Shooting the deputy

July 4, 2008 at 8:41 am | Posted in British Politics | Leave a comment
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Okay, maybe it’s a bit premature to say the honeymoon’s over or that his rather gaffe-tastic first two months might be an omen for the next four years, but it’s telling that not even Gordon Brown – who may one day become a historic metaphor for precipitous decline – suffered from a scandal as bad as this during his first few months. Like Gordon, Boris’ fortunes have become entangled in crises not entirely of his own making and they’ve both had to resist their opponents’ demands for political scalps. In the case of Ray Lewis, Boris is probably right to resist – for now.

At the time of writing, it’s difficult to see how Lewis will clear himself of all the allegations of financial impropriety. Likewise, whilst their moral authority might not always be deserved, it’s hard to dismiss the fears of senior clergymen about his suitability for the priesthood. But it’s the – as yet unproven – allegations of sexual misconduct that are a real career-ender. To be suspended by your employer pending an investigation over something as despised as harassment would suggest a telling lack of trust. It screams ‘well, he’s possibly not guilty, but let’s keep him out of the way lest he do us any more harm.’ It can damage a person’s reputation for life, and if Boris is convinced by his Deputy Mayor’s innocence, then he does right not to suspend him over it. For all the right (wrongly) winced over Johnson’s lack of backbone in the James McGrath affair, this is actually a rather gutsy decision. If he gets it wrong, the consequences won’t be pretty.

Update: 04/07/08 at 22:44: Ray Lewis has since resigned

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