Monday, May 5


So who is this Boris Johnson, who at Midnight became London's mayor?

First of all, he is British and American, having been born there, and journalist and author formerly serving as editor of the right-wing rag The Spectator. As a media schleb, his TV appearances include car-show Top Gear and The Dream of Rome; more famously he has been on Have I got News For You as a guest-presenter and panelist- this show, Dear Reader, the pyramid's peak of savvy and savaging current humours.

From there, Boris was elected as Member of Parliament for Henley (famous for its boat races) in 2001 and was Shadow Minister for Higher Education, until his plan to run for the London mayoral election this year. He comes across as eccentric (which we love) and a bit clownish (one politician notes "Borris Johnson shortened is "bafoon") and he has survived the public airing of an extramarital affair whose existence he denied.

He has also been forced to apologies to whole cities, like Liverpool, that he offended in one way or another; and has been prone to saying things like "Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3." In other words, we like him.

As the IHT reports, Boris has developed a reputation for his fearsome but un-serious intellect and for wading into and out of embarrassing scrapes. We all remember his comment on his Tory friend David Cameron: "I'm backing David Cameron's campaign out of pure, cynical self-interest." So why did London switch horse following Red Ken's eight-years in office? Of course in part it is the national malaise and rejection of Super Gee's Labour.

Ken, a Labourite, has seemed more or less above-boards yet has surrounded himself with some notoriously shady people including his Senior Advisor Lee Jasper, who received millions of pounds in grants in return for apparently very little and now investigated by the Metropolitan Police. Ken has also had his fair share of politically incorrect scrapes including calling an Evening Standard reporter a "concentration camp guard" then refused to apologies.

In the end for Londoners, Ken's benchmarks have been every-day things like traffic, poor or failing schools and hospitals. While I support fully his wonderful Congestion Charge, London trails in almost every category: school test scores trail the UK averages, NHS wait-lists are longest in Britain, over-crowding on public transportation endemic and etc.

While every city major city faces these problems, London onerously exports £20 billion annually outside the Southeast. We London tax-payers, who account for Britain's economy, receive the worst treatment in the UK - one is punished to live here. Boris presents a new face and we hope, as he says from today, "we will work like crazy."
Photo from MP Richard Spring's blog.