Monday, May 05, 2008

Well done Boris!

I can't believe that Boris Johnson has actually won the election for London's Mayor, but then I never thought that Suburban London would actually turn out to vote. For the eight years of his reign, Ken concentrated on wooing voters from inner London and whilst ignoring the car owning middle class residents of greater London. That turned out to be his undoing.

There was a lot of talk from the left about Ken being the more "progressive" candidate, even from members of London's Jewish Community. It's hard to see what's progressive about inviting Yusuf Qaradawi to London (a man whose racist and homophobic views makes the BNP look like bleeding heart liberals). I also scratch my head to see what's progressive about embracing autocrats such as Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. But that's always been the weak spot of the left. Obsessed with their hatred of the BNP, the Bush administration and right wing dictators such as Augusto Pinochet whilst simultaneously displaying admiration for Cuba's communist regime. (The title of one of Daniel Finkelstein's articles once summed it up: "Murderous dictators, Cool huh?"). As a "progressive" mayor, he showed little interest in local democracy, extending the congestion charge to Kensington and Chelsea despite the fact that most of the local residents were opposed to it.

Many of the left still can't understand what was so offensive about Ken's infamous "concentration camp guard" comments, which again illustrates the left's major weakness. Their belief in identity politics means they must bend over backwards not to offend certain minorities whilst ignoring the sensitivities of other minorities. Ken may have made the buses run on time and his congestion charge is widely admired (so much so that there are no plans to scrap it), but at the same time he was an embarrassment to London. It's not the London Mayor's job to dabble in international politics, nor is it his job to champion one interest group over another. London's mayor should be representing the interests of all Londoners, inner London as well as greater London, Muslims as well as non-Muslims, motorists and non-motorists. Boris Johnson has a golden opportunity to demonstrate how London should be run. For the sake of London (and the conservatives) let's hope he doesn't squander it.