10 April 2012

Boris speech marks official campaign launch

By Boris Johnson

This morning marked the official launch of my campaign for re-election. I delivered a speech to a packed house in Richmond and wanted to share it with you:

Good morning and thanks for coming.

This election is being fought when Britain has been brought to the brink of bankruptcy. When Londoners have been going through some of the toughest times that we can remember and when the choice is between going back to the high tax, high spending creed of a bunch of taxpayer funded, Châteauneuf-du-Pape swilling, Outer London ignoring, car hating, semi-reformed Trotsyisksts and bendy bus fetishists whose approach to Government helped to get this country into this economic mess;

Or going forward with sensible, moderate and cost-effective government that invests in our future. That creates the conditions for business to grow. And that delivers on its promises.

Because this election is not about who dodges tax and who doesn’t - though I think the answer to that is by now fairly clear. And I hope people will understand why it was necessary to speak bluntly to Ken Livingstone in the lift the other day.

This election is about trust. And to a degree I think it has astonished some of our officials, we in City Hall have kept the promises we made to London four years ago.

I said I would cut the unnecessary expense at TfL and we have cut the number of directors by 25 per cent; 4,223 desks; saving £2bn with a target of a further £4.7bn.

And we have ended the excesses of the previous administration. I am thinking not just of the hundreds of million squandered through the LDA and the trips to Havana. The other day my old chum said the reason he bought 6 bottles of cognac with a corporate credit card was so that he could give them as presents to visiting mayors. Now I have no reason not to think he was telling the round unvarnished truth but can anyone explain why the mayor of London would gave a bottle of French cognac to a visiting Mayor? London makes many things but we don’t yet make cognac and I humbly suggest that the exact trajectory of those bottles of cognac may be a subject for historians of local government.

We have taken those savings and we have put the cash into the things that really matter to Londoners:

Bringing crime down and putting more police on the street – 1,000 more police than there were when I was elected.

We rescued Crossrail from the jaws of death.

And we are delivering the improvements of the Tube that are vital to a city where ridership on rail – underground and overground – is going to rise by 30 per cent over the next eight years. And we have done what we said we were going to do. 

We said we would deliver a 24 hour Freedom Pass. We said we would consult on the Western Extension Zone and abolish it if that was the will of Londoners. We put in autopay. We said we would build 50,000 homes for Londoners who find it hard to get on the property ladder, and though the programme was hit by the credit crunch we have in fact done 52,000. We said we would bring in a bike hire scheme- we now have the best in the world.

We said we would get rid of the bendy bus and we said we would have a new generation Routemaster-style bus for London. And we have done it. The cleanest, greenest new bus in Europe, restoring to our streets the hop on hop off platform and no, Ken Livingstone, as you know full well, each bus costs no more than a regular hybrid.

And that is the choice: do you want to go back to a German-made bendy blocking our streets like a beached whale; or do you want to go forward with cutting edge British technology that delivers British jobs and restores conductors.

I not only keep my promises I keep the ones he broke!

And now we want to go further. My 9 point plan for a Greater London sets out how we are going to keep making London a safer and more attractive place to live.

We are expanding the Safer Neighbourhood Teams with up to another three PCs and three Specials in every ward. Taking officers – many of them from desk jobs of one kind or another and putting 2,000 into frontline neighbourhood policing.

We have more than doubled the number of Special Constables and we are going to double it again. And at long last we are going to recognise the magnificent contribution that Specials make by giving them a 50 per cent council tax exemption worth about £600.

We will give communities a say in the priorities of their local police by setting up new Safer Neighbourhood Boards.

And we will continue the drive to make transport safer and more pleasant. That means maintaining our commitment to a uniformed presence of 697 officers on our buses, tubes and trains. And if I get back on 3rd May we will write into the conditions of carriage that young people who get free travel in this city must show consideration and give up their seats not just to pregnant women but to older people who need to take the weight off their feet. We did it when I was a child and I see no reason why we should not gently insist on the same courtesy today.

We will get rid of the age escalator for the Freedom Pass and from the 1st September 2012 we will make sure that every man and woman in this city over 60 is able to get a 24 hour Freedom Pass. We will negotiate with the train companies to extend this to suburban rail as well.

