25 April 2012

Ken has campaigned better this time, but is it too little, too late yet again.

I have always thought that the polls showing Boris in the lead would close as the election got closer. I never believed they were accurate to start with. So Boris's lead over Ken is now just 2 points. I expect further polls will once again show Boris's lead increasing but I doubt this has in reality actually happened despite the negative campaign of the Tories and their domination of London media. Ken has dismissed these personal attacks and tried to get back to the issues, but this is not easy. You can't just ignore these attacks and hope they will not dominate the agenda. The Tories with their media firepower have made sure this tax issue has dominated the agenda and Ken needs to counter that.

Ken should have more vigorously tackled the negative smear against him with his tax bill. In fact he should have anticipated that something like this might have happened and avoided it altogether by not following HMRC advice and paying income tax on all monies (even on money used to employ others). Nobody else in his position does this (in effect it means paying income tax twice), but Ken needs to be completely above criticism on this - the Tories would have found some other spurious attack but perhaps not so targeted on Ken's core support. The Tories know that attacking Ken's honesty and expecially his reputation as a man of the people is key to hitting his core support on the left. Ken's response should have quickly pointed out he lives in a terraced house in an unfashionable part of London and that money is never going to be Ken's motive in being Mayor of London. To emphasise this, Ken should offer to do the job for the average wage in London around 30k not the 120k it actually pays.

Also any party political broadcast that uses 'real supporters' is going to be problematic, which is why they are generally shied away from in the modern era. For a start you have to expect attacks on any individual. They all need to be squeaky clean and genuine but also they have to be keen backers who will not desert you when faced with bribes or harrassment from the other side. This is a difficult balancing act to pull off. And the Tories and their press friends were always likely to discredit them if they could. Eventually Ken's team did put out further videos showing their supporters in the video were not actors, but this has got little pubicity and the damage has already been done.

Saying all this, Ken's team have been much better campaigners on Twitter and other social media this time and this has helped them. They were hopelessly outgunned by Boris last time.

When you think of the negative attacks on Ken in 2008 and the state of Labour in the polls and he still managed nearly a million votes, I can't believe Ken won't get near to that ammount again this time. The question is whether Boris can get the amazing turn-out he managed in the suburbs that propelled him to 1.2 million votes. I doubt Boris supporters have the same motivation this time and the Tory government must hurt him a little. We shall see. I am more optimistic for Ken this time that he can cause an upset despite the polls and betting stakes. Spread betting showed the Tories with a majority of seats in 2010 right up to the week of the election. They were wrong and I think it certainly is not a foregone conclusion that Boris is going to win this. We shall see.

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