Tag Archives: Boris Johnson

Tories, Ayn Rand and Other Things

The current Tory regime – known at Nowhere Towers as the Simulated Thatcher Government (STG) – is fixated with shrinking the state. They don’t even try to deny it. If Thatcher herself “believed” in Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty, then today’s Tory government is inspired by Ayn Rand’s terrible prose. By the way, it’s widely believed that Thatcher hadn’t actually read any Hayek and her knowledge of his ideas were mediated to her by the child abuser, Sir Keith Joseph and former communist, Sir Alfred Sherman.

Four years ago, I spotted, what I’d considered to be, traces of Rand’s ‘philosophy’, “Objectivism”, contained in the 2010 Conservative election manifesto.  Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell (now a UKIP MP) wrote a book called The Plan: Twelve Months To Renew Britain. According to the pair, their book was inspired by Objectivism. They gleefully told their readers that some of their ideas had been adopted by Cameron and co. The book itself offers unsourced graphs and a lot of badly thought out remedies for a series of problems that the authors claim are caused by the state. One stand out line from the book is “the state is running at capacity” (Carswell and Hannan, 2008: 18). Does the state have a capacity? Is there a stated “capacity” for the state or is that just an empty rhetorical device? It’s a curious line to be sure. The Plan is essentially a manifesto for a nightwatchman state. Think of a land with no infrastructure, rampant crime and endemic corruption and you’re halfway there.

Rand’s influence can be heard in the language of government ministers: the insistence on “hard work” and the frequent mention of the somewhat vague concept of the “wealth creator” versus the scroungers and layabouts, resonates with the language in any one of Rand’s turgid novels, which cast the rich as downtrodden heroes and pits them against their nemesis: the moochers and looters – the latter being a shorthand for the enemies of unbridled cupidity. A couple of years ago, Bozza wrote an article for The Torygraph which claimed the rich were an “oppressed minority”.

But there is one minority that I still behold with a benign bewilderment, and that is the very, very rich. I mean people who have so much money they can fly by private jet, and who have gin palaces moored in Puerto Banus, and who give their kids McLaren supercars for their 18th birthdays and scour the pages of the FT’s “How to Spend It” magazine for jewel-encrusted Cartier collars for their dogs.

I am thinking of the type of people who never wear the same shirt twice, even though they shop in Jermyn Street, and who have other people almost everywhere to do their bidding: people to drive their cars and people to pick up their socks and people to rub their temples with eau de cologne and people to bid for the Munch etching at Christie’s.

From this rambling mess it’s possible to deduce that Bozza has at least been exposed to Rand’s trashy philosophy and has internalised its central premise that anyone who doesn’t create “wealth” is a leech. We must slap the rich on the backs, admire the size of their enormous wads and tell them how marvellous they are! What! According to this 2014 Guardian article by Martin Kettle, Sajid Javid (aka Uncle Fester) is also a Rand admirer. Well, blow me down! Peter Hoskin on Conservative Home writes:

Javid explained that this isn’t his favourite movie, but it is the most important to him. He first watched it on television in 1981, aged 12, and even then it struck him as “a film that was articulating what I felt”. From there, he soon read the book, wore out a VHS copy of the film, and brought his enthusiasm for all things Fountainhead with him to university. He even admitted, with a self-deprecating grin, that “I read the courtroom scene to my future wife!”

Uncle Fester’s lack of humanity certainly comes across very strongly in his media appearances, so it comes as no surprise that he would read Rand’s dull prose to his future wife. If I were his other half, I’d be thinking “Why are you reading me this shit? Do you hate me that much”?

The continued destruction of the welfare state; the attacks on the poor and disabled and the emphasis on the slippery concept of “aspiration” are clear examples of Rand’s influence on the STG’s social and economic policies. We can add to this, the compulsion to control all forms of discourse, and their tendency to render all facets of everyday life into neoliberal economisms. This can be seen in the way in which the STG and its allies in the press insist that the main opposition party adheres to the government’s doctrine of presumed fiscal rectitude, thus serving to illustrate not just their desire to shrink the state but to create an authoritarian one-party state as well. Why? Because the Tories despise opposition even if they claim otherwise. If they must deal with an opposition, it is better to deal with one that goes on the defensive every time false accusations are levelled at them.

