Friday, 19 September 2008

Andrew Gilligan urges Boris to break his promises

The Evening Standard's serialisation of the Gilligan Doomsday Prophecies has continued, with a call for Boris to sacrifice all spending commitments, to the coming FINANCIAL APOCALYPSE.

With all the electoral nouse that has so far kept him out of politics, Andrew Gilligan declares:

"What hasn't yet been widely understood — not least by the politicians themselves — is that in this new world, many of the cornerstone assumptions that have governed London politics for years are going to be destroyed. Huge numbers of things London's rulers have been talking about as recently as the May election are either at serious risk, or are effectively already dead."

Oh really. So what will be the first to get the chop Mr. Gilligan?

"At the election, one live issue was the best way to get developers to build affordable housing. Ken famously promised all new developments would be 50 per cent affordable. Boris rejected quotas but still promised to deliver 50,000 new affordable homes in his first term.

"That argument, and both those policies, are now as quaint and irrelevant as the debate about Irish home rule in 1912. Some new homes, started during the boom, are still in the pipeline — but nobody will be building any more, affordable or otherwise, for quite a while. Several developers are on the verge of bankruptcy."

Okay so there will be no more new homes. What else Gilly?

"Tall buildings is another one of those live issues which might be about to die. There is already a glut of office space. Whatever your views for or against, whatever the mayor decides, it seems highly unlikely that many tall towers will ever get off the ground."

Now quite why you would want to get a multi-storey office block 'off the ground' is anyones guess. But if Boris had indeed promised that and I somehow missed it, then I must agree with Andrew wholeheartedly. 

Of course there are some things that Boris can't scrap. His anti-crime measures for instance. No?

"violent crime, may become less of a concern. Recessions usually reduce crimes against people and increase crimes against property. Because property crime is common and violent crime is comparatively rare, however, that could also halt or reverse the recent reductions in crime."

Right, so as we get poorer we will have less fear of violent crime. Now remind me where are the most violent parts of the capital again Andrew?

"So what should the new times mean for Boris? Obviously, it adds urgency to his so far unconvincing effort to slim down TfL and the rest of the “GLA family”. I've sometimes been accused of favouring cuts for their own sake: actually, I favour cuts in unnecessary vanity projects to ensure that we do not have to cut the things that matter, such as bus and Tube services."

Ah yes. Unnecessary vanity projects. Care to remind us of any Andrew? Care to think of any vanity projects that would come at vast expense and with little justification? Care to think of any doomed pet projects that you have personally pushed for against all expert advice

No? Somehow I didn't think that you would. 


Anonymous said...

Every column seems to be a more and more desperate attempt to get Boris to do what he's told.

It's not so much the content that bothers me - yes there is a downturn, yes spending will have to come down - but the way he seem to think that Boris is hanging on his every word. As if Boris even bothers to read the Evening Standard any more. Why would he?

The Troll said...

Well I wouldn't want to speculate on Boris's reading habits, but otherwise I'm with you.

A casual observer said...

Hmm... recessions usually reduce crimes against people?

BBC, 17 Oct 2005:
"Recession 'boosted murder rates'"

"The recession of the early 1980s triggered the rising murder rates of the past 25 years, a new report claims.

The Crime and Society Foundation study analysed the social backgrounds of the 13,140 murdered between 1981 and 2000.

Professor Danny Dorling found a link between rising murder rates and the number of young men leaving school at a time of mass unemployment.

Feelings of hopelessness and a lack of opportunity "bred fear, violence and murder," Prof Dorling concluded."

Could be a one off. Maybe opinions have changed:

Times Online, 1 Sept 2008
Tony McNulty: 'blindingly obvious' that crime and extremism could rise in recession

"Tony McNulty, the Home Office Minister, said that the contents of a leaked document by Jacqui Smith, containing the warnings about ramifications of such a slowdown..."

"...Based on models from the last recession in 1991-92, Ms Smith's briefing note tells Gordon Brown that violent crime is set to grow at a rate of 19 per cent"

Let's take a more immediate (albeit perhaps a tad premature) local example:

Cambridge News Online, 9 Sept 2008
Is economy to blame for violent crime rise?

"The Government has already warned the looming recession could lead to an increase in violence and property crime.

And new figures released by Cambridgeshire police show a spike in serious attacks which have soared by 61 per cent in the city.

From January to August last year there were 49 such assaults, rising to 79 for the same period this year."

Did Gilligan even stop and think about what he wrote? I can see it now: "I would mug you, but with the credit crunch and all..."


