While David Cameron was knocking Brown for six at PMQs, we in the London Assembly were debating the 2009/10 Mayoral budget.
I won't go through all the details because my friend and colleague Roger Evans has done a better job than I would have and done it quicker. You can read his match report here.
A number of things struck me, firstly the failure of the Lib Dems or Labour to put forward an alternative budget. An alternative budget is the main tool used to hold the Mayor's budget to account, showing the Mayor and others how you think things be done differently. It takes time and requires line by line scrutiny of the Mayor proposed budget, that's the point.
The Greens did this and presented a budget which recommended an increase in the council tax precept, as Sir Humphrey would have said "very courageous". Labour and the Lib Dems put forward a short list of uncosted add-ons to the Mayoral budget, 5 minutes work at the most.
Why is this important? Because scrutinising the Mayor's budget is the single most important job that the Assembly does, if you are not willing to do that there is little point being there.
The second thing that I noticed was how deeply stuck in the past the, so called, progressive parties are. Their main criticism was that Boris wasn't doing what Livingstone said he was going to do. Funny that.
To be honest, I was more than a little disappointed by the budget debate. Knowing that would lose the final budget vote on the 11th of Feb, most of the opposition parties just didn't bother to put the work in. I'm sure they have got their sound bites and press releases ready but I thought politics was about more than just that.
Sir Hugh Orde is an excellent police officer and I'm sure would have made a very good Commissioner but having worked with Sir Paul over the last 9 months I am pleased that he has been confirmed in the role.
I look forward to working with him in the forthcoming years.
Iain Dale is running a story about a Carla Jones on facebook, apparently she is a journalist befriending Conservatives in the hope of picking up a scandal. Iain has deleted her as a friend and is advising other Conservatives to do the same. She is a facebook friend of mine but I won't be deleting her.
I have over 1,000 facebook friends, some are family and friends from school but some are people who I have never met, that is how facebook works. Some of these facebook friends are journalists, some are Labour activists, a couple are even Labour MPs, if there is anything I don't want in the public domain I don't put it on facebook. Simple really.
John Major's government stabilised the economy after the recession in the early 1990s but was brought down by accusations of sleaze.
The Labour party have behaved appallingly in this area from almost day one (remember the Ecclestone affair?) yet have managed to avoid the sleaze label being attached to them. Today we hear that some Labour Peers have been accused of distorting the legislative process for money, or to put it another way, bribery. Whether proven or not, I can't believe that Labour could come out of this situation without being badly damaged.
Sleaze did us in in 1997 even though the economy was strong, Labour doesn't even have that as a counterbalance.
My belated congratulations to Bexley's newest councillor Steven Hall, who won the East Wickham by election on Thursday. The by-election was called because of the sad death of Cllr Alf Catterall, Alf was a lovely man and worked hard as a councillor and in the community as a whole. Steven has already shown himself to be willing to work hard for local people.
East Wickham is a tight marginal ward and has been held by Labour, the Lib Dems and us in recent years so the fact that the result was tight was not a surprise, the fact that it was the BNP that came second was. The relentlessly negative campaigning of some parties does nothing but damage the credibility of politics and drive voters into the arms of parties with little to say other than "we're not them".
Still, a win is a win and Steven will work hard and make a good name for himself between now and the main elections next year. We shouldn't ignore the fact that a lot of people voted for the BNP, but we shouldn't obsess about it either.
I have been a little bit all over the place recently, geographically rather than emotionally, so the blogging has suffered. Here is a quick update., after a bit of campaigning in support of Steven Hall in East Wickham, of which more later, Thursday turned into a sporty day.
I visited the Europa Gym in Erith, you may have heard of Len and Yvonne who have put all their time and their life savings into keeping the gym going. The Europa, makes do with with a less than perfect building but still produces fantastic results. I met a number of young athletes with a real chance of Olympicsuccess in 2012, including our young weight lifting star Zoe Smith, who was discovered and nurtured by the team at Europa.
There a lots of gyms in London but what I love about the set up at Europa is that, while they are open to all levels of talent, they are not afraid to strive for excellence.
That evening I joined Boris, Kit and a number of senior police officers, RFU and the Rugby Premiership at New Scotland Yard to celebrate the Rugby Kickz programme. This will follow the format of the already successful Football Kickz.
Jimmy, a regular commentator on this blog, makes a valid request. In my last post I wrote about MPs expenses and he feels it only fair that I'm open about mine. Fair point.
Before I reveal the figure I think it only fair to explain that Assembly Members and MPs expenses work in very different ways.
Firstly because London is a physically tight area none of us need second homes. All our staff, IT equipment and office equipment is paid for centrally rather than being paid by or bought by the MP, as is the case in Westminster. I also get an annual travel card so I can get around London for meetings, visits etc. This all keeps our expenses lower and more simple than MPs.
Now here is the good bit. Based on my expenses since being elected in May of last year I calculate my annual expense claim for the municipal year 2008/9 will be £0.00
I can't promise it will always be this low but I'll do my best.
I have a huge amount of time for Ken Clarke, I don't agree with his views on a number of Europe related issues and these have caused some ruffles feathers in the part in the past. But I'm confident that he will stick to his promise and accept the collective responsibility that comes with the new appointment.
