This is a story of two Old Etonians: one is Mayor of London and was the year above the other at Eton; the other is Leader of the Conservative Party, wants to be Prime Minister, and is nervously watching his back because the first Old Etonian makes no secret of being after his job.
This might be amusing to watch, if the consequences were not to serious.
But now the rivalry is jeopardising London’s future (and as London is the engine of the UK economy is in consequence undermining the national interest).
We have already learned about how luke-warm the response has been to the Mayor of London’s repeated pleas about the depth of the Conservative commitment to Crossrail, the vital London rail link which is the minimum necessary to keep London moving during the next decade. A recent campaigning event degenerated into farce as Mayor Boris Johnson tried to get Conservative Leader to give an unequivocal commitment to the Crossrail scheme. David Cameron kept avoiding the question (although this is a fairly common response from him to almost every issue that is raised with him).
Now, however, the Tory’s Shadow London Minister, Justine Greening, has let the cat out of the bag. In an interview on LBC this morning, she did give a straight answer to the question and it was not good news.
Here is the transcript:
> Thursday, April 15th 2010 09.25
> Speakers Nick Ferrari
> Justine Greening
> NF: Let’s go the Conservatives first. Your stance on Crossrail?
> Justine Greening.
> JG: We’ve always been very supportive of Crossrail. We recognise how
> important it is for London as well but what we can’t do before the
> election is finished is write a budget when we’re not in government. And
> so we, we can, we’ve said that we know it’s important, we know that the
> tube infrastructure and investing in, that’s important, but we can’t do a
> line by line budget because we are in such a parlous state with public
> NF: So Crossrail will continue but you don’t know how?
> JG: What, all I….
> NF: So it won’t continue?
> JG: We, we can’t, we can’t give a line by line budget on projects
> across government, including Crossrail. Everything’s up for review but we
> think it’s important.
> NF: I’m sure this is my stupidity. Will it continue or won’t it
> JG: I can’t give a guarantee that it will continue.
> NF: So it might not, it can go the other way? The Conservatives could
> scrap Crossrail?
> JG: It’s possible but at the end of the day we’ve always said that we
> think it’s important project and, and actually the reason this is
> important is we, we want to be responsible so we can’t pretend that we can
> write an entire budget outside of government. We’ve said we’ll do one
> within 50 days of getting into government if we get elected and we will
> then provide some clarity and certainty.
So now we know.
The future of London is not a priority for the Conservatives.
They are even prepared to jeopardise the national economy to perpetuate a playground squabble between two Old Etonians who seem never to have resolved their playground issues from 20 years ago.