THE BLOG

BoJo: Should He Stay or Should He Go?

28/04/2014 11:15 BST | Updated 27/06/2014 10:59 BST

There's been alotofspeculation of late over which parliamentary seat the current Mayor of London might run for at the next general election in May of next year. A fair few seats have been floated, all of them relatively secure Tory strongholds. Yet amidst all the media guessing games, there doesn't seem to be the slightest concern for his current constituents of well, you know...the capital city, London, who number over 8 million people. All this speculation is a little disturbing, and gives the impression that it is only the Mayor's public popularity and favour with Conservative backbenchers which hangs in the balance. Again, his current constituents, Londoners are ignored. It all seems a little irresponsible, and Boris himself has been accused of "flip-flopping" by Nick Ferrari over the issue, refusing to outrightly deny or confirm any rumours, which doesn't do brilliantly for his image either nationally or in London. Those who elected him in 2012 chose to primarily because he was Boris (and probably not Ken), a seemingly affable politician, who mostly seems to shake off the disdain in which the public generally hold the political class.

It is exactly this favour in the public eye which David Cameron wants to capitalise upon; Boris is probably one of the very few politicians whose personality comes before party. With Boris both on and by his side in the campaign, Cameron aims to win the 2015 election. This shrewd ploy by Cameron, who has publicly declared he wants to see Boris back as an MP after 6 years away from the Commons, is in itself a gamble. As many people know, Johnson has been widely tipped for the last few years by political pundits as Cameron's successor should he win or usurper should he lose. The Spectator's Toby Young even has a £15,000 wager with Nigella Lawson over the matter.

Recently when asked by an LBC listener what his plans were, Johnson replied "I've got to get on with what I've been elected to do in London." His replies to journalists have trodden a similar path, claiming his need to focus on London. Obviously he has to be seen to be doing just that, but that he refuses to neither deny nor confirm his intentions leaves us all in the lurch. The job of Mayor has become ever more-demanding, and is a full-time position. How could Boris ever possibly imagine to effectively balance running both Europe's biggest city and financial hub and a separate constituency, which from the looks of things would be outside of London? In fairness, Ken Livingstone did manage to do both in 2000-2001 as the MP for East Brent. Yet, at least when Ken juggled the two there was less to do as Mayor, and he wasn't focusing on helping Labour to win the 2001 election. Given the rigour of the job, which according to some Boris doesn't always seem quite capable of anyway, could he really ever competently manage the mammoth task of them both? Either way, it seems inevitable that Boris would be letting down one group who had elected him to do a job that in reality would require the most part of his attention. Romantic scandals and aiding potential assault aside, Boris has managed to deflect attention away from some of his more questionable actions in the past, but the fallout from deserting his London constituents for a shoe-in seat in the Commons would be easy picking for the media and the public alike.

Then there's the financial side of things to consider; lest we forget that good ol' BoJo already has a second job as a columnist for the Telegraph, which earns him £250,000 a year (a figure he once dismissed as "chicken feed") on top of his Mayoral salary of £143,000 a year. Capable he might be, but he is no Atlas, and the weight of three jobs strain would surely crush the bumbling tower of Boris. Plus given the current cost-of-living crisis, which Ed Miliband has sought to make Labour's battle ground for 2015, would anyone really feel comfortable seeing Johnson abuse a guaranteed majority safe-seat to effectively earn a top-up of £67,000 to his already bumper income? Could David Cameron really afford to hand his opposition a free ticket to go to town on him at Prime Minister's Questions? The Tories might be the party of the Old Boys club, but one would hope that even they can't be so out touch to allow a prominent member of their party to essentially be given a sinecure.

There is still much left for Boris to do in London, and his best option would be to firmly aim to finish his tenure here alone. Given the Tories record, I'm sure there will be someone in the Conservative party who overclaims for something somewhere and he'll be able to clamber into the Commons in a by-election sooner or later after 2016. Until then, he'd do best to stay put and finish the job at hand. Overall, despite his failure to keep promises to the London Fire Brigade, and to the RMT over ticket office closures, his handing out of lucrative sponsorship deals without fair competition, and failure to build adequate housing, his time as Mayor will no doubt be seen as successful, even lending his own name to his rather clunky two-wheeled legacy. We Londoners - and a few in the Gambia - will forever be grateful. Sort of.