Thursday, 24 December 2009

Me at the New Statesman: Boris gets off the bus

"As a bold act of redistribution it is hard to beat, with Boris asking those least able to pay, to subsidise those most able to"

Read the whole post here.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Woolwich Ferry service deteriorates under Serco

Anyone using the Woolwich Ferry within the last year will have noticed a severe deterioration in the service.

The route which Boris Johnson transferred to Serco last year, has run with just two or even one boat for much of the year.

So poorly operated has it been that at one point Serco closed the entire crossing due to no seaworthy boats being available.

The reasons for this were revealed in full farcical detail today:

Writing in response to a question from one local Assembly Member, Boris explains that:

"During 2009, all three ferry boats – which are now 45 years old - had to undergo their 5 yearly out-of-water surveys in order to certify their use for the next 5 years. This work is undertaken in Hull where the maintenance facility is located."

Okay, so the boats had to be surveyed. Why did it take so long?

"When the first boat returned from its survey, it developed a problem with one of its propulsion units. Unfortunately this left a one boat service as the second ferry was already on its way to Hull. At this point it was decided to extend the scope of the survey on the remaining two boats, to include an overhaul of the propulsion units, given the boats’ age. The first ferry boat was subsequently fixed in Woolwich.

It goes on:

Shortly after the second boat returned, one of its propulsion units developed an oil leak. Despite the experience of the boatyard’s staff, who carried out the overhaul, and an engineer from the manufacturer, the leak proved very difficult to trace and rectify. This defect occurred twice and resulted in a combined loss of service of 33 days...

And on:

"More recently, one of the ferry engines suffered a broken governor spring. Then, on 5 December, another ferry struck a piece of floating debris. This resulted in serious damage to one of the propulsion units and the unit is being exchanged for an overhauled one. As the third ferry was in Hull at the time, consequently the Woolwich Ferry service had to be suspended until later that day.

What a shambles.

It is anticipated that once the third out-of-water survey is completed at the end of the year and the ferry is delivered back to Woolwich, then the reliability of the service will significantly improve."

Earlier this year Boris awarded operation of his flagship bike hire scheme to Serco.

Hopefully their level of service will "significantly improve" quite soon.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Boris Johnson's Police Cuts: Nothing to see here

I've been slightly surprised at the lack of reaction to the news that Boris Johnson will remove hundreds of police officers from the Met.

There's been some protest in the blogosphere, and amongst the police but otherwise the press and Boris's opponents have largely ignored it.

The Assembly's self-proclaimed champion of the police has also been strangely quiet.

So why is this? Some clues can be found in this commentary from former Met Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman at the Times:

"It is unfortunate that for Olympic year, when we will need more police officers to help deliver a safe Games, the Mayor of London is forecasting a reduction in the number on the streets.

I am confident that by 2012 that will be a nationwide situation with forces across the country trying to balance the books."

So are the government holding back on Boris, because they too intend to reduce numbers?

And when Boris and other politicians speak of police numbers being at "a historical high" are they really just committing those highs to history?

Boris has repeatedly tried to distract us from these cuts by drawing attention to Operation Herald.

However, like me, Hayman is sceptical about the effect of these "civilianisation" programmes:

"Boris Johnson talks of moving officers from the back office to the front line. That process has been going on for years and will make only a marginal impact.

The police minister told me recently that the police will be expected to do more with less. In any other sector that would prompt a rethink on whether the business is being properly organised but in policing it leads to further salami slicing of the budget. It is obvious that eventually there will be nothing to slice from."

Boris's Deputy for Policing also talks of officers doing more for less, which in reality may mean them doing more, but doing it less well.

And as Dave Hill wrote a while back, London Tories are keen to label the question of police numbers a "sterile debate" (when it suits them).

I am not convinced that the public will see it this way.

Friday, 18 December 2009

A new low for the Greenwich News Shopper

Over on Twitter I have a fairly regular whinge about the choice of stories in my local freesheet the Greenwich News Shopper.

Normally if it bleeds, then it leads, even if the murder happened well outside of the borough, or even outside the continent.

