Whilst l enjoyed the mauling of the Mayor of London on the AM Show on Sunday morning by Eddie Mair, it was five years too late to have any significant political impact. The same interview in 2008 would have almost certainly scuppered Boris’s ambitions to become Mayor. That’s probably why he was able to laugh it all off yesterday by suggesting Eddie Mair was only doing his job.
However, Londoners are the biggest losers as a result of the current spotlight on the Mayor’s past, not least because of the conveniently scheduled BBC programme last night ‘Boris Johnson: The irresistible rise’ which has quite neatly served to divert attention away from yesterday’s announcement on his police cuts in London. The scale and potential impact of this to policing in London is huge and yet it has made few editorials today. The Mayor’s London Police and Crime Plan confirms that over 60 police stations and front counters will be closed, 12 stations earmarked for closure have been reprieved but more stations that were safe have been put on the list. It fails to provide any detail about these closures and also fails to detail where the new “Contact Points” will be based. Despite the Mayor’s dubious claims, police numbers are also down in several boroughs and safer neighbourhood policing goes out of the window.
Call me a cynic, but it was not surprising that the Mayor launched his Police & Crime Plan on the morning of the one hour special on his life on BBC2. Critically it took away attention from what he is doing as Mayor and focused on the man himself. So, all the headlines today, both in the press and on TV have been about the alleged fall-out from the interview and last night’s programme rather than what he’s doing to the police service in London.
Boris may be laughing off his car crash interview, but he’s also having the last laugh at Londoner’s expense as the BBC appear to help him out of another very difficult corner in his political life – but on this occasion, the cost to London is too high.
The Mayor’s Police and Crime Plan can be viewed here