Success, ladies and gentlemen, may take years – decades, even – of hard graft and dedication. Failure takes only a moment and a poorly thought-through manifesto pledge.

Our new blond boy hasn’t even had a chance to get over his celebratory hang-over (I kid because I love), and he’s already facing a tube strike. Now, that’s not all that unusual in this Great City. Surely he can’t be blamed? He’s only been in charge five minutes!

Five minutes, it seems, is more than enough.

Bojo told us he would “look to reduce the disruption caused by strikes on the Tube by negotiating a no-strike deal with the unions.”

Yes, Boris told us he would take the right to strike away from the transport unions.

For some strange reason, the unions are not best pleased. They are also rather nonplussed – how could Boris have ever expected them to agree to this?

Looking at this policy, I’m starting to think that even Boris didn’t reckon he was going to win. Regardless of your views on Tube strikes, there was no way that this was ever going to work. Even without the recent fireworks between the government and prison offices over almost exactly the same issue, it’s pretty easy to see that no self-respecting union is going to agree to a no-strike deal.

Either Boris has absolutely no foresight (not improbable, of course), or he was counting on never having to follow through. It’s been mooted a couple of times, but this has convinced me that the plan was simply to rattle Labour, not actually defeat Ken. In that case, the workability of the manifesto pledges becomes irrelevant: Boris was never supposed to have to deliver on them.

Labour undermined, Cameron could swoop in later in the year for the win.

Unfortunately for the Conservatives, someone forgot to factor in Boris’ unnatural ability to have things fall into his lap. He won, and now he’s got to deliver these impossible pledges with a straight face. His choice: suffer the fallout of reneging on manifesto pledges, or attempt to do battle with the unions.

Link to Evening Standard article – even they can’t spin this into sounding like a good idea.

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8 Responses to Playing with Trains

  1. Will H says:

    Martha, I hope you’ll forgive a certain level of cynicism at this time in the morning, but, despite your assurances on another thread, something tells me that the Mayor isn’t going to be scrutinised and evaluated in a balanced, impartial and even-handed manner on this site, is he? It rather begs the question; what’s the point? Is it just a forum to indulge your prejudices?

    Its going to be a long and difficult four years for you guys, especially with that spectacular implosion going on in Downing Street.

    I get the feeling that, for the contributors to this site, it must be like a ghost train at the fairground – you know the big, bad tory bogeyman is going to get you, but the anticipation is delicious! The left is so much better suited to opposition, because, demonstrably, they couldn’t govern a minor parish council. They’re much better at scrutiny, but only within the very narrow parameters of their prejudices.

  2. BenSix says:

    “something tells me that the Mayor isn’t going to be scrutinised and evaluated in a balanced, impartial and even-handed manner on this site, is he? It rather begs the question; what’s the point? Is it just a forum to indulge your prejudices?”

    Will, have you any comment on Boris’s decision, or have you just swung by to have a poke at ‘the left’?

  3. MarthaRose says:

    @Will: I do understand your concerns. As an angry 18-year-old, it can be hard to keep my bias in check sometimes.
    However, I do think that this is a daft policy: it was daft when the Labour government tried to do it (although to prison officers, not transport workers) and it’s still daft when Boris tries to do it.

    I think you have an interesting point when you say that the left is well-suited to opposition. Although I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I’ve been just as much in opposition to the current regime as I will be to the next (this is the depressing truth at the heart of modern right-of-centre politics).

    You always need an opposition. If we can provide that for Boris in a way that is balanced and fair then we’re serving an important political purpose (as much as a small blog can).

    However, if we deteriorate into simple “Boo! Hiss! Boris!” then you’re right: there is no point.

    If we only have other lefties writing and commenting here, it will be far too easy to slide into the latter. That’s why intelligent Boris supporters are needed: to challenge us to actually add something new to the debate.

    Sorry for the rather rushed reply, but I’m about to head out the door for a philosophy exam and don’t have much time for eloquence.

  4. QuestionThat says:

    It’d be wonderful if he could achieve the deal, but I’m not holding my breath.

