Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Boris Johnson told to let more hands on the wheel

A member of the Conservative group at City Hall has urged Boris Johnson to hand over more powers to the Assembly, or risk dragging them all down at the next election.

Top Tory Assembly Member Roger Evans wrote on his blog:

"Boris will be judged most stringently on his performance in the job, but the Assembly elections take place at the same time and a reaction against the mayor is certain to drag down many of the Conservative AMs in its wake."

In order to save themselves from going down with the ship, Evans proposes that 'major roles' should be taken away from 'risky' non-politicians and handed over to Assembly members. He wrote:

"Boris has appointed outsiders to major roles, often because the complex legislation leaves him with little alternative, but also to bring in the specialist skills and experience that he requires. Unfortunately there have been several high profile casualties."

And with those 'high profile casualties' now wheeled out of the hospital, Evans believes that only Assembly members have the necessary experience for the job.

Power Grab

Evans' appeal comes after the successful ousting of non-politician Tim Parker, by the ex-chief of Westminster Council Sir Simon Milton.

This coup, which caused short-term embarrassment for the Mayor, resulted in the top levels of Boris's administration being dominated by ex-local authority chiefs and councillors. 

But although the new hierarchy will have strengthened the hand of those who seek more power for the Assembly and the boroughs, it also poses a problem for the Mayor.

Because with new policy director Anthony Browne yet to play his hand, we still do not know which wing of the Conservative Party will emerge triumphant at City Hall.


Chris said...

It is an interesting post by Evans and shows he understands the issues at stake a hundred times better than his mayor. I suppose it must be something of a mixed blessing for the tory assembly members. They got their man in power, but it's going to be a nerveracking four years hoping that he doesn't fuck it all up. Who can blame them for wanting to have more control?

Anonymous said...

So Cameron is worried he will drag down the Tories and Tory AMs are worried that he will drag them all down.

Personaly I don't see as they have much to worry about. If Boris does badly people then voters will blame him and not the Tory party. He's an independent mayor after all.

Tom said...

Roger Evans is one of the better ones, so this is worth reading - he's obviously been around a bit. He does need to change his blog header though, Valerie Shawcross AM(Lab) is now the Chair of the Transport Committee. Evans is still on it.

There's a hostage to fortune in the Mayoral questions piece though, with 11 members and no real pressure, I suspect some of the young bloods (James Cleverly for instance) will need a quiet word in their ear. He's already used the question time opportunity to indulge in some leftie bashing, which is presumably the kind of toadying Evans is talking about. Cleverly has, of course, now got a seat on the LDA. In fact, with several Conservative AMs in positions appointed by Boris, it's difficult to see how the Tory group as a whole can function as a critical scrutiny body.

Basically Evans has his heart in the right place, but the temptation for the Tories will be to defend Boris against the sniping from the non-Tory AMs, some of which is valid and some of which is invalid (Murad Qureshi, I've my eye on you, son), rather than try and leaf out the valid criticisms.

Mind you, if Boris does screw it up you won't believe how independent he'll suddenly become...

Still, we'll have a few choice mementoes of when he was the darling of the Right saved from the memory hole, just like with Parker. Won't we, Mr. Gilligan?

Anonymous said...

"Personally I don't see as they have much to worry about. If Boris does badly people then voters will blame him and not the Tory party. He's an independent mayor after all."

Boris Johnson did not stand as an independent but as a Tory. They have all the reasons in the world to shiver in their pants because it will damage their party if he fucks it up.
If I was a powerful Tory, I would try to think up how to get rid of him and having him replaced with someone who is actually willing to do the job properly. I tell you, we have only seen the beginning of the disaster and I am sure David Cameron is not happy.

White Lion said...

YAWN. Boris won Ken Lost. GET OVER IT

The Troll said...

...and so they return.

asquith said...

Sounds like quite a sensible intervention to me. The Tories are always moaning about quangos, but Thatcher invented them in the first place as a way to steal the powers of elected councils because they wouldn't take her orders.

BoJo has continues this shite, by installing henchmen accountable to no one but himself and disregarding those who speak for the ordinary voters of London.

The only unfortunate thing is that he might avert his own downfall if he heeds this warning, which might make him stay in power longer...

