Back from hols and ready to go again. I went along to County Hall on Monday to see Boris Johnson's campaign launch to become the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London. Not for nothing is he the runaway favourite. The campaign logo on the right capitalises on the fact that he is such a recognisable figure that you only need to see his silhouette.
The excitement caused by his bid is fascinating to watch. His supporters (of which I am one) feel that his instantly recognisable character give him a massive boost and adds genuine interest into a contest that was looking like a simple run-in for Livingstone's third term. He is also frighteningly intelligent and incisive, which is oft-forgotten behind the cultivated shuffling haystack image. His detractors from the Left have started an extraordinary character assassination campaign, attempting to brand him a right-wing extremist, a racist and various other terms ending in -ist. He dismisses this by explaining that his genes are more diverse than the components of a modern motorcar and the ethnic background of his family is wider than a UN peacekeeping force.
This moves us nicely onto the charge of whether we should take him seriously. Boris stated that he reserves the right to make jokes in his campaign, but make no mistake that he is serious about acheiving a greater london. I totally agree with this. There are far too many politicians that appear as though they have trodden in something foul when having to "deal" with people that aren't members of the Westminster political club, ie most voters. Boris is a breathe of fresh air in showing that although the issues are crucial to the future and quality of life of millions of Londoners, politicians don't need to believe that they deserve high office just because of their own inflated self-regard.
Candidate Boris would be a risk, but politics is all about managing risk. Show me someone who has not stuck their neck out and I will show you someone who has acheived nothing. The media will be looking for anything that they can report as a gaffe. If Boris surrounds himself with the right people, he has shown that he has a passion for London and a vision to further improve the city that 8m people call home. Couple this with an ability to get a wide-range of people to listen to him, Boris is already making Ken Livingstone nervous.
Don't take my word for it. Have a look at his site, Back Boris, for his message. Then have a look at his immediate challengers, Andrew Boff, Victoria Borwick and Warwick Lightfoot and you will appreciate that any of the four challengers will deliver a better London than the current Mayor.
Finally, you can have your say. The Conservative candidate for London Mayor is being chosen by an open Primary. This means that any London voter that registers with the Party can have a vote. You do not need to be a member or join the party to participate, just go to the Conservative website and follow the instructions. It does involve a premium rate telephone line but this is not television; we haven't already declared a winner before you call.