Sinking of ‘Boris Island’ upsets Boris Johnson

September 4, 2014

Boris Island Nightmare

by Paul Hinks

Charismatic leader Boris Johnson, current Mayor of London, vented his anger and frustration at the announcement that plans for an island airport [Boris Island] in the Thames Estuary have been rejected

Boris has been a strong advocate of the ambitious proposal to build a new £100bn London airport in the River Thames Estuary – a proposal effectively dismissed by Sir Howard Davies who has headed-up a commission set up by the government to consider ways of expanding airport capacity:

“We are not persuaded that a very large airport in the Thames estuary is the right answer to London’s and the UK’s connectivity needs. “While we recognise the need for a hub airport, we believe this should be a part of an effective system of competing airports to meet the needs of a widely spread and diverse market like London’s. There are serious doubts about the delivery and operation of a very large hub airport in the estuary. he economic disruption would be huge and there are environmental hurdles which it may prove impossible, or very time-consuming to surmount”

Mary Creagh MP, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, saw an opportunity for a political handbagging: “This back-of-a-fag-packet scheme was designed less for the country’s economic future and more for the omnishambles mayor’s political ambitions.”

Limitations of charisma?

While Boris may have charisma in abundance – not everybody is completely mesmerized and following his lead. The Daily Mail reported that the Airline industry backed the announcement by Sir Howard Davies:

“Dale Keller, chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives, said: ‘Airlines were never convinced that the Thames Estuary was either affordable or a convenient location for the majority of their customers.’Since airlines and their passengers will ultimately have to pay for the development costs of the selected expansion site then the business case must stack up in order for the UK to remain globally competitive. ‘We call upon Boris to support the important work of the Airports Commission and ensure that the right decisions are made about Heathrow and Gatwick.”

Cameron’s dilemma

The latest setback from Sir Howard Davies highlights how Johnson’s approach can leave him isolated:

“The Mayor ran this scheme up a flagpole in a very public way and very, very few people have saluted. So he has his point of view, but it is not widely shared.”

If David Cameron win the next general election, and Mr Johnson is successful in running as MP for Uxbridge, Boris has already indicated he will not accept the decision by the government’s airport commission, and instead will keep battling for it and will oppose the expansion of Heathrow or Gatwick as “unachievable” This may be seen as a great example of Boris’ tenacity and determination. Or an example of how Boris can create his own problems. The Telegraph offered another perspective:

Mr Johnson added his name to the list of prospective Tory candidates for Uxbridge and South Ruislip in 2015, just 48 hours before the deadline closed. However, the constituency in west London contains thousands of voters who work at Heathrow who would fiercely oppose Mr Johnson’s candidacy.

Mr Johnson believes Heathrow should be turned into a “tech city” so that the capital’s main airport can be moved out of the city and on to a floating island in the estuary. Local Conservatives, however, were delighted with Mr Johnson’s application.

Ray Puddifoot, the leader of Hillingdon Borough Council, told the Telegraph: “He rang me to say he has put his application in – ‘whacked it in’ were his exact words. He said he has affinity to the place and is looking look forward to the process.
“I think he would make an excellent MP. He is a major asset to the party nationally, he will have to prove he is an asset in the constituency.”

Future ‘Leaders We Deserve’ posts

As we move closer towards the next General Election we can expect to see and hear more of Boris and his opinions,LWD We will be updating this post, so subscribers should monitor future changes


Occupy movement helped shift thinking about the ethics of banking

November 30, 2012

Posted by Tudor Rickards

Andrew HaldaneAndrew Haldane, [image supplied] an executive director of The Bank of England, recently told a meeting organised by Occupy, that the protesters had touched a “moral nerve” for the financial sector. He might also have been referring to the Church of England

A year ago, the direct action group Occupy had targeted the London Stock Exchange [15 October 2011] then formed a protest camp at nearby St Paul’s Cathedral, until their eviction by police.

In his speech on socially useful banking as reported by the Bank of England, Mr Haldane said:

“Occupy has been successful in its efforts to popularise the problems of the global financial system for one very simple reason: they are right …
There is the quiet, but unmistakable, sound of a leaf being turned. If I am right and a new leaf is being turned, then Occupy will have played a key role in this fledgling financial reformation. You have put the arguments. You have helped win the debate. And policymakers, like me, will need your continuing support in delivering that radical change.”

An independent voice

Haldane has been speaking up in an independent fashion for a Bank of England director for some years. In 2009 at the hight of the credit crisis he challenged the argument that measures to restrict banking bonuses would lead to an exodus of talent from the UK.

