Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The difference between Boris Johnson and Winston Churchill

Conservative Home today make a bold attempt to compare Boris Johnson to Winston Churchill.

Now while I'll admit that there is a a slight similarity in Boris and Winston's use of language, there is one other fairly significant difference between the two.

You see Winston Churchill is best known for leading an embattled people through the toughest war in our history.

Boris Johnson is known for painting some blue strips on the road.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Boris Johnson: an apology

In recent years I Boris Johnson may have inadvertently given the impression that I was totally against "Kosovo-style" cuts to London and was ready to fight a "Stalingrad like defence" of my budget.

Headlines such as "London cuts are madness, Boris tells PM" and "Boris urges Cameron to shelter London from the cuts" may have suggested to many that I was against cutting spending.

I now realise that these same cuts are absolutely essential and that speaking out against them is the work of a clueless opportunist, which of course I most certainly am not.

I would like to take this opportunity to clear up any misunderstanding and to apologise for any confusion caused.

Yours steadfastly,


The rise and fall of a Lib Dem candidate for Mayor

Dominic Carman: Why I want to be Mayor of London (23/03/11)

"London needs someone with muscular liberalism. I believe I have the right combination of political commitment... This makes me determined to fight to win the Lib Dem nomination...

"In May 1982, a Labour candidate stood in a by-election. The Labour Party was then in opposition, not in government. The candidate saw his vote collapse and he lost his deposit. But the party believed in him and his abilities. A year later, he was given a safe Labour seat, which he won comfortably at the 1983 general election. I knew the candidate, and talked with him about the campaign, before and after his by-election defeat. It taught me never to be deterred by defeat, but to use the experience to advantage – to fight on and win. The candidate’s name? Tony Blair."

Dominic Carman: Why I don't want to be Mayor of London (28/03/11)

Given other commitments, I have reached the conclusion that I cannot financially afford to run an effective campaign as the Lib Dem candidate for Mayor...

So it turns out Dominic's liberalism is not quite as muscular as he made out. 

Still at least we'll be spared the ordeal of watching Dominic blame Londoners for his defeat, in the same way that he blamed Barnsley residents for his sixth place position earlier this month.

Dominic and others are now backing London Assembly Member Mike Tuffrey instead as the only viable Stop Lembit candidate for 2012.

This seems like a sensible choice. Unlike Lembit, Mike is expert on both Ken and Boris's time in office and will be able to hold his own at the hustings.

Where Tuffrey will struggle is in gaining any substantial media coverage in a race that will inevitably be dominated by the Ken-Boris rematch.

Lembit would be able to get some of that coverage, but unfortunately it would not be the kind of coverage that the Lib Dems really want or need. 

Because of this many Lib Dem members are deeply uneasy about a Lembit candidacy for reasons which Mark Pack has outlined today.

If current polling trends continue the party are likely to struggle with whoever they choose, but at least with Tuffrey they would not be embarrassed.

Lembit, Mike and the Orange bookers.

Tuffrey is now said to be mulling over whether to stand, as is at least one other candidate and the selection process is not due to start until after the May elections.

Of course if those elections go as badly as some are predicting then there will be far bigger questions for the party to decide than who to pick in London.

The biggest of those is the future direction of the party and as part of their pitches, both Carman and Lembit positioned themselves as unhappy about the increasing closeness between Cameron and Clegg.

Tuffrey on the other hand is not known to have voiced similar concerns and he is widely thought to be far closer to the Orange Book wing of the party than Lembit.

For this reason Tuffrey may well be favoured by the party leader, although as we've seen from his non-apperance in Barnsley, an endorsement from Clegg is not quite the fillip to a Lib Dem campaign that it once was.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Boris Johnson finds "magic money" for Croydon Tramlink

Bank Note image by Beau Bo D'or
Shortly after getting elected Boris Johnson scrapped Ken Livingstone's plans to extend the Croydon Tramlink saying that:

"What we want to do is stop pretending the tooth fairy will come. Some of the plans we just don't have the money for and the others were never very good ideas anyway."

A spokesperson told the Evening Standard that implementing such vanity projects would:

"mean finding more than £3billion of "magic money".

So fast forward to the start of Boris's re-election campaign, and what do you know, the tooth fairy has come for Outer London after all:

"The Mayor of London has vowed to push through the stalled tram extension to Crystal Palace, despite no concrete plans on how to pay for it."

Magic money for all!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Ferrier Estate: destruction or regeneration?

Ferrier Estate podcast: destruction or regeneration?

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Ken Livingstone and a reality deficit

Watching the Conservatives attack Ken Livingstone for saying he'll only reveal his plans *after* the election is a bit like watching Press TV man Andrew Gilligan attack Ken for er... appearing on Press TV.

It's an amusing but ultimately pointless exercise in irony

However, if Ken is to avoid the perception that he's all out of ideas then he will need a much more coherent message than the one he delivers in this Mayorwatch interview.

Just pledging to fight against the cuts is not going to be enough to win re-election and Ken needs to spell out his plans in a far clearer way than the Conservatives dared to before the General Election.

I've written more about the reality deficit facing both Ken and Boris over at The Scoop.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Boris Johnson's time warp attack website

I've written about the launch of Boris Johnson's new attack website over at The New Statesman.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Boris Johnson spends £20k moving redundant official

Boris Johnson spent almost £20,000 on new offices and furniture for a man whose job isn't even now required at City Hall.

Leo Boland who is set for a £300k pay off, moved offices twice, costing almost £10,000 in furniture and over £9,000 in labour.

According to a breakdown provided to the Labour group on the London Assembly:

  • £9,698 was spent on new furniture
  • £7,000 on mechanical and electrical works   
  • £2,035 on contract labour
  • £325 on fixtures and fittings

Total: £19,058

Costs included the conversion of a fifth floor photocopying room and "substantial works to redirect the air extraction unit."

No explanation is given for the inadequacy of the room and furniture used by Boland's predecessor Antony Mayer.

Explaining his decision to delete Boland's job at City Hall, Boris Johnson told staff that:

We need to ensure that we put every penny we can into making this great city even greater, and that means taking decisive action where we can to reduce unnecessary costs.

Perhaps you should have taken that "decisive action" a little sooner eh Boris?