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LONDON | Det skall mycket till för att en kandidat från Labour skall förlora ett borgmästarval i London.

The Spectator 2 January 2016

Det är lika svårt för en konservativ politiker i London som för en republikan i New York.

Trots detta har Boris Johnson varit den perfekta konservativa borgmästaren för en storstad som London. Även om Johnson inte varit någon kopia av den tidigare republikanska borgmästaren Michael Bloomberg har de hel del gemensamt.

Båda har varit sitt eget varumärke. Båda har lyckats sälja in sin egen person snarare än deras partitillhörighet. Båda har gått sin egen väg och snarare varit pragmatiska än ideologiska.

Så när London nu skall gå till val igen i maj skall det mycket till för att Tories skall lyckas upprepa Johnsons bragd.

Den här gången kommer det att stå mellan Sadiq Khan från Labour och Zac Goldsmith från Conservative Party.

Eftersom Labour idag har en rejält impopulär partiledare i Jeremy Corbyn samtidigt som Johnson har varit mycket populär har Khan valt en strategi som går ut på att distansera sig från sin partiledare samtidigt som han talar väl om allt som det bara går att tala väl om hos sin motståndare.

James Forsyth, politisk redaktör på The Spectator, har tittat på Khan och hans kampanjstrategi.

He ran Ed Miliband’s leadership campaign in 2010 and led Labour’s fierce — and surprisingly effective —campaign in London last year. Now, his sights are set on reclaiming City Hall for Labour and persuading even those on the right that he is the natural heir to Boris Johnson.

‘I want Spectator readers to give me a second look,’ he says, when we meet in the House of Commons. He is not, he’s keen to stress, a lieutenant in Jeremy Corbyn’s army. He’s keen to ladle praise on Boris Johnson — a ‘great salesman for our city’ who made him feel ‘proud to be a Londoner’ during the Olympics. He even likes rich people. ‘I welcome the fact that we have got 140-plus billionaires in London; that’s a good thing. I welcome the fact that there are more than 400,000 millionaires; that’s a good thing.’ If you shut your eyes, it could be Peter Mandelson speaking. It is not what you would expect from someone who has always been on the soft left of Labour.

If elected mayor, he says, he would not attempt to taunt David Cameron’s government as Ken Livingstone once taunted Margaret Thatcher’s. ‘I’m not going to be somebody who puts a big banner up outside City Hall criticising the Prime Minister, he says. ‘As a Labour councillor for 12 years in Tory Wandsworth I saw the benefits of having to work with the Tories to get a good deal for my constituents.’

But this is all part of Khan’s ambitious strategy: he doesn’t just want to win, he wants to win big. He is confident about his own ability to run a campaign; to him the issue isn’t whether he’ll win — but how.

‘If we wanted to, we could just target those Labour voters and increase the turnout. We could win London just by doing that.’ But, he says, ‘That’s not the sort of mayor I want to be… I want to be everyone’s mayor.’ In particular, he wants to be that vanishingly rare thing: a Labour friend of business. ‘Bearing in mind who our leader is,’ he says, ‘it’s important to reassure the right people that he doesn’t represent all Labour thinking.’ Khan is clearly aware that his biggest vulnerability is being branded Corbyn’s candidate. He is eager to say he is not in regular contact with his party leader; the last time he saw him was when they had their photos taken together to promote the Living Wage more than a month ago.

[…]

The Tories would dearly love to turn this contest into independent-minded Zac versus Jeremy Corbyn’s man. But by love-bombing Tories and business, Khan is determined to stop them doing that. So if the Tories are to stop Labour retaking City Hall, then the Goldsmith campaign will have to match Khan’s organisation, energy and enthusiasm.

Tidskriftsomslag: The Spectator, 2 januari 2016.

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CLUBLAND | Under viktorianska tiden expolderade antalet medlemmsklubbar i London. År 1900 fanns det över 250 stycken olika herr (och dam) klubbar.

Reform Club, London

En äldre, distingerad gentleman, iförd slips och kostym, som sitter djupt nersjunken i en fåtölj och läser The Times är antagligen för många sinnebilden av en engelsk klubb.

Och bilden är inte helt osann. Men det cirkulerar också många anekdoter om excentriska medlemmar som befolkat dessa klubbar genom historien.

