Does the London Mayoralty drive people mad?

Watching Boris Johnson’s appalling behaviour in front of a Parliamentary Select Committee today, I was reminded of someone else: Ken Livingstone circa 2006. The idea of Boris Johnson complaining about partisan attacks is simply too ironic to countenance. This was 2 April, not the day before.

Is there something about the role that makes you a bumptious, vainglorious ass with molecule-thick skin, or is it an entry level requirement in the first place? The jury is out on that one I suspect. Certainly, while the jolly “LOOK AT HIS FUNNEEE HAIR!” HIGNIFY-crafted demeanour of “Bozza” always was manufactured to a certain extent. But I can’t help but wonder if the role itself does reinforce such a mindset.

London Mayors (indeed all directly elected English Mayors) work under a system that gives them almost unchallengable power. To overturn a decision, the Assembly/Council needs to amass a two-thirds majority and the mayor can usually expect at least a third of the council to be of his party. Even independents are pretty safe because the chances of getting the main parties to agree a line are relatively low. On the odd occasion that Livingstone didn’t get his own way, he used to throw appalling tantrums. Johnson doesn’t have to worry about that in the London Assembly, but a Labour-dominated select committee is another story.

If it has taken him just a year before he finds the merest criticism intolerable, what will he be like in another two? And if it has taken him just this long before getting sucked in, how long will it take his successor? Will London even still be standing by then?


  1. I don’t know about ‘people’ but it bloody well drives me mad.

    I said this would happen, the man does not know how to manage and actually deliver something (such as a transport system that doesn’t stop in snow) and behaves like a three year old with a temper tantrum when someone suggests taht he should, and what that might look like.

  2. As somebody that was in attendance at the Parliamentary Select Committee my point of view is that although Boris Johnston broke protocol by leaving before the session was over, he did inform the panel on several occasions that he would be departing early.
    I do think the line of questioning was rather “pathetic” regarding meteorological events and how and when these took place.
    I understand that Mr Johnston is not everybody’s cup of tea in his mannerism and presentation, though what I would say is that in these current times where our MP’s seem to have been shaped by world renowned management schools (re the former prime minister for example), Londoners are extremely fortunate to have this unique individual who is very much his own man.
    I take heart from the shirt tails, the ruck sack, the cycle paraphernalia, the uncontrollable hair, the ill fitting clothes etc etc because here is a man who cares about the task in hand and not about spin.
    This country needs strong individual leaders who through their so called “eccentricities” are extremely articulate in their point of view and capture the imagination of those they represent.

  3. In what capacity were you there SA? It seems rather random for you happening to be sitting in on a Select Committee.

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