Confessions of a Political Animal

July 29, 2009

What a load of Phibbs

conservative-homeIn many ways I admire ConservativeHome. It’s an attractive, reasonably open and user-friendly site that does genuinely appear to seek to engage with the Party’s grass-roots activists and supporters.

It has a problem though – serving as it does as a bit of a shop window for the Tories, it does with some regularity highlight to the outside world the more, ahem, interesting points of view and personalities within the Party. You know, the sort any party would want to keep a little under wraps – it’s not a partisan thing, every party has them. However, ConservativeHome sometimes seems to go out of its way to highlight them. Take, for example, the innocuous sounding statement ‘Cllr Harry Phibbs edits ConservativeHome’s Local Government page‘. I don’t know a huge amount about said Cllr Phibbs, but I’m learning – largely through his own teachings. And the more I learn, the more I feel that an equivalent statement would be ‘Margaret Moran MP edits LabourHome’s Probity in Public Life page’.

Cllr Phibbs represents the Ravenscourt Park ward in the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, flagship council of the Tory right since they took control in 2006 – tax-cutting, service-slashing, employee-bullying, homeless-bashing. The council’s most recent brush with the media spotlight has surrounded the intriguing views of Leader Stephen Greenhalgh about exactly for whom and where social housing should be provided. Some have intimated that his policies are almost Porter-esque. The Animal is saying nothing for fear of the libel courts. (more…)

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December 9, 2008

Time to scrap the Standards Board?

town-hallIt isn’t normally considered good form to call for the abolition of a body that may soon have the opportunity to cause severe embarrassment to a politician you happen to dislike. However, the Animal has been meaning to write about the Standards Board for England for some while now, and the story about the complaint being made against Boris Johnson has prompted me to get on with it.

The Standards Board was created through the Local Government Act 2000 by the erstwhile Department for Environment, Transport & Regions, as a recepticle for allegations of serious misconduct on the part of councillors. The rationale behind the Board’s creation was reasonable enough: a combination of the long-running and inconclusive Shirley Porter saga and the equally long-standing allegations of corruption amongst Doncaster’s Labour councillors (‘Donnygate‘) convinced the incoming Labour government that the existing channels for policing standards amongst councillors were unsatisfactory.

So, in the time honoured tradition of post-war politicians (and not just Labour politicians, as some would have you believe) the government (more…)

November 4, 2008

Nothing. Nada. Nowt. Rien de rien.

boris-blair

Twenty working days ago The Animal sent City Hall the Freedom of Information request below:

Please could you provide me with copies of any legal advice received by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson or Deputy Mayor for Policing Kit Malthouse from either GLA family sources or external sources regarding the process for i) the appointment of and ii) the termination of the contract of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police during
a) the period from 3rd May 2008 until the Mayor and Deputy Mayor’s meeting with Sir Ian Blair on 2nd October 2008.
b) the period from the conclusion of the above meeting until the date of this request.

Bang on the deadline for a response, I received the following comprehensive statement from the Private Secretary to the Mayor:

The Mayor did not receive any such legal advice in this period.

Well-informed policy making? Ensuring that politicians fully understand the consequences of their actions before they take them? A respect for due process and constitutional safeguards? Not in this administration. Perhaps a slightly more considered approach would have spared Johnson the threatened Committee on Standards in Public Life inquiry into the conduct of the Ian Blair affair…

October 21, 2008

Questioning Boris: some highlights (& lowlights)

Tory Troll has alerted me to the fact that the written answers from the Mayor’s most recent Question Time session (which we previewed here) are now available for public consumption, although as yet only in the rather clunky pdf format [post now updated with direct links]. Forgive me therefore if I can’t yet provide direct links to the questions and answers discussed below – we’ll have to wait for the ‘Mayor answers to London’ section of the website to be update for that.

Most of the Mayor’s responses are the normal carefully phrased promises to do everything and nothing that we have come to expect, or indeed constitute blatant attempts to answer a different question to that which was asked. A few responses caught my attention, however.

In question 2195/2008, Labour’s Val Shawcross asked for a list of the stakeholders consulted regarding the Mayor’s proposals to allow motorcycles into bus lanes. Johnson’s answer:

The following stakeholders will be consulted with regards to the use of Motorcycles in bus lanes:

  • All of the Boroughs with bus lanes on the TfL road network, together with the emergency services
  • The Freight Transport Association
  • The Road Haulage Association
  • The Post Office (more…)

October 20, 2008

And they say there’s no need for feminism any more…

London Lite 20/10/08

In case you can’t read it due to the appalling quality of this scan, the question that London Lite (the Evening Standard’s freesheet) asked its readers is: ‘Would a woman chief be good for the Met?’.

OK, I know its a voodoo poll based on a self-selecting sample, but the result is more than a little shocking.

And tomorrow’s question: ‘Is it time for a cap on migration?’ Remind me not to read the results of that for the sake of my blood pressure.

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