The perfect London mayor for the occasion

It seems that any stage is perfect for Boris to dip into his mental bran tub of words and images. Look at him in the video in front of a large crowd last week, just prior to the opening of the London Olympics. Is there any other politician who could have conjured up the phrase,

“The excitement is growing so much I think the Geiger counter of Olympo-mania is going to go zoink off the scale.”


And Monday in the Daily Telegraph is of course Boris Johnson’s word-fest day in print. Today he names 20 reasons jolly good reasons to feel cheerful about the games. Here are some in which Boris’s opinion is spot on with the national mood.

7. The president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, made a truly excellent speech, in which he paid tribute to the role of Britain in either inventing or codifying the sports we celebrate at the Olympics. Only a small proportion of his speech was in French.

17. No single athlete was able to swank about having the honour of lighting the cauldron, since that went to a collection of young athletes. This was a typically brilliant and diplomatic decision by Seb Coe.

19. As I write these words there are semi-naked women playing beach volleyball in the middle of the Horse Guards Parade immortalised by Canaletto. They are glistening like wet otters and the water is plashing off the brims of the spectators’ sou’westers. The whole thing is magnificent and bonkers.

The ideal mayor for the occasion.

Got to see London’s newest attraction

The cable car over the Thames between the O2 Arena in Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks, entitled the Emirates Air Line, is definitely something I’m keen to try. It’s good new that it’s open for the London Olympics, especially as it connects two Olympic venues.

I’m not great with looking down with nothing beneath me. I know I’ll just have to overcome my irrational fear of heights, which is odd since I’ve parachute jumped out of a small aircraft from 3,000ft.

Similar to te London Eye, this will become a tourist attraction, though probably not as busy.

The Americanisation of the London Mayoral election

Having contributed a small amount to help Boris get elected as London Mayor, I get regular email updates from his and his team.

In January Boris informed me in an email that “The Evening Standard has today revealed that 2010 saw the lowest murder rate in London since 1978.”, and he’s kept me informed on the Olympics, the trains and more.

However, the election for Mayor of London isn’t until May 2012. The increase in emails and campaign websites is a sure sign that we’re copying the US model of beginning electioneering over a year out from the election. Not entirely sure that this is a good thing. It’s not only wearing on the campaign team but also supporters. But, hey, since it’s Boris, there’s bound to be some humour among the policy announcements.

In March Boris’s team told me about a new website – Not Ken Again – with the strap line “The web site that every Londoner should read … but Ken hopes you never will”.

Then this week Boris launched his super whizzy new activist Back Boris 2012 web site, adopting the tactics familiar to US elections – relentless promotion, elector involvement, online comment, and use of social media. Here’s what Boris’s email about this new website said,

“By signing up for your own personal Online Activist dashboard, you can connect directly with activists across the capital and share knowledge and ideas.

It also means you can feedback on-the-ground intelligence to the team at campaign HQ and will receive exclusive access to Activist-only updates and challenges.”

This is pioneering stuff for UK elections. Anything that increases involvement is politics at the ‘grass-roots’ level is a wholly good thing. It’s just that we’ll have to accept now that election campaigning doesn’t happen a matter of weeks or months before an election – it’s now in years.

In praise of the big city

Harvard professor of economics, Edward Glaeser’s book, ” Triumph of the City” gets a review in the New York Times.

The full title of the book, Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier and Happier, gives a good indication of what the author thinks about cities. Glaeser visited London in his research for the book.

The book review describes some of Glaeser’s arguments in favour of the city as,

“They spur innovation by facilitating face-to-face interaction, they attract talent and sharpen it through competition, they encourage entrepreneurship, and they allow for social and economic mobility.”

I’ve not read the book, although it’s my intention to do so. Recently I noticed how much The Shard, London’s newest skyscraper, has grown. I’m pleased that planners and developers still have enough confidence in London to see a speculative 87 storey building erected. Put to one side whether or not you like London, prefer to live in the suburbs, or country, London is our commercial engine room, and is the biggest contributor to UK taxes.

I’m with the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, we should do all we can to see London prosper, because if it does, we all prosper. The building is attracting numerous comments:

  • Neil Tweedie in the Daily Telegraph overcomes his fear to reach the top
  • Rowan Moore’s conclusion in the Observer is a vindication of the Edward Glaeser view
  • The Daily Mail has some striking photographs of the building
  • e-Architect has all the technical stuff and plenty of pictures
  • Even the BBC has a series of photos

I share Boris’s optimistic approach to 2011

I wish you all a happy, prosperous and peaceful New Year.

