Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Why is Boris bad for the Bush?


Because he works very much like our Council, sadly, on planning issues. Does this affect everyone? No. Is it therefore the reason why many of you should choose Ken over Boris? No. So am I, in this brief piece trying to persuade all of you to vote for Ken? Well, sort of I suppose but you’re all grown ups and don’t need any advice from me on that score.

So it’s a personal choice and I voted for Ken last week (I have a postal vote) on the basis that I have lived in W12 for over a decade now and think the things that make this place one of the best little corners in this fantastic city is its’ people, and its’ character.

Like Shepherd’s Bush Market and the Goldhawk Road terrace of historic shops. Zippy’s Café, with its’ 1950s original décor and the pie & mash shop which has been in the family for nigh on a century. All handed over on a plate against the express wishes of the owners to a property developer to make some more cash on, in order to build a high rise of luxury flats instead. The former owners become enforced tenants inhabiting boutique style modern units and paying as yet unspecificed levels of rent to Orion the new landlords.

Or the West Kensington Estate. Inhabited by what is clearly a majority of residents who want where they live to stay as it is, as one 9 year old girl expressed in terms clearer and more direct than much of the propaganda from both sides squabbling over the development. The fact is there is a vibrant community there and they don’t fancy being handed over on a plate either, with many leaseholders being forced to leave the area as a result.

In both cases I would make two observations – firstly our Council has either ignored the residents completely or pumped our money into front organisations which parrot the official line, and which Boris backs to the hilt. And secondly the Mayor has been dishonest in his public accounts of what he has been up to, claiming to stand up for residents while signing papers giving the official go-ahead.

On King Street he poses as having blocked the massively unpopular King Street redevelopment - again involving evictions to be replaced with luxury flats - and yet leaked documents reveal clearly that our Council are in cahoots with him and will re-introduce this scheme the moment he is re-elected.The fact the documents were marked "top secret" and "exempt from Freedom of Information requests" tells you all you need to know about our Council and Boris' committment to be upfront with you.

To me this is a case of the little person being ridden roughshod over and I don’t much like it. Not least because if you look at other more faceless areas of London you can see where it leads to.

So what about Ken? He is far, far, far from perfect. He introduced the Western congestion zone ignoring local residents, he whacked up fares after promising not to and there remain questions about his tax arrangements. It is instructive that much of his campaign has had to be about persuading members of the Labour Party to vote for the Labour candidate.

But consider some of the other differences. Ken actually wants to do something about the air pollution that hit the maximum possible level in W12 just a couple of weeks ago. Boris doesn’t. Ken will likely act as a balance to the bulldozer approach our Council seems to adopt to residents in the North of our borough and force them to be listened to (not agreed with necessarily – but listened to). Ken wants to cut tube fares which seem to spiral ever upwards while service quality plummets. Boris doesn’t. He wants to use the cash on tax payer funded vanity projects like cable cars instead.

That’s why I think for the Bush, and for London, it’s worth holding your nose, as the Labour Party said recently, and vote for Ken. But even if you can’t bring yourself to do that it might be worth remembering that you have three votes in this election – one for the Mayor, one for your constituency Assembly Member and one for the London-wide list.

Even a majority on the Assembly that is able to actively hold Boris to account would be better than nothing – so you may wish to think carefully about where to put your crosses on Thursday.

29 comments:

  1. Nick Batchelor1 May 2012 11:05

    And just so there is an opposing view from someone else who also lives in Shepherds Bush (and for a lot longer than 10 years).

    I for one am actually up for the proposed redevelopment of both Shepherds Bush and Kings Street, as are nearly all of the other bush-dwellers I know.

    On top of that I am also pleased about the introduction of Boris Bikes into the area and think the cost of bring them here is negligible in comparison to the improvements to transport and air quality they will bring.

    I'm also a fan of the freeze in council tax and the reduction we in Hammersmith & Fulham have enjoyed this year. Admittedly I would like lower transport fares, but I am not stupid enough to believe someone when they say they will cut fares and it not have an effect on the redevelopment of the tube network; especially when they have lied over fares before.

