London mayor Boris Johnson opened last night’s British Press Awards by offering, tongue firmly in cheek, the unconditional surrender of all British politicians to the press and suggesting that the nation may now be better served by an influx of journalists into parliament.
Here is his speech:
“I appear before you tonight with the trembling hesitation of some Japanese general emerging from a bunker after Nagasaki or like some shell-shocked Iraqi solider emerging after months of shock and awe or some pitiful blue-nosed Avatar character overwhelmed by superior firepower.
“On behalf of all British politicians I have come tonight to the British Press Association [sic] to convey our unconditional surrender.
“You have won. You have bugged our phones. You have abolished our second home allowances. You have confiscated our porn videos and made it unacceptable for us to charge the taxpayer for something as straightforward as pruning wisteria.
“You have ruined my old friend Stephen Byers. A man, I think I say regarded by us all, as a paladin of stern, unwavering, principle. Who prostituted himself, in his own words, as a cab for hire. But at £3,000 a day he must have found a pretty devilish route to Heathrow.
“You have contrived to make Peter Mandelson the last remaining symbol of trust and integrity left. Look what you have done. Worse of all you have destroyed John Butterfill’s chances of ever leading the Conservative Party.
“So I say to you tonight, with all candour, we can not go on like this.
“I come to you to propose, as a gesture of submission, that we change places and that we formally recognise your trounce by encouraging you to assume the responsibility you have foisted on us.
“I urge all of you to put your expenses online tomorrow morning: every dinner, every bunch of flowers.
“I urge all of you now to sanctify the wholly legitimate desire of the British people to know how much Jeremy Paxman is paid, a fact I failed to discover despite asking him 14 times, most of which was cut out by the BBC.
“I urge many of you, who I know from personal experience, are sticklers for accuracy and valiant for truth, to follow Andy Coulson and Guto Harri or others like Michael Gove from journalism into politics. Because, quite frankly, our defeated, exhausted, broke, broken, brokeback Britain can wait no longer for the transfusion of probity you will bring.
“Our political life will only be clean when Jeremy Clarkson and Piers Morgan are no longer trading blows at this dinnerâ€¦
“If I may quote Plato, and I think I may, the Republic will never be properly governed, my dear Glaucon, until all the politicians are journalists and all the journalists are politicians.
“You have exposed the pigsty now role up your sleeves and help to clear it up.”