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Denis Cooper

Which of the above potential candidates would offer Londoners a referendum on whether they want to continue with the experiment of directly electing a mayor?

Not on the restoration of an elected council for the whole of London, successor
to the LCC and the GLC, but on the separate issue of a directly elected mayor.


Boles!?! WTF!!! What we need in London is a 'national' English figure. Someone with 'oomph'. What has been indicated by the debacle over the issue is that the party hierarcy does not really give a castlemaine.

Jennifer Wells

The low figure for Steve Norris is interesting in Q4. I sense no enthusiasm for his candidacy.


Denis - what do you think the turnout would be in such a referendum?

Denis Cooper

I ask because Londoners never had the opportunity to express their views on the question of directly electing a mayor, separately from the question of recreating an elected assembly for the whole of London.

After a decade of the obnoxious Livingstone developing his personality cult they might have a clearer idea whether they really want to continue with that part of the system, or would prefer to dispense with the office of directly elected mayor and revert to the more traditional method of having a council leader chosen by
the elected members of the council - who could also remove him if he failed.

For reference: http://www.psr.keele.ac.uk/area/uk/gla.htm


A Referendum to determine whether a Greater London Authority should be set
up was held on 7th May 1998. The question was:

Are you in favour of the government's proposals for a Greater London Authority, made up of an elected Mayor and a separately elected assembly?

Voters could answer YES or NO.

The result was:
YES: 1,230,715 (72%)
NO: 478,413 (28%)
Total voters = 1,735,499"

That would have been about a 30% turnout, I guess.

According to a councillor quoted in the Northern Echo, February 13th

"This drive to bring another bit of American politics to the UK is in fact running
out of steam. So far the elected Mayor model has been rejected in referendums by a margin of 21 to 12, including six out the last eight ballots."

"Citizens are suspicious of a model which places so much responsibility in the hands of one person. Grassroots rebellions have sprung up against the elected mayoral system in four out of the 12 boroughs where it has been instituted."

"Residents want to return to a more pluralistic and inclusive form of politics."

Well worth thinking about, I suggest - a Tory mayoral candidate who promised
to ask Londoners whether they really wanted that element of the 1998 package might well attract a chunk of support just through that pledge, including from people who might otherwise not have voted at all, and it seems unlikely that Livingstone would be prepared to match that pledge.

Automated Robot

Good questions Editor. Is there a thread of narrative to be teased out of the responses?

The headline perhaps is that so many of those responding (Q3) see the mix of candidates (past and present) as the unknown and the ineffective.

It was inevitable that the race for a London Mayor will attract individuals who can only gain credibility through participation. The Party also saw this. The approach to Dyke was an innovative but risky response which did not deliver (Q2) - weakening the prospects of the declared candidates further (Q1).

This taste for risk, and a degree of carelessness with the interests of others will only create an additional argument for those who possess the profile (Q4) not to declare.

For such people, a contest with Ken already offers much to lose.


Was there not a recent story in the press about Brian Paddick being a possible candidate for us? Any news on that / thoughts?

Happy Tory

Having never been particularly keen on Steve Norris before, I find myself now quite enthusiastic. He has certainly shown commitment and dedication to London over the years, he is well known, and I think that his media image has softened over time. Maybe his time has finally come.


Nice work Nicholas - 23% of ConservativeHome subscribers must translate into at least twice that among normal Conservative voters.

Deputy Editor

Blair mocked Cameron at PMQs today for wanting a non-Conservative candidate, sayign something along the lines of "at least our candidate will actually be a Labour supporter".

Mark, I believe the poll ConservativeHome runs is very accurate at assessing Tory opinion. Most of those on its mailing list probably don't read it CH everyday, still less comment on it.


Denis, IMHO it's not even a political issue, let alone a party one. Time far better spent picking a Conservative candidate and fighting on the issues that matter to Londoners.

Helen Thomas

I think a poll of voters would have Boles and Norris flipped around in terms of support. ConservativeHome is not London.


Helen Thomas: I think a poll of voters would have Boles and Norris flipped around in terms of support. ConservativeHome is not London.

Not sure what you're getting at, Helen. The poll offers no conclusions as to a Boles vs Norris contest. Boles leads the declared candidates. Norris is behind Stevens in the undeclared list. we cannot quite know how Norris (or Stevens) would fare against Nick Boles etc.

