One Year On, Boris Isn’t Working

May 5, 2013 2:19 pm

One year ago, London went to the polls and handed Boris Johnson another four years as Mayor. Then, he stood on a “Nine Point Plan for a Greater London”, a skeletal manifesto designed to counter criticism that he had no plan for his office other than to further his own political career. A year later, most Londoners have forgotten the pledges and so too has the Mayor.

A year ago, Boris claimed he would cut waste at City Hall but has instead ushered in an era of cronyism. Moreover, his addiction to vanity projects appears undimmed by the failure of his £60 million cable car or his bike hire scheme that will bleed £35 million of taxpayer money over the next three years (despite the promise it wouldn’t cost the taxpayer a penny).

He claimed he would put money back into the pockets of Londoners by cutting council tax yet the £3.72 he saved every London household this year is being more than clawed back through the explosion in transport fares. Weeks after promising to create 200,000 new jobs he exclaimed that “it’s not my job to create jobs”. The number of unemployed Londoners has increased by over 70% during his tenure yet he forgot to spend the £110 million earmarked for jobs and regeneration that was gifted to him by the government.

He pledged to add an extra 1,000 police officers to London’s streets yet there are fewer officers today than in either 2012 or 2008. His “rationalisation” of the Metropolitan Police involves closing 63 police stations and downgrading of countless others.

The headline of his 2012 campaign – and the final point of his plan – was that he was uniquely placed to secure a better deal for London from the Prime Minister. His attempts to block any form of “Kosovo style social cleansing” in London as a result of capping benefits seems to have fallen on deaf ears: not only are the government pursuing their welfare reforms unperturbed but they are actually using London to test out the benefit cap. Sometimes he doesn’t even bother: several Accident & Emergency wards in London are under threat of closure and despite countless requests to support the campaign to keep them open, Boris has barely lifted a finger.

He has delegated more decision making powers to his advisers, reducing his own workload further. Judging by his recent interventions, the EU referendum is occupying his mind more than London’s housing crisis. He has found the time to visit Conservative Associations in Derbyshire and Leicestershire and has become linked with safe seats in Croydon, Reigate, Richmond and Louth.

Back in City Hall, his team have been scrambling to put together “London 2020”, a document outlining Boris’ vision for the capital over the rest of this decade. It would be a worthwhile exercise if this had come after 5 months in the job, not 5 years. The challenges facing London in 2020 are only more acute versions of the problems that London faces today; problems that the Mayor has thus far shown no interest in solving. How do we build the housing and the infrastructure required to cater for a city of nine million people? With rents rising eight times faster than wages, how do we make sure our capital city doesn’t become a Monte Carlo-on-Thames, affordable for only the super rich? These are challenging questions that require ingenuity and creativity, not just soundbites and “piffle”. Yet with his eyes already measuring up the curtains in Downing Street, who trusts Boris to care enough to consider the solutions, let alone implement them?

David Lammy is the Member of Parliament for Tottenham

He has published a summary of Boris Johnson’s achievements thus far here with a fuller analysis here.

  • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

    Boris would not be Mayor had we had a strong candidate rather than Ken Livingstone. Labour is in part to blame for this clown’s continued kakistocracy over our City – if only David Lammy, Alan Johnson or Tessa Jowell were our candidate then we would have won.

    • Helen

      I agree. I thought Oona King was a very credible candidate and couldn’t understand how we ended up with Ken Livingstone again. We’re always saying we need more women in politics and then when a strong woman does put herself forward she’s not supported.

  • Brad

    Somebody needs to set up an alternative free London evening paper to The Evening Standard, which is just a mouthpiece for Johnson and never challenges him.

Latest

  • Comment Was the referendum result good for the union, but bad for Labour?

    Was the referendum result good for the union, but bad for Labour?

    Was this the high water mark of secessionist sentiment in Scotland? At first it may seem an outlandish idea. Scottish Nationalism has been a riding tide for over thirty years – from fringe cause, to Westminster representation, to a Scottish parliament, minority government and then majority government. But something also broke in the movement this week. The SNP dominated Yes campaign ran to a large extent on the idea that if Scotland voted for independence, the hated Tories would never […]

    Read more →
  • News Join us in the LabourList Marquee in Manchester this week

    Join us in the LabourList Marquee in Manchester this week

    Thousands of Labour activists are in Manchester for Labour conference already, and thousands more are on their way in the coming days. LabourList will be in Manchester from the start of conference until the very end, covering everything from conference floor speeches to fringe events, announcements and gossip. But in addition, we’re also holding what is by far the biggest set of conference fringe events we’ve ever organised – most of which will take place in our special conference marquee […]

    Read more →
  • News Gordon Brown rules out return to frontline politics

    Gordon Brown rules out return to frontline politics

    After his spectacular return to prominence in the final weeks of the referendum campaign – with many crediting his interventions as crucial in securing a final swing towards the No campaign – rumours began to circulate that Gordon Brown might make a more permanent return to frontline politics. His barnstorming speech on Wednesday in particular reminded many in the Labour Party of what they once admired so much in the former PM. Yet today – as he spoke publicly about […]

    Read more →
  • News Miliband outlines housebuilding plans – including “New Homes Corporations” and public sector housing

    Miliband outlines housebuilding plans – including “New Homes Corporations” and public sector housing

    Last year Ed Miliband committed Labour to ensuring 200,000 homes are built each year by 2020. Whether or not that target is ambitious enough has been hotly contested over the past year, but as he arrived in Manchester for Labour conference today, Ed Miliband outlined how that target will be met – as the first of a series of “Labour’s plan for Britain’s Future” announcements. The proposals – the first to be revealed from an interim report of the party’s […]

    Read more →
  • Comment We should have high expectations of all fathers

    We should have high expectations of all fathers

    Three months ago, on Father’s Day, ICM released a poll showing that two out of three British adults think the role of fathers is undervalued. I find this deeply worrying, but sadly unsurprising. There is no doubt that some progress has been made in recent years: many fathers are spending more time with their children, while the ability to balance work and parenthood is an option for an increasing number of mothers. But, while of course welcome, these trends should […]

    Read more →