The Thick of It


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

City Hall = circus

While I've been away I've missed lots of action at City Hall.

BJ's team, in training before they (hope to) move to Downing Street after the next election is depleted and is continually defending itself from multiple accusations. At first sight it looks like little planning went into the construction of BJ's team, Ray Lewis' background clearly wasn't looked into, otherwise I can't imagine he would have been appointed. His planning deputy Sir Simon Milton had to step down after the legality of his role was questioned while at the same time as leading Westminster City Council.

Today Boris Johnson announced that he wants to cut 15% of the GLA's spending. He has tried to pass all his powers to unelected deputies or back to the boroughs. The GLA was established to take strategic decisions that the 32 boroughs (+ the City) couldn't take by themselves. Johnson is trying to degrade the post of Mayor. Before the election I spoke of the need for city mayors to take bold decisions, build capital projects, host festivals and build pride into city life. Very quickly Johnson has shown he has no interest in this.

Charges that can easily be levelled at Johnson are many of the same that his team and the Evening Standard leveraged against Ken Livingstone to get him elected in the first place:
  • Cronyism - his "independent Forensic Audit Panel that "investigated" the spending of the LDA under Livingstone was nothing but a Tory whitewash
  • Waste - Brain Coleman's taxi bill, Johnson's use of a Government Car Service private chauffeur, all the wages for his "interim team" and legion of deputies
I've been away too long to list them all, The Liberal Conspiracy does a much better job anyway, or you can read Dave Hill's well referenced Guardian article.

The problem we face is that most Londoners no longer care about this now the election is over. Boris is doing his best to do nothing as mayor, why be mayor if he doesn't believe in the office?

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