On Wednesday the Tory Assembly group scored a decent victory in winning a motion condemning Ken Livingstone’s comments about Boris Johnson’s new Chief of Staff Edward Lister.
They then immediately ensured coverage of it was overshadowed by anger at, and reporting of, their sabotaging of a motion on cycle safety.
The background to the walkout is the ongoing and petty row about the allocation of committee chairmanships – I have a lot of sympathy for the Tory’s dislike of being shut out even it is the same system they benefitted from in Livingstone’s second term.
All Assembly Members are elected equally and share the task of holding the Mayor to account. As I’ve remarked many times, both Ken and Boris have faced some of their most robust scrutiny from AMs on their own side and one of the best and fairest Assembly Chairs was Conservative AM Brian Coleman.
But however much sympathy anyone has for them, the Tory group were wrong to walkout on Wednesday.
In scuppering the motion they’ve upset a lot of cyclists, many of whom seem to have twitter accounts and blogs and all of whom have a vote next year.
With his cycle hire scheme and cycle highways, Boris has presented himself as ‘the cycling Mayor’ – his Tory group’s decision to prevent AMs debating an issue of concern to the very voters those policies were meant to win over was a political error which could cost Boris next year.
Every time Team Boris seeks to talk up his record on cycling, his opponents will claim City Hall doesn’t really care about the safety if cyclists and point to the walkout as evidence to back up the charge.
As for their motion on Ken’s comments, they can surely expect Labour AMs to pore over Boris’s very utterance for a chance to pass a motion condemning whatever claimed slight or insult they think they can make stick.