Bike Theft

Swifter than eagles. And stolen

First there was shock. Then there was grief. Then rage. There was a moment of shock when I rounded the corner the other night because, no matter how often it has happened to you, it is always a gulp-making thing to look at the railings where you left your bike, and see that for the seventh time in as many years some cowardly little fiend has used a combination of violence and ingenuity to steal it.

There was grief as I remembered what a lovely bike it was. It was swifter than eagles, it was stronger than lions. It was a silver-grey Marin Sausalito with featherlight wishbone struts and, with tyres pumped and a following wind, it was a two-wheeled Desert Orchid, capable of surging from Highbury to the House of Commons in less than 20 minutes.

And after the mourning the rage kicked in: rage at the epidemic of bike theft that is gripping London and the rest of the country – and rage at our society for the lax, passive, apathetic way in which we are dealing with that epidemic.

We treat bike theft as though it were a kind of natural event, like catching a cold or succumbing to some other morally neutral phenomenon.


When someone’s bicycle is stolen the discussion is entirely about what he or she could have done to prevent it. The police talk about the need for tougher locks, and special serial numbers, and the cycling experts give out various bits of anti-theft advice. Don’t have a bike that’s too flash, they say. Try painting it some depressing colour, like orange or purple. Try having a basket at the front, they say, or mudguards, or anything to make your bike look a bit grungy and unappealing.

All of which advice may be well meant, but somehow makes me pop with rage, because we seem continually to be ascribing responsibility for the event to the victim, and ignoring the critical point. It wasn’t some supernatural agency that nicked your bike, or nicked my bike. It wasn’t oompa-loompas or fairies or bike elves. It was thieves.

It was a bunch of cynical little sods who don’t care a toss for private property, and it so happens that, on this occasion, I had taken just about every possible precaution. It was no ordinary lock I used to immobilise my machine: it was a huge steel thing made in Germany, as thick as a baby’s arm, and I locked it to some railings and, as I stood back to admire my handiwork, I noted that both were far too thick to saw through.

So what did they do? They uprooted a large stake that was being used to encourage the growth of some sapling, and they jemmied it into the railings and heaved and heaved until they snapped the bar, and then scarpered with my bike and left their wreckage contemptuously on the pavement; and yes, it is true that this city needs more Sheffield stands to park our bikes, but you ought to be able to lock your bike to London railings, with a drop-forged German mega-lock, and not come back to find that someone has nicked it with an audacity that can only be described as insolent.

There were 80,000 bicycle thefts in London last year, and that figure is probably a gross underestimate. Why? Let me quote the words of a passer-by who came upon me, as the emotions of shock-grief-rage were flashing across my face like a traffic light. “Bastards!” he said. “That happened to me last year, but it’s no use reporting it to the police, because they won’t do a thing about it.”

And even if he is wrong, even if there is occasionally an effort to take bike theft seriously, you can see – on the face of it – why the police do not put it top of their priorities. The scale of the problem is appalling. There are only a million regular cyclists in this country, and yet there were 439,000 bicycles stolen last year, and that is just the ones reported stolen. One cycling expert told me he sometimes hoped the thieves would just give up in exhaustion, overwhelmed by the scale of their booty, unable to find any more punters for their ripped-off merchandise.

But they don’t give up: the internet offers huge new markets; Brick Lane is bursting on a Sunday. The plunder intensifies, and every bike stolen is not just a bout of shock-grief-rage for the victim; every theft is a deterrent to cycling, since it is estimated that 25 per cent of victims decide not to bother investing in a new bicycle.

These are dismal statistics, and yet for the victims of bike theft the police seem to take the attitude of the Amsterdam cops played by Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse: they have solved the problem by decriminalising it.

Suppose they were to find a 15-year-old in possession of my Marin Sausalito, or a roomful of Marin Sausalitos. What could the perp expect? A caution? A stiff talking-to? Some unenforceable ASBO? The double-standards are unbearable, because we all know perfectly law-abiding citizens who have allowed their offside front wheel to stray an inch outside the white line of the residents’ parking bay and boom!

Their car is towed away by the state, and they can end up paying hundreds of pounds to get it back. But when a thief nicks your bicycle, the state just seems to shrug its shoulders and advise you to get more locks. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could change the odds, and wipe the confident smirk off the faces of these varmints? Isn’t it time we investigated the uses of new cheap tracking technology, to fill these thieves with the terror of getting caught? Wouldn’t it be fine to hunt down the middlemen – often drug-dealers – who encourage kids to go on their nicking sprees?

It would be a huge advance for civility and decency on the streets, because little crimes lead to greater crimes, and if you can casually smash a railing to steal a bike, then you are well on the way to burglary and worse. Decoy bikes will be part of the answer; but the first step is to recondition society to grasp this elementary fact, that the problem is not caused by bad locks or weak railings. It’s caused by thieves, and they need to be deterred.

142 thoughts on “Bike Theft”

  1. Been there, sworn loudly. A wee tip for you next time Boris: if you get a decent shackle lock, there’s a way of passing it through the rear wheel and the frame at the same time and then locking it to a railing on the other side. That means that even if the bastards manage to undo the railing they still need to do irreversible damage to the frame and/or the rear wheel to make the bike usable again.

    Of course, you’ll still need to use another lock to keep the front wheel in place, but losing a wheel isn’t as bad as losing the whole bike.

  2. My condolences on your loss.

    So…DID you report it to the police? Sounds like a good opportunity to stamp yourself “The Candidate of Law and Order!”

    I once came across a grungy fellow with bad meth face sawing through a chainlock on a little girl’s bike and stood over him as I called it into the cops. They actually said, “What do you expect us to do about it?” At that point I suggested that he might be angered by my phone call and become violent (at this he stared at me) and, besides, what are the chances he doesn’t have a warrant out on him (at this he dropped the hacksaw and walked away).

  3. On the upside, now you are a victim, I’m sure you qualify for some sort of state sponsored counselling: perhaps an outward bound weekend in Wales, or gender realignment therapy. It’s not all bad.

  4. I read once about the “Jo’burg barbeque”, a flame-throwing device fitted to cars in that crime-ridden city. If a robber tries to hijack the motor when you’re waiting at traffic lights, you hit the button and – poof – he’s roast beef.

    Cue for a bicycle-style Jo’Bo barbeque?

  5. One of my SA pals has one, and it’s all show, being a low temperature gas flame which (may) set their clothes alight – it’s not a napalm dispenser.

  6. I am a little pessimistic about the prospects of, as Boris and most of us wish, society being reconditioned.
    To paraphrase Kenny Everett’s tank-driving army character – ‘I’d round up all the low-life vermin, put ’em in a field, and bomb the b******s.

  7. David:

    Why? Society has been in worse straits. It is clear we need to do something to make civil virtue more rewarding than feckless imbecillity, but random excecutions probably aren’t a solution, however much fun they may be.

  8. I lost my last bike while at university here in London a couple of years ago, I called the police who seemed woefully uninterested. From my point of view at the time I relied on that bike to get everywhere and replacing it was not in my financial plan for the year, from their point of view it’s another one for the statistics.

    The only thing I can say now having made the move and got a nicer bike is simply to invest in decent locks, the expensive cable ones can resist bolt cutters quite well and backed up with a decent solid D type lock where possible, fingers crossed I’ve been ok since then. Specialized are one of the better manufacturers to go for.

    I try and leave it in a prominent place, however the cynic in me thinks that most Londoners probably ignore a thief and walk on rather than risk being attacked.

  9. Don’t suppose for one moment this action was carried out by someone under the mistaken belief it was in the best interest of the current incumbent?

  10. I was in Holland a few months ago, watching groovy young partygoers turn out of a disco at midnight. The square outside was awash with bikes, mostly old boneshakers and few of them chained up.

    Even the white stiletto girls happily threw on a woolly hat, mounted the iron steed and set off home with a cheery wave to their friends. It was a joyous sight. No shame or embarrassment, no two-wheeled style contests, just a mode of transport which everyone uses.

    Apparently bikes do get nicked but there are so many of them, none worth very much, that you can easily pick up another for a tenner.

    Another reason why I think the Dutch are one of the few remaining civilised nations.

  11. Isn’t the problem that fining a car with wheel over the edge of the parking bay is easy money for the town hall coffers. Catching a bike thief is all too much like hard work and there is no financial reward at the end of it. Hit the easy target – it pays. Makes you sick, doesn’t it.
    http://www.pickinglosers.co.uk/

  12. Mr Johnson,
    You have the honour and privilege to be able to berate the Home Secretary in a public arena on this topic. I say Berate Away! Don’t be put off by her saying she needs to focus on terrorism. Cycle theft is a form of terrorism.

    I noe that when car crime was on the increae in the 1990s the government leant on the car manufacturers to make their products more secure.

    Could you not encourage the government (albeit now of a different hue) to do the same for cycles? There may be an engineering undergratuate sitting in a British university who could design a gizmo to make a cycle un stealable. All it takes is a national competiton and you may have the solution.

    In addition I think this would be an opportunity to become the cyclist’s champion in people’s eyes. Instead of appealong to the man on the Clapham omnibus, appeal to the chap cycling round it when it makes a stop.

    This could be your cause in the mayoral race.

    Regards,

    Paul T Horgan

  13. Up here in Manchester’s leafy suburbs we had a reverse bike burglary when crack-addled crooks broke in, stormed upstairs, stormed downstairs, nicked some useless stuff (most of which they dropped on the way out), and traded up from a bike to a getaway car. They left the bike. The police told us to keep it and they’d be in touch if it were claimed. We did and they haven’t been. It does get used every now and then. Not bad.

    Perhaps someone round the corner from you has lost their Beamer and gained a silver-grey Marin Sausalito?

  14. With all the recent fascination with greenhouse gases, why not recast bike theft as an attack on the environment? Bike theft is a serious disincentive to relying on them as a viable alternative to the auto, and thus pushes closer to the coming climate change apocalypse.

    Think of the children!

  15. Sorry Boris to hear what has happened.

    Try going on ebay and searching for your bike. Its full of stolen property been pawned off as kosher!!

    You might be surprised to find it there!

  16. Here’s a cruel trick by bicycle thieves in our so called luxury apartments in Luton.

    One post of Sheffield stand has been sawn all the way through, leaving an almost unnoticeable cut. Thieves slide the stand apart and steal bikes from residents that haven’t noticed the cut.