The left will go into overdrive in their attempts to drive a wedge between Ken and the party as a whole, they won't succeed. The contrast between Brown/Darling's economic track record and Ken Clarke's couldn't be more stark. Clarke fixed the economy, handed it over to Brown, Brown broke it!
I'm glad to see Chris Grayling (my old next door neighbour) getting the Home Affairs brief and Dominic Grieve is very well suited to the Justice role. I thought that Nick Herbert was doing very well in Justice but I can see that the DEFRA role is a natural fit.
One appointment that will delight the Conservative grass roots is Eric Pickles to Party Chairman. He has a down to earth, get things done attitude which is exactly what we need in the role. Also, he can win elections, as the Crewe& Nantwich by-election proved.
The party is branding this as "The strongest possible Shadow Cabinet", I think that that title is spot on.
Just a quick thank you to the 30-40 people who were out in support of the Steven Hall, our candidate in the East Wickham by-election.
Steven has been working extremely hard and it is great to see him getting so much support, both Roger Evans (colleague at the GLA) and Colin Bloom (PPC for Erith and Thamesmead) have write-ups of the day and I would like to thank everyone who came.
The sun even shined on us, which is more than could be said a few hours earlier when I was out in support of Andrew and Chris our candidates in the Downham ward by-election. Still, as they say, no rest for the wicked.
I was at an event for Met police volunteers. These are the people who give up their spare time to support the police in their communities, help out with training programs etc.
Up on the top floor of City Hall Boris, Sir Paul Stevenson and Janette Arnold thanked the people who help the police do their job and awarded trophies to the three boroughs who had given the most volunteer hours in 2008.
The three boroughs that were recognised were Bexley, Bromley and Hillingdon. Two out of the three winning boroughs are in my patch.
Since Boris announced the Youth Ambassador role I have been in and out of studios, on and off of phones and smiling to a range of photographers. Much media.
It was nice to get back to reality last night over in Bexleyheath, discussing local policing priorities with the Borough Commander, councillors and community representatives. Media interviews are good (or bad) for the ego but it's the unreported meetings in school halls and poky offices that actually make a difference.
Not since Ted Heath has there been such a sulk in politics. Nine months after he lost the mayoral elections, Ken Livingstone is still sore as a bear. Tomorrow Boris Johnson opens the new Docklands Light Railway extension to Woolwich, a project Ken spent years getting off the ground. Cheesed off that Boris will take the credit, Ken staged a separate launch yesterday. "This is the most significant transport development since the development of the docks," he told me from Woolwich. "It would be nice if we could have a launch of this sort every couple of years, but Boris has stopped all the projects we had planned, except for Crossrail, which he is obliged to go along with by the Government." Ken went on in this vein for some time. Shouldn't he just, like, get over it?
It's official. I am now required to get down with the kids.
Yesterday Boris announced my new role as Ambassador for Young People. This is an area that I have been involved in almost since the start of my time here at the Assembly, the announcement formalises the work and makes it a bit easier for me to open doors and bring people together.
This means I'm going to be a fair bit busier but it's what I campaigned on during the election and it is priority for the Mayor.
I've just had an email from the Bromley scouts, clearly they haven't heard that young people are meant to be rude, feckless and stroppy. Rather than take part in these traditional youth activities they spent their free time in the lead up to Christmas helping people pack their shopping and raising money for charity.
Having already spent their summer refurbishing the gardens of the Demelza House Children's Hospice in Sittingbourne, they have now presented the charity with £12,000 towards equipment for their new hospice in Eltham. Twelve grand!!!! How is that going to reinforce the negative stereotype of young people, I ask you?
Well done to the Bromley District Scouts, well done to the shoppers in Sainsbury's and well done to the staff at Demelza's
I spent a very cold hour standing on the platform of Bromley South train station this morning.
Normally this would make me furious but I wasn't waiting for a train so I didn't mind too much. In fact I was at Boris' announcement of 50 extra transport police for SE London. Good news, but no less cold.
I travelled back into London Bridge with Boris, I still find it amusing how Londoners who meet Boris on the train or platform just nod their hellos and carry on regardless. Londoners don't do reverence, and I like it that way.
I had a long break with the family, I think we all needed it.
Clearly the world doesn't stop just because it's Christmas and the state of the economy, the middle-east, the business and employment markets, the pound etc. etc. don't make for fun reading.
Here are some very quick observations on the big news stories.
Gaza. Like everything to do with the middle-east the situation isn't as clear cut as much of the media would make out. I think that Israel is being heavy handed in it's military operations in Gaza. But that's easy for me to say, I haven't been on the receiving end on thousands of rocket attacks like the people of southern Israel have.
Hamas is a bad news, both for the Palestinian people and for the chances of lasting peace in the region. I have been shocked and saddened by the lack of balance in the reporting, I am reminded of the November 2006 headline "Gaza Strip ceasefire holds despite rocket attacks on Israel".
Economy Gordon Brown sounds like a stuck record (younger readers might want to ask their parents about the meaning of that phrase). The constant "it started in America", "I'm the best placed to get us out of this", "the Conservative would do nothing" etc, etc aren't convincing anyone that I've spoken to about this.
His desire to be seen to be active and decisive but without any sense of direction or focus gives a whole new meaning to Brownian motion.
I'll back updating the bog regularly again now, so keep checking back.