If the Labour leadership’s rhetoric and policy positions look little different to those of the government, then you’re not really being offered a proper choice at the ballot box. You’re being offered a choice between Coke and Pepsi. Life’s a bitch. Now shut up and eat your shit sandwich.

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“We need more Thatcherism” (like we need holes in our heads)

In the wake of Thatcher’s death and funeral, some senior and some not-so-senior Conservatives have been demanding the party ‘rediscovers’ Thatcherism. I must admit, I’ve been mightily amused by the Tories’ clamour for more Thatcherism. It’s as predictable as it is absurd. It also smacks of terminal desperation. Make no mistake, this is a party in decline.

The first to stick his ugly, fat, unkempt head above the parapet was Bozza. The Guardian reports,

London mayor Boris Johnson called for a show of “Thatcherite zeal” as he joined backbench MPs in demanding an overhaul of the law to make it harder to call strikes.

Johnson said was “farcical” that a strike could be called with the backing of less than half of union members and has urged the government to rethink legislation on taking industrial action.

It comes as a report by the Conservative group on the London Assembly estimates that tube strikes in the capital cost the economy £48m a day, putting the cost of industrial action between 2005 and 2009 at £1bn.

Johnson told the Sun: “The idea that a strike can be called by a majority of those that vote, rather than a majority of all those balloted, is farcical. It often results in a strike backed by just one in 10 union members, antagonising millions of commuters in the process and costing London and the UK billions every year.

“I’d urge the government to act with some Thatcherite zeal and at the very least legislate against strikes supported by less than half of all union members.”

The call for new laws follows on from union groups raising the prospect of calling a general strike in protest at the government’s austerity measures.

So Bozza said this to The Sun? Well, there’s a surprise. He’s been having regular lunches and dinners with The Old Bastard (Rupert Murdoch to you), which he’s only just begun to declare in the register of members interests at City Hall. In the same article, Dominic Raabid, who was in short trousers when the Auld Witch was ensconced in Downing Street, tells us that:

“Margaret Thatcher injected a dose of democracy into the unions, to empower their members and protect Britain.

“We now face a hot summer of discontent, with reckless strikes from schools to airports that most union members refused to back.

“It’s high time we had extra safeguards to protect the hard-working majority from this abusive militant minority.”

“Margaret Thatcher injected a dose of democracy into the unions”, opines the humourless Raab. This nutjob is serious! Last year, Raabid called for Britain to adopt a sweatshop economy. He was supported in this endeavour by his fellow headbanger, Priti Patel, who says:

“Defending the rights of people to work without fear of intimidation, bullying or violence is exactly what Margaret Thatcher championed and this legislation could once again put the rights of workers above the vested interests of the left and their union barons.”

Come again? Thatcher was a bully and her cabinet was composed mainly of bullies. The current government have carried their public school bullying with them throughout their journey to Westminster. It is their desire to make the rest of us their fags.

The mere mention of a possible general strike is enough to get the likes of Raab, Johnson and his Nazi-fetishizing chum, Aidan Burley calling for even more draconian anti-union legislation. The next step for these bullies will be to call for an outright ban on unions. That’s how much they love ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’, kids.

Yesterday, Bozza’s kid brother, Jo, was appointed to the Downing Street Policy Unit with, I am reliably informed, a remit to inject more Thatcherite poison into the Tories’ already polluted bloodstream. Nicholas Watt of The Guardian writes,

The appointment of the mayor of London’s brother, who formally becomes a Cabinet Office minister, is one of a series of moves designed to strengthen the political operation in Downing Street and to patch up the prime minister’s frayed links with the Conservative party. One senior figure described the moves as a deliberate attempt to create a more political – though not politicised – Downing Street in the mould of Margaret Thatcher’s No 10 operation.

The Tories are so deluded that they seriously believe their only salvation lies in serving us warmed-up Thatcherite leftovers from 30 years ago. It’s farcical.

