Sir Simon Milton is Chief of Staff to Boris Johnson. In this post he responds to yesterday's suggestion from Stephan Shakespeare that London's Mayor had been insufficiently radical.
Stephan Shakespeare writes that there has been ‘no notable achievement’ in London since the election of Boris Johnson as Mayor.
I will concede that when you are in the super tanker you can sometimes be forgiven for assuming that the hive of activity you are part of isn’t always apparent to those on the outside.
So in many ways, I am grateful to Stephan for allowing me this opportunity to talk about not only what Boris has already achieved in a comparatively short space of time, but also what we plan to do to transform London.
Many readers will recall, in the run up to the 2008 Mayoral election, that the balance of opinion of Boris was decidedly sceptical - even when it became clear that he would win, and win well. The consensus was, given his lack of experience in ‘running things’, he would struggle to deliver the promises he made.
Over the last year, that opinion has changed. Even Boris’s detractors acknowledge that he has delivered the vast majority of commitments he made during the election. Perhaps because politicians have made a fine art of promising one thing and doing the opposite, when one comes along that actually does what he says it can take a little getting used to.
From banning alcohol on the tube, to listening to west Londoners about the extended congestion charge zone, to freezing the council tax for the first time in the GLA’s history, Boris has delivered.
But, as Stephan rightly points out, the true test of political leadership is not in the individual achievements, but in the core ideas and sense of broader purpose that ultimately delivers and drives real change.
Our administration is focused on addressing the twin economic and social challenges facing the city.
We need to get London through the recession, creating the conditions to return to growth and maintain it. We want London to be the most dynamic, diverse and innovative city economy in the world. So as well as standing up for the financial services industry, which pays many of the taxes on which the Treasury relies, we’re pursuing a strategy of economic diversity by supporting higher education, the green and creative industries among others.