Monday, May 26, 2008

Boris Bashing

Hello there, I am back after a long hiatus filled with the joys of revision, coursework and other unpleasant things that remind people that Uni is not a holiday camp (and also debunks the naysayers who dismiss all students as lazy, who can rightfully piss off).

However let’s not talk about me, let’s talk about something I think. Today’s seminar is going to be on Facebook and the London Mayor. The latter of which I must say has saddened me, as we now have a clown for a mayor. Ok I admit he probably is a very intelligent man (as people keep constantly reassuring me) but couldn’t we have chosen a mayor who at least doesn’t make Dick and Dom look more able to maintain a credible public image.

Boris comes across as one of those bumbling idiots who may one day turn around and say something like “cripes chaps I seem to have accidentally sold London for some magic beans,” and if that happens I will be screaming in a very patronising way “I told you so.” I am a realist of course and I doubt it will (even Boris isn’t that bad after all) but I can see some silly things happening during his reign as mayor. Boris himself seems to be a bad statesman too which whether you like it or not, in this day and age is a pre-requisit for someone in charge of any major office. Especially and I stress, in a multicultural area such as London, which has the most diverse population in the country. All it takes is one badly placed comment to cause a potential protest, and it’s not like the press won’t try to force one out of him. In Ken Livingstone’s 8 year tenure as mayor the tabloids tried on a number of occasions to make some mud stick to Red Ken and failed every time and why? Because he was careful, that’s why.

As for policy I must say there isn’t much difference between Ken’s policies except for the usual conservative shizzle of trying to turn everything back to the so called good old days. I am of course referring to the part in Boris’s manifesto to bring Routemaster buses back to streets of London. I just question why, when it will simply just cost a fortune, which of course we’ll end up footing the bill for. And for what on a pointless flight of fancy to make London like how it was in the 60s. What is wrong with bendy buses anyway? I admit I’m not as qualified for comment as some people are as I have actually never used one but I can’t see much harm. Other major cities certainly cope ok with similar models. Besides instead of spending a fortune replacing them why don’t we simply just get used to them and put the money to better use with social programmes (considering the current youth murder moral panic in the media at the moment) or perhaps working on other parts of the transport infrastructure (The Tube perhaps!).

I admit having a clown for a mayor does annoy me somewhat, but what saddens me more is the fact that Facebook is starting to be used as a political tool and was in the campaign for the London Mayor. This mainly applies to my home borough (Bromley) which is one of the most conservative in all of London (which I find amusing and annoying in equal measure, given my centrist/liberal attitude). In other words it’s a safe seat for Boris although a certain politician by the name of James Cleverly (Conservative London Assembly Member for Bexley and Bromley), decided to kindly inform us that the congestion charge was going to be extended to Bromley due to his an article in The Times (which can be found here). As you can see the article doesn’t suggest that this is definite proposal, it just heavily implies it, something which Cleverly was quite happy to exploit. The result of this was a Facebook Group called No to Bromley Congestion Charge which announced the “secret plans” of Ken Livingstone to extend the charge zone.

At first glance even I was a little concerned at the prospect of the charge being extended especially as I commute to and from Cardiff to get to university and could be affected. However when I read further I found the Times were his only source and even then it didn’t propose a real plan as such. All it said was that:

“in 2006, TfL identified areas that might benefit from congestion charging. They were Harrow, Hounslow, Kingston, Sutton, Croydon, Bromley, Ilford, Romford and Wood Green.”

Further to this the source for this article itself was “someone close to the mayor” who considering he is talking off the record 1. Could just be anyone who works in city hall (politician or not) and 2. Have an axe to grind. Therefore I hardly think it’s worth worrying about. However that didn’t matter as Cleverly had rather cleverly managed to exploit Facebook and coerced some uncertain people into voting for Boris, whilst defending himself vigorously claiming he was just informing that this could happen. What I find worse is that a number of people didn’t read between the lines and realize that this guy was simply after easy votes.

A disappointing day for a system of government I find more cynical and shambolic each day. Then again what other way is there?