Saturday, 23 August 2008

Simon Milton on Tim Parker: Either he goes or I do

Boris Johnson's Deputy Simon Milton threatened to quit, if Tim Parker remained at City Hall, it was revealed today.

According to a senior member of the administration, Milton told the Mayor: 

"He went to Boris and said, 'Parker is acting like he's the Mayor, not you. Either he goes or I do'

"So Boris was put in a position where he had to grasp the nettle, even though he didn't want to, because Boris hasn't learnt yet that in politics you can't be everyone's friend."

The Indy's detailed account of events leading up to the Parker resignation comes after a week of heavy briefing from all sides in the dispute.

And although other accounts have differed over whether Parker jumped or was pushed, the consistent impression is of an administration mired in rows, slanging matches, and political maneuvering.  

One source close to the centre of power at City Hall told the Troll:

"Parker going won't be the end of this. They are still at each other's throats on the eighth floor and I wouldn't be surprised if more people ended up quitting. It's chaos frankly, and Boris has lost himself a lot of respect."

The furore over the Forensic Audit Panel and the farcical briefings about non-existent 'hidden wine cellars' are also a major source of tension at City Hall. Many staff continue to see them as little more than political 'stitch-ups.' 

But beyond the internal politics of the last few months, there remains serious structural problems, which the removal of Parker has not solved. An ex-Tory Minister told the Indy:

"Boris's team is now overly represented by a group of undistinguished Tory councillors, all of them pretty low-grade, with the exception of Milton.

"The danger is Boris will let them have too much sway and they'll run a tame mayoralty which will miss the chance to do radical things.

"They'll muddle on as they've always done while Boris continues to amuse the nation. The other danger is that Boris will take on too much himself, particularly after saying that he's taking over as chair of TfL because the decisions are all political, and that's not his area of competence."

So as Boris enjoys headlines for promising to bring in the Olympics under budget (it's called a contingency) he should remember that there are big problems awaiting him in a small riverside office block back home.


John B said...

"The danger is Boris will let them have too much sway and they'll run a tame mayoralty which will miss the chance to do radical things."

Thank $deity for that. Hopefully by spring 2012 the Cameron government will be sufficiently unpopular that Boris is roundly sent packing, and then we can restore normal and sane service...

The Troll said...

I'm in two minds about this. While I'm pleased that the Parker slash and burn wing has been ceded by the bog-standard tory wing, I do hope that Boris does at least some radical things good or bad. There are things that need doing in London after all and so far Boris has shown all signs of avoiding them.

Four years of minor measures mixed with the occasional bit of grandstanding is not a very appealing prospect. I would rather Boris actually had the courage to get on and do what he wants to do, without being pushed back and forth by the many chiefs he has hired. I might not agree with what he does, but whatever it is, it has got to be better than the dithering and drift we have seen so far.

Anonymous said...

Are you serious? Think of all the trouble he will cause now he's actually starting to do some of the job himself? It was bad enough when he was paying people to do it for him.

Stevep said...

Doesn't this kind of stuff normally happen after people have been in power for a long time, not after five minutes!

What happened to the honeymoon?

The Troll said...

He lost the ring

Anonymous said...

I'm getting slightly embarassed by the constant 'Olympics under budget' stories. It's naive politics, if it goes over, he'll be attacked, if it stays under budget, he'll get the blame for every little thing that goes wrong.

Anyway, his real test is coming up. I'm sure Andy Slaugher won't mind a copy and paste from his website -

"If Boris intends to abolish western extension he has my full support. But will he? Apparently it is raising £40-50 million for the Mayor and Kensington & Chelsea Tories – big Boris backers – are very much in favour of retaining it. Perhaps that’s why he is now consulting on something that before the election he was clear was a bad idea"

Mr. Stop Boris said...

Just noticed Milton is due to be on Any Questions on Radio 4 this Friday. Might be worth tuning in for, particularly as a fellow panelist will apparently be Ken Livingstone (the day before his new weekly LBC show starts).

Not sure how reliable the listings are though, as they say Milton is LGA chair, a position I thought he'd eventually relinquished to stay within the spirit of the law over his appointment under Boris. But I could be wrong - it's rather hard to keep up with all this, as you know...

The Troll said...

Thanks for the heads up Mr. SB. That should definitely be worth a listen.

barry rochford said...

It speaks volumes about Boris's ineptitude when it comes to management that he hasn't a clue without the sound local government experience of Simon Milton - although you have to consider whether his running of Westminster has anything to merit praise.
Milton won't go, partlya s he's nowhere left to go in the short term and also if Boris has any sense (big 'if' here) he'll realise that he needs to steady his ship and Milton departure would do him more damage than the Prince of Darkness.
Also, Boris might soon find that he has to spend more money, not less unless he really is going to cut back on the police force...