    Could this have anything to do with the fact that we have 25% occupancy by housing association who have been moved in from a closed down council block and former crack den? When they are not dumping rubbish and stealing bikes, they’re smashing the place up and overdosing.

    Why oh why do the rest of us have to pay for these people and this ridiculous policy?

  17. What I want to know is what happens to all these bikes?

    I know that Brick Lane is stuffed full of them at the weekends, but are the rest languishing in the unkempt gardens of various London estates?

    My boyfriend’s bike was stolen a few weeks ago and he’s convinced he keeps spotting some little squit riding round on it in Fulham. So depressing.

  18. Bikes have been stolen from my family home 3 times in the last two years. There is nothing more aggravating than the knowledge that you are an entry in some recidivist’s little black book purely because you have younger brothers who cycle everywhere and are careless about securing the bikes (being children and all).

  19. I have read the comments on the DT page and just to keep the bulk of them happy: It was the fault of the police this bike was stolen. How do the public stand this lack of action/investigation/sympathy/why did you useless sh**s not find my bike 7 years ago and all other associated crimes and complaints. Do not say any more, the useless police are the only persons to castigate.

    Disband the lot of them I say. If you want to know how to denegrate and demoralise a police force just come to NI and see.

  20. Should the advice advocated be adopted for sports cars I look forward to seeing my first grunge brown Ferrari with a basket on the front.

    Whilst it may be a variation on the redistribution of bike wealth, we must presume that coin is being gleaned by the perpetrators. Perhaps we should go back to the Amsterdam Provos of the 60s and paint all the bikes in London white and make them freely available.

    Boris, when I worked with kids in sink secondary schools they had a solution to the bike nicking conundrum. If their’s was nicked they simply nicked someone else’s. Did you consider this option?

    But I’m all for a bit of Draconian punishment, preferably in public … have you seen how bad the telly has got? Not too sure about the product placement though … do you receive a commission, or is a brand new bike expected from the company in due course?

    And Boris, just what were you up to in the kind of areas where bikes are regularly nicked? Or do you think that the tea-leaf was a tourist from Rotherhithe who just happened to be passing?

    If what’s being said of eBay is true, can the company be done for handling stolen goods? Don’t tell me that they don’t know they’re fencing hot gear!

  21. < ‘Isn’t it time we investigated the uses of new cheap tracking technology, to fill these thieves with the terror of getting caught? Wouldn’t it be fine to hunt down the middlemen – often drug-dealers – who encourage kids to go on their nicking sprees?’ (Boris)<

    Bike tracking sounds a good idea, not sure it would fill them with ‘terror’ though. Most theives are thick as two short planks at the best of times, in London most thieves are just plain illiterate.

    The problem you will get here is that the police will refuse to go get your bike back, just like they don’t go after stolen mobile phones (which can be tracked and monitored by the mobile company with ease). Thieves are still thick enough to walk around London talking on a stolen mobile, they will be thick enough to ride around London on a stolen bike too.

    The Met Police don’t even investigate complaints about people who have registered their vehicles in a false name for fear of opening a Pandora’s box full of giant bloodsucking worms. You can get 2 years for furnishing the DVLA with false information, try telling the Met this, they will insist it is nothing to do with them. Why? Because all these bicycle-fencing drug dealers you want to ctach are illegal immigrants who drive around in ringed cars registered to empty flats.

  22. Paul T Horgan suggested a national competition to design an un stealable bike.
    Err…how about one with square wheels !.

  23. I was pretty angry a few months back when my bike was stolen – 2 weeks after I bought it!!! It was brand new, and expensive by my standards – it was also the best bike I’ve ever ridden (the compliments Boris reserves for his apply as much to mine).

    But the most amazing feature of the whole event was that it was stolen outside a busy building (with a security guard at the front desk), on a busy street in Central London, between noon and 2pm on a sunny saturday! It had a lock on it and was at a proper bike rack. Frankly it was ridiculous.

    These days I have a bike that’s almost as good and a lock that cost nearly as much as the bike, and I keep it indoors overnight. It’s about as much as can be done.

  24. Bike tracking is not difficult; just get a small GPS device from a hiking store and stick it somewhere inconspicuous like inside the seat post. You can then report the bicycle stolen and give the police the exact coordinates AND proof it’s your bike when you phone in the report in the first place. They’ve got a quota to fill, they just might pick up the bastards, and besides, as I’ve said before, habitual criminals are criminals; they will invariably have evidence of other crimes lying around when the cops go over to pick up the bike and question them.

    Portland, Oregon, has a communal bike system, and it seems to work very well. Hey, there’s a policy for Boris: Bikes for All! The only people who can legitimately complain are bike thieves.

  25. So do they ride off on them or load them into vehicles I wonder?

    Because if they ride off on them, surely you could make some sort of locking device that, well, I’ll try and explain:

    You know the rim on the wheel, and on the front wheel the rim goes underneath the bit that comes down from the frame to the centre of the front wheel. Could some sort of built in lock be attached onto new bikes whereby you align a hole in the frame up to the lock and put the key in and hey presto a tungsten, or titanium bar shoots through the hole and locks the wheel. If you see what I mean. I’ve just been and had a look at my brother’s bike. I’m sure a bike with self locking wheels (and gears I expect) is perfectly possible.

    But then it dawned on me. When someone (like say Boris or Jack Target) gets their expensive bike nicked, they buy another one. Why would the manufacturers want to make bikes so they can’t be nicked?

    It’s quite commonly known that London estate agents go around putting up ‘for sale’ and ‘sold’ signs outside random houses as an illegal, but free, way of advertising. Maybe expensive bike manfacturers go around London nicking peoples bikes?

    Perhaps there should be an EU law that makes all bike manufacturers put lockable gears on their bikes and all bikes. But then would you lock it in top or bottom?

    To be honest I’d hazrad a guess that gangs of illegal immigrants and other rogues go around loading them into white vans that have been registered at empty flats.

    If you want to sort Londons crime problems out, target cars that have congestion charge fines outstanding. Zero tolerance against illegal drivers would uncover drugs, illegal immigrants, bike theft, the lot I expect. It’s just the logistics of pulling them all over in London and then what to do witrh them. Best build a specialist detention centre in some Labour voting area if you ask me.

  26. I should be able to leave my expensive bike outside my house unlocked. I should be able to drive the open-topped sportscar (I don’t actually have but hey, I dream) around town without people spitting in it, and I should be able to leave my front door unlocked and walk to the corner shop to get a paper wearing nothing but my boxers.

    Heinlein was right. We’re too soft.

  27. < ‘You can then report the bicycle stolen and give the police the exact coordinates AND proof it’s your bike when you phone in the report in the first place. They’ve got a quota to fill, they just might pick up the bastards’ (raincoaster)<

    You know nothing about Ken Livingstones Met Police. They’ll do sod all, they’ll give you a crime reference number. Now if you phone them and say that someone just called you a ‘nigger’, and that you know what kind of bike they are riding and where they are, your thief will be surrounded by three police cars in no time at all.

  28. Oh, you must have missed the part in my earlier comment where the Vancouver police refused to stop a bike theft in progress. Cops is cops.

    But like I said, they have a quota, and if nothing else you can pop round to the spot in question and steal it back, knowing full-well that there is fuckall they can do about it. Particularly fun to do it at a big sale, when you can stand there and talk VERY LOUDLY about how this is your bike and you can prove it was stolen and you’re taking it and would they like to contact the police?

    Also, nice little bit of knee-jerk racism there, Steven. White people steal bikes, too.

  29. I so sympathize, but about a quite different object. Let me change a word or two:

    After the mourning the rage kicked in: rage at the epidemic of smoking bans that is gripping London and the rest of the country – and rage at our society for the lax, passive, apathetic way in which we are dealing with that epidemic.

    We treat the smoking ban as though it were a kind of natural event, like catching a cold or succumbing to some other morally neutral phenomenon.

    When someone’s pub is stolen the discussion is entirely about what he or she could have done to prevent it, …and that someone has nicked it with an audacity that can only be described as insolent.

  30. I hope this isn’t tempting fate, but so far the girly-framed city pootler that I bought 3 years ego is still in my possession. Clever ruse, eh? I have seriously considered adding some barbie girl attachments and glittery tassles (right next to my machine gun).

    Andy J wrote: “Sorry to hear about the bike, Boris. These people need a good slap round the head!”

    Yes, and preferably with the bike!

    As for solutions… erm. What would have happened 500 years ago? Anyone seen stealing, selling, or riding a stolen Marin Sausalito would have been attacked by the entire vilage with horseshoes. But we have given away all our powers to the “police force” (misnomer) and then, as if in pure mockery, taken half of the powers away from them. What is left? Scrotes nicking bikes all over the place, the people aren’t allowed to do anything and become ever more frustrated and angry; and the police are unable or unwilling to do anything. In another few hundred years this scrote-favouring, power-diluting, trust-dissolving process will be seen as an early and very misguided attempt at establishing a “civilised” society.

  31. It’s not just cycle theft, Boris. My wife had her cards wallet stolen from her in the main steet in Chelmsford just before one Christmas and minutes later the police, given a good description of the thief, REFUSED to record it as a crime. Even when she returned and said the thieves had stolen £500 cash before the bank stopped all the cards, they still refused!

  32. One bike! So what.

    When I lived in South Africa I had six cars stolen in 4 years.

    Try a skateboard Boris.

  33. Oh Boris, how well I know that stab of shock and grief on encountering the empty spot where the bicycle was!

    My best advice is to go for the grungy housewife look. With a whicker basket back and front you’re safe I think …. though I do take the extra precaution of having a small explosive device attached to my padlock as well.

  34. I currently work for a Police force in the UK where one of my projects is reducing cycle theft in the city.

    The reason I was tasked with this is due to my hobby or racing Mountain Bikes and through my connection with bikes I have suffered several thefts of high-end expensive bikes.

    I do not wish to be drawn into foaming at the mouth debates over thefts, but I can assure you that the problem is taken seriously by many police forces.

    Reduction of the problem can only be achieved with the engagement of the cycle users.

    All bikes have an individual frame number, this is used for the factory to keep track of what bike is sold to what shop and to ensure that warranties are correctly honoured. This number along with photos of your bike can be registered online on
    https://www.immobilise.com/
    Any recovered stolen bikes are checked against this database and can therefore be returned.

