Could Boris become an MP and remain Mayor?

There is nothing to stop the Mayor also serving as an MP from 2015.

The juxtaposition of Boris Johnson's success with the Conservatives' failure means that the Mayor of London's stock is higher than ever. He is hailed by the right as proof that Tories can win (even in a Labour city like London) when they offer a distinctive, populist brand of conservatism. Boris's re-election will gift him the largest personal mandate of any European politician, bar the French president.

In their columns today, both Fraser Nelson, the editor of the Spectator, and Tim Montgomerie (£), the editor of ConservativeHome (whom I recently profiled for the NS), write of Boris as a Tory king across the water.

Montgomerie notes:

Just three months ago it was almost fanciful to imagine Boris as a future leader. The chance is still small. But he is the one senior Conservative who simultaneously appeals to core Tory voters and to a large proportion of Labour supporters.

The ruthlessness of the Conservative Party should never be underestimated. They got rid of Margaret Thatcher when MPs concluded that she was a loser. Mr Cameron has enormous skills but he must recognise the seriousness of the situation and the need to respond. Either he finds an election game-changer or the party might very reluctantly reach for the blond-coloured nuclear button.

So, could Boris become an MP in 2015 and stay on as mayor until 2016 (when his second term expires)? There is no constitutional obstacle to him doing so. Indeed, there is a precedent. After the 2000 mayoral election, Ken Livingstone remained the MP for Brent East until 2001.

One senior Conservative tells today's Independent:

He could not wear two hats for a long period but doing it for 12 months would not cause a great controversy. Tory associations in London and the Home Counties would queue up to have him as their candidate. He would say he was representing London in Parliament for a year.

Fraser Nelson names Crispin Blunt and Patrick Mercer as two MPs who would happily make way for Boris.

The Mayor has never publicly ruled out becoming an MP while remaining Mayor of London. When questioned on the subject by Prospect magazine, he "declined to comment but gave a low laugh." Should he return to parliament in 2015, it is no longer unthinkable that he could assume the reins of power midway through the second term of a Conservative-led government (Cameron has said he doesn't want to fight more than two elections) or the first term of a Conservative opposition.

Boris is that increasingly rare beast: a Tory who can win elections. As they mourn the loss of hundreds of Conservative councillors and reflect on the party's disastrous failure to win a majority in 2010, Cameron's MPs won't forget that.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson and his wife Marina Johnson arrive to cast their votes in the election. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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The economics of outrage: Why you haven't seen the end of Katie Hopkins

Her distasteful tweet may have cost her a job at LBC, but this isn't the last we've seen of Britain's biggest troll. 

Another atrocity, other surge of grief and fear, and there like clockwork was the UK’s biggest troll. Hours after the explosion at the Manchester Arena that killed 22 mostly young and female concert goers, Katie Hopkins weighed in with a very on-brand tweet calling for a “final solution” to the complex issue of terrorism.

She quickly deleted it, replacing the offending phrase with the words “true solution”, but did not tone down the essentially fascist message. Few thought it had been an innocent mistake on the part of someone unaware of the historical connotations of those two words.  And no matter how many urged their fellow web users not to give Hopkins the attention she craved, it still sparked angry tweets, condemnatory news articles and even reports to the police.

Hopkins has lost her presenting job at LBC radio, but she is yet to lose her column at Mail Online, and it’s quite likely she won’t.

Mail Online and its print counterpart The Daily Mail have regularly shown they are prepared to go down the deliberately divisive path Hopkins was signposting. But even if the site's managing editor Martin Clarke was secretly a liberal sandal-wearer, there are also very good economic reasons for Mail Online to stick with her. The extreme and outrageous is great at gaining attention, and attention is what makes money for Mail Online.

It is ironic that Hopkins’s career was initially helped by TV’s attempts to provide balance. Producers could rely on her to provide a counterweight to even the most committed and rational bleeding-heart liberal.

As Patrick Smith, a former media specialist who is currently a senior reporter at BuzzFeed News points out: “It’s very difficult for producers who are legally bound to be balanced, they will sometimes literally have lawyers in the room.”

“That in a way is why some people who are skirting very close or beyond the bounds of taste and decency get on air.”

But while TV may have made Hopkins, it is online where her extreme views perform best.  As digital publishers have learned, the best way to get the shares, clicks and page views that make them money is to provoke an emotional response. And there are few things as good at provoking an emotional response as extreme and outrageous political views.

And in many ways it doesn’t matter whether that response is negative or positive. Those who complain about what Hopkins says are also the ones who draw attention to it – many will read what she writes in order to know exactly why they should hate her.

Of course using outrageous views as a sales tactic is not confined to the web – The Daily Mail prints columns by Sarah Vine for a reason - but the risks of pushing the boundaries of taste and decency are greater in a linear, analogue world. Cancelling a newspaper subscription or changing radio station is a simpler and often longer-lasting act than pledging to never click on a tempting link on Twitter or Facebook. LBC may have had far more to lose from sticking with Hopkins than Mail Online does, and much less to gain. Someone prepared to say what Hopkins says will not be out of work for long. 

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