His arrival in Birmingham for the Tory Conference created more furore than One Direction on tour. Swashbuckling Boris had to fight his way through the crowds with the help of a minder and anyone voicing disapproval of his popularity was left mouthing pointlessly in his lordly wake.
The whole buildup to Boris’s speech at the conference, including the article in ConHome, outlining Boris’s future government and his switchback interview on BBC Radio 5Live could have been serious, but then again it could have all been a monster windup for the amusement of the nation. The Tories anticipated his arrival like a team of vulcanologists, scanning the horizon, waiting for the first geyser to blow. David Cameron rallied well. The Mayor, he said, had every right to criticise the government in defence of London and he was a valued member of the party.
Naturally his speech to the Tory faithful was the only event any0ne was interested in, and as ever, apart from spiffing jokes, there was much underlying seriousness to ponder. To rapturous applause, he called for the revival of grammar schools. Boris had pledged total loyalty to the present government on Radio 5Live. Now that pledge was reaffirmed to the disappointment of lefty mischief makers.
And then he began the seduction of French tax payers. “Not since 1789” joked Boris “has there been such tyranny in France!” He is seeking to woo talented French immigrants to the British capital and away from the “tyranny” they are suffering under Socialist President Francois Hollande, who has raised taxes on the rich. The underlying message was that this fate could befall us, should “the barely reformed Marxists” of the Labour party sneak back into government.
Boris then said: “When I look ahead I see only one cloud on the horizon. That is the possibility that while I am still mayor, no matter how remote we may think it is, that the two Eds – Balls and Miliband – could get back into power: unchastened, unpunished, unchanged in their basic view of what they think the country needs.”
Boris’s main conference speech is due today. Maybe the people who insist that our Mayor is just a joker are right. Then again, wasn’t it Louis XIV who said “L’etat – c’est moi?” A video of our Mayor’s entire speech is here.
UPDATE: Boris’s amusing and meaningful speech to the Tory Conference is here.