    Please be aware that you get what you pay for on a lock if you’ve spent £500 on a bike then spending £5 on a lock isn’t too sensible, expect to pay at least ten percent of the bike’s value of a suitable lock.

    Fundamentally a lock is only a deterrent and a determined thief WILL steal your bike if he wants it. The hardware world is full of tools designed to cut things such as steel for the purposes of construction – my garden shed feels secure but I could easily break in with a wood saw?!?!?!

    Once a bike has had the lock broken if it is complete and ready to go then the thief has a nice little number to get away on ASAP, try to secure different parts of the bike separately or use two locks, in the motorbike world a great tip I found is that if you put an ordinary padlock through each disk of a disk break the wheels will not go round and this will often not be noticed until it’s too late and the job will be too much bother for the thief and the bike gets abandoned.

    There are several brands of electronic chipping for cycles that works in exactly the same way as chipping for pets with the chip being put in the frame and the details of the owner being put on a database which is shared with immobilise.

    The best advice is use a secure parking facility where it will be attended to such as the one at Finsbury Park in London or the Bike Park in Leicester. Many bike shops will also look after your bike for the afternoon whilst you do your shopping and it’s a good way to get friendly with your local bike shop and perhaps profit from the odd friendly discount (so I hear) as a result. As the green agenda encourages cycling to work employers are being encouraged to provide secure indoor parking for their employees, try hassling you employer to give up a basement room or similar for this purpose, you could even try using it at weekend when you nip into town too.

  35. OK, here’s a better idea. Insert a spring-loaded 12ins spike in the frame under the saddle. If the wheels turn more than 10 times, the spike is released upwards with massive force.

    You only have to remember to disarm it before riding off yourself.

  36. And another… Feed 10,000 volts across the handlebar grips. This could be generated by the wheel dynamo feeding a step-up transformer.

    All this device needs is a sign saying “Please do not wear gloves when riding this bike”.

  37. Boris I remember the day when a policeman came to see the crime scene – where my bike used to be chained.
    He muttered something about forensic evidence on the ground ;However no crime scene tents showed up. I never bought another bike.

  38. Well if you’d take the same precaution with your cigarettes, nobody would have a problem with you! (raincoaster)

    Nobody that I know does have any problem with me.

    And, anyway, if they ever do, whatever it’s about, it’s their problem, not mine.

    I mean, so what if I don’t believe in global warming?

  39. < ‘The hardware world is full of tools designed to cut things such as steel for the purposes of construction – my garden shed feels secure but I could easily break in with a wood saw?!?!?!’ (Matt Jones)<

    Bike locks, well any decent bike locks, are made from very hard metals that you simply cannot saw through with any old hacksaw. Are you seriously telling me that the thieves come armed with angle grinders and pneumatic bolt-cutters?

    Incidently, a consumer website I found said that:

    < ‘Spend a suitable amount of money. You do get what you pay for. Police guidelines suggest that you spend approx 10% of the value of your bike on a lock to secure it.’<

    So this is the standard police advice on avoiding bicycle theft then? It’s remarkably similar to your advice, which was:

    < ‘Please be aware that you get what you pay for on a lock if you’ve spent £500 on a bike then spending £5 on a lock isn’t too sensible, expect to pay at least ten percent of the bike’s value of a suitable lock.’<

    Fair enough, but this isn’t a consumer advice website, it is a debating forum, this week that debate seem to be about crime and punishment. So whilst you might not “… wish to be drawn into foaming at the mouth debates over thefts …”, other people might want to advocate that the current strategy of policing theft, and the current sanctions imposed on thieves by the courts, is largely to blame for the problem.

    Some people might want to “foam at the mouth” even moreso and be so unsavourary as to blame things like mass immigration, the human rights/compensation culture, modern schooling, the Labour party or even the decline in churchgoing. If all the police have got to say on the matter is ‘buy a good bike lock and hope for the best’, then I think a few days of “foaming at the mouth” might be in order.

    The police, like all other public authorities, might not like public scrutiny of their methods, but scrutiny and criticism are the inevitable consequence of a free and democratic society. In New Labour’s Britian, a lot of law abiding people are starting to feel like they are getting a raw deal.

    Motorists, smokers and other easy targets are persecuted with artibary penalties whilst criminals laugh in the face of the law and police forces complain about lack of resources.

  40. When I lived in Copenhagen it was possible to hire a bike and return it rather like using a shopping trolly. Bike theft was non-existent. However Copenhagen is not London and a different mentality clearly ensues. It is indeed shocking that bike-crime in the capital is viewed as inconsequential. A bike is property, the taking of property is theft, theft contravenes law. The case could not be clearer. As Boris correctly says when such theft is trivialized, by police and public, the lawbreaker is encouraged to take his criminal activity to a higher level.

  41. I still like the socialist model. If you flood the market with city-provided second-hand bikes available for free, you eliminate the market for second-hand bikes and thus the motivation for theft. Bikes aren’t that valuable that they’ll start smuggling them over the border to Yorkshire or someplace.

  42. Once Paxo got his bike nicked in TVC and he was in a bad mood for a long time.
    He was very emotional

  43. I entirely agree, while the loss of an individuals private property is of course bad enough in itself, what this shows is that we have strayed quite far into madness in terms of the way in which we view crime, offenders, and most importantly the role of the victim. Having just completed a masters in what might have well be termed ‘Crime Prevention – Why its the victims’ Fault’ i have become increasingly aware of the extent to which the ordinary citizen is held to be responsible for the crime which has been comitted against them. The theoretical basis for crime prevention study and action is that crime will occur anywhere where it can, and that it will result because people will always take the easiest path available to them, for example stealing a bike rather than working and buying their own. What is perhaps most tragic about this notion is the extent to which it is leaking into political rhetoric on crime and punishment. The funding for crime prevention interventions is growing year on year – and not for simple property offences. It also extents to the realms of violent and sexual crime. An example par excellance of this can be seen on the discussion, both in academic and political circles, on the role that a rape or sexual assault victim is held to be responsible for their victimisation, because of there consumption of alcohol.

    All in all, it certainly paints a very dim view of human nature… or at least the conception of it upon which crime control is to be based. It suggests that society is made up of oppurtunists who would think nothing of committing any form of criminal activity to further their ends. For instance, a recent Home Office campaign involved placing a series of 3 posters in various Gentlemens lavatories in pubs and bars. These posters carried the slogan ‘Have sex with someone who hasnt said yes, and the next place you could enter may be prison’.
    The less than subtle message behind this is that men are all potential rapists, as Brownswords famous saying goes.

    What a stage we have reached when it is held in policing and political circles that the male population must be reminded whilst out socialising that they mustn’t rape.

  44. I am so totally behind you on this one, Boris. Please please please, if you can do something about this, I shall vote for you and for the Conservatives (or whatever party backs you up) until the day I die.

    Seriously, I am a devoted cyclist. I have 4 bikes ranging from cheap as chips to stupidly expensive, and I believe cycling is a wonderful wonderful thing on so many levels – and one of the few things that makes me glad to by human.

    I am speechless with rage people’s lovely bikes are nicked, it makes me so angry, I’m seriously considering other parts of the country (and other countries) where this is less likely to happen.

    If you’ve got the power to do something about epidemic… please please please do. You will be my hero forever, and that’s got to be worth something.

    Most sincerely,
    Mark.

  45. I perfectly agree something should be done to cope with bike thefts.
    They just stole my bike a week ago, and I am going to purchase a new one soon. The bike thefts should be treated as any other “stealing crime”, like a car theft or a motorbike! A bike is anyway a property, something you buy and use.
    The authorities tries to encourage people from London to not use cars or polluting means of transport, but at the same time they do not do anything to safeguard and protect all those thousands using bikes to go to work, university etc. who have to cope both with the danger of being killed in the street by cabs, buses and cars, and with the risk of having their bike stolen.
    I hope those who are the authorities, at least one of them could read mine as many other people protests and activate themselves to protect the interests of the people who have elected them.

    Mario Oliviero

  46. Solution…public transport. I know i know you bikers are going to throw a fit, but think about it whats the worst that can happen..sure you may get blown up by a terrrorist, squashed like a sardine at gas mark 5, assaulted, robbed provided you have managed to hide your oyster card…easier than a bike me thinks, even at the end of it you still have transport, not effective but none the less your not walking to your next destination!

  47. Well the Dale blog is just gonna hafta live without me until it takes that stupid “Must register with Google” thing off.

    God knows, Boris has his faults, and the regulars are pretty well aware of them, but racism isn’t one of them.

  48. In the United States, one can buy these little 110 decibel motion alarms to attach to one’s bicycle while it is parked. They do an excellent job of perforating the eardrums of anyone trying to steal your bike. They may still steal it, but they will regret having done so. Perhaps you should buy one, and the next time your bicycle is stolen you can smile at the thought of some yob riding your bicycle down the street with blood streaming from his ears.

  49. So are the Guardian going to allow you a 500 word retort in their comments section Boris? Or have they come out firmly in favour of the Livingstone coalition?

    You’ve got a job on from here, key to Londoners is that they are one of the few people in the UK that actually read local free papers.

  50. I feel your pain, Boris. My bike got nicked as a student, I couldn’t afford to replace it – and as a result got into bad habits which I’m now trying to get out of….

    I’ve recently started cycling again. I don’t cycle in London (uphill seems much harder than it used to… but then, I’m lifting more of me uphill).

    I wouldn’t dream of leaving the bike locked up in the great outdoors now. What I’d love to see across the country (and certainly in London) are bike parks near railway stations (not just the occasional station). These can be in buildings, with the bikes stacked closely by automaton (or human) in order to reduce the footprint needed by the facility. I.e. the punter just can’t get to bikes other than their own.

    Another alternative is this from California:

    here

    Wouldn’t it be great if that was interfaced with oyster cards, and what a price! That’d seriously incentivise people to try avoiding the cars. They’d need to spring up all over the place to be truly good, but how wonderful would that be?

    Of course, in the UK the price would probably be more than the quoted 3-5 cents an hour – but even at 3-5p an hour (almost twice the price) – what a bargain!

    With a cycling mayor-in-waiting, I can but hope.

    It’d also be lovely to have more cycling spaces available on trains, from where I live I can’t get a real bike into London before something like 10:30am. I dare say that this is beyond the power of the mayor. As it stands, I wouldn’t dream of bringing a bike into London except for a round trip, as I couldn’t be sure of parking at the destination. See above!

