“I levitate above it with Buddha-like serenity” observed a guest on this morning’s Andy Marr Show, when asked for his views on the identity of his next opponent. It could only have been Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, Mayor of London and occasional collector of “chicken feed” from the Maily Telegraph.
Bozza has now confirmed that he will run again for the mayoralty in 2012, after much speculation that he still had designs on being Tory leader in the event that Young Dave didn’t survive beyond a first term. Some on the right are of the opinion that he was always going to try and stay on at City Hall. I’m not so sure.
Johnson is not given to modesty or lack of ambition. Were there any chance that he could get his hands on a larger prize than Mayor of London, I suspect he would be after it. But, since getting through the door of 10 Downing Street, Cameron has become far stronger, and the Tory Party nowadays does his bidding, not Bozza’s.
So it would only need the word to come from the leader for the chance of Johnson getting anywhere near a winnable parliamentary seat to be snuffed out. He will only get the chance to make a Commons comeback after another term as Mayor – or if he stands for that office, and gets defeated.
And the latter outcome is not outside the bounds of possibility: last time, Ken Livingstone – likely to be his opponent again in 2012 – was representing a nationally unpopular Labour Party, while in 2012 it is his own side that is likely to be less favoured across the UK. The Evening Standard, rabidly pro-Boris before, has now changed hands and editors, with Andrew Gilligan, then in the vanguard of Ken kicking for the paper, relegated to a blog for the Maily Telegraph.
On board once more to head up the Johnson re-election campaign is Lynton Crosby, as before, but that does not guarantee success: it didn’t do the Tories much good in 2005. And Johnson could be hobbled if the upcoming spending cuts impinge upon his adopted manor. I’ll consider one project that may be in the balance – Crossrail - in a future post.