The Voice Online has published a petty hard hitting attack on Boris Johnson on the issue of race entitled ‘London under threat’ and which makes reference to “his association with racist remarks”.
I’m pretty intrigued by the article as I was approached by a reporter from The Voice last week for answers to a list of 11 questions about Boris including some on race and my answers – much as it’ll surprise some reading this site – were pretty supportive of him and wholly so on the issue of race.
I have no idea whether my comments were being solicited for the same article but as they offer a different point of view to some of the published remarks I thought it might be of interest if I reproduced them here in full:
1. Could Boris Johnson really get elected?
Yes, I think he could and many of the opinion polls are predicting he will but I think it’s too early to predict the outcome, many voters will only make up their mind in the 7 days before May 1st.
3. Are other candidates now seeing Boris Johnson as a more serious challenger?
I think both candidates and media are seeing Boris as a more serious prospect than they were few months ago although some of the media comment on the issue tends to gloss over the heavyweight nature of Steve Norris who ran for the Tories in 2000 and 2004.
4. On Monday, a poll and local betting shops put Johnson ahead. What does Mayorwatch think are the reasons behind Boris Johnson’s surge in recent polls and popularity?
He’s clearly been helped by a slew of negative headlines about Ken Livingstone’s administration plus many people will succumb to the ‘time for a change’ message which dogs all long serving politicians but overall I think his own discipline has helped him by avoiding any high profile gaffes.
5. What would London’s Governance be like if Boris Johnson won?
Initially I don’t think governance would be affected very much because much of the structure of the GLA isn’t within the Mayor’s power to change.
What I could envisage and fully expect to see is a situation where the Labour Government finally responds to calls we and others have been making to increase the scrutiny powers of the Assembly and give them greater power to block Mayoral budgets and appointments.
6. What would be bring to City Hall?
I think this is currently the least defined aspect of his campaign. There’s been a lot of talk about the types of people he’d appoint but to date we have no idea who those people would be and I think their identities would probably tell us a lot about what we could expect from Mayor Boris.
7. I heard a comment that the joke would be on London if it elected Boris Johnson. Do you agree?
I’ve heard that remark and I think it’s the kind of cheap personal jibe which turns people off politics and allows the mainstream media to eschew policy details and cover elections as if they were some form of reality TV contest.
9. I know he has written views which have incensed the black community such as calling black children picaninies. He also described Africans as having water melon smiles. Some would argue that Boris Johnson cannot run a multi-ethnic city with views like those. What does Mayorwatch think?
It’s for individual voters to decide how much weight they wish to attach to those comments but I’ve not seen or heard anything during the campaign which suggests Boris is a racist or that non-white Londoners would be disadvantaged if he became Mayor.
10. Are black and other ethnic minority communities right to be worried that he would not care about their interests?
I don’t think that’s that’s the case, I can’t imagine for one moment that any of the major parties or their Mayor would ignore the interests of any group of Londoners.
11. Do you have any other comments to make about Boris Johnson and the mayoral campaign?
I’d like to encourage your readers to vote – the office of Mayor really matters but turnout at the last two elections has been embarrassingly small.
Whoever the next Mayor is they’ll be able to best stand up for Londoners if they role of Mayor is seen to be important to ordinary Londoners.
(I’ve only included those questions to which I provided answers hence there being no question 2 or 8 shown above)