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A serious Boris? You must be joking

Never before having had the opportunity to observe Boris Johnson trying to conduct himself seriously and responsibly, I have to confess that his various attempts to do so last week were deeply disappointing.

He can't do it. The harder he tried, the more insincere, incoherent, evasive and even puerile he looked and sounded, even enabling the Lib-Dem candidate to score points. Take away the gags and jokes and nothing much is left.

None of this will matter much if Boris loses. He could always resume the clowning. But should he actually win, the Tory party could be in serious trouble. For in the two years to the general election, Mayor Johnson would have plenty of opportunities to demonstrate his unsuitability for this important job; a demonstration which could hardly fail to raise the question of whether

Kind of Blue: Peregrine Worsthorne
Personally I hate the vulgar multi-cultured metropolis which Ken has helped to create

David Cameron - a horse from the same lightweight stable - would be likely, in office, to do better. In other words, the whole new Tory 'project' could be compromised, rather as the New Labour 'project' would have been compromised had Gordon Brown gone into bat first.

On the other hand, the prospect of another four years for Ken Livingstone is not much cop either. Last week was also the first time I observed much of him on TV, and I was worryingly impressed.

For unlike Boris he showed that he could be both witty and serious at the same time. Personally I hate the vulgar multi-cultured metropolis which Ken has helped to create. But the world in general seems to love it. Not living in London I won't myself have to choose between Boris and Ken which, under the circumstances, is just as well. 

FIRST POSTED APRIL 30, 2008