Snipe - The Scoop

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Brian Coleman: Boris's Champion Olympic Gaffelete

The news that Brian Coleman believes British Olympians have the 'blood of Tibetans' on their hands and that Boris Johnson has no chance of bringing the games in under budget, is no surprise.

Just last week Coleman was claiming homophobia after being passed over for an job at the LGA and just last month he was condemned for spending tens of thousands of pounds of our money on taxis.

Of course you would think that Labour and the other parties would be hungry for blood after McGrath, Lewis and Parker. But aside from condemning his remarks they have held back from calling for a resignation.

Because with Coleman supplying such a regular chain of gaffes, it is clearly in their interests for him to stay.

Gaffe Cow

In recent years Coleman, who Boris Johnson chose to chair the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, has become something akin to a cash cow for his opposition politicians.

The man who was recently described to me by an ex-assembly member as being "to the right of Genghis Khan" is a regular supplier of outrage, controversy and scandal.

And is in his actions and manner he is as living an embodiment of everything that is objectionable about the Conservative Party as we are ever likely to find.

Boris of course cannot afford another resignation anyway, and Coleman would be highly unlikely to give him one. So for now at least, Coleman is likely to stay.

But if anyone can explain to me why Boris Johnson was happy to appoint such a walking disaster zone to his team, then I would be really interested to hear it.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Boris Johnson must not risk domestic murder rise

Domestic violence murders in London are set to rise for the first time in five years, as Boris withdraws his support from the group responsible for reducing them.

Since 2003 murders in the home have fallen by an impressive 50%. This is largely due to the strategy drawn up by the Greater London Domestic Violence Project

The project which was funded by the GLA, had their contract cancelled by Boris Johnson earlier this year and the Mayor has yet to lay out an alternative strategy.

The group will continue to officially work with the GLA until September, but they are no longer in direct contact with the Mayor's office. 

The Mayor has also not submitted a replacement to the London Domestic Violence Forum Steering Group since he made the GLA's Women's advisor redundant.

Since these decisions there have been an alarming spike in the figures with thirteen deaths already recorded between April and June this year alone.

This compares to a total of nineteen deaths for the whole of last year.

Of course it is highly unlikely that the rise is a direct result of Boris's decisions. 

But whatever the reason, it should at the very least demonstrate just why there is simply no alternative to paying for people with the necessary expertise.

Wake up Boris

Because when Boris decided to axe the roles of Women's and Equalities advisors at City Hall, it was largely seen as a necessary sweeping out of the 'politcally correct' regime at City Hall. 

But if Boris had done some research before exercising his Inner Littlejohn, then he would have realised that these roles and groups are not left-wing talking shops dreamt up to keep the trots happy, but serious organisations and individuals successfully preventing the abuse and deaths of vulnerable people in the capital.

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.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Boris Johnson risks huge EU fines for air pollution

Boris Johnson has been urged to reverse his pro-motorist policies after the EU warned of hundreds of thousands of Londoners being at serious risk from polluted air.

Correspondence between the government and Boris Johnson obtained by the Guardian, reveals that the EU could impose unlimited fines if the Mayor does not take urgent measures.

Green Assembly Member Darren Johnson said today: 

“With hundreds of thousands of Londoners exposed to dangerously polluted air everyday, it is time for the Mayor to act.”

“Unfortunately, of the few clear decisions that Boris has taken so far, many will worsen, not improve air quality. He has cancelled a traffic reduction scheme at Parliament Square, dropped public procurement of hydrogen cars and is consulting about reversing the western extension of the congestion charging?”

When questioned by the Assembly, Boris promised that he would take "extra measures" to reduce the quantities of "fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide" in the atmosphere. 

However, his plans to expand London City Airport and build a new airport in the Thames Estuary will only further add to air pollution in the capital. Darren Johnson added:

“Rather than saying one thing and doing another, London’s new Mayor must show that the health of Londoners is his priority by taking cars off the roads, replacing them with cyclists, pedestrians, and public transport.”

If air pollution is not reduced by a third on London's busiest streets, the UK could be taken to the European court, with the potential for unlimited fines to be imposed.

