Boris Johnson’s London Tories in trouble again

This video from England is called Ken Livingstone on Boris Johnson.

From British daily The Independent:

The South Bank show: Chaos in the court of King Boris

The new Mayor of London was meant to be David Cameron‘s man in City Hall. But the axing of Tim Parker shows that he is determined to be his own person – whatever Central Office thinks

By Edward Howker and Paul Vallely

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Norman Foster‘s ultra-modern glass and steel City Hall stands incongruously against the regal architecture of the Tower of London where medieval knights and nobles once vied for royal favour. There may be no Traitor’s Gate, with heads on spikes, outside the more modern centre of political power, but the penalty of falling out of favour in Boris Johnson’s court can be just as swiftly executed.

That much is clear from the defenestration of the man whom many took to be the right-hand adviser to the Mayor of London. Tim Parker is Boris’s third adviser to be thrown to the crows from the eighth floor of City Hall in as many months.

How swiftly the wheel turns. Only last month, Mr Parker was busy briefing members of the press that he was First Deputy Mayor among equals, a business supremo who was the answer to all London’s problems. He had taken the office next to the Mayor’s own on the east side of the building and seemed to believe himself unassailable.

But if he had only raised an eye from his cost-cutting review of the Greater London Authority, he would have seen a nemesis lurking behind a desk on the other side of the room. For he had been obliged to share the office that had once belonged to Ken Livingstone’s chief executive with Sir Simon Milton, King Boris’s very own knight, and Deputy Mayor for Policy and Planning. Sir Simon, City Hall insiders say, has performed nothing short of a very British coup.

It is all very embarrassing for the Conservative Party, for there are many who look to the Court of King Boris (Eton, Oxford and the Bullingdon club) and see it as a showcase for what would happen if the country were to elect David Cameron (Eton, Oxford and Bullingdon) as prime minister. King Boris has had an error-prone first 100 days.

First, Bob Diamond departed rapidly as chair of the Mayor’s Fund. Then senior political adviser James McGrath went after remarks to the effect that Caribbean immigrants should be allowed to go home if they did not like London under the new mayor. Next Ray Lewis resigned as Deputy Mayor after allegations of sexual and financial misconduct and falsely claiming to be a magistrate. Now Mr Johnson’s chief of staff has resigned. It all gives rather an unfortunate impression, for those who look to London for an idea of how the Tories might also run the country.

Tim Parker is a man who exudes ruthless competence. He had amassed a personal fortune of £70m-plus as a hard-nosed cost-cutter at businesses such as Clarks Shoes, Kwik-Fit and the AA. His zeal for asset-stripping was such that he had earned the nickname in the business world of the Prince of Darkness, most notoriously for his three years as chief executive of the AA. He had been put in there by venture capitalists who raised just £500m of the £1.75bn needed to buy the business, saddling the previously buoyant company with a whopping £1.3bn debt.

Mr Parker then set about a slash-and-burn approach to management. He sacked 4,000 of the 10,000 staff and placed 2,000 call centre workers under “dataveillance”, watching them on CCTV, logging all key-strokes made on their computers and scheduling lavatory breaks. At the end he presided over the £6bn sale of the business in a lucrative merger with the travel and insurance company Saga, which personally earned him £40m.

The fear of many was that he would do a similar slash-and-burn at the Greater London Authority.

‘Boris Island’, as the weekend press have nicknamed Boris Johnson’s idea for an airport next to the Isle of Sheppey, has been conclusively proven to be a complete non-starter ecologically, environmentally and economically: here.

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