And I make these commitments because they are affordable. They are consistent with our absolute duty to London to modernise and improve the Tube and to keep the buses running. And yes, we will go forward with automation or driverless trains, taking drivers out of the cab and creating train captains who are able to walk up and down, as they do on the DLR.

And in the next four years I pledge never again to buy a tube train with an old-fashioned driver’s cab. They don’t do it in Paris- why should we in London?

We will make this reform not in a spirit of hostility or provocation towards some of the union barons who may mistakenly choose to resist the ideas, but because this is the way to expand the service. To get more trains running through the tunnels.
And this is the way – through investment – to bear down on costs and to hold fares down. A way that is honest and sustainable. And we can do the same in the overground.

And if you take our programme of work together, our investments in transport and housing and regeneration, these programmes will deliver 200,000 jobs for London over the next four years.

And in a city that was hit last August by riots, in a city where too many young Londoners are growing up without the skills or the hope or the attitude they need to find work, that is the most important thing we can do.  In the next term we will expand all the programmes we have started to help young people in this city. I acknowledge the difficulties we have faced. But I will not give up.

We will drive on the mentoring programme; and our support for uniformed youth groups; and we will keep going with the Heron Unit. Because I don’t think we should abandon young people just because they have been in prison.
 
Above all we will continue our drive to get young people into work with our programme of apprenticeships. We have already done 54,000; we can get up to 100,000 by the end of the year. Isn’t that the right way forward for these young people?

And we can do all this whilst restraining the waste and profligacy we saw in the past.

We have cut council tax in real terms. We will continue to bear down on it. Remember that under Ken Livingstone it went up £964 for a Band D household. Which reminds me- you know the former Mayor bought a pair of hiking boots at the taxpayers’ expense, costing £260… as far as I know, he still has them. Now why does he need his hiking boots? For the council tax hikes. And the Congestion Charge hikes. And the eventual fares hikes that are the only way paying for his current set of unacceptable promises.

If you vote for me on 3rd May you will get responsible and affordable government.

You will get a mayor who brings London together, not a mayor who tries to play one group off against another in the interests of some cynical psephological calculation.

You will get a mayor who fights for the interests of the whole city. And I hope I have shown that I can go into the maul and get the ball for London.

We will set up an independent London Funding Commission so that every Londoner can see how much this city exports to the rest of the country, and so that we can make the case to Government that more of what London yields should be invested in this city, not just because that is the right for London but because it is the right thing for the UK economy.

You will have a mayor who will stick up for everyone in this city, whether that be the 640,000 people who depend on financial services, or the hundreds of thousands of people whose lives would be unacceptably disrupted by a Third Runway at Heathrow. And I can tell you that there will be no go-ahead for a Third Runway as long as I am mayor of this city.

You will have a mayor who can work with the private sector to get the best possible value from our Olympic investments at Stratford and in the arc of opportunity running south and east of the Park through the former docks. We will get on with the work of taking this city forward.

I have a very clear vision of the future of this city, and a 9 point plan for a Greater London – not only a clean, green city where we protect green space and use new technology to improve air quality, but where our neo-Victorian surge of investment in transport and regeneration will lengthen London’s lead as the greatest city on earth to live in, to work in, to invest in. We have the time zone, we have the language, and already this is the capital of the BRICS- the natural place for Brazilians, Russians, Indians and Chinese – to come and do deals and to float their companies.

London is already the digital capital of Europe with an incredible profusion of companies starting up in the Shoreditch area over the last few years. Now is the moment to capitalise on that potential. To help start-up SMEs with our new £70million Growth Fund for low cost loans – not just because those companies have the potential to grow, but also to employ the young talent that would otherwise be wasted. I know that talent exists. I want a mandate from you to see it flourish.

And I want a mandate from you to take this city forward.

So can I ask you again: do you want London to lurch back to the high-taxing, discredited and divisive approach of those who take their ideology from Bolivian revolutionary socialism? Or do you want to go forward with four more years of sensible, responsible and cost-effective government in London?

Comments

please enter the code shown in the image above

Posted by Anonymous at 10 April 2012, 17:35

Go Boris, YOU are the man for the job, you have done wonders for London already and you really listen to the people. Lets hope the people of London know a good man when they see one and give you the vote to carry on.
Rita of Crawley