His independent views have been aired from his position as executive director for financial stability of the Bank of England. He is known to oppose high velocity trading [HVT} practices which involve a form of computer-aided trades in micro-seconds. [A brief insight into the mind-boggling nature of HVT illustrates the arguments for a small financial transaction levy. This remains a controversial issue favoured by many European bankers but anathema to the City of London where it is seen as another potentially damaging Euro-scam]

Meanwhile, a new leader emerges

Now Andrew Haldane pepares for a new chief, Mark Carney, appointed this week [Nov 26th 2012] by the Chancellor George Osborne. Mr Carney is the governor of the Canadian central bank and will have new powers as Bank of England governor by the time Sir Mervyn King steps down [in June 2012].

Carney a former Goldman Sachs banker had previously ruled himself out. This, and his non-English status, made him an outsider for the post.
Sir Mervyn said Mr Carney represented “a new generation of leadership for the Bank of England, and is an outstanding choice to succeed me”

Carney is widely seen as a brilliant and independent minded figure, who will have his own ideas about a range of issues on which Andrew Handane has commented, maybe including the moral high ground held by the Occupy movement.

For students of leadership

For students of leadership, this transition of institutional power from one leader to another will make an interesting and living case study.


G20 Notes. Boris Johnson sets the scene

March 30, 2009
Boris Johnson [wikipedia]

Boris Johnson

The G20 summit threw London into turmoil. Boris Johnson was on top form with advice for the anticipated protestors to the event

Journalism would be the poorer if the mayor were to stick to his day job. Here’s Boris in the Telegraph setting the scene for the G20 summit

It is now 10 years since the anti-capitalists attacked the City of London, and next week they intend to outdo themselves. In student bedsits and in terrace Kensington houses, the alienated children of the middle classes are planning to subvert the G20 summit. Across the desolate wastes of the Leftie internet, their wrathful campfires are already burning, and when April dawns they will surge like the orcs of Mordor in the general direction of foes the Bank of England.

Boris describes the scene in scintillating fashion:

They will taunt the police. They will paralyse traffic. They will do their utmost to spoil your day; and when they have been sufficiently whipped up that they will begin the chant of hate. Somewhere in the crowd, a nose-ringed twerp will drain a mouthful of cider and call to his comrades. “What do we want?” he will demand.
And at that moment, a great silence will fall in the carnival of cretinous crusties. The papier mâché horsemen of the Apocalypse will turn their heads inquiringly in his direction. “What do we want?” he will demand again, a shade more hysterically, and by this time the rioters will be looking at their feet and coughing. Er. What do they want? The embarrassing truth is that they haven’t a clue.

Boris supplies a slogan

They say they want to “burn a banker” and “stop the City”, and no matter how superficially appealing those ambitions may be, it is hard to see how they can be turned into practical economic policies.
So, in a spirit of compassion, let me give the G20 protesters the slogan they need. Here is a demand they could make that would transform the lives and hopes of millions of the poorest people on earth. It is a global stimulus package that doesn’t involve borrowing untold trillions from future generations. It is something the world’s leaders have been trying and failing to do for the past nine years, and if I were the man with the megaphone my cry would be: “What do we want? The completion of the Doha Round of world trade talks! When do we want it? Now!”

But seriously …

I have never wavered in my view that the former mayor Ken Livingstone had broadly made a positive impact on the lives of Londoners through his transport policy, not excluding the road tax system. But he’s history. That’s democracy. Londoners opted for Boris, the leader they preferred, and who is in danger of becoming a serious politician sneaking in thoughtful messages, almost subliminally while preserving his other roles as a national jester, cultural hero, and popularist leader against the mad running dogs infected with the political correctness virus.

London will remain relatively untouched after the protesters and G20 leaders depart. It remains to be seen how Boris Johnson’s career unfolds. Journalist, mayor of London …leader of the conservative party?


You Don’t Have to be Posh to get Boris

May 8, 2008

Boris Johnson’s progress as Mayor of London will answer questions about a politician’s honeymoon period, and the consequences of a leadership style dependent on personality and charisma

As we wondered in an earlier post, the voters of London have chosen Boris Johnson. It now seems that they were unwavering in their support from the start of the Campaign. The new regime (‘Beyond our Ken?’) appears to have come to power on more than a protest vote against Gordon Brown, or Ken Livingstone. Defectors from Ken were more heavily directed towards Boris than towards campaigners from other parties.

It is reasonable to conclude that Boris had something about him which contributed to his election. As a leader, he influenced people and ‘made a difference’. A further plausible assumption is that the difference had more to do with Boris as a personality, rather than his policies, which were on the sketchy side.

This principle could be seen at work during the recent local elections. One successful BNP candidate claimed to have been elected on a doorstep promise that if elected he would vote issue by issue on what is best for his constituents. Victory for a no-policy policy.

