Put out the bunting. This is the age of the Second Elizabethans

It is the least we can do. After 60 years on the throne she has proved the value of the monarchy in uniting the nation, and she has put the republicans to a spectacular rout. Yesterday the pages of supposedly Left-wing newspapers were dripping with royalist sentiment, and tear-sodden self-styled radical journalists were offering Go’-bless-yer-ma’am style apologies for their former belief in a presidential alternative.

In her 60 years on the throne she has seen the people of this country grow incomparably richer, healthier and (arguably) happier than they were in 1952. If we measure monarchical success by the growth in longevity or per capita GDP of her subjects, then she is the most successful monarch in history. The crowds on the banks this Sunday will have the best teeth of any generation of Britons; their barbecues will be furnished with the most exotic provender this nation has ever seen; their earholes will be stuffed with electronic devices of a sophistication and luxury that would have been unthinkable 60 years ago.

And in spite of the dismantling of the British Empire, they will be cavorting and gyrating in what is still the financial, artistic and cultural capital of the world. Yes, my friends, in its range and its accomplishment it is ever clearer that the age of the second Elizabeth is even greater than that of her closest rival, Victoria. Both queens served 60 years, and though it is conventional to say that Britain reached its imperial apogee under Victoria – and declined ever since – it is time for that judgment to be reversed. It is time for us Second Elizabethans to shrug off our inferiority complex. Let’s be proud of what we have done.

Take music. In the reign of the present Queen we have seen an inflorescence of popular music – the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the whole explosion of the Sixties and onwards – that put London at the centre of the world’s number one art form and knocked Gilbert and Sullivan (charming though they were) into a cocked hat. Or take architecture. I grant you that the Victorians were grand; they were ornate; they went for scale. But look at the Gherkin or the Shard or the rest of the skyline of modern London and you could hardly fault the architects of today’s Britain for their ambition.

Yes, the Victorians were industrious, and they made breakthroughs from which humanity still benefits, but the present generation of scientists and writers is no less industrious or successful. It was the Victorian Londoner Charles Babbage who devised the first scheme for the machine I am using; but it was another Londoner, Chingford-born Sir Jonathan Ive, who came up with the present magnificent design. Yes, Dickens is still a big noise in China; but is he really any bigger than J K Rowling?

And then there is the last great field of endeavour for which we venerate the Victorians – engineering, and transport infrastructure. Again and again we are taking them on and beating them. In the 60th year of Queen Elizabeth we are seeing an extraordinary surge of new stations, new river crossings, new air-conditioned Tube lines and trains that proceed without the need of a driver.

There is only one thing more that we need. When in 1965 the Havengore carried the body of Sir Winston Churchill from the Tower to Waterloo, they turned all the cranes in the pool of London, and bowed them in synchronised respect. Those cranes are now gone from London, and so are hundreds of thousands of jobs. It was that failure to invest in infrastructure, in the first part of the present Queen’s reign, which set London back and caused a period of relative decline.

We are now making up for that mistake, and helping to lay the foundations that will deliver growth and jobs for generations. But if sea travel was the 19th- and

20th-century mode, aviation is the way forward. This week we celebrate the river that enabled London’s astounding commercial success – and yet the potential of the river is not exhausted.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful, in the 60th year of Elizabeth, if the Government announced a final devastating retort to the Victorians and the creation of a 24-hour Thames estuary airport that lengthened London’s lead as the commercial capital of Europe?

Put out the bunting. This is the age of the Second Elizabethans

It is the least we can do. After 60 years on the throne she has proved the value of the monarchy in uniting the nation, and she has put the republicans to a spectacular rout. Yesterday the pages of supposedly Left-wing newspapers were dripping with royalist sentiment, and tear-sodden self-styled radical journalists were offering Go’-bless-yer-ma’am style apologies for their former belief in a presidential alternative.

In her 60 years on the throne she has seen the people of this country grow incomparably richer, healthier and (arguably) happier than they were in 1952. If we measure monarchical success by the growth in longevity or per capita GDP of her subjects, then she is the most successful monarch in history. The crowds on the banks this Sunday will have the best teeth of any generation of Britons; their barbecues will be furnished with the most exotic provender this nation has ever seen; their earholes will be stuffed with electronic devices of a sophistication and luxury that would have been unthinkable 60 years ago.

