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Boris and Waddles, an everyday tale of Tory croneyism

Posted on 5 December 2009 | 9:12am

If you want another angle on how ‘modern Toryism’ might look in power, study the tale of Boris Johnson and Veronica Wadley.

Most of you know who Boris is by now. Old Etonian (oh sorry, not allowed to say that), ex Telegraph journalist, funny on quiz shows, blonde mop, became London mayor ….

… with the help of Veronica Wadley, editor of the London Evening Standard when it was being run by Paul Dacre (kids sent to Eton, hate-filled bilious ubergruppenfuhrer of all things Mail Group Zeitung)

Since Boris became mayor, Waddles has become paperless and therefore in need of something else to do with her time, and what her friends like Boris call her ‘considerable abilities.’

And just as Dave and Gideon woke up one day and said wouldn’t it be a jolly wheeze to run the country, like Boris is running London, boo hiss fiddlesticks, how cone Bozza got to get a proper job first, she woke up and thought ‘wouldn’t it be super if I could become the London arts supremo?’

After all, she went to loads of first nights as Standard editor and she had lots of film reviews and, er, everything.

The problem is it is a public position and there are things called Nolan principles and interviewing panels and, er, stuff like that.

But Waddles pressed ahead undeterred. After all she knew Boris and Boris, er, owed her one.

So she applied. And she was one of five to be interviewed. But she was deemed by the panel not to meet the criteria for the job and so was not on the short list of three to be interviewed by Boris.

Boris wasn’t happy about that. He decided to interview four, not three, and guess who the fourth was?

Then guess who he recommended for the job? Yes!!! Let’s hear it for the Waddler. She’s got the job. Alas for Boris and Waddles, there were a few more hurdles to jump, like his recommendation being accepted by Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw. But by now the arts world was awash (if an arts world can be in such a state) with rumours – widely dismissed by genuine arts experts – that Dacre’s former oberleutnant in the Gruppenfuhrer-antiKen department was to  get this important job.

Bradshaw is made aware of the apparent irregularities of the process, is in any event already aware of the lack of ability and qualifications of Waddles, and so puts the thing on hold. Members of the interviewing panel warn the process has been irregular. 

Ah, say the Bojoistas at City Hall. Let’s not have the job filled until Dave is PM and then we can get it snuck in under cover of all our new pals being in there with their spiffing red boxes and tacky Vauxhall ‘ministerial limos’.

Meanwhile Labour at City Hall press on and force the publication of emails and correspondence which suggest Boris has not been wholly open and frank about the process. Oh for heaven’s sake, say his people, this was a clerical oversight. Yeah, right.

Waddles should be assured Boris will fight for her. That’s what they’re taught at Eton … Stand up for your own.

As to what the rest of the world will make of it, who knows? Because in common with so much else that is, er, a bit tricky for Dave and Co, there is something of the usual news blackout applying. The Guardian are giving it a go but pretty much solo.

Imagine if this had been Ken. Oh my God. ‘Oi Waddles,’ the Obergruppenfuhrer would be shouting from his bunker, ‘can we up the pointsize on “croney” in the headline? There’s a dear.’

Still, must be nice to have all those friends who keep these stories quiet when those horrid lefty press people and a few pols try to suggest this is another example of what a Tory Britain might be like – an elite running things for their friends from high places.

Er, inheritance tax cut for my Notting Hill chums anyone?

  • Harry Gee

    Sometimes get the feeling you don’t care too much for the Tories. Me neither. Keep it up.

  • Hilary Prentice

    I had not really considered what the coverage would have been like had this been Ken Livingstone. But you are right. It would be all over the news. There is a corruption to our media now that is almost banana republicana

  • Mannie Shortbread

    Boris isn’t funny any more

  • @jlocke13

    your constant use of German with Nazi overtones demeans your argument…..As a good writer you should refrain from such tabloid tactics.. how about commenting on something more important like Ben Bernanke stating Gordon Brown hurt Britain’s ability to resolve banking crisis….

  • Quietzapple

    When Tony Blair appointed the Head of his old chambers to the cabinet as Lord Falconer he was appointing someone who was widely judged to be capable of the job.

    Tories screamed “fowl” as ever, although everything was above board.

    Bojo’s shame has not attracted the opprobrium of Chameleon, who chose him to be His candidate for the London mayoral elections (endorsed by the ‘fans’)

    Time for the Tories, who have been keen on saying they would permit the recall of errant MPs, to demand that Bojo goes, or is subject to a recall petition.

    If they were sincere they would get one up themselves . . .

  • Dick the Prick

    You all suffer from cronyism – apathy’s gonna cain this election.

  • Steven Callaghan

    And as neither of them hails from north of the border, this couldn’t happen under a Labour administration!

  • Brian Hughes

    Do you remember when William Hague was playing the part of Tory leader? He often droned on about the “metropolitan elite” that was allegedly in thrall to Labour and how it was making life grim for the “silent majority” of good honest Englishmen.

    He seems curiously silent about the wealthy elite that is now attempting to restore his party to their allegedly rightful place in charge of the Empire.

    It’s always good to be reminded of how many in the media belong near the top of the rich list. I guess they rarely mix with anyone who isn’t. John Humphrys had a little lapse this morning during a discussion about whether banks’ bonus pots should be subject to additional tax. Don’t worry, bonuses will be taxed anyway, opined the Tory spokesperson, and at 50%. Ah yes, replied the Welsh sage, we’ll all be paying 50% tax soon.

    No we won’t old fruit, most people won’t even make it into the 40% league…

  • don

    Alastair, I’m going to stop reading your blog, because you don’t have a scrap of intelligence in anything you write.