Occasionally they do have a decent story, although they're invariably nicked from somewhere else.

However this week they've really outdone themselves. Take a look at this major scoop:


Spiritualist says bin Laden prediction was right

That's right, hold the press, a 'spiritualist' says that she was right about something.

A SPIRITUALIST’S claim she knew where Osama bin Laden was hiding in Afghanistan was not taken seriously when she made it eight years ago.

You don't say?

But now Angela Bayley says her prediction, exclusively reported in News Shopper in 2001, has been proved true in a US Senate report.

Now I wonder why your report was exclusive? Any ideas?

Miss Bayley added eight years of fear, dogma and terrorist attacks could have been prevented if she had been listened to.

In the first and only time she has entered the world of predicting major events, the Hither Green resident claimed al-Qaeda boss bin Laden was planning to flee across the border to Pakistan as soon as possible.

Osama would flee? Who could have guessed ?

Miss Bayley spoke out eight years ago after being guided by spirits after holding a newspaper cutting from September 11, 1974, which had been found hidden in a kitchen wall at a home in Mottingham.

The Daily Express story cutting, headlined This is America, referred to pilots, New York and “nuts”.

It had to be the Express.

Miss Bayley dangled an Islamic charm over a map of Afghanistan to find bin Laden and felt a strong pull to Waza Khwa, in the south-east of the country.

She said: “I was only doing my work. I was a channel for the spirits like a telephone, the spirits never get it wrong.”

Okay I've had enough. Let's just skip to the quote from the Ministry of Defence (yes they actually bothered to waste their time with this bilge)

"A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “We cannot comment on the matter at all.”

Well what did you expect?

Did you really think the Ministry of Defence would jump up and say "Oh well if we'd only listened to Angela Bayley from Hither Green then we'd never have got into this mess. Sorry Ange."

I'll leave the last word to one of my fellow sufferers:

Come on News Shopper. Sort it out before we all give up on you.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

The Evening Standard loses City Hall reporter

Those picking up a copy of the Evening Standard last night may have been surprised to find no news of what happened at Mayor's Question Time.

Nothing on Boris reducing police officer numbers, nothing on Boris's defence against cronyism charges, in fact nothing full stop on the capital's biggest political event of the month.

For London's only "quality newspaper" that's a pretty poor show. So why?

Well it turns out that Geordie Greig has decided to make the paper's only dedicated City Hall reporter redundant.

Katharine Barney, whose stories have given Boris Johnson a headache for some time now, was let go as part of a drive to recover huge losses at the paper. She will be missed.

Respected former Standard journalist Pippa Crerar will return at some point in the New Year, but in the meantime, the paper has no dedicated reporter at City Hall.

Of course times are tough, and when they decided to give away the paper for free, job losses were inevitable.

But when those job losses coincide with the publication of unspeakable drivel like this, then the Standard have really got their priorities all wrong:

Read the whole thing, if you can stomach it.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Boris Johnson removes hundreds of police officers

Boris Johnson today denied that he will reduce the number of police officers in London, despite proposing to do just that last week.

The Mayor's budget consultation unequivocally states that:

Over the three years to 2012-13, the number of Police Officers is forecast to decrease by 455, while PCSOs remain the same and Special Constables increase by 2,690.

Yet when Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Dee Doocey, put this to him today he told her that she was "completely wrong."

Boris: That's not my understanding of what's happening to police numbers...

Dee Doocey: It appears under your signature

Boris: And there have never been more police on the streets of London than at any time in out history...

Dee : [Passes a copy of Boris's budget along] Can you pass that to the Mayor?

Boris: Our objective is to get them onto the streets...

Dee: I'm sorry I'm going to pass you a copy of your budget.

[John Biggs puts the sheet on Boris's desk. Boris looks straight ahead]

Chairman: Is there anything else that you would like to add to your answer?

Boris: No I think that Dee is completely wrong...

Dee: It's in your budget

The Mayor's denial appears to rest on the claim that the Met's current "civilianisation" programme will increase the proportion of police officers brought out on to the streets.

However, how the Met chooses to use it's officers is a separate issue to how many officers the Mayor is actually prepared to pay for.