    Dear Boris, if elected for mayor, please use your influence to promote secure cycle parking across London – and help reduce congestion as a result. Cycle lanes would be lovely too!

  51. I’m not sure I like the sound of cyclists v. bus passengers. Surely London has to accommodate every commuter.

    By the way, regarding the racist smear in last Saturday’s Guardian, I see Boris’s fellow politician-come-blogger Bob Piper has come out in support of ‘Ken’s coalition of minorities’ by publicising the Guardian’s smear campaign.

    In my humble opinion he means Ken’s coalition of Marxist front organisations and political misfits such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi (look him up on wikipedia – he supports the idea of attaching explosive belts to young Muslims in order to murder young Israeli’s, yet Ken calls him ‘progressive’).

    Bob Piper referred to ‘institutaional racism’ in our conversation regarding his involvement in the smear, so I asked him:

    < ‘”Yes or no please Bob. In your opinion, is the NHS institutionally racist?”<

    BLINK (google them), one of Ken’s Marxist front organisations that are arrogant enough to claim to be a ‘black information link’, in their ‘Black Manifesto’ ask the government to:

    < ‘… accept that institutional racism is a reality in the National Health Service.<

    This is what Labour Councillor Bob Piper said:

    < ‘It is a stupid question (why am I not surprised). Yes, of course in an organisation as large as the NHS it will reflect the values of the society in which it exists. There is racism in society, and although institutions have done quite a lot to address the issue of racism, it is likely that there will be institutional racism in the NHS. I believe the government, with the RRA amendment has done a lot to address those issues previously left open by the Tories, but that doesn’t mean all institutions are cleansed overnight, particularly when there are those to stupid to recognise it was a problem.’<

    There you have it, Ken Livingstones allies believe the NHS is a racist organisation!

    Please click on my link (on my name) to get to the full conversation with councillor Bob.

  52. I’m sure a lot of racists don’t think they are racists, but that isn’t what counts. You are judged by your words and actions and if you say and write things like – “The best fate for Africa would be if the old colonial powers, or their citizens, scrambled once again in her direction; on the understanding that this time they will not be asked to feel guilty.”

    “Why are they so brutal to each other? We may treat them like children, but it’s not because of us that they behave like the children in Lord of the Flies.” – I’m afraid a lot of people will call you a racist or a white supremacist.

  53. Come on, those are political statements, not racist statements, and he’s said worse about Portsmouth, FFS. By hitting this race thing so hard and so early, you give credence to the claim that you’ve got nothing substantial to go after. Can this be true?

  54. Back on bikes, Murk’s link looks great, but I doubt that we would be able to find enough space for those lockers in London. Possibly if we double-tiered them and charged more, perhaps even incorporating them into the building work of new/refurbished tube stations. But generally, during my daily walk/cycle journeys through London I see very few places which would be big enough.

  55. Boris, whatever you do don’t follow this advice: “..go for the grungy housewife look. With a whicker basket back and front..” The national papers would have a field day, with pictures of you riding through London on a bike like that!

    I, too, have had bikes pinched. After the first one, the police virtually told me to “go away” and stop bothering them, even though I had seen a local yob riding my bike around and I gave them his address! The bike had my postcode stamped on the frame by the police anti-crime dept when I bought it. The last bike I had stolen, my third, had a card with my address on it concealed under the seat. The card was sent back to me by someone who “had just bought this bike from a car-boot sale” and wasn’t willing to return it because it had “cost a lot of money”.

  56. Nemesis, maybe I am being thick, but I really cannot see what is racist about the two quotes you cite. In the second, it is actually not clear about whom Boris is speaking. If that is the best you can do, please give up! If Boris is racist, he also works in a chip shop with Elvis. [Clue: he doesn’t.]

    Boris does not associate with murderous thugs like Mr al-Qaradawi. Nor does he compare Jewish reporters to Nazis. Of course, anti-semitism is now fully approved by most people on the Left: let’s remember the Labour Party comparing Michael Howard and Oliver Letwin to pigs at the last general election.

    Labour is running scared because Ken is on his way out. Really ironic when you consider how much they wanted shot of him themselves a few years ago!

    As for the bike theft, Boris has my full sympathies. It probably does the rich and famous some good to see how the rest of us live, eg having to put up with a lazy and incompetent justice system which always favours the offender (unless they are a middle class home-owning taxpayer).

  57. Steven L said

    “Bike locks, well any decent bike locks, are made from very hard metals that you simply cannot saw through with any old hacksaw. Are you seriously telling me that the thieves come armed with angle grinders and pneumatic bolt-cutters?”

    -I’m afraid so Steven and I have seen first hand examples of £150 locks and chains being chopped with a bolt cropper in under ten seconds by a large gentleman as part of a quality standard test.

    Try putting breaking bike lock into you tube for a rude awakening- it certainly scared me.

    However the good news is that as the basic average value of a bike rises the consequent charges are becoming more severe in relation to this.

    Theft of a high value bike is treated in much the same way as the theft of any high value item when a house is searched in connection to a theft bikes are checked against data bases and examined in much the same way as any other suspiciously expensive item would be such as a wide screen TV or hifi system.

    I despise bike thieves and have had my heart broken several times by their low behaviour from having my BMX stolen at twelve years old through to a recent two day old trek 6500 and so as result I am trying my hardest to do something about it and I don’t bame anyone for being angry at what appears to be an inefectual Police service.

    A lot of work goes into preventing the thefts in the first place with CCTV and racking and advice on preventing your bike being a target. I go through piles of recovered bikes trying to match them to reports and owners on a regular basis- any personailsed marking are therefore very helpful.

    However as long as people are brought up thinking that it is ok to take something that is not yours we will always have a problem.

    without wishing to divert the problem, more helpful provision of secure racking or covered attended parks by local councils would be a bonus Leicester’s bike park is an amzing example of what can be doen with dissused cellar space in a city centre.

    Some of us are trying our hardest and do genuinly care though.

  58. Very sorry to hear about your bike, Boris.

    RAINCOASTER: I think your earlier comment regarding Steven_L’s comments displaying a bit of “reverse racism” were self-righteous, not to mention, wildly off the mark. Steven_L’s whole point is that Red Ken and the municipal government are more concerned about enforcing political correctness than anything else. I don’t think his reference to the so-called N-word automatically makes him a racist.

    Scrolling down a bit further, I see that Raincoaster spends a lot of time responding to other people’s posts — in a rather smug and obnoxious way. Why don’t you, uh, get a life and let other people post? Thank you.

  59. Jack: Immediately outside waterloo, there is a walkway going to the river – some could go in there – that’s just one. Euston concourse, outside Charing Cross near the railings also spring to mind. Smaller installations of six or so could be dotted all over, next to an existing bus stop would be ideal as there would be a pre-existing constriction on the pavement.

    I agree though, that landspace might be an issue, although given that space can be found for car parks…. several bikes could be parked securely in the space of one car – it’d need some imagination.

    Recently, I visited Blois in the Loire valley. In a car park they had hire bikes for free. I didn’t use them, but I think it worked by parking, taking your ticket to the attendant who would loan out the bike. You could not use the ticket to get your car out without returning the bike.

    Many moons ago, I remember seeing a system on TV where the bike park was a small entrance, the bike was locked into the space provided and then it was lifted away by automaton – stacking the bikes vertically. To retrieve the bike, you’d put your card in the slot and it is delivered.

    Surely, it’d be worth the mayor asking someone to come over from California and put some concrete proposals on the table?

    My main point is that London isn’t exactly cycle friendly at the moment (though it’s better than it was) – not least of which are the difficulties in bringing in a cycle, and as Boris has highlighted, the security of cycles around town. Promoting cycling in London can only be to the general good as far as reducing pollution, congestion and so forth goes – and whilst Ken Livingstone has tried to deal with this with the help of public transport (e.g. Oyster cards, and charging 4 quid for anyone who dares to use the tube with cash) – I hope that Boris will be the man to promote human powered transportation.

    The trouble with the mayoral elections is that the mayor of London intimately affects many more people that those who live in London, but also those who work there (such as my better half) and those who regularly visit (such as myself).

    With regard to Boris’ issue, I stumbled across something called the ‘tikit’, a new folding bike. The company that makes it also makes a road bike, which can be set up to feel like your regular bike – they make them to measure – and yet it folds. It looks one of these ‘rockets’ might be a good solution – ride it, fold it up and take it inside. It’s getting good reviews:

    BikeFriday:
    http://www.bikefriday.com/

    Pocket Rocket Pro
    http://tinyurl.com/27rha7

    One Review of above:
    http://www.jimlangley.net/ride/bikefriday.html

    Tikit:
    http://www.bikefriday.com/tikit
    (the video of the guy cycling in, folding, unfolding and cycling out is great).

    Disclaimer: I’ve no links to the company mentioned above, just that I’ve been reading about their bikes and now have an urge to save madly in order to get one of their bikes….

  60. Why thank you ‘Man about Town’, in fact, to some extent I probably am a racist, like every other human being I stereotype things and people. I try my best not to but sometimes I do.

    Whilst I am careful to avoid using offensive words, such as racist words and sexual swear words, in the company of people they might offend, I reserve all my hatred for all the little-Stalins around these days who think they have the right to police the English language.

  61. …to some extent I probably am a racist, like every other human being I stereotype things and people. I try my best not to but sometimes I do. (StevenL)

    For pure, unadulterated, 24 carat, 101 octane, no apologies, no compromise racism, try Blink (Black Information Link) http://www.blink.org.uk

  62. Now I see that BLINK are trying to smear Boris for saying:

    < “The best fate for Africa would be if the old colonial powers, or their citizens, scrambled once again in her direction; on the understanding that this time they will not be asked to feel guilty.”<

    I thought Africans wanted the EU to stop subsidising their farmers and ‘food mountains’ and begin free trade? Weigh this up against Mugabes ‘land reforms’ that have led to hyperinflation and starvation, and I think that free trade between Africans and their old colonial masters would be better all round – if, and only if – we can be sure of political stability in said African nations.

    We cannot gamble with our food security – cheaper food in Europe and a way out of poverty for Africa is better for all concerned as an ideal. Those African nations that want freedom and democracy, that embrace friendship with their ‘former colonial masters’, should be welcomed with better terms of trade.

