Two separate reports suggest Boris Johnson is close to confirming that he’ll seek re-election as Mayor of London in 2012.
I won’t pretend I’m not slightly surprised at the reports – no doubt inspired by pretty authoritative briefing – in the Guardian and Standard given that Boris often looks like he wishes he were anywhere other than in City Hall.
Declaring his candidacy at tomorrow’s State of London Debate as has been suggested would certainly cement his status as a showman but it’d look pretty shabby for a man who refuses to hold regular press conferences at City Hall to use the building for such blatant political purposes.
Incumbent Boris seeking re-election will be an interesting experience, dubious waffle about killer-bendy buses and attacks on his opponent’s performance won’t be enough this time when he’ll have his own record to defend.
What you think of that record probably depends a fair bit on how you voted in 2008 but the truth is that Boris hasn’t been the dreadful, swivel-eyed Thatcherite Mayor many of the left predicted while some of his policies have been pretty unpopular within the ranks of City Hall Tories.
He’s almost certain to take a hit over the fare increases he’s imposed on Londoners already suffering from the recession – I suspect he’ll find people paying 30p more per bus journey slightly underwhelmed by his much trumpeted freezing of the GLA’s Council Tax precept – and he’ll likely find his 2008 comments on transparency being fired back at him should Team Ken secure Labour’s nomination.
However, he can rightly be proud of ending the PPP regime on the Tube and has genuine success stories to tell in helping change the leadership of the Met Police and getting his new London bus scheme closer to reality than many of us thought he would – by the time of the election he may even have a open-top model to tour in.
With Oona King running one of the most passive selection campaigns witnessed in 10 years of London devolution the capital looks set to host one of the noisiest, most exhilarating, fiercely fought rematches ever witnessed in British politics.