Boris for PM

August 27th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

London Mayor Boris Johnson will seek to become a Member of Parliament in west London at next year’s general election, his spokesman says, raising the prospect of a future run at becoming prime minister.

Johnson, known for his unkempt shock of blond hair and frequent gaffes, hopes to be selected as the Conservative Party candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, a seat the party has held since 1970, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

This is exciting news. Boris as an MP again will either become Prime Minister or explode in a spectacular scandal, probably involving several women.

Johnson has always publicly played down his chances of eventually becoming prime minister, saying they were about as good as those “of finding Elvis on Mars or my being reincarnated as an olive”.

The King is alive!

A poll in June 2014 showed his approval rating as Mayor was 64% good and 27% poor. Even Labour and Lib Dem voters are more likely to say he is doing well than poor.

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Generation Boris

June 3rd, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A fascinating article at the Economist:

Young Britons are classical liberals: as well as prizing social freedom, they believe in low taxes, limited welfare and personal responsibility. In America they would be called libertarians.

More than two-thirds of people born before 1939 consider the welfare state “one of Britain’s proudest achievements”. Less than one-third of those born after 1979 say the same. According to the BSA, members of Generation Y are not just half as likely as older people to consider it the state’s responsibility to cover the costs of residential care in old age. …

“Every successive generation is less collectivist than the last,” says Ben Page of Ipsos MORI, a pollster. All age groups are becoming more socially and economically liberal. But the young are ahead of the general trend. They have a more sceptical view of state transfers, even allowing for the general shift in attitudes (see first chart).

Polling by YouGov shows that those aged 18 to 24 are also more likely than older people to consider social problems the responsibility of individuals rather than government. They are deficit hawks (see second chart). They care about the environment, but are also keen on commerce: more supportive of the privatisation of utilities, more likely to reject government attempts to ban branding on cigarette packets and more likely to agree that Tesco, Britain’s supermarket giant, “has only become so large by offering customers what they want”.

A belief in economic and social liberalism is only sensible. Keep the Government out of both business and the bedroom.

Young Britons’ broad liberalism, their suspicion of state interventions of most varieties, not only contrasts with the views of their elders. It also makes them unusual internationally. Britons between 15 and 35 are more relaxed about the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and cannabis than are young people in the EU as a whole. Another Eurobarometer study conducted in 2011 showed that Britons in that age group were more likely to have set up their own business than their counterparts in any other large European country.

Setting up your own business is one of the best things you can do. Of course you may fail, but there is no reward without risk.

As yet, there is little sign any of this is permeating mainstream politics. The two main parties, the Conservatives and Labour, broadly adhere to the conventional right-left divide (with economic liberalism on one side and social liberalism on the other).

So who can appeal to the growing number of young Britons?

A mainstream politician could yet tap into it. Speaking to young people from different backgrounds and parts of the country, from the engaged to the apathetic, your correspondent often asked if any politicians appealed to them. The reaction was strikingly uniform: silence, then contemplation, then a one-word answer—“Boris”—before a flood of agreement: “Oh yeah, I’d vote for Boris Johnson.” The chaotic, colourful mayor of London, a rare politician who transcends his Tory identity by melding social and economic liberalism, appears to have Britain’s libertarian youth in the bag. The 2020 election beckons.

Boris does transcend the normal divide. People like him, for being human.

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Is Boris the UK’s Ronald Reagan?

May 13th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Iain Martin writes in the Daily Telegraph:

Another day, another deranged report on the future of Heathrow. This time it is the Transport Select Committee suggesting that London’s main airport be extended to four (four!) runways, doubling the airport’s size and blighting the lives of millions of people who live in West London. Forget the various horse racing scandals. We must ask: were the members of the select committee doped? Or is it just that they wrote their report without looking at a map?

It is – once again from the current political class – the sheer lack of ambition and vision that it is so depressing. Extending Heathrow rather than looking for a proper long-term solution is simply corporatist defeatism. As though all the airline industry has to do is launch another of its interminable public affairs campaigns and the country will roll over.

Heathrow suits the airlines, because they are already there and they think extending it would be cheap and easy for them. A larger Heathrow suits some politicians because it seems like a good idea, until you think about it and look at a map. Incidentally, aviation is merely another industry that should be at our beck and call rather than the other way round.

So what did Boris say?

What a relief it was then to hear the Mayor of London on the radio today being uplifting and knocking the report into touch. Boris is spot on. London needs to look eastwards rather than compounding a planning mistake made at Heathrow in the 1940s. ….

