Why Boris Johnson is a really, really bad idea.

Boris Johnson terrifies me. Boris Johnson terrifies me because if he gets into power he will ruin our fantastic City.

So, it is with horror and disbelief that I see the polls that put Boris ahead and even on Lib Dem Voice so many people are putting Boris as their second preference; although perhaps they’re the ones that don’t actually live in London and so won’t have to live with so many of the consequences!

For sure, there is much to be done; our roads are still too congested, our public transport too expensive and inefficiently run, people are afraid of crime and we have teenagers killing each other with knives and guns; but it is still one of the best cities in the world to live in. I am so, so proud of being a Londoner and I reckon we knock the socks off all our great city rivals such as Paris, Berlin and New York.

We need a Mayor who is capable, who has a passion not just for power but running things and changing them where they have to be changed.

Nothing, nothing I have so far seen, in this man Boris Johnson, gives me any indication that he could do anything more than make a joke out of the job. No, really; because unless presenting ‘Have I got news for you?’ is the qualification required to run the best capital city in the world, as I’ve not seen him do anything else!

And he proved this on Newsnight, last night, as Lynne Featherstone so adroitly points out. Boris once more showed us that this is just an exercise in vanity for him; that he is so much more interested in just being someone than doing anything. Lynne points out:

“Boris was appalling - and Paxman nailed him on his waffle approach by asking him for a figure for something he was proposing re-replacing bendy buses. Boris was baffled. Boris was bamboozled. But Boris didn't answer the question. Boris was exposed as not knowing a thing really about bus costs.”

And this is the thing: if you are capable, if you are experienced at actually running things and you are really interested in something then understanding the costs of what you wanted to do is easy. It trips off your tongue; you have rehearsed all the arguments in favour of something because you have rehearsed them with yourself. You have thought it through.

I am, in my professional life a Projects & Programme Manager. I am responsible for spending millions pounds of my clients’ money and (obviously) ensuring that they either save as much or are able to bring in much, much more extra revenue as a result of the changes that I and my teams will make in their business and organisations. I can tell you right now, how much money I have spent, how much money I am going to spend, how much I should have spent and how much the extra thing that the MD asked us to do actually cost. I know how much money we’re going to save or earn, what that relies on, why it might not happen. I know all that stuff. Off by heart, without looking. If you woke me up at three in the morning and I was still half asleep I’d probably be able to give you that information before I could tell you my name. Or your name*.

I know, with passion, what the most important issues are, what the risks are and why we’re doing what we’re doing. Of course I do; for somebody charging what I do, you would expect no less. Indeed, if you wanted to employ someone for the job of spending millions of pounds on behalf of your organisation you’d probably look for a CV that proved they had done that sort of thing before, with some evidence of successful outcome.

Well, step forward Brian Paddick (tick), who has managed millions of pounds worth of policing and been so successful in Lambeth that when he left there was a grass roots campaign to bring him back – he made a difference, a positive difference. When asked about dealing with gun crime last night he was passionate and fluent in his response.

And even, though I have to hold my nose as I say this, step forward Ken Livingstone (tick). I don’t like Ken, I don’t like the company he keeps, the way he wastes money, the permanent self promotion that he undertakes and the dodgy deals and cronies that he keeps in work. But I have to concede that, although he has usually nicked the ideas of the Lib Dem Group at GLA, he can at least implement change and run a city. Not as well as I would like, but he has not been the disaster I thought he would be eight years ago (there, I can stop holding my breath now).

But Boris Johnson? Nothing, nada…no experience and, it looks pretty clear to me, no interest in and passion for running or doing anything. Is the mayoralty a Tory compensation prize for a man with the delusion that he could’ve have been something? You see, I don’t think Boris is stupid; I’m sure the man is very clever, writes a good column and even I concede that he can be amusing on telly; but he does not have the competence to be the Mayor of London. Frankly I wouldn’t employ Boris to answer the bleeding phone in my company, let alone run the bloody thing.

And so, I just do not understand why so many people would have Boris as their first or second choice on May 1st.

If you care anything about London and the people who live and work in it, you will not put a cross anywhere near the name of Boris Johnson. Put your first choice for Brian Paddick, he is undoubtedly the best candidate; but whatever else you do, don’t let Boris Johnson ruin our beautiful, wonderful, vibrant city!

