Usually, the adage goes, dodgy Labour politicians get done in by money and crap Tory ones by sex. Under Boris’s brave new not-sure-what-it-is-yet politics, the Tories have started trying to combine money and sex at the same time, and predictably failing. Ian Clement has gone, number three in the list of Deputy Mayors, leaving only the hard core of Kit Malthouse, Sir Simon Milton and Richard Barnes flying the flag for Team Boris May 2008 Edition.
In fact, the sordid details of what Clement did or did not put on credit cards and whom he was or wasn’t pushing Chicken Korma and subsequently himself into aren’t of much interest – the world’s full of aging men in positions of power and dim, naive women who somehow think that that’s an attractive combination. No, what interests me are the role Clement and the Bexley Machine played in Boris’s election campaign, the savage cutting loose that happened in the days before Boris and his PR gang buried the bad news under Wimbledon and the Speaker and how his departure affects the plan to move power from the centre to the Tory boroughs, which was essentially Clement’s job – he was the man to give the Boroughs a Voice, although in the end he appears merely to have given them lunch, and in some cases not even that. Bad form.
Remember, if you will, that last March we posited that a year in power was making the likes of Sir Simon appreciate rather more the establishment of power on the 8th floor of City Hall, and thus less inclined to see it eroded? Well, Clement was obviously London Council’s creature, a snarling outer-London beast who sees the centre as the enemy and is from a very different Tory Party to the one Boris or for that matter Sir Simon belongs to. The BNP got 12.4% in Bexley last month, which to my mind indicates that it’s not really London (along with Barking & Dagenham, Havering and of course Bromley). It’s not too hard to start drawing conclusions there and judging that the embarrassment caused to Boris (avoidance of which is Rule #1 in the public relations obsessed world of City Hall, plus the inadvertent involvement of half the Tory borough bigwigs in providing top cover to Clement’s clandestine meetings have actually succeeded in strengthening Sir Simon Milton. Again. It’s funny how he is the only one to emerge from these scandals with enhanced status and without a stain on his character. A sharp operator, as we’ve said before.
Finally, a note on the journalism – this story should mark the end of Gilligan’s reputation as the top reporter of London political affairs. Already leaving the Standard for the Telegraph, he misses out on breaking a story with all the spicy tabloid titillations of illicit sex plus the very of-the-moment involvement of expenses. Worse still, the story is kicked off by his hated rival Dave Hill at the Guardian, booted up the field by the horrible jumped up little blogger Adam Bienkov and finally when the Standard gets round to it, put into the back of the net by Paul Waugh. Gilligan somehow gets his name second in the byline and by today he’s switched place with Paul at the top of this article, but it’s hard to believe he had much to do with the text, since it doesn’t attack Ken Livingstone once (and besides, it reads like Paul Waugh’s stuff, i.e. proper journalism). Lest one forget, while proper investigative journalists were doing man’s work sifting through receipts, Andy was having another go at us while trying to explain why he works for the Iranian government funded TV station Press TV. Bye, mate.
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