« Home | Even more thoughts on knife crime and the Sun. » | Big Brother as a microcosm of society. » | Anonymity or bust. » | Scum-watch: Yet more on knife crime. » | The undemocratic task force. » | Snobbery? On my internets? » | Suitably rewarded. » | Victimhood, Jill Saward and civil liberties. » | Learning by example. » | Scum-watch: Could this be the most hypocritical st... » 

Friday, July 04, 2008 

On the travails of Boris and throwing things out the pram.

Justin asks what those of us who suggested some on the left were throwing their toys out of their pram on the election of Boris Johnson are feeling now that only 2 months in things seem to be going rather badly for Bo-Jo.

More than fair enough, as I used more or less those exact words at the time, although it should be pointed out I more objected to the view that people had voted for Boris for a joke rather than because of his record or policies against Ken's.

My second point was about the idea that Boris would be a disaster, and Liberal Conspiracy handily has a rather extensive list of "gaffes and controversies" already. The thing is generally the rather thinness of the list. Is Ray Lewis's resignation really a mistake on Boris Johnson's part or is it Lewis himself not being completely honest on his past? It looks embarrassing at the moment, but in a few months I would wager that no one will even remember who he was. Similarly, the hoo-hah about James McGrath and his swift despatching in fact reflected the fact that Johnson and the Tories as a whole are determined not to get caught up in the drip-drip of scandal which dogged Ken Livingstone towards the end of his tenure. That Lewis jumped ship far sooner than Lee Jasper did, even though the list of offences against Lewis, apart from his direct lie over being a JP is more minor that against Jasper also shows how sensitive and concerned the Tories are over Johnson's potential for embarrassing them.

The Independent Forensic Audit Panel sure looks like an attempt to defame Livingstone after the fact and is to be condemned, but accusing Policy Exchange of running things behind the scenes is pretty poor. The point about Socialist Action was that it was some far-left cabal, and let's face it, Policy Exchange is centre-right Cameroonies writ large with a grudge against Muslims. It's little surprise they're involved. Have to agree over Simon Milton, if only because of his links with Shirley Porter.

The Rise festival thing is a typical Tory u-turn, but whether many Londoners will care or not is another matter. Drinking on the tube, as some of the commenters suggest, isn't really a gaffe; if anything was a gaffe it was the utterly moronic parties on the last Saturday on the tube which were only going to end up one way and helped justify the unjustifable. Again, it might come down to what your definition of gaffe is on the press conferences, it seems more like an atypical politican's decision.

Now, a real policy disaster ought to have been the doubling of the bus fares on the poor, but again, what do you expect from any sort of Tory? The time to pursue Johnson over his real intentions was during the campaign, but instead what most on the left managed was either "Boris is an idiot and whoever votes for him is an idiot" or "he'll be an incompetent disaster". This list doesn't really show that he's incompetent; it shows that he's a Conservative politician.

The good thing about Johnson's victory is that now some virulent and ruthless individuals are dedicating blogs and other things to watching him, something we know the Evening Standard won't do, but as well as exposing his failures what also needs to be done is to build an alternative that can win the Mayorality back in four years' time. At the moment there's no one at all on the scene, or even an alternative party. We're still more concerned about what Ken thinks than anyone else, and he's not going to run again and he's not going to win again. It's not even as if some of us on the left really want Boris to fail because it might perusade the country at large that Cameron and co can't be trusted with being back in power: so many of us are fed up with New Labour in any form that the Blairite Tories look just like another set of bastards in slightly sharper suits and with slightly posher accents. In any case, we shouldn't be throwing brickbats at each other, but instead be uniting to find that alternative. Boris was never a better option than Ken, but pretending that he was an idiot or obviously going to be incompetent was a poor ploy. Next time we have to do better.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Share |

Just a few quickies:

- The latest reporting of Policy Exchange's involvement was a bit hyperbolic. They do, however, have several ex-employees - including their founder - in Boris's administration, and two of their most recent reports have been specifically motivated towards his policies. The hiring of Munira Mirza, especially, was influenced by her earlier report for PE.

- The resignation of Ray Lewis can already be seen as a particular embarrassment for Boris in that there was no verification of whether Lewis was a Justice for the Peace, and it was an assertion that was remarkably easy to refute. This is hardly an endorsement for the standards at City Hall.

- The newer 'Boris is an idiot' claims have not come merely because of his decisions, but his lack of knowledge regarding decisions. He wasn't, for example, even aware of the Rise rebranding. This, however, suggests not that he is exactly incompetent but that most of his powers have been delegated away.

Keep up the excellent writing,

Ben (from Boris Watch)

How are you defining 'far-left cabal'? I'd define Socialist Action as a bunch of like-minded people who are used to working together &, from Ken's point of view, hold mostly reliable (if sometimes eccentric) views - a ready-made mayoral think-tank, in short, and a very good match for Policy Exchange. If you're really looking for a cabal, google Munira Mirza.

I will leave building alternatives to the politicians. It's the job of the press to scrutinise those alternatives and hopefully that's what I have been doing.

I concentrate on the Tories not through any love for the alternatives, but because they have so far been getting such an easy ride elsewhere in the media.

Again it's not because I have any 'virulent' dislike for them. I actually came to this as a fan of Boris. I just didn't like the prospect of having him foisted upon me without him getting even a smidgen of the scrutiny that his predecessor received.

As it happens I agree with you about the list. There is no point in just listing things you don't agree with and calling them gaffes.

However, most of what Boris is doing and Cameron is proposing is hardly known by the majority of the population and most of it has been reported unquestioningly by most of the press.

Highlighting what they are actually doing and separating the spin from the policy is therefore vital, and is the only way people can know what the real alternatives are when they come.

Policy Exchange appear to be running Boris's administration rather more than Socialist Action ran Ken's. In fact, given that they have people in high places in the main Conservative Party plus financial backing, high profile names and links to the US neocon tendency (Dean Godson's brother, Michael Gove) I'd say they were a much more powerful unit than Socialist Action.

Post a Comment

Links to this post

Create a Link