But beyond any financial or environmental implication, the continuing problem of dire air quality is a huge health risk. Current levels of pollution are estimated to cause around 32,000 premature deaths in the UK each year.

And with rising petrol prices pushing drivers onto diesel, it is more important than ever that Boris Johnson puts the brakes on his pro-motorist agenda.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Boris Johnson introduced to the world in Beijing



-UPDATE- The Chinese are similarly unimpressed.

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.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Boris Johnson goes for gold after Beijing 'snub'

Anyone else remember this classic piece of Boris Johnson demagoguery?

"Mr Johnson is also travelling economy class — although he is likely to get an upgrade from BA — and moving from the £400-a-night hotel booked for Mr Livingstone to a more modest establishment."

(Evening Standard: 'Boris Cuts £1m off cost of Beijing Trip' - 12th June 2008)

Good old Boris eh? Man of the people that chap. Man of the bloody people. 

And again in his memo to City Hall staff:

"I look forward to seeing you all when I get back from Beijing – with a flag in the adjacent (premium economy) seat."

(Memo from Boris Johnson to City Hall Staff - 19th August 2008)

What a guy. So I wonder how he got on?

"British Airways denied the Mayor an upgrade from his economy seat on the nine-hour overnight flight to the Olympics... the incident is certain to be viewed as a snub by mayoral aides who were convinced their boss would be treated like a VIP."

(Daily Mail 'Weary Boris refused an upgrade' 21 August 2008)
Oh dear. Didn't see that one coming did you Boris?

"If he had travelled Club World, BA's business class, Mr Johnson would have had a fully reclining seat-bed, 73 inches of legroom and on-demand meals.

"Instead, he had to put up with just 38 inches of legroom, and meals and snacks when the cabin crew distributed them."

Poor chap. Still at least he will be saving us some money on his hotel bill. But hang on what's this?

"He had promised to cancel expensive hotel suites booked by Mr Livingstone and downgrade to a cheaper hotel.

"But the Mayor and his team are staying in the official International Olympics Committee hotel, the five-star Beijing Raffles Hotel, where rooms start at £400 a night."

You what?

"A spokesman for the Mayor said: "We were told it would be easier for us to stay at the IOC hotel for security reasons and also because that's where we'll be having meetings with [IOC chief] Jacques Rogge and Seb Coe about the handover to London." 

Oh well, never mind Boris. Maybe you will find it easier to keep your promises next time.

Gilligan and an essential revolutionary moment

"When, next month, the full (forensic audit) report comes out, and the GLA's new cost-cutting chief executive, Tim Parker, starts work, we will see that second essential revolutionary moment: the part when selected victims are led out to the firing squad. It will be politically correct London's equivalent of the credit crunch and, with any luck, it will be goodbye to the groundbreaking cycling-for-the-blind initiatives, farewell to the gay Bengali workplace sustainability forums."

Never mind Gilly. At least we can say our goodbyes to Boris's blind-leading-the-blind initiative.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

As Tim Parker ships on out, Simon Milton sails on in

If any one man can be said to have Tim Parker's blood on his hands this morning, it is Boris Johnson's other Deputy, Sir Simon Milton.

When Milton met the London Assembly last month, he was asked why he had taken so long to accept a full time position. Milton replied:

I am probably to blame for that. The Mayor wanted me to come in full time from the beginning but I found that hard to agree to at first. But now I have decided that my place is here.

So what changed? Certainly nothing at the LGA who were pretty peeved to see him go. Nor at City Hall where lawyers continued to insist that his position as informal advisor was (just about) legal.

What did change it seems, was the job offer on the table. 

Because when Milton's name first came up in May it was as an executive Director of Planning. 

However, when it was pointed out that his roles at Westminster Council and the Local Government Association precluded him from the job, he was demoted to an informal advisor.

With his powers suitably stripped, Tim Parker was then brought in, largely to fill the void. 

At his confirmation hearings with the Assembly, Parker spoke passionately (a little too passionately perhaps) about his desire to bring in affordable housing.

