There’ll be a shit storm tomorrow about Boris’s apparent conversion to Delingpole/Brooker climate change denial, but in reality it’s business as usual – he’s trolling both sides while having no real position, as he’s done before on, oo, hundreds of things, selective schooling being one that springs to mind. If you think Boris is on your side, he’s conned you.
Here’s the back end of his latest chickenfeed column in the Telegraph, which for the third time reaches for the opinions of one Piers Corbyn, who apparently can tell the future, and rather than warming up, apparently London’s getting snowier and snowier! Skis on, chaps!
I am speaking only as a layman who observes that there is plenty of snow in our winters these days, and who wonders whether it might be time for government to start taking seriously the possibility — however remote — that Corbyn is right
However, this wasn’t always Boris’s opinion. Here’s the first paragraph-and-a-bit of Boris’s foreword [PDF] to London’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy:
Our climate is changing, with London already experiencing warmer, wetter winters, hotter, drier summers and higher incidences of more extreme weather. To preserve and enhance our quality of life and maintain our status as a leading global city, we must adapt to manage these climatic shifts, which will result in increasing risk of floods, drought and heat waves.
Climate change is no distant threat.
The only thing we can really take away from this exercise in trolling the weak in the head is what we usually take, Boris is much more comfortable in a world where the car is the aspiration of all decent people, air travel increases year on year, the economy works the way neoliberal economists say it works and the planet more or less sorts itself out regardless of what we do to it – there’s a little psychological tell-tale of the latter in even this carefully crafted non-opinion piece:
As a species, we human beings have become so blind with conceit and self-love that we genuinely believe that the fate of the planet is in our hands
Unfortunately for Boris, 7 billion industrious, innovative humans burning fossil fuels laid down over millions of years in a couple of centuries are having an effect and the best way to find out what the effect is is to use scientists, plural, not one pet you wheel out when necessary. Usually he’s very keen to praise humanity’s ingenuity, but in this where it might challenge opinions straight out of his formative years in the early 80s a form of cognitive dissonance kicks in.
Additionally, he appears to have forgotten what country he spent half his childhood in:
I remember snow that used to come and settle for just long enough for a single decent snowball fight before turning to slush; I don’t remember winters like this
Let’s see, he lived in New York (which gets very severe winters) until the age of 5, so we’re talking the years 1969 onwards here. By the time he might have grown out of snowballing we might at a stretch be talking late 1970s, just before the string of cold winters in the 1980s. The winter snowfalls for those years will be a matter of public record (if I was playing argumentum ad I remember I’d point out that the coldest temperature I’ve ever experienced in the UK was -15 in the early 1980s in Suffolk, probably 1982 when I was seven and in prime snowballing form). Here’s a quickly found Met Office report on UK climate trends:
“[T]there has been a strong downward trend in the number of days with snow cover at 0900 since 1961. The strongest trend has occurred in southern England (Map 9), where there are now about 75% fewer days with snow cover compared to 1961. Northern England has also experienced a very significant downward trend. The negative trend is present in all seasons, but is most significant in the autumn period, although absolute decreases are greatest in the winter, which is the season in which the most snow occurs.The 1980’s were a particularly snowy period for the UK, as well as the start of the 1960’s, with 1962/63 being the snowiest season for England and Wales. The decreases are weaker but still significant for most districts when starting from 1963/64, to avoid skewness introduced by the high values of 1962/63.”
So Boris was a child, in England, of snowballing age, during a comparatively non-snowy period in the middle of a 45 year decline in snow cover in south eastern England which has seen the number of days with snow on the ground reduce by 75%. Colour me unsatisfied with the level of respect shown to the evidence – when you start preferring your own memories over the historical record, you lose climate change arguments.
As for Piers Corbyn, Boris’s
Tim Fenton nailed him very firmly back in 2010 with this little nugget:
Corbyn’s apocalyptic forecast for December 2010 – the one he got largely right – was made on November 29, when the cold snap had already started.
