Thursday, 8 May 2008

A Poor Start for Mayor Johnson

It's been a week since the polls closed in the London elections and six days since Boris Johnson was acclaimed the new Mayor. As the celebrations have died down, Londoners like me were left facing the unknown and wondering what sort of Mayor Boris Johnson would be like.

The first signs don't fill me with encouragement.

The new Mayor's first main announcement was the introduction of a ban on the consumption of alcohol on tubes, buses, trams and the DLR with effect from the beginning of June.

All well and good, a measure that will be very popular with many travellers.

Unfortunately, that's the problem. It's too simple, too obvious - if it worked, Ken Livingstone would have introduced it.

Boris misses the point - if a lot of people want something and support you when you introduce it, the first thing any shrewd mind should be asking is "why wasn't this done years ago ?"

The reason is that this "law" is unenforceable. I know it, most people know it, Boris probably knows it too but no matter, the doorsteps in the Tory suburbs and the Daily Mail want it so it must be done.

This proposal is only slightly more workable than the "ban" on drivers using mobile phones. Only the speed limits themselves are more widely flouted.

The Mayor proposes 440 new CSOs to impose the ban but apparently no one can be actually fined until the law has gone through Parliament so enforcement won't be easy. The group of office girls sharing a bottle of wine or a spritzer might play but the groups of lads coming home from a West End drinking session might be less amenable.

Another problem is that Boris thinks he will end anti-social behaviour on the Tube with this daft edict, he obviously doesn't travel by Underground that much. As a regular traveller, I am less bothered by people drinking than by sober people playing loud gangsta rap music through their mobile phones so the whole carriage can enjoy their crap mucical taste. I don't hear Boris trying to ban that behaviour but perhaps that isn't an issue bothering the Mail readership.

The unpalatable truth for populists like Johnson is that just because a lot of people want something, well, that doesn't make it desirable or attainable. Johnson, like socialists and other conservatives before him, reaches for the blunt weapon of sanction in an effort to impose their standards of behaviour on everyone else. Nowhere is there a recognition of the role of education which, although taking longer to achieve results, is a far more durable solution than the nanny-state populist Cameronite rhetoric that is the modern Tory Party.

So, Mayor Johnson, I didn't vote for you last week. If you carry on this way, you will have plenty of time over the next four years to alienate every part of the coalition that backed you and a long long time after that to consider why the siren voices of the populists should be ignored at all costs.


Anonymous said...

Do you think there could be a connection with the fact that nobody bothers to comment because your articles are such rubbish?

loadofoldstodge said...

First, I don't advertise my articles. They are my thoughts - it's my blog and I'll say what I like.

Second, very brave from someone who can't be bothered to put up a name to come on and insult. Have you got an opinion ?