Archive for Letters

Government cuts: a letter to Ken Livingstone.

January 15, 2012 Ken Livingstone, Letters, London mayoralty 1 Comment

Dear Ken,

Following Ed Balls’ announcement that Labour now backs the government’s public sector pay freeze and accepts the government’s cuts, I have a number of questions for you.

1) Do you still believe, as you said when you backed him for the Labour leadership in 2010, that Ed Balls “gets all the big judgements right”.

2) If so, can I assume that you think this latest big judgement from Ed Balls is the right thing to do?

3) If so, by logical extension, can I assume that you too now accept that there is no alternative and that the government’s cuts – however uncomfortable they may be – are fiscally necessary?

4) Will you now cease describing the government’s cuts as ‘ideological’, given your party accepts their necessity and would not reverse them?

5) Will you now admit that blaming the London riots on the Tories, as you did, was mere desperate opportunism, given that even if cuts did prompt the riots (in itself a dubious claim at best), there would seemingly have been near-identical conditions under Labour.

6) If your union backers now pick a fight with your party, whose side will you be on?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Boris Backer

After Ken Livingstone’s conference speech, a letter.

September 25, 2011 Boris Johnson, Ken Livingstone, Letters, London mayoralty Comments Off

Dear Ken,

I’ve just read your conference speech with interest (my flatmate wouldn’t let me watch it live in case I “threw stuff at the TV again”). Whilst being naturally wary of hyperbole, I think I can genuinely say it’s one of the most contemptible, disingenuous and hypocritical speeches I’ve ever read. There are certain parts I’d like to take particular issue with here.

Within three sentences, my hackles were very much raised:

“You may think, why does he want to stand in what the Tories clearly intend to be a brutal fight?”

I reckon any independent observer would say your side has tried to be most ‘brutal’ thus far. You are the one who repeatedly calls Boris evil. You are the one who compared Sir Eddie Lister to Ratko Mladic. Your stooge Lee Jasper is the one who compared Boris to the Norwegian massacrist Anders Behring Breivik. You are the one who suggested Eddie Izzard should poison Boris. And yes, in your most flagrantly despicable hour, you are the one who compared Boris to Hitler.

“Only a few years ago London was leading the world. Yet now the image of London is a city of civil disorder and violence on our streets.”

Ah, so you’ve not given up on blaming the evil Tories for the London riots – despite being almost universally derided for that tactic at the time, and prompting one broadcaster to declare you’d “lost it”. It’s an even more ridiculous and offensive line given how much crime has fallen since you were mayor. Londoners are the safest they’ve been for years.

“The Tories say we must cut our national debt but they pile debt on our students.”

Firstly, those two things aren’t connected. At all. Secondly, the students won’t repay that debt until they get good jobs. Thirdly, your party just yesterday said that they too would double tuition fees. Fourthly, the issue has nothing to do with London politics. Next…

“Tory Wandsworth wants to charge kids to play in their local playground. Boris Johnson thinks this is such a good idea he made the leader of Wandsworth his new chief of staff.”

Where to start? Firstly, I understood the plans have been scrapped? Secondly, that chief of staff you mention – Eddie Lister – was recently knighted for his outstanding services to local government, having combined a four-star Audit Commission rating for excellence with the country’s lowest council tax bills and top resident satisfaction rating. Probably not your best line of attack, that.

“Instead of sticking to the day job Boris Johnson has a second job on the Daily Telegraph, earning £250,000.”

Ah, yes, how dare he spend an hour on a Sunday afternoon penning an article. How awful that the Mayor of London is a respected commentator. What a silly line of attack. I imagine he spends considerably less time doing that than you spent schmoozing with Yusuf al-Qaradawi and tending to your newts.

“I don’t want my kids growing up in a city where police are down and crime is up.”

Then you should be delighted with the crime rates in London since you were kicked out of City Hall. At the last count, crime had fallen by 5%, youth crime had fallen by 11%, robberies had fallen by 19% and the murder rate was at its lowest since 1978. And there’ll be one thousand more police on the streets by the end of Boris’ mayoralty than there were at the start.

“And then there are fares…”

Let me stop you there. Until you can deny that the record fare rises in the last couple of decades came during your mayoralty (you can’t deny it – it’s fact), I don’t think Boris is going to take lectures from you. What’s more, Boris has persuaded the Chancellor to fund the biggest transport upgrade in London for 80 years – something you never could have achieved.

