The bus test

The PM and the Mayor, political futures, ,jobs and more

Transport of delight?Transport of delight?

It's not a good time for UK plc. Take the threat to UK prestige by the 'adjustment' of the sovereign debt rating. Actually it's a downgrade, adjustment sounds rather bland and it is serious. Also typical of our media you have to dig deep to see that the UK is not alone; perhaps they would prefer it that way? The full list is -

- Austria: outlook on Aaa rating changed to negative
- France: outlook on Aaa rating changed to negative
- Italy: downgraded to A3 from A2, negative outlook
- Malta: downgraded to A3 from A2, negative outlook
- Portugal: downgraded to Ba3 from Ba2, negative outlook
- Slovakia: downgraded to A2 from A1, negative outlook
- Slovenia: downgraded to A2 from A1, negative outlook
- Spain: downgraded to A3 from A1, negative outlook
- United Kingdom: outlook on Aaa rating changed to negative

For many people the difference between the grades is still hard to fathom but the 'shame' of it all is tempered by the fact the UK is not alone. For example why does Ireland not appear on this list, and what happens next? The latter is easier to answer in that Cameron & Co will attempt to spin any bit of good news as hard as they can, nudge us towards the sunny uplands. The nuclear pact with France is typical. But for all the jobs Cameron claims will be created there's the nagging doubt that more military alignment with France is not such a good idea, see HERE .

One bit of good news they won't be able to touch is the new London bus as it's already got Boris Johnson's name on it. But the 'bus test' will be important to Cameron as it will be in service on the date of the election, first week in May, for Mayor of London. Do remember that it was Boris, who on becoming Mayor of London, scored first against the Labour party. This event paved the way for Cameron.

Also if the UK economy is still a cause for concern in a year's time, which is almost certain, then Boris could benefit, even if he fails to win a second term as Mayor. For unless there's a lot of good news associated with Cameron's name he will find himself under pressure, there will be a leadership challenge. So what of this new bus then?

A favour for a family member was the reason for a visit to London. By chance this was the same day that the new Routemaster bus was parked in Trafalgar Square for its first meet the public photo-call. It was a real sense of occasion as this was the sole sample, so far, to have made it onto the streets. It would be wise to declare an interest here, not an interest in the classic sense, a vested interest but an enthusiasm and a wish to see this project succeed. By contrast there has been a considerable amount of enthusiasm from vested political interests willing this project to fail. As the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, invested a great deal of personal political capital in this project. So the bus became an extension of the pro-Ken Livingstone and anti-Boris saga. For a sample of this simply go to the Guardian, there's lots to choose from. By contrast this blog has been a supporter of the new bus, see HERE and HERE.

Andrew Gilligan was the UK's most active Ken watcher prior to Ken's defeat by Boris for the Mayor's job. Not wishing to waste all that acquired skill or be accused of bias Gilligan also began Boris watching, and by extension, Boris bus watching. So his comments on the latest state of the project are worth a read. Gilligan says -

Boris Johnson's new bus: an infallible stupidity detector -

He's right too. And stepping up to show us how this test works is both the Guardian and the Evening Standard . Gilligan also says -

The Labour Party has spent the last two years demanding state investment in public services, in manufacturing, in green technology and in British jobs. This bus delivers all four. So why is Val Shawcross, Ken Livingstone’s mayoral running-mate, campaigning against it? Clearly on Planet Ken, the real need is for public services, manufacturing, green technology and British jobs – except any delivered by Boris Johnson.

The demands from political activists for government to 'create jobs' is always a funny thing. An article in the Spectator shows this. Now Cameron has always flirted with the idea he is H2B, 'heir to Blair'. It's as if Cameron & Co would nudge us towards seeing him as Mr Fixit, which is crazy as the real Blair broke more than he fixed. However, the very fact the ultra-Tory Spectator sees the economic situation as dire is interesting. The coalition has had plenty of time to fix things and impatience is growing. Also it is interesting that the great slew of advice proffered by the Spectator is presented in the style of the Labour party, that is things the government must do. For people looking for smaller government from the Coalition as the way to go, this must be disappointing. Even the title of the article gives the game away: 'How to kick-start the economy'. It's as if both the old red-left and now the new blue-left have failed to spot the fundamentals here. That not only does the trait of government intervention fail but that since the 1960s even small motorcycles have had electric starters! Both the terminology and philosophy are so dated!

But back to the bus test. Not a single penny of taxpayers money has gone to the new London bus, can Cameron match that? So far all he has done is give the go-ahead to the HS2, the high speed rail project. Actually Cameron had no choice in the matter as it's an EU project and he wants to remain on good terms with the EU. In fact the HS2 will cost the taxpayer an enormous amount of money.

So it looks like the constant comparisons between the two men are set to continue. Also if Boris is the loser to Livingstone, it's Cameron who should worry.