Saturday, May 05, 2012

Boris win dents Labour recovery

Boris Johnson has been re-elected Mayor of London.

It's a remarkable achievement, given his Party's poll ratings and the fact that Labour out polled the Conservatives 41% to 32% in the GLA assembly vote.  Boris is a winner, an electoral asset and vastly more popular than his Party; characteristics that are no longer associated with David Cameron.

But what does a Boris victory mean?  For London, it means more of the same.  Why would he jettison his winning formula?  Despite the claims of some that Boris represents a more right-wing or authentic Conservatism, the reality is that he has governed as a moderate, pragmatic Tory.  Surrounded by a competent team of experienced advisers such as Edward Lister, and Simon Milton before him, the Boris machine has been risk adverse and made few mistakes.  There are rumours that he will now lose his respected PR adviser, Guto Harri, which will be a blow.

His victory will have a bigger impact on the the national political scene and the future direction of the Conservative Party.  Many Tory MPs now expect Boris to return to Parliament at the 2015 election, despite Boris ruling this out.  Boris is now a favourite to succeed Cameron.

The fact that people are even contemplating a local government figure as the next Prime Minister is the greatest endorsement of the mayoral model.  It is therefore disappointing that the majority of England's provincial cities rejected the mayoral system on the same day.

Outside London, Labour made major gains at the expense of both the Tories and Lib Dems.  This is part of the inevitable trend as voters use local elections to punish the Government of the day.  Over the course of the Coalition, Labour will become the dominant party in local government.  Independent and fringe parties also polled well.

The results will put more pressure on Cameron and Clegg.  Over the last 24 hours, maverick Tory and Lib Dem politicians have hit the TV studios demanding their leaders are more robust in coalition negotiations.  In fact, the Coalition parties didn't do that badly - Labour's poll rating on Thursday didn't even hit the figures achieved by Neil Kinnock, let alone Tony Blair.

Ed Miliband may have won the better newspaper headlines this weekend, but Labour are still a long way from a return to Government.

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