As Dee Doocey said after today's meeting:

"The last thing London needs is a reduction in police numbers, but that is exactly what Boris Johnson is planning to do. It adds insult to injury that the Mayor even denies this is going to happen, despite the proposed cuts clearly set out in his own draft budget!

"London needs a Mayor who understands the need to sustain police officers and is aware of the proposals in his own budget. Sadly under Boris Johnson we have neither."

When Gordon Brown suggested that Boris would cut the police budget and police numbers, Boris accused him of misleading the house.

In reality Boris has now done both.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Nick Griffin rumoured to be visiting City Hall

City Hall are laying on extra security measures in the light of rumours that Nick Griffin is due to make an appearance at this week's Mayor's Question Time.

Griffin, who announced his plan to stand as Barking MP just months after Richard Barnbrook did the same, turned up at meeting of Barking and Dagenham Council last week.

He also launched his campaign beside Barnbrook and appears to be regularly campaigning alongside him.

Barnbrook is also due, for the second month in a row, to ask a question about Nick Griffin's appearance on BBC Question Time.

All of this has contributed to speculation amongst City Hall officials that Griffin is due to make a surprise appearance this Wednesday.

If he does, he will hear Boris Johnson's response to the following question from Barnbrook:

City Hall meetings are already well staffed with security guards so it is not clear exactly what these extra security measures would entail.

However, it may just be something along the lines of the reported "coping strategy" drawn up by Boris Johnson in advance of Barnbrook's first meeting at City Hall.

One factor that may deter Griffin is the dire performance shown by both Barnbrook and his fellow conspiracy theorist Bob Bailey in Barking and Dagenham last week:

"There were quite ridiculous scenes at a council meeting in Barking & Dagenham last night when leading BNP members publicly fell out with each other. In front of about 40 BNP supporters packed into the public gallery, including BNP leader Nick Griffin, Bob Bailey, the leader of the BNP group on the council tried to stop GLA member Richard Barnbrook from raising the Africans for Essex issue in the chamber.

Barnbrook refused to be silenced and continued, much to Bailey's annoyance. Bailey was heard to tell Barnbrook to shut the **** up. Barnbrook replied that he would say what he liked, to which Bailey retored: "not as long as I'm leader."

(More from Lancaster Unity)

A wider difficulty for Griffin is that he may risk further association with a man who he clearly did not trust to stand as a London MP.

As I wrote at the Guardian, the problem for Griffin and the BNP generally is that Richard Barnbrook has been a humiliating failure in London.

Any appearance at City Hall could gather a lot of publicity for the Barking candidate, but it would also risk even more exposure for the reliably useless Barnbrook.

If I were Nick Griffin, I would keep my distance.

-Update- City Hall's security team were apparently not very pleased to find out that their ultra-secret and ultra-secure Nick Griffin operation has been revealed on this not so secret or secure blog. Well if they would go around telling everybody about it...

Friday, 11 December 2009

Dodgy cab for Darren Johnson!

Chairman of the London Assembly Darren Johnson is in trouble with London's cabbies after admitting to taking an illegal minicab from the City Hall Christmas party.

The Green Party's parliamentary candidate for Lewisham sent out a series of tweets (now deleted) asking for a taxi to pick him up.

But before one could get to him, Darren decided to take an illegal minicab instead:

Tweeting cabbies (including those who had tried to come and get him) were enraged that he appeared to be encouraging illegal cabs.

Especially as TfL have just launched a campaign discouraging people from using them:

Now I've met Darren before and he seems like a decent chap, so I'm sure he will have woken up with some regrets about this.

But something tells me that his journey home won't have been the first thought on his mind...

More pictures here and here :)

-UPDATE- Darren Johnson said today:

"Yesterday evening I stupidly took an illegal minicab to get me home. It cost me more than a licensed taxi, and I was lucky that it did not cost me much more in terms of my personal safety. Londoners should always heed the official advice to only ever take a licensed taxi cab or pre booked licensed minicab to get home. They should learn from my mistake that unbooked minicabs are illegal and expensive and place personal safety at serious risk. I want to make it clear that this journey was a personal one that was not chargeable to the GLA and that I'm very sorry to have done it."
-UPDATE- The Evening Standard have also picked up on this story now, in typically hysterical style

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Boris Johnson gives free pass to foreign embassies on "Congestion Tax"

Boris Johnson gave up any pretense that he will reclaim unpaid congestion charges from foreign embassies yesterday, as he openly referred to the charge as a tax.