    For instance, your comparing of Dacre to an SS officer is the kind of insult we used to chuck around at secondary school – but I suppose it fits your thuggish mentality.

    If Dacre is an Obergruppenfuhrer, what does that make you?
    How about Josef Mengele – yes, that’s it. A sick, twisted and deeply bigoted hack – Alastair Mengele.

    Let’s hope that name sticks.

  • Charlie

    AC It is possible to guess that croneyism (sic) might exist under the Torys, we do not yet know.

    What is not in any doubt whatsoever is that Tony Blair, ably abetted by you, and Gordon Brown have presided over the most crony-ridden administration since Lloyd George.

  • Colin Morley

    Hmm – Can’t help harking back to TB on the subject of chronyism – but there is a difference in giving positions to old chums who are up to it and dishing out honours mereley for favours, and it has to be said that by and large Tony’s so-called chronies did tend to be efficient chronies. That’s the difference between intelligent networking and old-Etonian piss ups, I guess!

  • Charlie Reynolds

    You’re ranting now Ali! Thought that was my job!

    I thought you would be mentioning the terrible news blackout on the Ben Bernanke story. The media is so biased these days. I can’t believe it. I mean if Mr Bernanke had said Dave’s policies were wrong and had made it more difficult for Britain to recover from recession surely the FT would have mentioned it? What’s going on?!!!

    Don’t panic Ali – you guys have set the bar so high on the croneyism stakes I don’t think anyone will ever be able to match it. Your record will stand long and (ahem) proud.

    BTW from Wikipedia:
    “The current Prime Minister Gordon Brown, though, is reportedly a personal friend of Dacre. In 2002, when Brown was Chancellor of the Exchequer, Dacre commented: “I have an awful lot of admiration for Gordon Brown. I feel he is one of the very few politicians of this administration who’s touched by the mantle of greatness”.[7] Brown returned the favour to Dacre at an event at the Savoy Hotel which celebrated the tenth anniversary of his editorship of the Mail in 2003. In a video presentation, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer said that Dacre “has devised, developed and delivered one of the great newspaper success stories of any generation” and was “someone of great journalistic skill , an editor of great distinction and someone of very great personal warmth”.” Respec as Ali G (not C) might say!!!!

    That damned internet eh?! Used to be able to download any old thesis, change a few key words and present it to the UN to help support an illegal and unpopular war. Good Old Happy Days. Sigh.

  • Just Sayin\’

    “I had not really considered what the coverage would have been like had this been Ken Livingstone.”

    Ken appointed his girlfriend as his PA at City Hall at a salary of something like £90,000.
    £90,000 for a PA!!

    I remember Alastair’s outrage – only by its absence.

  • Alex@thevc.co.uk

    Until I understood that Veronica used to work for Evening Standard I wondered why the Evening Standard was so anti Ken Livingstone. Now I know. Tories up to old boys/girls network tricks. Shameful. Never trust the Tories.

  • Salmondnet

    More etonian cronies in government, but fewer Scottish cronies. Sounds good to me.

  • Just Sayin\’

    Oh, and by the way, when Alastair’s partner, Fiona Millar held the job as Cherie Blair’s ‘advisor’ while he was working in the same office at Number Ten for her husband, was Alastair outraged?
    Was there any mention of Tony’s cronies?
    Not that I remember.

  • Hazico

    I think I have a vague memory of hearing some coverage on this in Arts Professional magazine- they follow arts policy closely.

    I have great worries about arts funding in the future, particularly in theatre, against a backdrop of the recession and the Olympics 2012.Many arts and theatre companies have had all funding withdrawn over the past 2 years; the Guardian has documented this well, and The Stage.
    So we certianly need someone experienced and competent at the helm.
    If this indeed true Alistair- it clearly suggests cronyism, and should be exposed.

  • Leo

    I thought Brown’s PMQ ‘playing fields” of Eton crack was the opposite of statesmanlike. Perhaps, to paraphrase someone or other, ‘he doesn’t do statesmanlike’. Where does this tribal tactic end? The remark below about Scottish cronies seems a fair response with the only objection that it takes this style of argument seriously. Brown’s behaviour reminds me of Robin Williams talking about his alcoholism: “I was breaking my standards faster than I could lower them.”

  • Trevor Malcolm Portsmouth Hampshire

    You enjoyed your drive to Portsmouth and arrived home safe from the game, good. As Pompey are likely to be relegated at the end of the season, please take heart, sir. For, at least you won’t have to visit wretched Fratton Park next year as well

    Early in the season, when Burnley knotched a favourable result against Manchester United, Burnley fans were keen to hear the 140 characters you twittered to Sir Alex’s SmartPhone

    Your answer? You didn’t

    Your reason why? Because you “had too much respect for the man” – and quite so, thus setting the best example for the rest of us to follow, should similar occasion ever arise

    Earlier today, here in Portsmouth, Burnley’s 2-0 defeat – parallel, though hardly comparable in magnitude – calls for a similarly diplomatic strategy, presuming you’ve no desire to be reminded of the result

    Hence, from one devout atheist to another, will you please accept this Biblical tactfulness – “do unto others, as you would have them do unto you” – and savour this respectful silence from Portsmouth that follows?

    Blessed be, AC, blessed be

    Trevor Malcolm
    Portsmouth Hampshire

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  • Just Sayin\’

    Your mention of the Tories ‘as “an elite running things for their friends in high places” reminded me that the retiring “London arts supremo” is Sue Hollick who was appointed to the role after her husband, Labour peer Lord Hollick, donated several tens of thousands of pounds to the party.
    Surely you could have mentioned that as an example of what you were talking about.