London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has gone along on an official visit to China. Here, he has banged the drum for London, or as it appears to anyone not of totally partisan mind, ostentatiously gone around with his begging bowl asking for lots of inward investment for the benefit mainly of Himself Personally Now. I suspect they saw him coming.
Not that this, you understand, has detained the Evening Standard, aka the London Daily Bozza, from running a number of articles verging on propaganda, for instance his call to Theresa May to make it easier for Chinese visitors to come to the UK, or as Bozza sees it, just London, with the off-chance that all these visitors might venture outside the capital, but not for too long.
Then there was the suggestion that Chinese money was on its way, and that we should not stand in its way: “Boris Johnson and George Osborne today urged Londoners not to be afraid of Chinese firms taking over the capital’s infrastructure” told Pippa Crerar, the Standard’s totally impartial and non-partisan City Hall editor. And, as the man said, there’s more.
Readers who had Not Very Much Else to read on the train home were told “The Boris in China diaries: almost ignored at the usual tourist traps, the Mayor proves a big draw with Beijing's movers and shakers”. Yes, the people with all the folding stuff were warming to Bozza, he was personally going to attract lots of investment, and this would add to his already heroic legacy.
But Ms Crerar should have saved her breath. The Chinese are notoriously good at smiling nicely at Bozza’s kind of opportunistic sales schtick, while in the background they make damn sure they have done their Due Diligence on him. And what they will have found out will not be causing them to chuck significant sums of dosh in his general direction merely for the sake of it.
For starters, Bozza has a reputation for promising things and then conveniently forgetting them once elected, the Tramlink extension to Crystal Palace being perhaps the most blatant example from his re-election campaign. He also has a habit of shooting off his North And South about fantasy wonder projects – like the “Boris Island” airport that ain’t going to happen.
And on top of all that is a hugely embarrassing Telegraph column where he told “It has become a cliché of geopolitical analysis to say that China is the next world superpower, that the 21st century will belong to Beijing, and that we had better get in tutors to teach our nippers Mandarin if they are to make it in the new world order. It is all stark staring nonsense”. That will already have been observed by his hosts.
Bozza is probably schmoozing the Chinese to no point at all. No change there, then.