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Bonkers Blog February 2011

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13 February - Strange bedfellows

Boris Johnson Teresa O'NeillIn my rush to bring news of Teresa O’Neill’s new responsibilities I missed a vital point. Her new appointment by the Mayor is not to advise Waltham Forest council but all Outer London boroughs. Boris Johnson has courted O’Neill because he “admires your experience, common sense and judgement when it comes to matters affecting outer London” and he “hopes you will have the time and willingness to put that at my disposal”. “It is not my intention to make a public announcement”. Despite that you can find his letter to O’Neill on the Mayor’s website.

Has Boris taken leave of his senses and playing fast and loose with his reputation again? Is the appointment O’Neill’s reward for covering up after Johnson’s deputy and one time Bexley council leader, Ian Clement, was caught misusing his credit card? O’Neill was deputy leader under Clement and her denial of any knowledge of credit card abuse and blaming junior staff for turning a blind eye or not realising what they were doing doesn’t ring true. O’Neill subsequently refused to forward fraud allegations to the police. Won’t Boris getting into bed with someone with such a dubious financial past risk damaging his own reputation just as it did when his deputy Ian Clement and former Bexley council leader was convicted of fraud?

One must wonder where O’Neill will find the time for the liaison, she claims to do her council work full time and unlike leaders elsewhere not to be in any other full time employment. She was on record very recently saying “I work jolly long hours” so how much will Bexley be neglected because of her agreement to climb Boris’s greasy pole?

Teresa O’Neill can be seen as a singularly unimpressive performer at Bexley council meetings and is the borough’s principal opponent to government pleas to reduce fat cat salaries. She says they are “good value”. How can Boris possibly think, without a hint of considering any other leader, that she is the most suitable person to advise on “economic, environmental and social policies”?


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