Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Boris's exodus continues as Tim Parker jumps ship

Boris Johnson lost yet another top advisor today as his 'First Deputy Mayor' Tim Parker made a shock resignation.

Parker, who was appointed by Boris to be 'Chief Executive of the GLA Group' as well as Chair Transport for London had previously vigorously defended the extent of his powers.

But in a surprise move, he has now conceded that it is 'not appropriate' for him to undertake so much of the Mayor's role. 

“I have concluded.... that it would not be appropriate for an unelected official to chair a body which is responsible for most of the money and a large part of the brief of an elected Mayor. I also agree with the Mayor that my position as adviser does not justify my full time and exclusive commitment to the Greater London Authority, or the title of First Deputy Mayor. We have therefore decided to adjust the management structure and abolish that position.”

The position, which was only created by Boris three months ago, will now pass into the annuls of London Government history along with the positions of Deputy Mayor for Young People and Women's Advisor.

Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Mike Tuffrey said earlier today: 

"To lose one advisor is unfortunate, to lose two is careless but to lose three in four months shows the wheels are coming off this new administration. 

He added: "Why is Boris losing yet another advisor? Has Tim Parker discovered that running London isn’t as easy as running private business?”

In fact when Parker was appointed by Boris, there was some question about how long he would bother to stick around. 

In what now appears an amazing piece of foresight, George Pitcher who was an old colleague of Parker, wrote in the Telegraph:

"Parker, in Boris's mind, will be King Stooge. Boris doesn't understand business. Far too boring for a man of vision such as himself. Also, it's rather "trade" for a toff from Eton and the Bullingdon Club. So Parker will be his Managing Director, he thinks, and the one who can have all those tedious meetings about budgets while Boris gets photographed with Miss Bust-Conductor on a new Routemaster.

"The trouble with this plan is that, talented as he undoubtedly is, Parker is not essentially a runner of businesses. He's a turner-round of businesses and a deal-maker. He's a slash-and-burn man, laying waste to unproductive factories and under-performing people. He once told me that it's best to fire people as soon as you arrive somewhere, before you've got to know them. That may be just what London needs – some cost-saving at the centre, to better serve the interests of Londoners, who Parker calls "shareholders".

"But unless Parker is allowed to float London on the Stock Exchange, or organise a management buy-out of Chelsea, or break up Westminster and sell the profitable bits, he will quickly grow bored. Once he's made something pay, he wants out.

But with 'King Stooge' out of the building, and with planning powers now passed back into the Mayor's hands, we are now faced with the very real prospect of Boris Johnson actually doing his own job. These are scary times people.

UPDATE- Reaction from the Labour Assembly group now in the comments.

reaction from Ken Livingstone.

UPDATE- And Darren Johnson of the Greens.

UPDATE- And the London Assembly says we told you so.

UPDATE- When the going gets tough (and the tough have already got going) just roll out the plonker.

This post now also appears over at Liberal Conspiracy


Labour Assembly Group (press release) said...

The chaos on the 8th floor is now a huge issue.

Relationships on the 8th floor are riddled with tensions and, whilst Boris was keen to give him this position of First Deputy Mayor, Parker’s colleagues were clearly not supportive. Parker himself has always been “Chief Beast” in his jungle and it was clearly not going to operate in that way here.

Parker must have been aghast at all the chaos surrounding the first 100 days of Boris Johnson. Parker has a serious reputation in the private sector - why on earth would he risk it in this chaos?

The Mayor is now in an unsustainable position. In addition to being Mayor, he says he wants to Chair the Police Authority, Transport for London and the new Waste Authority. Additionally, having delegated his planning powers he recently took them back. He needs to find some competent deputies to share his responsibilities - instead it looks like they are fighting like rats in a sack.

He has also lost two Deputy Mayors and a senior adviser in controversial circumstances. As if that was not enough, he has failed in his promise to give a clear statement of priorities and 'direction of travel'. London is drifting and Boris is the Captain. Can he afford to go to Beijing during this crisis? When will this chaos end?

Chris said...

