I’m just calming down after 50 minutes of non-stop Mayoral fun on BBC One’s Politics Show.
The first half-hour national segment was a discussion between the presenter and the three main candidates, which was actually rather good.
One highlight was Boris claiming his writings in the aftermath of 7 July 2005 were being taken out of context, whereupon the presenter said, OK, here’s the context then, and proceeded to read back a huge extract of Boris’s appalling, divisive, anti-Islamic blatherings, which made it perfectly clear that the context was at least as bad as the individual quotes. These are the quotes about Islam being "the problem" and Islamophobia being "a natural reaction" to reading the Qu’ran, which Boris was spouting while the current Mayor and every faith leader and politician in London were frantically encouraging people of all faiths to stand together against the terrorists who they made very clear did not represent any faith.
Extraordinarily, after sitting looking extremely uncomfortable as his column was read back to him on national TV, Boris made no apology for anything he’d written, instead trying (and failing!) to justify what he’d said but in the process showing how he simply couldn’t be trusted to lead and unite London’s diverse communities.
This segment was followed by the London regional opt-out section, where this week it was Boris’s turn to be grilled by the local host.
This was also a satisfyingly thorough interview, in which we again saw Boris coming unstuck on his Routemaster costings: he’s clinging to his new-found £100m figure with the same illogical desperation that characterised his previous clinging to an £8m figure, despite the fact that even the new £100m price clearly doesn’t cover the cost of conductors or drivers, as the presenter made clear.
He was also caught out on his oft-repeated bleating about the Mayor’s council tax precept being too high: the presenter pointed out that 80% of that is spent directly on extra police to go on the beat, so there is very limited scope for cutting it without also removing police from the street.
Anyone, like me (oh how I long for May), who follows Boris’s media appearances very closely will have found much of what he bumbled on about in this interview familiar: his usual tactic of scrambling to reach one of his pre-learned lines was very much in evidence.
Particularly revealing was towards the end of the interview, when the presenter said that one thing the current Mayor had done early on which was a big, bold idea which separated him clearly from other politicians and the government, and had broadly been successful, was the introduction of the Congestion Charge. He then asked what Boris’s "big idea" would be, that would mark him out as an original and new Mayor and make his mark on the capital in a noticeable way.
First, Boris undertook the usual tactic, ignoring the question and leaping on the words "Congestion Charge" to cough up some scripted statements on "payment on account", "reform", and not introducing the £25 CO2 charge.
Fortunately the presenter didn’t settle for that, repeating his question and insisting on a proper answer.
Boris bumbled a bit more before finally striking gold. His "big idea", he revealed, was a new airport in the Thames Estuary.
Seriously: Boris’s big idea for London is to put an environmentally damaging airport into an area which is pencilled in for a nature reserve. The Mayor doesn’t have control over building airports. The Mayor also doesn’t have control over the Thames Estuary, which is outside Greater London.
The chances of Boris getting such an airport built are even lower than the chances of the RMT agreeing to his promised no-strike deal. The fact that he can seriously put this forward as his main "big idea" shows just how short on ideas of all sizes he really is.