Boris Johnson

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Boris Johnson is the Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (first elected 2015). He was previously Mayor of London (2008–2016) and MP for Henley (2001–2008).

Climate Change

In opinion columns in the Daily Telegraph in December 2010[1], July 2012[2] and January 2013[3] Mr Johnson has questioned the scientific consensus on climate change, and commented positively on the views of Piers Corbyn (see Wikipedia). On each occasion though, he included a few words noting the Corbyn might not be correct.

Use of Statistics

Crime on London Transport

In March 2011 Michael Scholar, head of the UK Statistics Authority, wrote a letter to Mr Johnson about his publication of crime statistics on the London Transport Network as part of a media event, ahead of the normal release date. This was contrary to principles in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics, although in this case there was no breach of the Code as the crime statistics are not counted as "official statistics". Mr Johnson was, however, invited to comply with the Code, as a matter of principle.[4]

Re-offending Rates at Feltham's Heron Unit

In September 2011 Mr Johnson gave oral evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee in which he stated that a new programme in the Heron wing at Feltham Young Offenders' Institution had cut re-offending rates from 80% to 19%[5]. This followed a mayoral press release of November 2010 which contained a similar claim[6]. Michael Scholar, head of the UK Statistics Authority, wrote a letter to Keith Vaz chair of the select committee, noting that these figures do not appear to stand up to scrutiny, and advice about the limitations of the figures was not followed.[7]

Responding in October 2011 to questions from the BBC, Mr Johnson admitted the figures he had given were out of date, and the re-offending count had increased to 40% at this point. The BBC also reported that people in the Heron wing were picked as being first-time, low-risk offenders, so not a representative sample.[8]

On 16th November 2011, Mr Johnson was questioned about these statistics and his use of them by Joanne McCartney at London Assembly Mayor's Question Time. He stated that "If I erred it was in not saying these figures are temporary, are provisional and they do not represent the final analysis." However he continued to defend himself and stated that "I am very proud of the work of the Heron Unit. It is doing a good job." despite the final statistics still not being available to back up this statement. When asked if he would now sign up to the Code of Practice for Official Statistics as other Government departments do, Mr Johnson replied "There is this guy called Scholar who writes me letters who ... appears to be some sort of Labour stooge" and stated he was "not impressed by the conduct of that particular body and its chief".[9]

Religion

Mixing Charity and Proselytising

In November 2009 Mr Johnson gave a keynote speech to a Street Pastors' conference, praising their work and commenting:

"Faith groups who want to slip in the odd cogent message in favour of salvation, I have absolutely no problem with that. Why not!"
"That’s one of the things I think has been going wrong in the last few years – we’ve got a slightly politically correct super-sensitivity to anything remotely cast as religious advocacy. I’ve got no difficulty with it whatsoever."[10]

During the 2008 mayoral election campaign, Boris Johnson, Ken Livingstone, Brian Paddick and Alan Craig took part in hustings organised by the Evangelical Alliance, with the candidates trying to gain votes from the Christian community. During the hustings Mr Johnson praised the "revolutionary work being done in society by faith-based groups."[11]

Islamic Extremists

In an article in the Spectator, written shortly after the July 2005 London bombings, Mr Johnson wrote:

"To any non-Muslim reader of the Koran, Islamophobia — fear of Islam — seems a natural reaction, and, indeed, exactly what that text is intended to provoke. Judged purely on its scripture — to say nothing of what is preached in the mosques — it is the most viciously sectarian of all religions in its heartlessness towards unbelievers. As the killer of Theo Van Gogh told his victim’s mother this week in a Dutch courtroom, he could not care for her, could not sympathise, because she was not a Muslim.
"The trouble with this disgusting arrogance and condescension is that it is widely supported in Koranic texts, and we look in vain for the enlightened Islamic teachers and preachers who will begin the process of reform. What is going on in these mosques and madrasas? When is someone going to get 18th century on Islam’s mediaeval ass?
"It is time that we started to insist that the Muslim Council of Great Britain, and all the preachers in all the mosques, extremist or moderate, began to acculturate themselves more closely to what we think of as British values. We can’t force it on them, but we should begin to demand change in a way that is both friendly and outspoken, and by way of a first gesture the entire Muslim clergy might announce, loud and clear, for the benefit of all Bradford-born chipshop boys, that there is no eternal blessedness for the suicide bombers, there are no 72 virgins, and that the whole thing is a con and a fraud upon impressionable minds. That might be a first step towards what could be called the re-Britannification of Britain."[12]

LGBT Rights

In 2003 Mr Johnson voted in favour of the repeal of Section 28[13]. This was a free vote[14] with 23 Conservative MPs voting in favour of repeal vs 71 against.

A number of quotes by Mr Johnson have been cited as evidence that he previously supported Section 28. In particular, in 2007 the left-leaning Compass group published a report titled "Boris Johnson – a member of the hard Tory right"[15][16]. The report was criticised for taking quotes out of context[17]. Speaking about the report, Mr Johnson said: "They have gone back through thousands of articles, millions of words, to try to find a few phrases that they can take out of context to demonstrate I am something that I am not."[18]. Many later sources repeat the quotes from the Compass report.