    I agree, does the EU?

  63. Is it just me or does anyone else get the irony in BLINK trying to drag British thinking towards a tipping point where no white man can comment on African politics without being a ‘racist’ yet they are allowed to have a whole ‘Black Manifesto’ calling for racial segregation in education and training, and title themselves ‘The Black Information Link’?

  64. Damn it PaulD, I just read your BLINK link, they are attacking ‘tory bloggers’ now.

    I sincerely hope the Marxist (insert politically correct explitive here) don’t start quoting some of my drunken comments as evidence of Boris being a ‘racist’.

    They have been trawling through Iain Dale’s commenters by the look of it and attributing bloggers comments to ‘tories’.

    MARXISTS – take note, I am not a ‘Tory’.

  65. I’m right-wing raincoaster, I don’t deny that. You are not the only Marxist on planet blogosphere. BLINK are very much a Marxist organisation that have the audacity to claim they speak for ‘blacks’ as if black people are somehow inferior in that they cannot read what everyone else reads and form their own opinions.

    Of course the Marxist bloggers like you raincoaster will probably quote me as a foul racist that said:

    < “black people are somehow inferior in that they cannot read what everyone else reads”<

    BLINK’s ‘Black Manifesto’ is not that much different to Marx’s ‘Communist Manifesto’ in that they both contain some good ideas, but they are both also totalitarian blueprints for the distruction of free civilisation.

    I’m not a ‘republican’ raincoaster. I am a UK swing voter that seriously disagrees with being £750billion in debt by 2011 more than anything else.

    There are only 2 good reasons people vote labour:

    1) They are economically illiterate (try it, ask a Labour voter to define ‘budget deficit’, ‘trade deficit’ or ‘inflation’! Ask them how much the UK owes, most labour voters can’t even tell you what base lending rate is or comment upon how it is determined!

    2) They hate Britain. Try it, get a Marxist pissed and listen to what they really fantasise about (it usually relates to murdering an elderly woman [Her Mejesty The Queen]).

  66. Ah yes: “we love emancipation and enfranchisement, but obviously those who vote differently are inferior.”

    I am familiar with this mindset. Why, I have it myself!

  67. greetings from a fellow victim. Leaving aside the reaction of ‘shooting is too good the for the little b*****rds’, perhaps a bit inappropriate from a bleeding heart liberal such as myself, I recommend a folding byke. Never let it out of your sight. take in into your office, take it into meetings. People surprisingly don’t object. Mine is a Dahon MU SL, light and a good ride. I would recommend 20″ wheel machines over 16″ which excludes bromptons which have horrid gears, but that is beside the point. I had my old folding bike stolen recently but that was because I thought the British library would stop me bringing it in, and locked it up inadequately outside. The staff there were terrific, but I will only bring its replacement into London if I can take it into meetings. The DH buildings do not object.

    as I say, string them up by their ears!

  68. “Is it just me or does anyone else get the irony in BLINK trying to drag British thinking towards a tipping point where no white man can comment on African politics without being a ‘racist’ yet they are allowed to have a whole ‘Black Manifesto’ calling for racial segregation in education and training, and title themselves ‘The Black Information Link’?”

    – I absolutely agree. Unlike most blogs, I notice that it also does not provide space for readers to express their own views.

    I cannot find any of the “torrent of hate-filled insults” which they claim have been directed towards St Doreen of Eltham: only views which I entirely agree with. I am rather offended that they have missed my (admittedly new and not well-known) ‘Tory leaning blog’ off their hate list: http://didactophobia.blogspot.com/2007/08/lefties-play-race-card-as-usual.html

  69. Re my last post: there are some views (eg accusing Stephen of having been a drugs dealer) which appear to be excessive. However, the substantive point is that Boris is no racist and St Doreen should not be getting involved.

  70. Perhaps you worry too much about the Doreen Lawrence business. For every one who is taken in by her orchestrated preaching, more will come to realise that it’s a desperate, below-the-belt attack on a man with a deep loathing of unfairness and injustice, and whose literary skills the bigots fail completely to understand.

  71. I’m a victim too – my bike was nicked y’day from the office. I work with thieves and vagabonds!

  72. Tough luck, Boris and I hope you get a new bike soon. Cycling sometimes works and if this is what it takes to get some seriousness into pedal-power, then go for it. Just remember when sorting things out that pedallers (not you, of course!) are frequently pavement-riding, light-jumping, heart-stopping nightmares – even in rural areas.

  73. Now, there was this woman … I can’t recall her name … but she said that there was no such thing as society, and that there were only families and individuals. Well, if there’s ‘no such thing as society’ then there’s no constraint against theft or any other crime apart from being caught. I once heard a police officer comment that all criminals were stupid. I retorted that given current detection and conviction rates that didn’t say a lot for the intelligence and ability of the police.

    The increased division of wealth will increase levels of crime, not only theft, but also crimes of violence as a degree of dehuminisation takes place. If you don’t believe this try checking the statistics and undertaking historical comparisons.

    But whilst I agree with the need to tighten up and bring in effective punishment, it sadly seems typically old school Tory that only working class crime against middle class property seems to arouse the ire of the Conservative Party and its supporters. How come no one rants against white collar crime and the massive tax evasion perpetrated by the rich? Or is that acceptable?

    Are you sure that the ‘racism’ claim is concerned with black Britain and Africa? I thought that perhaps Liverpool had declared UDI and that it was racist abuse against Liverpudlians. Yes, the politically correctiside nonsense must be rejected, but if Boris wants to be taken seriously politically it might just be worth his while being somewhat less deliberately provoking than referring to a colonial past and advocating its readoption. We should be as free to criticise the brutality and corruption of Africa as we are to criticise it anywhere else. And that includes the brutality and ignorance of the BNP whom I seem to be able to smell. It always surprises me to encounter one of them who can type, I’d never realised they could get their knuckles that far off the pavement … or perhaps they dictate it and employ an editor.

    ‘Marxist’ Raincoaster? I didn’t think they allowed any on that side of the pond, or is liberal Marxism allowed in Canukistan provided one registers with the authorities? Have you seen the research that indicates that the FBI was the main funder of the American Communist Party in the 1950s because it had infiltrated so much it was paying most of the membership dues? There’s a good bit in the recent Private Eye that has government ministers admitting to trying ‘socialism’ at university … are we to suppose that the Conservative Party tried ‘socialism’ at public school?

    Anyway, I’ve concluded that Boris’s bike thief was probably listening to an old Norman T speech on his iPod, he only took it by way of finding work, a real case of ‘On yer bike!’

  74. Sorry about the double post Mel, the link went as I was doing it and when I looked at the front there was no sign of it so I banged it on again.

    P .X.
    [Ed: all hunky-dory now dood]

  75. < ‘How come no one rants against white collar crime and the massive tax evasion perpetrated by the rich?’ (AP)<

    I certainly do. I was well up for sending the ‘Nat-West three’ or whoever they were to face the wrath of George W’s criminal justice system – check the archives about this time last year. I’m not a fan of Gordon’s recent attempts to import a load of fifth columnist non-Brits over here from the Guantanamo Bay re-education camp either. I wouldn’t lose any sleep if we started hanging murderers again. Boris disagrees with me – certainly about extraditing the alleged Nat West fraudsters and the death penalty – if you believe what he writes, and it’s a good thing.

    There’s no substitute for clear-headed leadership from a well-educated, level-headed guy that makes these tough decisions for you. Would you like to be extradited to the USA for a crime you supposedly committed in the UK against a UK entity? Or hanged by your own government for something you didn’t do like Timothy Evans probably was? Would you like to have to be the one to sign a death warrant or pull the lever? I think murderers deserve to be executed and white-collar fraudsters deserve to be locked up like common criminals.

    Fraud is notoriously difficult to prove however, it’s actually something that most people do. How many people to you know that have made a false insurance claim? Lied to a company to get a refund? Lied to get a job? Technically, these things are all fraud and deception.

    This tax-evasion thing is a non-starter however. Have a look at the rich list these days and it’s full of entrepreneurs from working class backgrounds and people who are talented enough to work in industries where there is such a high demand for their talents that they get paid a lot.

    The entrepreneurs contribute massive amounts of tax by employing millions of people and the rich employees of football clubs and investment banks pay 40% tax.

    How many bar and waiting staff do you know that declare their tips to the taxman? That’s tax evasion too.

  76. Strange how the USA seems to be able to prosecute corporate fraud much more quickly, at a fraction of the cost, and with much more severe sentences and a far higher success rate than the incompetent Serious Fraud Office in this country seems capable of. One needs to ask just whose interests are served by this failure?

    Private Eye certainly doesn’t seem to agree with you about the benefits from these non-domicile, non-tax paying residents SteveL. The Eye also seems to think that they are partly responsible for the rise in property prices, starting in central London and trickling down; so next time you want to complain about the cost of housing perhaps you should try bearing that in mind.

    If I were to express my view of your pandering to the rich in this manner Mel would probably ban me … I’d have to resort to an obscene idiom referring to the rectum of the rich, the location of your tongue, and an apparent propensity for tonsil tickling! Odd how you seem to concur with Gordon Brown on this issue. You’re not one of those NuLab trolls I read about on right-wing blogs, are you?

    The rest of that claptrap is akin to the old Tory hogwash about ‘the little old lady who owns a few shares’, the emotive absurdity that was always dragged out back when I was a kid in an attempt to prevent any regulation. I thought the Conservative Party had outgrown such nonsense now that NuLab is a tool of the City, but apparently not.

  77. The entrepreneurs contribute massive amounts of tax by employing millions of people and the rich employees of football clubs and investment banks pay 40% tax.

    In reality almost all money eventually ends up in the gevernment’s coffers. The top earners actually pay over 50% to the government when you factor in NI contributions too. Of the remainder, if they spend it on anything there’s a 17.5% VAT. The company that receives the money then pays corporation tax and any number of other things. If you save it then you might get away with not paying much tax for a while, especially in an ISA, but if you accidentally save too much then a massive chunk will go to the government when you die.

    So first you pay 50%. Then you pay 17.5% of the remainder if you spend it. The company that receives the remains pays tax for it, and then if they’re employing people or buying things with it they’ll pay tax then too. I’d guess that about 80% of your pay check ends up in the government’s pockets within the first 18 months.