Whatever happens next to Boris may throw light on the nature of a political honeymoon, and what happens to a leader with a charismatic style as events creep up on the dear boy. This makes London’s future governance interesting outside the Great Wen, as well as to those living inside its boundaries.

Speculation

The power of charismatic leadership is still widely acknowledged, although leadership scholars continue to predict its decline.

Even if we are moving into a post-charismatic era, political king-makers still seem to favour charismatic nominees. At times of crisis, the charismatic personality is granted preference over less colourful characters, lack of experience in the job on offer is overlooked. In his victory, Boris justified the decision to nominate him.

It’s not clear that Boris was chosen out of panic, and this makes his nomination a rather remarkable one. Perhaps the charismatic aspects detected in David Cameron have carried over in the decision to appoint Boris as the Conservative candidate for London.

Here’s my speculative suggestion of what we might look for as time goes by: The ‘events’ in London will be coupled to those on the national political scene. For example, the ‘Boris for Prime Minister’ story will resurface at the slightest evidence that David Cameron is failing to press home his advantage over Gordon Brown in opinion polls.

The Consequences of Charisma

Speculating even further, I suspect that stories about Boris will illustrate the consequences of a leadership style that exerts its influence more through charisma than through decision-taking that addresses the practicalities of improving the well-being of the wider group (here, the well-being of people living in London). Charisma can be a powerful asset when aligned to effective governance, but it cannot be a substitute for it in the long-run.

Furthermore, disillusionment with charisma operates at a more visceral and symbolic level than evaluations made on more rational calculations of a political policy and its architects. This suggests one of the vulerabilities of a charismatic style of leadership.

Boris and his Achilles Heel

It may overload the metaphoric content of the blog a bit, but I find myself going back to the interpretation of the symbolic world in the great human myths. One that has particular appeal is the supermyth of the leader’s journey.

In one form, Achilles has special powers of leadership which protect him in battle. But the protection leaves him with one vulnerability. The story has Achilles protected after being dangled in the Styx by ambitious mum. But the process missed out on complete immersion of the infant heel. Hence the one vulnerability of Achilles thereafter.

The Achilles heel of Charismatics is the catastrophic switch of opinion that occurs at a moment of insight. This is the personal moment of revealed truth, in which (mixing metaphors a bit more) the emperor is seen to have no clothes. Personal insight becomes the new received wisdom of the disillusioned. The charismatic spell is broken.

According to this story, Boris will enjoy a honeymoon period in which his charisma will protect him. But he remains at risk for that moment of destiny when his Achilles heel is exposed, and his charismatic protective armour vanishes.

Or Again

So what, you may be thinking. Why should we believe in myths? Indeed. My point entirely.


The Charismatic Campaign: Will Boris become London’s next Mayor?

April 16, 2008

Boris Johnson takes an early lead against the incumbent Ken Livingstone, and eight other candidates in the contest to become London’s mayor. It promises to be a campaign running on charisma and celebrity

The Charismatic Candidates

Think of a larger-than life political figure in the UK. Someone who has acquired a reputation of an outspoken and somewhat eccentric individualist. A person who can cause himself great political harm by intemperate remarks. Untrusted by leaders of his political party. A media celebrity with a reputation for acerbic humour. A bon viveur.

The description could come from press accounts of Boris Johnson, new darling of Conservative politics, and contender in the battle to become London’s mayor. They could equally well be applied to Ken Livingstone. That’s what makes the current leadership contest so fascinating.

Boris Launches his Campaign
At the launch of Boris Johnson’s campaign to become the next Mayor of London, we had a pretty good idea of what to expect from the endorsement made by David Cameron.

Boris Johnson would “do a brilliant job” as London mayor and is “exactly the kind of leader” the capital needs, Tory leader David Cameron says. He was “twice as charismatic, twice as energetic” as rival and current mayor Ken Livingstone.

At the launch, Boris was on his best behaviour. His foot was away from his mouth and from the humour pedal. He offered a concise statement of the policy on which he would run.

Mr Johnson, who polls suggest is in the lead for the 1 May election, said that tackling crime was his top priority. If elected he would set up a fund to encourage London’s “wealth creators” to support voluntary sector projects tackling the city’s social problems… [adding that] he believed it was possible to get more police on the streets and [that] creating a safer city was central to everything else that he wanted to achieve.

You can find a neat sketch of the launch in The Telegraph.

Mr Cameron [warned of] the “real risk” if people who want a change don’t come out to vote that Mr Livingstone will win another four years in power, after which the Tory leader arrived at the heart of his message: “Fortunately, there is an alternative to that dismal prospect. Boris Johnson.”

