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Monday 30th April 2012 | 15:11
Boris Johnson just can't keep out of the news.
Today, he has extended his lead in the latest opinion poll by the Standard (which has, surprise surprise, endorsed him today) and embarked on a fresh four-letter tirade against the BBC.
This comes of the back of a string of interviews in which he's made clear he's very independent from David Cameron and George Osborne (not least in The House magazine).
Boris may well act as a kind of electoral viagra for the Conservatives, making them feel better about their long-term prospects and about seeing off the return of Red Ken.
From the look in Labour MPs' eyes, you can tell they expect the worst in Thursday's London Mayoral election. Ed Miliband said yesterday that if the contest was fought on policy, Labour would win. But that was pretty close to admitting that Ken doesn't have a 'winning' personality.
Of course, Labour would like us to look at the big picture and stop obsessing with the Ken n Boris show. There are 131 English councils up for election and plenty in Scotland. The party wants to show it is a force again in key marginal areas and the East and South.
The reason is simple: Labour remembers all too well Ken Baker's 'London effect' from May 1990. Back then, despite a disastrous set of Tory council losses across the nation, the party chairman went on telly to declare that this was in fact a victory for the Government. Why? Because the Tories had held on to their Westminster and Wandsworth flagships.
It kinda worked. Several newspapers preferred the story that low council taxes in the two Tory boroughs had won the day. (In fact Labour was not likely to win in Wandsworth and was never going to take Westminster* but the sheer high profile of both made the difference).
Fast forward to this week. Even if there are bad results for the Tories (and even worse for the Lib Dems, if they fall below 3,000 councillors, their lowest since 1986), a victory for Boris will ease the pain.
Expect the current Tory co-chairman Sayeeda Warsi to try to pull off the 'London Effect' message should Bojo beat Ken.
Back in 1990, Baker was ridiculed by some for his claims, particularly as the poll tax itself was killed - and Margaret Thatcher too - within a year.
Yet Baker was right in one sense. Labour just couldn't translate its wider non-London victories into a general election victory two years later.
The big difference this week is one of timing. Unlike in 1990, the Mayoral result won't be known on the same night as the rest of the local elections.
We will know in the early hours of Friday morning if the Coalition has had a town hall drubbing and that will inform the Friday newspaper front pages.
We won't know the London Mayoral result until Friday night (as City Hall counts the millions of votes electronically and takes a day). If there's high turnout, it could even be early Saturday morning. Either way, Saturday's papers will have to splash on Boris a day after the other results.
That gap may give Ed Miliband a key bit of the news cycle to ram home any victories. But should Boris win, you can bet David Cameron will be using it to take the edge off the results.
*FOOTNOTE. Dame Shirley was so worried about Labour that she embarked on the gerrymandering policy that led to her disgrace.
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