After yesterday's analysis by Tim Montgomerie on Conservative Home on Boris Johnson's first year as Mayor of London. Boris produced his first annual report and has made the following comments on the Blue Blog.
This time last year I was pounding the pavements accosting Londoners of all shapes and sizes in a last, frantic attempt to garner that precious commodity that is sought after by politicians the world over – their votes. I had been campaigning since the beginning of time, it seemed. As I pleaded with one reluctant holder of the franchise, it dawned on me that it had it all come down to this. A simple choice to make. Stick or twist.
As the sun set, I stood in the rain on Waterloo bridge giving my last interview of the campaign. I went over the arguments one more time. I promised I would tackle crime, improve local neighbourhoods and make City Hall leaner and more accountable.
Well, in the spirit of accountability I write to you now to report on what I've done so far. One of my first acts was to scrap the propaganda sheet The Londoner. An epic waste of money, it cost you the taxpayer £3m a year. The money saved has funded police, parks and trees. 1,500 new street trees are being planted across the city, as I write.
More will follow. 500 new uniformed police are now patrolling buses and suburban stations to deter low-level disorder. When I stood for office, I did so against a backdrop of appalling, tragic and escalating youth murders. I promised to make tackling it a priority. That is why I gave my backing to the sensitive use of stop and search, which has so far taken almost 5,000 knives off the streets. In the long term, we are supporting programmes that will get first-time offenders into education, encourage more sport and crack down on truancy. The latest crime figures show promising results. There is less violence in London compared to a year ago, with welcome falls in gun and knife crime. But I will never be complacent; Londoners want a safer city and I am working hard to achieve that goal.
Perhaps the greatest challenge facing our city is the recession. We are helping small businesses access finance and support, as well as lobbying the Government for the cash we need to get moving again. I have cut the cost of running City Hall, spending less on foreign travel, consultants and scrapping the GLA office in Venezuela. That has enabled me to freeze the Mayor's share of the council tax this year, after a 152% increase over 8 years.
My email Inbox also included a missive from Ken Livingstone's Progressive London group directing me to a less favourable account. A lot of the complaints comes down to their "category error" that the key to any issue is employing more City Hall staff. The environment? Employ more Environment officers. Tourism? Employ tourism officers. The recession? Employ more in the Economic Unit. Wiomen? Employ more women's officers. Etc, etc, etc.
I was particularly amused but attacks from Ken Livingstone's Fan Clab on Boris not showing the required decorum and diplomacy. "Johnson’s loutish behaviour at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games (including his ridiculous 'ping pong' speech at the London reception afterwards – where he laid great stress on telling China, the great table tennis nation, that the English invented what he called 'whiff whaff') may have been seen as faintly humorous here but did London great damage in China – the most dynamic economy in the world," says the report.