The real tragedy is that the opposition Labour party can’t see how weak the Conservatives are and do nothing to help finish them off (it’s called a coup de grace, Mister Ed). There’s blood in the water and if you can’t move in for the kill, then you have no business being in politics.

Ed Miliband’s spine was last seen getting into a car on the northbound carriageway of the M6 near Congleton. If anyone knows its current whereabouts then kindly inform the owner.

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Grilled Bozza served on a bed of chutzpah

In case anyone missed Bozza getting a grilling from the deadly Eddie Mair on yesterday’s Andrew Marr Show, here it is:

Here’s the full interview.

Even at the beginning of this interview, Bozza has a tough time as Mair asks him awkward questions.

During the course of the interview, Mair brought up the infamous telephone conversation between Johnson and his schoolfriend and fellow Bully Boy, Darius Guppy, in which the latter asks the former for a phone number of a News of the World journalist who crossed him. At last, here is a recording of that conversation:

A Classics graduate, Johnson seems to fancy himself as a latter day Roman emperor. Think of his vanity projects like the stupidly expensive Boris Bus and the cable car and you’ll see that Bozza has delusions of grandeur that are comparable to that of a vainglorious emperor of the Late Roman period.

I have read comments from people who seem to think that Bozza gave a good account of himself and castigated Mair for a “tabloid” interview. Mair had seen Michael Cockerell’s documentary on Johnson, which will be aired on BBC2 this evening, and it is this interview that Mair is focussing on. Anyone who thinks Bozza did a good job needs to learn how to read body language and think about how discourse is being used by him.

As London Mayor, Bozza has done nothing for the city. He’s taken Ken Livingstone’s ideas and claimed the credit for them. He has no ideas of his own and has been led around by his corporate chums. Bozza is nothing but a bullshitter.

London deserves better.

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Nightmare on King Street (Part 14)

Yesterday, as I was looking at my Twitter timeline, I saw this tweet from H&F Council’s propaganda department,

H&F propaganda1

So I followed the link to this article on the Council’s website. I will quote the first two paragraphs,

A judge has thrown out a legal challenge that threatened £1billion worth of community benefits to North Fulham and Earls Court, describing it as ‘absurd’.

West Kensington Estate resident Harold Greatwood, applied to court to launch a judicial review of Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council’s decision to enter into a Conditional Land Sale Agreement with EC Properties to include the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates in the wider regeneration of Earls Court.

Gloating? You ain’t seen nothing yet!

Finding that the challenge to the Council’s consultation was “not reasonably arguable”, Mr Justice Mitting said: “The analysis of the consultation responses put to cabinet on 23 April 2012 and 3 September 2012 was balanced and fair. The suggestion that the results of the consultation were hidden is unwarranted”. He went on to say that “The time for the consultation – nine weeks – was adequate” and that “The suggestion that because the defendant did not address the consultation documents to tenants by name or to the ‘tenant’, the process was flawed, is absurd.”

Justice? Justice only exists for those who can afford to pay for it. As for justice being “blind”, that’s another myth. Judges are ideological too. I suspect the Council has a dedicated legal team whose job is to deal with this and other property and land deals.

I saw another tweet on H&F Council’s Twitter timeline.

H&F tweet

This isn’t riding roughshod over the majority of the tenant’s wishes, it’s getting into a steamroller, putting a brick onto the accelerator pedal and running over the tenants again and again. I clicked on the link.

There’s a quote from Council Leader, Nicholas Botterill.

Cllr Nicholas Botterill, Leader of H&F Council, said: “We believe that the residents living on the estates have negotiated the best deal of any regeneration scheme in the country. They will only have to move when their new home is ready to be occupied. That new home will be the same area as they are already living in. People will be compensated and we will keep support groups and neighbours together.

Whoa! Hang on! Botterill says, “The residents living on the estates have negotiated the best deal of any regeneration scheme in the country”. Which “residents” are these? Not the residents who oppose this development and he can only mean the astroturf group of residents that was set up by the Council to give the impression of a consensus for the redevelopment project. It’s an old PR con trick that Edward Bernays would have admired.