And in spite of the dismantling of the British Empire, they will be cavorting and gyrating in what is still the financial, artistic and cultural capital of the world. Yes, my friends, in its range and its accomplishment it is ever clearer that the age of the second Elizabeth is even greater than that of her closest rival, Victoria. Both queens served 60 years, and though it is conventional to say that Britain reached its imperial apogee under Victoria – and declined ever since – it is time for that judgment to be reversed. It is time for us Second Elizabethans to shrug off our inferiority complex. Let’s be proud of what we have done.

Take music. In the reign of the present Queen we have seen an inflorescence of popular music – the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the whole explosion of the Sixties and onwards – that put London at the centre of the world’s number one art form and knocked Gilbert and Sullivan (charming though they were) into a cocked hat. Or take architecture. I grant you that the Victorians were grand; they were ornate; they went for scale. But look at the Gherkin or the Shard or the rest of the skyline of modern London and you could hardly fault the architects of today’s Britain for their ambition.

Yes, the Victorians were industrious, and they made breakthroughs from which humanity still benefits, but the present generation of scientists and writers is no less industrious or successful. It was the Victorian Londoner Charles Babbage who devised the first scheme for the machine I am using; but it was another Londoner, Chingford-born Sir Jonathan Ive, who came up with the present magnificent design. Yes, Dickens is still a big noise in China; but is he really any bigger than J K Rowling?

And then there is the last great field of endeavour for which we venerate the Victorians – engineering, and transport infrastructure. Again and again we are taking them on and beating them. In the 60th year of Queen Elizabeth we are seeing an extraordinary surge of new stations, new river crossings, new air-conditioned Tube lines and trains that proceed without the need of a driver.

There is only one thing more that we need. When in 1965 the Havengore carried the body of Sir Winston Churchill from the Tower to Waterloo, they turned all the cranes in the pool of London, and bowed them in synchronised respect. Those cranes are now gone from London, and so are hundreds of thousands of jobs. It was that failure to invest in infrastructure, in the first part of the present Queen’s reign, which set London back and caused a period of relative decline.

We are now making up for that mistake, and helping to lay the foundations that will deliver growth and jobs for generations. But if sea travel was the 19th- and

20th-century mode, aviation is the way forward. This week we celebrate the river that enabled London’s astounding commercial success – and yet the potential of the river is not exhausted.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful, in the 60th year of Elizabeth, if the Government announced a final devastating retort to the Victorians and the creation of a 24-hour Thames estuary airport that lengthened London’s lead as the commercial capital of Europe?

Europe is driving full-tilt, foot on the pedal, into a brick wall

As far as I can understand the “strategy” of the EU, it is now to prepare for Greece to leave the single currency. Not that the Greeks themselves are anything like psychologically ready to quit: the politicians are punch-drunk, exhausted, and appalled at the loss of face and loss of security that would go with a sundering from “Europe”. Most voters choose pro-euro parties. But money is being withdrawn from banks; events are gathering momentum; and it is clear from their remarks that other EU leaders are getting ready for an outcome which until recently was held to be impolite to mention: the Grexit.

And then what? And then the strategy would appear to be to cauterise the amputation; to circle the wagons; to issue the most ringing and convincing proclamation to the markets that no more depredations will be tolerated; and to get the Germans to stump up, big time, to protect Spain and Portugal. We are told that the only solution now is a Fiscal Union (or FU). We must have “more Europe”, say our leaders, not less Europe – even though more Europe means more suffering, and a refusal to recognise what has gone wrong in Greece.

The euro has turned out to be a doomsday machine, a destroyer of jobs, a killer of growth, because it entrenches and exacerbates the fundamental and historic inability of some countries to compete with Germany in making high-quality goods with low-unit labour costs. Unable to devalue their way back into the game, these countries are forced to watch industry wilt under German imports, as the euro serves as a giant trebuchet to fire swish German saloon cars and machine tools across the rest of Europe.

Germany is almost alone in recording economic growth in the first part of 2012; Germany is doing well from the euro; and so the theory is that Germany should pay to keep the whole racket going by bailing out the improvident and the uncompetitive, just as London and the South East subsidise the rest of the UK.

