The Boris Johnson Coronation

Oh dear, oh dear. The Tories are trying to choose their candidate for Mayor of London, but their much-vaunted primary has ended up looking like a rubber-stamp for Boris Johnson.

The news item on the Conservative website can hardly be called unbiased: it has a picture of Boris (reproduced right) and reads

[...] Other contenders who have publicly launched their campaigns include Winston Mckenzie, Simon Fawthrop, Victoria Borwick, Warwick Lightfoot, Andrew Boff, Lurline Champagnie, and Lee Rotherham

Firstly, there are no other credible candidates. Despite extending the deadline for nominations, no-one else of any substance can be found. They include Winston McKenzie (formerly of Veritas), Simon Fawthrop (who campaigned against the existence of a London Mayor in the first place), Victoria Borwick (who rattles off answers to easy questions but doesn't take on the hard ones), Warwick Lightfoot (who presumably wishes the last three years of NHS spending increases hadn't happened), Andrew Boff (who has been failing to be Tory Mayoral candidate for eight years), Lurline Champagnie (who is supporting Hillary for president of the US on her Lurline for London website and simultaneously endorsing trade unionism) and Lee Rotherham (of the pottily eurosceptic Bruges Group).

I haven't heard of any of them, and they're just the ones that the Tories are prepared to name. Of course, the Tory faithful won't be able to choose, both because anyone who is registered as a voter in London (which does not include Mr Johnson, I believe) can participate in the election and because:
"A panel of Party officials will now sift through the list of potential candidates, selecting about nine or ten to go forward to the interview stage.

The interviews will be conducted by an electoral college, made up of leading London Conservatives, during the coming weekend. The college will draw up a short list of between 2 and 5 candidates, which will be announced at some point over the weekend."
So that no-one too embarassing gets any coverage.

Secondly, if the Tories are going to make any mileage from their primary as an attempt to re-energise democracy in the UK, it cannot be seen, in any way, to favour a candidate or candidates. Their trial of American-style primaries is only valid if Londoners have a real choice; the Tories owe Londoners that much, but seem unwilling to offer it. I hope that, if and when Boris does become the Tory candidate, any attempt on his part to claim any form at all of extra legitimacy is shot down as being based on a flawed process.

The Tories could learn from the Labour Deputy Leadership - it did a measure of good for the Party.


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