It seems that the Tories have been sitting on this one until election morning, and little damn wonder. Boris Johnson has changed his mind, and announced that if he wins in London tomorrow, he is going to keep his seat as MP for Henley for up to a year. A cunning stunt, indeed.
This settles it. He definitely thinks he has been running for the position of Lord Mayor (the one wot wears all the chains and that palava and goes to big dinners) all along.
Leaving aside how monstrously unfair this is on everyone who voted for him on the way to work this morning before the story was allowed to break (Well, fancy that! Jolly lucky timing, eh?), this has the makings of an extremely disturbing situation for London.
We all knew that Boris was never really going to run London all by his little self. My main fear attaching to him throughout this campaign has not been that’s he’s a racist (I doubt he really is) or that he’s not liberal (I think he probably is) but that he wasn’t actually going to be the Mayor. The “Mayor of London”, should he win, was going to be the label for a collective of faceless advisers who might very well be the kind of barking paternalistic illiberal Tories I cross the road to avoid. There was always the risk, and Simon Heffer picked up on it again in his anti-Boris blast yesterday, that voting Boris didn’t actually mean you’d get Boris.
And this seems to, well, unashamedly confirm it. No sane person can want to run London and be a home counties MP at the same time. It’s ludicrous. It’s a fairly outrageous thing to ask of Londoners and an absolutely atrocious thing to ask of the people of Henley. So which of us is going to draw the short straw and get fake cardboard cut-out Boris?
And what on earth prompted the Tories to make this terrible, craven, cheating decision anyway? If Nick Clegg had pulled a weaselly trick like this they’d have been in full cry. Let’s suppose (oh do go on!) that they’re not all cackling vessels of ultimate evil for a moment – what can their motivation possibly be? What in the name of arse is going on at Shouty Plonker HQ?
Well, the only thought I have is that they’re worried about losing the Henley by-election. But they can’t be! It’s the Tory heartland of Tory heartlands. Is Dave so concerned about compromising his somewhat static 40% poll share that he’d compromise the future of London and Henley instead to avoid it? I thought the Tories were meant to be romping away from the Lib Dems in the south (that’s what I keep reading in the newspapers anyway)?
Whatever the cause, those faceless silhouettes of the big man on the Back Boris campaign literature suddenly look extremely sinister. [FX: Thunder rumbles ominously in the distance...No really, it just did!] Who did we really back? Who exactly is going to be running London after tomorrow?