So at a running total we have:

James McGrath - resigned
Ray Lewis - resigned
Tim Parker - resigned
Simon Milton - job changed three times
Ian Clement - job changed once

Any more for any more?

Ken Livingstone (press release) said...

Commenting on the resignation of Tim Parker as Boris Johnson’s First Deputy Mayor, Ken Livingstone said:

“Tim Parker was supposed to be the cornerstone of Boris Johnson's administration. His exit after just a couple of months in fact confirms the chaos which has existed in Boris Johnson's administration since day one.

"This is the third resignation of one of Boris Johnson's most senior officers in only three months - following Deputy Mayor Ray Lewis and Deputy Chief of Staff James McGrath and other Deputy Mayors and top appointees are known to be at one another's throats within City Hall.

"All this flows from Boris Johnson's incoherent policies for London and therefore incapacity to run the city.

“While some Tory sections of the press gave a glowing evaluation of Boris Johnson's first 100 days the reality was quite different and those following the administration closely were fully aware of the growing chaos at its heart. The resignation the First Deputy Mayor brings this chaos right out into the open.

“This latest resignation, after Boris Johnson's Deputy Chief of Staff and his deputy Ray Lewis, indicates how unfit the Tories are not only to run London but also the country.”

Green Assembly Member Darren Johnson (PR) said...

Responding to news that Boris Johnson has now decided to chair the TfL Board instead of Tim Parker, and that Tim Parker will be standing down
from his role as First Deputy Mayor, Darren Johnson, a Green Party Member of the London Assembly commented:

"Tim Parker is the third key figure to resign in less than four months, reflecting the rushed nature of appointments and giving an appearance of chaos in the new administration. Londoners deserve a
better deal from the man they have entrusted to run their city."

Anonymous said...

Loved this comment from the Evening Boris:

"It would be a pity if this deterred the Mayor from making bold appointments to other positions from outside the ranks of career politicians and administrators. Individuals with experience from the private sector can be a real asset in public office, and Mr Parker, with his grasp of financial detail, provided skills that the Mayor lacks. Mr Johnson should continue to spread his net wide - unlike Ken Livingstone, who was too narrow in his choice of adjutants - but he will need to think more clearly in future about what job his appointees are expected to do. Fortunately, his other deputy mayors, sir simon Milton, Kit Malthouse, Richard Barnes and Ian Clement, are capable men, with extensive experience of local government. Let us hope the mayor retains their services - he can survive the loss of two deputies; any more will look like carelessness."

So basically if things get any worse, we might -just might- consider criticising him.

Tom said...

Hang on, all four remaining deputies are elected London Conservative councillors/AMs, aren't they? How's that for being too narrow in a choice of adjutants and not appointing people outside the ranks of career politicians, then?

The Troll said...

Well spotted Tom. That's a fantastic piece of doublethink from the Standard.

Anonymous said...

What did I say, if this had been a game of Chess, Johnson as a King has now lost his Queen, whose next and how on earth will he be able to survive 4 years in office with this type of chaos when he clearly shows he is not the man to get things in order, rather the opposite.

The Troll said...

If Parker is the Queen, what does that make Ray Lewis? The Bishop?

Tom said...

Heh, thanks. I only spotted it because I was updating the Boriswatch Guide to the Mayoralty. I think I need a permanent link to the Edit button on that one now. Headed 'Don't Panic', perhaps.

Helen said...

There's always Richard Branson. Just think, London's transport run as efficiently as the West Coast line. *snigger*

Tom said...

I've submitted a comment the the Double Standard pointing that out. Let's see if they let it through.

I'd not want Branson running London, although it would be fun to see him repaint the website red.

Anonymous said...

What about Greg Dyke....

angelneptunestar said...

Helen, what do you mean, there is always Richard Branson? There is always Alan Sugar!

Seriously, I don't know why Ken always seems to imply that everything was hunky dory in his reign when, to be nice, that was far from the case.

He and Boris are totally different people. Ken had a very centralised way of doing things and that brought its own problems. Boris has made some bold appointments and some of them are not going to work out - no biggy. It isn't as though we have to pay Tim Parker hundreds of thousands as a payoff, he was working for £1, so what is the problem?

