So after months of speculation we finally know Boris Johnson will defend his “good record” and seek re-election as Mayor of London in 2012.
Boris’s new campaign website lists some of the achievements he believes make up that record and I’m sure we all can’t wait to cast a critical eye over them in the days ahead.
What immediately struck me about his announcement on LBC this morning was the deliberate connivence to ensure it was preceded by reports of Boris attacking his own party’s spending (some say cutting) plans.
He’s been doing this for a while now, I mentioned back in May how he seemed to be casting himself as ‘Boris, your independent Conservative voice for London’.
With Chancellor George Osborne talking up cuts it’s probably a sensible move – many Labour voices, even the Ken-bashing Lord Mandelson, say Gordon Brown’s abolition of the 10p tax rate cost Livingstone City Hall in 2008.
Boris clearly has no desire for his achievement of beating the previously unassailable ‘Mr London’ to similarly fall victim to decisions he has no control and little influence over and is doing what he can to limit the potential damage to his prospects.
In that endeavour, as a devolutionist who wishes all politics were local, I wish him genuine luck.
But if Livingstone, despite publicly humiliating New Labour in 2000 by winning as an independent, couldn’t survive the backlash against his own Government, it’s hard to see how Boris, seen by the wider public as much closer to his party leadership, will pull it off.
Which is not to predict the outcome of 2012’s election – the power of incumbency is huge and Boris has 18 months to harness the full benefits of being Mayor before he faces the electorate.