So Boris Johnson is urging David Cameron to use his London mayoralty as a blueprint for national Tory policy. I would advise the Tory leadership to carefully consider some aspects of the first hundred days of the new City Hall administration before taking any such action.
It is important that we dig beneath the spin and hype and Boris' apparent media 'honeymoon' and look for the substance of what the new Mayor has said and done since taking charge. In his first weeks of office, Boris Johnson has failed to set a clear agenda for action. The 'transparency' with which he promised to run his administration throughout his election campaign has simply not materialised. In fact it is arguable that the activities of the Mayor's office, particularly with regard to the way Mayoral appointments have been made, is far less transparent than under the previous Mayor.
First let's take those appointments. Clearly, the new Mayor's first task is going to be to set up a team to support him. The legislation that set up the Greater London Authority (GLA) made clear that Mayoral appointments were to be subject to a proper competitive process in order to ensure those appointed are appointed on merit. The process was not transparent, and Assembly Members who attempted to undertake scrutiny were met with a lack of documentation on how the process was carried out.
Then there is the matter of job titles. To the general public this may seem trivial, but in fact, this issue is important as an indicator of the general direction of travel of the administration and the culture of how the Mayor's office do things. The structure of Boris's City Hall has been unclear from day one, with some mayoral 'advisors' being awarded the lofty job title of 'deputy mayor' and others not. A possible matter of chagrin for 'statutory' deputy mayor Richard Barnes--who would legally take over as Mayor in Boris's absence. He now finds himself in a pool of unelected contemporaries and consigned to salubrious tasks such as hosting a City Hall reception to mark the opening of a new accessible toilet.
From the beginning, Boris decided to change the structure of the Mayor's office. In reality what he has done is replace the title of 'adviser' with that of 'deputy mayor' or 'director'. While to all intents and purposes their roles are the same as those of their predecessors, to the wider world the title of deputy mayor gives the position authority, stature and the appearance of some kind of democratic accountability. Handy when, for example, the Mayor wants to delegate all his planning...