Saturday, May 03, 2008

Boris wins

Boris Johnson won the London mayoral election.

Brilliant.

My hatred for Ken Livingstone rivaled my political hatred for Dick Cheney, but being local - was probably more visceral. Livingstone's reign was divisive and expensive. I really believe that London will be better off without him. I can only say one good thing about him - Ken Livingstone genuinely loves London. I do believe it. But it's a love tainted by strange Gramscian political philosophies and a self-loathing hatred of the West demonstrated most strongly by his odd love-in with Islamist extremists. And it's hard to hold those views and do right by a town which, arguably, figures most importantly in the history of Western Civilization. I guess there's one more thing I kinda liked about Ken. I strongly supported Livingstone's anti-pigeon policy, which I hope Boris will continue.

As for the municipal qualities of Mr Johnson, I'm not sure. But I think he's actually going to do a pretty good job. Saying stupid, offensive things never seemed to hurt Ken. The best thing Boris Johnson can do is dismantle the strange gravy train that Ken Livingstone set up to provide succor to his cronies. The second best thing he can do is relatively little - allowing the far more accountable London boroughs to make decisions locally. And he can make a start by allowing councils more control over the main streets and pavements (sidewalks). As it is, Transport for London, has the (largely unused) enforcement powers for the sidewalks along "red routes" (main thoroughfares) and fail to make sure that pathways are clear and clean. This may seem like a trivial concern, but it actually impacts daily on the lives of millions of Londoners.

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Almost best of all, Boris Johnson struck a blow for the hair challenged everywhere. And for that, we mussy-headed few thank him. I explained this to an anti-Boris co-worker, who wondered why Boris couldn't be bothered to comb his hair. I even challenged her on her lack of tolerance for the disability of permanent bad hair day - a condition I've suffered from my whole life.

Of course, she probably should have said "Oh come on, your hair's not as bad as Johnson's."

But she didn't.

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Political pundits everywhere are blaming Gordon Brown for the dismal results for Labour. His bad policies and his grim demeanor are certainly partly to blame. But I think the link starts to crumble when it comes to London. Ken Livingstone is very much his own man. He's won the mayoralty once as an Independent and once as the Labour candidate - and this campaign was disassociated from Labour as much as it could be - Ken literally returned to the colours he used as an Independent candidate.

And London is not the nation, it's both bigger and smaller than that. It's insulting to Boris Johnson, to Ken Livingstone and most of all to Londoners to assume that this election was driven by national policies. Love or hate for Ken was brewing strong before Gordon Brown ever stepped to the helm.

1 comment:

Chris in Happy Valley said...

I thought you'd be pretty pleased about this! I was glad to see it as well, I'm a big fan of BoJo's. I've got to say though, I'm kind of glad that I'm not a resident of London as the changeover could be rocky - good luck with that.