Other quotes that have been attributed to Mr Johnson: "Gay marriage can only ever be a ludicrous parody of the real thing", source given as Daily Telegraph, 2005 – a search of the Telegraph website suggests the quote is actually from Tom Utley[19]. "We don't want our children being taught some rubbish about homosexual marriage being the same as normal marriage, and that is why I am more than happy to support Section 28", source given as Daily Telegraph, 2000 – not available online.

In 2004 Mr Johnson voted in favour of the Civil Partnerships Bill.[20][21]

In 2010 it was reported that Mr Johnson supported gay marriage.[22]

Mr Johnson was one of a number of Conservative Party politicians to sign a December 2012 letter to the Telegraph in support of same-sex marriage. It also noted:

"We feel strongly that religious freedom must be protected. This means that religious groups should be allowed to conduct same sex marriages if they choose, but equally none should be compelled to do so."[23][24]

Dust Suppressors

Called "fraud" by campaigning group Clean Air in London: http://cleanairinlondon.org/pollution-suppressor-public-health-fraud-on-an-industrial-scale/

Interim report on the trial: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/projectsandschemes/17246.aspx

Article considering the evidence: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/04/the-campaign-for-clean-air.ars

Bendy Buses

A prominent policy of Mr Johnson upon election in 2008 was to take the recently-introduced articulated ("bendy") buses out of service, replacing them with more conventional single and double-decker buses.

Analysis of the figures: http://www.boriswatch.co.uk/2008/12/05/boriss-bendy-policy-the-facts/

Assisted Suicide

In 2006 Mr Johnson wrote an article considering the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill of Lord Joffe. Mr Johnson concluded:

"Every day, in NHS wards, the merciful doctors use such quantities of morphine to ease the pain of their patients that their respiration is suppressed, and quite right, too. No one would dream of depriving people of this final palliation of their suffering; but we should be in no doubt about what is happening. The doctors are taking an action that leads to the patient's death. To put it bluntly, they are killing them.
"What is the difference between that and assisted suicide? Only that assisted suicide takes place earlier, and with the patient's consent. The closer I study Lord Joffe's Bill, the more inclined I am to think it reasonable. It is full of restrictions - notably that death must be only a few months away at most; and all sorts of attestations are demanded from doctors and solicitors.
"I can see all the disadvantages, and if the law were to be changed, then it would need careful review, to make sure that people were not coming under any pressure whatever to take their lives. But I think it might be better than seeing increasing numbers of British people forced to take their lives in a foreign country."[25]

References

  1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/borisjohnson/8213058/The-man-who-repeatedly-beats-the-Met-Office-at-its-own-game.html
  2. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/borisjohnson/9402260/To-avoid-the-Olympic-weather-forecast-please-look-away-now.html
  3. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/borisjohnson/9814618/Its-snowing-and-it-really-feels-like-the-start-of-a-mini-ice-age.html
  4. http://www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/reports---correspondence/correspondence/letter-from-sir-michael-scholar-to-boris-johnson-mayor-of-london-16032011.pdf
  5. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmhaff/uc1456-i/uc145601.htm
  6. http://www.london.gov.uk/media/press_releases_mayoral/boris-johnson-nick-herbert-visit-pioneering-prison-cutting-re-offen
  7. http://www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/reports---correspondence/correspondence/letter-from-sir-michael-scholar-to-rt--hon--keith-vaz-mp.pdf
  8. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-15384568 (watch the video too)
  9. http://www.london.gov.uk/moderngov/mgChooseMDocPack.aspx?ID=4335&SID=5701 (whole conversation is worth reading)
  10. http://www.christiantoday.com/article/boris.johnson.praises.work.of.street.pastors/24612.htm
  11. http://ph.christianpost.com/article/europe/2/section/christians.quiz.mayoral.candidates.on.faith.issues/1.htm; mainstream report from these hustings: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/faith/article2099143.ece (behind a paywall)
  12. http://www.spectator.co.uk/essays/13914/just-dont-call-it-war.thtml
  13. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2003-03-10&number=109&mpn=Boris_Johnson
  14. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2664163.stm
  15. http://www.compassonline.org.uk/publications/item.asp?d=290
  16. http://www.scribd.com/doc/257934/BorisJohnsonCompassFileFINAL
  17. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23410465-how-boris-quotes-were-spun.do
  18. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2007/09/23/exclusive-boris-johnson-courts-gay-vote/
  19. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/3621852/Some-of-my-best-friends-are-gay...-but-they-shouldnt-wed.html
  20. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2004-10-12&number=256&mpn=Boris_Johnson
  21. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2004-11-09&number=315&mpn=Boris_Johnson
  22. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2010/07/03/exclusive-boris-johnson-fully-supports-gay-marriage-and-plans-to-run-again-for-mayor/
  23. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/9730713/Statutory-regulation-of-the-press-will-end-up-as-state-control.html
  24. http://www.freedomtomarry.org.uk/content/marriage-should-available-all
  25. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/borisjohnson/3622649/Assisted-suicide-is-problematic-but-better-than-months-of-agony.html

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