Earlier this year, the new US Ambassador refused to pay up millions owed in unpaid congestion charges and fines.

His refusal rested on the claim that the charge is a tax

"Our policy on the congestion tax is a long-standing policy decided on by Washington. The US government's position is that this a tax and therefore is prohibited by various treaties."

Boris Johnson officially disagreed. According to his spokesman:

"The mayor is deeply disappointed that it seems they may not choose to do so. The congestion charge is a service, not a tax, which is paid by the majority of embassies and millions of Londoners. There is simply no excuse for the American embassy to continue to ignore this responsibility to its host city and the mayor will continue to press this point to their representatives."

So how is he continuing to "press" this vital point about it not being a tax?

"I have asked Transport for London to begin the legal process to remove this charge with all convenient speed...

"we can lift this tax within fourteen months at the absolute outside and hopefully earlier than that."

Comments which he later retracted.

And then again just yesterday:

Comments which were supported by his Assembly Members:

So what exactly does this alleged "pressing" of the US ambassador involve I wonder? Does it involve hosting parties for him perhaps?

Very funny and appropriate I'm sure. Just not particularly pressing.

Ian Clement: Little Joke in Big China

Ian Clement, spy

"We contacted Clement via his public relations o. ce Champions, who boast such after-dinner speaking alumni as Mark Preston and Willie Thorne (we've never heard of them either). Apparently he was "extremely busy until the New Year" – public urinals don't clean themselves – but would discuss it for a fee."

Oh dear. I think the size of that fee will have just got that little bit smaller.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Will Boris Johnson close tube ticket offices?

In Boris Johnson's Transport Manifesto he pledged to

"Make Transport More Convenient... By halting the proposed Tube ticket office closures, and ensuring there is always a manned ticket office at every station."

and that he would

"defend local ticket offices"


"stop the planned ticket office closures"

and that:

"There is little financial, strategic or common sense in these closures. We will halt all such ticket office closures immediately."

I'd say that was all pretty clear. So what's this from the RMT?

144 ticket offices and 1200 jobs under threat as Boris Johnson rips up manifesto pledge on tube cuts

TUBE AND TfL union RMT today released new information which exposes the full extent of the first wave of cuts under Boris Johnson’s £5 billion tube savings programme with 144 station ticket offices and 1200 jobs under threat of the axe.

According to the RMT, the leaked document states that:

  1. Main stations ticket offices will remain open
  2. Smaller central stations ticket offices will open only at peak times and at key locations
  3. All other stations will have ticket machines only.

However, Boris and TfL insisted today that no decisions have yet been made.

"no decision has been taken to do any such thing” and said it was important to ensure “every single London Underground is properly staffed” but appeared to question “whether you need to have someone behind the glass at all times”.

Obviously money is tight and it wouldn't be surprising if at least some partial closures were on their way.

But with most of those closures likely to take place within the boroughs that voted him in, Boris needs to be very careful just how far he goes.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Nick Raynsford and a Nightmayor before Xmas

The third part of my interview with Greenwich MP Nick Raynsford has just gone live over at

You can read all three instalments by following the links below:

I'm off tomorrow to spend three nights in a seaside holiday camp. It's also my birthday.

I will be back in business here at Tory Troll next week.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Interview with Nick Raynsford MP - Part One

The first part of my interview with Greenwich MP Nick Raynsford has just gone live over at

In later parts, Nick speaks about the "bogus claims" made by Olympics protesters and why he doesn't believe Ken Livingstone should stand again in 2012.

It was a fairly lengthy interview and a few of his more London-wide comments didn't make the final cut.

I will be highlighting some of these and more here as the week goes on. Enjoy.

