October 30, 2011 Any other business Comments Off
When a snivelling leftie MP attempts to politicise the wearing of remembrance poppies – by criticising opponents for not yet wearing one, nearly three weeks before Remembrance Sunday – it can be easy to forget why we actually wear them. Poppies don’t exist to engender self-righteousness in the wearers, or to invoke some sort of unseemly race to demonstrate one’s virtue. They exist to honour those brave, heroic troops who have lost their lives since the First World War, and to raise funds for the invaluable work of the Royal British Legion.
So get yourself a poppy, and wear it with pride – but let that pride be in those who have served, not in yourself for wearing it.
[The Poppy Appeal site is here.]
Have you seen Labour’s latest attack on Boris? Ken Livingstone’s team have sent Liam Byrne over the top to proclaim that Boris is clearly lazy for having written a book (it’s released on Thursday; available from all good bookstores etc.). The allegation is that Boris is a ‘part-time mayor’ for having found the time to write while in office. As lefties appear to still be joyously revelling in their new attack-line, it might be a good idea to clear a few things up…
Liam Byrne – Before I even get to the crux of the argument, I can’t not mention Liam Byrne. Does Ken Livingstone seriously think the involvement of one of the least likeable people on Labour’s frontbench is going to actually benefit his campaign? He is the man, in case you’d forgotten, who issued an arrogantly angry 11-page memo to his staff reminding them, amongst other things, of when to bring him soup (12.30-1pm, if you were wondering). And he is the man, you won’t have forgotten, who left David Laws a note in which he joked happily about how Labour had ruined the country’s finances. The guy’s truly an utter chump.
The book - Given Boris started writing the book before he even became mayor, and given it’s just 300 pages long, by my calculation he’s written an average of under 10 lines a day. For a seasoned journalist, that will have required truly negligible effort.
Facts - So, to the allegation that Boris is lazy, or a ‘part-time mayor’. Well, it’s rather backfired hasn’t it? Analysis of the official diaries of Ken and Boris’ times as mayor show Ken held an average of 29 meetings a month while Boris has held an average of over 60 a month. Meanwhile Boris has made 544 visits to London boroughs in just three and a half years as mayor; Ken made 255 such visits in eight years.
Sonia Purnell – Indeed, even Sonia Purnell – author of a book packed with publicity-seeking contempt towards Boris – has acknowledged that he’s “a workaholic”.
Churchill - In defending himself against the silly allegations, Boris rightly pointed out that even the great Winston Churchill found time to write a substantial amount while leading the country in World War II. If a man with those responsibilities could find time to write, it’s frankly absurd that a city mayor shouldn’t be able to. Lefties, of course, now claim that Boris was ‘arrogantly comparing himself to Churchill’. No he wasn’t. What’s more, they need to be very careful of getting into a debate on Churchillian comparisons – just a couple of months ago, Ken did compare himself to Churchill and, worse, Boris to Hitler.
I suspect, too, (if we must go down this route) that Churchill would have preferred to be compared to Boris than Ken, given his view that “socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
Gordon Brown - Of course, Churchill isn’t by any means the only politician to have enjoyed the hobby of writing while in office. Gordon Brown wrote not one but two books (available here and here, if you’re into masochism) whilst Chancellor of the Exchequer. That would be the same Gordon Brown who was Liam Byrne’s boss at the Treasury…
Time off - This idea that modern-day politicians should spend every minute of every day working is both ridiculous and dangerous. As Prime Minister, Gordon Brown is said to have consistently worked 18 hour days, and was interminably grumpy, and made awful decisions, as a result. Indeed, if Ken Livingstone is claiming to have worked similarly long days when mayor, it would explain – but not justify – incidents such as when he angrily compared a Jewish journalist to a Nazi concentration camp guard. Boris is widely acknowledged to have performed his mayoral duties with a smile on his face, and if that’s thanks to not having let the job overburden him, then long may the writing continue.
Ken’s whisky – Finally, even if Ken Livingstone did work greater hours than Boris does (and the above figures suggest the opposite to be the case), how much of that time was spent setting up dodgy oil deals with Hugo Chavez, maintaining his comradeship with the Islamic cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and enjoying 10am whisky-drinking sessions?