Imagine as the crown jewels of London’s expansion, a new four or five runway airport built further out east, the best airport in the world in the world’s greatest city, on land reclaimed from the sea. That is not an outlandish idea. Just ask the Dutch, or look at Hong Kong’s airport. The new transport links feeding the airport could also involve new commuter lines to the major employment hubs of the centre.

But, responds the ruling elite, it’s too expensive, we’re a rubbish country now, we can’t do this sort of stuff in Britain. Let’s just give in to the airlines and hope for quieter planes which seem forever to be just around the corner but never arrive.

Boris says “piffle” to all that. He blows a raspberry in the face of the defeatists. Would building the world’s greatest airport, serving a city where people want to live not be the most marvellous money-spinner and investment opportunity? Get the world’s sovereign wealth funds and hungry investors to pile in. Issue London bonds. Fire up the architects. For the good of Britain expand London. Build, build, build and increase the opportunities available to London’s poorer citizens. Get moving!

Boris says this stuff in such an uplifting way that I am convinced increasingly that he could be Britain’s Ronald Reagan. I mean that as a compliment. Like the great American president, he exudes optimism about his country’s capacity for renewal and recovery.

And the future:

Boris need not be made prime minister this minute. But eventually, when the rhetoric of austerity is exhausted, and the current leaders have fought themselves to a standstill, there will be an opportunity for someone to emerge with a bit of anti-politics oomph and pizazz. Someone who says that actually the 2020s and beyond could be great for Britain if we don’t overload the economy with high taxes and use a bit of imagination. We have so much going for us in terms of language, culture, ideas, science, industry, sport, innovation and pubs. We need an injection of the feel-good spirit and some dynamism.

There will eventually be an appetite for optimism, and Boris seems keen to supply it. There is another aspect of his potential appeal. Who can cut a deal with UKIP’s Nigel Farage in 2017 or thereabouts, in the Rose Garden of Number 10? Boris can.

Boris’ term as Mayor ends in 2016. It will be very interesting to see what seats come up around that time.

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Great Boris quotes

March 6th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Rules to limit the rewards would drive well-paid financiers out of the City and harm the economy, Mr Johnson said, insisting that the plans were doomed to failure.

“This is possibly the most deluded measure to come from Europe since Diocletian tried to fix the price of groceries across the Roman Empire,” Mr Johnson said.

The last Roman ruler to persecute Christians, Diocletian brought stability to the empire after the chaotic third century. In 301AD, he passed his edict on prices, an unsuccessful attempt to stop inflation by imposing maximum prices on common goods.

I like a politician that knows his history.

The mayor’s comments put pressure on David Cameron to water down the new EU bonus rules, agreed provisionally in Brussels this week.

Under them, annual bonuses will not be allowed to exceed a banker’s salary, starting next year. Bonuses of twice annual salary will be allowed if shareholders approve them.

Oh, why stop there. Let’s also pass a law saying account executives can’t have commission in excess of their base salary.

Supporters of the cap say it will discourage bankers from pursuing the sort of high-risk deals that helped cause the financial crisis. Opponents point out that hedge funds, private equity companies and other financial firms are unaffected.

Mr Johnson said the rules would only harm Europe.

“Brussels cannot control the global market for banking talent. Brussels cannot set pay for bankers around the world,” he said.

“The most this measure can hope to achieve is a boost for Zurich and Singapore and New York at the expense of a struggling EU.” Mr Johnson added: “People will wonder why we stay in the EU if it persists in such transparently self-defeating policies.”

Well there will be a referendum in 2016, if the Conservatives win re-election.

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Borismania

October 10th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

The Mayor of London blew into its conference in Birmingham, a hurricane of blond hair, media attention and other people’s speculation about his prospects of one day taking David Cameron’s job.

His reception – in a city not noted for its Tory support – was more suited to a rock star than a politician, with crowds of passengers chanting his name at New Street station.

Boris got mobbed – at Birmingham train station? That’s incredible.

I think people like Boris, because they know what they see and hear is the real thing – warts and all.

At the conference centre, he was surrounded by a scrum of cameramen and photographers so intense that one was thrown to the floor and required medical attention.

As much as I’d love Boris to be PM, I think his personality is better suited to being an Executive Mayor than a Prime Minister – which is much more about leading and managing a team.

But if there are any resignations of Conservative MPs in London seats, the temptation may be too much.

