Mayor Archer. The lord's obsession

The peer has already set his sights on the possible top job in London. By Ian Burrell

The election of a mayor for London may be nearly three years away but Lord Archer's campaign is already at fever pitch. The millionaire novelist has not yet officially confirmed his candidacy for the post, but has embarked on a frenzy of flesh-pressing and baby-kissing.

He has assembled a campaign advisory team and has a file of 300 potential volunteers ready to help if Londoners vote at a referendum on 7 May in favour of having a mayor.

He is carrying out speaking engagements at the rate of eight a week, has taken part in two televised debates on the issue and is making at least two appearances a week at charity auctions. "It has suddenly stepped up," he agreed. "I am getting 30 to 40 invitations a week at the moment."

This week his lordship will appear as the star of a new television advertising campaign by British Telecom, for which he has donated his fee to charity. Last week the Government published legislation paving the way for a referendum on a mayor for London.

Ken Livingstone, the former GLC leader, concedes that the Tory peer is the clear favourite in the early running. "Londoners can hardly venture onto the streets without being importuned by Lord Archer seeking their support," he commented.

As he looks out over the metropolis from his penthouse by the Thames, the former Tory party deputy chairman would like nothing more than to be mayor of all he surveys. Lord Archer served on the Greater London Council, although he now opposes the idea of a strategic authority for the capital.

"London needs a mayor," he said this weekend. "I think it's the most exciting job available at the moment. I think this is the most exciting city on earth and to be allowed to work for it would be a very great privilege."

He has gathered around him a team of four friends and "loyal Conservatives" who have volunteered to pave the way for his election charge, should it be given the go-ahead by thereferendum.

"The secret is that they are all Londoners and each brings a different authority to the table," he said of his team. And while he waits for five million Londoners to decide whether or not they want a mayor, Lord Archer works unceasingly to ensure he is in their thoughts.

This week his diary includes a charity auction for St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, at the Dorchester Hotel; another auction for the Daily Mail Ski Show at Olympia; and a book signing for London libraries in Covent Garden. In the evenings he will woo the Tories of the City of London, Westminster and Romford with a series of after-dinner speeches.

But he is also trying to widen his constituency. A fortnight ago he attended a meeting of the National Black Caucus in Marylebone. One of those who attended said: "He stayed all day and he agreed with everything that was said."

Lord Archer was pleased with the response. "I have always got on well with black people and immigrants because they love people who come back from trouble. They love people who fight for themselves. I have always had a good working relationship with them.

"I went a bit nervously as you can imagine and was touched by how kind they have been and how many have been in touch since the meeting and said we would like to be involved in your campaign, we hope that you will stand. They have been very, very good."

Lord Archer's supporters will draw confidence from the fact that the vote would take place in the third year of the Labour administration when governments traditionally experience a falling-off in popularity.

"There are a lot of people coming up to me and saying, 'I have voted Labour all my life but I will vote for you for mayor'," he claimed.

Michael Crick, author of the Lord Archer's biography, Stranger than Fiction, said he was "horrified" by the thought of Archer as mayor. He said: "He might be a good commercial writer and be great company and capable of raising loads of money for charity, but when it comes to politics this man has been a complete disaster."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before