  5. Will H says:

    Sorry BenSix, perhaps you could provide some sort of quality review criteria so I can be assured that in future my comments pass your stringent protocols on relevance and weight?
    But, by the same token, have you any comment on what I have to say, or have you just ‘swung by to have a poke at me?’
    I’d like to thank Martha for at least addressing my concerns about this site’s premise – “Watching the Mayoral Trainwreck”. It seems to be unapologetically self-righteous and prejudiced.
    And sorry BenSix, but it strikes me as a rather pompous pursuit if all your going to do is pontificate about what an awful job Boris is doing, before he’s actually started, and telling anyone who questions your approach to shut up. Again, it begs the question, why bother? And the obvious answer, certainly in your case, is to indulge in impartial and prejudicial assessment. Well, knock yourself out, dude. Whatever floats your boat and all that.

  6. BenSix says:

    “But, by the same token, have you any comment on what I have to say, or have you just ‘swung by to have a poke at me?’”

    Well, Will, I consider your analysis of ‘the left’ to be too insubstantial for particular analysis. What do you consider currently represents ‘the left’?

    “And sorry BenSix, but it strikes me as a rather pompous pursuit if all your going to do is pontificate about what an awful job Boris is doing, before he’s actually started, and telling anyone who questions your approach to shut up.”

    I think that that’s unfair Will. I haven’t told you to ‘shut up’, I asked for your opinion on Boris’s decision.

    “Again, it begs the question, why bother? And the obvious answer, certainly in your case, is to indulge in impartial and prejudicial assessment. Well, knock yourself out, dude. Whatever floats your boat and all that.”

    1) I’m an arrogant teenager.
    2) It’s great practice for journalism.
    3) Hopefully I can provide information on the Mayor, whether negative or positive. I must admit that I begin from a bias – I consider Boris to be a naive incompetent – but if he proves me wrong then I’ll be delighted.

  7. Will H says:

    BenSix, Oh dear…we seem to have got a little bogged down. I haven’t, nor was it my intention, to provide an ‘analysis of the left’. (What an excruciatingly stultifying undertaking that would be) What I was trying to express were my concerns at the very left-wing slant of this site and its intention to prejudge Boris’ mayoralty before he had even started. I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear. But, there again, I suppose its up to you what you post, just don’t expect everyone to applaud it.
    I think you’re right – this is good practise for journalism. But many (good) journalists at least attempt to provide a balanced and impartial point of view, regardless of their personal political leanings. Although this is rather unfashionable of late, I think it might pay to bear this in mind.
    “I consider Boris to be a naive incompetent – but if he proves me wrong then I’ll be delighted.” Well, I’ll have to take your word for that, but I’m not entirely convinced you’ll be delighted. I’d love to know why you consider him to be naive and incompetent. Whether or not he’s an incompetent mayor is yet to be seen, surely? And have you ever considered the possibility that the ‘bumbling buffoon’ shtick is a PR slight-of-hand. Underestimate him at your peril.

  8. BenSix says:

    “I’d love to know why you consider him to be naive and incompetent. Whether or not he’s an incompetent mayor is yet to be seen, surely? And have you ever considered the possibility that the ‘bumbling buffoon’ shtick is a PR slight-of-hand. Underestimate him at your peril.”

    I’m not really interesting in Boris’s shtick. After the polished sleaze (and worse) of the Blair years it could be a change to have a less oratory-minded politician.

    However, I do consider him to be not only right-wing but far right-wing. He wrote that he considered the welfare state to be “this irrational system of subsidy, the excessive disbursements that warp honest people”, and he opposed pension rights for part-time workers.

    His supposedly environmentally-minded attitude also feels hollow considering that he opposed the Kyoto treaty ‘and wrote that ‘We need an alternative, and one that doesn’t just involve crucifying our landscape with wind farms which, even when they are in motion, would barely pull the skin off a rice pudding.’

    He has received a lot of criticism for his ‘picaninnies’ comments – and I’m not going to start speculating on the honesty of Rod Liddle – but I consider his support for Section 28 and Spectator comments on homosexuality to be just as offensive and devisive.

    Nevertheless, he may have recanted these views, and if I see evidence then I will be among the first to praise him.

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