Tag Archives: boris

Obama’s credibility now on the line with Brexit vote

US president Barack Obama joined forces with British prime minister David Cameron on Friday to cajole voters in the United Kingdom to stay in the European Union. (Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

It all seemed so rational, so normal.United Kingdom Flag IconUSflag

When US president Barack Obama took the stage yesterday in London (and on the pages of The Daily Telegraph) to dismantle, with surgical precision, the arguments against the United Kingdom staying in the European Union, it didn’t feel like a rupture in international politics.

But it was a radical departure from standard operating procedure.

US presidents, to say nothing of lower officials, have never had qualms intervening in the domestic affairs of foreign countries.

Rarely does an American president so do in such a public forum.

Rarer still that an American president would weigh in on a matter that will be determined by a foreign electorate in eight weeks.

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RELATED: How Corbyn can use Brexit to
reinvigorate his Labour leadership

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Standing beside the British prime minister, Obama was making the case against Brexit better than anyone else on the British political stage, in part because of the sheer scale of power that comes with the American presidency. Special or no, the body language of Obama and his British counterpart David Cameron spoke everything about the unequal bilateral partnership. Amazingly, Obama managed to shrink and upstage Cameron nearly as much as George W. Bush diminished Tony Blair, oft mocked as Bush’s ‘poodle,’ over the Iraq war in 2003.  Continue reading Obama’s credibility now on the line with Brexit vote

A bad day for Boris — London’s mayor called ‘nasty piece of work’ in interview

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Boris Johnson, reelected last year as London’s major and often discussed as a potential Tory successor to prime minister David Cameron, had a very bad weekend.United Kingdom Flag Icon

In an interview with the BBC’s Eddie Mair, Johnson hemmed and hawed over whether he once invented a quote 30 years ago as a young news reporter, lied to former Conservative leader Michael Howard over an affair and a controversial phone conversation from 1990 between Johnson and a friend who wanted to, perhaps, assault a journalist (the journalist was never assaulted, though), each of which are revelations to be discussed in an upcoming documentary about Johnson’s life.

The interview culminates with Mair asking, ‘you’re a nasty piece of work, aren’t you?’

Mair finishes the interview challenging Johnson’s integrity even further for refusing to answer whether he wants to be prime minister one day.

I’m not sure that the questions were entirely relevant to Johnson’s role today as a two-term mayor of London, but it was nonetheless painful to watch Johnson dissemble throughout the interview, especially given the easy manner that ‘Boris’ generally has in public, which was clearly on display during the 2012 summer Olympics.

I’ve seen bad interviews before, and this is about as bad as the infamous Roger Mudd interview with the late U.S. senator Ted Kennedy in 1979 when Kennedy couldn’t give a compelling answer as to why he wanted to be president (Kennedy was challenging U.S. president Jimmy Carter at the time for the Democratic Party’s nomination).

The interview doesn’t necessarily end his chances to become prime minister one day, and it may well backfire on Mair, but it will also certainly renew and reinforce existing doubts about the London mayor’s discipline and his image — it’s the downside to the boyish, off-the-cuff charm that has made him such a noteworthy foil to the more dour Cameron and his chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne.

Watch the choice clips from the interview below the jump:

Continue reading A bad day for Boris — London’s mayor called ‘nasty piece of work’ in interview

There’s something about Boris

At a time when the United Kingdom is falling back into double-dip recession and the Conservative Party is falling to a nearly double-digit gap in opinion polls against Labour Party (under the leadership of the rather inexperienced Ed Miliband, at that), why is Boris Johnson so seemingly poised to swamp today’s London mayoral election against former mayor Ken Livingstone?

Johnson has led, however narrowly, throughout the mayoral campaign, and in late April opened up a significant polling lead on Livingstone.  Indeed, he seems to be widening his vote even as Livingstone tries to nationalize the election into a choice between Labour values and Conservative values (ironically, given his spotty history with the party).

You could probably count any number of reasons why this should not be the case.  Johnson’s record as mayor is not incredibly accomplished.  He’s presiding over a London that has watched its status as a global financial capital take quite a hit.  And he’s just as much of a pampered old Etonian as the current Tory leadership of prime minister David Cameron and chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne, who are under fire nationally for their budget cuts program at a time when UK growth is slipping and unemployment is rising.

Livingstone, the first mayor of London, can point to significant success in his time in office from 2000 to 2008.  He revamped London’s public transport system, even if his proposed congestion charge proved controversial.  He led the way on registry of same-sex couples way back in 2001, long before the UK Civil Partnerships Act in 2004.  Livingstone led the campaign to win the Summer Olympics to London, which will be held later this year.  He also led the city with calm and dignity in the face of the July 2005 terrorist bombings, while giving voice to many of the anti-war concerns than neither mainstream Labour nor the Tories voiced over the war on terror.

A maverick willing to stand on principle against his own party, Livingstone even found himself kicked out of Tony Blair’s Labour Party for a while for having the audacity to win the 2000 mayoral election without Blair’s blessing (Blair grudgingly readmitted Livingstone after his landslide win in the 2004 mayoral election).  There’s a strong case to be made that Livingstone offers better policies, while Boris offers only glib personality.  Boris represents a party that now owns the UK’s sluggish economy, but voters trust him nearly 2-to-1 as better for London’s economy.  Livingstone has pledged to cut transport costs by 7%, but Johnson still leads on transport issues.

So what gives? Continue reading There’s something about Boris