The challengers have got to be relentless and establish themselves as some kind of credible alternative, burying themselves in voters' heads as the answer to BoJo's uselessness.

The Troll said...

To be fair to the Tory Assembly Members (and councillors for that matter) they are a broad church. Sure they have their Brian Colemans and Richard Traceys amongst them but they also have the likes of Andrew Boff.

But whether you approve of them individually or not, they are at least elected, which Nick Boles and Anthony Browne are certainly not.

Evans cuts to the heart of the issue which is what is the point of the incumbent group on the assembly? Without any real powers they are often reduced to toadying and planted questions, which help nobody and to which nobody listens.

It's a difficult balance to make between ensuring that an elected mayor can rule and ensuring that he is held to account, but in order to get that right, AMs should be able to vote on some areas of policy.

The Assembly could act as a revising chamber with a provision that manifesto commitments are not interfered with. But whatever balance is decided on, the current model is insufficient. That seems to be a consensus opinion among all parties but none of the major Mayoral candidates went into the election promising to try and change it (correct me if I'm wrong)

The big problem is that any change would need to go through parliament, but surely a strong Mayor could manage that, if he had the motivation. The problem is, that there is little motivation for a mayor to give up their own powers.

barry rochford said...

Boris isn't a right wing version of Ken. Whatever views anyone holds, Ken was a local government administrator and knew how local government works. Simon Milton knows how it works. The problem is that Boris hasn't a clue - as was evident with Tim Parker.
Ken knew that with unelected advisors, he had to in the end make the decisions because he was elected. Boris's libertarian madness has allowed non-elected people to have power rather than management responsibilities. Simon Milton knows that this will not work, Boris doesn't. The Tories on the gLA may have been a lazy bunch, but they were elected and thought as a result they should have some real power - Boris's appointments were accountable to no one.
Boris has a limited amount of time to sort this out. In three months, he's already lost more senior appointments than Ken did in 8 years.
He can wave flags and make pronouncements about the olympics (facing both ways on spending as he does on all issues).
However, if he doesn't maintain the trnsport infrastructure, he's had it.

Tom said...

The other point is that Ken wasn't afraid to take decisions, in fact quite the opposite, particularly if they got up someone's nose. A lot of those someones are now going to be expecting Boris to jump when they say jump, which is going to lead to a lot of jumping. There's a danger he's raised expectations too high when it comes to co-operating with the myriad bodies he now says he wants to listen to, and he can't please them all.

It's not so much that Boris hasn't a clue, but he's evidently been listening to people who haven't got a clue. This is why I cautiously welcome Milton getting the upper hand, if that's the case, since a competent Tory is better than an incompetent one. It's still municipal administration when you boil it down.

Roger Evans said...

Troll, thank you for drawing attention to my musings, and for providing the link for your readers to go and see what I actually said.

Your second quote is incomplete - the sentence concludes by drawing a comparison with Labour's Government of all the talents (GOAT), which also brought in unelected specialists, and it was in that context that I used the word 'risky'.

All organisations recognise the value of bringing in specialists with experience they don't possess, and government is no different. The previous mayor had a raft of unelected advisors who wielded a great deal of power, often to the Labour group's chagrin. So I'm certainly not saying that only the elected members have a monopoly of ability - they do however have unparallelled experience of this unique organisation.

And my warning that the fate of the members is tied to the fate of the mayor is pure fact, not alarmism or fear. With a majority of over 40,000 I'm not 'shivering in my pants', as one of your contributors put it...

Tom, thank you for pointing out the historical nature of my blog heading. It is now updated.

And it's great to be referred to as a 'Top Tory'. I will have to come here more often.

The Troll said...

Thanks for dropping by Roger. I hope that the readers of this blog were also inspired to drop by your blog. It is a 'top Tory' blog;)

The post I linked to was interesting on many levels and shows that you understand the dynamics of running the capital far better than Nick Boles, Boris and CCHQ did.

The point you make about GOATs is also a relevant one, although you're right in saying that I didn't quote it in full. Brown got himself into trouble over his 'big tent' approach and Boris has predictably got himself into trouble by following a similar approach as well.

I don't know if Boris reads your blog, but if not he would do well to start. I recommend others do so as well.