Still no comment from the Mayor's office about Boris's Pride outfit. I warned them that unless they kill the blue PVC bodysuit story it will run and run. And now the speculation's spun way out of control.
Did you see him on the Andrew Marr Show? Most journos were excited by his not blaming Gord for his defeat but I was more struck that he referred to Ian Clement as a "bovver boy from Bexley." Bit rude, wasn't it? The "bovver boy" has always spoken very highly of him - to me, anyway. The interview also previewed the start of Livingstone's LBC phone-in show today, initially filling in for someone else. It runs from 1.00 till 4.00 and I'll be listening on behalf of the Guardian.
"Oh dear, PricewaterhouseCoopers has found itself embroiled in the murky world of political scandal. Accusations are flying from the Labour quarters of City Hall that the (impartial) financial services firm could be a little too close to the Tories.
The twisting tale of political intrigue begins at the start of the year when PWC was contracted by the board of the London Development Agency (LDA) to review its practices in the lead-up to the mayoral elections. No problem with that, but the delicate nose for controversy of LDA's Labour group leader, Len Duvall, began twitching soon after the new Mayor, Boris Johnson, announced a forensic audit panel to look into financial management at the LDA.
The panel, which is headed by the former Sunday Telegraph editor Patience Wheatcroft, is unashamedly pro-Tory, so Duvall says he was 'surprised' to see that a certain Andrew Gordon, head of forensic investigations at PWC, was among its members. And he was even more surprised to see PWC had been commissioned to do the work. Conflict of interest? Duvall appears to believe so and is now asking some tough questions of PWC.
'Are you happy that your firm should be seen so publicly to be engaged in supporting this political witch-hunt in an organisation you are under contract to?' he demands to know in a letter to the firm's chairman, Kieran Poynter. PWC refused to comment."
"Housing, has been an area that has got worse continuously since Thatcher was elected. And Ken was doing his part to help housing for an area that holds 10% of the population. Notice how not even the Mirror, or the Guardian compared this excellent policy with Boris' plan to help affordable housing for those earning OVER £60,000."
Actually, one Guardian writer did:
"...to take advantage of [Johnson's] First Steps home ownership scheme would need an income of £60,000 a year. Four-fifths of London households need not apply."
Wonder who that was? Still, the basic point stands and the repercussions of Mayor Johnson's whole approach to housing and planning in general remain, well, puzzling. Whilst his Deputy for Government Relations is signing off documents under delegated powers, the legal status of his advisor Sir Simon Milton remains mysterious.
Team Boris believes that Sir Simon's providing his advice informally and free of charge gets him round the so-called Widdecombe rules forbidding people simultaneously being Councillors and senior local government executives. Not everyone agrees. And now the Troll has dug out a mayoral written answer (no. 997, from Darren Johnson AM) revealing that Sir Simon won't have to abide by the GLA code of ethics. The answer reveals that instead:
"Sir Simon Milton has agreed to sign a confidentiality agreement, and as this is an informal arrangement, there is no formal process which covers ethics and probity. There is a protocol between Westminster and GLA and Sir Simon Milton covering issues around giving informal advice on any Westminster matter or planning matter where Westminster holds a substantial interest."
Questions, questions, questions. Can we see this agreement on the GLA website, please? Can we see the protocol there, please? Was Sir Simon invited to sign the GLA code voluntarily, if not why not and if so why has he not done so? And can we establish any ways in which Sir Simon's activities and influence are different from what they'd be were he an orthodox planning advisor or director? Does he, for example, have an office or desk at City Hall? Does he expect City Hall staff to follow his instructions? Does he have a personal PA or other staff? Does he claim expenses? Transparency, transparency, transparency...
"Kate [Hoey], still the MP for Vauxhall, has promised to compile a 'dossier of public swimming pools and playing fields' in the capital which would seem more commendable if she wasn't at the same time kicking into the long grass a similar report commissioned by former mayor Ken Livingstone. Kate branded the two-month old document 'elitist' which does make you ponder whether Ken's team only included swimming pools with associated jacuzzis or whether Kate and Boris give short shrift to goalposts with proper nets."
Do all newly-elected political leaders spend their first hundred days re-fighting the campaign they've just won or is this a Mayor Johnson innovation? OK, I may be oversimplifying. I may even be being unkind. But the David Ross report into Olympic costs told us little that wasn't already known and there's no sign so far that the Forensic Audit Panel will break dramatic new ground. It's no good Boris's supporters carping about others focussing on his appointment procedures or exposing his imperfect grasp of detail when his administration has yet to do much that wasn't being done already.
But let's be generous. Bedding in does take time and the best bits of Johnson's programme may yet acquire clarity and substance. I'm determinedly hopeful about his plans for helping young people and eager to see Munira Mirza's cultural vision take shape. And - oh yea! - next Friday or thereabouts is going to be 21st Century Routemaster Competition Launch Day! Ding ding! Hold tight please! Can't wait!
"I find myself in the kitchen thinking about myself in the third person. Ms B is back from Brockley. Ms B has forgotten all her words. Ms B is cleaning the filter on the clothes drier. Ms B is opening the door of the fridge. Ms B is in her jim-jams. Ms B is a product of her own words. Ms B wants to be letter of the month. Ms B is in a relationship. Ms B will be attending the Magma launch tomorrow. Ms B has accepted a friend request. Ms B thinks this weird internet-fuelled solipsism is going to make her write bad poetry sooner or later. Ms B doesn’t know what the week will bring. Ms B thinks she might not want to know. Ms B says, it was money, but it wasn’t a waste of money. Ms B the money was only resting in my account. Ms B is not only truth or consequences, but maybe and consequences. Ms B didn’t read a thing all weekend. Ms B would recognise the voice of Marie Lloyd anywhere. Ms B still needs to rest her eyes a bit, truth be told. Ms B sounds insane, writing these tiny sentences."
"Then there was that car crash on the Today programme, when London's new First Citizen didn't seem to have read the memorandum on which he was being questioned - a performance symptomatic, it is alleged, of a broader carelessness about boring-but-important details, such as appointments, salaries, and costs. And a little earlier, there was the row about the downgrading of the anti-racist element of the Rise festival."
Hold on: "Didn't seem to have read" the memorandum? Surely: "Doubted the very existence of"? And that "alleged...broader carelessness"? Wasn't the Rise episode a further symptom of that? Like, not even knowing that the downgrading of the anti-racist element had taken place? Facts are so important, don't you think?
"One can only speculate whether McGrath would have been asked to go if he had not resigned. However, the innuendo of Boris’ statement accepting McGrath’s resignation was that while the remarks were not racist the comments damaged the reputation of the office of the Mayor and therefore made it impossible for him to continue and that this would have been the reason for his dismissal."