The London Evening Standard published an article by the fecund Simon Jenkins. They asked me to write a letter in response, which I did.
Simon Jenkins (24 January) is right to point out how inadequate are the executive and taxation powers of the London Mayor. It would be great to see them strengthened but what would they be used for? The two great challenges London faces are surely to sustain a mixed income city in the face of escalating rents and prices and to diversity the economy away from investment banking at one end and millions of minimum-wage jobs at the other.
It’s not likely that either Ken or Boris will prioritise these fundamental issues, though Ken is the more likely. But really both are stuck in the groove of championing London’s global financial influence even though that has helped bring the world to its knees. Both are champions of Crossrail, a not very good investment but one beloved of central London property and corporate interests. London, like the nation, needs some fresh thinking, not just more mayoral powers.
A reform which might help would be to give the pathetic London Assembly more powers to generate ideas which, as a quite diverse and representative body, it might be good at if adequately resourced.
So as usual Simon Jenkins is a great stimulus, partly right and partly wrong.
Then what they actually published was this:
Both Boris and Ken are stuck in the groove of championing London’s global financial influence even though this helped to bring the world to its knees. London needs fresh thinking, not just more mayoral powers. A reform which might help would be to give the forlorn London Assembly more powers to generate ideas.