Stop Boris: Ah, the big question. Why indeed? There’s no doubt that Boris is brilliant light entertainment. His appearances on Have I Got News For You? are frequently hilarious. So why shouldn’t he be given a go as Mayor?
There are several reasons – a vast number of expanded on throughout this website – but here are a few for a start. We challenge you not to find at least one which, deep down, you agree with.
Note that many links on this page will take you to relevant campaign posters.
Incompetence, chaos, embarrassment, shame…
Boris has cultivated a media image as a loveable buffoon who comes across as chaotic and awkward. He likes to keep his profile high through regular amusing gaffes and cock-ups.
There’sOne problem with this is that it’s not just a media image he has cultivated. What you see is actually what you get.
There is hardly a senior soul in this business who hasn’t turned up to an evening with Boris to discover that it is an evening with anyone. “I’m sorry,” says the chair, anticipating the boos of disappointment, “but Boris Johnson is unable to be with us,” followed by some lie.
The man is chaotic. As his website promises every few lines, the notion that a Boris administration will subject London’s finances and procedures to the most rigorous scrutiny is beyond parody.
Boris simply doesn’t have the organizational abilities or competence to be Mayor. This BBC London video report illustrates just what a poor grasp of detail he has. Stop Boris.
This is a job he would be doing for four long years – there’s no way to give him a trial run and see if he’s as bad as we expect. If he is – and believe us, he would be – we’re stuck with him for four years anyway.
The eyes of the world will be on London over the next four years in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics. Boris, our great city’s figurehead, would be a massive embarrassment for us all as his administration descended into gaffes and cock-ups galore.
And it’s not just London. He’d be embarrassing. If you’re a Conservative party sympathizer, you might be planning to vote for Boris, but think again. Boris would be one of the country’s two or three most high-profile Conservatives if elected mayor. How would that reflect on the party as a whole? This ineloquent buffoon is an ambassador for the 21st century Conservative party. It doesn’t sound good, does it?
A final point under this heading. While none of us wants to see a repeat of the tragic attacks of 7 July 2005, everyone acknowledges that something similar may happen at some point. As Londoners reeled from the shocking news, does anyone think Boris could address the city in an appropriate tone? In a terrorist incident, “Cripes!” doesn’t fit the bill. Stop Boris.
Right-wing, often unsavory opinions
This point may convince you Boris isn’t for you, or if you’re an old-school Conservative, it might have the opposite effect. In such circumstances, we refer you to the above section or to our Conservatives against Boris poster to remind you why not even agreeing with his right-wing principles should sway you his way!
The point here is that Boris is at heart a hard-right, Thatcherite politician, who for years has written a Daily Telegraph column and otherwise communicated his views and opinions, including:
- fanatical support for the Iraq war;
- campaigning for George W Bush to win the US elections in both 2000 and 2004;
- Opposition to the Kyoto protocol on climate change (which every single developed country in the world apart from Bush’s USA has now signed up to, indicating that Boris is more right-wing than any developed country outside America);
- opposition to the Minimum Wage;
- support for rail privatization;
- opposition to the congestion charge;
- opposition to paternity leave;
- The belief that South Africa under Nelson Mandela represents “the majority tyranny of black rule“;
- Such vocal and sustained criticism of the inquiry into the Stephen Lawrence murder case (calling its recommendations for improved anti-racism laws “weird” and “Orwellian”) that Stephen’s non-partisan mother has said he is “definitely not the right person” to be Mayor.
…You get the idea. Stop Boris.
As well as all this, when a journalist for fraud was investigating an old friend (and now-convicted fraudster) of Boris’s, Boris offered to help him arrange for the journalist investigating him to be badly beaten up. Boris’s only concern was that the beating wouldn’t be traced back to him. When challenged about this several years later, he shrugged: “I’m not ashamed of it.”
More about many of these matters, and other right-wing opinions Boris holds, can be seen in the document Boris Johnson: a member of the hard Tory right (883kB), which was produced, admittedly, by a left-wing organization, but it does contain full references to all the material quoted, and Boris has never denied saying any of it!
Lack of checks and balances
Being the Mayor of London is one of the most powerful jobs in British politics. To ensure that decisions can be taken and pushed through as quickly and effectively as possible, there are minimal constraints on the Mayor’s power (within those areas for which he or she has responsibility).
One of the few genuinely restrictive measures on the Mayor’s power is that the Mayor’s budget must be approved (or amended) by at least one-third of the members of the London Assembly.
Because of the make-up of the constituencies in London and other political factors, the Conservative party has over a third of the members in the Assembly at the moment, and they are not expected to lose this position in this year’s election.
At the moment, Ken Livingstone’s party does not have over a third of the Assembly members. This means he must negotiate his budget with the other Assembly members and produce a more consensual budget that meets more people’s wishes.
If Boris became Mayor, his party could simply waive his budget, and this beneficial scrutiny period would be lost entirely.
The thought of a chancer like Boris wielding power over the most fantastic city on earth is bad enough; the thought of that power being effectively unconstrained by checks and balances is intolerable!
He really can win
Many people dismiss Boris as a joke of a candidate who ‘clearly won’t win.’ Wrong!
Opinion polls have consistently shown that he has a real chance, and when you take a step back and think about it logically, it is obvious why.
There are three sets of people (perhaps with some overlaps) who will vote for him:
- Conservatives: actually, this is only the Conservatives who are prepared to overlook what a disaster Boris would be for their party’s reputation.
- People who want Ken out: this has several sub-groups but is relatively large in number overall.
- People of the sort elected H’Angus the Monkey to be Mayor of Hartlepool in 2002*.
It’s the last group Boris will have brought on board in significant numbers this time, which wasn’t a factor in previous London elections.
The simple fact is that Boris is a comic figure of fun to many people, many of whom don’t usually vote at all. They will see that he is standing, not read up on any of his policies or the implications of electing someone as Mayor, and decide to vote for him ‘for a laugh.’ Stop Boris.
When you add that third group to the pre-existing first and second groups, it’s evident that Boris has not just a chance, but a perfect chance, of becoming Mayor. The polls are heading Boris’s way too!
And that’s why we need to do everything in our power to stop him from being elected on 1 May 2008.
Good luck, Boris-stoppers.