Boris Johnson’s latest Tory Party Rally People’s Question Time took place at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon on 22 July. Regrettably, I found myself unable to attend due to a rather more pressing engagement of watching TV that night.

For those unable to attend, the transcript [PDF] is now available to divert and delight.  Remarkably, Boris managed to address a public meeting without using the term “Pyongyang” for probably the first time since he was elected;  for this departure from tried and tested routine we should congratulate him on his bravery.

I don’t plan a detailed analysis of every Borisism but a couple of points on Transport caught my eye:

I have just one idea, if more people rode bicycles and fewer people droves (sic) cars you would not have to worry about the drink driving laws and I sincerely believe that. I have absolutely no prohibition about drinking a pint of two of beer and riding my bicycle where as I would not do that in a car.

So, drink-driving is OK, as long as you’re riding a bicycle and not driving a car? I think you’ll find any officer of the law would beg to differ, Boris. Still, Libertarianism, eh, Boris?

The second exchange which really caused me to raise my eyebrows was this:

Participant:

I am sorry it is at the end. I have just started a business, taking people down into the 40 abandoned London Underground stations. San Francisco has Alcatraz; Paris has its Catacombs. We have had an asset to bring tourists to London. I have a proposal, I have been trying to get it to TfL –

Boris Johnson:

It is brilliant; I love it. London Underground, okay, we are going underground. I want you to bring that proposal to me. How can there be 40 abandoned underground stations?

Participant:

Yes, 40, closed in the Second World War.

Boris Johnson:

What is going on there?

Participant:

They are not being used at all.

Boris Johnson:

Rats? You want to create spooky museums there?

Participant:

It is very simple: we open them up and take down 10,000 tourists every day.

Boris Johnson:

I love it! What is the objection, health and safety?

Participant:

I have already put a proposal together.

Boris Johnson:

If you go to Paris, one of the most exciting things in Paris is going in the underground to see the Catacombs, there are some people nodding there, one of the spookiest experiences I have ever had. Obviously I am not suggesting we should install hundreds of thousands of skulls, although they may very well be there anyway! I think that is an extremely interesting idea. You might find it was commercially viable. I am very, very keen that we should look at it. And I mandate Anthony and Peter collectively to look at your proposal.

Participant:

Could I perhaps send them a proposal next week, a copy of the proposal?

Boris Johnson:

Yes, if it makes sense, then we will fix up a meeting.

Participant:

Thank you very much.

Steve O’Connell:

That was the very last question. Thank you very much for that.

Now, I’m not sure who’s the most stunningly ignorant about the London Underground and its abandoned stations  – Boris Johnson (who made himself Chair Of Transport for London) or the person making the proposal.

Yes, roughly 40 stations have been abandoned or resited since what became the London Underground network came into being, but very few of them are accessible and some of those that are are designated for use during emergency evacuation of particular lines. The London Underground is a working transport network, not a theme park, and anyone who thinks that they can just obtain access to non-public parts of the network, often in a very dilapidated state, and traipse about with 10,000 people every day is kidding themselves.

Yes, Boris, the dreaded Health & Safety, not to mention security, supervision, access, rebuilding, lighting, heating… I’m sure TfL could write a 200-page report on why this is laughable. Meanwhile, read about the Underground’s abandoned stations, a few of which are sometimes opened to the public for limited once-a-year tours during Open House Weekend.

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