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Boris on the Olympics

July 31st, 2012 at 8:48 am by David Farrar

London Mayor Boris Johnson has written 20 reasons why the Olympics have been great so far. They include:

We have just stunned the world with what was the best opening ceremony ever produced – and by quite a margin. Danny Boyle’s filmic mixture of Blake, Dickens, Tolkien, JK Rowling etc etc has confirmed London’s status as the global capital of art and culture. Right-wing critics should be reassured that the meaning of the Mary Poppins-Dementors clash has been widely misunderstood. I am told by one figure close to proceedings that the bellicose nanny figure was intended by Danny Boyle to stand for Mrs Thatcher in her struggles with the NUM and other militant trade unionists. So that’s all right, then, eh!

Heh

We certainly didn’t spend the Beijing-style sums on fireworks – since the Chinese blew roughly the sam e amount as the British defence budget – but we unquestionably had the same global éclat.

Fireworks are great, but you need more than that. Not to say China didn’t do a great ceremony also.

As I write these words there are semi-naked women playing beach volleyball in the middle of the Horse Guards Parade immortalised by Canaletto. They are glistening like wet otters and the water is plashing off the brims of the spectators’ sou’westers. The whole thing is magnificent and bonkers.

Wet otters. I love it. I think the last sentence applies equally to Boris. I do hope he becomes PM one day – the world would be a far more interestign place.

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30 to 1 on Boris

July 26th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

What are the odds of a UFO sighting during the London Olympics opening ceremony? Or of the final torch bearer tripping as they ascend to light the flame? Or would you prefer a more traditional wager on the battle for gold between Russia and Spain in synchronized swimming duos?

London betting houses will offer odds on almost anything, including all 26 sports at the games, from the 100-metre dash to fencing, from diving to football. The industry expects to handle a record 100 million pounds (NZ$197 million) in wagers during the July 27-August 12 competition – even some pretty outlandish parlays.

A shame our gaming laws are so restrictive.

William Hill offers perhaps the longest odds of the games: 1000-to-1 that a flying saucer will appear over Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony. Tough luck, presumably, if aliens don’t make first contact until the next day.

Other longshots get slightly better odds, like 250-to-1 that every team in the 4×400-metre relay final drops the baton, or 33-to-1 that flamboyant London Mayor Boris Johnson accidentally lights his hair on fire with the Olympic torch.

I’d be tempted to place some money on Boris self-immolating :-)

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Boris wins

May 5th, 2012 at 11:58 am by David Farrar

Yay. Boris Johnson has been re-elected Mayor of London, beating the loathsome Ken Livingstone. This is despite a big backlash against the Conservatives and Lib Dems. Labour picked up almost 800 Council seats in a good night for them. The UK Independence Party also polled well.

The first round saw Boris get 44.9% and Livingstone 41.1%. After preferences were re-allocated it was 51.5% to 48.5%.

Ken Livingstone in his concession speech said that this result settles the next leadership contest for the Conservative Party, and I think he is right. When Cameron’s time is up, Boris will have huge support to take the top job.

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Sir Keith Park honoured today

November 5th, 2009 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

At around 5 am this morning, a statue of New Zealander Sir Keith Park was unveiled on the fourth plinth of Trafalgar Square in London.

kp

This photo of Sir Keith next to his Hurricane is courtesy of Vincent Orange and as taken in September 1941.

Many readers supported the campaign for Sir Keith to be so honoured.

The statue was unveiled by London Mayor Boris Johnson (who is in the news for coming to the rescue on his bicycle of a woman being attacked) and Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen Dalton. More importantly it was attended by 16 RAF veterans of the Battle of Britain. There was a flyover of a Spitfire and a Typhoon.

For those who don’t know Sir Keith Park commanded 11 Group, and almost 3,000 pilots from 15 countries fought in the Battle of Britain.

Lord Tedder, WWII Deputy Supreme Commander for Operation Overlord sums up the contribution of Park the best:

“If ever any one man won the Battle of Britain, he did. I don’t believe it is recognised how much this one man, with his leadership, his calm judgement and his skill, did to save not only this country, but the world.”

Kiwis played their part in the Battle of Britain. We provided 126 pilots, compared to 33 from Australia and 98 from Canada. The ponly country to provide more, except of course the UK, was Poland with 145.

Prior to WWII, Park was a pilot in WWI and shot down 20 enemy aircraft. After WWII he returned to New Zealand and served on the Auckland City Council.

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Boris on Maggie

May 6th, 2009 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Sunday was the 30th anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s election as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

London Mayor Boris Johnson pays tribute:

But, even as an apathetic and cynical teenager, I could see that she was doing some tough things, and the moment I came down most vehemently on her side was the Falklands conflict of 1982. So many people I knew seemed to think she was wrong, and bellicose. I remember my grandfather frequently saying that he was going to shoot her. You will still meet left-wing bores who say that she deliberately ignored the “Peruvian Peace Plan”. And yet what she did was so clear and so right.

