Boris and his murky friends
Only churlish people would draw attention to Boris Johnson's close links with the City and huge multinationals like News International, or his insults to the Occupy movement, or questionable conduct in the Metropolitan Police investigation of the phone hacking scandal.
We are those people.
May 01, 2012. Comments (3)
It's final week of campaigning, and we could do with some lovely Sacktivists to help us out in the final days before voting. But what's Boris been up to? Well, take a seat.
First, he declined to appear on the London section of the BBC's Sunday Politics, despite Ken, Brian and Jenny all appearing previously. Instead, he sent Kit Malthouse, who claimed Boris has a "long-standing engagement that he had to do this morning."
He later described it as, "a private engagement this morning”. And what was this private engagement, that stopped Boris being questioned on his policies, just days before Londoners head to the polls? Er... it seems he was out campaigning in Wimbledon and Kingston.
The bone of contention? It seems Boris was unhappy with a report by the BBC's Tim Donovan into Boris's links with News International, including the fact Boris solicited News International for money even while they were being investigated by Scotland Yard over phone-hacking. Boris descended into panic over the fact that his links with Murdoch were repeatedly exposed by referring to Tim Donovan as “fucking bollocks” directly into a BBC camera:
Sonia Purnell, a former colleague of Johnson's who wrote the biography “Just Boris” tweeted several other facets of Boris's relationship with News International:
If like us, you think London deserves better than someone in the pockets of the Murdochs, vote to Sack Boris on Thursday and if you can, help us spread the word on Wednesday by joining our ever-growing team of Sacktivists.
Apr 26, 2012. Comments (3)
Guest post by Nick Newsom from the World Development Movement
Given that 31% of Londoners say that the cost of living in London should be an important focus for the Mayor, we ought to look at how the party affiliations and political allegiances of our leaders really affect pressure on household budgets.
Consumers were dealt a blow recently with the news that UK inflation reached 3.5% in March, putting an end to the downward trend that we had seen since September last year. Additionally, as UK food price inflation rose to 5.4% the same month, it is clear that above-inflation increases in the price of food are making the ‘weekly shop’ an ever more burdensome occasion.
So, what is Boris doing to help us combat high food prices? Well, not very much. In fact, over the past four years he has been doing his best to represent the interests of the very organisations whose actions are contributing to the food price crisis by speculating on food prices, as the World Development Movement (WDM) has highlighted.
The cosiness of City with the Conservative Party is a trait that undoubtedly extends to Johnson’s incumbent office. Indeed, his 2008 mayoral campaign was more than half funded by donations from the financial sector and hedge funds. This time around, it has been revealed that Boris’s campaign director was in the pay of Michael Hintze, the ex-head of equity trading at top food speculator Goldman Sachs and Tory donor, famously linked to former defence secretary Liam Fox and Adam Werrity.
Those who have experienced the joy of reading through the Mayor’s self-congratulatory reports to the Assembly - right to the end - might have noted the frequency of his key engagements with senior-ranking members of financial institutions and those involved with commodity trading.
Take, for instance, his meeting last year with Duncan Niederauer, CEO of the NYSE Euronext, “to highlight London’s role as an international financial centre”. Not only is Niederauer another former Goldman employee of 22 years, having held the position of Managing Director, but NYSE Euronext has been profiting from financial speculation on food prices – with their website even boasting that they are able to “offer exposure to the price volatility of the underlying commodity but without the delivery risk of physically delivered contracts”.
This encourages precisely the sort of trading that has been pushing up commodity prices and exacerbating volatility.
Then in September, Boris met with the British Banker’s Association, another lobby group that has been working hard to water down financial reform legislation. And it’s not just Boris himself – FOI requests by WDM show that his team at the GLA have also been busy getting schmoozed by the financial sector, with at least 25 meetings being held between GLA officials and City lobbyists since the start of 2011, including 9 with Barclays and 7 by lobby group The City UK.
If any further confirmation is needed on the Mayor’s attitude towards regulation, we only need look back to September 2009 when, in the wake of the financial crisis, Boris visited Brussels to lobby on behalf of the City against the proposed “hedge fund directive”. Four months later, in a letter to Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, Boris reaffirmed that he would:
David Cameron may be feeling proud that he can tell us the price of a pint of milk, but for those of us who aren’t privy to the conversations between Boris’s clique of posh boys and the financial elite who increasingly have a stranglehold over everything, including our food system, action must be taken now to place brokers under public scrutiny and ensure that they are accountable for their actions.
Mar 07, 2012. Comments (2)
From The Scoop, a nice summary of the state of play regarding Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse's attempts to influence the hacking investigation.
Former Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson gave evidence this week to the Leveson Inquiry to this effect, saying that.
"On several occasions after Operation Weeting had started and I had returned from sick leave, the Chair of the MPA, Kit Malthouse, expressed a view that we should not be devoting this level of resources to the phone hacking inquiry as a consequence of a largely political and media- driven “level of hysteria".
Labour are naturally calling on Kit to resign, which would make him (we think) the fourth Deputy Mayor to leave under a cloud since 2008, following Ray Lewis, Tim Parker, and Ian Clement. Not a bad staff retention record in four years Boris!
And of course we already know that the Mayor himself has put considerable energy into rubbishing hacking claims in the media and in City Hall. Adam Bienkov's collection of quotes conveys the general seriousness with which our Mayor took this investigation:
- "a load of codswallop cooked up by the Labour Party" which was
- "patently politically motivated" and
- "a politically motivated put up job" and
- "completely spurious and political" and
- "a song and dance about nothing" which had been
- "whipped up by the Guardian and the Labour Party."
