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How is Boris doing?

We asked a distinguished panel to assess the Mayor’s progress — and what he should do next

22 April 2009

12:00 AM

22 April 2009

12:00 AM

We asked a distinguished panel to assess the Mayor’s progress — and what he should do next

David Cameron

Boris and his team have done a brilliant job in the last year. Under his leadership City Hall has become less extravagant, and more focused on the right priorities: making London a safer, greener and more affordable place to live. Boris has certainly confounded his detractors.

In terms of the future (other than synchronising the traffic lights so those of us who cycle across Hyde Park Corner are less likely to be squashed by a bendy bus) he should carry on doing the excellent work that he is doing.

Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of NYC

During the election campaign, Boris’s detractors said that if he were elected, the world would fall apart. Well, they were nearly right about the world falling apart, but Boris has been doing a superb job of trying to hold his corner of it together. His efforts to restore confidence are critical to our economic recovery, and he has backed up his words with action. In fact, our cities’ responses have included a number of similar initiatives. By continuing to pursue innovative new efforts to get more people back to work, Boris and other mayors can help pull their cities through this downturn, while also setting the stage for long-term growth.

Sir Cameron Mackintosh

Boris is doing a far better job than even his detractors thought possible and, unlike most of his colleagues, has achieved this without losing his personality or surrendering his considerable intellect to the grey grind of the professional politician — truly a thinking man’s blond.

Boris’s appreciation of the importance of London theatre in making the West End both glamorous and fun, as well as safe and accessible to everyone, is admirable. Walking the tightrope between encouraging the West End to have a true late-night buzz without letting its inhabitants have their lives blighted by loutish behaviour is the trick. Boris needs to make sure that London deserves to be the ‘greatest show on earth’.

AN Wilson

I don’t think he is doing a particularly good job, no. We had a few inches of snow and the whole of London came to a standstill. The buses could have easily carried on running. They managed it during the Blitz. He doesn’t keep his promises. He said he’d ban buildings over a certain height and he’s done nothing about it. I think we should abolish the office of Mayor.

Andrew Neil

He’s still got to do something before we can really pass judgment. I’d give him about a 6.5 out of 10 at the moment.

Dan Hannan

Boris is a second Charlemagne: under his mayoralty, London is in bloom intellectually and artistically, and is attracting the brightest people in Europe. He’s making it easier and cheaper to get around. He has hugely increased Londoners’ quality of life by getting rid of Sir Ian Blair. Oh, and let’s not forget that he’s no longer spending ratepayers’ money on cosying up to South American caudillos. Next, he should build downwards rather than upwards, reopening the warren of tunnels beneath the capital and boring new ones. London’s skyline was disfigured by Ken Livingstone’s fondness for towers.

Vince Cable

He’s a very, very smart media operator and he’s come across to the public as amiable, but so far I don’t think he’s doing a good job. For a start he’s failed really to confront any of the big issues like the future of Heathrow or the funding of the Underground. With regards to Heathrow, he’s managed to get on the right side of both the protestors and the airport expansion lobby by supporting the idea to build a new airport on an island in the Thames estuary. However, that won’t actually happen and at some point he’ll have to make it clear where he stands.

As for the financing of the Underground, he’s going to get involved in tough negotiations with the government and I’m not sure he can handle that. He certainly seems to have a willingness to break the rules.

Andrew Gilligan

Broadly speaking, I think he’s doing a good job. Many of the charges against him amount to the complaint that he’s a Tory. Others complain that he’s not Tory enough. He needs to annunciate his vision for London just as Ken did. He hasn’t articulated it in the same way yet. He also needs to make clear his position on things such as tall buildings. He said he was against them during his campaign but has since approved some. The second thing he needs to do is make sure he does something that lasts. I was never worried that he’d be a disaster — but I think there’s a chance he’ll get to the end of his term and people will say, what have you done? He’s put his name on a few things but they’re not in the same league as, say the congestion charge was for Ken.

Caroline Spelman

Boris is doing a great job — he has taken the job by storm showing that he has the qualities that London needs in its Mayor. The next challenge for Boris is to make sure we’re match-fit for the Olympics so that we can turn that success into a lasting legacy for Londoners.

Kate Hoey

I have been impressed by the Mayor’s genuine determination to support grassroots sport in London. His ability to absorb the crux of the issue and his willingness to try to lessen bureaucracy has been so refreshing. Over the next few years, his enthusiasm and commitment will prove invaluable as we work to make London a truly world-class sporting city.

Chris Grayling

I think Boris has had a very good first year as Mayor, with good initiatives on crime and value for taxpayers’ money. I look forward to the arrival of the new Routemasters in due course. I think Boris’s next job should be as re-elected Mayor in 2012 — bringing his unique style to bear to preside over the Olympics that summer.

Christopher Howse

We metropolitan folk have humble aspirations. All we want is for our buses not to bend and block up the road, and then burst into flames. I have a lively hope that the dangerous bendy buses may disappear soon. For those of us public-spirited enough to travel in the capital by taxi, it might have been expected that the traffic lights at Admiralty Arch would have been adjusted by now, so that they do not allow through only four taxis at a time. Hope remains for this too. As a consolation, many youngsters carrying knives have been caught by policemen with portable arches. This is good.

It is not entirely up to Mr Johnson, but the London Undergound is still a shocking mess. Crossrail and other surface rail projects are nowhere near construction. Where the money is to come from, goodness knows, but a billion here and a billion there left over from bank sinking-funds would do a world of good.

Deborah Ross

It’s a pity he failed to bring back the Routemaster bus, just as he appears to have failed at reviving eels, pie, mash and the pox. I believe every Londoner now has the right to ask: what has he been doing for the last year?

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