The Troll said...

Love it. Another patented Gilligan truism nosedives on take off.

BenSix said...


Anonymous said...

Wikipedia contains an excellent definition in its entry on Randolph Hearst:'"yellow journalism"--sensationalized stories of dubious veracity.'
In its entry on "yellow journalism" it notes
'It may feature exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, sensationalism, or unprofessional practices by news media organizations or journalists.'
Worth reading to understand the Evening Standard.

Anonymous said...

Not sure what there is to quarrel with in Gilligan's piece. Are you saying that there is not going to a downturn in the housebuilding market?

And if the cost of the new RM is £100million, amortised over the 20-year life of the buses, that makes £5 million a year. Doesn't sound that much to me, particularly since we will need to buy new buses, of some stripe or other, in any case.

The Troll said...

"Are you saying that there is not going to a downturn in the housebuilding market? "

Clearly not.

"And if the cost of the new RM is £100 million"

And if the moon were made of cheese, would it be tasty?

The fact is we have no idea how much the bus is going to cost, because it hasn't even been designed yet.

What we do know is that one-off designs with short production runs are generally much more expensive to produce. The open back and conductor requirements will also make them very expensive to run and insure, and the only motivation for producing them seems to be one man's grudge against bendy buses and a pamphlet produced by Policy Exchange.

If that isn't a vanity project, I don't know what is.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm sorry... I thought we did know the cost to be £100 million, because that's what you and the rest of the Ken Livingstone Fan Club have been saying for the last six months.

Roger Evans said...

The 'Vanity Project' that Gilligan actually goes on to identify in his article is the Cross River Tram.

The Troll said...

Afraid not. Boris Johnson used the 100 million figure (along with many other figures) during the campaign, but I have not used that figure.

Use the search function at the bottom. I have not used that figure. The only reference I could find to it was in a video- of Boris talking.

100 million is not even used by the administration now. All they will commit to is a prototype costing 'in the low millions.'

The Troll said...

I know that Roger. I was referring to Gilligan's own* vanity project which began with this in 2005.

Anonymous said...

£100 million is Ken's estimate. And Ken is never wrong, is he? Or are Livingstone groupie circles about to witness an historic First Disagreement with the master?

The Troll said...

Here we go again. You know I really wish you would all get over Ken Livingstone losing the election. Boris is in charge now and it's his estimates that matter.

You can't carry on fighting the last election from your seat in City Hall. Boris is in charge. Get used to it. The eyes are on him.

Anonymous said...

Its if the tories have forgotten what it's like to have someone in a position of power! Surely not!

Tomorrow is the deadline for the Routemaster design, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I wish you would get over it, Alex. The only thing wrong with the new Routemaster is that Ken didn't want it. All your other arguments are either trivial niggles, or totally pants.

Tom said...

Confusion, confusion.

a) Don't mix up RM and bendy replacement - Boris has told us this in an early MQT slapdown to Caroline Pidgeon (they're not 'coterminous' to use his phrase). Obviously we know now that the reason the two can't be linked is because the RM comes in in 2012 and bendies have to be down to 50 per day by then starting next June. The replacements will have to be normal slow-loading double-deckers or squads of rigid 12m single deckers with lots of standing room, which take up the same roadspace but need 33% more drivers.
b) During the campaign RM and bendy replacement *were* linked, by Boris, repeatedly. The dodgy number of £8m for replacing bendies with Routemasters is the best example of this - the £100m came from sensible people analysing the real cost of what Boris was apparently wanting to do according to his election campaign. In the light of a) this is no longer valid
c) We therefore need a new analysis of the two policies separately, with the low millions figure for the RM vanity project separate from the extra yearly cost of more, slower buses on bendy routes, which increases the more replacement you do.
d) Anyone confusing a once-off price tag of £100m and the yearly cost of £100m that everyone eventually agreed would be about the extra cost of running sufficient two-crew RM replacements for the 340 single crew bendy buses in use today really needs to go back to school. If you can use big words like 'amortised' but not work out that conductors and drivers take home a salary you'd be better off out of this thread for a bit, anonymous. I do hope you aren't in a position of any responsibility.

I'll do some analysis of what I suspect the increasing costs of bendy replacement as we now know it are, but since the replacement is gradual and incomplete plus the RM scheme is a dead duck the costs won't be anything like what was worked out during the campaign, because what's being delivered is fundamentally different.

