Saturday, 12 April 2008

Showing his true colours?

I see that Boris Johnson was jeered by members of the audience at a London mayoral hustings held at the Methodist Central Hall earlier in the week. Apparently the audience, which, the Evening Standard tells us, "was packed with black church groups and student and trade unions who are the natural constituency of Labour rival Ken Livingstone", was initially unreceptive to Johnson's charms, and booed and heckled as he attempted to speak, until one of the event organisers had to ask them to be quiet. Well, it's fairly typical of the left, isn't it, to try to silence their political opponents in this manner, rather than engaging them in debate.

Except that there's very little to suggest that Boris Johnson is the political opponent of these leftists. Of course, he and they are members of rival political tribes, but there's little in the way of substantive political or ideological disagreement between them. The Standard informs us that "by the end of the two-hour event...the jeers had turned to cheers as he won round much of the audience". Huzzah! But it is interesting to see how this apparent transformation was brought about; essentially, he won round the leftist-dominated audience by expressing views which they shared.

First, he treated them to a tasty morsel of welfare state socialism:
The audience began to warm to Mr Johnson after he agreed to fund the "London living wage" of £7.20 per hour for the poorest workers if elected.
Then, he added a liberal endorsement of lawbreaking:
He won over even more people when he talked about housing and agreed to a one-off amnesty for all illegal immigrants living in the capital.

Mr Johnson spoke of his own family's immigrant roots and said his Muslim great-grandfather, who fled to Britain from Turkey, would be "very proud" he was standing for Mayor of London.

The candidate said: "If an immigrant has been here for a long time and there is no realistic prospect of returning them, then I do think that person's condition should be regularised so that they can pay taxes and join the rest of society."

He even accused the present government, which has presided over the highest levels of immigration this country has ever seen, of being just too harsh towards those poor illegals:
Mr Livingstone added it was a "tragic miscalculation" by the Labour government not to have an "immediate amnesty for everybody" when it came to power in 1997.
He wobbled a bit...
However, the Tory faced jeers when he said it was not within his powers to stop the Met staging controversial dawn raids of migrant families. "I've given you as many yeses as I can, my friends," he implored his audience.
...but hit back strongly by implying that he would grant preferential treatment to people who have no right to be in the country at all:
He added that he would "look at" London Citizens' proposal to subsidise transport for failed asylum seekers in London, while Green Sian Berry and Liberal Democrat Brian Paddick backed the idea.
Taxpayer-subsidised transport for failed "asylum seekers" looks set to become a reality whoever wins. Ken Livingstone has pledged that they shall travel for free, telling the audience the heart-rending tale of how "many end up walking for miles across the capital because they are unable to afford the Tube or train fare". Yes, having to walk is indeed a terrible hardship, which no one should have to endure.

Returning to Boris Johnson: he actually concluded with a halfway decent idea:
Mr Johnson was then applauded when he repeated his pledge to scrap the Mayor's newspaper, The Londoner, and plant trees with the money saved.
Notwithstanding the fact that the Londoner is a complete waste of money, and that planting trees would certainly be a better use of the money (although tax cuts would be a still bigger improvement), I see very little reason, reviewing Johnson's comments, to support him, even against Ken Livingstone, in the mayoral election. After all, aside from their differences on the vexed Routemaster v. bendy buses question, they seem to be in perfect agreement on pretty much everything. Certainly, on the basis of his statements at the hustings, Johnson's views are firmly entrenched on the left of the political spectrum, reflecting the widespread ideological surrender of the Tory Party to the liberal-left. Either that, or he is constantly changing his message to suit his audience - hardly an admirable or desirable trait in a politician, albeit a common one.

1 comment:

Alex said...

I don't live in London and rarely visit the place, so the result of the election for mayor won't affect me in any practical way.

However, I think the three candidates for election say something about the state of the nation.

The choices are:

Ken - a wild lefty ideologue.

Boris - a scholarly jester.

Brian - a "gay" policeman (retired).

Are any of these people "fit for purpose" in governing London?