Alas, it is not a strategy that is likely to work. As Angela Merkel has made clear, there is little political support – let alone popular support – in Germany. EU leaders may want a fiscal union, but it is deeply anti-democratic. We accept large fiscal transfers in this country because Britain has a single language and a single political consciousness in a way that Europe never will. Rather than creating an “economic government of Europe”, the project will lead to endless bitterness between the resentful donors and the humiliated recipients, as these diminished satrapies will be instructed to accept cuts and “reforms” – designed in Berlin and announced in Brussels – as the price of their dosh.

And it is not as if the markets will believe in these “firewalls”, or not for very long. If they can prise away Greece, they will know they can prise away others. As long as the euro can break up, there is always a risk that it will break up. So it is frankly unbelievable that we should now be urging our neighbours to go for fiscal union. It is like seeing a driver heading full-tilt for a brick wall, and then telling them to hit the accelerator rather than the brake.

Europe now has the lowest growth of any region in the world. We have already wasted years in trying to control this sickness in the euro, and we are saving the cancer and killing the patient. We have blighted countless lives and lost countless jobs by kidding ourselves that the answer to the crisis might be “more Europe”. And all for what? To salvage the prestige of the European Project, and to spare the egos of those who were wrong and muddle-headed enough to campaign for the euro.

Surely it is now time to accept that the short-term pain of a managed euro rupture – a wholesale realignment, possibly a north/south bisection – would be better than continuing to immiserate so many people around the continent.

At the end of a day in Athens, I was so sad at what I had seen that I went to a kafeneion and ordered a metaxa. And then another. At length, I fished into my wallet and found a rather handsome banknote, with an image of Apollo from Olympia. “Not today,” said the owner, politely declining my drachmas. “In a month, yes.” It will be awful for Greece, and turbulent for Britain, but at present I can think of no better solution.

Boris Johnson gives Sir Mick Jagger satisfaction

When news was leaked to The Sun earlier this year that Sir Mick Jagger was due to meet David Cameron at the World Economic Forum at Davos, the Rolling Stones singer was so angry that he cancelled the rendezvous.

Sir Mick, whose hits include (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, retains his affection for Boris Johnson, though. “I got an email message from Sir Mick Jagger congratulating me on winning the mayoral race,” says Johnson. “It is not impossible that I could pay him back and offer to dance with him on stage.”

Tyrone Wood recently had to take down a photograph of a naked woman and a swan from the wall of his Mayfair art gallery after a police officer complained that it appeared to “condone bestiality”. Now, the son of the guitarist Ronnie Wood is considering emigrating.

“I might move to L A,” he tells Mandrake. “I love it in London, but the art scene in L A is moving forward in a lot of ways and I think I could really help to make a difference to it.”

Boris Johnson gives Sir Mick Jagger satisfaction

When news was leaked to The Sun earlier this year that Sir Mick Jagger was due to meet David Cameron at the World Economic Forum at Davos, the Rolling Stones singer was so angry that he cancelled the rendezvous.

Sir Mick, whose hits include (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, retains his affection for Boris Johnson, though. “I got an email message from Sir Mick Jagger congratulating me on winning the mayoral race,” says Johnson. “It is not impossible that I could pay him back and offer to dance with him on stage.”

Tyrone Wood recently had to take down a photograph of a naked woman and a swan from the wall of his Mayfair art gallery after a police officer complained that it appeared to “condone bestiality”. Now, the son of the guitarist Ronnie Wood is considering emigrating.

“I might move to L A,” he tells Mandrake. “I love it in London, but the art scene in L A is moving forward in a lot of ways and I think I could really help to make a difference to it.”

The statist, defeatist and biased BBC is on the wrong wavelength

'So what do you think, eh?” I turned to the BBC’s art critic, the brilliant, bulging Professor Branestawm lookalike Will Gompertz. We were standing on the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit in Stratford; London was spread beneath us like a land of dreams – was that France I could see in the distance? – and yet I was nervous. This sculpture is a masterpiece, far better and more rewarding up close than it appears at a distance. The steel loops are an arterial red, writhing and shifting against each other beneath the blue sky. Anish Kapoor already has many fans, but he has excelled himself with this vast fallopian ampersand, this enigmatic hubble bubble, this proud vertical invitation to London 2012.

