Boris wasted a month of campaigning on a fantasy


by Adam Bienkov    
9:36 am - January 28th 2012

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I wrote two weeks ago about Boris Johnson’s fake campaign for an inevitable council tax freeze. Thousands of Boris’s supporters have been encouraged to spam London Assembly Members in favour of something that will happen anyway.

The freeze, which is being implemented by almost every other local authority in the country, is supported by both Labour and the Lib Dems (who actually want to cut council tax).

Nobody wants to stop it. The freeze will take place, and Londoners will storm City Hall in gratitude at the literally handful of pounds it will save them this year.

Not content with campaigning for the inevitable, Boris’s campaign have also tried to claim that Ken Livingstone’s running mate is “leading the charge” against it. Their source for this claim is an out of context footnote from a press release for Labour proposals that actually back the freeze.

What’s surprising about this is not the dishonesty. It’s the incompetence of it.

After wasting six months talking about national rather than London issues, Boris has now wasted the best part of a month on a fantasy.

And what has he got for it? One article in the Croydon advertiser, and a handful of other articles explaining what a waste of time it is.

At this week’s budget debate, Tory AM Steve O’Connell asked Boris about a claim “from a very good source” that Ken wants to reverse his booze ban on the tube. Needless to say Livingstone has no such plans. O’Connell’s fantasy claim, was followed up by a reply from Boris that Ken would probably make drinking on the tube “compulsory.” An obvious smear.

And so after two polls putting Boris behind Ken, it’s clear that the only lesson they have learnt is to go even more negative against Ken.

Will it work? Possibly. They had plenty of practice in 2008 and Boris has no shortage of former colleagues and toadies in the press to do his dirty work for him.

But in order to win Boris also needs to face up to reality. At Wednesday’s meeting Boris boasted that he was “leading the city to a strong economic recovery.”

This was on the same morning that we learnt that we are heading back into recession.

This does not suggest that he is in touch with the concerns of ordinary Londoners. Unfortunately for his supporters, it also suggests he’s not even in touch with his own campaign.

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About the author
Adam Bienkov is a regular contributor and also blogs at Tory Troll, Guardian CIF, Greenwich.co.uk and New Statesman
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Reader comments


If “nobody is against it”, why did London Assembly members Jennette Arnold, John Biggs, Len Duvall, Nicky Gavron, Joanne McCartney, Murad Qureshi, Navin Shah and Valerie Shawcross all vote against it this week?

As for your “handful of pounds” it would save council tax payers, let’s not forget that Ken’s council tax increases when he was in office cost the average band D household £964 each.

2. Leon Wolfeson

Adam; The CITY is doing just fine. Shame about London, and the rest of the UK.

The 1% are not suffering…Boris’s focus and care is clear.

“An obvious smear.”

Yes, well done. You’ve worked out that politicians are lying scum who will do anything to gain and or keep power.

Yes, all of them, right, left and middle.

Which leaves us with the question of why you support them running more rather than less of our lives.

4. Leon Wolfeson

@3 – And yet you support a government who are set on killing a lot of this country’s people off through negligence. Funny that.

5. Leon Wolfeson

@3 – So, reading your blog, you believe that tax evasion is acceptable because it only cheats the government, not Humans, that spiralling rents and homelessness is fine, that poor areas should be punished with poverty and that the benefit cap should be used to punish millions more.

Typical big-government Tory corporatist crap, as usual.

6. Dick the Prick

@4 – eh? Hee hee hee – you loon. I hardly think a benefits cap of £26k amounts to ‘killing people off’.

7. Leon Wolfeson

@6 – I didn’t refer to any single policy.

Thanks for finding murder funny though, I’m sure your sociopathy is a hit at parties!

BTW, there is one thing I don’t understand about this benefit cap discussion in Britain.

It seems that very much the same people are saying that “benefit cap is wrong” and “we should be more like Sweden and Scandinavian countries”.

