Scrapbook is enjoying the latest salvo in the unofficial Tory leadership contest. With Michael Gove playing down his prospects out in favour of George Osborne, the education secretary was given a “right royal bollocking” for highlighting the “preposterous” number of Etonians in David Cameron’s clique.
Then Sayeeda Warsi goes on telly with this sign. Osborne was allegedly called “oik” by pals in the Bullingdon Club because he attended St Pauls rather than Harrow or Eton — like Boris and Dave.
Then Louise Mensch accuses Boris (who served five years as European community correspondent for the Telegraph) of being — shock horror — a Europhile:
And what has Boris hit back with during this period? Errr … getting his dad to go on the Today programme to argue for a change in Tory leadership rules which would favour his son.
- Boris Johnson claimed police were “the victims” of original inquiry
- Questioned whether new probe is waste of “time and money”
- Suggested racial awareness training is distraction from policing
Boris Johnson called a prospective inquiry into the Met Police spying operation on the grieving family of Stephen Lawrence a potential waste of “time and a lot of money”. He made the remarks to a committee of MPs after having previously called the police “the victims of the Macpherson report” into police handling of the racist murder.
The mayor of London — who oversees the Metropolitan Police — told the Home Affairs Committee last July:
“I think there are arguments both ways about a public inquiry. The risk is that you would spend a lot of time and a lot of money without casting much light on it.”
Despite having broken an election pledge to chair the Met Police Authority, Boris instead suggested a probe headed up by, errr, his own office of policing.
But with the Ellison inquiry laying bare the web of corruption around the original Lawrence inquiry yesterday — including placing an undercover source in the Lawrence family camp — Boris was nowhere to be seen. Instead he trotted out a spokesman to comment on the behaviour of “the victims”, ahem sorry, police:
“The report contains profound and disturbing findings related to the Stephen Lawrence investigation and subsequent inquiries.”
This evasiveness should come as no surprise from a man who suggested that racial awareness programmes were a waste of police time.
In 2011 he went on a bike-riding photo call with Arnold Schwarzenegger instead of chairing a meeting about the controversial death of a black singer in police custody.
The mayor of London has handed a £10 million advertising windfall to the UK’s second largest bank — funded with taxpayers’ money. Barclays withdrew from a deal to sponsor the extension of TFL’s cycle hire scheme into south west London but the bank’s blue branding is still whizzing around the capital’s most affluent boroughs — with taxpayers having to make up the shortfall.
Hailing Barclays’ claimed £10m investment to expand the cycle scheme (along with another £15m to extend the deal until 2018) Boris gushed:
“My thanks go to Barclays for the benevolence they have demonstrated with their latest bestowal of funds and I am pleased that we can confirm the extension of their sponsorship agreement”
But the money never materialised. A review of sponsorships after the ignominious exit of Bob “unacceptable face of banking” Diamond from Barclays saw the plug pulled on a 2015-2018 deal back in December. Spinners had tried to keep the south west extension fiasco under wraps — but Boris was stumped at City Hall’s question time yesterday when asked about the deal.
The London mayor is notoriously close to his “favourite banker”. Diamond served as the head of the mayoral charity while Boris was the star speaker at Barclays’ annual dinners in Davos.
It’s looking like the Barclays bike deal had rather more to do with Boris Johnson’s friendship with Bob Diamond than anything else.
UPDATE: Audio now available below
Speaking on Today earlier, Boris Johnson clearly wasn’t keen on discussing his barmy proposals that strike ballots should be subject to different turnout thresholds than his own election – a rule which would see him banned from office.
But when pressed by Justin Webb, he implied that the four-year mayoralty was somehow less relevant to Londoners than a two-day strike:
“I just think there is a difference between a local election, a political election, and a vital public service”
“A political election doesn’t threaten mass disruption for millions of people”
A minute later he had the cheek to invoke his election — with the backing of less than 17% of eligible voters in the capital — to defend TFL job cuts:
“I got a new mandate from London”
More: listen to the interview »
Boris Johnson used his “chickenfeed” £250,000-per-annum column in the Daily Telegraph today to lobby for lower taxes for millionaires. With Ed Balls pledging a 50p top rate of income tax for those earning more than £150,000, the alumnus of Eton and the Bullingdon Club thundered:
“[Balls and Miliband] don’t understand that our whole economy and society … depends entirely on the willingness of a relatively small number of people to put in the back-breaking hours that will create the companies and drive the innovation that will employ the people whose payrolls yield the taxes that pay for the whole damn caboodle.”
But that’s not all. Boris wants George Osborne’s current top rate cut to 40p:
“Confounded by the recovery, Balls is floundering badly. The Government should open up some more blue water, and cut the top rate back to 40p.”
But what seemed to be missing from the piece was a declaration of interest: Boris is a top rate payer.
As London mayor he earns £143,911. This is topped up with at least £250,000 per year from journalism and other outside interests, bringing his gross annual income to a minimum of £394,000. £244,000 of this will be taxed at the “additional rate” — currently costing him about £109,800.
The exchequer would see an additional £12,200 from Boris if Labour rolled back to Osborne’s old 50p rate. But the mayor’s proposal to reduce it to 40p would save him £12,200.
Doubtless Boris would claim this is a ‘poultry’ sum.
With Scrapbook’s report of a Tory councillor checking share prices in a meeting about mental health cuts going viral yesterday, another shameful picture has emerged from the same council session.
In a snap taken from the public gallery of Kensington Town Hall, Boris Johnson’s aviation adviser Daniel Moylan can be seep playing backgammon on his iPad while his colleagues debated local services hit hard by austerity policies.
Moylan may be familiar to regular readers for spending thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money to have council documents shipped to his holiday home in, errr, Thailand.
With a salary of more than £130,000 he’s also one of the highest paid councillors in the country — but apparently can’t be bothered to pay attention in meetings.
With Boris breaking his pledge on the closure of ticket offices, tube staff at Clapham South station have decided to embarrass the Tory mayor with his transport adviser’s quote on the matter …
… by displaying it on the ‘Service Information’ sign. Nice.
Image via Channel 5 News’ Jack Leather