The Orbit is a decisive assertion of the city’s status as the world capital of culture and the arts. That’s my view, anyway, and I am sticking to it, though I am conscious that not everyone agrees. There are plenty of people who absolutely hate the thing, just as most Parisians initially despised the Eiffel Tower (and didn’t Charles Dickens campaign against the building of Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster?). I have heard it compared to a catastrophic collision between two cranes, a mutant helter-skelter, a mangled trombone, and worse. So of course I waited with bated breath for the verdict of the BBC.

Did Gompertz like it as much as I did? My friends, he did not. Or at least, he liked it, but he had two complaints. “It’s not big enough,” he said, “and surely it should be free.” Not big enough! Free! There you have everything that is wrong with the BBC and with this country. The thing is already colossal – about twice the height of Nelson’s column. If we went much higher we would have to re-route the planes out of City airport. And yes, it costs something to go up – though less than it costs to go up the London Eye – but what is the alternative? The alternative is that the whole operation would have to be subsidised by the taxpayer when it is one of the (many) saving graces of this structure that it has been very largely financed by private sponsorship.

In his criticisms, Gompertz was revealing not the instincts of an art critic – but the mentality of the BBC man. Unlike the zany eccentric ArcelorMittal Orbit, the zany eccentric Gompertz is almost entirely publicly funded. It is up to you whether or not to go up the Orbit – though I thoroughly recommend it. You have no choice about funding Gompertz. Everyone who possesses a TV has to pay more than £145 to put him on air. The BBC is unlike any other media organisation in the free world, in that it levies billions from British households whether they want to watch it or not. No wonder its employees have an innocent belief that everything in life should be “free”. No wonder – and I speak as one who has just fought a campaign in which I sometimes felt that my chief opponent was the local BBC news – the prevailing view of Beeb newsrooms is, with honourable exceptions, statist, corporatist, defeatist, anti-business, Europhile and, above all, overwhelmingly biased to the Left.

Of course they are: the whole lot of them are funded by the taxpayer. Eurosceptic views are still treated as if they were vaguely mad and unpleasant, even though the Eurosceptic analysis has been proved overwhelmingly right. In all its lavish coverage of Murdoch, hacking and BSkyB, the BBC never properly explains the reasons why other media organisations – including the BBC – want to shaft a free-market competitor (and this basic dishonesty is spotted by the electorate; it’s one of the reasons real people are so apathetic about the Leveson business).

The non-Murdoch media have their guns trained on Murdoch, while the Beeb continues to destroy the business case of its private sector rivals with taxpayer-funded websites and electronic media of all kinds. None of this might matter, if we were not going through a crucial and difficult economic period. The broad history of the past 30 years in the UK is that the Thatcher government took us out of an economic death-spiral of Seventies complacency. Spending was tackled, the unions were contained, the City was unleashed, and a series of important supply-side reforms helped to deliver a long boom; and when the exhausted and fractious Tories were eventually chucked out in 1997, it was Labour that profited – politically – from those reforms.

The boom continued, in spite of everything Blair and Brown did to choke it. They over-regulated; they spent more than the country could afford; they massively expanded the public sector; they did nothing to reform health or education or the distortions of the welfare state. And so when the bust finally came, in 2008, this country was in no position to cope. We now have the twin problems of dealing with the debt, and recovering competitiveness – and neither of those is easy when the BBC is the chief mirror in which we view ourselves. If you are funded by the taxpayer, you are more likely to see the taxpayer as the solution to every economic ill.

If you are funded by the taxpayer, you are less likely to understand and sympathise with the difficulties of business; you are less likely to celebrate enterprise. I have sometimes wondered why BBC London never carries stories about dynamic start-ups or amazing London exports – and then concluded gloomily that it just not in the nature of that show. It’s not in their DNA. Fully 75 per cent of the London economy is private sector – and yet it is almost completely ignored by our state broadcaster.

