By Joseph Willits
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Cameron was one of the first in the crowd to lead a standing ovation for Boris as he arrived on stage, and did so again as he wrapped up. Yet again, Boris animated and raised the mood of a conference audience consisting of the PM, ministers, delegates and journalists.
The Mayor of London praised Londoners for their role in combating the riots. He highlighted cases of individuals such as Pauline Pearce in Hackney and a man who sat on a rioters head – as well as the "broomstick brigade" of Clapham, and restaurant workers armed with rolling pins and saucepans.
He emphasised the need to deal with small elements of crime, saying that "if people feel there are no comebacks … for the small stuff, then I fear they will go on to commit worse crimes". This was said in the context of his announcement, that people who swear at the police "must expect to be arrested". Although much has been said of the fact that 75% of those involved in the August riots had a criminal record, the rest did not – a statistic which Boris highlighted as being somewhat worrying.
Boris also remarked that "the only place safer than a Boris bike stand during the London riots was a book shop", and continued, "not sure whether we should be vaguely flattered or insulted". Although Boris reminisced about the riots in a "comedy routine" fashion, without doubt, a more serious message underlies. Boris pledged to set up after-school "leadership" clubs to turn young people away from gangs and crime. He also noted that crime on the London underground was down by 20%, making it the safest in Europe, carrying record numbers of people.
Many in the audience were waiting for a divisive statement to further the rumoured rift between him and Cameron. They were left disappointed, apart from perhaps a reading into Boris' praising the nation for their contribution to the Olympics. The Mayor heaped praise on Wolverhampton, Northampton, Oldham, Barnsley and Poole, for their role in providing certain things to build the Olympic village. Patrick O'Flynn of the Express, tweeted that it was a "very clever use of Olympics by Boris to project himself as a national figure."
At the ConHome Boris rally yesterday evening, in what Paul Waugh described as a "the Boris-Cam love-in", Cameron introduced Boris after weeks of speculation over the Mayor of London's political ambitions. Cameron jokingly dealt with reports of Boris' colourful description of him (which everybody understood), saying, "I don't know a four-letter word to describe him". Cameron also recalled the night Boris won the 2008 mayoral election, where they held hands. Cameron said it was "like the first gay marriage" when Boris did not let go.
Perhaps it was no coincidence, that whilst the auditorium waited for Boris to begin his much anticipated conference speech, they had to listen to Crowded House's 'Don't Dream It's Over'.
You can read Boris' speech in full here.