Criticisms fly at would-be MP Boris
IF BORIS Johnson had hoped for a honeymoon period after being selected by Uxbridge and South Ruislip Tories, he was in for a shock.
No sooner had the constituency Conservative Association decided on the Mayor of London as its candidate at next year’s general election than the brickbats were flying.
First was pro-airport expansion group Back Heathrow, which weighed in straight after the vote late on Friday last week.
Campaign co-ordinator Rob Gray said: “Many local residents must be rubbing their eyes in disbelief. One minute, Boris Johnson is trying to put thousands of them out of work by shutting Heathrow, the next he appears before them as their potential MP.
“Houdini would have been impressed.
“We will not allow Boris Johnson to use this platform to criticise a major local employer which provides so many economic benefits for so many constituents.
“The mayor may win this seat, but should consider having his current opinion on Heathrow surgically removed.”
Next was rival Chris Summers, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
“I congratulate Boris Johnson on his selection as the Conservative candidate, despite the challenge of more local candidates, and look forward to clashing swords with him over the next eight months,” he said.
“The voters of Uxbridge and South Ruislip now have a very clear choice – between a ruthlessly ambitious career politician who sees them only as a convenient stepping stone, and a committed campaigner who seeks only to be a constituency MP and who would work tirelessly on casework and campaign on local causes, such as HS2, without fearing it would affect his loftier ambitions.
“The voters will also have a clear choice between a Conservative candidate who wants to close down Heathrow airport, with the loss of thousands of local jobs, and a Labour candidate who wants to retain and nurture Heathrow.”
Some damned with faint praise, such as Ruislip Against HS2’s Lottie Jones, who was one of a contingent of antiHS2 campaigners gathered outside the selection meeting at Ruislip High School.
“Boris Johnson’s selection to stand here comes as little surprise,” she said.
“His celebrity status may be a draw for some but we will be concentrating on whether he is prepared to represent our views in parliament.
“As Mayor of London he has been vocal when calling for better planning and mitigation of HS2 across London, including his support for the Heathrow Spur to be dropped.
“But if he wants to be our local MP this simply isn’t enough.
“He has in the past made disparaging remarks about campaigners against HS2, which many will find difficult to forgive.”
But Boris did find an ally in the chairman of aircraft noise lobby group, HACAN. John Stewart said: “If Boris becomes the next MP for Uxbridge, it will make it much harder for any Conservative government to build a third runway.
“Boris will be put under huge pressure from a constituency within sight of Heathrow. His influence over Labour would obviously be less but a Labour government could not afford to ignore him.
“Boris may yet have a decisive say in where a new runway is built”.
But perhaps the most scathing assessment of Friday night’s goings on came from Observer columnist Barbara Ellen.
Writing in Sunday’s paper she directed her anger not at Mr Johnson but the members of the Conservative association that selected him.
“Put bluntly, there’s no point being annoyed with Johnson.
“He can’t help his venal power cravings or blatant moral incontinence – they’re ingrained now,” she said.
“I no longer blame Johnson for his nature, and nor should anyone else.
“Instead, let’s blame Uxbridge and South Ruislip for falling for the excitement and the stardust.
“Blame them for eschewing the opportunity to select sensibly, for their locality, and instead behaving like stoned students up for a rag-day laugh.
“How refreshing it would have been had Uxbridge and South Ruislip refused Johnson’s unique brand of political vaudeville, and told him that he was not a good fit, that they preferred someone who was serious.
“How refreshing if they’d simply refused to laugh along with the Boris gangshow. But then, how amazing if anyone did?”
Quite a night for Ruislip as the media circus rolled into town. Pictures and video at www.getwestlondon.co.uk.
HOPEFUL: Boris Johnson arrives for the selection meeting with his wife, Marina