"Boris needs greater powers to bring about real change"

May 10, 2012, 4:35 PM GMT+0

With the votes counted and Boris Johnson re-elected as London Mayor, we thought we'd have a look at what our YouGov panellists were telling us about the race in the wake of last week's vote.

To do so, we invited panellists to submit their personalised blogposts on the topic - peppered with their opinions and insights - to be part of the conversation.

In the wake of the local elections last Thursday, Tory tele-canvasser – and YouGov panellist – Oliver tells us what, for him, shaped the Mayoral election in London this year…

About Oliver:

Oliver worked as a telecanvasser at Conservative Campaign Head Quarters in the run-up to the mayoral elections, and is a private tutor from Chingford, Waltham Forest.

Oliver says: "The mayor needs greater powers to bring about real change"

**(Please note: this is Oliver’s personal perspective, and does not necessarily reflect the views of YouGov.)

"On the Daily Politics, UKIP’s London mayoral candidate, Lawrence Webb, repeatedly stated ahead of the election that his manifesto was his 'vision' for London.

"It is this type of big picture thinking that is lacking in mainstream politics, and the problem elected mayors are supposed to go someway to solve.

"Unfortunately, the mayoral candidates could only tweak at the sidelines.

"This led to a significant level of disconnect from the elections – disconnect from the purpose of a mayor of London.

"Even when I’d been telecanvassing at Conservative Campaign Head Quarters, it seemed as if the person at the other end of the phone had to pause for a moment to remember there was a campaign going on, and even then could only just recall Boris and Ken – Brian and the others didn’t get a look in; not at the end of my receiver anyway.

"A week before polling day that changed.

"I wandered into my local branch of Greggs to hear the staff talking about the election: “They’ve all got money so it doesn’t matter to them if they lose” said one, while the other asked questions about VAT on the new curry pastry – did it count as a pasty?

"This was one of the first times I’d heard the mayoral election come up in a casual conversation, and it indicated how far all the candidates had to go.

"The atmosphere still seemed poisonous; there was still an attitude of 'Us and Them'; that the candidates were too remote to really understand the worries of ordinary voters.

"The candidates still seemed to be of the Westminster machine, and even the independent candidate, Siobhan Benita, was castigated by The Spectator as the 'Mayor for Whitehall', a career civil servant holding the approval of the ultimate insider, Sir Gus O’Donnell.

"Boris, despite the government’s woes, won – but he won on personality not politics, in my view. The pity about this election is that it was essentially a rerun of 2008, but with greater electorate hostility.

"As with that election, Boris, Ken, Brian and Jenny were all familiar faces the electorate knew and didn’t trust, while UKIP were still perceived as a single-issue party, and the BNP, while possibly capable of picking up protest votes, have made a hash of every opportunity they’ve had to serve capably in elected office – Le Pen’s Front National they are not.

"The timid selection of the same crop of candidates as four years ago, indicated a lack of ambition, while self-indulgent personality clashes served only to lower the electorate’s opinion further.

"This lacklustre campaign, I think, is partly the result of the limits of the mayor’s powers.

"According to a recent YouGov poll, 25% of the London electorate consider affordable housing a priority. But until recently, it had hardly been touched upon, and was only pushed to the fore by Newham Council’s attempts to re-locate tenants to Stoke, blaming the government’s cap on housing benefit.

"These types of problems – housing, the rising population and the resultant strain on London’s infrastructure – need bold policies that will make a difference to Londoners’ lives.

"One of the few eye-catching policies to emerge was the Lib Dem’s policy of a one hour bus ticket. It’s a policy that is simple, imaginative and gives a small but valuable amount of money back to the passenger, but its reach is limited.

"London is increasingly moving away from the rest of the UK in terms of economy, culture and demographics, and this will continue despite attempts to artificially buck the trend.

"It faces problems that must be solved quickly, and that requires a much wider policy brief than the mayor currently has.

"If London is to maintain its position as a global city, it needs a mayor who can enact policy independently of the narrow concerns of local authorities – prone as they are to nimbyism and political opportunism."

  • Do you agree or disagree with Oliver?

  • Are you pleased to see Boris Johnson back as Mayor of London?

  • Do you think mayors need greater powers, and if yes, to do what?

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