Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 14 May 2008

After the 1 May elections

What will Boris Johnson mean for London?

BORIS JOHNSON'S election as Mayor of London capped a string of successes for the Conservatives in the 1 May local elections, indicating that a Tory victory in the next general election is a serious possibility. The question now is what will a Johnson mayoralty mean for London?

Neil Cafferky

The mayor has little direct power. The only areas where he can make actual decisions are in transport and planning. Some people speculate that Johnson will try to keep a low profile in order to smooth the way for a Tory victory in parliamentary elections. This may well be his intention, but there are several factors which will make Johnson's tenure for the next two years anything but sedate.

First of all, looming in the background, is the economy. London, as a centre of world finance, is already affected. Projected GDP growth for London this year is a measly 1.3%, with 1.2% the best that can be expected in 2009, 19,000 job losses are expected in the City alone (Evening Standard, 7 May) making any honeymoon period Johnson may enjoy, a short one.


The main plank of Johnson's election campaign was the issue of crime, particularly youth crime. This was a cynical move by the Tories given that the mayor has little input into policing in London. However, Johnson's proposed remedies give a glimpse into Tory thinking on the matter.

Writing in London's Evening Standard he states: "I am convinced we can make a difference to so-called minor crime as a way to drive out major crime". It is clear Johnson looks to New York's notorious 'zero tolerance' policy. In reality this has meant a crackdown on working-class communities, particularly minority ones.

Johnson has no plans for making life better and more hopeful for London's young people. His appointment of Ray Lewis as deputy mayor for youth is telling. Lewis runs Eastside Young Leaders Academy. Here, Johnson enthuses: "Ray's approach has been to take young black males who have been excluded from school and imbue them with magnificently untrendy, boot camp style discipline."

Given that Johnson starts his article on crime in general, why then pose a solution to the problem as disciplining young black males? The racist subtext is clear: lack of discipline in black communities is the problem and the solution is "a hundred" academies modelled on Eastside where youth learn to march in formation and say 'please' and 'thank you'.

It seems clear that a crackdown on youth in general and black youth in particular is in the offing. Such policies backfired spectacularly on the Tories in the past but Johnson will be under pressure to produce results and in the wings will be the BNP with their own brand of racial politics to stoke tensions in London. Johnson has a history of racist gaffes under his belt; all the ingredients are there for a clash with minority communities.

London's youth will not be the only ones to feel the lash of City Hall. Transport is the policy area the mayor is directly responsible for and it is riddled with political minefields. Central to this is Johnson's pledge to negotiate a no-strike agreement with the Tube unions. This has been flatly rejected by rail union leaders.

RMT union leader Bob Crow has said it would be "insane" for the RMT to sign a no-strike deal. Keith Norman, head of TSSA warned; "If Johnson tries to force through a no-strike deal, then London will have to get ready for mass confrontation."

Johnson has the option of capitulating on a key manifesto pledge or picking a fight with one of the most militant sections of the working class while the Tories are trying to shed their 'nasty party' image.

Even if Tory leader David Cameron puts Johnson on a leash on this issue, there is still the question of Metronet, the failed private maintenance company to deal with.

Metronet will come under the full control of Transport for London (TfL) in a few weeks but it is clear both Labour and the Tories favour re-privatising it again as soon as possible. Bob Crow has warned: "We will resist any attempt to do so, with every means at our disposal".

The unions will undoubtedly use the renationalisation of Metronet to equalise pay and conditions across TfL as well as to deal with issues like the use of agency staff. Johnson will not be able to duck these issues forever.

Boris Johnson's election marks a turning point, as right-wing New Labour can no longer keep the Tories out of power. This should act as a wake-up call to everyone on the Left.

Attacks from New Labour and the Tories need a political response, a new party of the working class. Otherwise we face the prospect of a Tory government with no party to organise the fight-back. The clock is ticking, a new workers' party is needed urgently.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 14 May 2008:

NHS under threat

Unison witch-hunt

Unison witch-hunt: Rory Bremner and Mark Thomas speak out

Anti-racists protest at Unison witch hunt

Unison witch-hunt: Defend the four lobby of hearing

International socialist news and analysis

Burma cyclone disaster: Wealth and privilege put before aid

60 year anniversary of Israel: Can there be a resolution of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict?

Scottish National Party: One year in power - but little for workers to celebrate

Global capitalist crisis: Confidence in a socialist future

Socialist Party women

Defend and extend abortion rights

Ladyfest: culture, politics and women

Socialist Party news and analysis

What will Boris Johnson mean for London?

Campaign for a new workers' party: conference 2008

Price rises hit workers

Don't evict Ricky Jones!

The BNP have no solutions...and no clue!

Sussex students uphold 'no platform'

Students 'study-in' in Manchester

Opposing cutbacks in Lincolnshire

Why Labour lost Bury

Socialist Party workplace news and analysis

Left wins in PCS executive elections

North west shop stewards

Saturday 28 June 11.30am-4.30pm

Wales TUC: Right wing attack on democracy

Socialist fighter honoured by lecturers' union

Socialist Party review

Review: 'Marx in London' by Asa Briggs and John Callow


Home   |   The Socialist 14 May 2008   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:

Boris Johnson:

triangleNasty party out the Tories

triangleThe Tories must be driven out

triangleEstablishment papers over Brexit chasms

triangleKhan should attack bosses, not workers

triangleEU referendum: political turmoil ahead whatever the result


triangleNorth London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses

triangleNo cuts - hands off King George A&E!

triangleTories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!

triangleTower Hamlets Socialist Party: "You can't have capitalism without racism" (Malcolm X)


triangleFight for free education

triangleWhy do young people need socialism?

triangleInterview with leader of students' union in the Spanish state: "When we fight, we win!"


triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

triangleYoung people being strangled by debts


triangleRate of black imprisonment worse than US


triangleGermany: Election results in political earthquake


triangleThe fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity


triangleTravel chaos for Ryanair customers as airline cancels thousands of flights


triangleLondon Underground signals victory


triangleGerman elections: rise of the far right and right-wing government will provoke resistance

Bob Crow:

triangleThe left unions and the Labour Party affiliation debate


triangleRMT strikes against removal of train guards spreads

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns


North West

Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay


Democratic rights

Conference on state spies: who's watching who?



Striking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni


Royal Mail

Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers



Balloting members on the pay cap



'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future



Sheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison


South West Wales

Hundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP



Uprising to save the NHS!



Can you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?


East London

No cuts - hands off King George A&E!


North London

North London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses



Nationalise to save jobs at BAE Systems



Schools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now



Socialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party out the Tories

More ...

triangle21 Oct Birmingham: NSSN Solidarity Forum

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice