Fight of flight?


altBack in May, things were looking good for London, with the arrival of the excellent Tim Parker as a deputy mayor. However, following his resignation last month, the dreams of major reform in Transport for London (TfL) - which he was supposed to become chairman of this month - feel increasingly distant.

Parker quit because it was decided that the role of chairman of TfL was too political for an unelected official. There are also reports that he was frustrated with the inefficiency of working in the public sector and had a number of clashes with Tory councillors over possible job cuts. Whatever the reasons, it is a shame for London that he was not able to step into this role.

While the underground is becoming increasingly unpleasant to travel on, Bob Crow - head of the RMT union - is still regularly threatening strike action. As a Times leader argued last month, Johnson should “be preparing for a ruthless confrontation with RMT militants that must end with Mr Crow's defeat.” Tim Parker would have been the ideal figure for such a confrontation. Unions have not dubbed him ‘the prince of darkness’ for nothing.

Sometimes there is no political triangulation to escape through. Boris Johnson will have to face down Bob Crow and the RMT as Thatcher did to Arthur Scargill in the 1980s. So far Johnson has failed to give Londoners any hope that he will do so. Events may yet force his hand, and if they do, the people of London will undoubtedly be behind him.