But when Milton of Shirley Porter fame, started to informally stretch his own informal powers from his informal office in City Hall, there was inevitably going to be a clash.

And when Milton decided that his 'place is here' he was dutifully handed many of the planning and policy powers which Parker had already been lined up for.

Arise Sir Milton

That Milton was on a power grab became even clearer last week when it was revealed that Boris would not be employing a Housing Advisor, despite his earlier promises. 

This role like many of Parker's will now be exercised by Milton.

In a memo sent to all City Hall staff yesterday Boris Johnson confirmed:

"As you may by now have observed, Tim Parker has relinquished his role as First Deputy Mayor and Chief Executive of the GLA.

"I am hugely grateful to him for his help and support over the last couple of months, and he will continue to be giving me advice as a member of the board of TfL.The key factor in our decision – and yes, it was a joint decision – is that it has become quite obvious to both of us that the Mayor must chair TfL. This body is not just a major London employer. Decisions taken by TfL have an impact on the lives of millions of Londoners, and there must be direct political accountability.

"We will also be taking forward Tim's work on restructuring the GLA. He has come up with some excellent ideas, and these will now be developed by Simon Milton, who will be assuming greater responsibilities within my office, together with the interim Head of Paid Service, Jeff Jacobs. This plan will now be put into effect next month."

So as Parker packs up his suitcase, no longer able to 'make the difference' he wanted to, spare a thought for the new lord and master of City Hall. Farewell one and all to Prince Parker and arise my lords to Sir Milton.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Boris Johnson takes another journey into history

He's much happier there.

Power Struggle at City Hall as Boles gets the blame

As City Hall descends into yet another leadership crisis, Boris Johnson's transition chief is again being lined up for the blame.

Nick Boles who last month acted as the fall guy for the Ray Lewis fiasco, is now being linked to the resignations of all three high-level Boris Johnson appointments.

Paul Waugh of the Evening Standard reports on his blog:

Insiders claim that Mr Boles was closely involved in the appointment of each of the three figures who have been forced to quit - former Deputy Mayor Ray Lewis, former deputy chief of staff James McGrath and now Tim Parker.

I'm told that a power struggle with Sir Simon Milton was part of the reason for the latest departure of Mr Parker (the vastly more experienced Milton having been installed as policy chief), as well as an insistence from TfL chief Tim O'Toole that he would not take orders from anyone on transport other than the Mayor). Yet Boles had reassurred Boris that Parker was the man to effectively "run London" on his behalf.

Leaving the insight about Milton and O'Toole to one side for a moment, there does seem to be a fascinating blame game going on here.

When Ray Lewis got himself into trouble, the Mayor's spin operation first blamed a nameless left-wing conspiracy, then they blamed the Bishops, then they blamed Nick Boles, then they blamed Boris's election chief, then they blamed the law itself, and now they're back to blaming Nick Boles again.

Now has anyone stopped to think here that maybe, just maybe, the person to blame might actually be the Mayor himself?

Richard Barnbrook becomes latest Victim of Crime

After David Cameron's claim that a man tried to push him off his bike, the BNP's Richard Barnbrook is the latest politician to fall victim to the *OUT OF CONTROL LONDON CRIME WAVE*

According to a GLA source, Richard was relaxing with a drink in the Horniman Pub at the Hays Galleria near City Hall when:

'at approximately 22:30 hours he discovered that his wallet, mobile phone and a quantity of paperwork were missing from his jacket.'

Oh dear. Was it your round by any chance Richard?


Have you been watching Wally? Do you drink in his new local too? Do you know what happened to Dicky's phone? If so the Troll would really like to hear from you...


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.

UPDATE- As is
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

Boris Value or how to change a light bulb Tory-style

How many Tories does it take to change a light bulb? I've got absolutely no idea, but whatever the number, it's very expensive.

An invoice from Boris Johnson's election expenses shows that our new value-for-money Mayor paid £246 for the changing of just eight light bulbs in his campaign headquarters.

The bulbs which cost a total of just £17 to purchase, apparently took six hours to screw in at a going rate of £28.98 an hour.

