An A-Z of Boris's first 100 days

When Londoners elected Boris Johnson Mayor of London, it was one of the political turnarounds of the decade. How would Boris, seen by some as an error-prone entertainer, compare with Ken Livingstone, once the political operator who seemingly could do little wrong? Andy McSmith gives an ABC guide to the new boy's performance so far
Click to follow
The Independent Online

A is for Alcohol

Mr Johnson's first act as Mayor was to ban drinking on London's public transport, effective from1 June. This inspired a protest by City types, who turned the last evening of legal drinking into a bacchanalian riot."I firmly believe that if we drive out so-called minor crime then we will be able to get a firm grip on more serious crime," Johnson said.

B is for Buses

During the election campaign, Johnson promised to abolish the long, articulated "bendy buses" that are said to clog up traffic in London. He also promised to reinstate the popular Routemaster, abolished because it had no access for disabled passengers. He has offered a £25,000 prize for whoever designs the best new Routemaster. But it could be years before the bendy buses are off the streets.

C is for Cycling

Johnson is an avid cyclist, so it was no great surprise when he announced that he spending £55m in the coming year on developing cycle lanes, compared with £36m spent by Ken Livingstone. But when a member of the London Assembly backed his position on whether cyclists should be compelled to wear helmets, Johnson exclaimed: "How can you possibly agree? My position is hopelessly muddled."

D is for Development Agency

The last months of the tenure of the previous Mayor, Ken Livingstone, were marred by a series of revelations about grants from the London Development Agency going to unsuitable organisations, with suspicions that a network of cronies was doing nicely at public expense. Johnson brought in a team led by the journalist,Patience Wheatcroft, above, to investigate. They have recommended that development grants be dispersed locally by London boroughs. Livingstone claims that the Wheatcroft team was Tory-dominated, and that Conservative boroughs will divert their development grants into getting their council tax levels down – a good electoral tactic which will damage the capital's long-term future, he claims.

E is for Environment

"There is no evidence that the planet is suffering from the extreme weather patterns associated with climate change," Johnson wrote eight years ago. He changed his mind some time around 2006, and now seems keen to do his bit to reduce London's carbon emissions. Last month, he announced 10 "low carbon zones".

F is for Food

Johnson has appointed Rosie Boycott, former editor of The Independent on Sunday and The Independent and owner of a small organic farm, to head London Food, to help improve access to healthy, locally produced cheap food. "Rosie is bursting with great ideas on how we can boost the level of top-notch food," he enthused. She starts in September.

G is for Gaffes

The worst clanger of the first 100 days was dropped not by Johnson but by James McGrath, his 34-year-old chief political adviser, who was provoked by a hostile question into remarking of Londoners of Afro-Caribbean descent: "Let them go if they don't like it here." Johnson's first reaction was to stand by his adviser. On reflection, he sacked him.

H is for Housing

Livingstone believed in high-rise, high-density housing to solve London's shortage. Johnson does not share his enthusiasm for decorating the skyline in this way, but he has promised to make sure no more than one London home in a hundred is empty at any time. To that end, he allocated £60m for an empty homes "rescue" package last month.

I is for Ian Blair

It is no secret that the Mayor and the head of the Metropolitan Police do not get on. Sir Ian Blair has the reputation of being a "New Labour" cop. Johnson was one of many who called for his resignation in the wake of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, whom police mistook for a suicide bomber. Last month, leaked emails showed Johnson's office has been plotting to have Sir Ian suspended, pending investigation into his links with a London businessman. Johnson says the Mayor has to answer to London electors, so the Commissioner should answer to the Mayor. Sir Ian says that his job involves more than policing the capital and that he should answer to the Home Secretary.

J is for Johnson's ancestors

During the election, Boris Johnson made the startling announcement that he is the descendant of a Circassian slave – not a bad thing to have on your cv when running for Mayor of a cosmopolitan city. The BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are? will reveal later this month that his other ancestors include Germany's Prince Paul von Wurttemberg, and King George II, above. He did not put that in his manifesto.