I wrote a couple of months ago about the rumours that Labour were lining up Trevor Phillips to replace Ken Livingstone as their London mayoral candidate. Then, last month, it was rumoured that Ken would be ditched to make way for Alan Johnson. Given Ken’s clear lack of fitness to hold public office, it’s hardly a surprise that such rumours persist, but given the mutual socialist inclinations that he and Ed Miliband share, along with Labour’s perennial reluctance to get rid of weak candidates, I remain confident that ‘Red Ken’ will still be Labour’s mayoral candidate come polling day.
All of that said, something very strange has happened today on the Betfair market for the London mayoral race. The chance of James Purnell – uber-Blairite and former Labour MP – winning May’s mayoral election has increased from 0.1% to 11.5% in the space of the last 18 hours. Put differently: his odds this morning were 1,000/1; they’re now in the region of 7/1.
In order for this to have happened, someone must have bet pretty heavily on Purnell. Does that someone know something we don’t?
After a spell of preposterously long hours at work, things have at last settled down, and I’m now able to catch up on a few things I would ordinarily have covered weeks ago. Boris’s conference speech, for example. It was a classic Boris speech – packed with proud achievements, funny asides and general optimism. That said, as with most conference speeches, it was largely unremarkable and won’t be remembered for months to come. Except, perhaps, for one line. A line that was barely noticed at the time, yet could well be heard again and again in the run up to May’s election. Right at the end, Boris suggested his manifesto would contain “New ideas…to take our city forward, not back.”
“Forward, not back” is very New Labour (specifically their 2005 General Election slogan), so I can’t see it being Boris’ official campaign slogan, but it does clarify the choice that the London electorate have next year. They can either vote for a man with big, ambitious, optimistic plans for the future, or they can vote for a relapse to the dark days of Ken Livingstone’s mayoralty, full of division and hostility, grudges and malice. The success with which Boris’ team can frame that as the choice will essentially decide the outcome of the election.
Watch the whole speech here:
It’s a source of much irritation that I can’t be at conference or, specifically, any of the BackBoris2012 events. That needn’t stop you though. A message from the team…
The BackBoris2012 team is heading to Manchester for the 128th Annual Conservative Party Conference. We will be right in the thick of it – signing up activists and getting the message out about Boris’s strong record on investing in London’s transport, putting more police on the streets and cutting crime, delivering a successful Olympic Games and legacy and creating thousands of opportunities for young people!
From Sunday through to Wednesday, there’s something for everyone, so if you’ll be in Manchester find us and get involved.
BackBoris2012 stand – main conference exhibition hall, number 138-139 and 152-153
The stand will host a shop selling exclusive BackBoris merchandise, a sign up area for activists from across the country wanting to help to get Boris re-elected, a video booth so you can tell the world why you’re backing Boris, and a call centre which – with your help – we hope to use to reach 2,012 London voters during the course of the conference.
The official BackBoris2012 Conference TweetUp – Sunday evening from 6-8pm
Join the team for some drinks and find out more about our digital campaign. Whether you’re a budding blogger or seasoned tweeter, find out how to get involved or simply engage with Boris’s campaign. The team will be on hand to provide advice on how to organise events in your area and get the most out of your activities or simply come along and bring your friends to meet fellow supporters.
ConservativeHome’s Rally for Boris – Monday evening from 7.45pm to 9pm
ConHome’s popular Rally for Boris will take place in Manchester Central’s Exchange Auditorium. Check your fringe guide or FringeList.com for all the details.
Watch: Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s speech to Conservative Party Conference 2011 – Tuesday 10am
We will be livestreaming the Mayor’s Conference speech on Tuesday morning, so watch the action live from Manchester on our website: http://www.backboris2012.com/watch
Policy Exchange hosts Mayor Boris Johnson in conversation with Iain Dale – Tuesday evening from 6.45pm
Boris will talk to Iain Dale live on his LBC show from the AMC Cinema at 6.45pm on Tuesday 4th October. Check your fringe guide or FringeList.com for all the information.