Of course, this means that we can conclude that one of Boris Johnson's main campaign promises was unworkable and based on the absurd combination of naivety and deception that characterises Policy Exchange, but we knew that already, and some of us were saying it during the campaign. He's obviously met some grown ups in the last five months, which is good news, but really we can't relax on this one until the bendy bus policy progresses to a proper assessment on the basis of vehicle/route suitability and cost rather than personal dislike, dodgy Gilligan statistics and dogma (on which subject Boris completely failed to answer a perfectly sensible question last week - perhaps Roger can increase the low number of questions asked per Conservative AM by one and ask this next month?).

The Troll said...

Tom you have as ever filled in the gaps. I'm not sure if it will satisfy our newly resident Kenspiraloon though.

By the way, can anonymous posters please just pick a name to go by. On this thread alone there seems to be three or four of you. Just put any name in the Name/URL section. You don't need to submit an URL or an email. Just a name will do. It just makes it easier to know who and what I'm responding to.

Anonymous said...

Oops - Ken groupies in trouble with figures shock. The policy hasn't changed since the election - Boris was always quite clear that bendies could not immediately be replaced with new RMs, and given the time needed to design and build the new bus, nobody seriously imagined they could be.

It's really no good to pretend that the cost of the interim measure (conventional double-deckers on bendy routes) is going to vastly bump up the bill for the new RM. The extra cost of the interim measure will be absolutely marginal, possibly even nil (a few more buses will have to be used, but conventional DDs cost less to run than bendies, are less prone to fare-dodging, and the staffing costs of each bus are of course the same as a bendy.)

The total PVR (peak vehicle requirement) of the bendy routes is 350. In the days when these routes were operated by double deckers (old RM or one-person) their total PVR was 395. A conventional double-decker costs £180,000. Even if the new RM is 50% more expensive than a conventional double-decker, and even if all current bendy routes were to be converted to the new Routemaster (both things rather unlikely), that is a total bill of just over £100 million for 395 buses. Amortised over 20 years, that makes £5 million a year. The conductor costs, based on three shifts, will add a further £25 million or so a year. Total cost of new RM = £30 million a year. Small change for a TfL with a bus subsidy of £650 million a year, a total budget of billions - and reserves of £1 billion.

I'm also just curious how you can claim, in the original post, that the costs of the New RM will be "vast" when, by your own admission, you have done no analysis of those costs.

The Troll said...

If you wish to make an official estimate for the cost, then just slip it in a press release and I will more than happily publish it.

You can include all the 'Ken groupie', 'Ken fan club' stuff in there as well. It will add some colour.

A casual observer said...

[Boris] needs to tell people, while he is still on honeymoon...

This is one long honeymoon.

Anonymous said...

It's enjoyable to see you guys crumble when your baloney is systematically scrutinised.

The Troll said...

Apparently my 'baloney' consists of your dissection of a figure which I did not use, relating to a an assertion of a man who is no longer mayor, on a topic which in no way undermines the original post.

All of which is incidentally laid out by a man who has repeatedly refused to tell everyone who he really is, but who has persistently come on here via their GLA isp.

Now If Team Boris are really so confident of their figures, then why do you release them anonymously through a comment form on a blog? As I said, put them out officially. If they check out then I will be happy to publish them ('drop in the ocean' or not).

victor allen said...

Well see what Boris does with the buses, but it's not just capital costs and running costs with conductors. It's also their volume - how many people they carry on the key routes. I think expenditure cuts which won't be down to Boris, but wider economic failings will see a lack of investment in any new buses.
However, Boris may be learning, Gilligan's a joke. Now I haven't any qualifications in criminology, but I don't think you need any to know that when there's economic recession both violent crime and crime against property increase. - partly because they are related.
Ken knows that. Boris knows that.
(Just a litlte note for anonymous - Boris denied during the election that the additional cost for his buses would be £100 million. His seeking a replacement bus was not based on financial consideration, but a peculiar ideological position he took for the election as it was a headline grabber. I guess anonymous doesn't have to queue for buses. For those who have to use buses, they're as good as you get - not just in London)

Anonymous said...

You need to explain the claim, which you did make, that the new RM would "come at vast expense." How can you conclude that the expense will be "vast" if you haven't done any analysis? Sounds like baloney to me...

Tom said...

"It's enjoyable to see you guys crumble when your baloney is systematically scrutinised."

a) Is this aimed at Team Boris or myself/Adam?
b) Who the hell are you?

Answers to anonymice are now officially not going to forthcoming from me in this thread. If I'm going to get my teeth into someone I'd like to know that they're willing to back their opinions with their good name.

barry rochford said...

