London News Review 2014: Politics

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 113 months ago

Last Updated 29 December 2014

London News Review 2014: Politics

Photo by Simon Goldsworthy from the Londonist Flickr pool

Boris Johnson and the Parliamentary quest

The biggest story in London politics this year was, arguably, Boris Johnson finally admitting he wants to go back into Parliament. He denied it and denied it and, dear god, did he deny it, and then in August said 'actually, yeah, I'm well up for that' (we paraphrase). Uxbridge and South Ruislip is the constituency that gets the mop-headed one as its Conservative candidate and — given it's a very safe Tory seat — doubtless its MP as well. Though we don't expect Boris to be given an easy ride since one of his flagship Mayoral policies has been to close down Heathrow, a place that gives lots of new potential constituents jobs...

Johnson also claims that he'll continue as Mayor until the May 2016 London elections, whatever happens in Uxbridge. There is precedent for the mayor being an MP at the same time — Ken Livingstone did it in 2000/2001. But, since nobody has any idea how the 2015 general election will pan out, if Johnson ends up with a cabinet role, 'real' or shadow, that might be a bit much for one person to handle. Luckily ol' Boris has a team at City Hall who already do much of the mayoral admin for him and we don't think we'll much notice him being a part-time mayor. (For what it's worth, we reckon Boris will hold both jobs until he can resign without triggering an automatic by-election — so, roughly November 2015 — and then his deputy Victoria Borwick will take over. But don't tell anyone we said so.)

Council elections: goodbye Lib Dems, hello Greens

While parts of the country were welcoming UKIP with open arms, in the local and European elections this May London largely told the gaffe-prone, berk-laden party to take a hike. In the council elections, the Liberal Democrats took a severe beating, losing seats all over the place. Lynne Featherstone should be concerned about her parliamentary seat after the cudgeling the party took in Haringey; Simon Hughes may also look at the Lib Dems losing half their seats in Southwark and be worried. Sutton bucked the trend however, with the Lib Dems actually increasing their hold on the council. Expect Paul Burstow to be returned in Sutton and Cheam.

On two councils it's actually the Greens who provide the official opposition in Islington (Caroline Russell) and Lewisham (John Coughlin) — though given we're talking about just one councillor, the amount of opposition is minimal. These councils now join Barking and Dagenham and Newham as effective Labour one-party states. Bexley and Bromley have five UKIP councillors between them, while Havering elected seven UKIP-pers in what was a very confusing election. But the real shock of the night came in Hammersmith and Fulham, where the Tory council — much beloved of Number 10 — lost out to Labour.

And we finally said goodbye to Brian Coleman who, in losing his seat on Barnet council, has gone from being one of the most powerful men in London politics to a nobody. Well, that's showbusiness.

The election in Tower Hamlets was subject to fraud accusations, but it was a "culture of cronyism" that caused the government to intervene in November.

Take a look at our full rundown of the council election results for more details. Or maybe ponder whether we even need all these councillors?

Politics and the people

But what of how politics affected us, not just politicians, in 2014? Ten London fire stations closed in January, victims of budget cuts imposed from City Hall. The effect of that has been to push up average fire engine response times across the whole city — yet more wards are now within the target response time.

Food banks have also been a major story this year. Whichever way you cut it, demand for help with basics like just eating has risen in the city. It's such an emotive issue that austerity defenders have been saying they're a self fulfilling prophecy, so we busted a few food bank myths back in February.

Something that's going to run and run next year is the question of London getting more devolved powers so the city doesn't have to keep going cap in hand to the Treasury to build things like Crossrail. If that happens, we can expect more exciting infrastructure projects as well as potentially more housing and City Hall input into health, education and training.

Read more:

London News Review 2014: Housing

London News Review 2014: Transport and Environment

London News Review 2014: Infrastructure