I’ve resisted the temptation to be platitudinous. Better to watch Boris Johnson’s new year message for its combination of optimism, energy, humour and ability not to mention one single negative thing. Good on you Boris.

I did like Boris’s uscripted quip about the upcoming Royal Wedding, which isn’t in the transcript,

“We’ve got the royal wedding. Unfortunately not taking place here in City Hall – a cut-price location I thought, but never mind – they’re going somewhere else.”

Boris is a lucky politician

“You make your own luck”, so the saying goes. Well, that seems true for London Mayor, Boris Johnson. Sky News report that Boris responded to a cry for help from a lady in distress, while he was cycling home. Good for Boris. Caught cycling home – a positive news story in itself.

It would be easy to imagine him thinking that it might’ve been a ‘set-up’. Until Boris speaks about it, we don’t know his thinking. Luck Boris, turning something potentially damaging into something positive. I’ll bet that Boris’s inner self belief said … “Charge, Boris to the rescue”.

Want to know more about managing your luck, then take a look at The Luck Factor, the result of years of work by University of Hertfordshire professor Richard Wiseman.

UPDATE: Seems Paul Waugh thinks the same as I do.

When Boris Met Dave

Yep, I know it’s a while back since Channel 4’s More4 screened their limp docu-drama on the relationship between David Cameron and Boris Johnson – When Boris Met Dave. I watched it purely for light relief after a long day. I can’t say it even delivered on that level. Over-long and over-worked, and based on a weak premise.

Ok, why this comment now. Well, simply for the one fact in the programme that did surprise, and explained why American political pollsters appear on our TV screens. Haven’t we got any of our own pollsters capable of doing this?

Anyway, to the fact. American pollster Frank Luntz was at Oxford University [acquiring a doctorate in politics] at the same time as Boris and Dave. That explains a lot. It might have been mentioned at the time in 2005, when Luntz carried out focus group polling on the Conservative leader election race for BBC’s Newsnight, if they did, I missed it. Now I understand why Luntz was able to break into British TV.

Boris gives gives an interview masterclass

Terrific. Now you can see the Jeremy Paxman interview with Boris Johnson on Play Political. Boris gives a masterclass in unflappability, no matter the provocation provided by Paxman.

Yet again, Boris dips into his wonderful mental bran tub of words to come up with the following priceless comments:

Jeremy Paxman pressed Boris hard on how the Tories would be able to offer the British people a referendum, if the Lisbon Treaty is already ratified by all 27 European nations. Boris said’

“I as a mere Mayor of London, as a mere toenail in the body politic, I have to accept ….”

Pressed again on how this could happen after the Lisbon treaty is ratified, Boris replied he hoped that, “David Cameron and William Hague and people at work in the great tinkling smithy of policy will come up with an answer.”

When challenged by Paxman on his past deeds while at university, with Paxo saying ‘By their deeds shall you know them’, Boris replied, “if you’re asking me what happened 25 years ago, all I can say is the blessed sponge of amnesia has wiped the slate of memory.”

Much discussion in the press, the Daily Mail has the story, about the BBC editing the interview and removing the part where Boris quizzes Paxo about his income. Maybe, it’ll someone will pick it up from the cutting room floor, as it were, and quietly release it for public consumption.

Toxic gases in Surrey Heath’s air

It was Boris Johnson’s mention of air quality in London that got me looking at our air quality in Surrey Heath. 

Pollution LevelSorry for the headline scare mongering. No need to worry. It’s just a means of alerting you to the ability to view Surrey Heath’s air quality on the Surrey Heath Council website.  For background information, it’s a government agency, the UK National Air Quality Archive, which monitors and reports on UK air quality.

Air Quality NO2In Surrey Heath we’ve one Automatic Monitoring Station adjacent to the M3, which measures a range of pollutants and particulates, and 36  Nitrogen oxide NO2 measuring devices. Oddly, with 36 in the Borough, there’s not one in Lightwater, as you can see.

You’ll be pleased to know that our air quality in Surrey Heath is monitored, Woking, Bracknell and Guildford have no declared Local Air Quality Management Areas. Perhaps, I need to find out why this is before passing judgement.

Boris is a force of nature

I watched London Mayor Boris Johnson’s Conservative conference speech today, as you can HERE. Superb. After his speech, Boris was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman. Paul Waugh is right, the interview is a classic. I’m hoping some kind person will stick it on Youtube. You can see on the iPlayer repeat of Newsnight.