everything and nothing. not really sure yet.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My take on London mayor

This is an article I wrote for my school magazine, which has had a delay in publishing (creative differences amongst the editors) so I figured I'd post it here:

Not all cops are pigs. That was hard, but it had to be said. One cop who is particularly un-piggish (I don’t care if that’s a word or not) is Brian Paddick, a former Deputy Assistant Commissioner at the Metropolitan Police and – this is the important bit – frontrunner for the Liberal Democrat nomination for Mayor of London. Thank God the Lib Dems have managed to find a decent, relatively independent high-profile (ish) candidate. Who better for Mayor than the bogeyman of the reactionaries at the Daily Express and News of the World (as if that isn’t the most misleading name in journalism – if you can call their drivel journalism)? Without him in the race, I might have had to choose between Boris “No Brains” Johnson and Ken “Fewer Brains” Livingstone – not that I get the choice (this country deems me old enough to pay taxes, join the army, get married and even kill myself in a moped accident yet somehow I’m not old enough to have a say in how we are run). To be fair, Ken Livingstone has done some good things, the congestion charge – though poorly implemented – is a basically sound idea, and at least the extra money it provides Transport for London can pay for free bus travel for schoolchildren – a measure I am particularly in favour of (then I am biased, being a schoolchild who takes the bus). However, Ken Livingstone is also the man who compared a journalist to a Concentration Camp guard, after the journalist identified himself as Jewish (having already been called a Nazi war criminal by our esteemed mayor). He also said that the Reuben brothers, Jewish property developers originally from India and of Iraqi descent, should “go back to Iran”. Somehow he has failed to shake off the accusations of anti-Semitism, I wonder why? Now, as for Boris, well, where to begin? He would be the only mayor in the history of London (that said we haven’t had a mayor for very long) to be unwelcome in another major city of this country (who can forget the Liverpool incident). He is also persona non grata in Papua New Guinea, the home of “orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing”. But perhaps the worst Borisisms are his references to black people as “piccaninnies”, his saying that Africans have “watermelon smiles” (yes you read that right) and his calling post-Apartheid South Africa a “majority tyranny of black rule”. According to the 2001 census 10.91% of London’s population is black, I find it hard to believe that any black Londoner could feel that the man who made those comments would ever truly represent him or her. It doesn’t help Boris that his only campaign policy suggestion is thoroughly unworkable (as awful as bendy buses are, Routemasters were removed for a reason and they’re not coming back, get over it! As a matter of fact, they break European Law over access for disabled people). So, what does Brian (this is a first-name contest, and it has more of a ring than Deputy Assistant Commissioner Paddick) want to do? Make our communities safer (which is something he knows a little bit about and according to a rather unscientific poll on Boris’ campaign website - of all places - the number one concern of Londoners), make our transport system “intelligent” (sounds good, but what does it mean?), and power the tube on renewable energy (very nice, eco-cred). All decent policies it would seem, but then its hard not to think so compared with the competition.


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