Saturday, May 03, 2008

Farewell Then, Ken

Two steps forward, three steps back for London, then. I know I don't live there any more and so I shouldn't care, but I really do.

But now I've got over the horror and embarrassment of seeing someone who thinks it's OK to use the word 'picaninnies' elected to be mayor of what is - or at least was - probably the most successfully multicultural capital city in the whole world, I've decided that Boris and everyone who voted for him have actually done Ken a massive favour.

A third term as mayor would probably have sent him the way of Tony Blair, plus the economy is about to turn nasty and the Olympics are going to be a huge fiasco, as any project of that size is bound to be. So this way Ken will - I hope - avoid all of that and go down in history as one of the boldest and most successful and most genuinely enthusiastic and committed politicians of our time.

Say what you like about Ken, I'm still massively in awe of him for standing up to Blair and the Labour Party, for actually getting the congestion charge up and running, and for genuinely loving and caring about the city he represented. I voted for him in both elections and I'd have done so again this time.

(Somewhat more alarmingly, I've also had a huge crush on him for years.)


Ken: *would*

But if Boris is what Londoners want, who am I to argue? I just hope he - or whoever he puts in to do the job for him, as if that wasn't MASSIVELY CHEATING - manages to do a decent job and doesn't let the whole place down.

Harrumph.


UPDATE: This neatly encapsulates my worst suspicions about a lot of people's motives for voting for Boris. He's funny! He's not Ken! Who cares what he actually thinks, does or stands for?

45 comments:

ScroobiousScrivener said...

Yeah. Harrumph. I loved Ken, I did. Oh well.

It's all your fault for buggering off to Cornwall and not voting, you know.

Annie said...

We don't want him, no we don't. It's like the olden days when nobody would admit to buying Lady in Red and yet it still went to Number One - it makes you think, who ARE these people?

I like Ken too, especially for the speech he gave after the July 7th bombing.

chatterbox said...

I'm torn between hoping he does a terrible job so that people think carefully before the general election, and hoping he does a reasonable job so I don't feel embarrassed at loving London so much.

chatterbox said...

Oh, and Ken - would. A fact I find extremely disturbing

cello said...

I'm in mourning. Ken was my MP once and sat in my garden drinking pink champagne and commented on our pond. He was enormously brave and clever - and still is!

I'm sure Boris can be charming but he really is an Etonian chump. I'm not a class warrior and he can't help having been to Eton, but he can help acting as if he's never left.

I'm trying to console myself that there might be fewer bendy buses which Ken's only silliness.

patroclus said...

Scroobious: sadly it would have needed a *lot* of ex-Londoners to come back to vote...

Annie: Best analogy EVER. And yes, I like the way he rejected the speech that had been written for him and just said what he thought.

Chatterbox: The next election is looking like a bit of a foregone conclusion already, tragically.

Cello: Did he trawl the pond for newts? I know several people who went to Eton who are the epitome of decency and humility and concern for their fellow human beings, so I know for a fact they aren't all bad. But the prospect of having two of that crew from the Bullingdon Club in two very senior political positions doesn't exactly point to a massive triumph for social mobility.

Sarah said...

Yeah, you don't really get the feeling that Boris cares about affordable housing or public transport, do you?

patroclus said...

Yes, the sad thing is that house prices are on the brink of collapsing anyway, thus making housing in London instantly more 'affordable'. As soon as the banks start giving out mortgages again the whole thing will no doubt be chalked up as a huge triumph for Bozza.

NB I apologise for the inexcusable number of times I seem to have used the words 'huge' and 'massive' in this post and comments thread.

Semaphore said...

That is a silver lining, I suppose. But if the stupid twat hadn't been running, we might have had someone new AND not a total eejit. AAUUGH. And all those people who voted for him because "he's not Ken" - well, this is where I start getting all dictatorial and scary and saying "No, you're stupid, no votes for you!"

Well, anyway. We've survived many things before - bombs, fire, plague, charitable muggers - so let's hope that we can survive just another upper-class twit wanting to take our lunch-money. *fingers crossed*

Betty said...

Ken is one of the last people to have held political office in recent years who has had concrete ideas and opinions. The way to get by in politics now is to avoid saying that you're going to do anything and be as vague and uncontroversial as possible. The people who've voted for Boris seem to be repeating the mantra "We just need a change! It's time for a change!" Er, but I don't think they're sure what exactly it is they want to change ...

thedonething said...

Charlie Brooker also wrote perceptively about the Boris factor. Not clever enough to link to it here, but it was in the Guardian recently and shouldn't be too difficult to find.

Sums things up, really.

Tim Footman said...

Patroclus: Three Bullingdons. That scrote George Osborne (the one who looks about 12) was one as well.

patroclus said...

Semaphore: Yes - when even the Economist says that Ken is the lesser of the two evils, you have to wonder about the wisdom of anyone voting for Boris.

Betty: Exactly...or whether the change is going to be for the better, or for the worse.

TDT: Allow me - Charlie Brooker's column can be read in all its glory here. Incidentally I wonder how many Londoners would have voted for Charlie Brooker if he'd stood.

