I mentioned in a tweet that I thought the London Mayoral candidate ‘Count Binface’ represented the most mature face of this race, eschewing modern identity politics for a metallic persona that was used to attack a Prime Minister in a previous millenia.
But actually I wasn’t quite joking. This blog has always featured some London politics — I introduced a certain Boris Johnson slightly unfairly as a whacko in a Mayoral election some 15 years ago. My interest in party politics is slight; however I do have one request for this and future London mayoral races.
My plea though is this. Please stop using the race as a form of therapy. It is quite clear that many of the candidates have serious personality disorders or, as they would say today, “issues”. In the next paragraph I will use the term ‘basket case’ and I promise not to lean on this term comedically. I do not mean to poke fun at human misery — but my sincere fear is that this branch of politics is being misused for personal wellness.
It is important to understand that these candidates are in no danger of unseating the incumbent. None of them has a chance now or in the future due to their utter lack of talent, personality and mental acuity. Basket case number one, Shaun Bailey, is now an embarrassment not only to the Tory party (quite a feat) but also to the serious media that don’t know how to interview him. Very little he says is coherent, and he rambles on like a late night caller on LBC, kept talking because they are waiting to cut to the news. Technically, he is the main opponent to the sitting Mayor, but only by convention. He wants to spend more on policing, but little else emerges. I hope he can become a useful member of society after a period of calm reflection.
It is clear enough that the role of Mayor in many cities has been used not so much as a form of political boost for outsider MPs who miss the limelight, but more as a form of political sidestep. Sadiq Khan neatly avoided the wreckage of the Parliamentary Labour Party to take the capital. Six months earlier, he had supported Jeremy Corbyn into the Labour leadership thus making his escape pod even more necessary. Dan Jarvis and Andy Burnham also used the Mayoralty to avoid further self punishment within the shadow cabinet. They are now popular and effective because they genuinely have the ability and drive to do these jobs.
This brings us to the renegade would be London Mayoral candidate and political refugee, Rory Stewart — who actually gave up the race last year after the election was delayed. While my writing style is undoubtedly mocking, Stewart literally has been on an existential journey. This man walked across Afghanistan to find himself. He is now doing what he should have been doing all the while — working in academia. He only entered the race, as an independent, in order to fight for a decent Conservative party, that only ever existed in his mind. I hope he has come through this period of failure without any lasting psychological damage.
I don’t want to talk much about Lawrence ‘Lozza’ Fox as he is clearly suffering from mental turmoil and has been for sometime. I hope after some serious therapy he will not be too embarrassed about his proto fascism. He has been asked to stand for Reclaim, whose tagline “Live Strong. Live Free” seems to have been taken from animal rescue extremists.
Brian Rose seems to personify “personal growth journey” even though his image is that of mafia don gone wrong. He seems to be equal part fraudster, megalomaniac and self promotional leech. But in this day and age, none of those things truly count against him. What annoys me is that like other candidates, he is running while ‘fighting his own demons’. Why do that in City Hall? Surely he just needs an exorcism? (By the way, if you have never heard of him, don’t stop now.)
I promised not to use the term ‘basket case’ again — but I had completely forgotten about Piers Corbyn. Mad, bad, sad; take your choice. He is the type of irritant that would be arrested early on in a dictatorship, but not released after the revolution. Needless to say he doesn’t believe in COVID, is an anti-vaxxer and I assume other unpleasantries but I have no wish to find out.
For light relief there is at least Peter Gammons the UKIP candidate. Yes, that is his name. To remain in UKIP at this point requires an almost Churchillian self belief in the face of adversity. London hates Brexit almost as much as Brexiteers hate London.
There are of course more candidates, and just to prove they are not all in need of a quiet time in a comfortable chair, I’ll mention Sian Berry. She is the pleasant, decent Green councillor and currently co-chair of the party. To be in the Green party is an act of self delusion but one based on a belief in national (not self) improvement. The Green Party is however massively underperforming compared to how they would do under proportional representation. This election will probably see them pick up a lot of Tory votes as well as Labour dissenters.
Why has this race taken on so many unstable wasters? The almost instant response would be ‘publicity’, but I vehemently reject this. For many of the names above, this probably represents a nadir for their social media analysts to track. Everyone can manage publicity these days — given that you can now get onto the BBC for challenging reality in anyway you choose. No, these people are treating the race as part of a wellness process, like Ayahuasca, or mindfulness.
It is true that I am part of a generation that was told to ‘pull yourself together’ as if Prince Philip was a spiritual guide. Most of us can see what devastation ignoring mental health has caused, and actually seeing modern MPs talk about mental health (even robotically) is an astonishing turnabout. But a candidate should not push his or her personal problems directly onto voters. The addition of psychobabble to political diatribe is most unwelcome. Visit your shrink, don’t visit us.