Well, folks, we have a potential solution. In a short while we must appoint a new director-general, to succeed Mark Thompson. If we are really going ahead with Lords reform (why?), then the Lib Dems should allow the Government to appoint someone to run the BBC who is free-market, pro-business and understands the depths of the problems this country faces. We need someone who knows about the work ethic, and cutting costs. We need a Tory, and no mucking around. If we can’t change the Beeb, we can’t change the country.

The statist, defeatest and biased BBC is on the wrong wavelength

'So what do you think, eh?” I turned to the BBC’s art critic, the brilliant, bulging Professor Branestawm lookalike Will Gompertz. We were standing on the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit in Stratford; London was spread beneath us like a land of dreams – was that France I could see in the distance? – and yet I was nervous. This sculpture is a masterpiece, far better and more rewarding up close than it appears at a distance. The steel loops are an arterial red, writhing and shifting against each other beneath the blue sky. Anish Kapoor already has many fans, but he has excelled himself with this vast fallopian ampersand, this enigmatic hubble bubble, this proud vertical invitation to London 2012.

The Orbit is a decisive assertion of the city’s status as the world capital of culture and the arts. That’s my view, anyway, and I am sticking to it, though I am conscious that not everyone agrees. There are plenty of people who absolutely hate the thing, just as most Parisians initially despised the Eiffel Tower (and didn’t Charles Dickens campaign against the building of Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster?). I have heard it compared to a catastrophic collision between two cranes, a mutant helter-skelter, a mangled trombone, and worse. So of course I waited with bated breath for the verdict of the BBC.

Did Gompertz like it as much as I did? My friends, he did not. Or at least, he liked it, but he had two complaints. “It’s not big enough,” he said, “and surely it should be free.” Not big enough! Free! There you have everything that is wrong with the BBC and with this country. The thing is already colossal – about twice the height of Nelson’s column. If we went much higher we would have to re-route the planes out of City airport. And yes, it costs something to go up – though less than it costs to go up the London Eye – but what is the alternative? The alternative is that the whole operation would have to be subsidised by the taxpayer when it is one of the (many) saving graces of this structure that it has been very largely financed by private sponsorship.

In his criticisms, Gompertz was revealing not the instincts of an art critic – but the mentality of the BBC man. Unlike the zany eccentric ArcelorMittal Orbit, the zany eccentric Gompertz is almost entirely publicly funded. It is up to you whether or not to go up the Orbit – though I thoroughly recommend it. You have no choice about funding Gompertz. Everyone who possesses a TV has to pay more than £145 to put him on air. The BBC is unlike any other media organisation in the free world, in that it levies billions from British households whether they want to watch it or not. No wonder its employees have an innocent belief that everything in life should be “free”. No wonder – and I speak as one who has just fought a campaign in which I sometimes felt that my chief opponent was the local BBC news – the prevailing view of Beeb newsrooms is, with honourable exceptions, statist, corporatist, defeatist, anti-business, Europhile and, above all, overwhelmingly biased to the Left.

Of course they are: the whole lot of them are funded by the taxpayer. Eurosceptic views are still treated as if they were vaguely mad and unpleasant, even though the Eurosceptic analysis has been proved overwhelmingly right. In all its lavish coverage of Murdoch, hacking and BSkyB, the BBC never properly explains the reasons why other media organisations – including the BBC – want to shaft a free-market competitor (and this basic dishonesty is spotted by the electorate; it’s one of the reasons real people are so apathetic about the Leveson business).

The non-Murdoch media have their guns trained on Murdoch, while the Beeb continues to destroy the business case of its private sector rivals with taxpayer-funded websites and electronic media of all kinds. None of this might matter, if we were not going through a crucial and difficult economic period. The broad history of the past 30 years in the UK is that the Thatcher government took us out of an economic death-spiral of Seventies complacency. Spending was tackled, the unions were contained, the City was unleashed, and a series of important supply-side reforms helped to deliver a long boom; and when the exhausted and fractious Tories were eventually chucked out in 1997, it was Labour that profited – politically – from those reforms.

