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Wednesday, October 15th, 2008 at
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Nice to see Iain Dale being so open about the influence of Policy Exchange for a change; most days he’s busy denying their influence.
On one notable occasion when Iain Dale was a Trustee of Policy Exchange and denying their influence, I tripped over Nick Boles.
Nick Boles was at the time the Director of Policy Exchange (which is, for those who don’t know, a large right-wing think tank with charity status) and also wanted to be the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London.
In fact, he wanted this so much that he was willing to use Policy Exchange as an administrative base for a personal website with that party-political aim (more), which is a bit naughty and just the kind of concept that friends of Iain Dale struggle to understand.
So…. the Founder Director of Policy Exchange wants to be Mayor of London, and now (*gasp*) he works for the Mayor of London, along with a whole lot of other people from Policy Exchange who now work for the Mayor of London as advisers* and what have you.
(*Perhaps one of the i-dotting or t-crossing bloggers would care to make a full job list for the record.)
It has not escaped notice that Boris Johnson has been on a leash, pretty much since he was convinced to become a candidate.
That leash is held by Policy Exchange people, and I’ve been watching it get tighter.
I’m sorry if I seem to sell Boris short on this, but no matter how much he might think he is in control, when the bulk of his data and advice comes from Policy Exchange drones, the fix is in from the very beginning.
The initial rush of Policy Exchange people into staffed positions from the moment of his election should have been
signal klaxon enough for me, but it wasn’t until Boris innocently enquired about my “disagreement” with Anne Milton that I began to get truly worried.
(That matter involved a website produced by her activists that made groundless claims of paedophilia and stopped about a micron short of inciting violence. Boris, who knew this, was treating it like a disagreement over a croquet shot. You know those letters you write and then throw away before they get near a stamp or your outbox? I’ve got one of those. It’s a one-word letter to Boris that I didn’t send a few months ago. It reads; “Disagreement?!”)
And now Boris is showering former Policy Exchange trustee Iain Dale with – let’s be frank, here – a quite absurd level of purposeful praise… well, let’s just say that there’s very little room for doubt any more.
Boris is at the moment so far gone that he may as well be living in a foreign land, and in a way he is.
The Policy Exchange gang wishes to control Boris Johnson, right down to what he says and who he says it to, and so far they’ve quite successful
I look forward to them popping up and denying it… when they’re not quite so busy congratulating themselves over it.
By Tom October 16, 2008 - 12:15 am
*cough*Um, we at Boris Watch along with Dave Hill and the Tory Troll have been watching the PX connection, particularly since they seem to be linked to all the cockups. Don't forget Francis Maude in all this, too – everything he touches turns to shit.What we've concluded is that there are three things that pull Boris around – PX, the London borough boys who hold most of the senior roles and the residue of Livingstone era technocrats who know where the levers are. This doesn't make for a great deal of coherence at any level, particularly when the PXers grab hold of the Johnson ear trumpet.As an example, I presume the PX gang want to hijack the GLA in some green-inker crusade against 'political correctness', whereas the borough boys want to cut taxes for their constituents. Not a lot of common ground there.
By Manic October 16, 2008 - 10:55 am
Thanks for that, Tom. So in your opinion, conflicting strings, but Boris has still sacrificed autonomy for 'power'.I wonder if there are days that he clenches his teeth and mutters a'la Lando Calrissian; "This deal is getting worse all the time!"
By Tom October 16, 2008 - 12:19 pm
It's hard to tell, but I don't think he enjoys the detail of the job and the early messes PX and Nick Boles in particular landed him in swung him towards the borough boys (Sir Simon Milton in particular) and their version of the value-for-money strategy (i.e. cut stuff that doesn't affect our voters, then give the money to our voters). This resulted in the ejection of the Maude-foisted Tim Parker (who was probably proposing something too barmy and radical) and Milton thereby consolidating his powerbase as the power behind the throne.Since then we'd assumed PX were on the back foot (the Routemaster competition hasn't thrown up anything likely to make their 2005 pamphlet look like a revolution in transport thinking, for instance, and the various multicultural festivals have led to the BNP renouncing Boris as a deviant Muslim communist or something). It's possible that the day-to-day running and GLA organisation is in the hands of the boroughs (which explains why the police budget is likely to be cut – PX would probably want it increased to about one armed cop per Muslim).The policy direction is being set by PX, who seem to have a grip on the policy advisers. Munira Mirza and Anthony Browne are straight outta PX and the transport guy Kulveer Ranger came to the Little Red Book party where he was photographed with Paul Staines, although as with a lot of things around Mr. Ranger I'm unsure exactly what he's supposed to be able to contribute or where he came from.