Without wanting to distract from today’s main news, which should certainly be your main concern if you have only time to read about one thing (summary: Boris intends to make 80,000 of the poorest Londoners poorer still as soon as possible), I wanted to post something about this too.

Last year, one Saturday in May, I attended the State of London Debate.

This was an excellent day, covering a wide range of topics. It opened with an address by Ken, followed by questions from the floor, a session lasting about 90 minutes. This was followed by a number of workshops with experts and officials, which you could choose between, attending a total of three across the day and generally having a very interesting day and feeding into Mayoral policies and thinking on a wide range of different issues.

The full programme for the one I attended has been archived here (although apparently without stylesheets or graphics).

Archive.org also reveals that the previous year’s, which I didn’t know about at the time, and which looks like it was probably the first, had a very similar format.

So how much importance does Boris put on the State of London Debate?

Very little.

His plan for this year involves a number of changes to the established schedule:

  1. Move it from a weekend to a Wednesday evening.
  2. Cut it back from all day to two hours.
  3. Have just a single session instead of many.
  4. Involve just two people other than the Mayor himself, both of whom are close Mayoral advisers.

Presumably he’ll position these changes as a cost-cutting measure, but surely as the Mayor of London it is important to give Londoners a regular, proper opportunity to feed their thoughts and feelings into your decision-making processes? By abolishing the numerous specialist workshops to which Londoners such as myself have enjoyed contributing in the past two years, Boris shows that he’s not interested in what we think.

What’s clearly far more important to him is to implement policies dreamed up by his clique of right-wing advisers, including the aforementioned doubling of bus fares for over 80,000 Londoners on Income Support. I don’t think he’d’ve found much support for that in a break-out workshop on poverty…

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