“Indeed, one miserly 19th-century member, Charles Agar, was so reluctant to leave the Carlton Club each evening that the night porter invariably had to search the building for him”,  skriver t.ex. Seth Alexander Thévoz som forskat om klubbarna under drottning Victorias tid.

Alla dessa klubbar sin egen högst personliga profil. Många var rent sociala sammanslutningar medan andra fokuserade på specifika intressen eller yrken.

Här fanns medlemsklubbar för t.ex. sport-, fiske- eller reseintresserade. Här fanns också klubbar för olika universitet, officerare eller personer som tjänstgjort i kolonierna. Och så fanns det naturligtvis politiska klubbar.

Thévoz skriver vidare i History Today:

[I]t was for their political rather than their social clout that the London clubs had the greatest impact. The 1832 Reform Act created several hundred thousand new electors, people who consciously defined themselves as middle class. Shunned by the traditional political and aristocratic citadels of Brooks’s and White’s, this group founded their own more ‘popular’ political establishments, led by the Conservative-supporting Carlton Club in 1832 and the Liberal-supporting Reform Club in 1836.

The Great Fire of 1834 destroyed the old Palace of Westminster and, although the new House of Commons chamber was completed by 1852, Parliament remained a noisy building site well into the 1860s. For the whipping and lobbying activities that are an essential part of any parliamentary democracy, MPs had nowhere to go except to their clubs. These afforded MPs cheap and convenient all-night dining in central London, in several cases with the doors timed to close an hour after Parliament ceased sitting.

While the political influence of elite clubs proved transient, they nonetheless played a critical role in the evolution of parties and politics. In the 1830s the Liberal whip Edward Ellice popularised the phrase ‘Club Government’, as the Carlton and Reform Clubs housed national offices for the Conservative and Liberal parties (complete with printing presses and facilities for franking mail), pre-dating the creation of central political organisations in the 1870s. Hansom cabs ferried MPs from Pall Mall to Parliament in an eight-minute round trip, as the clubs became a convenient place for whips to pick up scores of MPs before a vote.

Most clubs had strict caps on membership numbers, but in political clubs MPs were exempt from such limits, so could join in large enough numbers to exercise significant influence.

[…]

In its 19th century heyday the club not only stood as an innovative way of brokering social interactions, it also allowed MPs to meet the costs of sitting in Parliament without burdening the taxpayer.

Bild: Interiör från Reform Club som var en klubb för anhängare till liberalerna.

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LONDON | Boris Johnson, Londons borgmästare, har för andra året i rad blivit utsedd till Storbritanniens mest inflytelserika man.

GQ - februari 2013

I årets lista, sammanställd av det brittiska livsstilsmagasinet GQ, hamnar premiärminister David Cameron på tredje plats, efter sin kabinettssekreterare Sir Jeremy Heywood.

I en tid när minsta lilla misstag eller felsägning genererar publikstorm och krav på politikers avgång har den excentriske konservative borgmästaren lyckats överleva det mesta.

Vad som skulle ha tagit död på de flesta andra politiker har Johnson lyckats vända till sin egen fördel. Numera är Johnson ”Boris” med hela nationen.

Efter att ha lyckats bli omvald till borgmästare börjar allt fler nu också tala om honom som nästa premiärminister.

En undersökning har indikerat att Conservative Party skulle kunna radera ut det försprång Labour har haft i opinionen ifall partiet ersatte Cameron mot Johnson.

Michael Wolff, tidskriftens Contributing Editor, som känt Johnsson sedan 2004, har skrivet den medföljande artikeln till ”The 100 Most Influential Men In Britain”.

An ever-shrinking but stubbornly disbelieving core still thinks he is:

1) Not real – not cuddly, but in fact, remote, cold, impersonal.

2) A buffoon – a show-off and dangerously ridiculous figure.

3) A lazy sod – a disorganized rogue who doesn’t put in the hours.

4) Without beliefs or principles – he’ll say or do anything to please the crowd.

5) A toff – a class joke on the new Britain.

Most politicians, in the face of such resistance and “negatives”, re-calibrate and reposition.

But Boris is not so much a politician – with a quasi-scientific approach to the management of popular opinion – but a seducer. In the playbook of seduction, he amps it up, continues coming, keeps playing his hand, until you are seduces or he is rejected. It’s all or nothing.

