Boris Johnson was once described as that most unusual of combinations: a highly intelligent individual desperately pretending to look like a befuddled moron. But the act works, and perhaps partly explains the largely positive reviews in British newspaper profiles marking the mayor’s first year in power. But while cataclysm might not have followed when BoJo first cycled through City Hall, writes Ed Howker in our June edition, not much positive has happened either. Running a rule over both Johnson’s original campaign and subsequent legislative achievements, Howker notes:
Early in the campaign, Tory strategists became alarmed by their candidate’s uncertainty and he was privately reprimanded by George Osborne. As the election neared Nicholas Boles, former director of pro-Cameron think-tank Policy Exchange, was parachuted in. Yet Boles’s arrival, which began as an effort to protect the Tory reputation for efficient governance, unintentionally hobbled Johnson’s first year, as City Hall became riddled with factionalism.
This factionalism explains much of the staff turnover which followed post-election, and why the mayor has seemed prone to U-turns on some cherished policies (like his ban on tall buildings) or delays on others (like the ban on bendy buses.) By the end of his two terms Mayor Livingstone might have been less lovable, and marred by corruption scandals. Nonetheless he had established the mayor’s office, and played a hand in congestion charges and the Olympics win. Boris, if he indeed does run again, will have to up his game to have even a chance of being remembered for anything quite so concrete.