Here’s some more,

“Residents, their current and future children will be living in an even better, safer neighbourhood environment with access to new leisure and community facilities. Most of all local people will benefit from the thousands of new job opportunities that will be created”.

“Local people”, says Botterill. Most of those “local people” will be forced out of their homes to make way for the affluent and those who will take, at face value, the words of the developer and the vendors who will sell shoebox properties that have a luxury price tag on them.

At the end of the article, which was quite possibly written by the Council’s propaganda minister, Harry Phibbs, it asks,

What happens next?

  • Hammersmith & Fulham Council will make an application to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  for consent for the transfer of the estates to EC Properties. This is likely to be considered in March.
  • When the Section 106 agreement with the developer is firmed up, the Planning Authority will refer the planning application to the Mayor of London, while the Secretary of State also has the discretion to call it in.

The Secretary of State, the immensely rotund Eric Pickles, is already on board and so is Emperor Bozza. It looks like a done deal… or is it? The Council, in its arrogance, believes that it can do no wrong. We’ll see.

The former Council Leader, Stephen Greenhalgh, is facing a criminal investigation over the alleged “VIP list” where tenants who signed up to support the redevelopment were promised preferential treatment. If this investigation goes ahead, I expect other councillors and council officials to face charges. For all the Council’s gloating, the VIP list could come back to bite them. The Council and Greenhalgh deny any wrongdoing.

Funnily enough, when I click on any link on the pages I’ve linked to, I get the following message,

http://www.lbhf.gov.uk is unavailable or may not exist.

Amusing. No?

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Life on Gilligan’s Island (Part 47): Moving to City Hall

Boris Johnson’s hatchet man, Andrew “Kennite” Gilligan

The Cat always knew Kennite was close to Emperor Windbag and now, according to this article by Hugh Muir and Adam Bienkov in today’s Guardian, he’s been offered the part-time job of – get this – cycling advisor. His qualifications? He rides a bike. So what? So do I and many others, who are probably better qualified.

Gilligan is expected to take up the post part-time while retaining his current staff position at the Daily Telegraph, but curtailing his coverage of London issues. It is understood he will be paid the normal adviser rate on a pro-rata basis. Most of the mayor’s advisers draw salaries of more than £90,000.

Gilligan won’t be giving up his job as Bozza’s Deputy Mayor for Information at the Telegraph just yet. In fact, he’s been knocking out more anti-Livingstone stories like this one.

Ken Livingstone was openly laughed at by members of Labour’s National Executive Committee today, I am told, after he urged them to readmit the extremist-linked mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, to the party and let him stand as the Labour candidate in the borough’s 2014 mayoral election.

Some habits die hard. The vendetta grinds on, even though Livingtone lost last year’s mayoral election, Kennite just can’t let go.

The Telegraph is like a conduit to City Hall.

Veronica Wadley, Johnson’s former colleague at the Telegraph and editor of the Evening Standard during the 2008 campaign, has an arts and volunteering advisory role. It is said she first suggested Johnson to David Cameron as the man to win the mayoralty for the Conservatives.

Victoria Wadley too. There’s nowt like a little bit of cronyism in local government.

Here’s what Gilligoon said about his own appointment… or is that anointment?

It’s emerged today – slightly earlier than planned – that I’ve been offered a job as Boris Johnson’s cycling commissioner. It’s part-time; I’ll continue in my day job, covering national and international news for the Telegraph, though I will no longer be called London Editor or cover any matter related to City Hall or Boris Johnson.

I’m very pleased to be doing this at a time when London cycling stands on the cusp of quite ambitious change. As perhaps the foremost cycling blogger in London, Danny Williams, was kind enough to say, I have been a “big supporter” and long-term advocate of London cycling.

So, let me get this straight, he was going to keep schtum until Bozza paraded him before the cameras?

