‘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...
Well, that was inevitable, wasn't it?
Relieved as I am, as a Crystal Palace resident, not to have the East London Line Extension scrapped it seems that Boris have slashed swathes of budget off key transport infrastructure projects including, as listed on the BBC website:
£1.3bn cross-river tram plan which would have connected Peckham to Camden£500m Thames Gateway Bridge scheme in east London£750m extension of the Docklands Light Railway to Dagenham Dock in east London£500m Oxford Street tram scheme£170m Croydon Tramlink extensionPublic space proposals for a number of areas including Parliament Square and the Victoria Embankment
And what are we getting instead?
Mucking around with bloody routemaster. If there was ever a waste of time and money and a dog whistle to those who think life was always better in the past then I don't know what is. Boris Watch has more on that point here.
I really feel for East London; Barking & Dagenham is in need of so much regeneration but it's just not going to happen without the proper transport infrastructure. And as for the Thames Gateway bridge - do you htink he's have dared to do that in West London?
Dave Hill has more details on the transport for London business plan here.
There’s been an enormous hoo ha over at Liberal Conspiracy whether to join in Iain Dale’s, or rather Total Politics’ list of the Top 100 Political Blogs.
There is an argument that goes along the lines of:
‘Iain Dale is consistently rude about the quality of left/progressive blogging (not possible to describe myself as left wing, oh no) and often moans about them without linking to them. He should not be encouraged in his self appointed role of King of blogging. And he’s a Tory and people who like blogs like Iain Dale’s, will like and vote for blogs like Iain Dale’s’ and won’t vote for progressive blogs and then Iain Dale will just tell us all that left/progressive blogs are boring.’
I, on the other hand, come form the following point of view:
‘Well, he’s the only one giving me a change to vote for my top 10 political blogs and if I don’t vote (for what will not, on the whole, be right wing blogs) then non-Tory blogs will get even less of a look in.
Just in passing, a very bizarre thing came to light in this discussion. Sunny suggested that I look at Wikio for an up to date top 100 blog list. Well, I nearly fell of my chair when I saw that I was rated 86th!! Ha! How ridiculous!
The scoring is on the basis of how many times you are linked to (as apposed to how many times people click through or read you) and different websites are given different weightings. For example, a link from the BBC will have a higher rating than a link say from…me! And this is where I see the problem being. As, Sky News have linked to me quite a few times, as I occasionally do a bit of telly for them and last week the PM Blog on the BBC website linked to me, for a totally non political reason.
Still, I suppose by adding a qualitative element to their scoring they are at least trying to avoid just going for the most popular as by page clicks, but even at my most optimistic (you know, as sort of: who could want more, than a glass half full, it’s perfect!!) could I consider my blog and influential to have any thing in common. However much I may want that to be so.
So, to my top 10 Political Blogs, on the basis that I can’t vote for myself (although I notice that some people have):
You can find out how to vote and all the rules here
Neil Stockley (Quelle surprise! But do I go out with him because I think his blog is great, or think his blog is great because I go out with him? Ha!)
Lib Dem Voice
The Yorkshire Gob
Lynne Featherstone MP
London: Mayor & More
It was hard, actually, to choose. I would rather have a Top 20!! But there is a pretty good mix of established, individual, group, male, female and elephants! I would have put Liberal Mafia up there but he’s on an invite only blog now..boo hoo!Update: The more observant of you will notice that the list had changed a bit - I hadn't realised that Dave Hill's absolutely great London: Mayor & More blog was up on the Total Politics website. once I found out, I couldn't leave it out so I'm afraid the most entertaining Tom Harris had to go instead. Anyway, I'm sure they're'll be plenty of Labour voters voting for him, so it won't materially effect his positioning.