You know that feeling when you slowly wake with a sore, heavy head? As you peel your saliva-encrusted jaw from the sheet, try to turn the blurred random shapes dancing across your eyelids into a semblance of reality, and try to answer the nagging thought that last night, after the seventeenth vodka shot, you may have done something very silly indeed? Oh yes, you slept with your cousin, someone filmed it on their phone and it's already a Featured Item on YouTube.
That's how London is starting to feel. Late Friday night, Conservative candidate Boris Johnson was crowned mayor of London, beating the two-term incumbent Labour candidate Ken Livingstone.
The mayoral election coincided with a number of local elections across England and Wales, and the Conservative Party cleaned up, pushing Labour into third place behind the Liberal Democrats — the worst result for Labour since they began measuring these sorts of things. Compared to his political compatriots, Ken held up remarkable well in London, with almost half the votes…but an emphasis on the "almost."
And so the Conservatives have taken the crown jewel of London Mayor and will expect to use it as a stick to beat Labour until the General Election in two years time. And if they had to use a populist bumbling gaffe-prone oaf in order to do it, then them's the breaks. They can always surround him with right-minded people to make sure he does the right thing and says as little as possible.
London will have a long holiday weekend to think about exactly what it has done. With an Olympic ceremony to plan for, a new public transport system to build and probably the odd bombing to cope with along the way, was it wise to elect the political equivalent of a Teletubby to grand office? Will anyone be able to look each other in the eye come Tuesday?
The next four years will, of course, be entertaining. If Boris fails, he will do so spectacularly and with much hand-waving and hopping about. If he succeeds, then we will enter a new Golden Age of Boris as Big Brother inmates stand for Parliament, daytime TV presenters take over the High Courts and children's entertainers start a political revolution. Piers Morgan for King? It might just happen. And Boris has created hope and aspiration for all — for if he can become mayor then any Londoner has a real fighting chance of being elected pope. Get those chimneys smoking, cardinals!
And as for Ken? Stepping down from the last job he ever wanted, rejected after eight years by the city he loves more than his five children from three women, all he has to console himself with is taking over Boris Johnson's extremely lucrative position on the public speaking circuit, working his own hours, sniping at both Boris and his own Prime Minister, and pulling in far more than his salary as Mayor of London.
How will he ever cope?
Tags: Boris Johnson, Indecision Internationale, Ken Livingstone