You thought Boris ran London by himself? Here’s the Mayor’s top flight team in City Hall
It’s easy to think of London as the domain of its Mayor, Boris Johnson.
Just cast an eye on the deluge of coverage about our very own blond bombshell. Boris strides tall as the most influential man in Britain (for the last two years). To the delight of gossip-mongers and mischief-makers, Boris is even feted as the most respected politician in Britain and someone who would catapult his party to equal footing with Labour if he took over from that prime minister chap.
But just how has the Mayor managed such a feat? Leaving aside his unique appeal, Johnson would without a doubt be gracious to tip the hat to his loyal colleagues and team for keeping things hunky-dory back at City Hall.
Out of the legions of Team Boris, who are the people you should know about?
The fiery deputy – Victoria Borwick
She is a classic Conservative, having spent years as a councillor in Kensington and Chelsea, a spell in Tory HQ and served as former Tory mayoral candidate Steve Norris’ deputy.
Tapped after Boris’ re-election to be his deputy in 2012, the flame-haired Borwick (or to be more correct – “Lady Borwick”) has blazed a trail in City Hall. She’s known for her no-nonsense approach, as developed by her slogan when campaigning against former Labour mayor Ken Livingstone – “London needs a redhead, not Red Ken”. Any resemblance to the Weakest Link Anne Robinson is a delightful coincidence.
Lady Borwick spent many years working in event management before coming to City Hall. This led to stints working for the shipping company P&O and managing fine art fairs in London’s Olympia and across the Atlantic in New York City.
The housing guru – Richard Blakeway
Boris’ housing specialist may look rather professiorial, but he has the wonkish credentials to match. Hailing from Ellesmere in Shropshire, Blakeway developed love for greenery (which he manages to balance with his current job of trying to build enough houses without going mad and tarmacing over Regent’s Park for extra space).
The academic-like Blakeway has put in the hours toiling for the Conservatives on their policy reviews. He also fostered a passion for international aid issues, launching (and editing) the “International Development” magazine. He’s mad for rugby, and his father was a jazz drummer at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in Soho.
As Boris’ Deputy Mayor for Housing, Blakeway oversees £3bn of investment and around 600 hectares of land. Definitely one of the City Hall heavyweights.
The transport insider – Isabel Dedring
Deputy Mayor for transport Isabel Dedring has worked her way up the ladder in Transport for London for several years and then as chief of staff to London transport commissioner Bob Kiley.
The trilingual Harvard graduate (German, Russian and French if you’re wondering) has been going all out to get the neo-Victorian tube system up to date. Her zeal for modernisation and efficiency could only have been sharpened by her time at McKinsey and Ernst and Young.
The police watchdog – Stephen Greenhalgh
Boris’ Deputy Mayor for policing came into City Hall to rave reviews. He has been dubbed community secretary Eric Pickles’ favourite councillor for his rigorously cost-cutting approach when at the helm of Hammersmith and Fulham council. Pickles described the council as “the apple of my eye”.
Aside from the Pickles bromance, Greenhalgh brings his cost-cutting approach to City Hall as he tries to crack down on more crime with less money.
He’s a local man to his core, having once got into a spot of bother for an apparent swipe at his Conservative colleagues for not having run a “piss up in a brewery” before getting into government. His defence?
“Currently very few politicians have had any practical experience of public administration before they enter government.”
Boris’ enforcer – Sir Edward Lister
Boris’ chief of staff and Deputy Mayor for policy and planning hasn’t got where he is without ruffling a few feathers. In Sir Edward’s case, his fiercest critic is former Labour Mayor Ken Livingstone – who described him as the “Ratko Mladic of local government”.
So, what led Livingstone to offer this comparison to the Serbian wa
r crime suspect? The fact that Sir Edward had spent nearly 20 years as head of Wandsworth council and was reknowned for driving down costs in pursuit of “value for money”.
And so the “beast of Wandsworth”, as Livingstone also dubbed him, has a fearsome reputation. Quite the choice to manage matters at City Hall.
Mr. Business – Kit Malthouse
To mark the “new age of enterprise”, Malthouse was moved in 2012 to the specially created job of Deputy Mayor for business and enterprise. He’s the man charged with getting London’s economy flying.
He does know a thing or two about business as well! Malthouse is a trained accountant and is a director of County Business Finance Limited and Dilettante Music, his wife’s internet company. He’s also finance director of the investment firm Alpha Strategic.
The Mayor’s culture vulture – Munira Mirza
An alumnus of the Royal Society of Arts and the Tate, Mirza is arty to her very core. It’ll hardly surprise you to know that she is the Deputy Mayor for culture.
Born in Oldham to Pakistani parents, the artistic bug bit her after she went to Oxford University to read English. Her PhD work on the “politics of culture” made her an influential figure in the Notting Hill/David Cameron set.
She’s said not to be a Tory voter herself, but her time working at right-leaning thinktanks like Policy Exchange would stand her in good stead with Conservative circles.
Boris’ comms man – Will Walden
You’d need to be quite the communications expert to channel the whirlwind mayor’s thoughts and speeches into easily digestible morsels for journalists.
Will Walden is just the sort to do that, having spent 20 years in the media himself. He was poached by Boris from the BBC, where he spent six years working with BBC political editor Nick Robinson. Bear that in mind the next time Boris has a go at the Beeb!
The political firefighter – James Cleverly
Bromley assembly member James Cleverly is a political bruiser. After a spell in the Army (and the even rougher world of business publishing), Cleverly fought his way to represent the area of Bexley and Bromley in the London Assembly.
He’s got a feisty way with words, whether it be attacking Labour supporters of Ken Livingstone’s transport plans as needing a “check up from the neck-up”, or just slagging off LibDem deputy leader Simon Hughes.
Cleverly served as the Mayor’s Youth Ambassador and led the Conservatives in the London Assembly. As a reward, Cleverly was given the challenge of heading the London Fire Authority. No easy task after the record of his pugnacious predecessor, Brian Coleman.
And with the firefighters up in arms about cuts to London’s fire service, Cleverly has to act like his name would suggest if he wants to avoid getting burnt.
Boris’ in-house entrepreneur – Tim Campbell
Boris has brought his very own Apprentice into City Hall in the form of Tim Campbell, the winner of the first series of the Alan Sugar-thon, as training and enterprise ambassador.
Campbell is just the right sort of London-minded entrepreneur. He hailed from the East End and worked in the London Underground before getting his moment to shine on TV.
More recently, he founded the “Bright Ideas Trust”, a charitable social enterprise which encourages young budding entrepreneurs from disadvantaged backgrounds to start business ventures. So it’s more than understandable why Boris would have pointed the finger at him for the post and said – “You’re hired!”