London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is back in the news again, but not on account of anything he has accomplished: not for the first time, the subject is one of his deputies, the latest being Stephen Greenhalgh, the deputy Mayor for policing, whose first appearance at members’ questions was less than totally persuasive. Dave Hill of the deeply subversive Guardian summed it up as “petulant and inept”.
Cripes chaps, this reality malarkey is dashed difficult!
And appearing equally inept was Greenhalgh’s alleged groping of a female staff member in a City Hall lift, which prompted calls for the former Hammersmith and Fulham councillor to go. As if this was not bad enough for the second Johnson term, it was then alleged that the source of the leak about Greenhalgh and the grope was his fellow deputy Kit Malthouse.
The litany of Bozza and failed advisors does not, moreover, end there. Dumped by the discerning electors of Barnet at the last Assembly elections was Brian Coleman, former chair of London’s Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. Coleman has been censured for calling a constituent a “Blackshirt” and is awaiting trial for assaulting a woman cafe owner after a parking row in September.
Coleman was accompanied out the door at the elections by Richard Barnes, whose departure was painted as the result of him being targeted by a campaign to save Ealing Hospital, which was not in fact targeted for closure. He and the Standard seem to have forgotten the furore he caused after the London riots when he cracked a crude racist joke, following a slur on the Irish earlier in the year.
That wasn’t the only racist quip by a Bozza deputy: earlier in his first term, James McGrath had “allegedly remarked that Caribbean immigrants should go home if they do not like London”. Bozza asserted that McGrath was not a racist, but, and this is a big but, his continued presence was considered not good for the Bozza mayoralty, and his resignation was therefore accepted.
McGrath was the first to go, and he was followed very soon afterwards by Ray Lewis, deputy Mayor for young people, after the Guardian dug up events from his past. These pertained to his financial affairs and conduct: Bozza changed his opinion from lauding Lewis as a “tremendous deputy” to accepting his resignation “with regret” 24 hours later.
And to make it three in a row for that first term, there was also the loss of Tim Parker, his first deputy Mayor, who explained that “he was stepping down because he did not think Johnson needed a full-time first deputy mayor”. Anyone looking at the fallout from the elections and the latest shambles might reasonably get a feeling of déjà view over the whole business.
They then might wonder who will be on their way next (clue: it won’t be Bozza).