Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Living on Boris Time

Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson - Mayors of London

I’m not being perverse but I like Boris. He’s an idiot, a classic Tory upper class twit. But he’s by no means unintelligent and, if you read his newspaper columns, he can make a refreshingly weird kind of sense. London can certainly handle a madman for a mayor, in fact the position almost demands it. Ken wasn’t exactly crazy, just prone enough to demented outbursts to reassure the public. Boris is a clown’s name. If you think of all the other Borises – the Chekovian Yeltsin, the Bavarian Becker and the Draculonian consort of Natasha in Rocky and Bullwinkle, Mayor elect Johnson hails from a rather fine tradition of loveable buffoons.

Ken Livingstone was a great mayor. As I’ve said before I’m one of those people who felt the top job in the reinstated Greater London Authority was his by right and if his name had not appeared on the ballot paper in 2000, I would have written it in myself and put a big cross beside it. When Labour refused to endorse him as its candidate and he stood as an independent, London cocked its collective snook at the puppeteers and voted him in, prompting his expulsion from the party. Four years on it was begging him to come back and not because the lost love had been miraculously rekindled. It was more a case of my enemy’s enemy is my friend. It’s therefore ironic that he’s now being presented as the first election casualty of Gordon ‘Scrooge McDuck’ Brown’s disastrous leadership. But that’s politics. It rears up and bites you on the bum eventually.

After a while, people get bored with incumbent politicians and want a change. Ken had eight years this time around and five in the eighties as leader of the GLC. In fact for the last twenty-seven years when there has been a boss of London, it’s been Ken. The capital was without local government for fifteen years. Apart from transport going down the .. er.. tube and there being a noticeable lack of hot air balloon races and stilt walking festivals, it made little difference to the functioning of the city. Public transport has always been Ken’s pet portfolio and after eight years of his full and undivided attention, London Transport is now about as good as it’s ever going to get - plenty of vehicles, not too expensive, as reliable as anything in Britain can be. Ken vacates The Hedgehog (City Hall) leaving a substantial legacy in the Oyster Card and free rides for teenagers. He’s done as much as he can for London. It’s time for him to take his rightful place contributing to the revival of the radical left. We could do with that sooner rather than later Ken btw.

Mayor of London is the perfect job for a politician like Boris Johnson. He’s far too eccentric to be anything but a minister for fun and the new look Tories are anything but. Assuming they’ll return to power as soon as the McDuck locates the decency to fall on his sword, Boris would have ended his days languishing on the backbenches and shopping for fishnets in his tea break. Tossing his pom-pom into the ring for Mayor of London was a stroke of genius. As I write, I picture him storming around The Hedgehog, easily the most impractical building in the world - it’s like being inside an ice cream cone, screaming for the Fair Trade Café in the basement to be turned into a pork pie shop immediately and for public transport to be banned along with young people and world music. London’s cookie has crumbled. Those interesting times have arrived…


Andrew said...

I will be watching the fop with interest. The connection back to the Australian Liberal Party is interesting.

USpace said...

Great stuff! YEY BORIS! Boris may be a buffoon, but at least he's not a communist one. I bet he won't let the 'Asian Yooth' gangs carry out hate crimes based on race and religion and get away with it anymore.

Bloody good news! Praise the Lord! Thank God! There is hope for Londonistan. What will Red Ken do next?

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
elect a communist

someone who will work full-time
to destroy your country

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
expand the welfare state

favor the immigrants
till the natives vote you out

FREE Absurd Thoughts eBook!

Political Umpire said...

Entertaining stuff pants. I knew Boris would win after watching this bravura performance during one of the debates:

I think to be honest Ken had done his time. Enoch Powell is a despised figure but he was certainly right when he said that all political careers end in failure.

Ken has done a bit for transport, though the free teens bit has had a severe downside in some areas I know of - such as Lewisham where bus muggings have been appalling (my brother in law travels there every day and his stories are depressing indeed - mothers being punched by hoodies for not getting out of the way fast enough, for example ...).