    I’m also looking forward to having a mayor who will stand up to the transport unions and hopefully introduce driverless trains so London can’t be held to ransom by Ken’s pal Bob Crow. And hopefully we can then enjoy lower tube fares when we stop spending two-thirds of the tube’s budget on wages.

    As for vanity projects; I personally am glad for such things as it is projects like the cable car that make London stand out across the world. Where would London be without the wheel, surely the greatest and extremely successful vanity project in town to date? I’m also rather pleased the Emirates are chipping in towards the cable car to the tune of £36m.

    Finally, I’m also of the opinion that the mayor not only has a great influence on policy, but is also a representative of our great city. As Chris mentioned above, even he had to hold his nose whilst voting for Ken (and in case you hadn’t picked up on it he is very anti-Boris). In a year when the world will be looking at us because of the Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee, I’d hate for them to see Ken.

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    1. "I for one am actually up for the proposed redevelopment of both Shepherds Bush and Kings Street, as are nearly all of the other bush-dwellers I know".

      How many have you spoken to? Not many people want the King Street development yet you appear to make the claim that it is universally desired.

      "I’m also looking forward to having a mayor who will stand up to the transport unions and hopefully introduce driverless trains so London can’t be held to ransom by Ken’s pal Bob Crow. And hopefully we can then enjoy lower tube fares when we stop spending two-thirds of the tube’s budget on wage".

      Typical right-wing drivel. Driverless trains will only increase the numbers of fatal accidents on the Tube. Indeed since the guards were removed, accidents rose. As for your tendentious and somewhat histrionic point about the RMT "holding London to ransom", how does a one-day tube drivers strike "hold London to ransom"? I don't feel as though I am being "held to ransom" but then, those on the right are rather prone to making such leaps of logic. Of course, the right have always despised trade unions.

      "As for vanity projects; I personally am glad for such things as it is projects like the cable car that make London stand out across the world".

      You actually admit that the cable car is a vanity project. Wow! That's something. But answer me this, how does the cable car improve the lives of ordinary Londoners?

      "Finally, I’m also of the opinion that the mayor not only has a great influence on policy, but is also a representative of our great city. As Chris mentioned above, even he had to hold his nose whilst voting for Ken (and in case you hadn’t picked up on it he is very anti-Boris). In a year when the world will be looking at us because of the Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee, I’d hate for them to see Ken.

      Council leaders have more power than London's mayor. I'd much rather see a return of the GLC to be honest.

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    2. Nick Batchelor1 May 2012 15:41

      I can hardly be accused of claiming universal desire for the Kings Street scheme if I preface my statement with "nearly all of the other bush-dwellers I know". Am sure that there are people out there against both the Hammersmith & Goldhawk Rd developments; it's just that I personally haven't met many of them.

      Given that the tube is such an essential part of London life, carrying over 3 million passengers a day, I think any threatened strike can be described as holding London to ransom and I think most Londoners (obviously excluding those who work for the tube) share that view point. Next time there is the threat of a strike; see if the average Londoner/business feels held to ransom. As for safety, I haven't done full and extensive research, but as far as I am aware there are over 30 driverless trains in use around the world (including in London) so surely it must be possible to run them safely?

      As for vanity projects, it was Chris who referred to the cable car as a vanity project, personally I wouldn’t have necessarily used that term. I do concede that it of course could turn into a bit of a failure with the locals, but only time will tell. However let’s not forget the tourists who form a large part of London’s economy. I personally have never been on the London eye, but can see the benefit it brings to London. However my main point was that Chris had neglected to mention that this particular project has secured £36m in private sponsorship and isn’t entirely tax payer funded.

      A fair point about the GLC, but I can also see the benefit of having a single individual that represents the city.

      Happy voting all...

