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Toulmin Smith

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Blond ambition

An unruly blond figure arrives at Toulmin Hall. “Crikey, Toulmin, it’s ripping fun being mayor of that big city near Eton,” young Johnson exclaims. I concur that it must have its moments. “But what am I going to do?” he asks.

I say that surely his pledges to ban spitting on buses, learn to ride his bike properly and play the Eton wall game in Piccadilly will keep him busy.

Young Johnson explains: “The problem is that Cameron has sent lots of senior Tories to help me, and every time I think up some rip-snorting wheeze they send me off to Fairlop or somewhere until I have forgotten it.”

The mayor has spotted young Cameron’s guile. His leader has installed Sir Simon Milton as Johnson’s head butler (he will run the Local Government Association on his days off), Bexley former leader Mr Ian Clement as chief ostler and Mr Richard Barnes, a seasoned former Hillingdon leader, as head prefect.

No doubt young Johnson will gain much media exposure. But when I wish to ensure something happens in London, I shall head to Mr Barnes’ office.

The perils of localism

Mistress Blears consults me on her forthcoming local government white paper, the first for a mere two weeks.

I ask what she would do that was not done then, and she mutters vaguely about mayors, petitions and unitary councils.

“You will bring about real localism only when you invest councils with real powers,” I explain.

“But if I gave councils powers now, the Tories would use them,” she responds.

I point out that is in the nature of localism and she suddenly changes the subject.

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