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February 29, 2008

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A Hawkins

Dave, I think it's about time Boris Johnson was put under the spotlight.

Far from Johnson having the best week, all the reviews say Ken was on top form at the Standard debate, totally wiped the floor with Johnson at the Eco-build debate, and Johnson's transport launch is already a total mess, with the supposedly independent chair of the travel consumers' watchdog getting tied up in knots about exactly what he's doing at the event:

http://www.mayorwatch.co.uk/article.php?slug=Pre-Launch-Woes-for-Johnsons-Transport-Manifesto&article_id=1398

(Could it be something to do with Travelwatch getting most of its money from the tory-led Assembly? An interest to declare and a story for Andrew Gilligan? Don't hold your breath).

Perhaps most seriously was Johnson's attempt on Vanessa to say that his bus policy would cost just 8 million quid, quickly disproven by Ken's campaign.

There is a double standard where Johnson's supporters (and Ken's most ardent critics) can throw all sorts of appalling rubbish at Ken Livingstone but when Ken's camp sets out what's wrong with Johnson they are accused of being worried.

I say let's have more of it.

Ken's line that Johnson is more George W Boris than a modern politician is right - against Kyoto, against the repeal of Section 28, against the minimum wage, for rail privatisation.

As for the Hazel Blears comments about Conrad Black, these if anything understate the case. Johnson wants to be the chair of the police authority but how can he be taken seriously on crime and sentencing when he tried to get his rich mate Conrad Black a lighter sentence after he was found guilty of a multi-million dollar fraud?

Blears could easily also have raised the Darius Guppy affair. I see Kevin Maguire and the Mirror, to their credit have waged a fairly lonely campaign to press Johnson on this, but so far he just attacks them and refuses to answer the question. His arrogance is such that not only does he think he did nothing wrong when he agreed to help a friend who was trying to have a journalist beaten up, he now refuses to answer questions on it even though he's planning to appoint himself as the chair of police.

Here's Kevin Maguire's stuff on this: http://maguire.mirror.co.uk/2008/02/bumbling-boris-cant-get-his-st.html

http://maguire.mirror.co.uk/2008/02/bonking-boris.html

It goes without saying that if Ken Livingstone (or Lee Jasper!) had participated in a phone call about beating up a journalist, had not informed the police and instead agreed to help with providing the address of the journalist so he could be beaten up, the right wing press and Johnson's camp, such as Andrew Gilligan, would be going on about it endlessly. Similarly if Ken Livingstone had tried to get one of his mates a lighter prison sentence. In the case of this latter example, Johnson did this after he started running for mayor...

Labour's decision to turn the heat up on Johnson is what Ken's supporters have been waiting for.

Tessa Jowell highlights Johnson's support for Bush over Kyoto. We might add his opposition to the CO2 charge on 4x4s, his statement that he understands where Porsche are coming from in opposing the charge, his attack on the Low Emission Zone as 'draconian', his derision for renewables, even his incompetence when pressed over environmental issues.

It's long overdue.

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