Leading Article: London? Sorted

Related Topics
"OI GUV I see you're an Independent reader. Tell you what, you might be interested in this..."


"I had a bloke wants to be the new mayor of London in the back of my cab"

"What was he like then?"

"Well guv, he combined all the qualities you need in this new post, being possibly the second most politically important person in the land. He was fashioned from an alloy of human qualities rarely found at the top of even our national political life."

"Gosh. What were they then?"

"Well, for starters, he's a right show-off. I thought to myself, here is someone who has the sheer vulgar appeal that means instant coverage whatever he does. A self-publicist who doesn't really have to try too hard. Maybe he occasionally gets into scrapes, if you know what I mean. A bit like Jeffrey Archer in that respect. But nothing to detract from the important job of speaking clearly for the capital here and abroad. A global voice, no less, I'd say. But he's not just an internationally famous populist elected by a method that gives him a clear mandate."


"No, there's another thing. He's got a vision for London. Now I've been around a bit and I can tell you that at just over seven million, London has the largest population of any major European city and, with a GDP of going on for pounds 100bn, if London was a country, its economy would be as big as Portugal's. Not a lot of people know that. Now that's a big city and it needs a big vision. So he's got to know what he wants and concentrate on one or two key objectives. Just like that geezer in New York -"

"Rudolph Giuliani?"

"Yeah, that's the one. You see, what he did was to concentrate on crime. And now New Yorkers feel safer and have much more self-confidence about themselves. I mean, I can remember when the place went bust. So the right man in the right job can make a difference, see?"

"Well, quite, yes."

"Going on holiday this year? Me and the wife went to Barcelona for ours. That's one hip and trendy place. They've had a few powerful - and effective - mayors. They got the Olympic Games a few years back. There you go. But London needs more than hip and more than PR. What we want is, excuse my French, a bit of radical social reform. And you used not to get much of that round our way. I mean, lots of well-meaning remarks, of course, but really nothing concrete. My idea of a good mayor is someone who has the determination to use the influence and resources - maybe pounds 4bn he'll have to spend - available to really make a start. He can get the new London development authority in and tell them what's what. Now while he sorting that out the second thing he wants to do is - hang on! Blackwall Tunnel! Now we're in trouble... Look, berk in a Merc... P*** off! - yeah. As I was saying. Get an integrated transport policy. Plenty of scope there with the possibility of adding congestion charging to existing methods of finance like adjusting the local government precept - the council tax to me and you. Getting people out of cars and into public transport and of course that could be good news for us cabbies as well. And something else, talking about mayors. Ever been to Birmingham?"

"Yes, actually..."

"Yeah all those blokes polishing their Sierras eh? Now, don't get me wrong, it's no dump and they've done some good things. But, really, they want a mayor too. And Liverpool. And Manchester. In fact any city that wants to try new leadership and tackle the seemingly intractable problems of urban decline needs one. Besides if London's got one, you don't want him to hog all the limelight, and dosh, do you? They should go for it.

"But going back to this Mayor of London. He's not just a man of vision and the rest. He's got charm, political skills and brains. A bit like Ken Livingstone you might say in that regard. But our man's able to deal with politicians of all complexions, old Labour, new Labour, Tory, that other lot Paddy whatsisname, you know what I mean? Don't get me wrong, you want someone where you know where he's coming from but you think, 'Yeah, he can work persuasively with others, he can pull a few strings, he can mesh together the wide range of interests like business, the boroughs all those new bus and train companies.'

"Now, I'm no mastermind but I could see that that man, he really had that intellectual quality, know what I mean? Impressive bloke. At the same time he's able to mix it if people try it on. He's quite able to stand up to those buggers who run the country. No messing about. You could imagine Frank Dobson doing that a bit. Right. Here we are. House of Commons. And don't I recognise you? What did you say your name was again?"

"Er... Tony."

"Pleasure... Oi! where's my tip?"

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Clean energy should be our mission to the moon

Martin Rees
Angela Merkel and David Cameron say goodbye in the Bundeskanzleramt after their meeting in Berlin, Germany, 29 May 2015  

The complacency of Europhiles could lose them the referendum

Steve Richards
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral