Winning the Mayoralty when the Tories were 20%+ ahead was no big deal
Much of the case for Johnson is based on the fact that he won the London Mayoralty for the Tories in 2008. The capital is seen as strong Labour territory therefore, the argument goes, he’s the man to lead the party when there’s the threat of Labour advancing.
The only problem with that 2008 Mayoral result is that for the Tories generally it was the party’s best overall local election performance since 1983 the year Mrs Thatcher won her landslide victory in the general election.
Th BBC’s projected national vote share for the 2008 locals had the Tories on 40% with Labour a whopping 18% behind on 22%. A YouGov poll in the week of that election had CON on 49% with Brown’s LAB on 23% – the second biggest Tory led over LAB in three decades. It is against that backcloth that Johnson won the mayoralty. The tide had turned against LAB. So winning in Labour London then was nothing like as significant as his supporters claim. The Tories were doing very well
Sure he retained the Mayoralty in 2012 when things were less bright for the Tories but he had all the advantages of the incumbent. He was also facing Ken Livingstone again who by then was a more diminished figure.
At the last general election Boris saw a CON to LAB swing in his Uxbridge constituency that was larger not just than the national average but what happened in London. If Johnson has some special election appeal then it did not show at the last general election.
What’s not appreciated is that the biggest threat to the Tories at the next election might not be the Brexit party, which has never won Westminster seat but a rejuvenated LD party working closely with the Greens. That there is just one anti-Brexit candidate in the upcoming Brecon by-election could be the basis of a model for what might be applied elsewhere.