Try not to laugh too loudly, but I was hoping an election contest between an incumbent Mayor and his immediate predecessor would provide Londoners with a choice between two exhilarating, vibrant and engaging campaigns.
Along the way it might even have provided those cities taking their first steps towards an executive Mayoralty some inspiration.
Measured against the reality, such hopes have left me feeling painfully naive.
I wasn’t invited to hear Boris’s speech yesterday, but the BBC reports him as saying:
“The greatest risk of all is that the government of the greatest city on earth would be lost to a bunch of irresponsible socialists at the worst possible time.
“Because of my natural benevolence, cheeriness and good nature we have allowed people to forget what a shambles the previous administration was.
“The arrogance, the waste that frankly bordered on corruption.”
In response to these and other remarks, Brian Paddick and Jenny Jones stepped in to speak for what I suggest is a growing number of Londoners tiring of their Mayor and possible future Mayor engaging in endless personal insults.
Jones said: “All the Mayor has in response to our problems—and in place of any vision for the capital—is this kind of playground taunting.
“Those of us who had hoped we could avoid the Punch and Judy politics of the last election look like we’ll be disappointed.”
Paddick offered this assessment of his rivals and their campaigning: “Boris Johnson spent half his speech criticising the former Mayor and the other half looking back at his own patchy record using selective and misleading statistics.
“Ken Livingstone’s people reply in kind, spending half their reply criticising the Mayor and the other half putting forward totally unaffordable proposals.”
When all the niceties of election coverage are observed, we’re left with the reality that only Boris or Ken will win May’s election.
Tragically the pair seem determined to ensure that what looks set to be a close election will also be a bitter one. Any sense of civic leadership has been put aside in favour of something which increasingly resembles gang warfare.
I’m going to brave the risk of sounding alarmist and admit to growing ever more concerned at what another 2 months of tribal, divisive negativity will do to a city in which people are struggling to cope with reduced incomes, threatened jobs and growing insecurity.
Ken recently made much of a pledge to do only one job if elected, he and Boris would better serve Londoners if they pledged to modify their behaviour.