Perhaps he’s dead, I’ll just make sure…
Boris Johnston really is turning out to be as bad as it was blindingly obvious he was going to be. There are no shortage of examples, but this one in particular makes me shudder with fear. Yes, it’s the desalination plant.
Desalination? Yes. But it’s not just that. A desalination plant that will produce about as much water as Thames Water loses in leaks. Seriously. Thames Water, and presumably the Borisphere (and surely none could be more spherical) claim it will be cheaper. Well, this may be true…for values of “true” including “assuming that our massive complicated prestige project won’t go over budget” and “assuming the price of natural gas doesn’t go up – after all, there’s an infinite quantity of it in the North Sea, right?”
But it’s worse. The justification for spending a ton of money converting natgas into drinking water and pouring the water into pipes WITH HOLES IN, rather than spending some more money (perhaps) fixing the bloody water pipes already, is that it’s “pro-motorist”.
Yes, the reason is that repairing the sodding water mains might be inconvenient to the bizarre sect who insist on bringing huge metal objects into central London and spending their day looking for somewhere to put the things so they can get out of them and start walking, when there was a perfectly good parking space back home in the suburbs they could have left it in. Yes, he is proposing to burn vast quantities of scarce fossil fuel imported from Russia so other people can more easily burn vast quantities of scarce fossil fuel imported from Saudi Arabia, when they have no reason to do so at all.
But it’s not the specifics that are the worse bit. It’s the general principle; policymaking based completely on pandering. I mean, why not go the whole hog and just GIVE people who claim to vote Tory actual cash? At least plain bribery wouldn’t do as much damage to London’s infrastructure. Unfortunately, this is precisely the spirit of Boris. On one hand, you’ve got the appalling pork barrel fan service. On the other, you’ve got the politics of spite and revenge; the deliberate effort to be unpleasant to anything described as feminist or anti-racist, the made-up stories about fabulous wine cellars, the fake audit team. And that, by the way, is a move copied precisely from the made-up “Clinton staffers trashed the White House” bollocks of 2001. You ask Dean Godson and Sooper Don Blaney.
This is, of course, completely inimical to anything that could be described as competent administration. Which is a pity, because there is famously no Republican or Democratic way to pick up the garbage. The point of a mayor is precisely that; waste disposal, policing, space planning, infrastructure, social services.
Part of the good news is just how good the blogs on Boris are. Tory Troll and Boris Watch have forced their way into my RSS aggregator in the last few days. And it’s all an effective preview of a future Tory government: pandering, content-free government, and ideological revenge campaigns in the civil service.