    It’s probably a good thing, after all it’s what allows us to run a massive welfare state without charging 100% income tax. Even so, I’d rather see a more direct and simplified VAT-only type tax. Raise VAT to 30% or something, and abolish income tax altogether – with a rebate for those on low-incomes. http://www.fairtax.org/site/PageServer

  78. < “The Eye also seems to think that they are partly responsible for the rise in property prices, starting in central London and trickling down; next time you want to complain about the cost of housing perhaps you should try bearing that in mind.” (AP)<

    I think property prices have been hyperinflating due to the following economic conditions:

    1) Low cost of borrowing.
    2) Massive inflation of the money supply by government and individual borrowing.
    3) High employment.
    4) Loss of confidence in the stock markets by small investors post dotcom bust.
    5) The frenzy caused by the hyperinflation fuelling demand for investment property.

    A few Russian and Arab millionaires buying town houses in Chelsea and Baywater is not the cause of the hyperinflation in the value of my Dad’s house.

    < “If I were to express my view of your pandering to the rich in this manner Mel would probably ban me” (AP) <

    I’m not pandering to anyone, I just have a different opinion to you on the subject. If a handful of mega-rich Arabs want to come and live over here so they can get drunk on expensive Cognac and play high-stakes blackjack then that’s fine by me. I’m a lot more concerned about these 5 foreign suspected terrorists that Brown and Miliband want to rescue from the Guantanamo Bay re-education camp.

    < “You’re not one of those NuLab trolls I read about on right-wing blogs, are you?”<

    No, I am not a member of any political party and will definately be voting for the Conservatives at the next election unless they propose to do something completely bizarre like ban whisky.

    < ‘I’d rather see a more direct and simplified VAT-only type tax.’ (Jack Target)<

    I like people who think about things like radical tax reforms – as long as the reforms they are thinking about mean I pay less!

  79. I like people who think about things like radical tax reforms – as long as the reforms they are thinking about mean I pay less! – Steven

    You would indeed, with the Fairtax everyone ends up paying less, although for some people it’s very little less while for others it’s quite a lot. Essentially it’s a lot less at either end of the scale, nearly the same in the middle. I’m not sure I approve of that, and would probably support a different formula to give the middle classes more benefit and the upper-end less.

    In any case, the simple reason for everyone being able to pay less tax is that it is a hundred times simpler to administer a tax system which only taxes one thing than the massive, complicated and convoluted system which we have now. You could sack 90% of the Inland Revenue. It wouldn’t make you very popular among them, but the rest of the population would no longer be paying income tax, which I think would make up for it! There are really only two things to be administered, VAT (which is administered at the moment) and the rebate for low earners.

    This is, at the moment, primarily an American idea, but I believe it could apply just as well in the UK, and in fact if we could implement it 2-3 years before they do, London would rocket above New York and cement itself as the world economic capital for decades. Not to mention the economy would boom and corporations who suddenly find themselves not paying corporation tax would easily mop up the ex-Revenue employees while expanding. It’s in the U.S. Congress at the moment with 67 co-sponsors, so we’d better get a move on.

  80. In reality almost all money eventually ends up in the government’s coffers…. I’d guess that about 80% of your pay check ends up in the government’s pockets within the first 18 months.

    Interesting one, Jack. Has anyone ever done this calculation? I wouldn’t mind betting it is more than 80%.

    You rightly identify that half of most people’s earnings disappear into the Treasury by direct taxation. But look at it from the perspective of buying a loaf of bread for, say, 80p. Along the way, the taxman takes a huge slice of that loaf (ok, ok…). Off the top of my head:

    Tax on purchase of the combine harvester
    Tax on its driver’s income, plus NI
    Tax on the driver’s holiday in Benidorm
    Tax on the fuel conveying the grain; road tax on the lorry
    Tax on the baker’s premises, the food he eats, the socks he wears
    Council tax on the shop where it was sold
    Tax on the retailer’s profits (his income), and tax on everything he buys with that income.
    And so it goes on…

    All these are buried somewhere in that 80p. They have to be – where else does the money come from? On top of this, the customer had to earn perhaps £1.30 to be left with enough to buy the loaf in the first place.

    So you could say that, for every loaf of bread sold at 80p, the government ends up with over £1.

    How’s my maths?

  81. An exam question for you Jack Target, seen as you are an Oxford student, and will probably end up with some kind of responsibility in life, I think you try and answer this about your tax idea:

    < Discuss the effects of immediately replacing income and corporation tax in the UK upon the following

    a) UK residential house prices.

    b) Consumer price index inflation.

    c) i) UK Interest rates in the short term.
    ii) UK interest rates in the medium term.<

  82. Boris Johnson is clearly a committed cyclist, and non-car owner like myself I hope, but the rank and file of the party he represents are solidly pro-motorist and roadbuilding despite the leader’s attempts to rebrand.

    I doubt if he could have achieved as much for cyclists in the capital as Ken Livingstone has managed; his direction has been clear and he has shown bravery beyond any other politician in the country.

  83. Boris Johnson is clearly a committed cyclist, and non-car owner like myself I hope, but the rank and file of the party he represents are solidly pro-motorist and roadbuilding despite the leader’s attempts to rebrand.

    I doubt if he could have achieved as much for cyclists in the capital as Ken Livingstone has managed; Livingstone’s direction has been clear and he has shown bravery beyond any other politician in the country. Boris just isn’t made of that sort of stuff.

  84. Boris Johnson is clearly a committed cyclist, and non-car owner like myself I hope, but the rank and file of the party he represents are solidly pro-motorist and roadbuilding despite the leader’s attempts to rebrand.

    I doubt if he could have achieved as much for cyclists in the capital as Ken Livingstone has managed; Livingstone’s direction has been clear and he has shown bravery beyond any other politician in the country. Boris doesn’t seem to be made of that sort of stuff.

  85. “A handful of mega-rich arabs” SteveL?

    ‘Private Eye’ puts the figure of British residents who claim to be ‘non-domiciled’ in the UK at 200,000, and insists that the majority of them are bankers and hedge fund managers. In 2003 the Treasury estimated the tax that this group avoided as £1 bn, the figure is now apparently so embarrassingly high that the Treasury refuses to divulge its estimate. Several of them have made substantial donations to NuLab coffers. I take it you approve.

  86. < ”Private Eye’ puts the figure of British residents who claim to be ‘non-domiciled’ in the UK at 200,000, and insists that the majority of them are bankers and hedge fund managers.’ (AP)<

    I don’t know much about hedge fund managers, I’ve only ever knowingly met one. He was a ‘toff’ like Boris but also the only guy I’ve ever met on a train in London that invited me out for a drink. I’ve taken aussie and yank girls out drinking in the city before a few times, city folk tend to be knobs, but from my experience of toff hedge fund people were pretty cool – and they tell you cool stuff.

    What’s your problem with hedge fund folk? Mayfair is a lot more friendly than Moorgate you know!

  87. An expensive bicycle getting stolen is one thing, but in some sense worse is the police attitude. “What do you expect us to do about it?” We are talking failed state here. Don’t want to sound too paranoid, but could this be deliberate government policy? Keep the middle-class cowed. Wealth redistribution. Theft a disguised cry for help. You buy that?
    Compare with Japan: Suffered a minor break-in June, first in 25 years. Within thirty minutes of making the call the first police officer arrived followed shortly by three more. Dusting for fingerprints, photos, the lot. No result to date, but you get the distinct impression they are on the case. Keeping on top of petty crime reduces major crime.
    How much of a heads-up do you guys in Britain need? Ask any Brit visiting Britain after being away for several years. They’ll detail the deterioration for you. When you live there, it creeps up and doesn’t register. The police hold the sole prerogative to commit violence, the law-abiding citizen is gelded. What’s the point of a police state when you can’t walk the streets at night?
    Time to fly the coop.

  88. How much of a heads-up do you guys in Britain need? Ask any Brit visiting Britain after being away for several years. They’ll detail the deterioration for you. When you live there, it creeps up and doesn’t register. (Andrew Milner)

    That is a worrying statement, one I see with alarming frequency from people posting from abroad.

    How much longer do we have to put up with this? The government not only buries its collective head in the sand but piles on more and more agony, oblivious to the damage its education / crime / population / welfare / social policies have caused over the last 10+ years.

    Good people are fleeing the country in droves, sick and tired of Blair’s “New Britain”. How much more proof do these blinkered politicans need need?

    I sometimes wonder if we have passed the point of no return. Only some radical thinking will turn it around, and that won’t happen overnight.

  89. “I sometimes wonder if we have passed the point of no return. Only some radical thinking will turn it around, and that won’t happen overnight”. PaulD.

    Perhaps we need some right wing demo’s (aka, Countryside Alliance) only more vociferous, I hesitate to say violent, Remember nothing is written in stone, things can be changed.

    Andrew Milner, skipping the country isn’t the answer, hammering the Raj is !!!

  90. “When offshore tax havens tart themselves out to the international tax dodger they are roundly condemned – not least by the UK government – as a drain on other economies. Yet that’s precisely what the non-dom rules do, turning Britain into a tax haven for the super-rich. It’s not easy to present that policy in a coherent fashion.”

    Private Eye, No. 1190

    Still, I doubt I’ll get through to someone who it appears tarts himself out for a free pint.

    All this anti-British living guff has been said by ex-pats for several decades. Aussies, and their tabloid press, thrive on this sort of Pom bashing.

    I don’t suppose it’s worth pointing out that in the NuLab deputy leadership contest it was the expression of more traditional left-wing taxation views that seemed to be garnering public support, is it?

    ‘Violence’? From the toffs? The street kids I used to work with would eat you alive and steal your bike, and that just for starters … be thankful that they’re too busy fighting each other to even consider you as potential targets. I would suggest the concern ought to be over matters such as the embryonic prison gangs we have forming along racial lines, and producing policies that might just win an election rather than guarantee losing it and keeping NuLab in power. Or is it the fascists that you have in mind when you call for right wing demos Churstonchappie? If so, remember Cable Street.

  91. AP..remember Cable Street.

    Mmm, strange isn’t it that one mention of a right wing march in opposition to this discredited administration (or anything else for that matter) and people scream foul and quote historical incidents, totaly unrelated, on riots between Communist rent a mobs and the Police, who, if you read impartial reports were trying to allow a ligitimate pre-arranged march however obnoxious it was anyway.

