Diary: 'I want supreme power': Boris Johnson opens up on ambitions
Boris Johnson can get away with things that could finish off a less entertaining politician, as he has shown many times. There is his inconsistency, for instance. If you took some of his public statements at face value, you would assume that to be Mayor of London is the pinnacle of his life's ambition. What else could he have meant when he told The Sun last January: "I really don't see how I can run for Parliament in 2015. Let's kill this. I'm ruling myself out."
But if all he wants is to be an effective Mayor, it would serve his purpose to stay on good terms with a Conservative government rather than attack it, as he did in yesterday's Evening Standard by quoting Winston Churchill – "The government is basically resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift."
This was with particular reference to the future of London's airports, an issue on which Johnson suspects that decision has given way to inter-departmental dither. During his recent visit to New York, he opened up on the same topic to a writer from New York magazine. "We have to have a new airport," he said. "One of the only reasons I want to assume supreme power in England is to make sure that happens." There was a pause, before he added: "For God's sake, don't quote me saying that."
If some other ambitious politicians had let slip that he wanted "supreme power" there would have a career-threatening reaction. But Boris, as they say, is Boris.
Miliband (D) misses the target
David Miliband (Ed's brother), talking about the euro crisis on Sky over the weekend, was heard to say: "The German and Greek leaders have looked down the barrels of a double-barrelled gun and they have realised that if the gun goes off, it is going to blow off German feet as well as Greek feet..." Hang on, they are looking down the barrel, and the gun goes off, and they are injured in the feet: do these continentals have eyes in their toes?
A bad week to get sick
In case you missed it, it was Food Safety Week last week. This annual event, organised by the Food Standards Agency to "promote the importance of food hygiene", did not pass without a hitch in Sunderland, where up to 50 council staff have gone down with sickness and diarrhoea after an event in the civic centre. The Health Protection Agency is investigating.
If in doubt, blame the press
Last week, I mentioned that Sara Cliff, a Tory member of Lincolnshire County Council, had claimed £23,000 in allowances for going to 19 meetings. For the record, she is now an ex-councillor. She had wanted to continue in office, she told the Lincolnshire Echo, but feels she has had to resign because of the "unwarranted hostility of the press".
Don't dish it out if you can't take it
It seems to be an agreed social convention these days that members of the public can abuse politicians, but that politicians must not answer back. Theresa Wyatt, who teaches at Angmering School in West Sussex, fired off an angry letter to Tim Loughton, Tory MP for nearby Worthing and a junior education minister, about academy schools. She wrote: "It is too easy for you obviously, as an MP, to lie to everyone in order to get what you want and damn what the people and communities want."
She was not expecting him to reply in kind, but he did, with a brief note saying: "Given such a display of ignorance, arrogance and sheer unadulterated prejudice, thank God you are not teaching children in my constituency."
Ms Wyatt is furious. "I have never known a professional person who holds such a high status to be so openly derogatory and rude. It is unforgivable," she told the Brighton Argus. It is not my appointed role to defend Tory MPs but I have to say, Ms Wyatt, that you started it.
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