Some thoughts and comments on last night’s revelation that for London has agreed not to involve Israeli companies in the operation or financing of the Thames Cable Car.
Why it matters
Transport for London is a branch of British and London government. What it does reflects on all of us.
By agreeing not to enter into deals relating to the cable car with companies and people from countries on another government’s blacklist it endorses that government’s bigotry and prejudice.
And it looks to the rest of the world as if it speaks for all of London, that London thinks trade embargoes and bans with Israeli companies are a good thing.
Most Londoners will be appalled that TfL allowed its love of free cash to get besmirch London’s reputation for tolerance, acceptance and mutual respect.
I understand why Boris’s political opponents are keen to drag him into today’s row but I think they’re wrong – it’s almost impossible that he would have been part of the contract negotiations or would have had sight of the contract.
It’s nowhere close to reality to expect Boris to wake up one day thinking: “Hmm, I must remember to call TfL and remind them not to accidentally sign any anti-semitic contracts or unilaterally declare a trade embargo.”
This is a cock-up caused by TfL officers and it’s important for good governance that those lower down the food chain take responsibility for their actions.
Publication of the contract
A number of people have generously credited me with publication of the contract but on this occasion I and my FOI requests aren’t responsible. At least not directly.
Like others, I’ve previously called on TfL to publish the full contract and I’m pleased that they’ve finally done so.
It’s arrival on the TfL website has been hotly anticipated ever since Boris committed to publishing it back in May. I’m not sure if Miid-July is really the “few weeks” we were promised but the important thing is the contract is now out there in the public domain.
For some reason TfL opted not to issue a press release announcing its publication.
At a guess I’d suggest this is because it, like me, is scheduled to appear before the London Assembly’s Oversight Committee this week to discuss the recent report on GLA Group transparency.
It would be very TfL to try and bat away complaints by announcing during the meeting that it had published the contract.
What needs to happen next
TfL got this badly wrong and it now needs to clean this mess, if need be by telling Emirates it will end the sponsorship deal unless this distasteful clause is removed.
It also needs to apologise for an appalling lack of judgement.
And I’d suggest the London Assembly needs to launch an investigation into how this contract was negotiated and agreed and challenge TfL to declare whether any of its other contracts include clauses which, when stripped of all legalese, are little more than racism.