The boom continued, in spite of everything Blair and Brown did to choke it. They over-regulated; they spent more than the country could afford; they massively expanded the public sector; they did nothing to reform health or education or the distortions of the welfare state. And so when the bust finally came, in 2008, this country was in no position to cope. We now have the twin problems of dealing with the debt, and recovering competitiveness – and neither of those is easy when the BBC is the chief mirror in which we view ourselves. If you are funded by the taxpayer, you are more likely to see the taxpayer as the solution to every economic ill.

If you are funded by the taxpayer, you are less likely to understand and sympathise with the difficulties of business; you are less likely to celebrate enterprise. I have sometimes wondered why BBC London never carries stories about dynamic start-ups or amazing London exports – and then concluded gloomily that it just not in the nature of that show. It’s not in their DNA. Fully 75 per cent of the London economy is private sector – and yet it is almost completely ignored by our state broadcaster.

Well, folks, we have a potential solution. In a short while we must appoint a new director-general, to succeed Mark Thompson. If we are really going ahead with Lords reform (why?), then the Lib Dems should allow the Government to appoint someone to run the BBC who is free-market, pro-business and understands the depths of the problems this country faces. We need someone who knows about the work ethic, and cutting costs. We need a Tory, and no mucking around. If we can’t change the Beeb, we can’t change the country.

Next head of BBC must be a Tory says Boris Johnson

Decrying the attitude of a BBC art critic, who told him the new ArcelorMittal Orbit structure at the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, should be “bigger” and “free”, Mr Johnson said: “There you have everything that is wrong with the BBC and with this country.”

Speaking of his recent election campaign, Mr Johnson says: “I sometimes felt that my chief opponent was the local BBC news – the prevailing view of Beeb newsrooms is, with honourable exceptions, statist, corporatist, defeatist, anti-business, Europhile and, above all, overwhelmingly biased to the Left.”

Mark Thompson, who is due to step down from his role in the autumn after eight years, has admitted the corporation was guilty of bias in the past.

In an interview with the New Statesman in 2010, he said: “In the BBC I joined 30 years ago, there was, in much of current affairs, in terms of people’s personal politics, which were quite vocal, a massive bias to the Left … now it is a completely different generation.”

A BBC spokeswoman said: "BBC News is committed to impartiality and we reject Boris Johnson's assertions of bias.

"Our approach means asking difficult questions of politicians, businesses and unions alike.

"People with trenchant views often find this process uncomfortable but our audience expects us to challenge those in power, as well as those who seek it."

Harriet Harman, shadow culture, media and sport secretary, said Mr Johnson should "keep out of it".

She said: "The importance of the BBC to Britain today is hard to overstate, and it is so trusted because it reports politics impartially. The whole point of the director general of the BBC is that they are neutral."

What football teaches us about creating a thriving jobs market

“Mr President,” I said, in tones of calculated self-deprecation, “how come England hasn’t won the Fifa World Cup since I was two? France, Germany, Italy, Spain — all our European rivals, but not England. What’s wrong with us?” Blatter figuratively stroked the white cat on his lap, and replied that it was very simple. The trouble with England was the Premiership, he said. You import all these players from around the world. It means that the local talent never gets the same attention, or the same investment. That’s the problem with English football, he said, and then I found that my time was up and that the blonde Ukrainian six-footers were heading me to the door.

I was much struck by his analysis, and relayed it immediately to one of my colleagues, an ardent Lefty and lifelong Arsenal fan. I wondered whether there could be a smidgen of truth in what Blatter suggested. Perhaps all these intergalactic imports — Brazilians, Nigerians, Russians, Croats, you name it — were depressing the growth of our autochthonous talent. Perhaps we should have some rule — as Blatter suggested — to exclude these superstars, or to limit their numbers, in order to protect and bring on the native English players.

Oh, ah, I said, and accepted the wisdom of his judgment. I have been thinking about this argument over the past few weeks and months, because our number one priority as a society is to boost growth — and get people into work. Some readers may have been following the London elections, and will have gathered that we have fantastic plans to invest in transport, housing and regeneration schemes — projects that will cumulatively help create 200,000 jobs. We are building a platform now for a more successful and prosperous city in 10 and 20 years’ time: high-quality family homes, a better Tube network, new river crossings, orbital rail; and we are addressing the immediate economic problems by getting Londoners into work.