Now if Boris Johnson had only given the Troll a call, he would have saved himself a few bob. 

But like the £40,000 wasted on bluewashing the Mayor's website, the Market seems to have failed Red Boris once again.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Kate Hoey takes principled stand against her job

The Evening Standard are crowing about Boris Johnson's Sport Commisioner, and Labour MP, Kate Hoey's decision to boycott the Beijing Olympics.

"In contrast to the former Mayor of London, who was put up for three nights in a £1,100-a-night hotel before publicly defending China's human rights record, Hoey has boycotted the games "on principle."

Ah yes principle. Hoey has a lot of those. Like her principled stand against the ban on handguns. And her principled endorsement of Boris Johnson a few days before the Mayoral Election. Oh yes and her principled opposition to London holding the Olympics.

"Hoey, MP for Vauxhall, was recruited by Boris Johnson to act as his unpaid Commissioner for Sport. It was assumed she would be an obvious person to accompany Boris when he flys out for the closing ceremony, especially as her sports brief includes helping Britain build on the legacy of hosting the 2012 Olympics."

Well yes. Surely as a sports 'commissioner' Hoey should be out there doing, oh I don't know, some commissioning. The Standard will be unimpressed no?

Hoey has been a long term critic of Ken Livingstone. She was part of allparty group calling on police to investigate grants distributed by the LDA. She obviously finds Ken's cosying up to the Chinese equally unpalatable.

Oh yes Ken Livingstone. Are the Standard ever going to get over him losing the election? They don't seem to be.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Comrade Boris and the many costs of following Ken

Comrade Johnson or 'Red Boris' as he's known round these parts, hit the headlines after it was revealed he had hired a Fidel Castro costume during the Mayoral campaign.

The costume was donned by a Back Boris campaign member who wore it while harassing Ken Livingstone around London. 

The full election expenses seen by the Troll today, show that the stunt cost the campaign several hundred pounds. However, I think you will agree that it achieved truly hee-larious results.

Mind you it's a good job they didn't go in for dressing up in top hats or anything though eh? That would have been like soooo negative, and like soooo beneath a modern political party.

How to make influence and befriend people

The full details of Boris' election expenses and donations are now available at City Hall, and the Troll has spent the day trawling through the names. 

Of the initial crop, a couple of names stand out. First of all is Addison Lee, the largest minicab and private hire company in the capital who donated 25,000 to Boris's campaign.

Quite why they donated so much, I don't know. But the new regime certainly seems to be working out well for them.

Another name that crops up is Edmund Lazarus who was given a place on the LDA board after donating £22,500 to the campaign.

And lastly we have the United & Cecil Club, who were accused earlier this year of using parliamentary facilities to raise Tory donations. Surely that's not the case here chaps?

In total Boris and the Tories received £596,173.25 of cash and notional donations, most of which seems to have been spent on oyster card holders, keyrings and leaflets.

But with almost 200 individuals and organisations contributing to the pot, there will be many more waiting with interest to see just what Red Boris does in the coming months and years.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Boris Johnson and a Double Decker Bendy Bus

Now I know Boris Johnson is keen to get his next generation Routemaster on the road, but I thought that he would have at least waited until he had actually built one:

While on the 436 bendy bus near Camberwell Green on Thursday morning Caroline Pidgeon AM, the Liberal Democrat deputy chair of the transport committee, was surprised to hear the bus’ automatic iBus system announce ‘No standing on the upper deck’ and ‘Seats are available upstairs.’

“I was shocked to say the least. Is Boris trying to tell us something?” said Caroline. “If Boris is getting the iBus system updated already evidently his plans for the Routemaster are progressing well.”

Maybe he's made the design brief even more flexible.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Cameron, Policy Exchange and Bluewashing Britain

David Cameron today called the latest report from Policy Exchange 'insane'. As well he might. But for the modern Conservative Party, the only thing insane, was to say this stuff out loud.

Because for the think tank, the ranks of which make up a large chunk of the new Tory establishment, these views are nothing out of the ordinary.

