After Boris Johnson was elected as Mayor of London, you may remember his opponents promising to use his rule as a foretaste of the Thatcherite horrors that awaited under a David Cameron government. Whatever happened to that, I wonder?
In this election, Boris’s mayoralty simply hasn’t turned into the great weapon that his opponents hoped. That, no doubt, is why they have barely mentioned it in the campaign. A cuttings search finds a few attacks on Boris’s cuts to police numbers in the Standard and the local London press, but that really is just about all. It must be tremendously disappointing for the likes of the Guardian’s Dave Hill, who has been diligently campaigning for his chosen party (though one of Boris’s staff once said to me that being on the receiving end of Dave’s attack journalism felt like being gently nibbled by a very small goldfish).
There were plenty of real charges to make against Boris – his previous lack of interest in London, his managerial inattention, his lack of any formed idea of what he wanted to do with the job. I think some of those still apply. But it lacked credibility for Labour to claim, as they did, that he was “Norman Tebbit in a clown’s uniform” or “George W Boris.” He palpably is not, and his record at City Hall shows it. Ken Livingstone gracefully conceded this, too, when we met on TV the other day.
We will know soon enough whether the very similar attack against Cameron now being mounted by Labour has any more traction with voters than when the line was tried against Boris.