Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Boris Johnson celebrates New Year Pyongyang-style

As we Londoners get ready to celebrate the New Year, our Dear Leader will project a towering 200ft-high video of himself onto the side of the Shell Building on London's Southbank. Here is his message:
"There are those who say we should look ahead to 2009 with foreboding. I want to quote Colonel Kilgore in Apocalypse Now when he says 'Someday captain, this war is going to end', and someday, this recession is going to end.

"We can speed the demise of this recession if we all help the poorest in our community and if we make the vital investment that we need in our mass transit system and in fighting crime, so that London emerges at the end better places (sic) to compete and entrenched in its position as the greatest city on earth.

"We are going to be working flat out at City Hall to achieve that. Let's go forward into 2009 with enthusiasm and purpose. I wish you a very happy New Year."

Doubleplusungood Mayor Boris. Doubleplusungood.


-Update- The final word of the year goes to three readers of the Dear Leader's favourite Evening Standard:

God bless em.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Richard Barnbrook's 'Nazi' complaint thrown out

Poor Richard Barnbrook. He's not having much luck.

No sooner did he have one of his complaints against assembly members thrown out, than another one gets thrown out as well:

Ah Diddums! Did the bad man call you a bad word?

Now when Barking and Dagenham's BNP leader called the Labour group leader a 'Nazi', I don't remember Richard getting so upset.

But then I guess it's only the truth that really hurts:

You see Richard, if you look like a Nazi, sound like a Nazi and work for a load of Nazis, then you shouldn't be surprised when people go and call you a Nazi. 

Of course you could always just stop being such a Nazi and get on with your job, but until that time, people will continue to say what they see.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

'Spiked' make me feel better about Boris Johnson

Libertarian blowhards Spiked on Boris Johnson's year.

Oh Spiked. With enemies like you, who needs friends?

Boris Johnson's special relationship with Bexley

Boris Johnson came to power promising a new special relationship with the boroughs. So how did that work with his decision to scrap the Thames Gateway Bridge?

Now I wonder what could be so special about Bexley?

Boris Johnson drops People's Question Time pledge

Boris Johnson will break his promise to increase the number of People's Question Times and is instead expected to hold a series of single-issue meetings.

Boris had originally pledged to increase the number of People's Question Times to a total of six a year, but will now only hold the statutory two.

In the place of the additional PQTs, where questions can be asked on any issue, Boris will instead hold a series of meetings known in City Hall as 'PQT lights.' 

The first of these will be held in the Conservative borough of Hillingdon in January and is expected to consist of a debate on the expansion of Heathrow.

Unlike the statutory People's Question Times where Assembly members from all parties are invited, the Mayor is considering only inviting the Assembly Member from Hillingdon to the event.

According to one source close to City Hall:

"The platform will presumably be the Tory mayor, the Tory deputy mayor (Richard Barnes) and a bunch of Tory advisers.

"If so, Boris will be able to blow his own trumpet, making a big thing about being against the proposed third runway, but prominent non-Tory AMs who oppose Hethrow expansion will be deprived of publicity for their stance. Indeed any critical voices would be excluded from the platform.

"So much for transparent and accountable government, eh?"

At a committe meeting last week, Boris's Deputy Mayor Richard Barnes insisted that the precise details of these meetings had not been formalised.

However, all signs are clearly pointing towards a watering down of the original format, much as he watered down this year's State of London debate.

Accountability

His pledge to increase the number of People's Question Times was one of the few areas where I thought Boris may bring an improvement.

However, his scrapping of weekly press conferences and a persistent lack of transparency over costs, means that this latest news has hardly come as a surprise.

And while any extra opportunity for the public to question Boris is welcome, this lightweight format is not what voters were promised before the election in May.

West London top of the table in congestion league

Congestion in London is at its highest in the area soon to be stripped of it's congestion charge, a new map shows.

The image, released in response to Assembly member questions, shows that while congestion in the centre of London is low, it remains high in the Western Extension Zone and outlying area.

Top of the table are the two boroughs bordering what Hammersmith and Fulham Council leader Stephen Greenhalgh called West London's 'Berlin wall'.

Greenhalgh, whose borough leads the table, insists that the Western Extension actually increased congestion in his area by routing traffic through it to avoid the charge.

A widespread gas and water works programme has also kept congestion in the area artificially high.