It’s unlikely, one suspects, that Boris would devote three columns to a prediction made by mainstream scientists being backed up by the evidence, even though this happens really quite often. I’m tempted to make a comparison with the modus operandi of fortune tellers here.
[Note: since the Met Office report goes up to 2004/5 it is possible there's a subsequent significant trend reversal here, but that doesn't matter for debunking Boris's argument - the number of days with snow cover in south eastern England has fallen substantially over his lifetime, contrary to what his faulty memory is apparently telling him]
Driverless tube trains, previously touched on here and recently by Tim Fenton, Tom Edwards and a frequent hobby-horse of our old friend Andrew Gilligoon here, are Boris’s Stalinist answer to industrial relations – ‘No man, no problem’. Unfortunately it’s also ‘No clue’, as the response to a recent FoI of mine reveals. It occurred to me that with only about 30% or so of the tube arguably automatable in the medium-to-long term and capacity upgrades under way on the rest it was likely that TfL would be hiring more tube drivers during Boris’s tenure rather than sacking them, and his policy of poking Bob Crow with a stick and then demanding that someone else does something to stop the potato-headed Commie was even dafter than we’d thought. I just asked for a simple table of train operator numbers historically and projected into the future and TfL have responded with commendable speed. Here’s the table, and a graph:
What does this all tell us? Well, Boris inherited about 3000 train operators, itself a big (40%) increase on the numbers when TfL took over in 2003. Having stayed at 3000 or so from 2006/7 to 2010/11 with very little training of new operators a substantial recruitment exercise has been under way which is intended to boost numbers by a further 400. Having reached this level (20% or so higher than when Boris was first elected) we reach a steady state TfL estimate at around 3600. They are at pains to point out that this *is* just an estimate at this stage, but it’s enough to confirm that, as suspected, the boost in train capacity carries through into a rise in train operators employed to drive them. Interestingly, however, it seems to be rather less than the capacity upgrades so it’s possible to argue that London’s actually getting more capacity per train operator.
What is definitely true is that even four years after Boris cycles off into the sunset there will be zero train operators being kicked off the job by whizzy computer trains. Bob Crow will be with us for a while, therefore.
The Surrey Quays to Clapham Junction extension to the London Overground opened on 9 December last. Hurrah, I hear you say, that’ll speed up my journey.
The not-very-popular Talk London section of the Mayor’s website describes it thus:
The completion of tracks between Surrey Quays and Clapham Junction has created a new outer london orbital rail route, which opened on Sunday 9 December.
Yes. Thanks, Ken.
This has been referred to as the ‘M25 of rail’ and opens up new connections for many
I suppose you could say that, if a trip around the entire M25 involved changing vehicles twice. It’s necessary to change at both Clapham Junction and Highbury & Islington to complete a circuit.
- allowing, for example, a journey from Dalston junction to Clapham junction in just 3 minutes.
Three minutes from Dalston Junction to Clapham Junction? Dalston Junction to Clapham Junction is 15 stops, meaning it’s only 12 seconds between stops. Amazing.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Boris Johnson’s highly-educated minions can’t tell the difference between actual journey time and a speeded-up film from the BBC.
The facility to use contactless debit or credit cards for fares on London’s buses, originally promised to be operational by the 2012 Olympics, will now be available from tomorrow – not that TfL have bothered to tell anybody, apart from those with registered Oyster cards who received the following email from TfL within the last half-hour:
Oyster daily price capping doesn’t apply, so it’s useless for those who regularly use several buses in a day.
The information page on the TfL website still says that contactless payment will be available later this month so anyone who hasn’t received today’s email from TfL will be none the wiser.
The Mayor’s flagship cycle hire scheme was riddled with software problems for at least a year after its launch so it remains to be seen how well TfL’s latest electronic payment initiative will work.
When TfL answered my original FoI with commendable speed I was all ready to praise them, until further analysis of the figures and Helen’s trip to Birmingham showed that they couldn’t possibly be right. They’ve now owned up:
We have provided the below response to your request for information recently.
