Guido’s old friend Harry Phibbs can claim to be the first person to promote the idea of Mayor Boris Johnson. The Hammersmith councillor and Evening Standard diarist first posited Boris running in January 2007 on the Social Affairs Unit’s blog.
Guido thought it an inspired idea and posted a comment in reply:
Draft Boris, this is a tele-democracy, he is a performer. He will crucify Ken.
For what it was worth Guido then did everything in his power to encourage Boris to run. Guido made the succint case for Boris ten days before Tory nominations for Mayor closed. Here was the argument for Boris winning on psephological grounds. Guido’s July 2007 poll that showed 83% of Guido’s readers wanted Boris to run was unscientific but encouraging for him.
It was Guido who set up the “I’m Backing Boris”Facebook group which gained over a thousand supporters in the days before he announced he was running – and was actually taken over by the Boris campaign team when he formally announced he was running.
“How much influence do bloggers and the internet have in politics?” is a question Guido is often asked. My reply is that we only have influence over politicians, journalists and thus the climate of ideas. We don’t have any influence over the voting general public except through that opinion leading influence. Guido set out last July to encourage one political journalist to seize the moment, if Guido succeeded in that objective, his mission was accomplished.
Some co-conspirators have suggested that Guido compromised his USP and libertarian principles in backing a politician’s bid for power – the first time this blog has endorsed a politician. Well Guido has hated Ken Livingstone’s brand of municipal socialism for decades, at one point it looked possible the Tories would again choose Steve Norris to lose to Ken again – that was not a prospect Guido welcomed. Boris has admirable libertarian-conservative instincts and is a refreshingly direct politician who speaks his mind. In a personal note to Guido after he won the Conservative nomination, Boris indicated that the admiration is mutual. So with an opportunity to encourage someone like-minded to lead London, it would have been churlish to remain aloof from the affray.
Boris as mayor will also hopefully provide Guido with lots of fun material…