*Although, to be fair, if you woke me up to ask me that sort of stuff at three in the morning, you may no longer need a name as I may be tempted to commit some sort of ‘cide’ on you.

6 comments:

Adam said...
9 Apr 2008, 16:13:00

Boris Johnson would be a disaster. Please join our campaign to keep him out.

http://www.stopboris.org

Please also show your support by adding a banner/button to your blog:

http://www.stopboris.org/campaignposters.html#blogbuttons

Tristan said...
9 Apr 2008, 18:05:00

If one person could destroy London as you fear then the Mayor has too much power.

If it takes Boris to make us realise that then so be it.

Given its really a choice between Boris and Livingstone - I'd prefer Boris. At least he's likely to be ineffective, Ken is too good a politician to let have more power.

Mark Pack said...
9 Apr 2008, 18:24:00

Liberal Conspiracy has picked up its front page a YouTube clip from last night's debate where Boris Johnson kept on failing to explain the costings of his policies. It's quite an amusing spectacle!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRRYDVaXdaA

Darren Grover said...
9 Apr 2008, 18:31:00

Boris is quite frightening. He reminds me strangely of that annoying 'comedian' Al Murray..

Jo Christie-Smith said...
9 Apr 2008, 19:12:00

Thanks, Adam.

Tristan,

That's a rather academic argument, isn't it? I do think the mayor has far too much power; on that we can agree.

But back in the real world, the Mayor is in charge of a budget of £10,722,000,000 financial year end '08 and I would rather someone with experience of managing a budget of a large organisation got in than a man who couldn't even remember the cost of his main policy platform.

Screwing up £10,722,000,000 of expenditure is a bit more of a problem to Londoners that just being 'ineffective'. The man is not going to be able to recognise when things have gone wrong until it's far too late. Because he doesn't have the experience, he is going to find it harder to recognise that right experience in the people that he appoints and so on and so forth.

You know you can be bright and learn political analysis from reading a lot of books; running an organisation with the budget and influence of the Mayoralty and the greater London Authority takes intelligence AND experience - Boris has one and not the other.

Frankly, I don't like what he does with his intelligence either - he is not a likeable buffoon, he is a nasty man with a questioanble grip on the difference between right and wrong. I'm no fan of Ken's but he has not screwed it up in the way that Boris will!

So, Tristan, if you have a vote in the London election, I guess you could use it to send a four year long 'I told you so' to the population of London on the subject of regional governance. However, I think that would possibly be the most 'ineffective' way to use your vote. Having an incompetant in power rarely leads to constitutional change. It will just lead to four years of pain for those the least able to bear it.

Mark - thanks for the tip..I shall go and review soonest.

And Darren...well, that's just weird!! ;-)

Watervole said...
11 Apr 2008, 08:09:00

Your comments are somewhat post hoc, as Ken has already put paid to London as Gordon has to the UK.

No one shined on Newsnight, not even Paxman. The problems that beset London need more than glib, slick and rehearsed answers to sort them out. In that respect, as a small business person, I have more empathy with Boris' approach than either of the other two main candidates.

Brian Paddick has some good ideas and I think would team up very well with Boris, because Ken is clearly not going to get it. You say that Boris has no experience, but he has been a good constituency MP for some time and also has experience of running a large successful business in the private sector, something neither of the other two have, and an approach which is, I believe, badlly needed to stop the squandering that is rife at County Hall.

We've had too many slick politicians, Tony Blair for one. Now is maybe the time to let someone a little less polished, but perhaps more honest, have a go. They can hardly be worse than the current team and might actually turn this around.

Boris is a man of principles. He wants to offer an amnesty to illegal immigrants in the face of opposition from his Conservative colleagues. This is the only way that we will find out the true size of the problem. With a good team around him, including perhaps Brian Paddick, I think we at least would have a fighting chance of fixing crime and housing - I particularly like the green idea of repurposing brown field sites.

Paddick would add the necessary balance to the conservative approach. The ordinary Londoner is very much in favour of Boris so do not rule him out - you might get a nasty surprise.

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