However, we have since become aware that an incorrect figure was provided for the current passenger capacity due to an administrative oversight. The actual figure should have been 77 and not 83. As I stated in my response, once design refinements are made to the first generation of production vehicles, this will rise to the anticipated number of 87.
Please accept my apology for any inconvenience this might have caused.
So it’s officially 77 now? The placard, if you recall, once Helen found the damn thing says:
- 63 seated
- 15 standing
- 1 wheelchair
which is 78, so the missing person is presumably the chap standing around at the back with nothing to do. Anyway, we now know that Wrights have to lop 68*10 = 680kg off the weight to get 87 on the production buses, which is about 5.4% of the pre-production bus weight. Considering that according to a recent article in Buses magazine TfL’s old bus enthusiast Leon Daniels is enthusiastically showing people pictures of LT9, LT10 and LT11 on the production line they’ll have had to get their skates on with the lopping process:
The Bus With No Name idea is bizarre, though. What else from that article? Ah yes, there’ll be only 600 of them, the same number as there were RMLs ten years ago despite the huge increase in bus patronage since:
It’s the end of the line, in other words. It will not be London’s new bus for the simple reason that most double deckers bought for London will not be NB4Ls. Indeed, we can probably estimate a date beyond which London will, yet again, revert to buying bog standard (probably hybrid) double deckers or, as I’m increasingly thinking, bendy buses – Daniels all but admits in the article that the NB4L is partly driven by a need to replace the bendy’s clear advantages in passenger loading speed and dwell times and with Boris no longer interested and out of here in 2016 and Hendy (59) and Daniels (57) closer to well-earned retirement there is the prospect of sanity returning at some point.
Oh, and the refusal to publish the NB4L’s PM10 emissions has led to this article, with a sense of pebbles beginning to slide ahead of an avalanche:
Quick summary of what we knew from yesterday, via Dave Hill, here.
Boris has now seemingly given up all pretence of being a Mayor for the city and people of London and is now quite blatantly a Mayor for the following:
- Bankers (nothing new there, they bankrolled him twice)
- Lawyers (a recent robust defence of the scandal of UK courts being used to settle disagreements between oligarchs refers, the main beneficiaries of which are rich London law firms)
- Oligarchs, particularly those who own newspapers – Rupert Murdoch, the Barclay brothers and, of course, Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev
|14/10/2012||Car Farnborough airport- home||Sarah Sands, Editor, Evening Standard|
|12/10/2012||2 return flighs to Perugia, Italy||Evgeny Lebedev|
|12/10/2012||2 nights accomodation, Terranova, Perugia, Italy||Evgeny Lebedev|
The 12th was a Friday and the 14th a Sunday, so it is, at least, nominally in his own time, we’ll allow him the occasional POETS. However, those two flights to Perugia plus the return on Sunday from Farnborough raise eyebrows – Farnborough is not a commercial airline destination but a private jet one, so did Mr. Lebedev give the elected Mayor a free ride in his personal aeroplane and if so, why? Possible enlightenment comes from a 2009 Telegraph piece:
He agreed to meet me for a day and a half at his hotel in Italy rather than at his home in Moscow. When I pick him up from his chartered private jet at Perugia airport, Mikhail Gorbachev is standing next to him.
‘He’ in this case is Alexander Lebedev, father of Evgeny. So we know he uses private jets into Perugia, we also know he has an extremely posh and exclusive hotel there (the Palazzo Terranova no less, and here’s a Conde Nast Traveller review). Or is it a hotel?
“Of course I went to parties,” says the son, “but I don’t have time for that anymore.” It is the beginning of the week, and he is sitting on the terrace of the family estate in the hills of Umbria, not far from Perugia. The 17th-century palace is also a luxury hotel. Evgeny likes taking care of the furniture personally.
