The mayoral election ‘race’ has been a bit of a damp squib to date.
The general consensus seems to be that Boris will walk it, but I can’t help but think that this will not be because the electorate is bowled over by Johnson’s record in office, but simply because there isn’t a compelling reason to vote him out in favour of Ken or Brian. With 2012 set to be a big year for London with the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee, Londoners are unlikely to vote for the disruption associated with change unless they are given a very good reason to do so.
The Mayor’s track record in office has largely been characterised by the ‘Boris bikes’, ‘Boris island’, Crossrail, the Olympics, the occasional fight with central government over the City and a regular display of humorous gaffes. The problem for Boris is that – despite branding almost all of his successes with the word ‘Boris’ – many of the achievements in his term in office were actually kick-started by Ken. Yesterday’s YouGov poll puts Ken in the lead for the first time (51-49), and the polling shows that a larger proportion of the electorate think that Ken has a better record in office than Boris.
It seems that Ken’s promises to cut tube and bus fares at a time when Londoners are feeling the squeeze are having an impact. Previous polling by YouGov showed that transport was the one area where the voters had more confidence in Ken than Boris. Ken’s team grabbed hold of this and came out fighting in January with his fares campaign, promising that voting Ken would make commuters £1,000 better off over the next four years.
In November Boris had an eight point lead over Ken, so expect to see a fight back in the coming weeks by the Boris team to try and claw back his advantage in the run up to purdah. This week has seen some well timed backing for Boris’s Thames Estuary airport plans from David Cameron, and a series of pre-election grants to outer London boroughs such as Harrow and Bromley for town centre regeneration. It seems that Boris’s 2008 ‘doughnut’ strategy of targeting the outer boroughs for votes remains a key part of the electoral strategy for 2012, and as long as he can keep building support for the Thames Estuary airport for the next few months the residents of west London should be putty in his hands.
As for Brian Paddick’s campaigning efforts to date, his website says it all really.
Let’s hope this polling shakes things up, and finally gives us some politics to talk about in 2012.