Saturday, 19 April 2008

Boris Johnson stonewalls audience at gay hustings

The 'Back Boris' brigade were notable by their absence as we approached the doors of the Stonewall hustings. Only Ken and Left List campaigners were handing out leaflets and there was not a single blue ribbon or fuzzy green tree in sight. The thought occurred to me that Boris had conceded the fight.

Of course these gay and lesbian hustings were never going to be easy for Boris Johnson. His much quoted 'three men and a dog' comment was always going to make winning support here a struggle.

But, given that struggle, I had expected Team Boris to come out fighting. I had expected crowds of 'Back Boris' campaigners to be handing out dossiers on al-Qaradawi, and a freshly briefed Boris to be firing out statistics. But as he waded into his speech, it soon became clear that he had very little to offer at all.

Boris' old joke about Ken, routemasters and dehumanised morons was wheeled out for the umpteemph time but this time the delivery was alarmingly quick. The chairman had given him 5 minutes but at this rate I thought he could finish in two. "Does he always talk this fast?" my girlfriend whispered into my ear. To be honest I wasn't sure, but he certainly didn't seem himself.

He started warbling on about bendy buses again, before suddenly becoming aware that he should at least try to mention gay people. Keen to meet the demand he came up with a new gag: "I do not see gay buses or lesbian buses," he said with a smile. Which was certainly the case the last time I checked.

Cheered on by this truism he gave up any further attempts to out-gay the gays and steered himself back to the well worn routes of stealing bus passes and breaking unions.

But when Ken stood up, the mood changed. Members of the crowd booed Boris as Livingstone read excerpts from his columns, and shhhed him as he tried to interrupt Ken's speech. Detatched from his custom adulation, the TV celebrity slumped into his chair and fiddled with his phone.

For the rest of the event, Boris seemed dangerously lost at sea. Questions on gay equality slapped him unexpectedly in the face and there were repeated instances of 'Boris does not compute' as he scrambled for something semi-relevant to say.

Overall though, the event was no great disaster for Boris. A bit of charm and a couple of gags got him through the hour and a half, but what was so surprising was that he was quite so ill prepared.

Of course nobody expects him to be an expert on gay affairs, and many in the crowd were already lost to him as votes. But given the accusations that he doesn't have the breadth of knowledge to be mayor, you would have expected him to be at least superficially briefed.

But like Boris' outer borough strategy, this event showed that when the going gets tough, Boris just can't be bothered to get going at all. And if you're not already aboard Boris' bus, then Boris will just drive by.

And for those of us who share more than the handful of concerns Boris has wheeled out so far, these hustings performances have been very worrying indeed.

Dave Hill has posted video, audio and pictures from the hustings over at Mayor and More.


Anonymous said...

what was so surprising is that there were huge rounds of applause when the chair called on Boris to apologise for offensiveness of his "3 men and a dog" comments and he didnt. Maybe its just because going along with his offensive comments about black people, Iraqis, liverpool and Islam, having to apologise to Gay people also was just a step too far?

Stop Boris said...

I've had a listen to Dave's recording earlier. Glad to hear they didn't let Boris off lightly over his past homophobic scrawlings.

Oh, and I notice you mention that Boris was 'at sea' - was that 'at sea like Poseidon' by any chance...? :)

Anonymous said...

My gay mates are all backing Boris, he was on good form at the hustings, giving a spirited and energetic campaign message without the patronising attempts to out-gay one another displayed by the other heterosexual candidates or Brian Paddick's complacent 'I'm gay, you're gay so you must be voting for me bravado'. Boris didn't bother with silly shopping lists of 'what he was going to do For the "LGBT community", he spoke of what he was going to do for all of us Londoners.

The chair was very unprofessional showing his bias in a clumsy attack on Boris like a queeny poodle snapping at Boris' ankles - he was wisely ignored. Tired old lefties still fighting their 1970s style class/race/gay lib wars just looked a sad + well past their sell-by date. Ken just looked old and tired - hope he soon enjoys his retirement.

The Tory Troll said...

Yes, I heard that Team Boris complained about the chairman, although I have to say that I didn't expect them to come on here and do the same.

That seems to be a running theme with Boris, somebody questions his magnificence and he has a sulk. For evidence watch the final clip on Dave Hill's Mayor and More page where he thumps the table and the room goes ooooooh.

As for calling the chairman a 'queeny poodle', I think that says all that needs to be said about Boris and his supporters. Surely you have had enough trouble from one gay people/dog comparison? No? Plenty more to come then.

Lewis said...

'My gay mates are all backing Boris'?

Are they the 'queeny poodle' ones or the manly bulldog ones?