12/10/2012 12:49 OE-HGE GALX TJS61 - Tyrolean Jet Services 12/10/2012 13:07 G-CIEL C56X KRH72R - London Executive Aviation 12/10/2012 13:11 A9C-ACE CL60 - Bahraini? Or TAG? 12/10/2012 13:23 N1BX GLF4 - Baxter Healthcare? 12/10/2012 13:30 N550GD GLF5 - Gulfstream Aerospace 12/10/2012 13:37 D-CXLS C56X AHO329N - Air Hamburg 12/10/2012 14:08 G-WNCH BE20 - Synergy Aviation 12/10/2012 14:23 N301AJ C510 - private owner 12/10/2012 14:31 G-FRYL PRM1 MHN492 - OXE (?) 12/10/2012 14:38 OE-ILB CRJ2 VJS807 - VistaJet 12/10/2012 14:42 EC-LDS ASTR TGM241S - TAG (Spain) 12/10/2012 15:44 M-LENR BE20 - BAe Systems Marine 12/10/2012 16:09 G-KTIA H25B - TAG 12/10/2012 16:11 M-SPEX B350 SSZ8B - Specsavers Aviation 12/10/2012 16:14 OE-INE CL60 VJS642 - VistaJet 12/10/2012 16:17 CS-DUC H25B NJE140D - NetJets 12/10/2012 16:29 G-TDSA F406 - William Johnston, Mark Evans 12/10/2012 16:33 G-MAJG JS41 EZE101 - Eastern Airways 12/10/2012 16:39 G-DOLF AS65 - McAlpine Helicopters Ltd 12/10/2012 16:43 LX-JCD C56X - JC Decaux 12/10/2012 16:49 G-FIRM C550 MCE3B - Marshalls of Cambridge 12/10/2012 16:54 HB-JGE GLEX FPG777 - TAG 12/10/2012 18:08 G-CGMB E135 - Eastern Airways 12/10/2012 18:50 OE-GVQ LJ60 VJS209 - VistaJet
14/10/2012 08:19 OE-LXX GLEX - VistaJet 14/10/2012 08:43 G-PEPE C56X LNX31PE - London Executive Aviation 14/10/2012 10:56 S5-AAP A319 ADR788 - Adria 14/10/2012 11:24 CS-DXQ C56X NJE6MA - NetJets 14/10/2012 12:15 G-TAGF F900 - TAG Group, although apparently it's Roman Abramovich's! 14/10/2012 12:44 D-IIVA P180 - AirGo Flugservice 14/10/2012 13:09 9H-ALX A319 MLM024 - Comlux Malta 14/10/2012 13:23 N4T GLEX - New World Jet Corp 14/10/2012 14:50 OD-EAS H25B - private 14/10/2012 14:54 11-111 B734 VM904 - bogus 14/10/2012 16:05 CS-DFG F2TH NJE2QP - NetJets 14/10/2012 16:26 M-ONAV H25B - Monavia Ltd 14/10/2012 16:37 M-HOTB GLF5 - Darwin Air 14/10/2012 16:59 D-CFLY C56X AHO348G - Air Hamburg 14/10/2012 17:40 G-RUBE E135 LNX55GE - London Executive Aviation 14/10/2012 17:55 G-MGNE E55P FLJ181 - Flairjet 14/10/2012 17:57 M-LJGI F2TH - Ven Air 14/10/2012 18:05 LX-JCD C56X - JC Decaux 14/10/2012 18:10 G-MPMP CL60 - MP Aviation LLP 14/10/2012 18:15 G-LDFM C56X - MAS Airways 14/10/2012 18:24 CS-DKJ G550 - NetJets 14/10/2012 18:26 G-LALE E135 - Eastern Airlines 14/10/2012 18:33 CS-DFF F2TH - NetJets Europe 14/10/2012 18:39 N888FR GLF4 - ICA Global Services LLC 14/10/2012 18:48 OE-GVG LJ60 - VistaJet 14/10/2012 19:13 VP-BRM B737 - TAG Group, they fly it a lot around Europe, particularly to Switzerland. Has an odd antenna fit... 14/10/2012 19:39 G-GMAA LJ45 - Gama Aviation
Boris Johnson will fly to India on 24 November to
watch the Second Test commence his “global mission to attract investments” to London. The Mayor will visit Mumbai, Hyderabad and New Delhi and also plans to travel to Brazil, Russia and China in the next few months. He’ll no doubt be claiming ancestry and/or affiliation to all these countries and probably keeping very quiet about his view that China’s culture, art, language, sport, food and even military weaponry are vastly inferior to those of the West.
