Tonight’s appearance on BBC London was interesting – perhaps more interesting than I currently have time to do justice to. If any fellow Boris-watchers want to see what they missed, I recommend watching the interview on the BBC web site.
The overwhelming thing that came across to me was that he hasn’t updated his interview technique since winning the election!
For instance, he trotted out the old (and rather dubious) line about you being twice as likely to be mugged in London as in New York. Honestly, Boris! You’ve been elected! You don’t need to scaremonger any more. You’ve already scared people into voting you in. Now you’re supposed to get on with your job and reassure people that you’re dealing with things. Oh dear.
He also continued to evade questions as he had done during the campaign, of course. He was evasive on questions about police direction – and of course evasive on questions about the bendy-bus replacement-with-Routemaster programme.
A highlight on that front:
Boris: What I said throughout the campaign, in the manifesto, was that what I wanted to do was to phase [the bendy-bus] out, as you brought in the new generation bus…
Presenter: Well actually, what you said during the campaign was: "We should on day one, act one, scene one, get rid of the bendy-bus"!
Boris (looking shocked at the very idea, speechless for a second or two): I don’t think, er, to be fair to me, I think it’s very, very difficult to get rid, what I said was that we will phase it out, and that’s what we’ll, we will be doing.
Translation: "I said this." "Actually you said something else." "Er, to be fair to me, that wasn’t true, and everyone knew it couldn’t have been true, so regardless of the fact that I clearly lied during my campaign, it’s clear to me that what I really said must have been what I just claimed I said." Great logic, Boris.
Just after that, we also got what to Mrs. Stop Boris and me sounded very much like the first ever words in defence of bendy-buses to pass his lips:
There is an argument about… whether you can take them all off the streets at one… swoop, or whether you need to phase them out… and what I said throughout the campaign was that you could… because you do need, the fact is, at peak times, you need a volume carrier of some kind.
(Note: "…" doesn’t represent me cutting anything, it represents him trailing off or pausing, or simply being unable to finish one sentence before leaping into the next.)
Could this be the first whisper of a hint of a trace of a backpedal on the commitment to get rid of bendy-buses completely?
One last highlight to mention:
Presenter: Just time for one last question now [...]: What has Boris learnt since coming into office? Now there’s a question.
Boris (thinking hard): I’ve learnt… that… in… if you want to take recycling seri… we take… um, my office is fantastic… it’s taken me a long time, however, to learn how to turn the lights on… because…
Presenter: Hopefully you know how to turn the lights off?!
Boris (clearly getting into his stride and enjoying describing what he appears to think is a groundbreakingly amazing lighting system): No, it’s very hard to know how to turn on anything, it’s very hard because you have to stand… [raises his hands in the air] they’re so energy-conscious that you have to stand and wave and jump up and down underneath them before they turn on!
And I’ve also got five [uses hands to indicate the width of five bins] rubbish bins for my… for my… for my rubbish, with… all different types of… it’s very hard to work out…
Presenter (desperately trying not to crack up laughing): Is that what you’ve learnt?
Boris: Sorry… I’m learning a lot more about recycling!
So in his first full month in office, what Boris has learnt is not anything about the law or his powers or anything important – oh no! (Evidently not.)
He has learnt about motion-sensing office lighting, the like of which we’ve had in my (not very cutting-edge) workplace for about four years, and about using recycling bins for different types of waste! (Presumably if this has come as such a shock to him, he doesn’t worry about sorting out his waste at home for recycling. Perhaps he has a servant for that sort of thing – or doesn’t care and just sends it all to landfill.)
Has he said anything else recently that’s quite so revealing of just how out of touch with normal people he truly is, how little serious effort he’s really putting into his new job, or indeed how clueless he really is on environmental policy?
In a single answer – notably to the one question he couldn’t have foreseen and been given a scripted response for in advance – Boris has shown us three reasons why his Mayoralty is destined to be a failure.
I look forward to a probably longer, hopefully more rigorously probed, repeat performance on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning. (David Tennant’s also on, if that helps sweeten the deal. It certainly does for Mrs. Stop Boris.)
Update: Dave Hill’s post reminds me that there was at least one other important thing to come out in this interview:
a commitment to extending the Freedom Pass to 24 hours for pensioners "by next year," which he appeared to agree meant before 1st January 2009.
He said "By next year", she said "So by 1 January 2009?", he said "Yes." I’d say that’s pretty unequivocal. He’s got 208 days and counting, Boris-watchers!
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