That is contradictory, because the benefits are capped in Scandinavian countries. Looking from here, the cost of housing benefit in Britain is sometimes astounding. Why is it necessary to pay so dearly for the right of a few people with no income to live in hugely expensive properties? The money goes directly to the pockets of landlords, at taxpayer expense. Why do you need to subsidise investors this way?

Also, the idea about rent controls is rather silly. In Stockholm, there is rent regulation; in Helsinki, there is not. In Stockholm, you have a black market for rental rights, in Helsinki, you do not. In Helsinki, you can find a legal rental apartment without much trouble, in Stockholm that’s more difficult (if you earn your living; if you are dependent on benefits, then things are different of course and the government has to take care of you).

Oslo has gotten rid of rent controls (under a Labour prime minister with plenty of oil money at his disposal, not some evil orphan-eating conservative).

But suit yourself, it’s your tax pounds, not mine, and if you want to shoot your poor people in the foot, it’s your business. Oh, I realise we’re all in EU, i.e. in the same boat (reminds me of Costa Concordia).

9. Dick the Prick

@7 – thanks. Seriously though – how are this government any worse than the last government for preventing people popping their cloggs prematurely? We’ve been damned lucky this winter with the amazing weather so the blight of fuel poverty has hopefully been dodged but to claim that THIS government is predisposed to killing people off is, you must admit, egregious flummery.

10. Leon Wolfeson

@9 – You can seriously ASK that question?

No, it’s not “flummery”, and your self-created blindness is both pathetic and a sign of how insane the right is.

@8 – Link about this “cap”? Moreover, they pay the unemployed a % of salary for YEARS.

And you’re the one who’s ignoring the fact that rents here have risen above inflation for decades, and are MASSIVELY high. You need to combine it with other measures, yes, and potentially flick them on and off periodically.

But you’re just fine with social cleansing and the poor not being able to eat or heat their houses because of having to pay the rent out of meagre salaries and benefits. After all, they’re poor, not Human.

@OP, Adam Bienkov: “And what has he got for it? One article in the Croydon advertiser, and a handful of other articles explaining what a waste of time it is.”

What is your problem?

If you don’t want Boris for Mayor and believe that he is wasting his time (by campaigning on things that the press does not report), why are you alerting him? Why not let Boris piss away vote raising opportunities?

You question whether Boris “is in touch with the concerns of ordinary Londoners”. I question whether you are in touch, either.

12. Dick the Prick

@10 – yup, you’re a OTT loon. So you support Jack Straw approving illegal rendition and the murder of 1,000,000 Iraquis but a Tory dares to make the NHS more efficient or reduce benefits to reasonable levels and you throw your toys out of the pram? How odd.

@10: “@8 – Link about this “cap”? Moreover, they pay the unemployed a % of salary for YEARS.”
Nordic countries have a complex welfare system which cannot be explained in an instant (just like Britain, I am afraid – the systems grow so complex when they are patched year after year that no one on Earth knows everything about them). But I can assure you that there are limits to how much housing cost is compensated. We are looking at the British system with awe: how do you think you can pay for that system? We are struggling with ours.

Links:
Sweden:
http://www.swedbank.se/om-swedbank/analyser/institutet-for-privatekonomi/aktuella-belopp/foralder/index.htm
http://www.forsakringskassan.se/wps/wcm/connect/f89f3cdf-3c50-486f-9a9e-872b96a858c4/bostadsbidrag_barnfamilj_eng.pdf?MOD=AJPERES
Finland:
http://www.kela.fi/in/internet/suomi.nsf/NET/140508125336PV
http://www.kela.fi/in/internet/english.nsf/NET/081101150604EH?OpenDocument

Regarding that payment of unemployment allowance “for years” (actually, 500 days in Finland, 300 days in Sweden (450 if you have children)), it’s compensating nothing like equivalent of a £35000 salary per year. (Generally, the unemployment allowance is taxable income in the Nordics.)


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