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Boris’s trip to New York [sponsored by British Airways] came as something of a surprise, but it was no real surprise to find it was basically a PR exercise – the @MayorOfLondon Twitter feed went nuts

Probably half of them were some media interview or flag-waving opportunity for Boris to get his face on TV, which does lead one to wonder what changed – after all, London’s international affairs were a symbol of hubris and waste last year while cuts to the marketing budget were the order of the day but now Boris is spending a week gallivanting around New York apparently (since he took Guto Harri with him) to be as visible as possible.

[Before reading on, why not have a refreshing Coca-Cola?  Mmmm!]

What changed, of course, is that he found someone else to pay for it, thus allowing him to have his PR cake and eat it.  This does mean he had to spend a lot of time as a walking billboard for the struggling national airline and a rapacious US entertainment corporation but, hey, if it saves 5p off the precept it’s got to be worth it, eh?

[And now a word from our sponsor:  New Business service to New York launching from London City Airport 29th September 2009!  Thanks for allowing more flights from LCY, Boris!]

Well, no, it doesn’t.  Boris is elected to represent London, not British Airways or Disney or Sky or whoever and, while sponsorship isn’t inherently evil, allowing it to take over a bilateral visit to a key partner city to the extent Boris did is not on.  As an example, British Airways are pro-Third Runway while Boris, at least at the moment, is against it.  There’s therefore got to be a suspicion that giving him and his entourage free flights to the States isn’t entirely altruistic, plus the timing of Boris urging US businessmen to fly to London just before BA launch a new direct business service to New York is, um, suspicious.  Likewise Sky are trying to brand the whole of British cycling with the enthusiastic help of Boris, while their parent company is charging around trying to kill the BBC and doubtless counting on the anti-BBC feeling on the right of the Conservatives to help them.  There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

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