Thursday, 26 June 2008

What kind of value will Boris and the Tories give?

"I deprecate the idea," Boris Johnson told journalists at this month's press conference, of "London being some kind of test bed, laboratory, petri dish for Conservatism." 

But with all eyes on London in the run up to the general election, the result of this particular experiment will inevitably be held up for examination. 

And with no real direction being given to his mish-mash of cuts, bans and shuffling of titles, I'm beginning to doubt whether there is any real ideological drive behind the new Conservatism at all.

There have been signs of course. The removal of the anti-racist message from the Rise festival spoke clearly of the Nu-Con politics of Policy Exchange, and the scrapping of half-price fares for people on income support, spoke clearly of a return to the days of Thatcher. 

But simply reversing the decisions of others is not in itself a positive direction, just as poring over the days of the last Mayor does not tell us much about the days of the new one. 

The value of words

Of course with such little palpable delivery so far, we can only examine the words. And for Boris the most buzzing of all buzzwords is 'value'. Hardly a single phrase drops from his lips without a reference to 'tax-payer value', 'value for money' or 'bang for your buck.'

But as with the value for money sausages you pick up from your local supermarket it is always advisable to read the small print on the back of the packet. And before you start counting how many extra bangers you are getting for your buck, it is wise to consider how much is pork and how much is simply porkies.

On the Rise festival for instance, little 'value' has been added now that all of the sponsoring unions have pulled out of the event. Nor will much value be added now that the artists have no political motivation to perform at reduced fees. In response to a question by Mike Tuffrey Boris wrote at the weekend:

The expanded production element for Rise, and associated expanded budget, is determined by the sponsorship commitment to the event, and therefore supplementary funding is not required. However, in the eventuality of committed sponsorship not being honoured/received, budgets across the department would need to be reviewed to ensure there were no wider implications to GLA resources. 

But since that was written, several more unions have pulled their sponsorship from the event. So does this mean that budgets elsewhere will now face cuts to make up the difference? Or does the value here come from the extra dash of Policy Exchange now liberally sprinkled on the event?

For Team Boris, there was apparently little value in holding an anti-racist festival. But rather than scrap it and add value there, all political purpose was removed, and London is left with a more expensive and ultimately politically pointless event.

Because ultimately the value of any policy is felt differently for different people. Half-price fares for people on income support were scrapped because they were, we were told, inefficient. 

But for those people struggling to spend twice as much on their journeys, it will not seem like they are getting much value for their money at all.

So if value is really going to be the theme of this Mayoralty and by extension the next Tory government, then they will need to make it clear exactly what their kind of value means. 

And whatever packaging they finally decide to wrap it up in, just be certain that you read the small print before you buy.


Southwark Slugger said...

The tories have this reputation of cutting taxes but if you actually look at their record in local government, you will see that often taxes will tend to stay roughly the same but that services will be cut and their allowances will go up. Even if they do cut taxes, it is usually at the expense of cuts to the people that could have done with the value of those services the most. You make a very good point in that value for one person is not value for another. Who will a tory governmetn be benefiting the most. looking at those maps further down the page, it seems like many voters knew exactly who Boris was and who he wasn't going to be helping.

Chris said...

There's not much value in paying for a mayor who doesn't actually do the job either. It would be a great economy to scrap him and just let his deputies get on with the job.

Anonymous said...

How awkward are Boris and Cameron's smiles in that picture? Anyone would think they didn't like each other.

Zanuliebours said...

Stop the whinging. Don't you realise dear old ken has gone now your stuck with Boris who will clean you out and ship you bck oof to Mugabe with Brown and all his chums.GET OVER IT. When will you lefties realise that your not wanted here anymore. Piss off back to Cuba.

The Tory Troll said...

Oh dear Zanu. Not quite as good an effort as last time. You haven't quite got the authentic level of righteous indignation. Still, I admire your efforts.

Anonymous said...

The GLC-style 'anti-racism' of Rise offends Conservatives - so we're getting rid of it. Marxist groups like NAAR and CSC offend us - so we got rid of them too. Implicitly anti-Western gesture politics such as 'Mayors for Peace offends us - so we pulled out of it.

Do you know what the brilliant thing is? No one gives a shit that we did these things, except a few embittered lefties like you. And, believe me, Boris has got much more of the same in store. The next four years are going to be one long cry of despair for the London Left.

You lost. We won. And it feels soooo good!

Karl said...

No-one lost or won on here. The trouble with British Politics is some people have difficulty distinguishing it from a football match.

The Tory Troll said...

Now that's how you should have written it Zanu. Whoever wrote that last Anonymous one has had some practice. Read and learn.

BenSix said...

I love these anonymous fellows. They won't even give themselves a hint of an escape from obscurity.

Steve said...

Hello Tory Troll. I don't want to add any more to the abuse heading your way, but according to Mick Fealty at the Telegraph you are 'a left wing answer to Guido Fawkes.'

Offended much?

barry_rochford said...

Ah, so 'anonymous' has let the cat out of the bag - Boris isn't about value for mney, but is about ensuring that anything the left likes - affordable housing, effective public transport, lower C02 emissions, a multi-cultural city ain't going to happen.
All he's got to do when someone questions he is doing is deny he knows about it, talk about some irrelevance that no one understands and give us his usual waffle.
Anonymous might like 4 years of 'cripes', but London will wake up sooner rather than later, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Who said anything about "anything the left likes"? Presumably the left likes sunshine and bountiful harvests: does that mean Boris is agin them? You are a muppet.

What Boris - and the Tories - cannot abide is leftist dogma. That's why Marxist groups like NAAR are being booted out. At the end of four years we will have cleansed City Hall of all the politically correct shit. The overall strategic aim is to choke off the supply of public money that keeps red scum in ungainful emloyment, not just in the GLA but in the dozens of nasty little campaigning groups - lefty law centres, wimmins rights, bogus asylum seekers - around the capital.

Try doing a proper job instead of leaching off the taxpayer to finance your juvenile political fantasies. It's over, parasites.

The Tory Troll said...

I admire your honesty. Unfortunately I think you may be disappointed. Boris doesn't seem to be quite the sort of nasty right-wing ideologue that you would do desperately like him to be. One day your party might get somebody strong enough to do all of the things that you would like, but Boris and Cameron aren't really the ones to manage it. It's not all bad though. I'm sure there will be at least some opportunity to spit on the poor and the immigrants. But just don't get your hopes up too much.

Alex said...

"Cleansed"? "Red scum"? Jesus wept. You sure it's not actually the rootless cosmopolitans infecting the thoughtless feminine masses with their degenerate bacilli? Must stay firm, or there'll be some kind of...flood. We'll be swamped! We need a strong, unemotional leader who'll cut out this tumour.