At a talk at the London School of Economics last Tuesday Tony Travers said of former mayor Ken Livingstone that 'love him or hate him he had a well developed narrative for the city.'
Asked what the new Mayor's narrative would be Sir Simon Milton replied that he had 'never come across a Conservative or Labour way of sweeping a street.'
It was a telling comment and over the course of his speech, Milton set out a plan for London government without an ideology, and of his vision for a city without a vision.
Now I'm not saying he didn't express any ideas. There was much talk of 'economic sub-hubs' and 'polycentric development' and a dozen other ways in which the rim of the donut might get a little extra jam.
But beyond this I got very little sense of how a Boris Johnson administration will significantly alter London.
It was as if they have been elected as street-sweepers and so it will be as street-sweepers that they will remain.
A New Broom
Asked what difference a Conservative government would make to his plans, he said that they would try and reduce the number of 'statutory strategies' that they were required to set: "it should be down to the Mayor to decide what the Mayor should do" he explained.
But listening to Milton, it was clear to me that he would be happy to 'decide to do' as little as possible to significantly alter the city at all.
Now there will be many who will be pleased to hear this.
If you listen to Tory Assembly members at Question Time you will barely hear a question which does not mention stripping back the GLA to the 'slimline' version of it (they) envisaged.
But the problem with this, is that if all you do with a street is to sweep it, then the street itself will quickly fall into disrepair.
And if you don't have any new ideas for that street, then there will be plenty of others who will have interests in sweeping in with some of their own.
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