Tag Archives: Mayor of London

Dave’s Ambitious Message

Boris to Dave:  “You have got to run for this thing … or else I will!”

GENERAL ELECTION: Parliament Dissolves today and the General Election campaign begins officially today with the Dissolution of Parliament – and the publication of the first of the party manifestos.

It is almost exactly five years ago that the Tories experienced yet another election defeat and Michael Howard unexpectedly decided – after a valiant campaign – to step down as leader of the Conservative Party. I remember staggering back to my office at The Spectator and wondering what should happen next. After about ten seconds’ reflection, I picked up the phone.

“Dave,” I said to the future Prime Minister, “you have got to run for this thing.” With his customary politeness David Cameron thanked me and said that a couple of other people had mentioned the same idea. In fact he was so polite I wasn’t quite sure that he was going to strike with the mamba-like swiftness required. I decided to raise the stakes. “You have got to run for this thing, Dave,” I said, “or else I will!”

At which point, as he later told Tory audiences, David Cameron was seized with the full urgency of the situation and the need to save his party and his country. He has done a fantastic job in the last five years, and triumphantly vindicated that small group of us who first supported him in 2005.

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Stop the Litter

 

It was a dark and rainy night and I was cycling innocently home at about the speed of an elderly French onion seller, when – pok – something hit me on the side of the helmet. I heard a shout of laughter to my right, and a cry of “You ——!”, and a car sped off up Shaftesbury Avenue. As anyone would in my position, I saw red. I put my foot down, and pedalled so hard that I was able to keep the weaving rump of the car in my sights, and I noted that it was some kind of Astra.

Soon the bike had beaten the car. As they waited at the next set of lights, I pounded on the window. “Open up!” I cried. There were three kids inside, and I could see the culprit goggling up at me with appalled recognition. They lurched off again in the hope of escape, but of course I had them at the next lights.

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Rage against Ed Balls MP and Latin in the Classroom

The demand for Latin is huge and it is growing, and I don’t just mean that the public is fascinated with the ancient world – though that is obviously true, and demonstrated, for instance, by the success of Robert Harris’s Cicero novels. There is a hunger for the language itself and, thanks to the efforts of a small number of organisations and volunteers, Latin is fighting its way back on to the curriculum

Being an even-tempered fellow, and given that we have already put up with so much nonsense from the Labour Government, I find there are very few ministerial pronouncements that make me wild with anger. We have learnt to be phlegmatic about the mistakes of a government that has banned 4,300 courses of human conduct, plunged this country into the deepest recession in memory, and so skewed the economy that 70 per cent of the Newcastle workforce is in the pay of the state. But there are times when a minister says something so maddening, so death-defyingly stupid, that I am glad not to be in the same room in case I should reach out, grab his tie, and end what is left of my political career with one almighty head-butt.

Such were my feelings on reading Mr Ed Balls on the subject of teaching Latin in schools. Speaking on the radio, Spheroids dismissed the idea that Latin could inspire or motivate pupils he said that headteachers often took him to see the benefits of dance, technology or sport but added:

 “No one has ever taken me to a Latin lesson to make the same point. Very few parents are pushing for it, very few pupils want to study it.”

It is nothing short of a disaster that this man is still nominally in charge of education, science, scholarship and learning in this country. He is in danger of undoing the excellent work of his predecessor, Andrew Adonis, and he is just wrong. Of course he doesn’t get taken round many Latin classes in the state sector. That is because only 15 per cent of maintained schools offer the subject, against 60 per cent of fee-paying schools. But to say that “very few” want to study the subject, to say that there is no demand for Latin – it makes me want to weep with rage. The demand is huge and it is growing, and I don’t just mean that the public is fascinated with the ancient world – though that is obviously true, and demonstrated, for instance, by the success of Robert Harris’s Cicero novels.

There is a hunger for the language itself and, thanks to the efforts of a small number of organisations and volunteers, Latin is fighting its way back on to the curriculum. The Cambridge Classics Project did a 2008 study that found that no fewer than 500 secondary schools had started teaching Latin in the past eight years. That is a fantastic thing. Those schools deserve support.

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Skiing with Helmets?

Skiing is about the wind in your hair and the sun on your face as you personally describe the contours of snow-covered mountains at extraordinary speed. It is the closest many of us come to flight

“Eh?” I said. I couldn’t believe it. The bus was winding up from Moutiers towards our ski resort, and one of the wives was giving me a sensational piece of news. It concerned the skiwear of two old friends. If she had told me they were going to be wearing padded bras and cami‑knickers, I could not have been more astonished.

I mean, I have known these people for decades. We have been skiing together for years, and I can testify that they are, in general, as brave as the next man. When the light is fading and the last lift is about to close, they are the kind of chaps who come to the edge of some vertical mogul‑field and shout “Man or mouse!” before hurling themselves into the icy void. When you are going up in a lift and you look beneath to see a couple of lunatics negotiating the virgin snow of some precipitous couloir, that’s them.

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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

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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.

 

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Boris promotes Scotland’s interests

A healthy, wealthy London is the best medicine for Scotland’s ills
The capital is the powerhouse for the rest of the United Kingdom. It deserves better, says Boris Johnson

You know, I think we are reaching the limits of Jock-bashing. It is time that we called a halt to this casual anti-Scottish prejudice, before it gets out of control.

I have lost count of the number of times I have heard someone joke that the Scots subsist on a diet of smack and deep-fried Mars Bars. I have heard it said in London that we send them our taxes, and they send us their prime ministers – and chancellors, and the whole stream of gabbling Edinburgh lawyer MPs who make up the Tartan mafia.

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Boris in Medical Test Blunder

“You have chronic lymphocytic leukaemia,” said the summary

Being sent the wrong health results makes you think about how random and pitiless the universe is, says Boris Johnson.

One of the peculiarities of being Mayor of London is that there is no provision for an automatic succession. If the mayor dies in office – whether he has a cardiac infarct, falls beneath the wheels of one of his own buses or he is cornered in a dark alley and beaten to death by hooded teenage girls with rolled up copies of Jackie magazine – then there is no way he can be smoothly replaced by a deputy mayor.

The rules say there must be a by-election, and a by-election is immensely laborious. Polling stations must be booked. Millions of leaflets and ballot papers must be printed. Officials must be recruited to ensure fair play, with UN observers probably flown in from Zimbabwe and Afghanistan. The whole shebang costs about £20 million. Since the Greater London Authority has better things to do with £20 million than keep it in a sock drawer in case the mayor carks it, we have a system of insurance. And because they are being asked to insure the mayor’s life for this vast sum – about as much, I shouldn’t wonder, as the foot or hand of Thierry Henry – the insurers insist that the mayor must pass an annual medical test.

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Celebrating first year as Mayor

“Happy Birthday, Boris!” hails this week’s Spectator.  It has been a remarkable first year as Mayor of London including everything from ping pong to knife crime, transport to education and hard work to fun as the Spectator‘s Mary Wakefield found out.

Mary writes: “I met Boris Johnson in his office in City Hall overlooking the Thames and Tower Bridge. Our former editor seemed a more thoughtful and sensible character than the man who used to practise cycling with no hands down Doughty Street at lunchtime, but there were signs of the old Boris tucked around his mayoral office: ping pong bats (the Mayor likes to unwind by trying and failing to beat his personal assistant, Ann Sindall); a book of love poems by the late Woodrow Wyatt; a bust of Pericles in the corner, looking out over this 21st-century Athens. Continue reading Celebrating first year as Mayor