The trouble is — as many people have pointed out to me at street corners — that London’s formidable job-creating powers do not always seem to involve the creation of jobs for native Londoners. Go into any coffee shop and talk to the staff, listen to the voices on the building sites — and you will see how the city is working as a magnet for talent and energy from outside the UK, many from the countries that have recently acceded to the EU.

There are plenty of people who take a Sepp Blatter-ish line about this phenomenon. There are some who say the immigrants are simply too talented and energetic. I was discussing the problem with a group of journalists not long ago, when a Guardian man — a kindly and distinguished fellow — started heckling me. It wasn’t fair, he suggested, that indigenous Londoners should be asked to go toe to toe “with Polish graduates”. I see his point. I see the unfairness.

But we are forced to ask what is the alternative, and what is the best way forward for the young Londoners who are not finding the work that they need. I suppose we could try to protect them by constructing Blatteresque barriers and quotas — though we would almost certainly find that such moves were against EU law. But surely the best approach now is to look at every stage in the chain of causation that results in a young Londoner losing out, in the jobs market, to a contestant from abroad. We need to hear an honest and unflinching account from the employers: just why is it that so many individual recruitment decisions seem to go against young Londoners?

Why do immigrant workers seem to look at a job in McDonald’s or Starbucks as a stepping stone, while some who were born here apparently regard it as a dead end? Is the problem just to do with pay and conditions? Is it really true that immigrants will work harder for less? Is there really a difference in the “work ethic”, or is that an urban myth? One of my first priorities as re-elected mayor is to analyse and expose the roots of this problem.

I have already launched an inquiry into education in London, and we will now extend this to include all the failures of the labour market — all the reasons Londoners are not getting the jobs they need. We will simultaneously expand our apprenticeship programme by a colossal 250,000 — to give young people that vital experience of competing in a workplace. So far, 84 per cent have gone on to full-time jobs. But should we go for the Blatter solution, and haul up the drawbridge?

Against illegals, yes. Against talent, no. In football as in the economy at large, you don’t make people more competitive by excluding the competition.

Friends: The One Where Boris Taunts Dave In Latin

Dave was too exhausted even to feel angry. Betrayed by his own people – after all he’d done for them! Just as he was trying to take in the news, his phone chirped, sounding out the opening notes of London Calling.

He stared at the screen, then gave a short bark of laughter. “It’s from Boris,” he announced. “It says 'Et tu, Oxfordshire?’”

“Nice of him to try to cheer you up,” ventured George.

“I’m not sure that’s the plan,” said Dave. The phone chirped again. “ 'Aegroto dum anima est, spes est’. What does that mean?”

Michael spoke up. “As long as a sick person has breath, there is hope.”

“Great,” said Dave. “He’s not only taunting me – he’s taunting me in Latin. What’s next? 'Sic transit gloria mundi’? Or maybe 'Remember, Caesar, that thou art mortal’?”

“No,” said George, peering at his own phone, which had just buzzed. “'Ut sementem feceris, ita metes’.”

“'As ye reap, so shall ye sow’,” muttered Michael, without being asked.

“Come on, Dave,” said Eric, nudging over the remnants of a platter of sandwiches. “Illegitimi non carborundum and all that.”

“Eh?” said Dave.

“Don’t let the b------ grind you down.”

“Quite,” said George, before inspecting his phone again. “And on the plus side, it looks like Boris has run out of Latin.”

“Well, that’s good, isn’t it?” said Dave.

“Not entirely,” said George. “He’s asking me to send him the measurements for the Downing Street curtains.”

Deep within Dave’s soul, a defiant spark flickered into life. He’d be dashed if he was going to take this from Boris, of all people. He’d prove he was still the Alpha Etonian.

“Right, that’s it,” he said. “Make a note – first thing tomorrow, I want plans on my desk for a fightback. I want an outline of the reshuffle. I want a new draft of the Queen’s Speech that’s tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime. I want Abu Qatada on the first plane out, no matter how long he has to queue at Heathrow. I want next week to be a fresh start.”

“Good plan, chief,” said Eric, loyally. “It might even distract people from watching Rebekah and Andy at Leveson.”

“Oh yes,” said Dave. “That.” As silence descended again, he slumped mournfully in his chair, and reached for the wilted egg and cress.