“Only by locking them away behind barbed wire fences and gates can we begin to regenerate these places,” declared newly-elected Mayor of London Boris Johnson, as he unveiled his plans for cutting crime in the capital’s worst inner-city housing estates. The Old Etonian – who drew widespread criticism during his campaign for a lack of concrete policy proposals – has surprised political commentators with his programme to transform some of London’s most socially deprived inner-city areas into what he describes as ‘gated communities’. “It’s an obvious solution – middle England has been doing it for decades to keep the burglars, beggars, gyppoes and lower classes out,” says the former Tory MP for Henley-on-Thames. “Decent people can only sleep soundly in their beds if they are safe behind a secure perimeter, regularly patrolled by guards and dogs. I just want ordinary Londoners to be able to enjoy the same peace of mind, and be able to feel safe in their grotty, stinking hovels.” Johnson denies that his plans amount to turning poverty-stricken estates into sealed ghettos, where criminal and anti-social elements can be contained and kept away from the middle-class, gentrified, districts from which he draws his electoral support. “Now look, it’s decades of neglect on the part of Labour-run local authorities which have allowed these communities to become ghettos,” he blustered at a press conference. “They’ve become havens for drug dealers and miscreants, no go areas for decent people. I believe that by putting them behind gates, we can begin to regenerate these areas.” According to the top Tory, erecting twenty foot tall barbed wire-topped walls around housing estates, with a single set of huge steel gates as the only way in or out, will make them safe places for decent people to live. “The walls and gates are there to keep the criminal elements out,” he explains. “Obviously, we’ll have to institute some system of identity passes for residents, so that we know who has a right to be there, and who is just there to sell drugs or rob people.” Such identity passes would be used in conjunction with private security patrols around the estates’ perimeters and manned checkpoints at their gates. Indeed, under Johnson’s proposals, these patrols might even extend to areas adjoining the estates. “The patrols would be able to return youths found outside the perimeter without the appropriate passes after dark to their estates,” he claimed. “Imagine how grateful their parents would be to know that their children were safe at home, not wandering dangerous and unfamiliar streets where they might come to harm.”

Not surprisingly, Johnson’s proposals have been welcomed by the right-wing press – particularly the Evening Standard, which ran a campaign of disinformation to discredit his rival, incumbent Mayor Ken Livingstone, during the campaign – but have been condemned by the left, who claim that they would simply turn London’s housing estates into apartheid-era South African townships, where residents will only be able to leave to travel to their low-paid jobs, their off-estate movements monitored at all times. In response, Johnson reiterates that he is simply trying to improve the quality of life for estate dwellers. “Of course we want to discourage them from leaving their estates – once the criminal elements are locked out, they will become crime free paradises. They’ll be much safer there,” he contends. “Outside they’ll just run the risk of falling victim to violent street crimes. Besides, apart from work, what reason is there for them to travel anywhere? It’s not as if they’re likely to have friends and relatives in Buckinghamshire or the Cotswolds, is it?” With crime reduced, Johnson argues that it will be much easier to attract inward investment to the estates. “We’ll be able to build schools, pawnbrokers, off licences, tobacconists, bookies shops and all the other facilities these kind of people find essential,” he says, “all within their perimeter fences!” In the interests of economy and reducing the capital’s carbon footprint, Johnson is proposing the establishment of a special bus service to take the residents on their only journeys – to and from work. “Why unnecessarily increase the number of private vehicles on the road?” he asks. “Especially the older, more polluting kind, that estate dwellers typically drive. With luck, the reduction in private journeys will be such that, within three years, we’ll be able to eliminate the congestion charge completely.” He also argues that public transport will be improved by his plans for London’s estates. “With fewer working class oiks travelling on them, tubes and buses will be much less crowded, not to mention safer,” he chortles. “Not only will people be able to get a seat, they won’t have to worry about whose unwiped lower-class bum had been there before theirs!”

Ultimately, Johnson hopes, in partnership with a future Conservative government and private capital, to actually create sufficient employment opportunities for local residents that they will never have to leave their estates at all. “I’m sure that a lot of the sort of work they do – stuffing envelopes, making low-grade cheap clothes and the like – can be done in the squalor of their own homes,” he says. “As for the sort of off-estate stuff they traditionally do, like office cleaning and shifting heavy stuff in dangerous environments, well, illegal immigrants have been taking that sort of stuff over for years. They’re far cheaper to employ and can’t complain about Health and Safety breaches for fear of deportation, even if they could speak English!”
Despite the Mayor’s conviction that his policy of fencing in estates will solve the majority of the capital’s crime, transport and environmental problems in one fell swoop, others fear that what amounts to segregation on the basis of class will result in a complete breakdown of social cohesion in the city and create a permanent underclass. Moreover, with a significant proportion of the populations of most estates composed of ethnic minorities, there are also fears that Johnson’s policies could increase racial tension. “Look, we’re actually doing these people a favour by segregating them,” opines Johnson. “It means that they don’t have to mix outside of their own kind and risk racial abuse, discrimination and that sort of thing. Believe me, Muslims, Irish, picanninies and the like are always much happier amongst their own sort. Whilst their on their estates they can blow themselves up or eat each other, or whatever else it is they do, to their hearts’ content!” He also believes that the same applies to the white working classes. “Contact with superior social classes only upsets them, making them feel inferior and giving them unrealistic expectations with regard to lifestyle and income,” he declares. “It’s that kind of envy which fuels crime, you know.”