Boris Johnson talks during a campaign rally on May 21, 2014 in Ealing. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Boris can be mayor and an MP - but could he really be mayor and Tory leader?

Johnson's pledge to serve a full term leaves him in a difficult position if the Tories are defeated in 2015. 

Boris Johnson's deceptively humble announcement that he will "try to find somewhere to stand in 2015" (his search, one suspects, won't be in vain) finally brings an end to the will-he-won't-he saga of recent years. 

Boris's allies have long argued that he could wear two hats at the same time, as Ken Livingstone did when he remained the MP for Brent East during his first year as mayor. But should the Tories be defeated at the general election, with Boris standing in the subsequent leadership election (his principal motivation for returning), the situation becomes more difficult. 

To many, it is inconceivable that he could serve as both Conservative leader and Mayor of London. One option would have been to stand down before the end of his term in May 2016, but Boris today pledged to remain at City Hall for a full four years. Unless any leadership contest is delayed, he will struggle to justify wearing three hats (Mayor, MP and Conservative leader). For this reason, Boris's ideal scenario may actually be a Tory victory in 2015 followed by Cameron departing after the in/out EU referendum in 2017. 

Then again, what are promises from him anyway? (As he puts it, "My policy on cake is pro having it and pro eating it".) Provided that any Conservative leadership election is delayed until six months before the end of his term, his deputy will take over and a costly by-election will be avoided. 

For now, however, the Mayor is giving nothing away. Asked today whether he wanted to return to parliament to become Conservative leader, he replied: 

No, what I said was … I'll revert to the kind of weasel mode here … What I said was, you've got party conference coming up in two months' time, you can't have this thing going on endlessly. Let's go back to Europe. I've said what I have to say. It may all go wrong but the likelihood is I am going to have to give it a crack.

Boris won't say he'll stand for the Tory leadership is the new Boris won't say he'll stand as an MP. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Theresa May’s stage-managed election campaign keeps the public at bay

Jeremy Corbyn’s approach may be chaotic, but at least it’s more authentic.

The worst part about running an election campaign for a politician? Having to meet the general public. Those ordinary folk can be a tricky lot, with their lack of regard for being on-message, and their pesky real-life concerns.

But it looks like Theresa May has decided to avoid this inconvenience altogether during this snap general election campaign, as it turns out her visit to Leeds last night was so stage-managed that she barely had to face the public.

Accusations have been whizzing around online that at a campaign event at the Shine building in Leeds, the Prime Minister spoke to a room full of guests invited by the party, rather than local people or people who work in the building’s office space.

The Telegraph’s Chris Hope tweeted a picture of the room in which May was addressing her audience yesterday evening a little before 7pm. He pointed out that, being in Leeds, she was in “Labour territory”:

But a few locals who spied this picture online claimed that the audience did not look like who you’d expect to see congregated at Shine – a grade II-listed Victorian school that has been renovated into a community project housing office space and meeting rooms.

“Ask why she didn’t meet any of the people at the business who work in that beautiful building. Everyone there was an invite-only Tory,” tweeted Rik Kendell, a Leeds-based developer and designer who says he works in the Shine building. “She didn’t arrive until we’d all left for the day. Everyone in the building past 6pm was invite-only . . . They seemed to seek out the most clinical corner for their PR photos. Such a beautiful building to work in.”

Other tweeters also found the snapshot jarring:

Shine’s founders have pointed out that they didn’t host or invite Theresa May – rather the party hired out the space for a private event: “All visitors pay for meeting space in Shine and we do not seek out, bid for, or otherwise host any political parties,” wrote managing director Dawn O'Keefe. The guestlist was not down to Shine, but to the Tory party.

The audience consisted of journalists and around 150 Tory activists, according to the Guardian. This was instead of employees from the 16 offices housed in the building. I have asked the Conservative Party for clarification of who was in the audience and whether it was invite-only and am awaiting its response.

Jeremy Corbyn accused May of “hiding from the public”, and local Labour MP Richard Burgon commented that, “like a medieval monarch, she simply briefly relocated her travelling court of admirers to town and then moved on without so much as a nod to the people she considers to be her lowly subjects”.

But it doesn’t look like the Tories’ painstaking stage-management is a fool-proof plan. Having uniform audiences of the party faithful on the campaign trail seems to be confusing the Prime Minister somewhat. During a visit to a (rather sparsely populated) factory in Clay Cross, Derbyshire, yesterday, she appeared to forget where exactly on the campaign trail she was:

The management of Corbyn’s campaign has also resulted in gaffes – but for opposite reasons. A slightly more chaotic approach has led to him facing the wrong way, with his back to the cameras.

Corbyn’s blunder is born out of his instinct to address the crowd rather than the cameras – May’s problem is the other way round. Both, however, seem far more comfortable talking to the party faithful, even if they are venturing out of safe seat territory.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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