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Monday 15 April 2013

Boris Priorities Wrong Again

London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has given the impression in his latest Maily Telegraph column – worth £5,000 a shot and over the course of a year generating a cool £250,000 of “chicken feed” – that he rattled off his thoughts the wrong side of the after-luncheon tinctures. But one thing is discernible among the fog of verbiage, and that is that Bozza’s priorities are all awry.

While commuters continue to put up with a Tube system that has a nasty habit of demonstrating either its age or frailty – or often both – just as it comes under rush hour assault, Bozza’s enthusiasm is directed to the memory of Margaret Thatcher. To this end, he spins the most breathtakingly fraudulent drivel, suggesting that the Iron Lady single-handedly won the Cold War.

Then he rambles on about what Mrs T would do were she still alive and in full possession of her faculties. By the happiest of coincidences, this is exactly the same as Bozza’s wish list (as edited for him by Lynton Crosby). She would be hot on social mobility, for instance, says the sage formerly educated at the well-known proletarian redoubts of Eton College and Oxford University.

And then, after much deployment of “yikes” and “crikey, readers” comes the idea that there will be some kind of museum dedicated to the memory of the Thatcher years. Here one can sense Londoners warily starting to pay attention, and for one good reason: Bozza has a track record of projects that benefit very few of them, yet they all get landed with the bills.

Whether it’s the £100 million plus cost of the cycle hire scheme (net of Barclays sponsorship), tens of millions out of the transport budget for a cable car that spends most of its time moving empty cabins across the Thames, or a fleet of 600 vanity buses that no transport operator wants anything to do with, Bozza has form for championing money-wasting schemes that someone else ends up paying for.

What this shows is that, once again, Bozza can’t get his priorities in order. And, given the lack of unanimity shown by the public towards the Thatcher legacy, it could come back to bite him. In the meantime, there have been more calls for south-east London to get the Tube line that its residents and representatives have been clamouring for since the mid-1920s.

Bozza only has himself to blame for this omission: it was he who binned the Cross River Tram project, which would have brought an improvement in public transport to the area. And it is he who diverted money to a variety of vanity projects, rather than address this gaping gap in London’s transport provision. Let all those private sector champions of Margaret Thatcher pay for the memorials.

And use Londoners’ money to benefit all Londoners.

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