He was knighted by the Queen last year, owns a $15m house in London, and—as a former Mayor of New York—is one of the world’s most famous civic politicians.
So little surprise then, that the rumor that Mike Bloomberg was interested in pulling off the ultimate piece of NYLON politics and becoming Mayor of London town has, after the Sunday Times carried the story, captured the public imagination on both sides of the pond.
And of course there are many who would just love to see a Mayor transfer that saw a leader with the iron will and determination of Bloomberg take on the challenge of running London—even if he didn’t dress up in a Beefeater outfit as the New York Post imagines he might do.
Even the current incumbent, the custard-haired political showman Boris Johnson, who will step down in 2016, would rejoice at the prospect.
Johnson wrote a lengthy Facebook post today (beginning with a classic Boris-ism of ‘Omigosh’) in which he offered the not-exactly-ringing journalistic verdict that, “the story does not seem to be a complete invention,” going on to add:
“Someone, somewhere is mounting a Draft Bloomberg campaign, and they are sticking their fingers in the wind, testing the waters and generally running it up the flagpole to see who salutes.
“And I want you to know, therefore, that I am standing to attention and signaling my wholehearted approval.
“Mike, old friend, this is the big one. I had hoped that you would run for President, but you have mystifyingly decided to let that chance pass.
“There is therefore only one way to excel your epic 12-year career at the helm in Manhattan; there is only one great municipal job that could conceivably count as a promotion; there is only one way to graduate upwards from the position of Mayor of New York, and that is to become the leader of a city that has regained its status as the greatest on earth.”
But, what of the small matter of his American-ness, which categorically rules him out of being Mayor?
That could easily be addressed, keen supporters of the Bloomberg For Mayor Over Here campaign insist.
The Sunday Times, which instigated the story over the traditionally news-free Easter weekend, claimed that an unnamed Conservative Party source had told them that they “didn’t think it would be a problem” for Bloomberg to ‘fast track’ citizenship—which usually takes five years—because of Bloomberg’s extensive investments in the UK.
That sounds totally reasonable, doesn’t it?
Steve Hilton, former adviser to David Cameron, told The Sunday Times: “It would be an incredible coup for London if Mike Bloomberg could be persuaded to run for mayor here. His kind of pragmatic, problem-solving leadership is exactly what London needs.”
However, the writer and broadcaster Toby Young, a former New Yorker (and how could we forget it?) sounded a note of caution, commenting, “Michael Bloomberg would make a great Mayor of London, but he’d have a job convincing the electorate of that if he ran as the Conservative candidate.
“The Tories’ biggest electoral handicap is that they’re perceived to be the party of the rich, so an American billionaire isn’t an ideal candidate. If he’s going to do it, my advice would be to run as an independent like he did in New York.”
Before we get too carried away, a reality check.
His former deputy mayor, the political strategist Howard Wolfson tells the Daily Beast, there is “no chance” that Mike Bloomberg is really considering throwing his hat in the ring for Mayor of London.
“He is very happily back running his company and is focused on that,” says Wolfson in an email enquiring if there might be as much as a snowball’s chance in hell of Bloomie For London getting off the ground, “No chance.”
Pressed as to whether he himself might consider standing for the job, Mr Wolfson replies, “In running for mayor of London? It’s more likely that I’m Chelsea’s next striker.