Saturday, July 05, 2008

Ray Lewis shows the weakness of the Mayoral system

Tony Travers from the LSE was on the Today programme this morning saying that Boris Johnson's problems with his advisers and deputies is in part caused by the Mayoral system. He had to put together a new administration almost overnight, so it is not such a surprise that he has had problems.

Things would have been very different on a conventionally run council. The new group leader would have appointed his committee chairs from a pool of experienced councillors who had already won a couple of elections in their wards or boroughs. And in the days of the old GLC, some of them would already have been known to anyone with an interest in London politics.

A figure like Ray Lewis, who appears to have a talent for gilding his CV, would have had to have satisfied his local party that he was a suitable candidate. If he had done this and come to such prominence that he looked likely to a committee chair in the new administration, then the local press would certainly have taken an interest in him.

The system was not perfect, but there would certainly have been a better chance of his being weeded out before he attained a position of power. The gimmickry of the Mayoral system, which boasts of the way that it brings in figures from beyond established political parties, makes it far easier for someone like Lewis to prosper.

And is there not a racial element to this too? If a white man had boasted of his "tough love" methods with disaffected youth, I doubt that he would have received such an easy ride from the liberal press or that Boris Johnson would have received such envious glances from the other parties when he appointed him.

Later. My point is supported by a plaintive comment by Iain Dale on his own (notably silly) posting on the subject:
Could you explain just what kind of checks might have been done? Because I am buggered if I know.

I address the JP point. Yes, he was "under suspicion" by the C of E, but how would Boris have known that? And how could his people have found out?

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