Wednesday, April 30, 2008

JP reappears, waving the blue flag for London

It's been really very quiet in this Corner of the Blogosphere recently. I've not looked at the site statistics, but I suspect that I really am now only talking to one of you. And you've probably only found yourself amongst the tumbleweed by mistake.

Whilst you're here though, let me talk to you about tomorrow's election in London. I've never been one to shy away from dipping my toes in and having a political opinion, and it would be wrong of me to let tomorrow pass by without passing comment. As I've said before, I'm a Boris supporter, and if I had a vote, he'd certainly get it. Happily, the opinion polls seem to suggest that many people have also seen sense, but if you're unsure, or are dithering, allow me to explain my choice.

I know that some think that Boris is a bit of a buffoon, but I stand in the camp holding the view that underneath that image he's actually quite intelligent. I also take the view that it's good for the mayor of London to be a something of a character, and as far as I know he is liked by people in his current parliamentary constituency in Henley, and has served them well.

When it comes to his policies, I like his proposal to replace the unpopular bendy-buses. I like his stance on the Congestion Charge, which would appear allow it to be just that – a charge aimed at reducing congestion – and not cripple drivers of large family cars whilst simultaneously allowing anyone with a small and supposedly "green" car to congest the Capital for free. I like his views on cutting crime and rebuilding the moral fabric of society, and although the likes of Jacqui Smith have made some jibes about his policies, ultimately I like the fact that he will have a fresh approach. Let's face it; the current approach isn't exactly working.

Of course, no candidate is perfect, but it was interesting to note that the biggest complaint thelondonpaper seemed to have about Boris in their big article on Monday was that his estimated costs for replacing the bendy-buses with some new Routemasters were wrong. Maybe he should have done some more homework before bandying the suggested figures about, but it's not as though he's been billions of pounds out and then actually sanctioned it anyway, is it now, Ken?

As with any election, it's also important to consider the alternatives. I've made it clear before that I don't like Ken Livingstone, and think that he 's something of a weasel. But do bear with me, before you write that off as 'personal opinion', and let's look at some of the facts.

I've had a rant here before about the new proposals for the Congestion Charge, and I've alluded to some of the issues again above. Lots of manufacturers are making cars which squeeze under the emissions limits, and I don't think that the new charges will result in reduced emissions, let alone congestion. I'm quite tempted to jump on the bandwagon which sees this as a cynical attempt to win some voters, and have noted that it's well documented that Ken has had a series of mood swings and broken promise after promise on this issue alone.

Then there's the well documented 'cronyism'. There have been quite a few suspicious dealings, including the well documented case involving funding from City Hall where one of Ken's aides was arrested for money laundering and has since quit his job. I'm not alone in noting this sort of thing, either. Yesterday, I read that Brian Cooke, chairman of London TravelWatch has chosen to support Boris, saying in a statement that "there is strong evidence that [Ken] has played with both Tube and bus fares for his own political aims".

So, if you are able to vote, it's over to you. Use your vote wisely. After all, even if Boris does turn out to be a circus performer, you've got nothing to lose by giving him the chance to prove otherwise.