The London Mayoral Circus (or Bring Back the GLC)

There is a lot written in the papers about Ken Livingstone and not all of it is good. As we know, there is a reason the press writes awful things about Ken and it has nothing to do with his alleged (and entirely unproven) anti-Semitism or his supposed love of Islamism. It is because those papers are owned by Tory-supporting proprietors and they are unlikely to print anything that actually applauds Livingstone’s achievements as mayor. While they do this, they deliberately, some would say, wilfully, ignore the defects of their anointed mayoral candidate, Boris Johnson. Indeed, many of the right-wingers that rock up on Dave Hill’s blog tend to complain that Hill isn’t having a go at Livingstone. But then, why should he when the Tory press is working overtime to produce a never-ending stream of smears and baseless allegations that have been cooked up by the foetid mind of Lynton Crosby?

Naturally, Gilligan has been working overtime churning out smear after smear on behalf of his paymasters. As one person remarked on Twitter last week, Kennite has produced 27 blogs about Livingstone in a single month. That is an obsession. Moreover, it is the sort of obsession that is redolent of a thwarted lover-turned-stalker. In ordinary circumstances, Ken would be entitled to report Gilligan to the police and take the matter to court. Perhaps he should. I know I would.

The mayoral contest has been overshadowed by this silly tax evasion row. If it has adversely affected Ken, then it has also damaged Boris – though to hear his supporters talk, you would think that his shit doesn’t stink. I’ve encountered several of Johnson’s supporters on Liberal Conspiracy, all of them repeat the same lies. One of them, who called himself “hobson” even told me that “decent people won’t vote for Ken”. When I pressed him on his use of the word “decent” and told him that it was a value-loaded word and that he may well have used the words “good versus evil”, he replied with a load of gibberish about Ken being a “racist”. When I asked him to produce evidence to support his claim, he merely repeated the same nonsense. Is “hobson” an astroturfer? Quite probably. You will find more than a few Boris cheerleaders/astroturfers commenting on this Liberal Conspiracy blog.

BBC London recently grilled the mayoral candidates. Ken did well and Boris bumbled and avoided questions. Johnson’s attitude to the questions betrays his lack of substance and a worrying dearth of ideas. Indeed, since he has been mayor he has done relatively little aside from take Ken’s ideas and call them his own. His ‘Routemaster’ has become an expensive laughing stock. To get the bus on the road, he had to lie about bendy buses killing cyclists.

I’m now going to level with you. I never wanted a London mayor. I wanted a return to the Greater London Council. The idea of mayor came from the United States and has literally been grafted on to an entirely different political system. It doesn’t work. It was a pathetic compromise on Tony Blair’s part to appease the rabid right of the Tory party who complained that the GLC was “loony left” and a “waste of money”. The Greater London Assembly would be a different beast, he argued, and so it was.

The GLA is a fraction of the size of the old GLC and does not properly represent the people of London. London has a population of over 8 million and its assembly only has 22 assembly members – which is less than a quarter of the GLC’s 100 members.  The Republic of Ireland, for example, has a population of 4.5 million. There are 166  Teachta Dála in the Dail Eireann. Ireland’s population is half the size of London, yet the Irish people are better represented. In fact, the people of Northern Ireland, with a population of 1.7 million, are better represented by their 108 assembly members at Stormont. London’s legislature, such as it is, has limited powers to the extent that it may as well not exist at all.

In spite of my misgivings about mayors and tiny, unrepresentative assemblies, I am still going to vote for Ken Livingstone because I believe, that for all his faults, he has the best interests of Londoners at heart. Boris Johnson, on the other hand, regards the role of mayor as a stepping stone to other things. Johnson has also demonstrated his penchant for vanity projects.

You can have a laugh and follow Lynton Crosby’s Twitter feed here. He has 1230 followers and is following 6 people. He also has another Twitter account. Question: why does he need 2 accounts? Is his ego really that big? Probably not as big as Johnson’s enormous ego.

Speaking of Bozza’s huge ego, I found this story in the Daily Mail from 2009, from which I shall quote a portion.

Boris Johnson’s rivalry with David Cameron intensified yesterday when the London Mayor said he could one day try to become Prime Minister.

Mr Johnson hinted he might not stand for a second term in his current role and would be prepared to lead the country.

In a newspaper interview, Mr Johnson likened himself to the ancient Roman nobleman Cincinnatus, who was plucked from his farm to become dictator.

When I joked about Johnson being like a Roman Emperor, I wasn’t far from the truth. Even he admits it…though, admittedly, Cincinnatus was a dictator of the Roman Republic. Personally, I think Johnson is more like one of the minor but totally ineffectual emperors of the late period of the Western Empire: he’s full of hot air and vainglorious to a fault and like them, he has done nothing for those he claims to represent.
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Filed under London, London Mayoral election 2012

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