Another unhappy Question Time for Boris Johnson, this one started off with a lot of heat and noise as LibDem Mike Tuffrey successfully tabled a motion to allow Assembly Members to enter ‘committee mode’ and quiz Johnson on Ian Clement’s expenses.
Just in case those reports hadn’t sufficiently dented his self-promoted reputation for openness and transparency, Boris decided he’d try and dodge as many questions as possible, preferring instead, with the assistance of a few AMs who really should know better, to make vague assertions about the Livingstone regime.
Despite what Team Boris have convinced themselves, the tactic of “look over there, it’s Ken” has never really worked and today it was a mistake to deploy it at all. Boris was responsible for employing Ian Clement, he gave him a job title to which he had no entitlement, failed to properly scrutinise his performance and then rushed to his defence before he knew all the facts. The openness and transparency he promised requires that he takes the consequences on the chin.
Predictably this morning saw Johnson having to endure Labour AMs referring to his ‘chicken feed’ gaffe. No matter how many of his supporters claim it was just a joke, the remark dangerously adds to the impression of a man incapable of taking his position seriously.
This was the last MQT’s before September. Last year even Boris’s detractors readily admitted his post-summer efforts were better briefed and informed than his first few faltering appearances suggested was possible.
Before he comes back this September someone should prepare him to adopt at least a veneer of seriousness and be prepared to offer some form of vision, because now it’s not only regular City Hall watchers who are starting to wonder what the point of a Johnson Mayoralty is.