Despite months of voter repelling name-calling and insult-swapping by our would-be national leaders, depressingly it’s only today that the general election period officially gets underway.
Voters can look forward to five-and-a-half weeks of the dullest generation of politicians ever known ramping up the rhetoric in order to persuade them that the other side’s plans will lead to an apocalypse and that only their policies will deliver salvation.
And on social media it’s now impossible to avoid the tsunami of tweets and posts claiming that every voter in a given ward, street or block was nothing less than jubilant that a campaigner with a flyer and only sketchy details of how headline policies will be funded was kind enough to disturb them from their TV viewing, dinner or sleep.
In the political utopia that gets chronicled by breathless campaigners, no-one ever tells them to bugger off, no-one pretends not to be in until they eventually stop ringing the bell, and no-one ever expresses support for a rival candidate.
Based on these reports, the polls are massively wrong and both main parties are heading for a constitutionally impossible landslide.
Back in the real world, one candidate assured of victory is Boris Johnson. The Tories held his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat at the last election with a 11,216 majority meaning it’s impossible that he won’t be an MP on May 7th.
After that date Boris’s critics say he’ll be merely a “part-time Mayor” who will demote Londoners’ concerns below his ambitions to replace David Cameron as Tory leader.
I’ve lost count of the number of times otherwise sensible people have tried to convince me that a dual mandate requiring Boris to spread his time between City Hall and the Commons – an epic four minute journey on the Jubilee line – would be one the biggest political scandals of our time.
The only thing that seems to outrage his detractors more than the thought of Boris doing two jobs at once is the prospect of him quitting City Hall before his Mayoral term expires next May.
Rather than being consistent and welcoming the chance for Londoners to have a full-time replacement, Boris’s critics tend to rapidly move on to claiming that an early departure would constitute a “unforgivable” breach of a promise made to Londoners at the last City Hall election.
Parliament has already addressed the issue of a Mayor also sitting in the Commons by voting in 2007 to dock their City Hall pay by two-thirds from the day they’re elected as an MP.
It was open to the Labour government of the day to go further and ban dual mandates entirely.
At the time they chose not to, but the vocal complaints from various spokespeople about the prospect of Mayor Boris MP suggest there’s been a deep-felt change of heart and it can only be a matter of days before the party promises to ban any future Mayor from aping both Boris and Ken.
But for now doing both jobs concurrently is entirely permissible, even if less lucrative than many assume.
One point on which Boris’s critics are correct is that there’ll be increasingly less meaningful policy coming out of City Hall post May and less relevance to the remainder of his Mayoralty.
However this isn’t because he’ll be moonlighting at parliament, but because his decision not to seek a third term means public and media attention will soon focus on the race to succeed him.
From the end of May we’ll have the various parties’ battles to pick a Mayoral candidate and then months of campaigning by the chosen few.
As I’ve noted before, Boris is already largely relegated to announcing policies which won’t come into effect until after he – and possibly even his successor – has left office.
Even if he wasn’t heading to the Commons in a few weeks time and sees out his full Mayoral term, the chances of Boris having the money to fund new policies and the time to see them through to completion would be pretty slim.