“Tomorrow, I will announce my plan for fairer fares and I’m going to do it by text. Our campaign will be the first to announce a key policy by text.”

By text! By actual text message?! SMS?! How modern a mayor you could be! What a technological advancement in electoral campaigning! Text message! I can’t even imagine your excitement levels when you discover email. More to the point, I can’t wait to hear how you plan to fund what I assume is going to be an announcement of proposed fare cuts.

Because that’s the problem with nearly every one of your attack lines, every one of your policies, every one of your whims and aspirations – you can’t afford them. You are merely an embodiment of Thatcher’s line that socialists invariably run out of other people’s money. Unless you can prove otherwise, unless you can acknowledge the need for economic caution, unless you can show how you would play your part in keeping costs down, the public will strive to keep you out of office.

I hope that helps.

Kind regards,

Boris Backer

Dear PC World.

October 18, 2010 Letters 12 Comments

Dear PC World,

It was with some horror that I discovered on-line that you were selling the laptop I wanted at a considerably cheaper price than anywhere else I had looked. Please be in no doubt – I strongly considered paying the extra cash and going elsewhere, but my beer-fund just couldn’t take the hit. I also considered buying the laptop on-line, but I have zero reserves of patience. Thus, I had the misfortune of having to enter one of your stores on Saturday. As ever, it was an experience not incomparable to my vision of hell.

I headed, directly and with purpose, to the ‘Laptop’ section of the store and promptly found the machine I wanted. Having had a quick look at it and confirmed that it had all the things I needed – screen, keyboard, on/off button – I began the thankless task of finding a member of staff to serve me. I discovered one lad (incidentally, why are all your staff – and I mean ALL your staff – confused-looking 15 year olds?) who seemed to be doing very little, but he apparently “only deals with televisions” which didn’t entirely explain why he was loitering around the mouse mats. I then found another member of staff who was as brilliantly polite as he was massively unhelpful, as he uttered the unforgettable words “I’m terribly sorry, sir, I don’t know the first thing about PCs.” My suggestion that this was a strange lack of knowledge for someone working in PC World was met with a blank and somewhat startled look.

Finally, I stumbled across a staff member (who, incidentally, was a spitting image of that lad Kevin off Home Alone) who, he assured me, did have knowledge of computers and would be able to serve me. Unfortunately, my woes did not end there. This lad was, with no exaggeration or cruelty meant, the single most idiotic, inarticulate and gormless person I’ve ever met. When he offered to show me some alternative models, I at least assumed he would try to persuade me to part with extra cash. Not a bit of it. Whilst I suppose I should admire his honesty and thoughtfulness, his suggestion that I should “have a look at some cheaper ones?” still confuses me now. Indeed, I remember being not entirely convinced that he was definitely a member of staff, and not instead just some child dressed up in a PC World uniform.

Anyway, having convinced him that I definitely wanted the laptop I’d chosen, he then apparently remembered he was a salesman and began the standard ploy of trying to sell me hundreds of pounds worth of extras. I was interested in none of them, to his general confusion. When I declined the latest version of Microsoft Office he looked surprised, when I declined anti-virus software he looked shocked, when I declined the extended warranty cover, he looked like he was going to have some sort of breakdown. When the credit card machine stopped working, he seemed close to tears. As, indeed, was I.

After what genuinely seemed like hours, I eventually left the store with my purchase, brain drained, nerves frazzled, and headed straight for the pub. Yes, PC World, your gormless, dim-witted, man-child employee drove me to an afternoon of Hoegaarden. And I’ll have you know, that stuff’s £4.20 a pint. I look forward to receiving a cheque for £16.80, as a matter of urgency – you have my name and address (the exchange of which was near incomprehensible: “What’s your initial, please?” “J.” “How do you spell that? J-A-Y?”).

That you manage to operate as a profit-making business is nothing short of a water-into-wine-esque miracle.

Yours sincerely,

Boris Backer

Dear Scottish Power.

October 9, 2010 Letters Comments Off

Dear Scottish Power,

You may think you’re clever being able to provide Scottish power to a Southampton address, but it would take considerably more than that for me to think that being woken at 8am on a Saturday morning by one of your employees banging on the door requesting a meter reading is anything other than an abomination.

Furthermore, on seeing my less-than-happy face, your employee telling me “Oh, you could just phone us with the reading.” doesn’t actually improve things, on account of me already having been woken and had my entire weekend month year life ruined.

Were this to ever happen again, please understand that said employee would not return to the office alive.

Yours sincerely,

Boris Backer

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