I've always had a slight fear of clowns. The terrifying need to hide behind ridiculous gestures and make-up combined with the efforts of the clown from Stephen King's IT have left me with a level of distrust for the inanely grinning performers. I'm left wondering what it is they really think and whether or not it's murdering me in my sleep then turning into a giant spider creature. But no clown has scared me quite so much as the Mayor incumbent Boris Johnson is at the moment. I understand it's easy to insult the man that looks like Worzel Gummidge has bred with a bag of piglets, but I truly mean clown in the professional way. Johnson has the clowning technique of mugging down to a T, and the ability to distract from every time he seems to be economical with the truth by merely using another 'hilarious' bungle or comment. As a performer myself, it's highly impressive. I know just how powerful laughs can be - cue mean comments from everyone that's been to my gigs - and Boris is a champion of swaying the London public by being a political Mr Bean. But the difference is, no one would actually vote for Mr Bean to be in charge of one of the biggest cities in the world.
The thing is, that'd all be fine if everyone could see just quite how detrimental to London he is. I sat opposite Johnson at the live ITV debate that was aired this week, and watched as he wormed his way out of answering anything important. Boris gave a list of statistics on crime and housing that several sources have said to be incorrect or missing the wider picture. He also carefully avoided answering just how much his current plan will increase transport fares by. Yet despite being challenged by audience and other candidates he quickly responded with the playground technique of saying that they were wrong or lying instead. One audience member queried how he could say crime was down under his Mayorship when knife crime had risen, only for Johnson to respond with 'deaths from knife crime are down.' I'm sorry, I forgot stabbing people was fine as long as they live. If this is the criteria, with the constant pressure on the NHS, this will be a failing point soon too. He similarly batted away 'lies' about the lack of new housing that has been built during his reign of the Assembly, the mass reduction in the police force and his plans to raise fares again. The audience, whilst not at all being pro any of the other candidates, was vehemently anti-Boris. During the advert breaks he was bombarded by people asking him why he didn't show up to the Mayor panel for youth votes, or how he'd laughed in the face of someone who, post riots, had told him this is why the youth need attention. He merely shrugged it off, claiming he didn't know about it or didn't remember it, all in a way that would've made James Murdoch proud.
But this doesn't seem to matter, as I still meet many people who will vote for him on account of being hilarious and more-so, the fact that he's not Ken Livingstone. I'm not sure I will vote for Ken, but to vote for Boris simply to oppose Livingstone is a ridiculous matter. The man has had heaps of bad press of late due to London's free and most regularly read papers being so pro-Boris, and we forget that some of the few plus points of the last four years - i.e. Boris bikes - were actually introduced under Ken. I've heard all the arguments stating how Ken was around during an economic boom and Boris has had all the strife of a recession, but that doesn't explain, for example, where the £5.3m given to Boris to tackle homelessness has still not been received by the charities in question. A recession doesn't just make designated money vanish. A recession doesn't mean that the Mayor of London is reluctant to return to his city during mass riots because he's still on holiday. But it's alright because he has silly hair and can blame every mishap on Ken's previous term despite it now being four years ago. Classic Tory plan to pass blame, as seen even today where are now officially double dip recession is the fault of the Eurozone Crisis apparently. A crisis about a currency we don't have that the government donated funds that were set aside to deal with. As long as someone or something else has a remote connection, then they'll never hold their hands up and admit fault.
I remember seeing Boris once cycling through Islington as several people shouted 'Boris' at him in funny, laddish tones. He merely looked at them and sighed with a face of sheer misery. Tears of a clown. It'll only be funny for so long, and if he's voted in again, will we still snigger at that mop of hair when half of the residents from poorer areas of the city, such as Newham, are moved to Stoke on Trent, transport costs have risen by 23% and crime rises as police forces are reduced to a handful of 'special officers'? I'm not suggesting who else you vote for, and in fact I keep thinking back to before 2000 when London seemed to do just fine without a Mayor at all. I'm just saying that clowns are scary, so please, please London don't vote one in again.