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Ealing and Northfield Mayor Johnson

Cheerful Boris and the lobbyists

As there are two reports of the Boris session online already, here and here, I thought that it would be useful to take a different tack.

First off, Boris was a bit cheeky at the start and over-ran his three minute opening remarks slot. He gave a funny account of his journey to Greenford by tube and bus, full of elaborate praise for our neighbourhood. He then summarised some of what he has achieved as Mayor and what he hopes to achieve in the future. His line about “putting the village back into the city” resonated with me. He was talking about how he wanted London to have a village atmosphere.

This is not wishful thinking. Anyone who has visited New York in recent years will tell you how it has changed and how much friendlier people are compared to 15 and 20 years ago. Today London seems less civil than New York and civility should be a goal for civic leaders I think. Trees and parks are components of this just as much as police and public transport.

Boris still manages to charm after almost three years in office and his cheerful good humour will be very hard for Ken Livingstone to beat in May 2012. Expect Boris to enjoy four more years.

Secondly, it was quite clear that a number of groups were using the event to lobby the Mayor and gain influence, perhaps beyond their real numbers. I was struck by the ten or so good looking, clean cut young people with London Citizens placards. After the meeting I challenged them about who they were and where they came from. They were American interns! I have long been suspicious that London Citizens are not what they purport to be. They claim to be a “community alliance” but I rather think they are a small group of soft-left activists with good links to the churches and unions. They are good at getting people to wear T-shirts but I really don’t think that they are very honest.