Jan 21, 2012. Comments (1)
Some unfortunate timing for Boris Johnson this week. He gave an exclusive interview to the Sun, and the resulting article was published just after the latest YouGov poll showed his 'in touch' rating plummeting.
So it probably wasn't wise for the Mayor to have used the tabloid to attack unemployed young people for 'lacking energy' when the fact is they are simply 'lacking jobs' thanks to his friends the bankers, and mates 'George and Dave' in government, trashing our economy.
'Out of touch Boris' quickly became the phrase of the day, with other candidates for Mayor spraying it liberally over their public statements and tweets, and no wonder. It's clearly become a key Boris weakness in the public mind, and YouGov chief Peter Kellner's description of what's happened to people's views since mid-2011 is unusually excitable for a pollster:
Boris's new year problem is that he is seen as increasingly out of touch. As in our poll last June, we listed eight characteristics and asked people to say which applied to the two candidates. As a rule of thumb, with this kind of question – where we ask people to pick from a list rather than judge each characteristic separately – anything over 30 is a good score, and anything under 15 a bad score.
The proportion saying Boris is 'in touch with the concerns of ordinary people' has tumbled since June from 20% to 13%. A bearable score has become a terrible one. Meanwhile Ken, who was already ahead with 37%, has seen his 'in touch' score climb to 40%. He was in front; he is now out of sight.
Older Londoners will remember that demonising young people played a big part in Boris's last campaign in 2008, calling them antisocial free-riders as part of his vendetta against bendy buses, and doing his best to depict knife crime among the young - in dog-whistling defiance of the facts - as a growing epidemic threatening everyone.
Presumably, until YouGov showed his popularity suddenly dropping behind Ken Livingstone, Boris thought the same kinds of tricks would let him coast back into City Hall in May. Instead, by using such a high-profile platform to blame the young for not finding nonexistent jobs and bang the drum for island airports and his other bank- and airline-sponsored vanity projects, he's almost certain to have made his chances much worse...
Dec 06, 2011. Comments (1)
Ooh, now then. After the Mayor's grievous insults to the OccupyLSX movement, they've decided to protest at the latest Boris Boot Camp event tomorrow (7th December). Message from the organisers below, and if you get there early, there will be a selection of free Sack Boris oyster wallets on offer too...
Boot out Boris: Protest outside Conservative Future’s Back Boris Student Bootcamp
Wednesday 7 December, 5-6.3pm, Kings College London
Conservative Future are organising a ‘Back Boris Student Bootcamp’ where the Tory Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, will be telling students how they can support his bid to get himself re-elected in May.
Join Occupy LSX’s ‘BOOT OUT BORIS’ protest outside the event from 5pm-6.30pm.
The Tories are seeking to destroy the lives of young people. Youth unemployment has rocketed above 1 million, EMA has been abolished, tuition fees are soaring and even more attacks are on the way from cuts to public services & jobs to attempts to privatise education. Come along and let Boris Johnson know what you think of his party’s record in government.
Assemble 5pm Wednesday 7 December outside the main entrance of King's College London, Strand Campus London, WC2R 2LS. The closest tube stations are Embankment and Temple.
Read an excellent blog on this subject: ‘Boot out the Tories in London’ by Kanja Sesay, NUS Black Students’ Officer
Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/#!/events/256165881107455/
Jul 28, 2011. Comments (1)
That's the question from MPA member (and AM and Green candidate for Mayor) Jenny Jones today.
The codswallop comments (see previous news here) were certainly horrific, rude, and crass but, the allegation is that, if MPA Chair Kit Malthouse's claims (in response to questions from AMs about new allegations back in September) are correct, at the time of these comments, he knew that the police were running an active investigation and should not have said a word.
The Guardian reports:
On Tuesday, Malthouse confirmed that John Yates, then Met police assistant commissioner, requested a phone conversation with him on 10 September, in which he reassured him that he was looking at the allegations that had surfaced in the New York Times"...
Members of the MPA – the body responsible for overseeing Scotland Yard's work – questioned Malthouse about whether he had relayed the briefing about the investigation taking place to Johnson before the mayor made his comments.
Malthouse said he "didn't recall" whether he had discussed what Yates had told him with the mayor prior to the 15 September session, adding: "I think it is probably unlikely that we did, but I cannot recall precisely."
Jones said it was "inconceivable" that Johnson would not have known this when he dismissed the allegations. She told a meeting at London's City Hall: "If he did know, he was attempting to pervert the course of justice."
Murkier and murkier and murkier. Where will it all end?
Jul 10, 2011. Comments (2)
A long list of questions about the conduct and attitude of Boris Johnson hang in the murky air of the News International phone hacking scandal.
This video shows him being interrogated by the London Assembly in Autumn 2010. Famously, he calls the issue 'codswallop' and 'cooked up by the Labour Party', but the most telling aspect - we think - is the way he giggles like a child while talking about it. As Tim Donovan said on the BBC Politics show today, he seems "shall we say, relaxed" about the whole affair:
Ken Livingstone knows very well that the Mayor's oversight of the police shouldn't mean close involvement in day-to-day operational matters, but here he outlines how Mayor Johnson has some serious questions to answer:
Boris of course gave up chairing the Metropolitan Police Authority (breaking an election pledge) in January 2010. Here, the man who took over from him, Kit Malthouse, makes excuses to the BBC's Riz Lateef about why neither he nor the former chair asked why calls for a new investigation were swept aside in July 2009:
And finally, here's Boris this week trying to defend the 'codswallop' remark to BBC London news. From about 1 minute in, the flapping and floundering gets so bad that they have to cut a bit out:
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