The Challenge of Housing and Homelessness

Guest Blog by raincoaster - presenting a challenge
“The view is more beautiful now that it is mine.” Ran
hendrik-mobile-office
Hendrik Gets His Chair by AHA Media
I can be challenging. Boris knows it, Melissa knows it, the nation of Albania knows it, I know it, you know it (well you know now, don’t you?). So I’d like to put this inherent challengenosity (a raincoasterism) of mine to good use and dare your city to match or beat my city in something that really matters. Read on, if you think your humble burb has what it takes: We all know this blog belongs to the Mayor of London (although detached it is still his in spirit), and before that was based out of the cosmopolitan megalopolis of Henley, but for a moment I’d like to divert your attention to my own town, indeed my own neighborhood. I’d like to introduce you to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.                                                        (More photos of Hendrik on his revolving chair here)
Queen of Hastings Street
Queen of Hastings Street
With an average life expectancy in the mid-forties (thanks to disease, addiction, and the interlocking social and physical problems arising from substandard- or no housing), the DTES (Downtown Eastside) has been an archetypal skid row since the days in the last century when lumber was, in fact, skidded in the mud down the street on its way to the sawmill because wagons were for the rich folk. Now, after more than a century of struggling with the issue, I’m proud to say that Vancouver has eliminated homelessness. Image by Peter Davies, From the Hope in Shadows collection, COPYRIGHT: Pivot Legal Society, 2009 Yes, Homelessness is Over!  Watch this amazing news story YouTube Preview Image Continue reading The Challenge of Housing and Homelessness

Boris at Copenhagen for a greener future

With the right finance, Britain can lead the world to a greener future, says Boris Johnson. By the time you read these words I will be airborne to Copenhagen.  Why, you may ask, am I going to the climate change summit? Is it really worth discharging yet more greenhouse gases into the upper air? As for the validity of the summit itself, I believe that it is of crucial importance for the world. We have a real chance to agree new targets for reducing CO2 emissions – and to bring in countries such as China and India which were, insanely, omitted from the Kyoto protocol. We also have a chance to do something about the politics of global warming, which are in danger of going seriously wrong. We won't win this argument with the public, we won't get people to change their lives, we won't succeed in cutting CO2 if we continue to rely on a diet of unremitting gloom. It is time for a change in the psychological approach. Continue reading Boris at Copenhagen for a greener future

Jo Johnson is the Candidate for Orpington

Jo JohnsonBoris's brother has just won the selection to stand in the safe Conservative seat of Orpington where the current MP, John Horam, is standing down. Stanley, his father, recently described him as "taller and blonder than Boris" and he is the Financial Times’ South Asia bureau chief.  Based in New Delhi since January 2005, he leads the team of FT journalists that covers India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives.  In addition to his coverage for the print edition, he writes a regular online column, Engaging India. A graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, from which he received a first class degree in Modern History, he has worked for the FT since 1997. His first job on the newspaper was on the Lex Column, which he joined after a a stint as a corporate financier in the investment banking division of Deutsche Bank. He completed an MBA at INSEAD in 2000 and served as an FT Paris correspondent from 2001-2004. He is co-author, with Martine Orange, of The Man who Tried to Buy the World: Jean-Marie Messier and the Rise and Fall of Vivendi Universal (Penguin, 2003). Many congratulations Jo and we look forward to hearing more about you in the coming months ahead.

What David Cameron can learn from Boris

By special request
Melissa C-W
Melissa C-W
To follow is the recent article in The Spectator I know many of you will find of interest and relevance.  Can the Cameroons really learn anything from Boris?  Look forward to hearing your views.
Boris says what he thinks almost without thinking. Cameron’s pronouncements are carefully calibrated. Work on Cameron’s conference speech began in July, Boris’s was written on the train to Manchester
   As the most powerful Conservative in Britain, Boris Johnson has plenty to teach his old schoolpal, David Cameron. But, says James Forsyth, the Cameroons are too busy criticising the Mayor’s ‘amateurish’ approach to see what they’re missing  As a piece of political propaganda, the sticker issued by the Shelter housing charity at the last Tory conference came close to perfection. It had a picture of the Mayor of London in jogging gear, with the caption: ‘Boris is making the running on rough sleeping. Join the race, Cameron!’ This was how Shelter thought they could best get their message across: goading Team Cameron into action by comparison with Mr Johnson. It was a clever use of a fast-emerging narrative in Westminster: the great Boris v. Dave rivalry. It is a point of fact, now, to say that Mr Johnson is the most powerful Conservative in the land. The idea, though, of the Mayor as a great pioneer, beating a path for the laggards in Westminster to follow, is one which annoys many people around Cameron. When I told one shadow Cabinet member that I was doing a piece on what Cameron could learn from Boris they looked at me with genuine concern before warning, ‘they’ll really hate that.’ This tension between the two camps makes the Boris v. Dave story irresistible to the media. But Boris has been busy seasoning this stew, outflanking Cameron and Osborne on those Tory staples of tax and Europe. Among the Tory grassroots, there are now a growing number of Conservatives who like to think of the Mayor as a lodestar: a man less apologetic in his conservatism, and indeed everything else, than the leader.   Continue reading What David Cameron can learn from Boris

