The mistake of underestimating Boris

1:56 pm - May 9th 2008

by Sunder Katwala    

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Boris is enjoying a honeymoon as London Mayor, as Andrew Grice of The Independent writes on his politics blog.

Will it last? I fear that Boris Johnson’s critics are already repeating the mistake they made during the campaign, as I argue in a New Statesman column on the Mayoral race fallout.

Gleefully anticipating a gaffe-filled mayoralty that will wreck David Cameron’s project helps Johnson to set expectations very low. Johnson benefits as much as Ronald Reagan or George W Bush ever did from being seriously “misunderestimated”. Which other candidate would have got away with floundering and being roughly £100m out on their sums for buses in the televised mayoral debates?

But if he merely remembers to put his trousers on every morning and get to work, Johnson’s mayoralty will be acclaimed as a triumph. But the real test must be the same any other mayor would face: delivery. That – with Johnson presented as a hands-off “chairman of the board” – is truly a test of the Cameron project”.

Rather than expecting a total fiasco, we should be scrutinising what the Tory modernisers want to do with power.

Perhaps the (conservative) answer will be not very much at all.

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About the author
Sunder Katwala is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He is the director of British Future, a think-tank addressing identity and integration, migration and opportunity. He was formerly secretary-general of the Fabian Society.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Debates ,Mayor election ,Westminster

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Reader comments

Interestingly enough, it seems that the conservative commentariat have scant faith in Boris as an adminstrator. Ian Dale, in the Telegraph, says that he’s “sick and tired of the Left-wing commentators who have poured a bucketload of scorn on Boris Johnson and his supposed “lack of experience” and penchant for “buffoonery””, but goes on to predict that Nick Boles and James Mcgrath will “keep Boris on the straight and narrow”, and admit that Boris’s “main asset is the goodwill he enjoys among Londoners”.

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