I just wanted to comment about the 'straw poll' where no-one thought Boris will win. I was genuinely torn but felt that if he has a good campaign then he probably will. My slight indecision meant that as we were asked to show our hands, I hesitated and, horrofied that nobody else was putting their hands up, I chickened out - not wanting to picked on and questioned as the only 'believer'.
Feeling thoroughly ashamed of myself, I confessed my sin to somebody over a drink afterwards and they said that they too had been about to put their hand up. It appears that the audience may not have been quite so disbelieving after all!
So all is not lost. It makes me wonder if Boris may benefit/suffer from the 'shy Tory' syndrome we have heard so much about.
Tony Travers sat on the fence a little on the main question, but felt that the Boris campaign should run on the theme "enough is enough" and push the line "Vote Ken, Get Gordon". He said he had no clue what Ken's ideas were for a third term. Boris's great advantage was his celebrity and his ability to get the Conservative vote out. He came out with a great line "He is Hogarth's candidate, in Hogarth's city". And he then apologised to the LibDems that he hadn't covered them much, by saying "Sorry LibDems, you;re getting left out because you will be".
Andrew Hawkins was much more cautious about Boris's chances. He predicted that Brian Paddick would prove to be quite popular but it was unclear who he would take votes from - Boris or Ken. He reckoned Boris had better start love bombing the LibDems to attract second preferences. His main reason for not giving Boris a chance was turnout, which he thought would be higher than 2004 (37%) but not much. I think he's wrong. Election turnouts all over the world are on the up. This is a contest between two big characters. I would expect turnout to be at least 50%. And remember, last time, Steve Norris was only 100,000 votes behinf Ken on first preferences.
I then watched the TV debate between Boris, Ken and Brian Paddick. It was a mistake to have party supporters make up a very small audience. The moderator, Connie Huq, was completely out of her depth. It could have made very good television, but it felt like it was being made by a university TV station. I felt all three candidates performed well. Boris was funny but had a better grip of policy than many would predict. He scored several victories over Ken in particular and had some very good putdowns. Ken looked old. He didn't really spark but gave a polished performance but he didn't really tell us anything about what he would do in a third term.
Brian Paddick was clearly nervous in his debut TV outing. He used notes for the one minute opener, which was a mistake. If you can't tell Londoners why you're running in one minute without using notes, you shouldn't be asking for their votes. However, he got better and better. he was smooth, believable and had clearly done his homework on subjects other than policing.
If I were him, I would try to concentrate on subjects he's good at. Let me tell you an anecdote. A couple of days ago I got emailed to a YouGov survey about the mayoral election. One of the questions was this: Which candidate would be best at handling a terror crisis? Rather to my horror I found my mouse hovering over the Paddick box. But terror was a subject which didn't come up in the TV debate and only came up at the LCC because I raised it. If I were Paddick I'd go on about this until I was blue in the face, and if I were Boris I'd make it a priority to have some ready answers.