Alan S

Helen - the winning candidate will have to be first selected by primary and Conservative(Home) voters will be a major part of that process.

PS I see this poll features quite prominently in today's London Evening Standard.

Helen Thomas

Stevens, Major and Coe have all ruled themselves out. Norris has not.

It would be interesting to see how Norris would fare against Boles, Borwick, Lightfoot etc. On Iain Dale's also right-of-centre blog, he beat them resoundingly.

The gap presumably would be wider still in an actual scientific poll of London voters.


Has Stevens ruled himself out, Helen? I know the previous timetable was impossible for him. I'm not sure that this time was also a problem. My apologies if I missed an announcement from him.

Mark Turner

I think I read Stevens had ruled himself out, certainly Coe and Major have done so several times, so it doesn't make much sense to put them in the same line up as Norris, who when given the opportunity to rule himself out last Sunday, declined.

If you take away the fantasy options, Norris is obviously more popular than the declared versions with Londoners, and possibly also among CH poll responders.

Heather Thurnham

Actually, Boles isn't the most popular among the declared candidates. That honour goes to the "None of them" choice, which of course is a different statement than the in some ways also damning "Don't know," which was the third choice--not of Londoners, or London Conservative voters, or London party members or even of activists who show up at a hustings, but activists who are sitting at home and the 414 who could be bothered at that. The party still needs a real candidate whom it believes can win.

Denis Cooper

aristeides @ 02:45 - "it's not even a political issue, let alone a party one."

Well make it an issue. In other words, make some of the political weather instead of trimming the sails to catch whatever breeeze is generated by the other parties.

Right across the country people who already had elected councils were given the opportunity to decide whether they wanted a directly elected mayor. After more than eight years they've taken up this offer in barely three dozen cases. In two thirds of those cases the decision has been not to have a directly elected mayor. In some of the cases where it was decided to have a directly elected mayor there are now grassroots movements to reverse that decision.

In contrast in London there was no London-wide elected body, and anybody who thought it would be sensible to have one was forced to vote for a directly elected mayor at the same time. If those two elements had been in separate questions it's quite likely that it would have been "yes" to an elected London-wide council, but "no" to a directly elected mayor.

And if they had voted "no" to the second question they would have made a wise decision. The proof of that can be summed up in two words: "Ken Livingstone".

So why not offer them the chance to vote on that separately, for the first time?


Surely Boles can no longer be considered a serious candidate? For all his undoubted talent - he has been completely s**t upon by the party leadership now - not once but twice. This, a man who led DC's personal think tank...now there's gratitude for you. If he had any sense he would tell DC/FM where to shove the London mayoralty.

James Wright

I think it's got to be Norris. This election is much more difficult to find a suitable candidate for than CCHQ first thought.

Anti-Cameron Tory

Please, please, *please* let it be Boles. All my Christmasses will have come at once if it's him. He's stiff, sloppy, uncharismatic and a certifiably useless campaigning candidate. He also thinks he has a God-given right to be the nominee. So one more time - if you're looking to see Dave land flat on his face (in a contest we're not going to win anyway), please, please, super-duper ***please*** let it be Boles! He'll drag us down to third place, no prob.

sussex tory

We know Boles. He was the candidate in the target marginal of Hove, and presided over a 2% drop in the vote compared to that recorded in the constituency in the disastrous 2001 Blair landslide.

Lots of media coverage about him being gay, almost none about anything that actually interested the voters of Hove.

It is fantasy to suppose he could beat Livingstone. Surely our party can do better?


Surely our party can do better?

Here's a silly idea that just flashed across my head...would Ray Mallon be interested? He's still only 52, and has a good record on cutting crime as Mayor of Middlesbourgh.

Also strongly into social justice and helping young people turn away from crime. He would appeal to many people who would never dream of voting Tory.

Of course he may be very happy where he is..............

Robert Harper

Steve Norris we need you.


Don't know if anyone vaguely important reads this blog and I'm shoving this here as there is nowhere else to do so but you will be pushing at an open door if you canvass any house with a motorcaravan.

Motorcaravanners are up in arms about TFL/Livingstone's refusal to give them exemption from the LEZ.

Ditto horsebox owners (but most of them are proberbly Tory anyway :D )

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