Boris one year on...

‘It is a year since Boris Johnson was elected Mayor’ said the man on the phone from LBC.

‘Last year, in the run up to the Mayoral election you wrote a post titled ‘Why Boris Johnson is a really, really bad idea’, do you still hold the same opinion?’

‘Oh yes!!’ said I!

And so I’m going to be on Ken Livingstone’s LBC show on Saturday morning to discuss Boris’ first year. Also on is Dave Hill from the Guardian (v excited about meeting him, I love his blog) and I think Iain Dale, but maybe not, maybe another Conservative blogger.

Just the other day I was musing to myself, as I was digging out the couch grass from what will be strawberry bed on the allotment, that with any luck we are 25% of the way through Boris’ tenure as London Mayor.

I reckon, that means we’re about a year away from beginning to uncover some of the big mistakes he will have made in the last year.

Yes, I’m sorry to still be so down on someone, whom undoubtedly I’d be delighted to sit next to at dinner, but I’ve yet to see any evidence of executive competence.

Has it all been awful? Well no, I suppose in retrospect the illiberal banning of alcohol on the tube and buses has led to an improvement (although, I’m too old and too much of an early bird to go on night buses nowadays) and I was wrong about that.

Boris’ inexperience in running teams showed up early in the multi resignations that took place over the summer. He has shown a crass lack of judgment in warning his Tory colleagues of police activity in the Damien Green affair – or is it that he thinks the rules don’t apply to him?

There’s two other problematic signs in this first year of his Mayoralty.

Firstly, it seems to me that he’s not the Mayor for all Londoners; he’s the Mayor for affluent Londoners. Most of the cuts he made affect those living in less affluent areas of London but would make a great difference to their regeneration, such as the cross river tram which would link Peckham to Camden, the extention of the DLR to Dagenham and the Croydon tram link extension to the lovely, wonderful Crystal Palace.

But Kensington & Chelsea get the congestion charge removed. For sure, I was never a fan of the K&C charge as it seemed to me it was a largely residential area but you get the drift – if you come from a Tory voting borough then Boris is definitely your man!

The second is this dislike of scrutiny that he has. Dave Hill has done a great blog on this but it’s obvious to anyone who saw this behaviour at the Transport select committee will see that he thinks he is above criticism.

It is the behaviour of a petulant child and I have mucho empathy for his mother who must have had the patience of a saint throughout his childhood.

As Dave Hill says, we don’t have free ranging press conference any more but themed announcements meaning that Boris and his hench men (for they are largely men) get to control what is talked about.

But the thing about our London Mayoral system is that he has all the power and all we have, those of us who are not Boris Johnson, is the ability to scrutinise. And Boris won’t let us scrutinise him and that’s just undemocratic.

Still, with any luck only another three years to go...


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