-Update- Reactions from 853 and the Greenwich Greens

Friday, 27 November 2009

Boris Johnson to become Police Commissioner

The Evening Standard are reporting that Boris Johnson will become Britain's first 'elected' Police commisioner, if the Conservatives win the next election.

Forgive me if this prospect doesn't entirely fill me with glee.

I mean this is the man, who hired not one, but three men who have since had to resign due to allegations of financial misconduct or fraud.

A man who agreed to supply the address of a journalist, so he could be beaten up, and a man who famously gave a character reference for Conrad Black at his trial.

Now Boris Johnson does have many good qualities, and if you're in need of somebody to open a branch of Morrisons, then he's the man for you.

But if London absolutely must have an elected police chief, then it should be somebody with the time, the expertise, and the judgement to do the job well.

In other words, almost anybody but Boris.

Scrapping the MPA

Under the Tories' proposals the body which currently scrutinises the Metropolitan Police, would be scrapped and replaced by the London Assembly.

I heard whisperings of something along these lines well over a year ago.

Now I have lots of criticisms of the MPA, the main one being that they do not have enough powers and sway to properly hold the force to account.

But rather than empower this body, the Tories want to scrap it altogether, leaving Londoners with even less opportunity to challenge the police when things go wrong.

So while the MPA has spent large amounts of time scrutinising the policing of the G20, it is hard to see that how the London Assembly could ever effectively do a similar job.

So is the Tories' main priority here to increase accountability, or to get rid of a possible source of bad headlines for them in the future?

For Boris, the latter may currently seem like a wise idea.

But if and when things go seriously wrong again on London's streets, it will be Boris and not the police who will then take the biggest political hit.

Reactions and Links

Labour's London Assembly police spokesperson Joanne McCartney, said:

"Of course the police need to be held to account, but this would lead to less accountability, not more. Senior officers are rightly resisting this and I don't think there is much public appetite to see Boris Johnsons up and down the country running the police. The idea that we go down the American route of commissioners, mayors and politicians all trying to out tough each other with one eye on their next election is deeply worrying."

Green Party representative on the MPA Jenny Jones said:

"The MPA has always struggled to hold the Met to account, now more than ever under a Tory mayor, but that's because it's a small number of members dealing with a huge organisation. A single person like a mayor, even with a dedicated team, or using the Assembly as a scrutiny body, simply couldn't do the job. If the MPA needs reforming, then it should have more members, not fewer."

Former MPA Chairman and blogger Lord Toby Harris has some fun with the idea and then sets out an alternative proposal

"First, a directly-elected MPA Chair, separate from but elected on the same day as the Mayor of London (this could be Kit Malthouse’s big moment, if he doesn’t become an MP first). Second, retain the MPA with a mixed membership of elected members (drawn from both the London Assembly and the London Boroughs with a Party balance proportional to the votes received by each of the major Parties across London) and independent members (appointed after public advertisement on merit). And third, greater clarity on the role and powers of all concerned."

Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Huhne said:

“Only the Conservatives could believe that bumbling Boris Johnson is the solution to making the police more accountable. Police chiefs are unanimous in their opinion that Tory plans to politicise control of the police will lead to populist pandering of the worst kind. The police need to be more accountable to the community they serve but that is best achieved through an elected police authority that is representative of it.”

"Plodfather" image by Beau Bo D'or

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Dan Ritterband thrown out of London Assembly

Boris Johnson's Director of Marketing Dan Ritterband was thrown out of a City Hall meeting yesterday after a clash with John Biggs and Mike Tuffrey.

For some reason, the link to the webcast was taken down shortly after the meeting finished and was only reposted this morning.

However, it's here now you can also subscribe to my new Youtube channel where I will occasionally upload and link to other clips from City Hall.

I will also link to earlier clips, such as this classic row between John Biggs and the Worshipful Brian Coleman.

-Update- Dan and John have now kissed and made up (sort of)

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Boris Johnson and Leo Boland go Pyongyang style

Leo Boland, Boris Johnson
Opposition groups on the London Assembly have long been suspicious of the 'cosy' relationship between Boris Johnson and his new GLA Chief Executive Leo Boland.

