Boris Johnson today broke his promise to place a statue of a famous war hero on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.
Boris was a prominent supporter of the 'Sir Keith Park campaign' that has lobbied to replace the temporary statues currently on the plinth, with a permanent statue of the Battle of Britain hero.
However, suspicions that Boris would make yet another 'dead parrot bounce' on this were raised after he failed to turn up to a campaign event alongside fellow mayoral candidate Brian Paddick. The event was also supported by a number of Tory and Labour MPs including Tony Benn and Norman Tebbit.
The news that he will now reverse on this campaign pledge was quietly slipped out in a written answer to an assembly member's question. Boris wrote that:
The fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square would be a wonderful spot (for the statue), but it now appears that complex planning issues would make it difficult to secure this location on an ongoing basis. There are also outstanding commitments to exhibit contemporary sculpture on the Fourth Plinth.
Perhaps if Boris had taken the time to check out those 'complex planning issues' before hitching himself to this particular bandwagon then he would have avoided some of the fire that is heading his way over this. Right-wing cultural pressure group the New Culture Forum for one are not impressed. In a post titled 'a timid, cowardly U-turn' they write:
Johnson has now acknowledged broad public backing for the plinth art over the last nine years. He said: "I recognise that this revolving programme has proved very popular and I welcome the important contribution it has made in shaping public debate about contemporary art. Precisely what 'broad backing backing'? What 'public debate'? From his statement, it seems that the mayor has not just withrawn support specifically from the Keith Park proposal, but from the whole idea of a more widely chosen, permenant fixture on the fourth plinth.
Whether or not Boris is in favour of a permanent fixture on the fourth plinth is neither here nor there. The fact is that he can't do it and would have known that he couldn't do it, if he had taken the time to find out.
But like his pursuit of the next-generation Routemaster, the temptation to make a dodgy promise without bothering to do the necessary research first was just too much of a temptation for him to avoid.