    I gather that you disaproved of the Countryside Alliance march then AP?, and what about the lefties Poll Tax riots were these acceptable, whatever, I can’t be bothered to argue with you over. my gangs tougher than your gang, sic.

  92. < ‘Still, I doubt I’ll get through to someone who it appears tarts himself out for a free pint.’ (AP)<

    I just think you’re talking nonsense. The Isle of Mann is a tax haven, as are the Channel Islands, the Caymann Islands and Bermuda. If we close all of our tax havens (including London) the rich will go to a French or US tax haven. Rich people spend money and pay lots of VAT buying Porsches. I have no problem with non-British millionaires coming to live here. They make life easier for poor folk, not harder. What makes life harder for the poorest Brits is lots of poor foreigners coming here.

    < ‘I don’t suppose it’s worth pointing out that in the NuLab deputy leadership contest it was the expression of more traditional left-wing taxation views that seemed to be garnering public support, is it?’ (AP<

    Point out whatever you want to point out. It’s hardly a scoop is it?

    < “Shock and surprise as Labour party members and trade unionists vote in favour of traditional left-wing policies!”<

    < ”Violence’? From the toffs? The street kids I used to work with would eat you alive and steal your bike, and that just for starters … be thankful that they’re too busy fighting each other to even consider you as potential targets.’ (AP)<

    This just smacks of Marxist revolutionary ideas or ‘Diven’t mess like, dee yee nar who ah nar’ chavism. I can’t decide which you are, a confused Marxist sympathiser or a chav. Probably a bored Labour party parliamentry researcher who’s boss is in the South of France.

    So what if I occasionally tart myself for a free drink, I do buy people drinks too you know.

  93. Boris Johnson isn’t verbally articulate enough to be mayor. Sure, he’s a reasonable writer (something we have in abundance in the UK) but flowery writing isn’t an important part of the job.

    If he really wants to repay a debt to society, it’s time he did some hard, unpleasant work like programming computers instead of skipping off on the latest dalliance that takes his fancy after too many glasses of wine.

    I’m not good-looking enough to be a pop-star. C’est la vie.

  94. < ‘If he really wants to repay a debt to society, it’s time he did some hard, unpleasant work like programming computers’ (frank)<

    What’s this about Boris’s ‘debt to society’? He’s probably paid a lot more income tax and national insurance than most of us have.

    He spared the state the expense of his secondary education, although admittedly his Oxford fees were probably paid by the state. I’m not aware (although it is absolutely none of my business) that he is a big burden on the NHS either.

    His private sector (I would imagine self-employed) career pays well because people like his columns and buy his books.

    His public sector career has been as as a MP, a low paid job for what it actually involves, although admittedly there are perks. His constituents would have to be the judge of whether he performed well at this. I thought he was a good shadow higher-ed spokesman during the lecturers strike.

    I don’t see where this debt to society comes from ‘frank’, I probably have more of a ‘debt to society’ than Boris does given I’ve signed on the dole a couple of times, received state-funded education at secondary and tertiary level. I’ve even used the NHS for emergency treatment and prescriptions by th etender age of 27.

    I acknowledge my ‘debt to society’ and intend to repay it by paying lotsof alcohol duty and talking some sense into idiots like you.

  95. What troubles me about this blog is that almost all the content provided by Boris is what he is paid to do in the Telegraph anyway and then the rest is comments from mugs like us. I wonder if Boris even knows this site exists, let alone actually reads any of the comments. I am not aware of any example of where he has actually responded or got involved with any of these threads.
    [Ed: look under ‘personal notes’ for example here]

  96. Back to topic; Oh dear. Small crimes lead to bigger crimes? What tosh. You should have been more careful, Boris. I can’t help but note the passionate self pitying interest with which he writes about this issue. The rest os uf have to worry about drug dealers trying to recruit our children, gun crime, the chronic housing shortage, youth unemployment etc etc. Boris, just go and put in your insurance claim and request another bike allowance. Tories!

  97. I agree with James.

    Anyway if Boris really supports cycling, he should vote for Ken. Boris hasn’t got the drive or charisma to put in place the policies that have increased London cycling by 83%.

    We like to think of Boris as a harmless buffoon, but joining the Bullingdon Dining Club was not a victimless crime.

  98. Ah Churstonnappy, the sour cackle of hyenas … and historically incorrect. There were a few communists on Cable Street, but most of those kicking the crap out of the Nazis were the indigenous working class of the East End, and by no means only Jews, as some inaccurate texts maintain. But typical bullying wimp, suggests violence than runs from the possibility of it. It was Cable Street that destroyed the machismo image of the fascist scum. I don’t think there’s any such thing as a ‘ligitimate’ fascist demonstration, if history proves anything it proves that the only good fascist is a dead one and that the sooner this demise is arranged the better it is for humanity at large.

    And yeah SteveL, I do like some of those you call ‘chavs’. I hate others. They have loyalty that you lot can’t even dream of. And where exactly do you think the bulk of the armed forces come from? Lads often join the army on leaving school because they can’t find any decently paid work. It wasn’t the Trade Unions and the left of the party that worried McBroon, it was that the general public were warming to the left wing view that was of concern. Not that the public want a return to old fashioned national industry watered-down socialism, but attitudinal surveys indicate that the public is sick of the gross obscenity of the bonuses paid to public school incompetents in the City and don’t like the kind of non-doms that you suck up to.

    Still, I can’t see the point in dialogue with Tories anymore. Deadwood’s shot you in the head, but you’re too dumb to realise it (probably because what passes for your brain is located elsewhere). I regard reductions in health and safety as a moral outrage, those that engage in it place workers’ lives at risk and deserve that such fatality be returned upon them and theirs. So now I have to strengthen my stomach enough to vote for a man I hate, against a good Tory candidate, just to prevent this elitist and dangerous insanity, and I am obliged to convince others to do the same. But I’m gone, and you’re finished, McBroon is bound to stay in power.

    I doubt if Boris will beat Ken, he doesn’t have a political machine at his disposal to match Ken’s and with what is now coming out as Tory policy only an idiot couldn’t motivate working class voters. Somehow I doubt if there’s enough votes in Mayfair and Henley to swing it.

    ‘Computer programming’? Send the boogras out to pick rice!

  99. < “Still, I can’t see the point in dialogue with Tories anymore. Deadwood’s shot you in the head, but you’re too dumb to realise it (probably because what passes for your brain is located elsewhere). I regard reductions in health and safety as a moral outrage” (AP)<

    Socialist smear campaignists like you make me sick. After 3 weeks off work due to illness, at the young age of 27, atfer 6 months of silly occupational health procedures, I was told I wasn’t allowed to come back to work because of ‘health and safety’. Now the public sector organisation concerned is offering me 5 figure sums to stop suing them under Tory legislation from 1995 – that’s your taxes going in my back pocket mate – thanks to ‘elf and safety!

    If they had just showed a little less self-importance and a little more common sense like my new private sector employers did this country would have saved about £50k.

  100. < “… but attitudinal surveys indicate that the public is sick of the gross obscenity of the bonuses paid to public school incompetents in the City” (AP)<

    People with season tickets say the same about premiership footballers. People who buy ‘Hello’ magazine say the same about Z-listers. If you don’t like it pick your own shares.

  101. I think that as the respectable and upstanding Member of Parliament for Henley on Thames, you should be made aware that a comma is needed between “the mourning” and “the rage” at the beginning of the third paragraph of this entry. I hope that this information will help you to better serve your constituents and the people of the United Kingdom in the future. Good luck in your mayoral ambitions; commas may come in useful there.

    P.S. My friend Danny thinks you’re great!

  102. AP.
    I remember that as a child of about 6 or 7 I used to get into a tantrum and call people names and then throw a wobbly if I had an argument with my elder siblings, it’s childish, you know a bit like yourself, I’ve grown up since then, whats your excuse.

    In earlier posts you said you worked with street kids, if your language and attitude is anything to go by then no wonder we hear about feral gangs attacking people who want to be left alone in peace, what a great example you must have been.

    Oh,by the way I am from an inner city working class family, with parents that were strong disciplinarians, so not all posters on this blog are “toffs” as you appear to assume, and if you are interested, which I doubt, I have also done my time in the army with overseas service, so i’ll take no slagging from the likes of you, you come across as a bigger facsist than those you accuse, I couldn’t make any sense of half of what you were saying anyway, chav comes to mind.

    Don’t bother to respond as I am moving on, tomorrow is another day… End of…

  103. Christopher, you’re right to point out the poor English in this article.

    While we’re at it, the first paragraph reads very badly: “There was a moment of shock” should be a new paragraph. There are 2 reasons for this:
    1. the close proximity of the 2 “shocks” in sentences 1 and 2 is ugly
    2. the grief and the mourning are given separate paragraphs: why not the shock?

    There have been thread comments that Boris is a good writer. He is not. Most of the time he is superficial and hackneyed. Occasionally he is is flowery and show-offy. There is a clear line between the way Boris writes and over-indulgent Eton English teachers.

  104. < “There have been thread comments that Boris is a good writer. He is not. Most of the time he is superficial and hackneyed.” (tomston)<

    Journalists don’t do grammar, I’ve had a go at Boris myself for using minus signs – to emphasise a point – like this.

    At the end of the day it’s a comment article in a newspaper, not an A-level essay on the life and works of William Wordsworth. Bloggers use even worse grammar. I’m no connoisseur of the English language, far from it, but I think Boris’s articles are better written, and more enjoyable to read, than those of most political journalists.

    I am however partial to a bit of good old – foam at the mouth – Simon Heffer!

  105. I sure on this occasion you will forgive me for being off topic. I just want to say that I am saddened by the death of Bill Deeds. A great Tory writer whom I am sure Boris will feel great sorrow at his loss.

  106. I see Redwood is recommending more lanes and junctions for the A1 and A1M.

    This represents the true rank and file view of the conservative party, not Cameron’s or Boris’s little cycling gestures (sometimes with accompanying car carrying briefcase).

    The conservatives created the transport mess; they propose the same tired “solutions” to get us out of it.

  107. The conservatives created the transport mess; they propose the same tired “solutions” to get us out of it.

    I disagree. My job requires me to be mobile, but the house price bubble and the rocketing level of stamp duty make the common sense approach of moving house a non option, so I drive. A lot. This is entirely McBroons doing.

  108. “I hardly think some anecdotal stuff about your lifestyle wins the argument Captain Badger.”

