Full transcript | Boris Johnson | Conference Speech | Conservative Party Conference, Manchester | 4 October 2011
"I will not allow police numbers to fall below a level that I believe is safe or reasonable for a gr
"I have spent a fair bit of the last two months tramping the streets of London and talking to hundreds of people who were caught up in the riots whose businesses were attacked or who were just appalled at what they saw and I have a pretty good idea of what Londoners want.
They want to make sure that nothing like it happens again and so I can tell you that as long as I am mayor- I will not allow police numbers to fall below a level that I believe is safe or reasonable for a great city.
Police numbers are up by 1000 on when I was elected and the number of special constables has doubled to more than 5200 and I pledge now that I am going to keep it that way and yet we all know it is not just about numbers.
The Londoners I have talked to want our police to have the backing they need to deal with thugs and looters in the way they need to be dealt with and if you look at the record of new commissioner Bernard Hogan Howe you can see how clearly he understands the Capone principle that if you crack down on the small stuff the big stuff starts to take care of itself. And let me tell you that in Merseyside he used ANPR to round up every car he could find that was either untaxed or uninsured he put them all "thousands of vehicles" on the central reservation of some road leading into Liverpool and the drivers of those cars had two choices they could either come and claim the vehicle in which case they would be arrested or else they could leave it and Mr Hogan Howe would have it crushed and the result was that thousands of vehicles were crushed, and crime fell by 40 per cent, and so my message to London's criminal fraternity is tax and insure your car or- you'll get it back for Christmas as a small cube from the crusher with love.
And in the same spirit of zero tolerance, I reckon we need to get back to where we were before 1988 and to make it clear that if people swear at the police then they must expect to be arrested. Not just because it is wrong to expect officers to endure profanities though I happen to think it is but because if people feel there are no comebacks, no boundaries, no retribution for the small stuff then I am afraid they will go on to commit worse crimes.
And yet if 75 per cent of the rioters and the looters were criminals and 50 per cent had 15 or more convictions we have to recognise that 25 per cent had no record and what Londoners also want is for everyone "politicians, teachers, police, parents" to sort out the underlying issues that encouraged them to riot. One of the very best things to come from those events is the fierce desire of people to help to bring communities together and to show that those looters do not stand for London.
I will tell you who did stand up for London- It was the chap who sat on a looter's head. It was the woman who made that great speech in Hackney and scared them off and the restaurant workers who fought them off with rolling pins and saucepans.
It was the broom Brigade of Battersea. These people represented the true spirit of London and our country and across the city there are people who have been spurred to get involved to help with the groups that are already doing so much good work.
That is why we set up Team London, to make it easy for you to become a mentor. To read to kids in schools, to help with the 25 new supplementary schools that we are setting up to help give some of the most difficult kids the discipline and boundaries and love they need.
We are cutting rates of reoffending with a special unit at Feltham. We are sponsoring resettlement brokers so that those who have been imprisoned are helped back into society and together with London business we have launched a huge apprenticeship programme. With 28000 young people so far gaining a place and 80 per cent of them either going on to a job
or to education and with the help of banks and accountancy firms and legal firms and insurance firms we have massively expanded.
The London living wage so that the poorest 10,000 in the city have had an extra £60m in their pockets. Yet no one can afford to pay the London living wage or any wage at all if their business is going under and that is why the best thing we can do for those young people is to create the platform on which business can build and grow in difficult times.
Our job in government is to make London an ever more attractive place to live and invest in. That means low crime and crime is down 9 per cent over the last three years. To pick a period entirely at random the murder rate is down to levels not seen since the 1970s, the youth murder rate has been roughly halved, bus crime is down 30 per cent, and thanks partly to the ban on alcohol, crime on the tube has fallen 20 per cent and I can tell you that we now have the safest Tube network in the whole of Europe. And yes, I know it is crowded sometimes and I know it is hot but that is why it so utterly crucial that we maintain the investment at the current neo-Victorian level because in spite of the recession we are carrying record numbers on both tube and buses. We need new track, new trains, new signalling and air conditioning and let me assure you that we are not just spending money for the hell of it.
In the last three or so years to pick a period at random we have saved £2bn from Tfl- we have had a 25 per cent cut in the number of directors, we have vacated 23 buildings across London, with a reduction in desks of 4232, we have flogged those desks and those offices, and those executive washrooms, and we have turned them into machines, and equipment that move you faster and more comfortably around London.
The Victoria line is three miles an hour faster than it was three years ago and we have Jubilee line trains arriving every two minutes or less.