I’ve never driven a car in my life and nearly all my travel in London is by bike. I cycle about 100 miles a week in the capital, and have cycled in every borough. I understand cycling provision from a cyclist’s point of view. Just as importantly, as a fairly recent convert, cycling since 2006, I understand how you can go from being a totally unfit slob who does no exercise to becoming a daily cyclist whose life has vastly improved as a result, because I have taken that journey. I know what got me cycling, what nearly put me off cycling, and what ultimately kept me cycling because I have been through that process.

I’ve been cycling on London’s streets for 17 years. I know other people who have been cycling longer. I’m even a nationally accredited cycling instructor. Others are too. This job (it pays £90,000 a year) is Gilligoon’s reward for writing tons of anti-Livingston smear stories in the Evening Standard and later the Torygraph, for whom Bozza also writes and gets paid “chicken feed” – apparently. Did I tell you that Bozza employed Kennite at the Spectator when he was editor?

The Cat asks “When is Darius Guppy going to be brought in from the cold”? Eh, Bozza?

UPDATE 18/1/13 @ 0935

Kennite defends Bozza’s cronyism by offering us his, er, definition of the word, which is, as you’d expect, another attack on his favourite politician,

Cronyism, of the kind I exposed in City Hall six years ago, is when the mayor’s advisers channel vast sums of public money, for no clear purpose, to their friends, their business associates and women they secretly want to honey-glaze. I’m fairly sure I won’t be doing that. (And to anyone tempted to diss those Lee Jasper stories of mine, do remember that the only libel action to result from them was brought, successfully, by me.)

Naturally, Gilligoon sidesteps the issue of the smear stories he’s written for his chum, the current mayor, who’s done, er, nothing much since he was elected last year.

If you’re thinking about leaving a comment, then you can’t. He’s closed the comments thread.

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Nightmare on King Street (Part 13)

Bozza doesn’t have much luck with his Deputy Mayors. Almost as soon as they are installed, they face controversy and are dismissed. Ray Lewis, much to everyone’s dismay, has been brought back into service like a clapped out old train that’s been given a quick lick of paint. An error of judgement on the mayor’s part? Most certainly.

Since he became Deputy Mayor for Policing, Stephen Greenhalgh, the former Dear Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham, has been involved in scandal after scandal. First, he arrogantly refused to deal with Assembly Member’s questions, then he was accused of “inappropriate behaviour” in a City Hall lift. Yesterday, The Guardian’s Dave Hill reported that he could face criminal charges over his involvement in the Earls Court/West Kensington redevelopment – and I don’t think I’m being too dramatic when I use this word – scandal.

Hill writes,

A complaint that Boris Johnson‘s deputy mayor for policing and crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, may have engaged in criminal conduct while he was leader of the Conservative flagship council of Hammersmith and Fulham has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The Greater London Authority’s monitoring officer, who is responsible for ensuring that the GLA, its members and officers comply with the law, informed the complainant on Monday that under regulations applying to elected local policing bodies his complaint:

“falls with the statutory definition of a “serious complaint”: a qualifying complaint made about conduct which constitutes or involves, or appears to constitute or involve, the commission of a criminal offence. As a consequence…I am obliged, today, to refer your complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission”

The complaint relates to Greenhalgh’s close involvement when Hammersmith and Fulham leader with the proposed redevelopment of a vast, 77-acre site in the Earls Court area of inner west London by the property giant Capco.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Last March, the Kwok brothers, who were involved in the massive CapCo project were arrested on corruption charges.

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Greenhalgh accused of “inappropriate behaviour”

Stephen Greenhalgh’s time at City Hall has been marked by controversy since he took the role of Deputy Mayor for Policing in May, now he’s been accused of inappropriate behaviour.

The incident occurred in a lift when Greenhalgh allegedly patted a woman’s bottom. First he denied it, then he admitted to it but then claimed the Ernest Saunders defence of “I don’t remember”.

If found guilty, Greenhalgh’s days at City Hall could be numbered, which means that he’ll end up back here in Hammersmith & Fulham.

Adam Bienkov has more here.

Once again, Bozza’s judgement has been called into question. At the beginning of his first term, he lost 2 Deputy mayors in quick succession. it looks like another one is for the chop.

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