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    3. First, workers have a right to join a trade union. Second, the point of taking industrial action is to inconvenience people. There is little point going on strike in the wee hours of the morning because no one would notice. I have no problem with tube drivers going on strike because they have a very good reason for doing so. The Evening Standard and the rest of the Tory-supporting press regards unions as evil entities and would take us back to the days of the Combination Laws if they could. Machines aren't better than humans because they are created by humans and need to be told what to do. The "average Londoner/business" only feels that they're being "held to ransom" because the Tory-supporting press tells them this. This is also mediated by the vox pops used on strike days when the BBC takes great care to include only those interviews with those people who are against the strike. In France, there would be widespread support for striking workers. In Britain, we've been encouraged to make them our enemies.

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    4. I too favour redevelopment of both King Street and the Market. It's not healthy for a city to be preserved in aspic and the best that can be said for what might be lost is that it's homely.

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    5. You've got to love these 'anonymous' posters.

      It isn't healthy for a city to force people out of their homes so that a certain party can dole out construction contracts to its chums.

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    6. I didn't say I favoured any particular redevelopment scheme and I definitely didn't say that forcing people out of their homes was a good idea. Just that King Street and Shepherd's Bush market both could do with being revedeloped. My anonymity doesn't give you a licence to misrepresent what I wrote.

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    7. Sadly the redevelopments as they stand will gut the area in an artless way. The proposals for the market are absurd and will turn it from a working street market into a kind of middle-class parody of one.

      Redevelopment itself is not the issue, but rather sensitivity to locals and surroundings. Cleaning up and redeveloping the market doesn't mean that local, old businesses (that are also places of cultural interest as well) should be demolished. Redeveloping the town hall should not mean destroying a cinema, a home for the blind and blighting Furnival Gardens.

      There is zero sensitivity in any of these proposals (one closer to my heart is the West Ken redevelopment which, if it goes ahead, will see my Gran turfed out of her home so some yuppie apartments can go up - brilliant) and anyone who promises to stop them or at least seriously look at them again will get my vote.

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  2. Those are all perfectly legitimate points (apart from the willy waving about how long you've been in the Bush!)

    My argument is basically about local people being ridden roughshod over and ignored in favour of the 'big picture' - yours seems to be that the 'big picture' is the right one. Both are fair points of view.

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  3. There are at least 5 other candidates standing for the Mayoral election, y'know.

    Democracy shouldn't always have to come down to the Boris vs Ken debate.

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  4. I have to second Nick Batchelor's post (apart from the wheel which makes london like a theme park). I also have been living in the borough for over a decade and I am born in London too - more willy waving Chris, but you started it!

    I find the recent succession of anti-Boris posts just sad and pathetic. They are probably doing more harm to your cause than good. Really! Especially in the context of the polls pointing to larger Boris win than last time.

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  5. depends which poll you read - and I note you dont address any of the issues

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  6. Nick Batchelor1 May 2012 14:12

    Excuse the willy waving; uncalled for but I just wanted to make the point that I've not just moved into the area since Westfield arrived.

    Appreciate your point about local people and in an ideal world I'd love if the bush could be redeveloped in a way that would make everyone happy. From my point of view it would be nice to get the area spruced up and some of its rougher edges cleaned up so more people around London would feel comfortable visiting it.

    Anyway, though we obviously have different political leanings and I can't bring myself to say good luck, here's hoping Ken is a close 2nd to Boris. Also keep up the work with the blog; most of the time I am a big fan.

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  7. I completely agree with Nick B's points and, from my point of view, buddyhell's counter-arguments don't convince me at all.

    I'll be voting for Boris because:

    a) I think his policies will prove to benefit the greater number of Londoners, including those in W12, in the long-term

    b) Ken is a self-serving, lying, mendacious, joke of a candidate who can't even convince his own party to vote for him

    See you all in the polling station!

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    1. "buddyhell's counter-arguments don't convince me at all"

      "I disagree but I won't say why" is the message that I am receiving here.

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  8. All good debate! And good to see we can have it in a reasonably friendly way - so much credit to Nick for that

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  9. To me all politicians are generally the same Untruthful B****rds. What to me sets Ken and Boris apart is this.