    What, when my experience doesn’t match your cosily massaged statistics eh Commissar? If real life doesn’t convince you waht will?

  109. Never mind that nonsense.

    Do you disagree that Thatcher set the long-distance commuting ball rolling, and that once rolling it’s a very slippery ball to stop?

    Do you disagree that john “tedium” major and his boys did a shocking hatchet job on the railways?

    and do you disagree that boris really hasn’t got enough persona to be mayor?

  110. By nonsense I assume you retract your previous unfounded comment.

    To answer your questions in order:

    Thatcher / commuting- No. All post industrial nations (which are still solvent) have relentlessly rising travel to work mileages.

    Major / rail. yes, a fiasco. The separation of responsibility between track & rolling stock operators still results in a disfunctional system.

    Boris / Personality. I live in Birmingham so I’d sooner he lost & could continue to represent me (in his education role) rather than devote his podigious talents to serving just the metrop.

  111. 1. “Thatcher / commuting- No. All post industrial nations (which are still solvent) have relentlessly rising travel to work mileages.”

    Travel to work mileages began rising exponentially in the early 80s. This was not in step with what was happening elsewhere in Europe.

    3. Boris: ” his podigious talents ” [sic] It’s time Boris did some honest graft to counter the silver-spoon life he’s had.

    Earlier in the thread someone pointed out that, unlike webcameron, Boris doesn’t participate on these threads once he’s churned out his piece once every 3 weeks. And often his writing is superficial, hackneyed and gramatically clumsy. It’s the sort of stuff an over-excited Eton sixth-former would come up with because the careers teacher told him he should be a journalist.

  112. 1. Whilst that is broadly true, most of Europe didn’t de-industrialise in the 80s as we did. They may or may not have been wise not to expose their inefficient industries to international competition, I don’t have an opinion on that. It’s what they did.

    It is an interesting point of fact that the Honda plant at Swindon (expanding to add a 220kpa engine plant) and the Toyota plant in Burnaston (Now manufacturing the Auris) rank amongst the most productive, high quality plants in the world. They clearly show it is perfectly possible to manufacture stuff in this country with the right management philosophy and clearly show it was failed managment philosophies which wrecked British industry. It wasn’t Thatcher.

    In much the same vein as Railcrack’s plaint of ‘wrong type of snow’ this was clearly a case or ‘wrong type of management’

    On point 3, this is entirely subjective, but I can deduce from you actually bothering to log on and read Bozzers blog that you find something of interest therein.

    However, out of interest, what would you consider ‘honest graft’? and what do you do to put a crust on the table?

  113. Earlier in the thread someone pointed out that, unlike webcameron, Boris doesn’t participate on these threads once he’s churned out his piece once every 3 weeks. And often his writing is superficial, hackneyed and gramatically clumsy. [sic] It’s the sort of stuff an over-excited Eton sixth-former would come up with because the careers teacher told him he should be a journalist.

    Firstly, his articles come out every week, this time in which he has been on holiday is the exception, not the rule.

    Secondly, try to spell the word “grammatically” correctly when accusing someone of being grammatically clumsy. While on the subject try not to use words like “once” twice in seven words. Likewise this is an internet forum, it is expected that people will make the odd typing error, it is not necessary to add [sic] to every quote. It makes me [sic].

    Finally, I imagine the reason Boris doesn’t reply to posts on this blog is that he is a well-known politician. He would be continually accused of being a nazi, a racist, the child of a silver-spoon upbringing or an over-excited Eton sixth-former by people he doesn’t care about and by every Guardian reader who considers themselves to be politically informed. Being sucked into every argument like that is not something I would wish to do, especially if avoiding the fiftieth argument of that type arouses accusations of backing down or cowardice, as it no doubt would.

    Boris is a brilliant writer, and a thought-provoking columnist. If you claim he is so appalling, can you do better? Journalists are not paragons and they are not perfect, they are simply the best the people can offer. Boris is among them.

  114. “Secondly, try to spell the word “grammatically” correctly when accusing someone of being grammatically clumsy. While on the subject try not to use words like “once” twice in seven words. Likewise this is an internet forum, it is expected that people will make the odd typing error, it is not necessary to add [sic] to every quote. It makes me [sic].”

    I think he was just pointing out I had missed the ‘R’ key whilst typing prodigious. Sure, it’s pedantic, but rather than badgering the poor fellow (pun clearly intended) about his English when he’s clearly doing his best, let’s see what his answer to my questions is now I’ve answered his.

    As an aside, I do try to check my posts to make sure they make reasonable sense, and don’t mind having my poor grammar & spelling pointed out at all.

  115. After your comments on Hillsbrough, why haven’t you resigned from public life altogether and gone to live somewhere quiet out of the way?

  116. OK mis-spelling grammatically: bad mistake. I also agree [sic] isn’t a particularly clever thing to do, especially if you go on to make a spelling mistake.

    It’s an easy ride through life being a “Comment” journalist, but my self-respect would be low if I got 400,000 a year for that and making speeches that appealed to fellow silver-spooners who liked me to hear me play on my posh bumbler image. I don’t imagine being an MP in a safe-seat needs to entail much work either.

    He should do something the country needs to repay his privileged start in life. We’ve got plenty of flowery Comment writers. Hard graft of the brain sort to me is hunched over a computer trying to find a bug in the code with a deadline looming, and quite possibly not being paid for the overtime. And knowing that you’ll have to carry on working those hours all your life because the technology changes so fast.

    Oddly enough, public schoolboys don’t seem to use their connections to get those kind of jobs.

  117. A few points checker:

    Firstly, this point has come up already once or twice, but what exactly is Boris supposed to be ‘repaying’? On the contrary to owing a debt, his education at a public school reduced the burden on the state.

    Secondly, there are deadlines in journalism too, in fact they’re some of the strictest and most set in stone. I’d also be very surprised if they got paid overtime. Besides, it’s a free market, people get as much as the market is willing to pay them. Look at celebrities.

    Finally, RE “He should do something the country needs”. He is. Personally I don’t read his comments purely for a good read (although thankfully they fulfill that criteria), I read them so as to stay informed and to keep an eye on the government. Being an opposition MP and commentator is a vital, some would say sacred, duty in a democracy and it is certainly needed by the country, especially when the government has a majority and the House of Commons has been reduced to a school debating society.

  118. < “especially when the government has a majority and the House of Commons has been reduced to a school debating society” (Jack Target)<

    I’m not sure about the school debating society analogy, however I tdo think that an ever increasing share of the debate takes place in the media and – certainly over the year or so since I stuck my oar in the water – online.

    Lefties fear Boris because he has a personality and non-tribalist centre-gorund voters like him. They will never stop trying to smear him.

    I like to believe he is a political Garry Kasparov, luring them into an intricate trap.

  119. Your Bike might have been stolen by a Scouser, it is highly likly.
    And keep up the all the good work you are doing.

  120. “He should do something the country needs to repay his privileged start in life. We’ve got plenty of flowery Comment writers. Hard graft of the brain sort to me is hunched over a computer trying to find a bug in the code with a deadline looming”

    Code bunnying requires a rather specialised mindset. i don’t think Boz would be very good at it, and besides, it’s all getting Bangalored anyway.

    What this country desperately needs is honest politicians running the show instead of the current lying warmongers. perhaps Boz could try that (although a bit less of the eextra curricular shagging may help with the PR )

  121. Yes, it’s turning into tumbleweed town. Perhaps it’s time that powder monkey put up the Bullingdon link again.

  122. If the final judge of the value of a degree is the market, then I wonder how you rate your own, Boris?
    Does selling insurance call for a thorough grounding in the Peloponnesian war? Would a Kwik Fit fitter fit quicker if he or she quoted extracts from the Iliad and Odyssey while loosening the wheelnuts? Is it essential for those smarmy, lying, Carol Vorderman-types who try to flog you a loan for life to ask “Are you worried about debt or, as Plato said, quoting Sophocles on the subject of love, ‘To my great delight I have escaped from it, and feel as if I had escaped from a frantic and savage master.'”?
    Learning classics at Balliol, by your own logic, is about as much use in the job market as a spare prick is at a virgin’s wedding.
    I thought the purpose of education, particularly of a degree, was to teach you to think, not just to groom you for a designated slot as a work drone. Evidently, your education failed to teach you to think at all so, bearing in mind you would have recieved a grant and your course fees from the state (as I did and as we all should in an advanced society), can we have our money back?

  123. Someone may have already suggested this….I don’t know as I can’t be bothered reading all the other squabbles about grammar and spelling and fine details etc. that usually develop five ‘Posts’ after the main article (really I haven’t looked but I bet they are there!!…If you have bothered, post a reply telling me…)
    As we seem to be the most CCTV’d nation on earth, can’t we have a few more pointing at newly erected and supervised ‘bike parks’…are we not paying enough tax generally and saving enough of the environment on our bikes for this small concession to be made for us bi-wheeled eco-warriors?

  124. I think a simple, if radical solution would be to make it illegal to sell any second hand bike or bike parts.
    You could still give them away for free but not sell for money (or barter for other goods.)

    With no second hand market the bike thefts would then disappear overnight.

    yes it would be a little annoying to know that you’ll never be able to sell that new bike for cash – but I think the advantage of not having it stolen will far outweigh that.

  125. Boris,

    Just seen you cycling (rather speedily) down Farringdon street, new bike or did they get the little sods who nicked yours?

  126. I have several times been in a hardware store here in Croydon, and watched teenage kids trying to buy a pair of bolt-croppers.

    Thankfully his particular store keeps such items out of sight and under the counter so they can use discretion as to whom they sell such items (they already have knives and spray paint under lock and key).

    One time upon being denied a pair of bolt-croppers the kids sought to buy a crowbar……one didn’t need too much more information to hazard a guess at what kind of nefarious behaviour these baseball capped individuals had in mind.

    Sadly I have all but given up using my beautiful bicycle for everyday getting about, as i fear too much for it’s safety in Croydon.

    Sadly if you saw someone trying to steal your bike and you thumped them one or grabbed them to prevent this action the police would soon be arresting you rather than the real criminal

    As a side thought I would be in favour of making the cycling proficiency a compulsory test, and banning cyclists from the pavements and making them observe the rules of the road.

    And if the motorists don’t like it how about making cyclists pay road tax – something minor like £1 to £5 per year , so that motorists can view them as proper paid up road users.

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