But with 30,000 fewer cars entering the WEZ every day, Boris's decisions to axe the charge will surely only make a  congested West London, ever more congested still.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Me at Comment is Free: Barking Madness

My second piece at Comment is free is on the effects of race-based politics and the BNP in London. Head over there for more.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Boris Johnson gets his Christmas presents early

In a victory for good old British uncommon sense and no-nonsense political incorrectness, Boris Johnson has fulfilled his promise to bring back the Routemaster. 

*Sort of.*
*Once somebody redesigns one*
*And builds it*
*At some point in the future*

The winning designs will be put out to tender, whereupon they will be redesigned 'pic n mix' style in order to get the minimum possible capacity, at the greatest possible cost.

All further bleatings from the politically correct naysayers/ Ken Livingstone munchkins/ commuters who want cheap and convenient travel, should be roundly ignored.

For today is a day to join hands and rejoice in the great wisdom of our new Mayor and the great shiny shinyness of his ever-so-shiny new toy.


Links

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Boris Johnson attacked for eleven pence tax con

Boris Johnson's 'economic recovery action plan' hit the ground limping this morning after it was pointed out that average families will be worse off under his plans

As revealed here yesterday, Boris's Mayoral precept freeze would have saved the average London household just eleven pence a week, had it been brought in this year.

His January fare rises on the other hand are estimated to make the average couple around £90 a year worse off.

Speaking after today's Mayor's Question Time, Labour group London Assembly leader Len Duvall called the plans a 'total fraud'

"It is a total fraud from the Mayor when he tells Londoners he is saving them money and is the saviour of their economy. The average couple travelling to and from work on London's buses will be around £90 a year worse off. Johnson bangs on about providing more for less and making Londoners better off. It is pure and smoke and mirrors.

"For the sake of a few pennies off their council tax, working Londoners will be worse off under Boris Johnson. The Mayor said today he was 'happy with the title of scrooge'. For once I am in total agreement with his analysis."

Ironically, those living in the Boris-voting suburbs will be the worst hit by the hikes, with big rises for those living in zone six.

Those people living in the cheapest accommodation will also get the least benefit from Boris's precept freeze. 

If this years rise had been frozen, then a single person living in a Band A property would have been just £2.86 a year better off.

However, there is some debate about exactly how much the precept would have risen had Ken Livingstone remained Mayor.

At yesterday's Budget and Performance Committee, a GLA executive estimated that it would probably have risen by about three percent (one per cent above this year's rise)

But even if that had been the case, Boris's precept freeze will still only save a Band D household just £8 a year.

Charges Cut

Boris's decision not to implement the £25 'gas guzzler' charge, and to cut the WEZ in 2010 were pointed to today as ways in which Boris will actually make life cheaper for Londoners.

But for those Londoners reliant on public transport, his big fare rises and tiny tax cuts mean they will head into recession paying much more, whilst getting much less.


Updates and Links

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

How will Boris Johnson's GLA tax freeze affect me?

Just listening to Boris big up his freeze on the Mayoral precept and thought I would stop for a minute and work out how much I'm going to save.

Well for 2008-9 the precept rose by an absolutely scandalous two per cent. Here's how that hits me each and every week:

That's right London, if Boris had been in power last year he would have saved me around 11p a week. 

To be honest, that didn't sound like much at first, but when I rolled it out, I found that I would have saved almost six whole pounds a year.

Now with that kind of money I could have paid for a whole extra day's travelcard every 12 months. Oh wait.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Exposed

I missed this at the time, but apparently the BNP have rumbled me:

Dammit Robert Bailey, leader of Barking and Dagenham BNP, you've gone and caught me out.
 
All this time I've been posing as this man over here and all along I've secretly been long-time Barking and Dagenham councillor Val Rush. Who would have known?

Friday, 12 December 2008

Where are Boris's extra People's Question Times?

Boris Johnson on increasing the number of People's Question Times:

"The GLA Act requires the Mayor to hold an annual State of London Debate, and to conduct a minimum of two People’s Question Times per year. I have undertaken to hold an additional four PQTs to further increase the transparency of London government."

Good stuff, and again:

"The mayor is committed to increasing the number of Peoples Question Time events from two to six to ensure there are more opportunities Londoners have to hold him to account."

Excellent. So how's that coming along? Well take a look at the draft schedule for the next three years: 


So am I missing something here? Where are those twelve extra PQTs that we were told about?

Thursday, 11 December 2008

BNP Councillor thrown out of Barking Town Hall

One of Richard Barnbrook's fellow BNP councillors was thrown out of a Barking and Dagenham council meeting last night, after refusing to apologise for comparing sex education to paedophilia.