Tim: Blimey, I didn't realise he was one as well.

Lettuce Hater said...

very disappointing indeed

thank gawd i skipped town two years ago...

chuffy! said...

Bromley and Bexley is a London constituency, and somehow not a Kent one. They voted for Johnson by a majority of 82,000. Redbridge and Sutton are also apparently in London. So we're getting their Mayor this time, though they've had ours for the last few years. Probably a case of local democracy not being local enough. (NW5 should of course secede from the city Passport-to-Pimlico-style, to be run by Jon Snow and Trigger from 'Only Fools and Horses'.)

patroclus said...

LH: A wise move - I'm glad I've decamped as well.

Chuffy!: Yes, there's a certain irony to the fact that thousands of Boris voters probably hardly ever set foot in the actual city.

chuffy! said...

I have a shortlist of three places to move to now, should it come to it (any of these locations will be excluded from the reckoning should Zoe Williams or Alan Rickman get there first): San Sebastian; Biarritz; (somewhat less specifically) Canada.

Rome is now out of consideration because their new Mayor is an *actual* fascist, as opposed to nursery one.

Can anyone help?

patroclus said...

Out of those I'd choose Canada: it has the best indie-pop bands.

GreatSheElephant said...

I somehow feel that Boris's election was the only decent piece of news that Gordon Brown had last week.

I had mixed feelings about Ken - admiration at his acheievements mixed with extreme distaste about his anti-semitism and fawning on the islamofascists.

Boris, as I've repeated ad nauseam elsewhere is nowhere near as a)stupid and b)pleasant as he makes out. Any gaffes can be blamed on not giving a fuck rather than being a bumbling oaf.

I actually dreamt about having sex with Boris the other night.

GreatSheElephant said...

did I kill the thread?

Boz said...

Poor old Ernold Same.

Geoff said...

Ken did get 40,000 votes (20%) in Bexley & Bromley so we're not all selfish Tories.

But Ken was my only chance to vote for a winner. Now that's been taken away from me I feel that old 80s political wilderness creeping up on me. My vote won't count for years to come.

Proportional representation now, Gordon Brown!

patroclus said...

GSE: Not at all, your comment threw me into a bit of a moral dilemma which I thought about for such a long time that I had to go and make some blueberry muffins to distract myself, and then I had to eat the muffins (because Dan Lepard specified 'eat while still warm' in the recipe, only there were 18 of them, so this was something of a challenge), and now I'm back. And in conclusion: I agree that Ken has done and said some deeply questionable things, but I still think he's done a far better job for London than Boris ever will.

Brrr to your dream, though. Was he any good?

Boz: I don't know who Ernold Same is, but yes.

Geoff: Well done to you. I can barely imagine what a return to Tory rule is going to be like, especially combined with an economic recession. Well, I can imagine - it'll be like 1992 all over again. Oh god, please don't let that mean I have to drink Special Brew in the garden because I can't afford to go to the pub. Especially if I have to listen to Candy Flip at the same time.

GreatSheElephant said...

yes*.

it's about time I found a boyfriend

*shudder*

*In real life this seems unlikely.

Jayne said...

I'm SO depressed. Mostly 'cause I'm old enough to remember when bloody Thatcher got in. And then had to live through the hideousness of being a student in the 80's.

I think I need a drink. Or two.

Betty said...

I think I can cope (just about) with another five hundred years of Tory rule, but the thought of having to listen to Candy Flip again may well be the tipping point, and I'll have to leave the country.

Boz said...

Patroclus - you'll remember by looking here.

cello said...

Some of best friends are old Etonians. I didn't mean to imply that they were loathsome at all. But they all seem to share the attitude that life is just a jolly jape, and, you know, sometimes it really isn't.

Ken only commented on our pond by saying that there was a Twix wrapper stuck in the weed. He knew better than to expect newts in Willesden Green.

cello said...

The Twix wrapper was not ours by the way. I only eat Kit-Kats. Sometimes we got left empty Guinness cans, but only in the front garden. Ah, the joys of urban life. It's a long time since I've had any decent rubbish gifted.

GreatSheElephant said...

JESUS. I just went to Quin rather than Quad by mistake. Those are mighty strong pregnancy hormones, I thought, before realising my mistake.

Back to Boris - I have to admit, to my lasting shame, of a tiny hint of schadenfreude now I am safely ensconced north of the border. Is that so very wrong of me?

GreatSheElephant said...

'to a' not of a.
brrr

Sylvia said...

My catchphrase for the next four years will be "Don't blame me - I didn't vote for Boris!"

Changing the subject, P, did you see the Family Section of last Sat's Guardian? Article all about your clothing dilemma! In fact, did you send in the enquiry???

patroclus said...

GSE: The old quinquireme.blogspot site doesn't look half as bad as it used to when it was first overtaken by the panty fetishists. Although coincidentally the reason I lost it in the first place had everything to do with hormones - I moved the blog during a particularly severe bout of PMT in Oct 2006.