Boland was brought in at great expense from Barnet Council and now earns £15,000 more than George Osborne's "fat cat" limit.

Incidentally, he also earns over £20,000 more than the Chief Executive received under the 'profligate' Ken regime.

But I guess you get what you pay for, and while the former Chief Exec Anthony Mayer was widely seen as independent, Boland is increasingly seen as "The Mayor's man."

And so it was that when I first published pictures of Boris's Fire Chief Brian Coleman asleep at his desk, it was apparently Boland who intervened to flush out the whistleblower.

One source told me that they had been warned off of passing stories to Tory Troll, and another had their GLA email account openly searched for correspondence with me.

Now Leo Boland has turned his attention to the Assembly itself.

A leaked document sent to Tory Troll reveals that he is pushing for the rights to monitor, and review all official scrutiny reports produced by the Assembly.

According to the proposals, Boland would be able to:

"review draft scrutiny reports before their publication for the purposes of providing quality control and oversight of the written output from the Authority. This opportunity for review would be personal to the Chief Executive and would not be delegated to any other officer."

This is being proposed because:

a. It would provide the Chief Executive with direct oversight and input into the quality of scrutiny reports.

b. The Chief Executive would be aware of reports before their publication, and would be able to anticipate any potential issues of conflict or controversy. (my emphasis)

Under these plans Boland would not only have the powers to 'anticipate' these conflicts and controversies but also potentially to step in and eliminate them.

This would massively blur the separation of powers between the GLA executive and the body that is elected to scrutinise it.

It would also further weaken the work of an Assembly already earmarked for abolition by senior members of the Conservative party.

A report on the plans to be discussed by Assembly leaders today acknowledges these worries but insists that:

"The Chief Executive has a statutory dual-facing role. It would be important to avoid any potential compromise of this position arising from any perception that the Chief Executive’s review of draft reports amounts to approving them or agreeing with their contents. It would equally be very important to avoid any perception of executive interference in the scrutiny function, particularly in cases where reports express disagreement between the Assembly and the Mayor."

However, whether these 'perceptions' are avoided or not, this is the implication of what is being proposed by Leo Boland.

The Assembly as it is, has very few powers, but what it does have is the power to scrutinise the Mayor and the GLA.

Any attempt by "the Mayor's man" to interfere with or weaken that power should be resisted at every step.

Otherwise the Assembly risks being reduced to the kind of North Korean levels of scrutiny already practiced by some Tory AMs.

-Update- Dave Hill has some responses from AMs to this story.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Meet London blogger Andrew Gilligan

"This isn’t a blog, Adam - it’s a column. You can tell the difference because it only appears once a week and it never goes into obsessive detail about buses." Andrew Gilligan - 2008

So anyway, here's Andrew's new blog, in which he posts several times a day and goes into obsessive detail about buses.

So far it has no independent blog roll, no interaction with commenters and almost no links to original source material.

But apart from that it's almost like a real blog.

Just be careful of any strange characters you happen to meet in the comments.

Andrew Gilligan Identity pic by Beau Bo D'or

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Boris Johnson: I won't slaughter harmless pooches

Boris Johnson today squashed his Deputy's proposals to wipe out all breeds of bull dog, saying that the last thing he wanted was to see "harmless pooches being slaughtered."

The comments came after his Deputy Mayor for Policing Kit Malthouse called for all bull dog breeds to be "phased out" within the UK.

The proposals were modeled on a scheme in Ontario, where owners who refused to have their dogs neutered, had them taken away and killed instead.

The plans sparked a letter writing campaign with at least 18 breed clubs believed to have written to the Deputy Mayor.

Such was the anger that one dog owners magazine went so far as to call Mr. Malthouse "The Biggest Moron in Britain."

Asked by the leader of the Conservative group Roger Evans to calm these fears, Boris replied:

"Obviously what you don't want to get into is a return to the dangerous dogs kind of legislation where you have harmless pooches being slaughtered in the name of allaying public panic. That is not what we want. We want to see a whole hearted assault on those who are using dogs as weapons and are deliberately setting out to intimidate people in their neighbourhoods with these dogs."

