Of the many, many innocuous comments of mine that were randomly deleted by the Tory moderators at Political Betting in the 48 hours prior to me finally taking the hint, one was in response to regular poster Antifrank, who clearly felt he was saying something deeply controversial (he probably was in PB terms) when he observed : "In my judgement, Nicolas Sarkozy has less chance of winning the French presidential election than Ken Livingstone has of being elected Mayor of London". I can't remember exactly how I replied (or tried to reply), but the gist of it was "well, yes, obviously". That sentiment has now been borne out by the latest YouGov poll on the London mayoral race, which shows a virtual dead heat -
Boris Johnson (Conservative) 43% (-2)
Ken Livingstone (Labour) 41% (+1)
Brian Paddick (Liberal Democrat) 8% (+1)
Lawrence Webb (UKIP) 3% (-)
Siobhan Benita (Independent) 3% (+1)
Jenny Jones (Green) 2% (-)
Carlos Cortiglia (BNP) 1% (-)
Boris Johnson (Conservative) 51% (-2)
Ken Livingstone (Labour) 49% (+2)
Ir remains to be seen whether the closing of the gap is real or an artifact of the margin of error. One thing is clear, however - Alan Sugar's delusional attempt to 'instruct' his Twitter followers to desert Livingstone has had zero effect, as always seemed likely. If the power of celebrity was in itself enough to decide elections, Robert Kilroy-Silk would by now be well into his second term at the helm of a Veritas government.
Labour should take heed of that truth, because it seems to be Sugar's celebrity that saved him from the fate that would befall any other Labour parliamentarian who recommended that Labour voters should vote against the party - instant withdrawal of the whip. Why he's seen as an indispensable asset when he has a crazy-paving history of past political endorsements that makes Jim Sillars look (almost) consistent is beyond me. As for Sugar's Apprentice sidekick Karren Brady, she went down several notches in my estimation with her absurd 'sporting analogy' intervention in the AV referendum last year (on behalf of the No side, naturally).
Turning to the French election, one thing that came out of the BBC coverage last night is that, astonishingly, the US has nothing on France when it comes to feverish election rallies. I may want Sarkozy to lose, but it was hard not to feel a tingle down the spine as his supporters chanted his name and waved flags. And I kind of understood for the first time why he won five years ago - he did a disarming "Da da!" hand gesture as he took to the stage, as if he'd just performed an amazing conjuring trick, as opposed to becoming the first incumbent President not to top the first round poll. His perfect showmanship continued as he pushed all the right buttons with his speech, and whipped the crowd up into an even more frenzied state. But thankfully for France and for Europe it looks as if, this time round, stardust will be his enemy and not his friend.