Gilligan's telling us that developers won't build affordable housing. Is it me or is it the case that they did once when councils built them? Oh, dear - that sounds like suggesting nasty state intervention, again. Just like that arch Communist George W Bush has done in USA with the financial markets.
The market cannot sort out core problems of the economic infrastructure - housing being part of that.
I think we've seen how the collpase of the lending regime has hit property in London - not just in terms of pricing, but also for development.
Boris is clearly more pragmatic than Gilligan, when it comes down to it, so we shall see if there's any schem to build affordable housing that works.

Anonymous said...

Nice one, "Tom" - and that's a very informative identity, by the way, can't be too many Toms in London. Because you can't provide serious answers to any serious questions about your work, you stick your fingers in your ears and stop responding.

Tom said...

Recessions/crime - not simple.
Some crimes reduce - fewer people with spending money means fewer people out drinking which means fewer drunken fights (less alcohol consumed and lower concentration of people). On the other hand more stressed people at home due to unemployment concerns and lack of money to go out/holiday = rise in domestic violence. The stupid thing to do in response would be to spend money on more police on the streets and less on domestic violence prevention. Hey, Boris?

Property crime rises, of course - more potential burglars on the streets due to unemployment.

Drug offences *ought* to reduce, since market demand for recreational drugs like cocaine reduces. On the other hand, use of drugs that get you out of your shit life, like heroin, might fuel a rise in theft.

All of this and many other things will not easily be discernable from Boris Johnson's rather poor effort at crime mapping.

Tom said...

Apologies to all for an inadvertent bit of baloney earlier. Please amend:

"The replacements will have to be normal slow-loading double-deckers or squads of rigid 12m single deckers with lots of standing room, which take up the same roadspace but need 33% more drivers."


"The replacements will have to be normal slow-loading double-deckers or squads of rigid 12m single deckers with lots of standing room, which take up the same roadspace but need 50% more drivers."*

Thank you.

* bendies are 18m long, so to keep the same passenger capacity with 12m vehicles without excessive overcrowding you need a 3-for-2 replacement ratio. Obviously this needs a 3-for-2 ratio of drivers, which is 50% more, not 33%. It's not actually an exact comparison since the extra cab required takes away some passenger room, too, as well as costing more to maintain, again in roughly that 3-for-2 ratio (minus a bit for economies of scale). It's all about the numbers, as Phil 'The Blower' Taylor would say.

Of course it may be that Boris decides that bus passengers should bear the cost (via reduced service levels) rather than the TfL budget, which opens up a whole new political vista, particularly given that the clientele of the 507 and 521 aren't Labour voting inner city freeloaders in hoodies but suburban commuters who want to get from terminus to office quickly and easily.

Tom said...

"Nice one, "Tom" - and that's a very informative identity, by the way"

Breaking my rule here, but as anyone in Boriswatching circles knows, it's my real name, which is in my biography on along with my surname (and also in my entry in Iain Dale's Little Red Book, before you ask to see my Labour Party membership card, and in the analysis of RM/bendy cost figures I did back in March on our local forum which predated both Livingstone's and Dave Hill's and concluded correctly that Team Boris couldn't add up).

Since you don't even give us the benefit of your first name we can't even search, say, the GLA website or London's Conservatives for possible annoying trolls.

Really, it would be flattering if you did some research before going on the attack, mate.

James Grieves said...

Bahahaha. Brilliant.

victor allen said...

Tom - don't get worked up by Boris Trolls - it is well documented by more independent observers that the figures Boris gave on his bus building adventure before the election wouldn't add up. Ken's team stated clearly that to balance the books, fares would have to go up to £1.15 per trip. Lo and behold, Boris has done that anyway!
When the new bus hybrid emerges and all the initial costings are made (that is before the real costs kick in), then the real issues will be clarified. I wonder if they'll take into account that more buses will be needed as routemasters (unless we're to have a Harry Potter style triple decker) do not carry as many passengers as a bendy bus?

Tom said...

Ken's team calculated £1.05, so we're only 5p off that already. However, that 'officially' goes to fill Ken's transport black hole, doesn't it, rather than Boris's transport black hole, which is presumably extra.

It's hard to get proper figures on capacity - I've been doing some in-depth research on this over the weekend, consisting mainly of catching a bus, staring at the placarded capacity trying to memorise it, then getting off and going to the pub. This, as you can imagine, leaves a lot to be desired. If anyone can get the placarded figures for a bendy I'll be grateful.