The Mayor has amused residents of the capital—and earned their respectby Peter Kellner / November 13, 2014 / Leave a comment
I offer no apologies for discussing Boris Johnson’s prospects for the second time this year. Now he has been selected to fight the safe Conservative seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip in May’s general election, his chances of becoming the next Conservative leader have risen sharply. Under party rules, MPs will choose the two finalists, and local party members then decide between them.
If Boris is a finalist, local activists are virtually certain to elect him. The only way he won’t become leader, whenever David Cameron departs, will be for Tory MPs to ensure that two of their colleagues come out ahead of him.
Last time, I explored Boris’s national image. This time we look at the verdict of Londoners whose city he has run, or at least presided over, for the past six years. That verdict is overwhelmingly positive. Six out of 10 says he has done well; just one in three says badly. Any national politician would dance naked down Downing Street for ratings like that. And remember, London is a Labour city. Boris is popular because he is that rare politician who appeals to huge numbers of people beyond his own party. As well as being well regarded by 91 per cent of Conservative voters, he is also thought to do well by 77 per cent of Liberal Democrats and 38 per cent of Labour supporters. His 54 per cent approval rating among Ukip supporters suggests that he might win back a fair number of Tories who have been won over by Nigel Farage.
Of course part of Boris’s appeal is that he is a showman. When he speaks, voters want to listen to him. He offers a more exciting menu than the safe, bland, pre-processed offerings of most politicians. He makes politics fun.
Our poll, however, suggests that after six years as Mayor, Boris has earned the respect of Londoners and not just amused them. YouGov regularly lists qualities that politicians aspire to, and asks people to say which apply to each leader. Compared with the views of British voters towards Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, Londoners rate Boris more highly, not just as charismatic, but also as honest, strong,…