Confessions of a Political Animal

August 27, 2008

GLAring omissions

Any visitor to London in the past 8 years couldn’t help noticing the ubiquity of the Mayor of London branding on a wide range of publicity for events, services and campaigns run, supported or funded by the then Mayor. Opinions were divided on this – some felt that the ubiquity of the branding smacked of a very un-British egotism bordering on totalitarianism, others, The Animal included, saw it as an acceptable way of demonstrating the priorities of the city government and how public resources were being allocated.

During the election campaign, Boris Johnson made some comments that suggested he was of the former opinion. Fine – this is hardly an issue anyone is going to mount the barricades for. I assumed we had seen the last of the Mayoral branding outside, perhaps, the Mayor’s website. It has remained there, with inevitably the on replaced with an on.

But the branding hasn’t disappeared – it has just become a bit more selective about where it appears. When a few events were branded as being Greater London Authority funded shortly after the election, I assumed that this was merely a remnant of the pre-election purdah period, when the use of the Mayoral branding would have been illegal. Vaisakhi on the Square, held on May 4th, was a good example.

But then the Mayoral branding reappeared – for some events only. Can you spot the emerging theme here?

Mayoral branding: TfL stage at Tour of Britain (not online, advert in this week’s Time Out), London Freewheel, Big Dance, Thames Festival.

Greater London Authority branding only: Liberty Festival [disabilities] (also in Time Out advert), Africa Day, Rise Festival [historically anti-racism, now just pro-diversity], London Mela.

Far be it from me to suggest that Boris is only prepared to have ‘his’ branding on events that are effectively apolitical, or concerning his personal obsession with cycling (albeit a commendable obsession). It just seems a bit odd that events introduced by the Livingstone administration to celebrate diversity and multiculturalism only receive the obscure GLA branding. Does the Animal detect the hand of Policy Exchange and Munira Mirza in this?

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