So writes Dave Hill of London Mayor Boris Johnson in his blogpost tonight:
The trouble with wanting the Mayor to get a grip on the capital’s transport troubles is that he could hardly be less well equipped for it. I sense that Transport for London agrees with this. I suspect the RMT and TSSA do too, and that that is why they keep demanding it. Bored by the nitpicking aspects of negotiation and both naive and impatient about what matters to union leaders and why, it’s hard to imagine Boris being a management asset in the Tube dispute.
As for the latest flurries over snow, I sympathise with his spokesman’s complaint that short of seizing a shovel there’s not much Boris could have been doing here that he couldn’t do during his World Cup bid trip to Zurich. But the fact remains that he must now fly home – weather permitting – with no reflected global football glory to bask in and to a danger that Londoners will increasingly conclude that when the going gets tough, the Mayor gets going somewhere else.
Dave Hill is quite right. Sometimes I think Boris is playing the long game quite astutely: try not to screw up massively (or appear not to); continue to introduce and take credit for initiatives begun under Ken Livingstone’s mayoralty; pretend to stand up to central government cuts, whilst discreetly having pioneered them since May 2008.
But more and more I am beginning to change my mind. As Dave Hill says, Boris is simply not up to the job. It’s beyond his capacity. When the going is good (or even reasonably good) this doesn’t seem so stark. But as Londoners’ lives get tougher over the next 18 months, Boris is going to have to come up with a better pitch if he is persuade voters in 2012 that he offers anything other than a faithful and uncaring wielder of the Tory scythe.