[…]

He was the editor of a serious political magazine who became a television sensation (often a comic one). He was a media personality who became an MP. He was an MP who survived not only cascade of larger-than-life gaffes but seemingly nonstop sexual scandal. He was a Tory politician who became the mayor of lefty London. The Olympics, often a sinkhole for the cities and politicians that promote them, became his and London’s triumph.

[…]

It is not possible to exaggerate this: his time as mayor has turned Boris not just into a practised politician nor even a political star but, love or despise him, into a new political art form. There is no politician in the world so at odds with the standard presentation and behaviour as Boris. In a an age of political disenchantment he is, arguably, for better or worse, the first bona fide alternative.

[…]

Boris Is keenly recognizable, to me, as a modern writer at the top of his game (necessarily a performer and entrepreneur as well as scribe) humorous, hyperbolic, garrulous, seductive. Politics, which really is about the art of expression, ought to be a logical profession for writers (it’s very hard to explain to politics- and policy-addicted people that language is the basis of all ideas – if you can’t say it, you can’t think it), instead of a refuge for lawyers and apparatchiks.

[…]

One should point out that Boris does not, in fact, have the power to affect any of his ambitions for London. He cannot legislate; he cannot tax; he cannot re-destrict; he cannot build. All he can do is talk, appeal, convince, remonstrate, seduce – which, of course, is exactly what he does best (this may be the keenest definition of talent, to be able to only do what you do best).

In terms of political strategy, for Boris, London is the United Kingdom. He can make being the mayor of London being the real prime minister of Britain. Boris want 500,000 new jobs in four years and a new airport. He will get them by being the opposite of lazy, but instead, a whirling dervish of seduction. Seducing the world.

Bild: Tidskriftsomslaget är GQ, februari 2013.

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DOWNING STREET | På grund av OS har chanserna ökat att Londons konservativa borgmästare, Boris Johnson, blir Storbritanniens nästa premiärminister.

En ny opinionsundersökning från YouGov visar att han är populär även i de delar av landet där partiet är som svagast.

David Wooding, Associate Political EditorThe Sun som beställt undersökningen, skriver:

Boris Johnson has emerged as the Tories’ best hope of being returned to power at the next general election.

The mop-haired London mayor has bounced ahead of David Cameron as the party’s top vote-winner, a poll reveals today.

His popularity has soared during the Olympics — especially among doubters the PM must attract to stay in office.

He has benefited from a wave of patriotism that’s swept the nation in the past fortnight. BoJo insists he is not ready for No10, saying: “How could anybody elect a prat who gets stuck on a zip wire?”

But our exclusive survey shows he is the man most likely to win over die-hard Labour and Lib Dem voters.

Despite his posh upbringing, Mr Johnson’s plain-speaking and humour even appeals to working classes in Tory no-go areas of Scotland and Northern England.

One in four adults sees him more positively than they did before the London Games, according to our YouGov poll.

He is liked not only in the capital, but in almost EVERY region of Britain, including Scotland, the Midlands and the North. Mr Cameron has greater appeal only in the true-blue Tory heartlands of southern England.

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LONDON | Apropå spekulationerna kring Boris Johnsons eventuella intresse för att bli premiärminister. Här en humoristisk tolkning från The Week.

Bild: Tidskriftsomslaget är från den 12 maj 2012. 

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IMAGE | Valsegern i Londons borgmästarval har satt igång spekulationer om Boris Johnson är intresserad av att bli premiärminister efter David Cameron.

Han har åtminstone en uppenbar fördel framför alla andra konservativa politiker i Storbritannien. Han är antagligen den mest kända och – vilket är viktigare – populära politikern i landet.

Hans stil är minst sagt udda. I en tid när alla politiker försöker vara så strömlinjeformade som det bara går sticker Johnson ut med sin smått excentriska image.

Det är en stil som går hem hos urbana storstadsväljare på både vänster- och högerkanten.

Greg Williams skriver i Newsweek:

Johnson’s mayoralty has been a most unlikely success story. An unabashed member of the privileged classes, he has somehow managed to win the affection of a Labour-leaning city as it endures the harshest cuts in public expenditure since World War II, under the Conservative-led government’s austerity prescriptions.

[…]

And yet the city’s people seem to like having him around—not only Conservatives but even longtime Labour voters who have been branded “Boris Reds.” He is that rare thing: a politician who has risen above events to take on a form of celebrity. As Johnson walks up the street, bystanders recognize him instantly, and in most cases a smile creeps onto their faces as he approaches.

