Thursday, April 17, 2008


Tory Economics: 1150% Inflation. In a Day.

London viewers watching straight through the BBC London News to the London Decides Mayoral Debate on Tuesday night saw Tory candidate Boris Johnson’s spending plans not double, not triple, but multiply by twelve. Planning to throw away every penny spent on bendy buses and charge Londoners to replace them on his own personal whim, such is Mr Johnson’s economic competence that when the debate was recorded he priced his vanity project with:
“I stick by our figure of eight million pounds.”
But by the time it went out the next day:
“It would cost, you know, about a hundred million.”
Great person to have in charge of our council tax precepts, eh!

Everyone knows Mr Johnson’s eye-twitching hate for bendy buses means his only policy is to throw all the money spent on them away and fork out extra London taxes to indulge his own personal preferences. But even so, the costs going up 1150% in one day is a bit steep, particularly when figures Andrew Neil quoted at him during the debate – which is when Mr Johnson stuck to his eight million daydream – were even higher, at £114 million. Not that Mr Neil did a good job chairing the debate, though: as usual more interested in hearing his own voice than either members of the public or any answers, he invited questions from the audience… Then ignored the questions and asked his own, most shamefully when – rather than letting Brian Paddick answer what he’d do to tackle teenage street violence – he kept pressing for Hello-style gossip on Ian Blair. There’s a word for some who only thinks of his own self-gratification, but I can’t quite bring it to mind…

Still, that’s better than Mr Johnson. At least there’s only one thing I can’t bring to mind. I was chatting to a Tory friend on Sunday who mocked me good-naturedly for my “I’m coming out for Brian Paddick” badge, then admitted that “At least your candidate can string a sentence together without going –” and here we both burst into an identical chorus of the familiar “I – I – I – I…” which makes Mr Johnson seem such an egotistical gentleman. And it isn’t just adding up that has Mr Johnson scratching his famous blond locks in the hope of finding a functional brain cell.

Ken Livingstone is a monstrously arrogant egomaniac with a contempt for democracy, who will do anything to get out of having himself and all his moneygrubbing cronies opened up to scrutiny. So Mr Johnson had a golden opportunity to appeal to people like me who wouldn’t trust our current lying, hypocritical, self-serving, promise-breaking, gay-killer-buddying Mayor as far as we could throw him. What did he do on Tuesday night, after Mr Livingstone had been criticised yet again covering up for his crooked cronies? Mr Johnson was unable to give Londoners a single name for the string of Deputy Mayors he wants to have, presumably, as Mr Neil said, “to run things that you won’t be running.” “Thank goodness for that!” put in Brian. Pressed again and again, first Mr Johnson seemed unable to think of the names of any of the cronies he wants Londoners’ money to pay for, and then eventually said it was none of our business. They’ll be working for free, then, will they? No. Of course not. Incompetent, or wanting his own cronies in the trough? You decide.

So, we have a Labour Mayor who gives jobs to his cronies and uses all his undoubted political skills to stop anyone scrutinising them.

We have a Tory who wants to be Mayor who attacks the Mayor for giving jobs to his cronies and refusing to open them up to public scrutiny… Not because he disagrees with any of that in principle, but because he wants those to be his perks.

And what did Liberal Democrat Brian Paddick say about who he’d employ? That jobs in his administration would be openly advertised by public criteria:
“So we get the best people for London – not his mates [gestures], and not his mates [gestures], and not my mates.”
I know who I’d rather have spending our taxes.

Of course, there will be many more questions that Mr Johnson will be unable or unwilling to answer, and there have been plenty of others already. On Newsnight last week, Mr Johnson was completely unable to come up with any figure for his personal bus fleet at all. So far this week, it’s been eight million, then a hundred million a day later. By tomorrow, he’ll presumably be telling Mr Paxman that:
‘Well, Julian, it’ll cost around a million billion pounds, and money well spent if you, ah, ah, ah, ah, ask any Londoner, because nothing on Earth is as important as getting rid of the bendy bus. Bring back Routemasters, Justin, and London’s economy will boom, crime will vanish from our streets and I, I, I, I’ll be able to cut council tax to nothing, all for just a billion squillion pounds on the council tax. And just to make sure those bendy buses which are the source of all the evil in the world don’t come back, Jeroboam, my first act as Mayor will be to order every one of them piled into a giant wicker bendy bus and set alight. Which is a brilliant wheeze, because it means they’ll jolly well have to build more Routemasters for me, and because wicker’s organic, so the smoke from the burning bendy buses will be entirely carbon-neutral, and carbon-neutral means that it actively helps the environment to get better. Er, er, er, er, that’s right, isn’t it?’
In days when Labour’s handling of the economy and the environment are constantly revealed to be so utterly hopeless, they must be throwing up their arms in thanks that however rubbish they are, the Tories still want to tender a lower bid to be absolutely clueless in every way.

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