Anyway Boris managed to increase circulation and ad. revenue at the Spectator so an incompetent buffoon he is not, but as you say he has the requisite madness to be a decent mayor. We live in interesting times ...

Reading the Signs said...

I know what you mean, Pants, and actually I found myself looking at him the other day (on the telly obviously) and thinking that I might even fancy him a bit. What is that all about - no, let's not go there. I'd have voted for Ken but must say that I would never fancy him. I did that who would you choose if you were on a desert island thing and it was close. Not saying who I picked but might not have been Ken.
I've never been particularly party political - having said which, I've never voted Tory in a general or local election. And probably, definitely wouldn't.

How's it going - life, novel and stuff?

trousers said...

He's already making friends...

trousers said...

Damn - that didn't work: I was attempting a link to this.

Oh well...hi pants by the way, after yet another unspeakably long absence from me.

Sal said...

i disliked ken personally but thought he was absolutely the best man for the job as Mayor. he didn't treat it as a status-mechanism but as a JOB. and he CARED. hell yeah, he made mistakes. but as the saying goes: so long as you're right 90% of the time, who cares about the other 3%? this is a man who forced (over all parties' virulent objections) the removal of his own name (the mayor's name) from all announcements of mayoralty proaction. he removed the chance of personal/political ego from announcements of the job being done. and my god, the busses are now useful. seriously. they used to be an unfunny joke.

i don't know about boris. i do think he has the potential. but i also think his "don't care" personality could just as easily be hijacked by politics as it could devote itself to a good result for londoners. regardless, the mayoralty is no longer a job, in service of londoners -- it is once more part of wider party politics. fingers crossed but i'm not hopeful.

Ann O'Dyne said...

BJ will be able to run London with one hand after his experience of getting The Spectator onto the newstands while having an extra-marital, concurrently with his publisher having her infamous extra-marital, and their main writer having an extra-marital on his honeymoon.

Blunkett, D
Quinn, K
Liddell, R

Dame Honoria Glossop said...

Ken has a lot of good stuff going for him, but I kinda feel someone shouldn't stay in that position for too long.

I like Boris, I think he's a lot more intelligent than some people make him out to be, shame he has to be a Tory. I don't reckon much to Callmedave.

That's So Pants said...

Hello all and a very warm welcome to uspace - nice name. It seems most feel quite kindly towards Boris - Signs I worry about you sometimes. When I nearly ran Boris down on his bike in Islington one time - he did give me rather a fetching look I must say but I think he does like to live dangerously.

xxx to all


Ms Baroque said...

Ms P, this is marvellous stuff - the pom-pom into the ring, the lunchtime fishnet purchases, the upside-down ice cream cone...

I've detected, far from a core of fondness for Boris, an atmosphere where you can't say anything at all if you don't want to Boris-bash. Clearly he is bright. Clearly he has self-discipline, he gave up drink for the duration of the campaign.

I think you make excellent points aobut the need to be a bit mad to do the job. And your commenter Sal makes another excellent one about the distressing turning of the London mayoralty into a free trial for the Tories... that is disappointing. But I think Boris may be all right. For a Tory.

PS - Ms P, you and I have had these discussions anyway, I feel, apropos that so-called 'left-winger', George-who-shall-not-be-mentioned - now, he as well as Ken chose some strange bedfellows, people who do not exactly stand for liberalism, feminism and letting teenage girls travel anywhere at all, much less for free. I increasingly think the old left/right paradigm is no longer really relevant - the splits are happening in much more sophisticated, and insidious, patterns now. Boris is at least refreshingly un-pc (at least I prefer to hope that's what he is) - now let's see if he can run our city.

R.H. said...

These are not interesting times, they are the dullest ever. And noses spoil the human face.

That's So Pants said...

Hi Ms B

Lovely to hear from you. I agree with everything here unsurprisingly.


I agree with you too.