London Provides A Solution to Political Dysfunction
Even devoted US political junkies might have a tough time identifying Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. He is the unkempt looking Mayor of London who has had quite a run of it during the Olympics. Few could wear a suit and tie on a zip line, have it get stuck and turn it into a positive. Strategists are wondering how to position him to unhorse David Cameron as leader of the Conservatives and perhaps even Prime Minister.
There is a lesson here, but some background will help.
First, there are two confusingly similar roles. The Lord Mayor of London is a post that has existed since 1189 when it was held by Henry Fitz-Ailwin de Londonestone. The Lord Mayor gets to live in Mansion House, a massive Palladian building built in the 1700’s, and to wear ceremonial clothing, which England does really well. So far so good, but he only serves for one year and his job is to be the lobbyist-in-chief for the City of London, a one square mile area that historically defined the economic and financial life of the Empire.
Alexander Boris dePfeffel Johnson is the other one. He gets all of London, a four-year term, no ceremonial clothing, no Palladian House and not much to do. The first Mayor was Ken “Red Ken” Livingstone, who began in 2000, more than 800 years after Henry Fitz-Ailwin. Red Ken was best known for a traffic reduction program under which drivers paid fat fees to drive their cars into the most congested areas.
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is best known for the Olympics, which he had nothing to do with bringing to London.
The Mayor of London job was created by devolution of power from the Parliament. Since it is a universal political truth that politicians do not lightly give away power, the Parliament gave away as little as possible, while still maintaining appearances.
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has very little to do so there is very little to criticize. Perfect. All image and no harm done to anyone else. What better platform from which to seek higher office?
Why not do the same here in America? Let our “Fab 537” (435 Congressmen, 100 Senators, one President and one Vice President) have completely ceremonial jobs and leave the governing to those who don’t do well in the limelight but who do know how to solve problems.
One other thing. The world’s longest serving political consultant tried, without success, to get Henry Fitz-Ailwin de Londonstone to shorten has name and make it more appealing to the average voter. After only 823 years he succeeded with Boris Johnson.