Just 8 weeks ago, on May 2nd, Boris Johnson, the Conservative MP for Henley-on-Thames and former Editor of The Spectator, was elected by a huge 500,000 majority as the new Mayor of London. Overnight, Boris, the blond-haired raconteur and libertarian conservative became Britain’s second most powerful politician, holding court over Europe’s largest city of 8 million citizens,.
Meanwhile, the Labor Party, headed by the greying Gordon Brown, has crashed in the national polls, and the Tory Party smells blood. The by-election on June 27th to fill Johnson’s seat was overwhelmingly claimed by the Conservatives. Labor finished in 6th place, behind the Greens and barely in front of Loony candidate Bananaman Owen, whose slogan was ‘Born to be Bananas’.
Meanwhile, Boris, sometimes belittled in the liberal UK press as a ‘buffoon’, has gone from strength to strength. First, he banned drinking alcohol on the Underground subway cars. Next, he started a campaign to put lots of bobbies — armed with metal detectors — on the streets to randomly stop and search ‘yobs’ suspected of carrying switchblades and other knives. Scores of arrests have resulted.
Then, he announced that, copying his friend Rudy Gulliani’s strategy when he was mayor of New York, he would not tolerate ‘petty’ crime like graffiti. His position — like Rudy’s — is that civilization is held together at the edges. It’s the threads that begin to unwind first. Stop the petty crime and you stop the general rotting proceeding upwards.
Finally, last Thursday, at a first free-for-all US-style town-hall meeting — unheard of in England – he announced that he would bring back punishment in the schools to improve the abhorrent discipline, and start up a new charity, the Mayor’s fund, to enable wealthy citizens and London-based corporations to help contribute to new youth programs to get the hooligans off the streets. His call was met with a roaring cheer from the heavily black and mostly young audience in attendance. Some of the press were shocked.
Human Events caught up with Mayor Johnson (call me Boris) at the Westminster’s Methodist Central Hall — capacity 2,000 — after his first State of London event. Over drinks we talked about his future plans — and his advice to the Republican Party in the United States on how to win the upcoming fall elections.
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is a very bright and a very witty person. He read Classics at Balliol College, Oxford as a Brackenbury scholar, and was elected President of the Oxford Union, a rare honor. He studied the classics and reads Latin and Greek — and is seriously proposing re-introducing these languages in London’s schools. "I want to encourage more kids from less advantaged backgrounds to top universities — and that would really help them…and of course education is one issue to do with all the social problems."
Boris also saw the wacky European Union politics up close when he was the Daily Telegraph’s European Community correspondent from 1989-1994. In his 2004 successful bid for MP, he’s alleged to have said: “if you vote for the Conservatives, your wife will get bigger breasts, and your chances of driving a BMW M3 will increase”. Whether it’s true or not, it made for a great “Top Gear” quote. Politically correct, he isn’t.
But he’s dead serious in his politics.
He says he has a simple formula: “we should be free-market, tolerant, broadly libertarian (but not ultra-libertarian), pro-immigrant, anti-regulation, inclined to see the value in tradition, pro-hunting(!), pro-motorist, and pro ‘standing on your own two feet’”. For a country obsessed with speed cameras, nanny-state politics and big-brother government, these are fighting words. Oh, and he’s passionate about riding his bike
And apparently, the British electorate loves every word. Latest polls show that in the next general election, the Conservatives will sweep back into Parliament with a huge majority, sweeping into power with 45.3% versus the Labor’s 25.1%.
Boris told Human Events that it’s still possible for the Republicans to pull a rabbit out of the hat by sticking to their core values like the ones mentioned above.
“Listen to the people, not the media. Be compassionate but don’t continue down the path of ever-bigger government”. Boris says he went into politics with a goal: “to cut the government down to size”. Having taken over a bloated staff of 3,000 civil-service employees in the Mayor’s office, a creation of the former socialist Mayor, “Red Ken”, he has work cut out for him.
Having been born in New York City (his family soon returned to England as his mother had yet to take her Oxford finals), Boris described himself as a “one-man melting pot”, with Muslims, Jews and Christians in his ancestry. Boris is the great-grandson of Ali Kemal Bey, a liberal Turkish journalist and interior minister in the government of Damat Ferid Pasha, Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire, who was murdered during the Turkish War of Independence. So Boris could, some day, become President of the United States.
When we asked him about moving to California to become governor after, say, a respectful 2-term hitch as Mayor of the world’s financial city in his preparation for future Presidency, he laughed with a good twinkle in his eye. We suggested that if we couldn’t elect the Mayor of New York, than the Mayor of London might be even better. His response: “stranger things have happened”. But there’s also a chance that he could become Prime Minister in 8 years or so. So the choice for Boris may well become: Prime Minister or President? If he can fix the broken streets and bureaucracy-run-wild London town, he may well take his choice.