Councillor Lawrence Rustem (second right) was asked to say sorry for is previous statement that teaching sex education to children before secondary school was akin to paedophilia.

But rather than withdraw his statement, Rustem instead launched into a long rant about the Labour government and immigration declaring that he would 'answer the question the way I want to answer it.'

When even calls from his own party members to 'shut up' were ignored, Rustem was escorted from the chamber.

Not willing to leave it there, he turned on a Labour councillor and offered him 'outside for a dance.' The offer was understandably declined.

Other highlights from the meeting included the BNP group leader Robert Bailey calling a Labour councillor a Nazi and Richard Barnbrook boasting about his rugby skills.

Other vital matters raised by the BNP concerned the supply of Halal meat in schools and the plight of the 'native minority' in the 'Labour borough of Ealing'.

Paralysis

As I left the pubic gallery, people around me complained about the 'squabbling' that always takes place at these meetings. 

And as I stepped outside a clearly distraught woman turned on the assembled BNP councillors and screamed at them for failing to talk about 'the kids'.

Ignoring calls from Richard Barnbrook for her to return, she quickly walked off down the street, crying as she went.

This was my first time in Barking and Dagenham and whatever grief or worries she was feeling I cannot tell you.

But from watching the paralysis caused by the BNP in the council chamber last night, I can see little chance of her concerns being met any time soon.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

How Iain Dale covered Boris aides' resignations

"Ray Lewis & the 'Uncle Tom' Hating Leftists
"There's nothing the left hate more than a black person who does well in the Tory party. They look at successful black or Asian Tories and shake their heads in bewilderment at how such itelligent people can't see what they perceive as the real truth... If you're black and you're a Tory, you've sold out."



"Having enjoyed a huge PR success (and intensely annoyed Downing Street in the process) yesterday with the announcement of an Olympic parade, Boris Johnson is about to make a move which on the face of it will be seen as a setback, but in reality will demonstrate that he is really getting to grips with his job"


"Boris has made yet another stride forward in his quest to drive political correctness from City Hall for good. He has decided that Christmas must remain Christmas and that all mentions of Winter Festivals or the like are to be banished. Today City Hall sent out a press release telling a grateful capital city ..."


And before anyone asks, Iain did really write 'itelligent.'

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Extra! Extra!

Boris on David Ross: "La, La, La, La, Bye, Bye, Bye"

Boris Johnson stands by David Ross (for a bit)

After yesterday's all-day news blackout Pippa Crerar reports a senior City Hall source as saying that: "The Mayor is not yet convinced" that David Ross should go.

But pressure is growing for a quicker and fuller response as Paul Waugh reports on the links between Ross, David Cameron and a six-figure donation. 

Boris is apparently awaiting the results of an FSA investigation but that will take some time and the questions just keep on coming. So how much longer can Boris hold out?

Is he now at risk of repeating the same mistakes he made before the resignation of Ray Lewis?


-Update- Well he didn't hold out for very long


And another one bites the dust...

Monday, 8 December 2008

A lesson in news management

I was first alerted to the resignation of David Ross from Carphone Warehouse at 9.00 this morning.

Since then there have been dozens of articles published, none of which contain a response from the Mayor's office.

The Evening Standard's final deadline has passed and BBC London's deadline is getting close, and there has still been no statement from City Hall.

Tory Central Office are keeping schtum about it and all the relevant people are 'in meetings' for the next hour.

So what exactly is going on here. Do Boris Johnson and the Conservatives have confidence in David Ross or not?


-Update- David Ross donated £142,755 to Conservatives.
-Update- Story well down schedule on BBC. Job done.

Boris Johnson's Midas touch lives on as Ross falls

I wish I had some fresh insight for you on the downfall of yet another of Boris Johnson's appointments. Needless to say his now legendary Midas touch with choosing precisely the wrong man for the job carries on.

To play us out I shall leave you with a comment from fellow Boris-Watcher Tom Barry:


-Update- The Lib Dems say it's time to go
-Update- Pippa Crerar now has a full report
-Update- Paul Waugh on Ross, Boris and Cameron
-Update- Tory Troll: A lesson in news management

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Boris Johnson now under investigation by the GLA

Boris Johnson is under investigation for alleged breaches of both the Greater London Authority and the Metropolitan Police Authority codes of conduct it was revealed today.

