Why the Mayor of London does not matter
“The Mayor of London plays a key role in running London. He sets a citywide vision of improvement, develops strategies and policies to realise the vision and provides funding and encouragement to help make it a reality.”
No one plays a key role in running London. London runs itself. This what I have learnt after eight years of one mayor and four years of another.
What has happened in London in the past twelve years that has not happened before? Buildings go up, buildings go down (or get burnt down). Tube workers strike, people still get to work. Fares go up, traffic gets worse and cyclists get blamed for everything.
I am interested in politics. I think it’s a challenge to complain if you don’t get involved in the process. But I am struggling to care less who leads our city into the Olympics and beyond. Normally, I would have an ‘anyone but a Tory stance’ and throw my weight behind Ken.
Yet something dawned on me as I snaked my way through traffic on the Archway Road.
Gas pipes all over my patch of North London seem to have simultaneously failed; barriers and cones have been erected to illuminate the dark and get on everybody’s nerves. I negotiated three sets of roadworks in the last fifteen minutes of my journey home. They reminded me, ‘didn’t Boris say he was going to do something about this?’
He did; read page 11 of Boris Johnson’s 2008 Transport Manifesto.
There were grand designs about fines for utility companies unnecessarily replacing pipes, repairing leaks and playing around, digging holes in the road. Ken tried to make it happen, he could not. Boris inherited his struggle and failed to0.
Fines never happened and no one really cares. Temporary traffic lights pop up and then they go away. This is a city and it is business as usual.
It is literally business as usual in the city too. There was the credit crunch in the year of that supposedly fateful election that threatened to suffocate us all. It didn’t suffocate the city. Double glazing’s finest application gleams as The Shard ever rises over London Bridge. TfL spends it’s weekends throwing money at it’s network of underground, overground and buses and investment is re-shaping the landscape of our city.
I don’t recognise King’s Cross any more, London Bridge has been evolving like an amoeba in Genesis and even Holloway Road high street has new cafes, pubs and restaurants. It is all so clear to me now; none of this has to do with the Mayor of London.
Nothing good or bad that happens has anything to do with the Mayor, and anything good or bad that does happen will happen which ever ego is enjoying the view from City Hall.
Boris Bikes would have happened without Boris, the North London Line would have happened without Boris. The Olympics, new Metropolitan Line trains, redevolpment sites, the riots, the changes to education the newly employed and the newly unemployed – none of these things have anything to do with any piece of paper that may or not have been signed by that Tory.
The Mayor doesn’t realise ‘the vision of London’. Boris realised he has no power. He realised from the very beginning. His biggest ‘successes’ are cosmetic and will be paid for in time for their frivolity. His new bus which is just like the old bus. The Emirates sky ride is a moving monument that lets people travel from a place they want to go to, to a place that they don’t.
I’m sorry to say the same thing applies to Ken too. Ken could not extend his congestion charge or increase it to £25. Nor could make his single waste authority. London does not have time for egos. It asks only that you do what is best for the city. No more, no less, or else get out.
If you want a real laugh, visit the Mayoral Decisions page on the Mayor of London’s website and see excatly what dross the Mayor has to concern himself with. Economy? Education? No, he is too busy signing off the ‘Council Tax Leaflet Information Text’.
It is why the Mayoral campaign is personality politics and not party politics. We do our own thing in London; tie your colours to a mast if you want but once in office, you’ll be as left wing or as right wing as the city, not your leader, dictates.
London inhales and exhales like a beast and the Mayor is just someone who is stupid enough to think he can tame it.
Breathe in, inhale vapors from bright stars that shine Breathe out, weed smoke retrace the skyline Heard the bass ride out like an ancient mating call I can't take it y'all, I can feel the city breathin...