As if there were any need to remind Londoners that there is a Mayoral election next year, the smears and abuse directed at Labour incumbent Sadiq Khan have started in earnest. And, as with their shilling for formerly very occasional City Hall resident Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson in 2012, and Zac Goldsmith in 2016, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog have been talking well, but lying badly.
Indeed, such is the dishonesty and desperation emanating from The Great Guido that they have brought forth an attack on Khan so bereft of truth that it would qualify as a work of fiction. Under the pretentious banner of “Guido Investigation”, readers are told “Sadiq Khan’s Cronies Pocket £150,000 From Failing HS2 Quango He Appointed Them To”. Another banner display tells of “HS2 Cash For Cronies”.
The reference is to the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, or OPDC. Whopper #1: OPDC is NOT an “HS2 Quango”. Whopper #2: it isn’t “failing”. Whopper #3: as it isn’t an “HS2 Quango”, its board members do not receive “HS2 Cash”.
The Fawkes massive has hardly started, and already they’re three porkies down. It gets worse, as they tell “Numerous quangos have inevitably sprung up to feed off the HS2 dosh”. Whopper #4: it’s still not “HS2 dosh”. Let’s take this nice and slowly: one look at the OPDC’s accounts tells you this. Income and expenditure “shows neither a surplus nor a deficit as the GLA granted funding to meet expenditure”. Not HS2 funded.
It is then claimed that the OPDC “has already been responsible for … cocking up a £5 billion housing development”. Whopper #5: that depends on a single source from a highly partisan newspaper - the Evening Standard. That single source is the developer who pulled out of the housing scheme, and it now looking for someone else to blame.
Can it get even worse? It certainly can: “Not that this stopped the OPDC Board - rammed with the usual Labour local authority types and GLA quangocrats - from trousering tens of thousands of pounds for attending [a] tiny handful of meetings, according to their latest accounts”. Any other work the board undertakes is stripped out and ignored.
That doesn’t really count as a whopper, but the next claim certainly does. “You’ll never guess who was directly responsible for appointing the Board to their lucrative positions. Sadiq Khan”. The link goes to the GLA site, and only tells when the board’s terms end.
However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the OPDC site shows when the board’s terms began, and so gives a clue as to who appointed them. Under the heading “OPDC Board”, we read “The OPDC Board was appointed in March 2015”. More than a year before Sadiq Khan became Mayor.
So that’s Whopper #5: the OPDC board was not appointed by Khan, as the Fawkes rabble claims - twice - but by Bozza. It gets even worse: the OPDC Wikipedia entry tells “The The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) was established by the Mayor of London … Approval was granted by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles in January 2015”. Bozza and Eric Done It.
To top it all, The Great Guido has roped in the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance to pronounce on these non-findings: “it’s a rogue’s gallery of Khan’s old local authority mates … Khan’s cronies”. Whopper #6: they aren’t “Khan’s cronies”. They’re Bozza’s appointees.
That’s in addition to naming only the board members that can be linked, however tenuously, to Khan, and those in the Labour Party, which is selective to the point of dishonesty. And remember, the supposedly clinching argument, the claim that Sadiq Khan appointed the OPDC board, is a flat-out lie.
But good to see the run-up to next year’s London Mayoral contest is going to be just as dirty as the last one. And it’s going to be the Tories slinging the dirt. Another fine mess.
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