Boris Johnson's Schmooze With The Jewish News
On the Jewish community A community that in my humble opinion as Mayor of London, and a man who is proud to count rabbis among his ancestors, a community that has contributed more don't you think to this city, to the imaginative life of this capital - in media, film, art, culture, music, science, whatever - than virtually any other community you'd care to name, n'est pas? I am very proud of the contribution of the Jewish community. I think this shows the essential genius of London. On the BNP The more publicity these buffoons get the better and they will self-destruct. I don't believe that these people are speaking to any real instinct of Londoners. Fundamentally the overwhelming majority of Londoners completely reject everything that Nick Griffin stands for. Of course it's shambolic and it's ludicrous and it's a disgrace [that Griffin is representing the European Parliament on climate change in Copenhagen] but you know I'm afraid it is a function of our imperfect system called democracy. I think that the bubble of the BNP will burst and it will burst all the faster the more the public is exposed to the absurdity of the BNP. On lighting the menorah It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. If you remember, the cherry-picker wouldn't go up because Health & Safety said he couldn't have two people in the basket of the cherry-picker and it was going beep-beep-beep and it wouldn't go. There was a big crowd waiting for the menorah to be lit. The Chief Rabbi and I had a balloon debate about who should go up because he said he had the expertise but I said well I was the mayor... and so we had this sort of rabbinical debate about it and in the end I exercised my rights as mayor. I got bashed up against the menorah and when I got up there I couldn't work out how to light it because the wick was concealed behind some glass. It was very challenging and exciting. On Hampstead school reportedly twinning with a Palestinian School I don't think it is right that London schoolchildren should face any kind of prejudice or any kind of upset in their life as a result of the attempt to import into London schools the politics and the political disputes of the Middle East. It's not the right place for it and it's patently done by people who want to stir up some trouble and are trying to make one community feel particularly discomforted. I don't like that. If you can supply more information about that then I will be very happy to take it up with the borough in question. London education should be utterly free from such things and I think it frankly grotesque. On the JFS case I remember reading a case, but I can't recall the details. Patently if you're going to have a measure of school independence thenschools should be able to decide their own selection [criteria] but I'd be going muchfurther and have academic selection banning if it were down to me. That is not a policy to which my party is currently committed but I'm allowed I think in the safety of this conclave to go off-piste. I'm in favour of the maximum flexibility for schools and indeed for communities in deciding their own admissions procedures. On housing benefits There is a huge problem of people on housing waiting lists in London and clearly they are being housed at massive expense by the taxpayer. I'd be happier if I felt that some of the anti-immigrant feeling about this was taken out of the debate. London is a great teaming cosmopolis of talent and my ancestors benefited from being able to come to London and I'm very proud of that and I don't think we want to become a society that is hostile to people with talent and energy who want to come. We should be looking at a way of trying to regularise the position of people who have been here for a very long time. I think that if they have been here for a long time and can show that they're of good character and haven't broken the law and are loyal to this country and to its institutions then I think we should look to a system of earned amnesty for such people. If we don't do something like that then you have about 750,000 people in this country without papers, without any formally regularised status unable to participate in the economy, unable to work, to pull themselves up by their boot straps. On the bus route extension from Finsbury Park to Stamford Hill We understand the logic of doing it. We understand why people don't want to hang around at Finsbury Park waiting to change and it is now being raised urgently with the Transport for London Commissioner Peter Hendy and we're going to try to do that. But in very tough times for buses - when I'm putting the fares up a little bit because you've got to pay for the improvements in London Transport's infrastructure - it may be that that will be difficult. But we will certainly look at it.
The London Mayor addressed anti-Semitisim during our debate at City Hall.
I loathe and despise anti-Semitism and any manifestation of it. I do worry that you know some people do seek to import into London and into London politics the inflammatory rhetoric of foreign policy disputes of one kind or another. I am very concerned not to see that.
I want to see a London where all communities are safe and that's why the Metropolitan Police have been given very very clear instructions and of course it's something they take very seriously anyway. But I've made it very clear to the commissioner and to everybody involved that this is an issue.
It matters very very much that Jewish people in London, going to school, and people in neighbourhoods throughout London feel safe. We're working with the police and with the Community [Security] Trust to make sure that people do feel properly looked after.