The news of a GLA investigation comes after Boris Johnson:

  • Spoke out against Damian Green's arrest 
  • Revealed he had spoken to Damian Green about that arrest, 
  • Revealed the contents of a private discussion with the Commissioner of the Met before
  • Publicly throwing doubt on the possibility of any prosecution of Damian Green ever taking place. 

In the  complaint sent to the Chief Executive of the MPA and seen by Tory Troll, the London Assembly Labour group leader Len Duvall alleges that these actions constitute clear breaches of the code of conduct.

Under the code, Boris in his role as Mayor of London and Chair of the MPA must uphold a number of general principles. It is alleged that he has broken the following of these:

Selflessness 

You should serve only the public interest and should never improperly confer an advantage or disadvantage on any person. 

Honesty and Integrity

You should not place yourself in situations where your honesty and integrity may be questioned, should not behave improperly and should on all occasions avoid the appearance of such behaviour. 

Duty to Uphold the Law

You should uphold the law and, on all occasions, act in accordance with the trust that the public is entitled to place in you.
 
It is also alleged that he has broken the following obligations contained in the code:

  • You must not disclose information given to you in confidence by anyone, or information acquired by you, which you believe, or ought reasonably to be aware, is of a confidential nature.
  • You must not use or attempt to use your position as a member improperly to confer on or secure for yourself or another person, an advantage or disadvantage.
  • You must not conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or authority into disrepute

The sanctions for breaking the code range from an obligation to make a formal apology to full suspension from office.

The complaint will be discussed at the next meeting of the GLA Assessment sub-committee. 

Members will decide whether it warrants further investigation and referral to the Monitoring Officer, after which witnesses may be called and the Mayor requested for interview.

You can watch this discussed in full on today's interest-packed London edition of the BBC Politics Show.

The prize for ugliest Routemaster design goes to...

Friday, 5 December 2008

Why won't Boris admit cost of scrapping bendies?

London's Travel Watchdog and London Assembly Members are calling on Boris Johnson to finally reveal the cost of replacing bendy buses in London.

London Travelwatch Chair Sharon Grant said earlier today:

"The costs of using conventional buses on these routes may be significantly higher than using bendy buses, and TfL really needs to publish the figures involved, so everyone can judge whether it represents value for money or not."

Assembly Member Darren Johnson said:

"I want to know what the mayor is hiding. I’m shocked by the fact that the mayor has given no information on the impact that all these extra buses will have on air quality, congestion, CO2 and cost. I have been pestering the mayor for this information since September and there is a Freedom of Information request to bring the environmental costs of this into the public domain."

As well as these undisclosed costs there is also a real cost in the terms of lost capacity.

Because single deckers have a much lower capacity than bendy buses, up to 12 extra buses an hour will be brought in by Boris on some routes.

However, what this hides is the fact that even with this increased frequency there will still be a substantial reduction in capacity.

On Route 507, commuters will get an additional eight buses an hour, but still lose 140 'places' in terms of the route's capacity.

And in off-peak times, there will be no added frequency at all on that route, meaning that the capacity will actually be halved.

Given this loss of service, it is even more important that we should be told exactly how much Boris's policy is going to cost. 

Boris has refused to give any estimates of the cost in the past, supposedly to avoid prejudicing any negotiations. 

But given that contracts for the first three routes have now been settled, what possible reason can he have for keeping the costs of doing this from us any longer?



-Update- BBC London have succeeded where I have failed and managed to get a costing from TfL. They are reporting that the first three routes to be debendified will cost an extra £3 million a year.


Boris Johnson takes us for a ride on the 'free bus'

Boris Johnson on bringing an end to bendy 'free buses':

"Open boarding means [bendy buses] have become known as 'free buses', and the facts show they lose almost three times as much fare revenue as other types of bus."

Okay, so what are you going to do about it Boris?

So the bendy free bus is dead then. Oh well. Long live the non-bendy free bus...

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Police Officer numbers to fall under Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson will preside over a substantial decrease in the number of police officers operating in London it was revealed yesterday.

The number of 'Territorial' police officers is expected to decrease by around 955 between 2008 and 2011.

The cuts, highlighted by the Lib Dems during yesterday's chaotic proceedings are contained within the Met's three year business plan, and could lead to a real-terms drop in frontline officers.

Questioned by Dee Doocey, the Met Commissioner insisted that the decrease would be more than made up by a larger increase in the number of 'civilian' staff.

This 'civilianisation programme' would he assured the assembly, actually allow for more police to get out onto the beat.

