A running gag can be immensely satisfying, especially to the person making it. I've certainly enjoyed mocking London's only fully-funded, city-wide newspaper as the Evening Boris these past few weeks and re-naming its most dedicated Livingstone-bashers "Boris" too: Boris Gilligan, Boris Lydall, Boris Cohen and so on. Yes, it's a juvenile joke yet somehow all the more satisfying for it. Livingstone's team has taken a bit of a shine to it too and I believe I can claim credit for the mayor's referring to the "Evening Boris" during an interview with Riz Lateef the day after my coinage (not that I claim to be the first ever to think of it, by the way).
I have concluded, though, that the quip has served its purpose and the time has come for it to be retired. That isn't because I've decided it no longer hits its target: the Evening Standard's attitude to Johnson has been been at most only cautiously supportive and sometimes sharply critical, but the fact remains that the more it can hurt Livingstone, the better for the only candidate who can defeat him - and the Standard longs for Livingstone's defeat. Moreover, however valid its investigations into the affairs of Lee Jasper and the LDA - and some undoubtedly are valid - it remains the case that the prominence, framing and timing of these stories invite their readers to infer that the entire Livingstone administration is rotten.
I'm not convinced the evidence presented supports such a big claim, and I believe a newspaper with no serious competitor has a duty to provide the city whose life it documents - albeit, highly selectively - with less nakedly one-sided coverage of its politicians, especially at mayoral election time. So why drop the joke? The reason, very simply, is that last week the tone of the mayoral race became more serious and I've concluded that this blog should follow suit. That's not to say it will no longer contain humour or that my misnaming of the Standard won't be fleetingly revived if the urge becomes overwhelming. But the more policies and, in particular, deeper themes emerge, the less appropriate outright silliness seems. And so, pausing only to call the Standard's editor "Boris Wadley" for the first and last time, I hereby declare this joke over.