A coronation and a kingmaker

Have Londoners elected a joke? Or can the exuberant upper-class twit mature, like Prince Hal[1], into a great leader?

My guess is that he can and will, FSVO great leader. But that may not really matter very much: all he really has to do is make the right noises. Beyond that, he’ll get a “media honeymoon” from those whose agenda for the past eight years has been anti-Ken. I think he’s smart enough not to reverse the core good things Ken has done to make London a more pleasant place than in my youth, and Boris’s own agenda is going to make fewer enemies. And he’s got off to a good start, with a generous tribute to his predecessor!

His office is one where character and personality matter, and appear less damaging than in a national leader, not least because he (unlike The Liar et al) is elected to his office by the people he represents. Boris, like Ken, is not lacking in individuality. Even if he goes off and plays fantasy games with his office as The Liar did (and there’s no suggestion that he will), he won’t drag an entire government with him, so potential damage is limited.

Perhaps the biggest winner from this is David Cameron. If one exuberant fortysomething toff can prove himself in office, that’ll (rightly or wrongly) help dispel doubts about the other. The timing is brilliant for him: Boris has his honeymoon just coming, and won’t have much time to tarnish before the next general election.

[1] As in Shakespeare’s portrayal – which is where my knowledge of the relevant history comes from[2].

[2] See the section “Lettice and Lovage” in this page.

Posted on May 3, 2008, in london, politics, uk. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Good luck to Boris. At least he has a sense of humour and can laugh at himself – I hope he retains these admirable qualities, which are sadly lacking in most of today’s pompous and self-important politicians. Also I hope he surrounds himself with sensible and competent advisers, rather than engaging in the cronyism and patronage that was rife during Ken’s tenure.

    Boris’s election has a good degree of democratic legitimacy about it, given the electoral method used for the London mayoralty and the encouraging size of the turnout, so he must use the opportunity well. Here’s my first bit of advice for him, leave off the bendy buses, they’re actually rather good and effective at their job, and focus on real transport issues like getting the tube sorted out and developing the congestion charge regime!

  2. Well, Boris has said he will abolish the congestion charge so London will become much busier; he also says he dislikes people having their affairs spied on and looked into – so what is he going to do with surveillance cameras? If he gets rid of them, or reduces their numbers, won’t crime go up?

    Clearly people did’t vote for Boris, but against Labour. But now Londoners will have to pay the price. Will it be Boris: the most expensive entertainment in town?

  3. Erm, I thought (all the reports say) he’s keeping the congestion charge, just dropping Ken’s proposed extensions. That sounds to me like a sop to the motoring lobby (“look, I’m not as bad as him …”), but it remains to be seen whether he’ll come up with effective alternatives. Some of us think the fact he’s a cyclist must give him an awareness many politicians lack!

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