However, Doocey insisted that this would be impossible, given that the new custody suites required to achieve this, are unlikely to be ready in time.

The possibility of a fall in police numbers was first picked up by this blog in July. Sir Paul Stephenson then admitted that Boris's real-terms police budget cut may have 'a marginal effect' on officer numbers.

At the time Boris Johnson's Deputy insisted that they would get a better performance from the police with fewer resources. Only time will tell if that is the case.

"I’m gonna refuse an offer he wants me to make.”

"What are you gonna do? Nice college boy, didn't want to get mixed up in the family business. Now you want to gun down a police captain. Why? Because he slapped you in the face a little? What do you think this like the Army where you can shoot 'em from a mile away? No you gotta get up like this and, badda-bing, you blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit. C'mere."


Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Boris Johnson pressured to quit MPA over Green

Boris Johnson today defended his intervention in the case of his conservative colleague and friend Damian Green, and claimed that his 'hunch' about the case had been 'totally vindicated.'

Speaking at a fraught meeting of the London Assembly, Boris said that Green's arrest had caused a 'fantastic political commotion' and that if he had not spoken out he would have "fallen down in my duty as chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority."

However, Boris also said that the investigation could be "construed as disproportionate" and said that the case had little chance of resulting in a prosecution.

These comments, alongside his admission that he has spoken to Damian Green since his arrest, have led to calls for him to immediately stand down as the Chair of the MPA.

Irritation

Boris's defence came after a series of questions about the wisdom of his actions over the past week.

Sitting beside the acting Met Commissioner, the usually easy-going Mayor became visibly irritated when assembly members questioned him about the case.

Former chair of the MPA and current Labour leader Len Duvall attacked Boris's decision to make his discussions with Stephenson public. He said that the fact he had discussed the ongoing case with Green was 'bizarre':

"Why would you seek information from a potential suspect in an ongoing police investigation in your role as Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority and even as the Mayor of London. I find that bizarre."

After a series of repeated criticisms along these lines Boris eventually snapped back: 

"Maybe I should be arrested for leaking the contents of my own conversation!"

The comment, which ordinarily would be taken as a fairly typical Boris retort, seemed wildly at odds with his earlier reconciliatory tone.

At the beginning of the meeting, Sir Paul Stephenson issued a statement insisting that there had been no ministerial interference on the case.

He also cleared up a number of misconceptions including the much-reported claim that anti-terrorism powers had been used to detain Green. 

His statement ended with an attempt to close down recent speculation about the case:

"At issue in this investigation and indeed in the work of the service as a whole is our ability to maintain operational independence. The police must be able to act without fear or favour whichever investigation whomsoever is involved, when there is reasonable grounds to suspect that they may have committed criminal offences.

"And let me deal finally with the suggestion of any political or ministerial influence on this or any other police operation under my command. I would strongly refute that I or any senior officer under my command  has or would allow any improper influence on our operational judgement and actions for political purposes. That is not what we do."

However, after Boris's comments this morning, Sir Paul Stephenson told reporters that he believed it was "entirely inappropriate" for anyone to pre-judge an ongoing investigation.

In an extraordinary statement issued this afternoon Len Duvall said:

"Boris Johnson should consider his position as chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority after the Mayor's admission that he and his political office have been in contact with arrested MP Damien Green. 

"It is astonishing that the Mayor, following a briefing from senior police officers, has been speaking to a suspect under police investigation. He received information as chair of the MPA, then went to his political ally and old friend, who is now under criminal investigation. This is not appropriate behaviour for a chair of the police authority.

"Whether he likes it or not, the public perception will be that he his too involved in this investigation and is looking after his mates. Regardless of the merits of this particular case, should the chair of the police authority be speaking to a suspect in a criminal investigation? Should he then pre-judge the outcome of that investigation? The answer to both those questions is 'no'.

"Boris should reflect on how he and his officials have behaved from the start of this affair and re-consider whether, if he is going to use sensitive information for political capital, he is an appropriate person to chair the authority.

"The appropriate time to raise issues around police action is once an investigation, and in this case the review announced today, is completed."

Out of his depth

This morning's proceedings follow the recent row over the ousting of Sir Ian Blair.

Whatever, the rights and wrongs of that departure, it has since emerged that Boris neither sought legal advice nor consulted with the MPA before making his decision.

With these calls today for him to stand down as chair of the MPA and with the extraordinary row growing this afternoon, it is becoming increasingly clear that Boris has got himself well out of his depth.



