Friday, 25 April 2008

London Mayoral Debate

A fascinating last (?) TV Mayoral debate prior to the vote next Thursday's election on BBC's Question Time glaringly exposed each of the candidate's weaknesses. I was surprised once again as I had been at a debate at Thomson Reuters in Canary Wharf last week at the strong start made by Boris Johnson. But as in the Thomson Reuters debate it is quite clear that Boris is absolutely clueless once he gets beyond his pre-prepared script. The script seems to last about 15 minutes. After that, he just filibusters embarrassingly. His pathetic defence of his claim that he could do a no-strike deal with the RMT was typical.

Both Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson were almost literally floored at various points during the debate. Ken's difficulties with his occasionally venomous tongue and some of the very serious misjudgements he has made with some of the people he has allowed himself to be associated with are well documented. And it continues to trip him up every time. Brian Paddick told Boris to 'shut up' at one point to rapturous applause. It was like a local bobby clipping a young rapscallion around the ear.

The rest of the UK would have been horrified at Ken's boast that he had 'ensnared' the Government into signing an open cheque for the Olympics because it would regenerate East London. He even admitted that it was a bit of a con trick! The reality is that it is what any good Mayor would have done. And on transport, housing, and policing, he has been very successful at getting investment into London. That is the key reason to support Ken.

It is clear that Ken is head and shoulders above the other candidates when it comes to the governance and understanding of London, flaws notwithstanding. He has under-estimated severely how he can no longer claim to be the outsider candidate after eight years in City Hall. But there is no doubt that he has been a good and persistent Mayor over the two terms.

Without a credible candidate against him he deserves a third term.

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