The report which basically suggests that government should concentrate most of its investment on London, Oxford, and Cambridge and fuck off the rest of the country, has been unsurprisingly rejected by the Tory leader.

But as the Conservatives move towards removing powers from Scottish MPs, and removing investment from Labour supporting boroughs in London, it is precisely this kind of thinking that is coming to the fore.

In London, where ex-Policy Exchange director Anthony Browne now directs Tory policy, Boris Johnson is already pursuing a divide and desert strategy. 

The strategy where the poorest are deprived of funding (most notably in the scrapping of half-price fares for people on income support) while left-wing events and organisations are deprived of investment is the logical conclusion of the 'donut strategy' pursued during the elections.

In fact the report which envisages a land of endless (Tory) suburbs rolling out before a deserted hinterland is donut-politics writ large. The North has failed. The North is Labour. Come on people, head to the donut rim

Of course none of this is made explicit. On the face of it, this is still a one-nation unionist party. But in deeds rather than words, the Tories continue to support their base and turn their face to the rest. 

And while Labour continue to appease the unappeasable Right while frustrating those on the left, the Tories will ride to power with overwhelming support from those people the party was born to serve.


This post now also appears over at Liberal Conspiracy

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Is Boris Johnson planning further cuts to Police?

Boris Johnson is considering merging the Metropolitan Police Authority Headquarters with the Greater London Authority, it was revealed today.

Sources at City Hall say speculation is rife that Boris will move the authority lock and stock into City Hall leading to huge job cuts within one or both organisations.

One source told the Troll that:

"The rumour that the MPA is to be relocated is still circulating. Although how they intend to find desk space for another 100 people in City Hall is beyond me - unless this means 100 redundancies of City hall based staff."

The speculation follows the surprise redundancy of the MPA's Equality Chief and the announcement of a real-terms cut in police funding over the next year.

During the election campaign, Boris Johnson repeatedly denied that there would be any cuts to police spending and even famously called Gordon Brown to a Point of Order on the subject .

But with the Police budget making up the vast majority of GLA spending, and with the publicity budget spent a dozen times over, we may only now be seeing where the 'big ticket savings' are actually going to come from.

David Cameron for Freedom (of Police Officers)

Hang on a second. Wasn't David Davis's byelection supposed to be a masterstroke? Civil liberties would be forced up the agenda and the Tories would be tied to a liberal agenda for ever more.

I guess someone forgot to tell David Cameron:
Police would be given greater powers to conduct surveillance operations on people suspected of crimes such as burglary and vehicle theft under plans the Conservative Party will announce today.

Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, will pledge to amend the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act so that police no longer need to secure authorisation to conduct surveillance on those suspected of non-terrorist offences.

Jolly good. At least we know where we stand now.

Boris Johnson's last eighteen days in power

No don't worry yourselves. Boris hasn't handed in his notice just yet. No I'm talking about the last 18 days since I sailed out of Boris-land. So what has our not-so-new-now Mayor been up to?

Well despite my worst fears, Boris hasn't yet privatised park benches or installed first class carriages on bendy buses.

Nor has the Mayor's website been translated into Latin, or Andrew Gilligan appointed Deputy for Whingeing (he is to be retained in an informal role.)

But what has happened is the gradual revealing of what is surprise, surprise, yet another bog-standard Tory administration.

Old Habits

In the first 100 days we had a few signs of this. The scrapping of half-price bus fares for people on income support, and the purging of left-wing positions and festivals played to the age-old tune of Tory governance.

And with so much attention being placed on Boris's botched appointments and on his continuation of the 2008 election campaign, there was little time for them to actually do anything.

But with that period now over, and with the media camel trail marched swiftly onto the general election, Boris and his pals can happily get on with the happy business of happily making happy decisions.

Like this one, to approve the demolition of a popular market to make way for a skyscraper, or this one to sell off playing fields. Or this one to scrap all requirements for social rented housing from a major development. 

Hey it's all good fun this government business isn't it? Just say exactly what people want to hear and when you're elected just do exactly what you were always going to do in the first place. 

Now that really is a change that you can believe in.