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Red Ken v Blue Boris promises a titanic battle

PUBLISHED: 16:54 05 September 2007 | UPDATED: 14:37 07 September 2010

IT S Red Ken against Boris the Blue. The bulldog of the Labour left against the Old English Sheepdog of the new Tory centre ground. What a contest! What a script! Whoever thought that the business of having a London mayor would be dull, could not have ima

IT'S Red Ken against Boris the Blue. The bulldog of the Labour left against the Old English Sheepdog of the new Tory centre ground. What a contest! What a script!

Whoever thought that the business of having a London mayor would be dull, could not have imagined that the first man to hold the office in modern times would be Citizen Ken. Whoever believed that the elections would be tedious affairs, devoid of public interest, could not have envisaged the Olympian struggle now promised.

Boris Johnson is determined to scythe his opponent down as adroitly as he so infamously accomplished in a 'friendly' football game, by virtue of a flying, head-on charge that would have made mincemeat out of an American Football quarterback. Neither Pele, nor Best nor even Henry has provided as memorable a moment on the field of play in front of a live television audience.

Ken of course will be desperate to hold on to the £137,000 a year position - not for the money, but because he loves the job and because he wants to stay in it until the eve of the Olympics.

Whatever he says publicly, the mayor knows that Boris will give him a monumental battle. Although it was never in doubt that he would win in 2000 and 2004, Ken did shed more than 60,000 votes between the two elections.

If the bulldog loses that number in 2008 and the Tory vote increases by the same amount, then the shaggy sheepdog will become London's mayor next May.

It could happen, Political personalities don't come much bigger than Boris Johnson and whether we like it or not, the cult of personality and celebrity now plays a big part in elections. Nowhere is this more true than in this great, exciting and endlessly vibrant city.

On being sacked by Michael Howard, Boris said: ''There are no disasters, only opportunities. And indeed, opportunities for fresh disasters.'' Standing for mayor presents Boris with a clear opportunity for a fresh disaster of spectacular proportions. But part of the intrigue of this irresistible contest is that being London's mayor might just prove to be the one senior political career the MP for Henley is born to.

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