For some reason Kit Malthouse did not sit in his chair during the session but instead watched the exchange from the gallery.

His colleague Roger Evans, who raised the issue with the Mayor today, had already spoken out against Kit's plans earlier this week.

Commenting at Dave Hill's blog Roger wrote that:

"I'm not in favour of banning things - deprived of 'status' dogs, the owners would just find another way to make a nuisance of themselves. We need legislation which targets those few antisocial individuals and removes them from circulation."

Sensible advice, very wisely taken.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Boris Johnson and Chris Grayling: before and after

Boris Johnson attacking Chris Grayling for comparing crime levels in London to The Wire:

“Someone the other day compared London with Baltimore, absolute nonsense. You know, this programme, The Wire in Baltimore.

“There are 35 murders per 100,000 in Baltimore, there are approximately three murders per 100,000 in London. It is far, far more dangerous in Baltimore than it is in London, especially for gun crime.”

He's absolutely right of course. London is a relatively safe city, and remains so despite the recent rise in gun crimes.

By speaking as he did, Grayling was committing the worst kind of political scaremongering, deliberately exploiting fears in order to win a few more votes.

So what was Boris thinking when he did exactly the same and worse during his Mayoral campaign?

I'm sure that Grayling will have learnt his lesson now. Only whip up fear where you've not already won.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Lest we forget...

Expenses image by Beau Bo D'or

Who is this mysterious follower of Kit Malthouse?

The Deputy Mayor of London Kit Malthouse speaking at Mayor's Question Time last month:

"There is an increasing trend, and I have raised this a couple of times before in the Assembly, for opposition Members, and in particular John Biggs, to ask very wide and open and specious and facetious questions which are designed to be provocative and not, actually, designed to do what we are supposed to do, which is scrutinise the working of the Mayor. They have become overtly political and sour and I think that does a disservice to all the people watching both here and on the web. I think you need to get a grip on this."

Indeed. Here at the Troll, we also get a lot of 'overtly political and sour' comments from certain individuals. Like this one:

Or this one, left from the same IP address earlier this year:

Both these comments (and a number of others) were left by somebody repeatedly searching Google for "Kit Malthouse"

And it appears that I'm not alone. Since beginning this post, I've been in contact with one other blogger who has also noticed this strange pattern of searches and comments.

So who is this rather 'sour' individual? Well here's all of their contributions to Wikipedia:

Classical Music and Kit Malthouse? A perfectly acceptable if slightly narrow set of interests.

And what have they added to our knowledge of these vast and important subjects? Well here's all of their additions to Kit's page:

birth date =Birth year and age 1966
birth place = Liverpool
nationality = United Kingdom British
nationality = United Kingdom British
spouse = Juliana Farha
party = Conservative Party (UK) Conservative Party
party = Conservative Party (UK) Conservative Party
children = 1 son
profession = Chartered Accountant
website =

Malthouse was born on October 27th 1966 in the Toxteth area of Liverpool in the North West of England. He was educated at [Liverpool College]. later he studied Politics and Economics at the [University of Newcastle Upon Tyne], under [Professor Hugh Berrington], one of the last great academic Liberals, and [Professor Michael Clarke], now Director of the [Royal United Services Institute]. On graduation he moved to London.
==Business Career==
Kit trained to be a [Chartered Accountant] at [Touche Ross & Co] (now Deloittes), qualifying in 2004. He then left and worked as Finance Director of the Cannock Group of companies. He led the management buyout of the part of that group called the County Holdings and is now chairman of the company. In 2006 he was a founder director of Alpha Strategic PLC where he also remains as a director.

=Career at Westminster Council, 1998-2006==
During his eight years on the Council, Malthouse had two major jobs, first in charge of Social Services and second, as Deputy Leader in charge of finance. Both these roles involved in him a number of high profile campaigns:

Malthouse was elected to the council in May 1998 representing St George's ward in the Pimlico area of central London. Following boundary changes he was re-elected in May 2002 for Warwick Ward also in Pimlico.

