Business backs Boris as Labour gets a kicking

Boris Johnson has trounced Ken Livingstone in an MT reader survey - will he do the same at the polls?

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

If you live outside London, you’re probably sick to death of the endless coverage devoted to The Boris and Ken Show, so we apologise for in advance for indulging such metropolitan preoccupations. But with the local election results from around the country suggesting that Labour has been given a seriously bloody nose (some estimates suggest it’s their worst performance for 40 years), the race for the high-profile London Mayor job is taking on even greater significance. A Conservative victory would be just the high-profile kick in the teeth that Gordon Brown doesn’t need...

And we know who the business community seems to be backing. Johnson, the floppy-haired Tory best known for riding a bicycle, crass racial insensitivity and offending large swathes of non-Londoners, may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But according to a reader poll conducted by MT over the last fortnight, 50% of our readers said that of all the mayoral candidates, Boris would be ‘best for business’. That’s more than twice the vote garnered by present incumbent Ken Livingstone, who trailed in a distant second with just 22% (third was ‘couldn’t care less’, with 19%, showing that not everyone is as fascinated by this battle as the newspapers appear to think).

To be honest, we’re not entirely sure what Boris has done to engender such confidence, given that his business experience consists solely of (kind of) running a magazine for a few years (and any old idiot can do that, right?). However, Livingstone has two big disadvantages: first, he’s already had two attempts at it (albeit with more success than anyone expected), and second, he’s representing a deeply unpopular Labour Party (although the various Tube disasters and the huge amount of cash he’s spent on his political machine hasn’t helped either - does the Mayor really need a 70-strong press team?).

With turnout expected to be around 50%, you might see this as a good day for British democracy. Or equally, you might see it as a damning indictment of British democracy that people can only be bothered voting if the two main candidates are famous enough to have appeared as guest presenters on Have I Got News For You.

Either way we’ll find out later today who gets the job – and judging by the opinion polls, which have differed wildly (unless they’re in the virulently anti-Ken Evening Standard, of course), the race could easily go either way. We’re not sure who’ll be more nervous at the moment – Ken or Gordon Brown...

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