This morning, Boris Johnson officially launched his leadership bid with a speech delivered in front of supporters and journalists alike. Persuading the audience of his merits, he discussed his record as London Mayor and said he wished to do what he did in London, to the whole of England. But what did he actually do?
Boris used his speech to defend stop and search (the policy that allows police officers to carry out a search of someone), saying: “there is nothing kinder or more loving that you can do.” He obviously forgets that the policy has been deemed discriminatory by the London School of Economics, the Stopwatch coalition, and drug law experts Release, due to the disproportionate number of black men who are searched.
On a related note, Boris also took time to claim that, during his time as Mayor, knife crime fell. But while it is true that youth homicides decreased, overall violent crime increased. In April 2010, which are the earliest available figures, there were 12,065 acts of violence in London. From 2014 that figure steadily increased and upon leaving office in May 2016, Boris presided over a city in which there were 17,186 acts of violent crime that month.
Next on his list of achievements, Boris mentioned that he dealt with the London Riots.
He dealt with them, eventually, after he was pressured to end a holiday early and come back to London, where he was heckled on the streets of Clapham before picking up a broom and giving the pavements a cursory sweep.
Reeling off his proudest moments, Boris also mentioned his success in relation to strikes (presumably preventing them).
In 2008, he pledged to forge a “no-strike deal” with tube unions. As this simply didn’t happen, it is unclear what exactly he did to prevent strikes. He also repeatedly refused to negotiate directly with unions. Tube strikes continue.
Boris also gave himself a pat on the back about the London Olympics, which he sees as a success despite “teething problems”. Remember that London was only awarded the Olympics thanks to the efforts Labour MP Tessa Jowell, and during the run up to the big event Boris Johnson managed to embarrass his country by getting stuck on a zip wire in Victoria Park.
Something that did not make it into Boris’s speech was his 2008 pledge to end London homelessness by 2012.
Statistics show that the number of people sleeping on the capital’s streets rose to more than 7,500 just before the end of Boris’s tenure, up from 3,673 in 2009-10.
During his first term, Boris vowed to “eradicate” violence against women and fund four rape crisis centres in the capital, ringfencing £744,000 for the project annually. A year later, he said that £1.4m had been allocated to the project over three years – £832,000 less than his original promise. It then took campaigning from charities like Rape Crisis, the London Student Feminist Group to get him to meet his original pledge.
The Garden Bridge project
Perhaps the most expensive blunder that occurred during Boris Johnson’s tenure was the Garden Bridge project. This was a proposal, heavily promoted by the former Mayor, to build a pedestrian bridge over the River Thames. The project lost some £53m of public money after it was cancelled in 2016 due to rising cost estimates.
Boris also wasted £300,000 after purchasing water cannons to be used for crowd control that, as Home Secretary, Theresa May then banned. The cannons were sold to a scrap metal yard.
Boris Johnson wants to do what he did to London, to England. Judging by his record in the capital, that spells danger for all of us.