Peter of ‘The Blog That Peter Wrote’ (@PME2013), fresh from a wonderful group thrashing of our old friend Andrew Gilligoon, has a piece up about the tiresome religious/EU nut Archbishop Cranmer, aka Adrian Hilton. Hilton, who has a bonnet full of anti-EU bees of such proportions as can be seen from space, was once a Conservative candidate for Slough, until it was pointed out to Michael Howard that he’d written a piece in the Spectator full of dribbling anti-Catholic eurobollocks:
Mr Hilton outlined his view that European integration would lead to a “Catholic Caesar presiding over the [British] Protestant monarch” in an article, headlined Render unto the Pope, published in the Spectator in August 2003.
Even Dracula couldn’t stomach that, and fired him as a candidate.
This being 2003, the editor of the Spectator who published the piece is obviously one Boris Johnson, coincidentally also later sacked by Michael Howard for lying about one of his affairs. Boris’s quoted defence of Hilton in the inevitable WTF from the Catholic press is entirely in keeping with a man whose anti-Irish traits, in particular, aren’t particularly far from the surface:
Mr Hilton’s supporters include Spectator editor Boris Johnson, who describes him as a “highly talented man who promises to be an exceptional spokesman for Conservative principles”.
He’s also an Enoch Powell fan, inevitably.
Mr. Hilton’s Boris-love was still aflame in 2006, along with some rather familiar sock-puppet/desperate walt business:
Finally, Hilton stood as a Conservative candidate in the local elections in Slough in 2006, without success. It was also around this time that the Cranmer blog came into being. One of Cranmer’s first posts praised Boris Johnson’s “Dream of Rome”, but said it needed following up with Adrian Hilton’s “The Principality and Power of Europe”.
Six years on the feeling appears to be as strong as ever, given that Hilton (now at the Mail) has recently written Boris puff-pieces including this one [Warning: Mail Online] showing Boris the way to Number 10.
Now, the world’s full of people Boris has conned into thinking he shares their views so is this a decade-old case of Boris’s appalling judgement of personnel (as Peter points out, Hilton also brings along a homophobia is of the deep, unpleasant US Tea Party variety), or something longer lasting? Certainly, having tame puffers in the press is a Boris tradition – Gilligan being the obvious other one to follow a route from the Boris era Spectator to Associated Newspapers. Either way, it’s an interesting one for the pro-Boris but fervently Catholic fraternity at the Telegraph blogs.
P.P.S. The whole frantic tenor of Hilton’s anti-EU conspiracy is pretty much what I was on about here and here, which led to Gilligan’s attack on me in the Standard, which led to Alex’s take-down, and to Gilligan’s exposure as a sock-puppeter. Ah, nostalgia. Freaks and weirdos from top to bottom and left to right.
Someone asked on Twitter the other day why the New Bus for London has white destination blinds – I didn’t know and still don’t know. However, trawling FoI requests turns up this:
- .All displays must be in Transport for London’s Classic Johnston font.
- All displays must be in Day-Glo yellow font on black background including out of service or any other passenger information.
all of which leaves us none the wiser, but it’s probably some design feature from the Routemaster. Small thingm but a bit galling for other bus makers who are expected to stick to the rules when TfL won’t, really. At least it doesn’t add any weight.
The internal capacity placard technically doesn’t have to be visible to passengers, but we’ve (Helen’s been looking) yet to find one that isn’t.
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