So tomorrow London decides whether Boris Johnson gets another bash at being Mayor, or Ken Livingstone a return to City Hall.
Whizzing through my morning media brief, I see Ed Miliband correctly exposing the strategy that Johnson is hoping will get him over the line. This from the Independent Page 17… Ed Miliband has accused Boris Johnson of trying to fool Londoners into thinking he is not a Conservative by distancing himself from Cameron, writes Grice. Miliband: ‘Boris Johnson’s strategy for these mayoral elections is based on pretending he is not a Tory. He tries not to be seen in public with David Cameron and most of his election literature makes no reference to him being the Conservative candidate. But Boris Johnson has proven to be a typical Tory as mayor, raising fares, cutting services and standing up only for the powerful or wealthy in London … He [Johnson] led the campaign for a tax cut for millionaires in the Budget. He even wanted to go further than Osborne by reducing the rate for those earning £150,000 a year not just to 45p, but to 40p. People must not be misled. They should not let Boris Johnson get away with it. They have a choice between a Tory mayor with a track record of standing up for the privileged few or a Labour mayor in Ken Livingstone with a proven track record of making lives better for working people in London.’
Then right on cue up pops Johnson in the Sun and the Mail, stressing how different he is (sic) to David Cameron and George Osborne. ‘Basher Boris’ (Sun p15 i/v) – ‘I’m different from Cameron and Osborne, claims Boris’ (Mail p8) – Johnson today demands a better deal for White Van Man and blasts Osborne for waving through a crippling fuel duty hike. The London Mayor distances himself from the Chancellor’s botched Budget, writes Newton Dunn. He declares he is “pro-pasty”. Wow!
Meanwhile over in The Guardian part of the media jungle, page 16 tells us ‘Johnson aided by firm that paid no tax for three years’ (Guard p16) – Boris Johnson’s campaign for re-election as mayor of London has been utilising the offices of an international mobile phone company that has paid no corporation tax in Britain for three years.’ Well, there’s a shock.
Ken Livingstone may have his faults as well as his strengths. But he did more for London than Boris has. His heart is with the many not the few that Boris cares about. The choice is not Ken or perfection, but him or Johnson, Labour or Tory, and given the mess the Tories are making of things, the Mayor included, it has to be Ken.