Londoners deserve better than Boris Johnson’s apathy

The election results show the capital has distinctive needs - and we need someone new to deliver them


Boris Johnson’s election to parliament last week may have gone relatively unnoticed on a night of wider, and much greater political shocks. However its significance is not lost on the London that Boris was elected to serve.

His appointment to David Cameron’s political cabinet will only reinforce the distancing of his attention from London that many, including some at City Hall, had begun to notice.

Boris is very adept at achieving publicity, which ultimately serves his own ambitions, but this prioritisation has clashed before with the drive and attention needed to advance a complex, global city such as London.

As a result the capital has been treading water for too long on many key issues. Whether cleaning up London’s toxic air, dealing with the housing crisis or investing in the bus network, there are many bread and butter issues which the mayor has already begun to neglect.

A good example was his flustered dismissal of a question at Mayor’s Question Time: when was the target of new, affordable homes so desperately needed in London going to be met? His response of “Well I don’t know. Whenever we’ve done them” was as troubling as his eventual inability to meet this key election pledge on time.

Not having the time to engage with these sorts of details can directly affect the lives of Londoners and the city as a whole. This cannot simply be dismissed as the mere collateral damage of one individual’s personal ambitions.

In the recent past it has been Boris’ ambitions and his campaign for the General Election which have distracted from his mayoral duties, and now we risk his focus quickly moving to the internal machinations of government. What is clear is that Boris’ attention, and commitment, to City Hall and the office of the Mayoralty is not up to standard.

London produced a significantly different outcome to the wider UK picture in that the Conservatives only secured support from a third of Londoners. So it’s clear that what London needs is a mayor who will fight for the capital and its distinctive interests.

It is now very unlikely that Londoners will get the representation they deserve from Boris. His focus could instead very easily drift again to his own personal ambitions; most obviously by spending time rallying support and favour for his post-London future.

Meanwhile however, increasing swathes of his vital mayoral duties are being passed down to others. Couple this with the fact that Boris’ first working day post-election saw him strolling into City Hall gone 2pm seems to suggest that a worrying apathy is rapidly setting in.

City Hall now appears set for a year of neglect and drift while a part-time mayor pursues other political ambitions. These ambitions, coupled with the limited focus Boris will now be able to give the Mayoralty, mean that Londoners and the issues that are important to them will become one of the first casualties of this General Election.

Len Duvall is the leader of the Labour group on the London Assembly. Follow him on Twitter

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11 Responses to “Londoners deserve better than Boris Johnson’s apathy”

  1. Gerschwin

    Not to worry Len, he can always ask Ken Livingstone how to juggle the two jobs – he’ll know.

  2. James Chilton

    Being the Mayor of London is Boris’s hobby. Pleasure comes before business in his case.

  3. damon

    Do you think Diane Abbott would be much better?

  4. damon

    Do you think Diane Abbott would be much better?

  5. AlanGiles

    What does London deserve, then Len?. Dame Tessa Jowell, who could perhaps start “Remortgaging Workshops” with the help of her “colourful” husband Mr. Mills? – Or perhaps the man in drag, “Male lesbian” as he describes himself, Eddie Izzard. I’d love to know what he/she thinks he could offer London, apart from lessons in cross-dressing

  6. Kathryn

    “Or perhaps the man in drag, “Male lesbian” as he describes himself, Eddie Izzard.”

    Would these things affect a person’s ability to do the job?

    Boris, for example, still would have missed his targets if he was wearing nail polish and a skirt.

  7. AlanGiles

    Kathryn. Do you seriously imagine it helped Labour last week for Izzard to prance through Glasgow with Jim Murphy in full drag. Do you?. It can never be proven, but I wonder if the constituency concerned lost yet more votes with this grotesque sight?.

    I think it would affect his ability to do the job. he would look, and make London look, a laughing stock, if he pranced round the world representing us at official events, simply because he wants to show how edgy and “daring” he is.

    If the man is genuinely concerned about issues to do with his sexual identity (he says he is not gay, so this isn’t a homophobic comment), then he should receive psycho-sexual councelling. It can hardly be regarded as normal behaviour for a man to continue with this strange fetish well into his fifties. Or perhaps he just does it for attention-seeking?. Either way, I wouldn’t want to see him in a position of pooiwer or authority.

  8. Kathryn

    I can hardly read past the fact that you described him as ‘prancing’. You need to work out your priorities and prejudices instead of spraying them all over other people. Worry less about his need for counselling and more about your own. Says lots about you and very little about any of the issues, if that’s how superficial you are and presume everyone else is.

  9. AlanGiles

    Oh dear, Kathryn, does it?. Or could it be that a Mayor, of whatever political persuasion has to at least look the part when meeting foreign diplomats, businessmen etc, and a man done up like a pantomime dame will – at the very least – look rather silly and offensive.

    I used “prancing” to be polite – I could equally have said “mincing”. The man looks an attention-seeking buffoon, but go ahead, if you think you can win with him. His recent donation of £20,000 should have probably bought him a few friends.

    Actually I think the reason so many want Jowell to be Mayor in 2016 is because at 70, she will probably want to be a one term Mayor, which will leave the opening for Izzard 4 years later. I rather hope Mr. Khan gets it, because I can’t imagine him making way after 4 years for a cheap drag show.

  10. Kathryn

    Yes. It does.

    Did you describe him as ‘mincing’ his way through 43 marathons in 51 days.

    You’re a horrible bigot, clearly. That shines through despite protests to the contrary. I’d rather someone who was interested in the role, with integrity and intelligence, was awarded the role, and I’m happy for them to wear clothes they’re comfortable in. Crawl out of the dark ages. Why does it bother you so much? Why can’t you cope with anything that slightly steps outside of your narrowly defined gender norms?

    You are the problem with current politics all over, including the current left, and the identikit wannabe leaders.

    For your enjoyment here’s Jowell in drag:

  11. AlanGiles

    Well, thats me told Kathryn!

    I don’t like attention seeking idiots who think (like Grayson Perry) that if they dress up as a woman they are being clever or amusing. Perhaps between the wars in Berlin, but not now. Freaks are ten a penny thanks to “reality” television. Obviously the Glasgow audience where he and Jim Murphy pranced about were not very impressed either. Perhaps they are “bigots” as well?. Or perhaps they just despair of Labour acting like a third rate circus, with freaks in attendence

    Izzard is getting on in years and I suspect that he doesn’t want to be like Danny la Rue and having to do a drag act for the rest of his life.

    Sorry if this upsets you but we have to agree to disagree. You think he is wonderful, I think he is an idiot. Neither of us will change the mind of the other.

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