[…]

He’s practically a P.G. Wodehouse character, a bumbling, disorderly member of the upper class, except Johnson is genuinely erudite and fiercely ambitious—and he rides the streets of London on a bicycle. “He has the ability to strike up a rapport with people who haven’t really got anything,” says [författaren och journalisten Andrew] Gimson. “It’s quite a complicated thing because he is, by temperament, an elitist. And he is, of course, immensely competitive and wants to get to the top.”

[…]

“Even at Oxford he struck people as a slightly old-fashioned toff from another era,” says writer Toby Young, who knew both Johnson and Cameron during their years at the university. “People credit Boris with being true to himself, and they like the fact that he’s such an authentic-seeming character. The truth is he has essentially created an identity for himself, and he’s certainly skillful in never letting the mask slip. But I wouldn’t use the word ‘authentic’ to describe him. It’s a sort of brilliant music-hall turn.”

Maybe so, but somehow it seems to work. “Boris is a Chaucerian figure,” Gimson says. “Cameron is very keen on marriage—you would never catch Boris preaching about that. If Cameron was caught in bed with some bird, that would probably be the end of him, whereas Boris is so often pretty much caught in bed with some bird—but, you know, people rather expect that.” Despite his affectations, Londoners find something winningly unpretentious about him. When the mayor accompanied police on an early-morning drug raid last June, the awakening suspect greeted Johnson with rough familiarity: “What the f–k are you doing here, Boris?”

In the political universe, caution and prudence aren’t always virtues. “Boris’s strategy for detoxifying his privileged upbringing is more effective than Cameron’s,” says Young. “It seems much more relaxed, less defensive. Cameron hasn’t made the mistake of turning it down too far—he’s just turned it down a little bit. Whereas Boris has turned it up to 11.”

[…]

“Cameron is a pure establishment man, who will always do what the establishment thinks is prudent. Boris is a loner. He can’t see an apple cart without feeling inclined to overturn it.” As charming as Johnson can be, it’s hard to blame his fellow Conservatives for feeling a bit nervous.

Bild: Tidskriftsomslaget (engelska upplagan) och artikeln från Newsweek den 7 maj 2012.

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VAL | Boris Johnsons seger i Londons borgmästarval var en av få ljuspunkter för premiärminister David Cameron och de konservativa i lokalvalen.

För koalitionspartnern Liberal Democrats blev valet en än större förlust. Daniel Boffey och Toby Helm i The Observer skriver:

Thursday’s local elections and a string of referendums in cities up and down the country, which saw Cameron’s flagship plan for elected mayors rejected, were shocking for both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. While the Tories lost 405 seats, the Liberal Democrats had an equally, if not more, disastrous night, shedding more than 300 seats and sinking under a national total of 3,000 for the first time in their history. Boris Johnson’s victory against Ken Livingstone in the race for mayor of London offered some relief to the Conservatives, but Tory celebrations were muted because the contest turned out to be far closer than had been expected.

It is not just the fact that Tories and Lib Dems fared badly themselves that is alarming activists and MPs of both parties – and raising doubts in the minds of many about the electoral effects of being in coalition. It is also that Labour – dismissed by the coalition as moribund and lacking in ideas under Ed Miliband – outperformed everyone’s expectations, most of all its own. ”Labour thrive on bad day for Tories” was yesterday’s front-page headline in the normally Cameron-supporting Times.

As well as the symbolic gain from a Tory-Lib Dem coalition of Birmingham, Britain’s second largest city, Labour made progress in many former Tory strongolds across the south, raising hopes that the ”southern discomfort” that prevented it from forming a government from 1979 until the arrival of Tony Blair is easing again. Exeter and coastal towns such as Great Yarmouth, Southampton and Plymouth were claimed by the supposedly ineffectual Miliband’s party.

In all, Labour added 823 seats, way beyond its most optimistic estimates. In Wales, Labour retook control of 10 councils, including Cardiff, Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport and Swansea, recording its best results since local government was reorganised in 1996. And in Scotland it did far better than it expected, holding on to Glasgow city council, where it saw off the SNP, and capturing Edinburgh. London was a blot, but one that Labour passed off on the candidate.

Bild: Grafik från The Observer den 6 maj 2012. (The Guardian publicerar allt material från The Observer på sin hemsida.)

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