There was a time when such a statement might have produced titters even among the pro-Johnson audience assembled in the deliberately unglamorous setting of Bounces Road Community Hall, Edmonton, north London.

But now that Mr Johnson has shrugged off his undeserved reputation as a purely comic figure nobody dreamed of laughing.

The Rise and Rise of Citizen Ken

Boris has to overcome the formidable figure of Ken Livingstone. When he was first elected mayor in 2000, it was as an independent who had come to power as a rebellious outsider. Red Ken had become a symbol of the political leftie, kicked out of the Labour Party, and standing as very much his own man. His political power grew out of his leadership of the Greater London Council, during which time he had acquired an image of an outspoken individual and eccentric newt-loving revolutionary. An introverted personality, and a rather flat and quiet delivery did not prevent him appearing successfully on television shows as a witty entertainer, a useful asset towards celebrity status. The very unusualness of his life and escapades increasingly gave him the additional label of charismatic.

Charismatic Credentials

Churchill, Castro, Jose Mourinho, Mandela, have all had regular mentions in this and many other blogs. While it seems a bit of a stretch to add Ken and Boris to the list, they fit into the wider category. Livingstone, like his mayoral rival Johnson, has been the centre of self-generated controversies which have reinforced suspicions that politically he can be a liability.

Nevertheless, Ken’s success at the ballot box and continued popularity resulted in a pragmatic decision by Tony Blair’s labour government to reinstate him to the party and endorse his campaign for re-election. That was also to prove successful. Now Boris has received a similar kind of reinstatement in his endorsement from David Cameron.

An Earlier Analysis in The Guardian covered two of the three defining stories of the Livingstone’s time as mayor, his acknowledged part in bringing the Olympic Games to London, and his much admired public reaction to the terrorist bombs of 7/11 when London was still celebrating the winning of the Olympic bid. [Note to leadership students: the speech stands comparison to those classic political performances of Martin Luther King and Churchill. Yes, it’s that good.] The third defining story is that of his controversial transport policy, in which he has shown determination, commitment, and vision.

So Why isn’t Ken an Odds-on Bet?
That’s the next fascinating aspect of the race. Polls suggest that Boris quickly moved into a surprise lead.

Charisma can compensate for lack of experience. We are seeing it in the currently successful Presidential campaign by Barack Obama (and arguably by the John McCain, who is relatively inexperienced the highest levels of political office). David Cameron himself swept to power as Conservative leader in similar charismatic style, as did Tony Blair for the (New) Labour party.

But the charismatic success often emerges out of a distaste for and rejection of the status quo. Ken has to operate within the general climate of discontent with Gordon Brown’s Government. He may be a somewhat luke warm supporter, but he is officially the Government’s candidate.

The Challenges Ahead

The next mayor of London will have several mega-challenges threatening the well-being of one of the most vibrant and complex of the world’s great cities. He or she will have to make decisions that will influence the security, comfort, and well-being of upward of ten million residents, and countless others indirectly affected. The Olympic Games will compete with the logistic and financial complexities of moving people and goods around the metropolis. Wealth generation from its financial operations is expected to be more bumpy into the foreseeable future (which is not very foreseeable even into next year, as the campaign for mayor starts).

Ken’s Policy Manifesto states

London is leading the world with 21st Century solutions to the challenges that face all of the world’s great cities. My priorities for a new term will be clear – transport, crime, housing, the environment and good community relations.

Boris Leaps into Action

In search of more information about Boris and his policies, I went to his web-site

At the time of my visit, [April 1st 2008, but no joke] the day after his endorsement by Cameron, I found nothing on the site about the election, but a lot about local concerns such as the possible closures of post- offices. Surprising, and not consistent with the ringing endorsement from his leader about how his energy levels will be deployed in the forthcoming campaign.

Even more unexpected, I found the biographic details somewhat familiar. Boris, (yes it must be he, rather than an aide) had extracted the good bits from his Wikipedia entry. Like the journalist he is, he acknowledged his source as his Wikipedia entry, but suggested that further unmoderated comments can be found via the wikipedia site.

Yes, there are quite a few of those, and a few more substantiated ones which will no doubt come into play as the campaign unfolds. But the same can also be said about Ken’s Wikipedia bio. My point is whether Boris is confirming suspicions about his political frailties in dealing with controversial aspects of his past in such a fashion.

Will Boris become next Mayor?

If he does, the logic of the electorate will require the skills of an undercover economist to explain the manner in which fear, loathing, and hope were components within the process. The election is already promising to be one to explore the concept of voters searching for the leader they deserve

Note:

See blairwatch for an extended review of London Transport problems, and an examination of Boris’s proposals for dealing with them. Also the useful observation that the four key responsibilities of London’s Mayor are for transport, culture, emergency services and development.