Boris Johnson was on Nick Ferrari’s show this morning on LBC, and the interview opened with another swingeing attack from the Mayor on Bob Crow, the unions and Ken Livingstone. Boris said he would meet Bob Crow for a beer when and only when, Crow had shown himself to be sincere in trying to bring the current strikes situation to a fair resolution.
A good deal was on the table, said the Mayor, involving no redundancies, loss of earnings or station closures. The popularity of the Oyster card means that ticket offices hardly have any tickets to hand out now, so the intention is to use the staff in other ways, and no stations will be left unmanned. Boris was scathing on the subject of Ken Livingstone. Ken is selfishly supporting capricious, irrational strikes for his own political reasons, without any regard whatsoever that these strikes will damage our chances of coming out of recession. Nick played part of an interview with David Cameron in which he confirms that he has met with Boris recently and fully supports his stand.
In reply to the ridiculous argument that Boris was voted in on a 45% turnout, so cannot insist on the unions having a 50% turnout on strike action, Boris said, “Fine, let’s insist on 45%.” But the whole argument is ridiculous, because the two cases are entirely different. Boris forcefully defended his attendance at the Tory Conference. The strike was deliberately arranged to coincide with the conference, and Boris had no intention of letting a deliberate political ploy disrupt previous plans. Boris also talked about the tube trains taken out of service because a pre-emptive check discovered cracks. This situation is being thoroughly dealt with.
When asked for his views on the cuts in child benefit for higher earners, Boris said the basic principle is fair. He believes that mitigation should be found for very hard up cases, and some fine tuning is needed when 2 parents in a family get the benefit if they are both earning just under £88K and a single mother earning just over the limit had to pay.
In answer to listeners’ questions, an accident involving a Boris bike enabled Boris to explain that the bikes are covered by third party insurance,( a fact efficiently rustled up by Boris’s aides.) A substantial number of tickets for the opening ceremony of the Olympics for Londoners will be available and there will be an announcement soon.
A red hot scoop for Nick was the news that a new urban district, not seen since the Georgian era (oh it sounds so beautiful) is to be named the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, as this is the second Elizabethan Age. Boris always puts these things so poetically. A special company is dealing with the legacy of the Olympics, and Boris was on his way to meet them, and one hugely exciting project is this new urban district, which will be at the centre of the city.
The interview ended on a hilarious note. Boris, who had answered every question in depth, with a plethora of detail, was asked what contingency plans he had in the event of a strike by the London Fire Brigade. Boris said that terrific plans were in place to provide adequate cover. He said the army would not be involved, but a phalanx (my word, haha) of very good people, drilled to the nines in fire procedures, were ready, willing and able to step in. Classic Boris.
If there is one Tory politician who has absolutely no trouble getting his message across it is Boris. And another of his winning qualities is the patient and interesting way he explains things, when people don’t understand. If you want to learn, Boris is your man. His communication skills are outstanding.