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Tony Makara

The way I see it, as an ordinary citizen, as a non-Londoner, is that the Conservative party will need a very big wheel to unseat Ken Livingstone. Ken Livingstone seems to have been around forever, and whether we like him or not there is no doubting his presence on the political scene. It will take a big hitter to floor a big hitter and thats why I think Boris Johnson is the man to take on the legendary Red Ken. In these days of high-profile campaigning we need someone of real persona and charisma to match and supercede Ken Livingstone's 'Presence'

David Boothroyd

The quid pro quo for smaller boroughs in London is that, because some services can't be delivered effectively by an authority serving an urban population below about 100,000, those services need to be delivered by a Londonwide body. London education until 1990 was always delivered by a Londonwide body and the Greenwich judgment effectively rendered inner London boroughs largely ineffectual; social services have problems tracking people who move between boroughs; the GLC's public housing system placed people throughout the capital regardless of where they had started, until the Horace Cutler-era scorched earth policy forced the housing down on the boroughs.

Are Andrew Boff and the Conservatives generally going to acknowledge that smaller local government means transfer of powers to Londonwide government?

There is another option to this which is a third and lower tier of government at the parish level; London will soon be allowed to have parish councils.


O/t Mr Archer I liked your response to Jasper Gerrards inane comment piece in the Observer - well said.

Sally Roberts

Interesting article, Graeme - and your point about second preference votes is a very important one!

Sepoy Agent

I do not agree with all that you say by any means, but I am with you 100% on not referring to the present Mayor as Ken. We must not play his game. Every time a Conservative refers to him as Ken it bolsters his aim to be London's cuddly friend. Let's call him Livingstone, Mr Livingstone, or the Mayor.

Ali Gledhill

[Livingstone has] clogged up the roads with very empty buses – that few customers pay for – while the Congestion Charge has done nothing to reduce congestion.

This is not quite true. Congestion has got better in central London, although worse elsewhere as a result. I can assure you that the buses are too full - it's just that empty ones often run minutes behind. We have the right number of buses, but the wrong timetables.

I’m a professional statistician, and I can feel when people are attempting to manipulate numerical data to fit their argument: thus the propaganda about the Congestion Charge, which anyone travelling across central London can tell has been a failure (other than to provide cheap west end parking for the rich people!)

I, for one, feel central London is moving much more smoothly because of the congestion charge, although it has had knock-on effects elsewhere. Figures are manipulated, but there is no doubt that the general trends show there are fewer cars in central London and more people using buses.

Ken Livingstone's congestion charge is unpopular with many people, but to back up such an opinion with hearsay or a "feeling" when figures have been massaged is unhelpful. Ken's office speaks half-truths to keep him in power; I'd hate to see people resort to his tactics to oust him from office.

C List and Proud

I agree with Graeme that Boff has what it takes. Johnson comes across as a Tory Twit, Borwick is just too posh and Lightfoot is too cerebral. Boff connects at all levels and that is crucial to motivating the electorate to vote.

However, I would not agree with Graeme about second preference votes. There are just too many lefties who vote Green, Respect, Lib-Dem, even BNP and UKIP - as a first preference "protest" - then vote Labour second, for us to overcome.

What we have to do is make sure those inclined to switch, do so with their first vote and that we get our support out to vote. That means taking the election seriously in those areas, which is something we did not do in 2000 or 2004.

We must motivate and mobilise the existing Conservative vote in our strongest areas, where, on an analysis of the 2004/2006 elections, we got about 50% of the votes for the Mayoral election compared with that we got for the Council elections two years later.

That campaign should also be starting now, with a push to get our supporters involved in selecting the candidate, then continue for the whole seven months from our candidate being in place.

We have no need to be fixated on having a "Big Name". The Conservative candidate to be Mayor of London is a Big Name, whoever they are, though they should definitely be called Andrew.


boff won one by election in particularly difficult circumstances for labour then promptly lost the seat (in part because his constant 'energy' started to piss people off locally.

his limited success in hackney is based on forming alliances with trots and hiding the fact he is a conservative - not sure how this is meant to translate across london

he is inconsistent in that he sides with those who oppose the 'gentrification' of hackney yet profits from a dreadfully written magazine that is full of estate agent ads.

he has a dreadful temper so it is unclear how he would respond to the pressure of being a high profile candidate

having said all thta i'll vote for him as candidate as i want ken to win

Steve Smith

Graeme makes some good points though I don't agree with all of them.
Boris Johnson has a problem in that he is the 'marmite candidate' - you love him or hate him.
This may not be a problem in a first past the post ballot but is an issue when in the second round, second preferences are tranferred (we can reasonably assume) to the Conservative or Labour candidates.
The election for Rector of Edinburgh University in which Boris fought a spirited campaign is ominous. In the first round Boris gets a creditable 2040 votes, in the second he gains a mere 83 additional transferred votes. They loved him or hated him.
It will be interesting to see what happens at the hustings and if a clear alternative to Boris emerges from the other 3 candidates.
Graeme has opted for Andrew Boff, maybe Andrew's bandwagon will be the one to really start rolling.