K is for Knife crime

On 15 May, urged on by the Mayor, the Metropolitan police launched Operation Blunt 2, using stop and search powers and scanners to get knives off the streets, after a horrific series of stabbings, almost all by teenagers on other teenagers. There were 32,395 searches, 1,437 arrests, and 731 knives were confiscated. In one raid, 14 weapons were found on a double decker bus. Unfortunately, it hasn't yet stopped the stabbings.

L is for Latin

Facing his first Mayor's Question Time, Boris Johnson answered one question thus: "Non tali auxilio nec defensoribus." Bit of a smart arse?

M is for Motorists

As you drive your 4x4 through central London, be thankful to Boris Johnson that the congestion charge you pay is only £8. Ken Livingstone was going to put it up to £25 for gas guzzlers. Johnson is also starting a consultation in September on whether to take Kensington and other parts of west London out of the congestion charge zone.

N is for New runway

BAA wants to build a third runway in Heathrow. Johnson wants to prevent it. He thinks Heathrow was one big planning error, and the whole establishment should be shifted to the Thames Estuary.

O is for Olympics

Johnson has declared that London council taxpayers would not pay a penny more towards funding the 2012 Games, and would seem to want us to thank him for that. On the Today programme, in June, it was suggested to him that this was already laid down in an agreement struck between Ken Livingstone and the Government. "I rather doubt it exists" said Johnson. He was wrong.

P is for Post offices

Johnson has sent the Government a very stiff letter, demanding that the closures of London post offices cease forthwith.

Q is for Queen

"It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies," Boris Johnson wrote in his Daily Telegraph column in January 2002. He recently apologised for using the word "piccaninnies", but not for insulting the intelligence of the monarch.

R is for Ray Lewis

Deputy Mayor Ray Lewis was to have been one of the jewels of the Johnson administration – a black youth worker who practised tough love and strict discipline on wayward teenagers. Then came allegations of financial irregularities and other inappropriate behaviour during his time as a Church of England priest. Lewis called them "rubbish", implying that they could not be true because he had since been appointed a justice of the peace. Johnson declared his "full confidence" in Lewis. It then transpired that Lewis was not a JP. Exit one Deputy Mayor.

S is for Shakespeare

You might think that nothing the Bard wrote could be relevant to contemporary urban life, but giving evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Select committee, Johnson remarked: "We need to deglamorise knife crime and make clear to people that this is moronic and wasteful. This is not the death of Mercutio taking place on the streets of London." Asked to explain, he suggested the MPs read Romeo and Juliet.

T is for Trees

Less than a fortnight after taking office, Johnson binned The Londoner, a promotional newspaper distributed free, door to door, on behalf of the London Assembly, which had provided Ken Livingstone with uncritical coverage. The decision saved nearly £3m a year, to be spent on planting 10,000 trees in residential streets.

U is for US elections

Party leaders in the UK generally do not take sides in US elections, although the Conservatives have traditional links with the Republicans, and Labour with the Democrats. In January, David Cameron heaped praise on John McCain. This month Boris Johnson said victory for Barack Obama would be a "fantastic boost" for black people.

V is for Venezuela

One of Johnson's first acts was to cancel a deal that Livingstone struck with President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, under which London was to be supplied with cheap diesel in exchange for help sorting out Caracas's transport system. The savings made on diesel were intended to pay for a scheme under which Londoners on income support would be able to travel half-price. This month, their fares will double, and London will have to pay back £7m to Venezuela. Livingstone has attacked Johnson's decision as "ideologically motivated." Johnson says he does not believe in doing deals with dictators.

W is for War veterans

Wounded veterans are to get free travel on London's transport system, even if they are not Londoners, Johnson decided. So, if you broke your back in Iraq, ask the Mayor's office for a free pass.

X is for Xenophobia

During the mayoral election campaign, Livingstone accused Johnson of "pandering to xenophobia" in the way he reported EU affairs as a journalist. As soon as he was elected, Johnson announced that he might close all the offices that London maintains overseas. Johnson suspects they are a waste of money; Livingstone claims they more than pay for themselves through the foreign investment they help attract.

Z is for Zimbabwe

Johnson has not said anything yet about the crisis in Harare. It cannot last.

Comments