Thanks to the common sense of this Coalition government we not only have the Tube upgrades, we have Crossrail as well. As Thameslink, which is a north-south Crossrail and conference I will not allow that investment to be jeopardised for short term political gain. This morning I went to the Lucchini factory in Manchester, where even now they are making the wheels for London's new rolling stock. I talked to some of the 187 people whose jobs are assured by the continuing growth of London 's transport infrastructure and I say to my friends in the treasury FD Roosevelt had the new deal, I give you the wheel deal. You help us to invest in London transport and we'll supply the locomotive of the UK economy.
If we can keep cutting crime and keep improving transport then we can help give London business the conditions it needs to get people into work and through the downturn.
There is one overarching philosophy behind everything we do in City Hall that can be traced to a saying of Mahatma Gandhi, who prophesied in 1948 that the future of India lay in its 700,000 villages. As anyone who has been to India can testify, Gandhi was wrong. It is unromantic but true that the future of the world lies in cities but he was right in this deeper sense that people yearn for the memory of the village. That Eden from which we were all expelled and so everything we do is about putting the village back into the city. We are on target to build a record 50,000 affordable homes over four years and we will do even more over the next four. But we are also insisting on homes that are big enough for families and with rooms big enough for human beings rather than hobbits. By next year this mayoralty will have planted 50,000 trees including street trees and we are not only protecting back gardens from development and consecrating green space.
But thanks to the work of Rosie Boycott we have found 1250 growing spaces in London 's waste ground where 38000 volunteers have been growing food crops of all kind. It is apparently an antidote to depression and it is a good occupation for the idle hands of young people and if you want to take part join Team London. That is what I mean by putting the village back into the city and there is nothing more villagey than the sight of someone sailing elegantly past- bolt upright on one of those big burly blue bicycles.
The bikes are going west; they are going east and soon they will be gathering themselves for the great push north and south. Next year you will be able to go by hire bike from Canary wharf to Hammersmith from Camden Town to Clapham. And though the number of thefts has risen since I last talked to you. I cannot hide it- from eight to 18. We have recaptured every one, we have punished the culprits and it is still about 2000 fewer than were nicked over the same period in another city. I will not name and guess how many were looted by the looters? None. I don't know whether we should be flattered or vaguely insulted but the only thing safer than the bike hire stands were bookshops.
But if " as I hope" those amazingly low figures show some dim respect for common property, for something that is meant for everyone, then that is what I mean by putting the village back into the city. That is why Barbara Windsor is so often to be seen encouraging people, through Team London, to have street parties. Because all the evidence is that where people know each other by their first names crime comes down. If people know each other by their first names they don't raid their local shops and if we can get all that right- crime down, better transport, invest in the skills of young people, put the village back in the city.
If we can get the right tax and regulatory framework then British enterprise will do the rest and there could not be a better international calling card for British firms than the Olympic site. Ahead of schedule, under budget. I was looking out of my window at city hall and as my eye swept the horizon I suddenly saw the Arcelormittal orbit. And I know there are art critics who will say it is a mad mayoral vanity project and that orbit is where it belongs but it creates a much needed focus for the park it is very largely privately sponsored- the steel comes from Bolton, and in the same way the Olympics are boosting jobs across the country, the decking comes from Poole, the security fencing comes from Wolverhampton, kerbs and paving come from Northampton, the piling for the aquatics centre comes from Oldham, velodrome seating comes from Barnsley, the velodrome is rubbed with rhubarb, to give it that beautiful rosy hue. Where does it come from and such is the enthusiasm for the Olympics and Olympic investment that I can today reveal that in the pas de Calais area of France where the Uzbek and Senegal rowers are training, the authorities have decided that their region is to be rebaptised 'une partie de grande Bretagne'.
Conference I believe we have a record to be proud of- we have frozen council tax for three years and effectively cut it by 10 per cent.
We have put oyster on the overground.
We have delivered a 24 hour freedom pass of a kind I hardly dare mention in Manchester in case they get jealous
The last bendy bus will go by Xmas and in the new year you will see a new generation open platform bus, built in the UK with British technology.
After more than 450 years since it was lost by Mary Tudor- we have recaptured Calais from the French as the burgers yield to the soft power of the Olympics.
I am proud of what we have done but we have so much more to do and together with my team from City Hall we will be bringing forward a new manifesto in the next months comprising- new river crossings, new tube lines and stations, funded by tax increment financing.
New ideas for the betterment of all Londoners and to take our city forward not back, we did it before. Hundreds of people in this hall helped us to deliver sensible moderate one-nation conservative government in London and I have no doubt it will be a tough fight but with your help we can do it again thank you and I hope very much that we will be able."