You guys were always complaining Boris delegated too much. Well, he is listening to you, and going to handle far more himself and you are still complaining!!!

ps. the Standard poll decided by a large margin that Ken shouldn't go to Beijing. A bit mean spirited, he deserves a nice trip.

The Troll said...

Angela - you make Iain Dale seem sceptical

Anonymous said...

Have you seen how many times you can vote in that Standard Poll?

and it makes me smile said...

The problem is, Angel N Star, that Boris is actually not competent "to handle far more himself".
As an editor of a magazine such as the Spectator, he didn't actually have a proper managerial role. he mainly had to commission articles, write a bit and, probably, attend monthly meetings with his commercial director. He's never had a proper job. He doesn't really know what to do. He's probably absolutely petrified.
Out of interest, what would happen if he were to have a nervous breakdown? Would his deputy (assuming he had any left) automatically take over, would it force an election?

Jack Taylor said...


Did anyone else notice Richard Barnbrook's reaction?

London Assembly (press release) said...

Commenting on today’s announcement that First Deputy Mayor, Tim Parker, has resigned as Chief Executive of the Greater London Authority (GLA) Group – the third mayoral appointment to do so - Jennette Arnold AM, Chair of the London Assembly, said:

“The London Assembly raised concerns about Tim Parker’s appointment as Chair of Transport for London (TfL) and how the position would work alongside his other role in the GLA group.1

“This latest news confirms our concerns were justified.

“The Assembly demanded clarity on the precise nature and responsibilities, including any staff management role, of the GLA Group Chief Executive. Therefore we welcome today’s announcement as it indicates Boris Johnson has realised that as elected Mayor he must take more of a central decision-making role rather than delegating his responsibilities to his deputies.

“The Assembly’s role is to hold the Mayor to account on behalf of Londoners, and as part of this, we will be looking closely2 at this seemingly shambolic situation to ensure it doesn’t affect the Mayor’s ability to run London effectively.”

angelneptunestar said...

Anditmakesmesmile, don'[t get me started, because I have total faith in Boris's ability to handle ANYTHING. ps. he is the last person to have a nervous breakdown, because he is so solid and placid, he would hardly shift if a bomb went off.

Tom, good joke, about the Double Standard, you are tres amusing today, mon ange.

Adam, I KNOW!!! Iain Dale should buck up!

Guys don't forget to watch the prog. on Boris's aristo. ancestors tonight, I bet it's funny.

Tom said...

"Out of interest, what would happen if he were to have a nervous breakdown?"

Richard Barnes, as the statutory Deputy Mayor, would take over the Mayor's duties. The reason the statutory DM is the one who takes over is because he/she has to be elected (in fact an Assembly member). You won't get a situation where one of the unelected appointees takes over. The problem a lot of people (including me) have with the imported multiple deputy idea is that it obscures this clear line of succession.

angelneptunestar said...

I think it is great that Boris is taking over as head of TfL. Boris is gaining in confidence and he is beginning to realise he doesn't need all the backup he thinks he did. There is only one Mayor and that person has the final say and that is going to be Boris. but it is nice Tim Parker is going to stay on as an advisor.

the thing with Boris is, he doesn't need the people working for him to be yes men. He has made some original appointments, which means there is a bigger likelihood that people will drop by the wayside, but also a bigger ikelihood of getting hold of more talent from the business world.

This is a really good thing to happen.

Anonymous said...

Do you have a crush on Boris Johnson?
I just wonder.

angelneptunestar said...

Anon. your question made me laugh, because with all the devoted supporters Ken has, no-one ever asks them that question.

I have a huge admiration for Boris Johnson as a politician, writer, wit and nice person. I have equal admiration for David Cameron, William Hague, George Osborne and I also like Ed Vaizey and when they are attacked, I also spring to their defence, because I am absolutely sickened at the standard of leadership presented by the present government. If I were one of the Labour cabinet and looked back over their record of the past 10 years, I would be full of shame and would not know where to put myself. Does that answer your question?