Boris was in ratty mode again at the last Mayor’s Question Time before the election, and as ever when he’s in that mode very little light accompanied the heat – the Assembly is in election mode, of course. Rachel Holdsworth reports in a thoroughly disappointed mood for Londonist, accompanied by a photo of some kittens.
We’re not going to cover what was asked: questions were designed to allow Boris to air snatches of his stump speech or framed to allow opponents to attack his record; most were answered with reference to Labour policies past, present and future and contained nothing new.
So that’s the transparency agenda covered off, then. After all:
Tory group leader James Cleverly expressed concern at potentially coming across as a sycophant, to which Boris assured him that “being a sycophant is no crime here”
What’s more interesting is that the Times, which has been running its cyclesafe campaign for some weeks now after a staff member was put in a coma by a lorry has finally woken up that Boris is not the ‘militant cyclist’ he claims to be (at last Wednesday’s PQT, for instance) but is in fact the Mayor Who Wasn’t There for cyclists. This is nothing new to anyone who follows London’s cycling blogs – they long ago woke up to the Tory Assembly member’s perverse desire to shield Boris from any criticism of his cycling policies by walking out at the drop of a motion from Jenny Jones, but having Boris’s repeated sexist bullying of Val Shawcross exposed in a right-leaning national newspaper is a new one. The subject of debate was cycling casualties, old ground for Val, who famously exposed Boris’s Great Lie about cyclists killed by bendy buses, so there’s a bit of previous there.
It’s interesting, therefore, that the Times article is written in the style usually reserved for newspapers who’ve concluded a politician is wounded and needs a kicking:
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, was accused of misleading Londoners over cycle safety today after an ill-tempered question time at City Hall.
Mr Johnson told the last session before Mayoral elections on May 3 that new figures showed that the rates of cyclists killed or seriously injured on all roads in the capital had fallen by six per cent since 2008.
However, the latest published statistics show that overall cycle casualty rates rose in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The number of casualties also rose in each of those three years from 859 in 2007 to 960 in 2008, 1,073 in 2009 and 1,255 in 2010 on the TfL network.
And so on. It is, all told, one of the very very few articles on Boris in the mainstream media to pierce the fun-loving Mayor image and find the bitter, unpleasant, and frankly rather sad man beneath. What is his problem with strong women?
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