Sunday, 6 July 2008

Dishonest and Incompetent: Team Boris move in

'Honesty and Competence,' the Evening Standard told us on the eve of the election 'are the overriding issues in tomorrow's mayoral election.' 

And after eight weeks of U-turns, botched policies and resignations, this has most definitely proved to be the case.

Because while the resignations of Ray Lewis and James McGrath have been highlighted as the first signs of an administration struggling with power, for those of us who have watched it from the start, it is clear that there is now an intrinsic paralysis and confusion at City Hall.

Since I've started this blog I have had conversations with a number of people working on the inside. 

The overriding impression from these is of an administration being kept on hold, while everyone waits for someone, anyone, to come in and tell them what's going on.

One GLA employee put it to me like this:

"There are a load of vague characters hanging around the Mayor's office, who no-one is entirely sure who they are except they all seem to have knighthoods. The atmosphere is terrible and the staff don't trust the Mayor's Office and the Mayor's Office don't trust the staff."

The central issue is job security. The employment of ex asset-stripper Tim Parker has caused everyone to worry about losing their job without them being given any clear indication as to who will have to go and when they will have to go by:

"The constant challenge from the Mayor's Office and Parker is (a) justify your job and (b) justify why it is the role of regional government to employ someone to do your job."

So uncertain is the situation that some have decided to jump before they're pushed:

"Everyone is acting very cautiously and speaking like civil servants rather than the more open culture that there was before. The result is that there have been an average of two leaving parties a week as people secure jobs elsewhere."

The problem with this is that while Team Boris have been spending their time dealing with resignations, restructuring and media management, the actual running of the capital has been put to one side:

"They're very keen on political outcomes but they don't seem to know or care about the processes. They seem to think that everything can be delivered locally, but they don't yet have the necessary strategic vision.

"Things may settle a bit in the next 2-3 weeks as Parker finishes his scoping exercise. After that I assume some direction may begin to emerge. But until then pretty much everything apart from what you've already seen come out of City Hall is on hold, with only the most urgent of decisions being taken."

Of course a certain amount of uncertainty is to be expected with any new administration and the occasional hiccup at the start is understandable. 

But what we have clearly seen in the last two months is ineptitude, dithering and disaster, culminating with the loss of the architect of their central programme for cutting teen violence.

Of course the spin from the Mayor's office is that Lewis was just one member of the team and that their work will carry on regardless. 

But with the inquiry into the events leading up to his resignation now called off, we may now never know exactly what led to the sheer dishonesty and rank incompetence of the last few days.


Chris said...

Boris is watching the match at Wimbledon. The cameraman cut to him and the commentator said: 'He's had a busy few days.'

That's one way of putting it.

Anonymous said...

they ran on honesty as opposed to Ken and employed a liar and competence as opposed to Ken but employed Boris. Time for a change was right but was it time for a change for the worse??

CH Paul said...

Welcome to City Hall. Will the last person to leave turn out the lights ;)

Paul said...

Didn't the editor of the Evening Standard refer to The Londoner as Ken's Pravda?

Well, no wonder Boris got rid of it, he doesn't need his own version of Pravda, he's got it in the Evening Standard.

The London Evening Standard, Boris' Pravda.