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London's new Mayor Boris Johnson

London's new Mayor Boris Johnson

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London has a new mayor, after its citizens voted in the Conservative Party candidate Boris Johnson, ahead of Labour's Ken Livingstone. Well-known for his wild blonde hair, his self-deprecating humour and his reputation for gaffes and blunders, Mr Johnson has been a colourful figure in British politics for many years.

While few doubted his energy and charisma, Boris Johnson's narrow victory has surprised his critics, who questioned whether he was a serious enough politician to win.

His remarks have often caused controversy, such as when in 2006 he had to apologise to the entire country of Papua New Guinea after suggesting it was known for "cannibalism". In the same year his criticism of a healthy eating campaign also made headlines, when he said parents should be able to feed children what they like, healthy or not.

But bumbling Boris has always had an ambitious streak; when he was asked as a child what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said "the world king".

He now replaces Ken Livingstone, who had been London's mayor since 2000. Left-wing "Red Ken" will be remembered for his role in helping London win the 2012 Olympic Games, as well as his introduction of the congestion charge, which is widely thought to have reduced traffic in the capital.

So will Boris Johnson's victory mean a change of direction for London over the next four years? He promises to be tough on crime and anti-social behaviour, and to work to help to bring together Londoners of different ethnic backgrounds.

Whatever happens, given Boris Johnson's colourful past, it is unlikely that the next four years will be dull.

 

Vocabulary

mayor
somebody elected to be head of government in a city, town or borough

Conservative Party candidate
somebody who is a member of the British political party which opposes sudden social change, high taxation and government involvement in industry, and who is competing to get an official job or an elected position

Labour
the political party in Britain that believes in social equality, a more equal sharing out of wealth, and the rights of workers

self-deprecating humour
when someone speaks in a funny manner that shows they are not too serious, or even slightly critical about themselves

gaffes and blunders
clumsy social mistakes or breaches of etiquette (e.g. insensitive remarks); being impolite

colourful figure
someone who is exciting, amusing and often unpredictable

charisma
great charm and/or ability to inspire others

narrow victory
the number of people who voted for him was not much greater than of those who voted for other candidates

critics
people who disapprove of his policies and behaviour

caused controversy
become the reason for strong disagreement/clash of opinions

cannibalism
when a human being eats another human being

healthy eating campaign
organised efforts to persuade people to eat more healthy food

made headlines
was reported by the media as important

bumbling
acting as if confused

ambitious streak
determination to achieve success, even if it only shows occasionally and contrasts with his other characteristics

left-wing
here, an active member of the Labour Party who strongly believes in its principles of social equality

congestion charge
here, money that you pay for driving your car in Central London on weekdays

tough on crime
firmly fighting and punishing illegal behaviour

anti-social behaviour
when someone's actions harm, disturb or seriously annoy others (usually in a public place)

ethnic background
the country/area/region where your family originally comes from


 
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