Not Boris (or the others)

The Mayoral job is bigger than running a Government department. Boris is not considered good enough for the Shadow Cabinet so he should not be considered a suitable Mayoral candidate. The same problem applies to the other candidates. They are no doubt good councillors but they have not run a substantial organisation.

Livingstone, whom I despise with a passion, at least had the track record of running the GLC. That have him credibility. He can only be beaten by a credible Conservative candidate who can demonstrate that he or she can run London. None of our shortlisted four candidates have the necessary credibility to beat Ken.

The ideal Conservative Mayoral candidate would be an experienced and successful former Cabinet Minister, e.g. Michael Howard (who is leaving the Commons) or Sir Malcom Rifkind who now represents K&C. It is a pity that Sir John Major was not interested. We desperately need a heavy hitter to take on and beat Red Ken.


Graeme, an excellent piece as always. Agree with everything particularly the need to destroy Livingstone's credibility.
Andrew Boff needs to campaign much harder within the Conservative activist world if he is to have a hope of beating Boris. He should be putting forward his ideas on CH,Doughty Street the Evening Standard etc.I think Boff would make an excellent candidate but sadly will not have a vote as I don't live in London anymore.I fear he is going to lose because too few people know what he stands for.

Not Boris

Malcolm, only sad no-life Tories watch 18 Doughty Street. Iain Dale takes himself far too seriously. He lost all credibility after shipping 10k votes in North Norfolk last time yet has the gall to apply for safe seats.

Not Boris

Malcolm, only sad no-life Tories watch 18 Doughty Street. Iain Dale takes himself far too seriously. He lost all credibility after shipping 10k votes in North Norfolk last time yet has the gall to apply for safe seats.


Not sure I agree with this. Why pick out (in itallics, too) the nasty thing Mr Livingstone's guest said about one particular group (gays), when he may be against all non-Muslims? I understood (rightly or wrongly) that he is a supporter of terrorism and of the school of thought that sees war against all non-Muslims as the way to impose Islamic rule.

In this age of celebrity, I think Boris is our best hope for Mayor, as long as he comes up with some serious credible policies. Also, like me he is from outside the London area but works in London, so might be the best candidate for my intertests!! E.g. Mr Livinsgtone's emphasis on greater frequency inner metro rail services (which is good - I support better public transport, about the only thing I agree with Mr Livingstone on!) could work against commuters from outside the Greater London boundary by slowing down and reducing space for their trains on the network. Boris, from Henley, might understand this.


I have met Andrew Boff on a number of occasions and he is always full of bright ideas. Andrew also is prepared to muck in whenever there is a by-election and is full of energy.

Unfortunately though Andrew is too grey and does not have that Machiavellian streak to undermine Livingstone, who we know is totally unscrupulous. Hopefully, Boris becomes Mayor and promptly invites Boff and Lightfoot as part of his team.

Anna Rasmussen

The few times I visit London, all one hears are Londoners vilifying Livingstone. Maybe the next Tory candidate should harness that hatred for his campaign. Londoners loathe what he has done to their city so fight dirty at his level, because that will be the only method for success. As much as I like Boris, I feel Andrew will have a better chance.

David Boycott

According to one poster, "general trends show there are fewer cars in central London and more people using buses." Even if true, this does not mean that there is less congestion. Livingston’s pet obsessions have managed to increase congestion regardless of the volume of traffic. I am thinking of things like new road layouts, never-ending roadworks, bendy buses that take up more road space, Routemaster replacements that don’t allow passengers on or off except at bus stops resulting in longer stops.

If he were genuinely interested in reducing congestion,
- big hyrbids such as the V8 Lexus would not be zero rated for the congestion charge
- small, eco-friendly cars (including efficient petrol cars) would attract a reduced rate, but not a zero rate
- “free travel” ((ie travel paid for by the taxpayer) for school children and OAPs would be restricted to off-peak hours, freeing up room for commuters to abandon their cars in rush hour

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