January 24, 2008

Boris in London?

One of the most interesting questions incidentally should these jubilent Tories over at Conservative Home see their wishes fulfilled, is what happens to a politician when his party are out of power who becomes London Mayor. As such he would represent more people than any other figure bar the leader in his party and possibly more than his leader. He would be a key figure in terms of any election campaign in 2009 as well. One of the most interesting things about this mayorality race is that you could easily end up either with Johnson winning (under Brown) or with Livingstone winning and then Cameron in as PM say in 2009 or 2010. I think that might have a very interesting effect on British politics. The UK has not really had politicians who have built up local profiles like US governors do since the Chamberlaines ruled Birmingham in the early twentieth and late nineteenth centuries- it would be fascinating to see how the London Mayor fits into national politics should we see a mayor from the opposition party in charge at City Hall.

It took a couple of years for the full political implications of Scottish devolution to sort their way through and we are now seeing the first SNP government up there- I don't think we will see London devolution's political effects (which could be much greater given the fact that its the major parties who contend in the capitol, not one major party against a regional party) until we see what a mayor from a party not in power does- what position he has visa vis the government and visa vis his own party. The traditional route in British politics takes you through Whitehall and Westminster- it will be fascinating to see whether there are other routes to the top that say involve becoming mayor of London and establishing a powerbase.


Vino S said...

I tend to agree. I think the mayorality of London is already an important platform and, if the Mayor is of the opposite party to the one in power in Westminster, he could well be a sort of alternative Leader of the Opposition.

Dave Cole said...

One of the reasons that Thatcher killed off the GLC was that she didn't like Ken having a power-base in London.

There is also the geographic distance; newspapers and so on tend to be London-centric and all the MPs go to London, but not Scotland or Wales, so the Mayor of London will have more visibility, weight and impact than (say) the Scottish first minister. Equally, there are a set of ministers in Scotland where the focus in London is very much on the Mayor.

Ken already had profile when he ran for Mayor. We need to see what happens after Ken (hopefully not before 2012) and whether any of the people on the GLA end up in the Mayoralty.


edmund said...

I think an even better parallel is probaly wth the mayor of Paris.

Good post- i would say though that there are plenty of post chamberlain examples- for example Morrison in the 1930's and more obviously ken himself in the 80's and indeed David Blunkett ect in Shefield ect

Gracchi said...

Edmund you are right- I'd take Morrison in particular.