Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Boris abolishes a do-nothing advisory panel

This shouldn't need to be a story should it? Ever since Boris Johnson was elected Mayor of London a new broom has been sweeping through the Greater London Authority and many of the wasteful and tokenistic initiatives of the Livingstone era have been abolished. However the decision to abolish a Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Advisory Panel that had only been formed a few months ago and had just a preliminary meeting has provoked some criticism. (PinkNews: Boris team rejects criticism over LGB advisory panel) But surprise surprise the first person to speak out about this is a Labour Party councillor - the reaction of many Labour members to Boris's victory struck me as one of outrage that the voters had dared to deny Labour its supposed God-Given-Right to rule. On close inspection the panel membership is also suggestive:

...the panel which was chaired by Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, included Linda Bellos of Black Lesbians UK, Jackie Lewis of trade union UNISON, Lynsey River of Polari, the older people's LGBT network, Brenda Ellis of REGARD, a disabled LGBT group and Mr [Pav] Akhtar in his role as Chair of Imaan, a Muslim LGBT group.
This sounds suspiciously like a mainly Labour mates show that did very little but ticked a few boxes, of the kind all too common under the Livingstone regime. For another example see PinkNews's interview with Deputy Mayor Richard Barnes where he talks of a disability adviser who similarly served to tick boxes. (PinkNews: INTERVIEW: A heartbeat away from the Mayor of London)

I remained to be convinced that this advisory panel that only ever had a preliminary meeting was actually doing anything to the benefit of Lesbian & Gay (and I deliberate use just those words) Londoners and that their lives were in any way enhanced by its existence. Maybe the timing of the announcement wasn't the best but I don't want Labour style gesture politics that creates positions and throws around money for appearances' sake, I want results and substance. And I believe many Londoners want the same.

So I hope Boris Johnson will carry on getting rid of wasteful tokenistic bodies that just serve to tick boxes and get one with delivering real results for all Londoners.

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