Friday, 20 May 2011

Why Obama will not be paying Boris's congestion charge bill

Boris Johnson will confront Barack Obama about unpaid congestion charges when he arrives in London, reports the BBC.

Now this is very strange considering that Boris has repeatedly surrendered London's only argument for making the US embassy pay the charge, ie that it is a *charge* and not a tax.

If it is a charge then embassies have to pay it under international law. If it is a tax then they do not.

I have asked Transport for London to begin the legal process to remove [the Western Congestion Charge] with all convenient speed...

we can lift this tax within fourteen months at the absolute outside and hopefully earlier than that.

Now I'm all in favour of a genuine attempt to get the Americans to pay the charge, but all the evidence so far suggests that he has no real interest in doing so.

What he does have an interest in doing is stoking a controversy in order to grab some headlines, whilst doing nothing to actually solve the problem.

As he conceded in his interview this morning:

"The only way we could do this is if the foreign office gets a grip on the situation and actually takes the American government to court and gets this adjudicated in the international court."

Except the very first piece of evidence the Americans would use, would be the words of Boris Johnson himself.

-Update- I was on LBC earlier today debating this with Julia Hartley-Brewer and Charlie Wolf. You can listen to the show here.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Boris Johnson: Why Bin Laden shouldn't have been assassinated

The big problem for Boris Johnson and his surrogates is that almost all of their criticisms of Ken Livingstone could just as easily be directed at Boris as well.

Take their outrage over Ken's "extreme" comments on Bin Laden in which he accused Barack Obama of acting like a mobster:

"Today, Ken Livingstone joined a very select company – the Taliban and the leader of Hamas – in condemning the killing of Osama bin Laden." - Andrew Gilligan

"Calling President Obama a mobster is yet another example of Ken Livingstone’s extreme views which threaten to damage London. What American business will want to invest in our city if it is run by a man who repeatedly attacks their leader?" - Tory MP Greg Hands

"This is the latest in a string of highly controversial accusations aimed at America." - Boris's campaign website

Now this would all be well and good if Boris hadn't himself made a "string of controversial comments" about former US president George Bush.

Or indeed if Boris hadn't made almost exactly the same points as Ken about killing Bin Laden ten years ago:

"Bin Laden should be put on trial... in the place where he organised the biggest and most terrible of his massacres, New York. He should be put on trial, because a trial would be the profoundest and most eloquent statement of the difference between our values and his. He wanted to kill as many innocent people as he could. We want justice." - Boris Johnson

Read the whole thing for an excellent argument against state-sanctioned assassinations and for Boris's description of a possible Bin Laden assassination as him being "whacked" (you know, almost as if by a mobster).

Oh, and then read Boris backpedal during an election campaign and make the exact opposite argument almost ten years later.

What an extremist eh? What will American businesses in London think?