Within the first 12 months Malthouse was appointed as Chief Whip of the Conservative Group, and shortly thereafter, following a change of leader to [Sir Simon Milton] he was appointed Chairman of the Social Services Committee. Two years later he was elected Deputy Leader of the Council and became Cabinet Member for Finance.

During his time on the Council Kit was involved in a number of high profile campaigns

Malthouse is a member of the board of the [[Association of Police Authorities]] and the [[London Regional Resilience Forum]]. He also sits on the Ministerial Steering Group of the [[London Criminal Justice Board]].
Following the resignation of [[Ray Lewis]] Malthouse also inherited responsibility for devising the Mayor's youth plan, designed to produce long term cultural change in those young people drifting into crime and violence. The plan, called [["Time for Action"]] was published in November 2008.
Kit Malthouse is also Chair of the [[London Hydrogen Partnership]] and leads at [[City Hall]] on proposals for a new [[Thames Estuary Airport]] to replace [[Heathrow]].

Wow, that's quite a biography. So what about the other important subject in their lives.

Well their interest and knowledge here seems rather narrower.

Here's their one and only (rejected) contribution, to the external links list of the "Classical Music" page:

Hmm. Would that be the same Dilettante Music that Kit Malthouse is a director of?

Oh yes, so it is:

So who is this mysterious commentator and why are they so fixated with the life and times of the most honourable Deputy Mayor of London?

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Dog Owners bite back against Kit Malthouse

Dog owners have reacted angrily to proposals by Boris Johnson's Deputy Mayor or Policing Kit Malthouse to wipe entire breeds of dog off the map.

Under the plans, all bull dogs including the Staffordshire Bull Terrier would need to be registered, muzzled and neutered, effectively killing off those breeds within the UK.

Breed clubs across the country are now in the process of a letter-writing campaign to prevent these proposals from ever being implemented in the UK.

Writing in the Times earlier this week Kit Malthouse labeled the animals as "weapon dogs":

"As well as punishing owners appropriately for use of this weapon, we should be bolder about removing it from circulation altogether.

In Ontario, that is what has happened. The provincial government produced a law that banned all bull breeds and derivatives, including pitbulls and the Staffordshire bull terrier. All such existing dogs had to be registered, neutered and muzzled, leading to the bull-types dying out and owners learning to love the labrador or pug. The result? A huge fall in the number of dog-related injuries and incidents. This approach manages to be both humane to those who have a dog of this type and draws a line under the problem.

Serious penalties will make dog owners think twice, but surely it is time for us to look to our Commonwealth cousins and find a way gently to phase out the canine weapons that terrorise the streets of Peckham, Toxteth and Moss Side."

Kit does not mention the fact that in Ontario, owners who refused to have their pets neutered, were forced to hand them over to the state where they were then "euthanized" or killed.

In a letter to the Deputy Mayor sent yesterday, Helen Reaney of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed Council writes:

Dear Mr Malthouse,

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed Council of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is horrified at the irresponsible comments you made in the on-line version of The Times. Your suggestions regarding the Stafford are totally ridiculous and it is clear that any research conducted by the Deputy Mayor’s office has been totally inadequate, exhibiting an appalling degree of incompetence...

Eighteen Breed clubs across the country are now believed to be in the process of writing to Mr Malthouse about this, with anger spreading into the speciality press

While the RSPCA have also campaigned against the proliferation of "status dogs" they have instead concentrated on "the deed and not the breed"

Dangerous owners, not dangerous dogs

The problem dominated the RSPCA's first annual conference in June this year where Tim Wass, chief officer of the RSPCA inspectorate, made it clear that:

"Everyone is rightly talking about dangerous owners, rather than dangerous dogs."

With that in mind, the RSPCA believes that current breed-focused legislation is failing enforcers, dog owners and the dogs themselves.

Any future legislation should focus on the 'deed rather than the breed' of the dog. "Dogs are a product of their environment rather than their breed, and it is the growing culture of irresponsibility that needs instead to be challenged," explains Chief Officer Wass.

Neither Boris Johnson, nor the Conservative leadership have yet given their public backing to Kit's proposals.