I was 14 at the time, and remember all the predictions of disaster.

The Argentinian junta had taken by violence a British protectorate, in clear contravention both of international law and the wishes of the islanders. It took fantastic balls to send the antiquated British Navy half-way round the world, and risk disaster on those desolate beaches and moors. It took nerves of steel to sink the Belgrano, and, frankly, I don’t think there were any other Tory politicians who would have done it.

Sadly Boris is probably right.

By the end of the Eighties, she had cut taxes and the economy was roaring away; and it wasn’t just that the country as a whole seemed to have recovered some of its confidence and standing in the world. Individuals were able to take control of their destiny in a new way. They were no longer completely beholden to local authorities for their housing: they could buy their own homes, and to this day, as any Tory canvasser will tell you, there are people across Britain who will always vote Tory in thanks for that freedom alone.

Her vision was a property owning democracy.

She gave people the confidence to buy shares, to start their own businesses, to move on and up in society – and there was more social mobility under Margaret Thatcher than there has been since. She was a liberator, and she gave the Labour party such an intellectual thrashing that they ended up changing their name. In some ways, the most significant political legacy of Margaret Thatcher is New Labour (now being abolished by Gordon Brown).

Blair in many ways carried on her legacy. Brown, indeed, is not.

But she believed she had to shatter the post-war consensus that the solution to every problem was always an expansion of the state. Indeed, she did not think much of the word consensus itself, since it was not only too Latinate for her taste but also because it probably masked a conspiracy by cowardly politicians to dodge the hard questions, and, if you look at the consensus that now exists around, say, academic selection, you can see that she is right.

A consensus can be wrong, and in fact often is.

Margaret Thatcher will always divide the British people, not least since we are ourselves divided. There is a part of us that will always dislike the acquisitive, appetitive instincts she seemed to espouse, and yet we also recognise that they are essential for economic success. More than any leader since Churchill, she said thought-provoking things about the relationship between the state and the individual. Some of them were unpalatable, some of them were exaggerated. But much of what she said was necessary, and it took a woman to say it.

The simple truth is she changed Britain, and the world, for the better.

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Boris wins

May 3rd, 2008 at 12:23 pm by David Farrar

Superb – Boris Johnson has beaten Ken Livingstone by 53% to 47% (very close to YouGov prediction).

Labour MPs are saying Gordon Brown has six months to turn things around or he will face a coup.

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UK Labour thrashed in local elections

May 3rd, 2008 at 9:25 am by David Farrar

The results are yet to be announced for the London Mayoralty (Zimbabwe is almost faster with its results) but the expectation is that Boris Johnson has won it off Ken Livingstone, as Labour have been mauled across the board.

Pundits said a loss of more than 200 seats would be very bad for Labour. Well they have lost a staggering 331 seats – a once in a generation annihilation. In fact Labour only came third in the popular vote with 24% behind Lib Dems on 25% and Conservatives on 44%.

It is now being openly speculated that Prime Minister Gordon Brown may be rolled before the election. He is lucky in that there is no general election needed for two years, but unlucky in that that gives lots of time for discontent to simmer.

Congrats to all my friends in the Conservatives – must have been a good night of celebrations.

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The London Mayoralty

May 1st, 2008 at 1:23 pm by David Farrar

Iain Dale blogs on the different poll results just prior to the local body elections in England. The polls open tonight our time and I expect results late tomorrow morning.

You Gov has it at Boris Johnson 44% and Ken Livingstone 36%. If no one gets 50% second preferences are allocated and on second preferences from the Lib Dem candidate mainly it becomes 53% to 47% for Boris.

Mori however has first preferences Boris 38%, Ken 41% and second preferences Ken 52% Boris 48%.

A lot of interest in who will be right. You Gov does Internet polling and Mori phone polling. You Gov has a pretty good accuracy history but that is no guarantee. What they do tend to agree on though is the higher the turnout, the better it is for Ken Livingstone.

The Livingstone campaign has actually complained to the UK Market Research Society about You Gov. This shows how seriously people take the expectations game.

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Boris leads in London mayoral race

March 25th, 2008 at 1:37 pm by David Farrar

Boris Johnson is leading Ken Livingstone by 12% in a recent poll.  That is amazing as Livingstone was regarded as unbeatable at one stage.  The election is on 1 May 2008.

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