Boris Johnson – 2007 Conservative Party Conference Speech

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Below is the text of the speech made by Boris Johnson at the 2007 Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool on 30th September 2007.

I stand before you proud to be your candidate, proud to be given the chance to represent the greatest city on earth, but what gives me the greatest pride of all is that from day one I have provoked such gibbering squeals of denunciation from King Newt and his allies that I know they are scared and they can see all too clearly that we Conservatives are launching a fightback in London that will recapture the capital for common sense government for the first time in a generation.

And when people ask me are you serious about this I can tell them that I can think of nothing more serious than the security and prosperity of the powerhouse of the British economy and whose booming service industries are the best possible vindication of the revolutions brought in by Conservative governments.

That’s why in the last weeks and months I have been travelling through all 32 boroughs, sometimes in a Routemaster bus, sometimes at the wheel of that bus.

And in the hundreds of miles I travelled, I marvelled at the diversity of this city and I met hundreds of people who offered me all sorts of opinions not all of them fit to be repeated; and of all the conversations I had, there is one that sticks in my mind with a 14 year old young offender in Wandsworth who looked me in the eye and said in the tones of one who knows all there is to know about growing up in 21st century London: “The trouble is these days that adults are scared of kids”.

I have to tell you conference that I felt a certain challenge in his gaze and we both knew that he was saying something that was both sad and true about Britain today, and one of the reasons I want to be Mayor is that I want to help change that feeling on the streets of London.

Believe you me, the Mayor of London does have the power to end the climate of intimidation on too many bus routes and take away free travel from the minority of young people who are abusing their privilege and turning buses into glorified getaway cars and when they are caught we want to give the Community Support Officers real powers to make a difference. Because I have been out with the Safer Neighbourhood teams and I have seen how they do not even have an incentive to detain a shoplifter because that means summoning a Police Constable who then has to spend 4 and a half hours processing the case when he should be out on the beat deterring more serious crimes. And that, conference, is criminal.

Above all I want to work with the people in London who are tackling the most fundamental problem of all the tragedy that these kids are themselves afraid, afraid that THEY will be stabbed, and who see the gang and the gang culture as the only real source in their lives of authority and community and esteem.

That is why I want to support the work of people like Ray Lewis of Eastside Young Leaders Academy and Camila Batmangeligh of Kids Company who in a completely non-ideological way are helping our most disadvantaged young people to see that there is another future and to raise their aspirations and to give them hope because I believe Conservatives win when we enable people to fulfil their aspirations.

As Mayor I want to give hope to the tens of thousands of people in London who do not have a place they can call home. There is so much scope for more imaginative shared ownership schemes and backing David Cameron’s plans to lift the stamp duty threshold for first time buyers and using mayoral power to encourage more social housing and more rented housing; but not in the counter-productive and anti-democratic way of Gordon Brown’s new friend the Labour candidate who seeks to wreck the skyline of London’s boroughs, by going against the wishes of local communities and their leaders.

With rabbit-hutch tower blocks containing some of the smallest rooms in Europe and a blind repetition of the mistakes of the 1960s Conference, let’s stop this ego-fuelled civil war in London and let’s build homes that will still be loved and valued and conserved in 100 years time so that future generations will look back on our generation with admiration and respect for our foresight, and not blame us for the ghettoes of tomorrow.

I want to give hope to all those who feel they have lost the basic right to get to work on time by building Crossrail now, getting the Underground repaired and improved, bringing an end to the jack-knifing, traffic-blocking, self-combusting, cyclist-crushing bendy buses, and yes, I want a greener London; a London where more trees are being planted than are being cut down and I want us all to have the confidence to cycle.

My friends, people say the mayor has no power. They say he is just a figurehead. Well I say nonsense. They have not studied the enormous budgets he wields. Ken Livingstone and Gordon Brown have got to realise that they can’t keep taxing and bullying and delivering so little in return.

It’s time to build on the record of Conservative councils across London who have found savings and shown there is another way.

They have kept council tax low while they have created safer, cleaner and greener streets. If they can do it, so can I, and over the next few months, that will mean a policy lockdown and crunching the numbers so that when the election begins in 2008 we will have a winning manifesto that is based on Conservative principles of freedom and democracy and taxpayer value.

On May 1st join me in winning back London not for you and me but because our nation’s capital deserves more.