Sylvia: That wasn't me, as I don't read the Family section (apart from that time they did a lovely article about ex-Mr P and his brothers). But I've just located it online and laughed at the notion that 'some women find they need very little maternity wear, if any at all'. Hohoho. No, it wasn't so much the finding of maternity clothes that was bothering me, it was the finding of maternity clothes made for very short women. Fortunately Next and Mothercare have come up with the goods, though.

cello said...

I'm now having to process the image of you in Mothercare...

Sylvia said...

OOh Mothercare - I remember it well.... For a brief time in my life it was the most important shop ever and then fortunately it all flew by and I haven't had to go in there for nearly a decade! Still, the barbie ballet costume I bought in there for next to nothing is still going strong somewhere, and my friend the world champion bargain hunter bought me a fab christening dress there for £1 - she found it at the bottom on a bargain bucket! Alas, last baby had to use my brother's 1960s bri nylon one, and she kept slipping through my arms, bless her....

Hey, how did we get on to this?

Glad you have found something to wear. All these pinafore tops that are in fashion must be useful too, at least for a short while...

Day 2 of the Boris administration - apparently he's been in meetings....we await news of our fate.

Malc said...

I live considerably closer to Oslo than London, so really shouldn't care less who runs a city stuck in a distant corner of the UK.

However, Ken was one of a dying breed of principled politicians. Anyone who takes on first Thatcher and then Blair is welcome to tea at my house any time he likes.

james henry said...

Cello, if it's okay with you, I'm totally nicking that "life is just a jolly jape" thing for the second to last line of the thing I'm currently writing, because that summed up everything I was trying to say. Perhaps I could recompense you by doing some gardening?

Marsha said...

I've been terribly upset by this (Boris being elected I mean, not your post). Odd, really given that I live in Edinburgh. I think it's just the feeling that there's so much worse to come.

"probably the most successfully multicultural capital city in the whole world" - completely agree. I've said this for a long time. And as for the congestion charge, well Ken succeded where the City of Edinburgh Council failed (and in a much, much larger and more diverse city).

I'd vote for Charlie Brooker for pretty much any office.

nuttycow said...

If I completely disagree with you P, am I still allowed to read your blog ;)

I think Boris will be a good Mayor. I don't think it's fair to judge him before he's had a chance to prove himself.

patroclus said...

Hello nuttcow - I have no problem at all with people voting for Boris if they think he'll genuinely do a good job for London (he may do, but as a thousand other people have pointed out, he hasn't run anything in his life apart from the Spectator, and the Spectator and London are two wildly different propositions).

It's the people who voted for him 'because he's funny' or to have a go at Gordon Brown that annoy me.

James said...

Interesting browsing all these comments in support of Ken. I think Nuttycow was the only one to speak up for Boris.

I'm not a Londoner, so I haven't really followed what Ken has or hasn't done while in office. But the general impression I got was that he was a bit of a toe rag. When I did catch a bit of the mayoral debates on Newsnight I found Ken to be a touch defensive and I didn't like it when he admitted to only supporting the London 2012 bid so he could get regeneration money for certain areas of London (something he didn't declare at the time).

So out of interest for anyone who cares to... What things did Ken achieve during his 8 years in office? Why are people so unhappy to see him go?

p.s. I will be watching with interest to see how Boris does over the next 4 years.

patroclus said...

For me it was all about the way Ken stood up to Tony Blair in the early days, the genuine love he had for the city, and the fact that he actually managed to introduce the congestion charge, and it actually worked.

Getting something like that through in a city with the size and complexity of London is a breathtaking achievement. I've managed a lot of projects in my time and I would have been willing to bet everything I had that the congestion charge would never get up and running - but it did.

It makes you think that the Olympics and Crossrail would have had a fighting chance of success as well under Ken. Boris has no track record of managing enormous, complex infrastructure projects, so I don't feel the same confidence in him.

I liked all of Ken's transport policies and achievements - the tubes seemed to get better in his time, there were always buses when you needed them, and he was always looking for ways to make transport cleaner, cheaper and more efficient for Londoners. I was even (one of a minority, I think!) in favour of the Ealing to Shep Bush tram for those very reasons.

I can see how people would think he was being duplicitous about the Olympics bid - but as Jayne said earlier, the East End badly needs investment and it was Ken's job as mayor to make sure it got it. He always seemed to side with Londoners (especially less fortunate people Londoners) rather than pushing a political agenda, and I really liked that.

I don't remember anything about the way he handled the Tube bombings because that was the week my marriage broke up and I was in a state - but I know many others admired the way he handled that too, speaking as a genuine fellow Londoner, and not as a politician.

patroclus said...

NB Just to clarify, Jayne made that comment about East London on James's blog, rather than here.

Lucy Diamond said...

Oh, I liked Ken too. Wouldn't go as far as *would* though...ewww...

Sean McManus said...

It was great that Ken stood up to Blair and Labour, but I can't help thinking that he'd still be mayor if he'd stayed independent. To be beaten by Boris, there must have been a big protest vote against Labour in among the genuine votes for either candidate.