As reported, the event of the day at City Hall was the launch of the City Carter’ this morning by the Mayor and leaders of the capital’s boroughs.
Having read the full public document, it’s fair to say there are some good ideas. Fighting for more money from central Government and more local say in the appointment and retention of Police borough commanders are things I’m happy to back.
As someone who has spent much of the 9 years since London Government was restored calling for greater power I’ll welcome anyone prepared to sign up the cause and if this absurdly titled ‘charter’ gets us any closer to meaningful devolution it’ll have served a purpose.
But overall the document is a pretty lightweight and lacks much in the way of vision and, though I’ve tried really hard, I just don’t get Boris’s fascination with coysing up to borough politicians.
He is the recipient of more than a million votes, a bigger personal mandate than any Prime Minister or First Minister could ever achieve. As his predecessor proved, the moral authority of such a mandate can be levied in ways few in Westminster envisaged.
When Boris played his part in Ian Blair’s departure and muscled in on the appointment of a new Commissioner I’d thought he’d finally come to understand the sheer power that comes with his job.
But just a few months on we’re back to him cosying up to council leaders and treating them as his equals. They’re not.
Unlike Boris, council leaders are first elected by a few hundred, on a good day maybe even a thousand, voters in their ward and then chosen by a couple of dozen colleagues to act as the front man for four years of parcelling essential services out to under-performing contractors and budgets in which the electorate get ever larger council tax bills with less and less to show for them.
If Boris wants a conversation about greater powers for the capital he might try talking to the couple of million who voted last May rather than showering his attention on the representatives of a couple of thousand. He might find some surprising allies.