For a campaign whose adherents like to paint the opposition as the desperate ones, the move to re-elect London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has rather taken the biscuit as its candidate has had what is effectively a blatant campaign advertisement published by the Maily Telegraph. The difference is that the paper has paid Bozza around £5,000 for the privilege.
Not this big red bus, you understand
“The big red bus that could take me straight back to City Hall” announces the headline, just in case there is still a Telegraph reader somewhere in the country unaware of Bozza’s candidacy. And, just to show that Lynton Crosby’s spin has been successfully applied, readers are also told that “the Routemaster is a shining example of how to spend wisely”.
Yes, the Boris Bus is now officially called a Routemaster. It is not: massively larger and heavier than a real RM, with less seating and no operator willing to volunteer to take it on – Arriva were effectively selected to be the guinea pigs – this vanity project does not even have a purpose, other than Johnson’s re-election (the RM, in contrast, had a very pressing demand to satisfy, to replace London’s trolleybuses).
This, though, does not deter Bozza, who freely alienates critics of the £1 million plus price tag of the Boris Bus by denouncing them as “cretinous”. “Hundreds of these beautiful buses will be appearing on our streets” he asserts, though no order beyond the initial batch of just eight vehicles has been confirmed, and there are at present just two of them in service (Monday to Friday only).
The Boris Bus fiasco, though, together with the vanity Cable Car and vanity Boris Bike scheme – together totalling tens of millions of pounds sprayed up the wall – do not deter Bozza from going after his predecessor in the most blatantly dishonest fashion. “We got rid of Labour’s deranged and wasteful Public Private Partnership for London Underground” he harrumphs.
Livingstone didn’t want the PPP, and along with Bob Kiley, tried to talk Pa Broon out of it. But, as the man said, there’s more, as witness “the hopeless pork-barrel spending of the London Development Agency, which was ordered to water-cannon hundreds of millions at whatever Ken Livingstone thought was politically convenient – and often with nothing to show for it”.
As even the less than Ken-friendly Daily Mail had to concede, the amount over which there was such a fuss back in 2008 was just £3.3 million, and every inquiry since has cleared Livingstone of wrongdoing. Bozza follows his wild assertion by going directly to the subject of Council Tax, but as any fule kno, the LDA was paid for by central Government. And once again there has to be a mention of Fidel Castro.
Anyone reading his latest offering might think that Bozza was the desperate one.