By Mark Wallace
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Having spent part of 2012 dangling from a zipwire, nowadays Boris is balancing on a tightrope.
As Paul discussed in August, he has to weigh competing expectations and risks - he doesn't want to spend years on the backbenches under Cameron, but he doesn't want to be absent when the chance for leadership comes, he wants to differentiate himself from the Tory leadership but he doesn't want to inherit Michael Heseltine's reputation for disloyalty, forced to wear it for the rest of his days like a Nosferatu cape.
For that reason, we've seen different editions of Boris. The flirtatious touter of alternative ideas, toying with EU exit or an illegal immigrant amnesty from his philosopher's tower at City Hall. The king over the water, carefully phrasing remarks that could be interpreted as criticism of Cameron's leadership.
Today, at the Institute of Directors' Annual Convention at the Royal Albert Hall, he was new, improved Loyalty Boris (batteries included, moving parts, press here for anecdotes).
By Matthew Barrett
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The annual newspaper index report by Hanover Communications into media coverage of MPs shows that 12 of the top 20 most-mentioned politicians are Conservatives. The index, which measures newspaper coverage over the last year, shows few Labour frontbenchers have media profiles, with only Ed Balls and Ed Miliband featuring in the list.
I list below the top twenty politicians and the number of mentions they received:
By Tim Montgomerie
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As reported widely in today's written and broadcast media a new Tory-led group has been formed to support equal marriage. You can read more about 'Freedom to Marry' on its website.
I should declare an interest. Some months ago I made a conservative case for gay marriage on this website and I've joined the group as one of its supporters. The other initial supporters are listed below:
As media outlets have noted the support of evangelical Christians Alistair Burt and Desmond Swayne as well as the Catholic Cabinet minister Patrick McLoughlin is an indication of the group's broad base. More high-profile supporters will be announced in the coming days and weeks.
In the Commons yesterday Theresa May was repeatedly pressed by Labour MPs to rule out water cannon as a way of controlling public protests. She repeatedly said that she hoped water cannons would not be used on British streets but did not completely close the door to the possibility. Scotland Yard, says the Daily Mail, believes it would be "foolish" to rule it out.
Boris Johnson, meanwhile, reports Metro, pledged on Monday to oppose the use of water cannon to control protests but he, too, kept options open. "We live in a liberal democracy, I do not want to see the Met police engage in an arms race with the protesters," he said, ‘But, on the other hand, we need to keep this thing under review.’
Labour MP Jack Dromey: "The Home Secretary was reported yesterday as appearing to contemplate the use of water cannon; today, she appears to be ruling out the use of water cannon. Will she clarify this beyond any doubt: will she rule out the use of water cannon on British streets?"
Mrs May: "I made it clear in my earlier comments that I do not think anybody wants water cannon used on British streets. What I said in the interview yesterday is that the Metropolitan police will of course look at the range of tactics available to them to consider whether there is any tactic not yet used that they might wish to use. Currently, as I speak here today, the legal position is that water cannon are not approved for use on the streets of England and Wales. If the hon. Gentleman had listened carefully to my interview yesterday, he would have heard me make the point that we have a different approach to policing in this country from what is seen in many continental countries. I have reiterated that view in my statement today and in further responses to the questions put to me. In Britain, we police by consent, which depends on the link of trust between the police and the public-and long may that continue."
Labour MP Chris Bryant: "The Home Secretary seems to be equivocating a bit on the question of water cannon. She said that they were not legal yet, as if she was implying that she might be persuaded to change her mind. As one who experienced water cannon in Chile in the 1980s, I can assure her that they are entirely indiscriminate, can lead to panic among those who are protesting, and can cause serious injury. The last time they were used in Stuttgart was a couple of months ago, when two people were blinded by them. Will the Home Secretary therefore rule out giving permission for the use of water cannon in this country?"
Mrs May: "I have made the position absolutely clear to the hon. Gentleman and others. I do not think that any of us want to see water cannon being used on the streets of England and Wales. I have said that several times in response to questions on my statement, and I think that the hon. Gentleman should have listened to my earlier answers."
Mr. Speaker: I call Boris Johnson.
Boris Johnson MP: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you for all your kindness over the years. Can I use my last few seconds in this great cockpit of our nation to ask the Prime Minister to join me in congratulating the London authorities on successfully implementing the ban on alcohol on tubes and buses, and on doubling the safer transport teams so that we will have more uniformed people on buses than at any time in the last 25 years? Can I point out to him that no matter how hard working—
Mr. Speaker: "Order—[Hon. Members: “More!”] I am the boss in here, not the Mayor, and I have got to tell him that he should only have one supplementary. He has had three, so we will have to leave it at that."
The Prime Minister: "I am sure that the whole House is going to miss the contributions of the hon. Gentleman, not only in speech, but in writing—those have been more significant over the last few years. I welcome the ban on alcohol. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will agree that the policy put forward by the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families earlier this week to deal with the problems of alcohol among young people is a major step forward in holding parents, as well as young people, responsible for binge drinking. I hope that he will also accept that the reason that crime has fallen in London is that there are 6,000 more police officers and 4,000 community support officers. That would not have been possible without the previous Mayor and the decisions of this Government."
What the Prime Minister said during PMQs:
"In the London area alone, there are 6,000 more police than there were in 1997. As my hon. Friend rightly said, in graphic detail, crime is down in his constituency. The choice in London will be between an administration that wants to employ more police and wants to get crime down, and what the hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Johnson) has said, which is that he wishes to cut spending on the Metropolitan police. That would be disastrous for the police, disastrous for London and bad for the whole country."
"Boris Johnson MP: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Since I am sure that the Prime Minister inadvertently misled the House when he said I wanted to cut spending on— [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker: Order. I need to hear the hon. Gentleman’s point of order. I am the only one who has to stay and listen to it.
Mr Johnson: I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for staying. Since I am sure that the Prime Minister inadvertently misled the House when he said that I wanted to cut spending on the Metropolitan police, and since that is the exact opposite of the case—I want to get more police officers out on the beat to reverse the rise in violent crime over the past eight years and to restore to our streets, buses and station platforms a sense of safety and security—will you, Mr. Speaker, ask him to come as soon as possible to this Chamber to rectify that mistake?
Mr Speaker: The hon. Gentleman has put the record straight—and very swiftly at that."
3pm: Watch the exchange.
Peter Bottomley, Tim Loughton and Bob Spink sign Boris Johnson's EDM against the BNP in London.
Any further names of signatories will be added in due course.
ConservativeHome first covered this story on Tuesday.
Friday 14th update: Julian Lewis, Henry Bellingham, Rudi Vis (Labour) and Graham Stuart add their names to Boris Johnson's EDM.
This has been issued by Boris Johnson MP:
“This House notes that in May 2008 there is a possibility that at least two members of the BNP will gain a seat on the London Assembly. As things currently stand there is a grave risk of these two members of the BNP having a deciding vote on the Mayor’s budget. This is a potentially disastrous situation in which a future Mayor of any party could depend on BNP support to pass his budget. We call upon all politicians from all parties to denounce the BNP in London and ask for all politicians to work together to combat anyone who seeks to play the race card in London politics. We call upon the Government to use its powers to combat this very real threat.”