

For Ken Livingstone, it makes it look like the Mayor hasn't anything new or innovative to offer, and that simply not being the other guy is supposedly enough. News of a pact between the Greens and Ken doesn't help matters either - It smacks of desperation, is unlikely to convince many voters who wouldn't have given Ken one of their two preference votes anyway, and is perhaps just as likely to give undecided voters that added impetus to vote for Boris.

It's been said many times before, but in modern politics personalities are more influential than policies, and that is Ken Livingstone's downfall. He comes across to me and to others as arrogant, pompous and self-important. A key reason why Boris Johnson looks likely to win the Mayoral Election is that he does not act like a politician. With trust in politicians deteriorating as I'm sure it has over the past few years, this is a major plus factor. Whether or not he's competent or suitable for the job doesn't seem to matter, the attraction of Boris appears to be that he is personable and somewhat eccentric.


Devil's Kitchen said...

Hmmm, whoever is organising that campaign has gone to great lengths to hide their identity, using a proxy registrar, etc.

And it's all in red. So definitely not a Labour organised campaign at all, I'm sure.

Stop Boris said...

@Devil's kitchen: For goodness' sake - how can we prove a negative? There are personal reasons for our anonymity but it being a secret front for the Livingstone camp is not one of them. And of all the reasons why we might be, I have to say the suggestion that the site using red and black as its colour scheme is the most laughable I've heard. Oh look, your icon has the devil in it, and he appears to be red, you must be a Labour stooge too! Have you ever looked at a no smoking-type sign before? Noticed the colour scheme? Spot any connection to the Stop Boris logo?

As for the points raised in the original post, of course we know negative campaigning isn't always a good move, but faced with the awful polls and odds suggesting that this incompetent moron could be given free rein to run this great city into the ground for the crucial four years leading up to the Olympics, we had to do *something*.

Of course plenty of those involved in the campaign have their own preferred alternative candidates that they will be supporting, maybe even campaigning for, in the coming weeks, so it's not like we're only being negative. The thing that unites us all is our opposition to the idea of Mayor Boris, so it's that we've come together on with the web site, blog, Facebook group and so on.

Fortunately, following the web stats to see our referrers has led us, as well as to your blog, to a number of fora in which people are discussing the election, prompted by someone linking to the site, and it's been heartening to see people taking to the cause, disowning Boris based on some of the information on the site, and so on.

In summary, point taken, but in the absence of any better ideas we'll stick with it and hope (against the odds) we can, well, stop Boris.

QT said...

Whether or not the Stop Boris campaign has anything to do with Ken Livingstone's campaign or not, it doesn't really matter. Realistically, the mayoral race is between the Labour and Tory candidates, so saying Stop Boris is equivalent to backing Ken.

All the negative campaign is doing is backing up the reasonable voters' suspicion that Ken doesn't have anything to offer in the third term other than not being Boris.

Stop Boris said...

@Ian: Strangely, one of the longest threads I've been following that was started by someone linking to our site (here) seems to have reached the exact opposite conclusion. The consensus there seems to be that Ken has quite a well fleshed-out manifesto (which plenty of people disagree with of course), whereas Boris is attracting voters solely because he has the best chance of getting rid of Ken.

QT said...

"Choosing between Ken and Boris is like choosing to cut off your left or right bollock." :D