    Boris is an opportunist. Would he rather be Chancelor, deputy PM or PM. YES!! Is the London mayor role a good platform for him to move onto other better things. YES!! Does that mean he would be bad at his job? Not necessarily but it does bring into question his sincerity at caring for Londoners.

    Ken on the other hand (for all his failings) has made it his life's work/mission to serve London. Even when he wasn't elected he still continued to visit the London assembly. There is something admirable about that but does not guarantee he will do the job well of course.

    What we need it to be able to control who either of these two front men employ to do the work. Lets face it they are just the fronts for all the work that is done by others. Its the selection of these others that is key to what will happen and do we have control of that no do we actually have democracy no!

    I'm left thinking its all a farce and you might as well give the job to the person who wants it most and that by default is Ken.

    On a side issue... Who would I rather make speeches on London's behalf during the Olympics? Boris of course but that's no reason to vote him in.

    as for willy waving... I've lived here across 4 decades and was born here too... I know enough people here to know I'm still a junior.

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  10. There are other candidates out there but once again their lack of quality, or campaigning, has left us with the same 2 as last time. I'd love for there to be a 3rd or even 4th candidate that invigorated the voting base.

    I wasn't too impressed with comments above regarding the tubes. Buddyhell said that driverles tubes will lead to deaths on the underground but they seem to be working perfectly well on the DLR. And when the RMT go on strike it costs the city well in excess of £50m a day - so I would most certainly consider this ransom.

    I wrote down a list of policies for the top 2 candidates and then fact checked them all in order to see who got my vote. It took a bit of time but in all honesty I will be voting for Boris. Kens policies are impossible to go through with and he has the rather unfortunate luck to have broken his own policies the last time he was mayor. Perhaps Labour should have chosen somebody better!

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    1. "I wasn't too impressed with comments above regarding the tubes. Buddyhell said that driverles tubes will lead to deaths on the underground but they seem to be working perfectly well on the DLR. And when the RMT go on strike it costs the city well in excess of £50m a day - so I would most certainly consider this ransom"

      Actually, the driverless trains on the DLR don't work that well and have to be operated 'from the front' by a Passenger Service Operative on many an occasion. So, no, driverless trains are not flawless. There is an attitude that machines can do things better than humans. That simply isn't true. May I introduce you to the self-service checkout?

      The Royal Wedding also cost London in lost revenue but it's funny how people would much rather complain about trade unions going on strike. I only wish my union was like the RMT.

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    2. "I only wish my union was like the RMT."

      Thank God all the unions aren't like the RMT. If they were we'd lose countless working days to strikes, the economy would be in an even worse position and inflation would rocket - savings would vanish and the pound in your pocket would gradually become worthless.

      Unions are, all things considered, a good thing. But the RMT overplays its hand. People don't feel held to ransom because the 'Tory press' tells them to feel that - incidentally that displays a very negative view of people's ability to think for themselves - they feel their own livelihoods are affected by a union working purely in the interests of its members, with a complete disregard for the greater London population. As I understand it, most people feel that tube drivers get a more than fair package of pay, holiday etc and it is simply a step too far to hinder other people's livelihoods to try and get more.

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    3. I always find it interesting how so many people are far more willing to attack unions but never ask any questions of management.

      The RMT does a good job for its members.

      "People don't feel held to ransom because the 'Tory press' tells them to feel that - incidentally that displays a very negative view of people's ability to think for themselves"

      Nonsense and you clearly haven't worked out what is meant by the word "mediated".

      " they feel their own livelihoods are affected by a union working purely in the interests of its members"

      Unions are supposed to look after the interests of their members. What else are they for? To suck up to management and to cave in everytime somebody says "boo" to them? Please, you clearly haven't grasped how unions work.

      " As I understand it, most people feel that tube drivers get a more than fair package of pay, holiday etc and it is simply a step too far to hinder other people's livelihoods to try and get more"

      Who is "most people" and why do you presume to speak for this 'majority'? Tube drivers get far less than bankers and other rentier capitalists, who produce nothing at all. London is an expensive place to live but I don't think a tube driver's comes close to that earned under false pretences by bankers.