The Future of Cadbury’s Chocolate

Ever since the Aztecs first worshipped the cocoa bean, mankind has experimented with various ratios of solids, fats, sugar and milk, and Cadbury has got it right. The chocolate bar-barians at the gate are Americans.
If the Americans can afford to buy Cadbury, then let them.  Sentimentality over an undoubtedly great bar of chocolate can't stop market forces, says Boris Johnson. There comes a time when the Brits can be pushed around no more. We may have sold Rolls-Royce to the Germans. We may have lost Land Rover to the Indians. We have yielded to the French more control of our energy and water supplies than ever envisaged in the wildest fantasies of Bonaparte. But when it comes to protecting our chocolate – the taste of British childhood – then we turn and fight. Across the land, across the political spectrum, the forces are gathering to repel the foe. As of yesterday, a Sunday newspaper had secured the signatures of 11,307 outraged readers in a "hands off our chocs" campaign. Antony Worrall Thompson, the Top TV chef, has said that the unique taste of British chocolate is indispensable to his key dishes. Lynne Jones, the Birmingham MP, is demanding assurances for the future of her chocolate-making constituents. Will Hutton, the leading Leftist thinker, has argued that chocolate is a key strategic industry, and that if the last great British chocolate maker were to fall into foreign hands we would see a surge of support for the BNP. Why, oh, why, asks the Guardian's business pages, can we not stick up for our chocolate industry when the French are so good at protecting their yogurt makers? Continue reading The Future of Cadbury’s Chocolate

Ancient Greece : Index

Temple of Zeus at Nemea

Lessons of the Past

Boris Johnson has spoken of the contribution a knowledge of the classics can make to understanding our own times. In the modern political world — as in the ancient — the same theme is played out again and again … with the same characters : political leaders that let power go to their heads and then pay the price (although that price is oft paid in larger measure by those they lead). It’s not all bad news, however, for Greek history is also full of inspirational stories.

We have posted a series of articles on the ancient world — from a look at Athens in the Archaic Age (seventh and sixth centuries b.c.) to our own Age of Pericles — and hope they will prove interesting.


  1. The Archaic Age : emerging from the Dark Age
  2. Phidippides : the first Marathon run
  3. Themistocles and the Fleet of Triremes
  4. The Oracle at Delphi
  5. Ostracism : a useful tool we seem to have lost
  6. The Age of Pericles

If you've enjoyed an article — or even if not — please leave a comment on the relevant page. Visit Boris Johnson’s web-site for other interesting articles and discussions.


Ancient Greece : Pericles (Part III)

Boris Johnson has often spoken of his love of Greek history and of Pericles in particular. When asked who his historical pin-up was and why, he replied: “Pericles. Look at his Funeral Speech: democracy; freedom — champion stuff.” — Read the full interview. A few years ago he went to the British Museum and bought a bust of Pericles.
Copy of Egg and Dart 300

In case you missed them : Pericles Part I and Part II.

Pericles - poly pb 194X302

Surely the greatest bequest of Pericles to our age was his incorruptibility
 — if for nothing else, then for this we feel his absence.

*     *     *

In 431 b.c., Pericles was seeing the justification of his building programme in its sheer magnificence. As thirty years before, however, the Peloponnese was tense.

The Great Peloponnesian War (431-404)

During the period between the wars Athens continued her expansion, particularly in the Greek West, which much alarmed Spartan important ally Corinth, metropolis (mother city) of the dominant polis in Sicily, Syracuse (which would feature later in the naval fortunes of Athens). There ensued a chain of events, apparently disconnected, that — rather as those leading to the First World War — would precipitate conflict and end, after only fifteen, the thirty-year peace agreed in 446.

Corinth, in response to the Athenian expansion to the West, especially in connexion with a dispute over Corcyra (modern Corfu), threatened to leave the Peloponnesian League, unless Sparta went to war with Athens. A break-up of the League would imperil Sparta’s hold on the Peloponnese for she relied heavily upon the maintenance of a string of oligarchic governments that denied their populations any political power.

Athens, meanwhile, hoping to destabilize Megara’s oligarchy — a democratic Megara might become an ally and, by virtue of her location on the Isthmus of Corinth, be able to block any assault upon Attica from Thessaly or the Peloponnese — imposed economic sanctions upon her, banning her merchants and vessels from Athens and the ports of the allied and dependent states. This was the final straw : in 431 the conflict began.

Continue reading Ancient Greece : Pericles (Part III)