-Update 16:00- Added statement from Len Duvall
-Update 18:00- Dee Doocey: an 'astonishing' statement.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Boris Johnson: Master of Diplomacy

From a complaint sent by an annoyed New Zealander to Boris Johnson's office last week:

"Please tell me just which century the Mayor of London is living in? I have just seen him on New Zealand Television talking about the upcoming rugby match between New Zealand and England. In that interview he stated that he hoped the "mother country" would win.

"I take it he does realise that for the majority of New Zealanders the "mother country" is New Zealand, an independent Pacific Nation. Because quite frankly, few people in New Zealand, apart from a small number of elderly Pākehā and expats would ever consider England as being the "mother country".

"For the rest of us, the Mayor's comments are actually insulting. I would certainly hate to think that the Mayor was glorifying England's colonial past, because I am sure he knows as much as any person, that England has a lot to be ashamed of in her treatment of her former colonies, and in particular here in New Zealand, the Maori People.

"I know I am certainly not the first to say this, (and I somehow doubt I'll be the last), but perhaps he could choose his words more wisely?"

Alison
New Zealand

Oh Boris. Is there a nation you haven't offended yet?

Boris Johnson: Ghetto King or a Gerrymanderer?

Boris Johnson's housing advisor today said that he had reduced the target for social housing in London, in order to prevent 'polarised' developments where the rich live beside the poor.

Speaking to the London Assembly today, Richard Blakeway said:

"I often think that if we look very crudely at the (previous) 50 per cent (affordable housing) target in a sense that produced polarised communities because what you have potentially is that you have some very rich people living in expensive units which then subsidise on the same development very poor, obviously poor people, because they live in social housing. That isn't a mixed community. That's very much a polarised community."

Blakeway's comments follow those of Boris himself, who last month stated that he wanted to avoid creating a 'ghetto' of social housing in the new Olympic village.

Speaking in response to a question by Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Dee Doocey, Boris said

"I think we have got to bear in mind, Dee, that we want this to be an attractive place for people to come and live and work from across the UK, from across London. This is going to be a really fantastic location. It would be a mistake, I think, to create a ghetto feeling there by creating a proportion of affordable housing that made people feel that it was not going to be a mixed community or an attractive place for affluent families to come and live and work."

However, Boris's supposedly anti-ghetto policy came under fire today, when it was pointed out that the vast majority of new affordable housing will be delivered within non-Tory boroughs.

In recent weeks Boris has been accused of  'gerrymandering' the London vote, by restricting the majority of affordable housing to Labour boroughs.

The process famously exploited by Shirley Porter in the 1980s, encourages Labour voters to live in areas which are already Labour strongholds, thereby reducing their voting impact in more marginal wards.

Blakeway today insisted that this was not Boris's intention and that the targets set for individual boroughs were based entirely on individual needs.

No conditions

However, although Boris insists that 60 per cent of all new affordable housing will in fact be 'social' Blakeway today admitted that this target had not been a condition of any negotiations so far.

He also refused, much to the frustration of Conservative Assembly Members, to be drawn on what would happen to those boroughs that failed to meet these (non-binding) targets.

Of course these targets, although lower than those set by Ken Livingstone, will if achieved, actually go beyond those managed by the previous mayor.

However, with no indication of just how they will be met, and with every indication that boroughs will be given an easier ride by the new Mayor, even these reduced ambitions now look unrealistically high.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Sir Paul Stephenson doesn't know how to get on

The Evening Standard on Sir Paul Stephenson:

"Mayor Boris Johnson finds his plans for a new, more effective regime at the yard thrown into disarray. He and his deputy Kit Malthouse favoured Sir Paul for the job because they believed he was a quietly competent officer who would concentrate on nuts and bolts policing rather than the political dabblings of his predecessor.

"But the furore over the arrest of Mr Green has drawn Sir Paul into a fiasco that transcends almost anything the gaffe-prone Sir Ian Blair managed."

Well of course. Presiding over the shooting of an innocent man is one thing, but to arrest a senior Tory MP? That's quite another

"Can the head of any organisation ever have screwed up quite so badly, so quickly, as did Paul Stephenson, the acting Met commissioner, on his first day? Even Sir Ian Blair took a few months to implode — and for sheer outrageousness, the Damian Green affair exceeds even Sir Ian's worst political blunders."

Note to Paul: if you want to get on in this town you need to be a bit nicer to this lot and a bit harsher on this lot. Oh look, they've already found their man.