Boris Wants You To Look The Other Way

The House of Commons Transport Select Committee published its report into the disruption caused to London’s transport system by the heavy snowfalls in February this year. Predictably its been fairly critical of Boris’s role in managing the impact of the incident. You’ll remember his appearance in front of the committee – its the occasion he threatened to flounce out of the meeting when the questioning got a bit too tough. So perhaps just as predictably its not a surprise that Boris has pronounced himself not too impressed with their conclusions. Calling the report

“partisan and wholly opportunistic”

the BBC also reports his spokesman saying:

“With the benefit of hindsight it is even clearer to the Mayor that putting buses on icy roads, which could not be cleared, would have been irresponsible, dangerous and potentially lethal. The Mayor is pleased that today we are arguing over a select committee report, rather than giving evidence at an inquest into why Londoners have been injured unnecessarily on the icy roads.”

Whilst the first comment can be dismissed as politics as usual, the second is a piece of deliberate misdirection that would make Derren Brown proud.


Having read the report, in particular, the sections that relate to the Mayor, at no time is there any suggestion that safety should have been compromised. Unless I’ve missed it in the small print, the suggestion that Boris should have been out on the streets of London in the early hours of the February 2nd with a cattle prod herding unwilling transport operatives into their vehicles, does not exist. Its simply a way of changing the subject from his failings. Indeed the report says:

“The Committee does not, as the Mayor seemed to imply, consider that more meetings before the snow fell would have been a panacea for the problems London faced on 1 and 2 February. Nor do we suggest that operational decisions after snow falls should be overruled by the Mayor.” [My Italics]

What certainly is in the report is a very valid criticism that London lacked visible leadership over those two days and that Boris seems unconcerned by this. Regardless of whether the ultimate decision would still have been different with his participation, the evidence is that he should have engaged. Its the equivalent of a CEO of large business letting his direct reports flounder with no strategic direction, whilst the shareholders (us) look on in dismay as company goes down the pan.

Is this likely to change? Not any time soon seemingly. The other theme of the report is Boris extreme sensitivity to any level of scrutiny. There’s a bit of a pattern here: no press conferences, the Keith Vaz incident and now his antics in front of the committee. Its apparant he’s just not a good listener.

We deserved better, more visible leadership – its concerning Boris doesn’t see that. Maybe he doesn’t believe he can do it, which ought to be a warning for us all. If he wants a few useful hints and tips I can recommend a good book.

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