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    4. So T, I noticed how you avoided my point about the DLR and its driverless trains.Why?

      I bet you didn't see this either.
      http://www.wharf.co.uk/2011/05/man-dies-after-being-hit-by-dl.html

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    5. Hi buddyhell. I'm Chris doesn't want these threads to turn into single-issue debates but I suppose I should answer your questions.

      TfL management - I agree, questions need to be asked of management, not just the RMT.

      Mediated - please tell me what you mean by mediated.

      Purely in the interest etc - you missed out the second bit of my sentence, "with a complete disregard for the greater London population". I agree that unions exist purely to further their members' interests. Where the RMT oversteps the mark is it puts those members' interests above the well-being of a vast number of other people.

      Most people - I probably didn't phrase myself right, I don't presume to speak for the majority, it's just my opinion based on my personal observations. And I don't support the bankers either, apart from the ones that actively invest in the wider economy (try working out how the internet, the computer you're typing on and the clothes you're wearing would exist were it not for profit-seeking investment).

      Driverless trains - I haven't seen any data to support the argument either way so I couldn't comment. And one example of a death with no information on the cause of death isn't a very compelling argument.

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    6. Buddyhell, you fudged your answer. You previously said driverless trains would "only increase the numbers of fatal accidents on the Tube" and now you're saying it isn't flawless. Which one was it?

      So are you saying that a national celebration that cost the city revenue - but also bought in revenue (tourism) is equal to industrial action taken by Bob Crow in which everybody suffered? Not to mention Crow threatened action over this event as well. I'm at a loss to why anybody would want to defend the RMT and I have suffered at their hands a great many times whilst I've been resident in the UK.

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    7. "Buddyhell, you fudged your answer. You previously said driverless trains would "only increase the numbers of fatal accidents on the Tube" and now you're saying it isn't flawless. Which one was it"?

      You're trying to split hairs here for the sake of semantics.

      "So are you saying that a national celebration that cost the city revenue - but also bought in revenue (tourism) is equal to industrial action taken by Bob Crow in which everybody suffered"?

      This is pure sophistry.

      "Not to mention Crow threatened action over this event as well. I'm at a loss to why anybody would want to defend the RMT and I have suffered at their hands a great many times whilst I've been resident in the UK".

      You tell me that you've "suffered"? How have you suffered? But your comment relies heavily on the Tory press's position with regards to collective bargaining and the right of a worker to withdraw their labour. In other words, workers are there to be exploited and should not seek to organise themselves to fight for a better deal.

      Are you a member of a union by any chance or are you one of those people who thinks of unions as 'outdated'?

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    8. You didn't answer my question about the driverless tubes. A glib reply doesn't suffice. Either there's deaths or not. Simple.

      I suffered financially. My company suffered financially. My colleagues suffered. Stress. One personal injury from finding alternatives to the tube.
      Considering the tube drivers signed a contract stating they would be given more pay for working "unsociable hours" only for them to drop tools when told they will have to work a bank holiday - I am surprised there are any supporters of them left.. oh wait. Unions are relevant, but the RMT is doing all it can to change that image.

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  11. When the conservatives nationally increased public spending at a lower rate than labour had planned, they were accused of "savage cuts".

    So, what exactly is Ken's plan if not "savage cuts" to transport?

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  12. "Mediated - please tell me what you mean by mediated".

    Google is your friend. Look it up.

    "I agree that unions exist purely to further their members' interests. Where the RMT oversteps the mark is it puts those members' interests above the well-being of a vast number of other people".

    The union has a duty to its membership who are also, coincidentally, Londoners.

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    1. Mediated - I understand what it means. I was just asking for clarity on what your interpretation is. You said, "The 'average Londoner/business' only feels that they're being 'held to ransom' because the Tory-supporting press tells them this." My point was that you clearly feel that people are unable to think for themselves without the nefarious influence of the press... I disagree. What has mediation got to do with this?

      Of course unions have a duty to their membership but the point is that only a tiny proportion of Londoners are members of the RMT. The fact that all RMT members are also Londoners doesn't really have any relevance to your argument.

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