Boris Johnson is a super-smart, hard-working and ultra-ambitious politician pretending to be an upper-class buffoon. His is a reputation untested by the competing demands and multifarious pressures of national office. But, for the moment, Brand Boris is stronger than ever. The Mayor is one of the few politicians recognisable by his first name and the only one identifiable from his silhouette.

And the fervour of Boris-mania has helped highlight the flaws in David Cameron’s brand, Rachel Sylvester says today

Boris Johnson is a clown who happens to run a major world city. We like Mr Johnson as Mayor of London (those of us who do) because his power is limited. If London had its own defence budget we might be more wary. The best way to expose Mr Johnson’s credentials would be to devolve more power. Then the electorate would react the way that most children do when they see a clown. It’s not funny. It’s scary.

Unimpressed with the Mayor’s zip line antics earlier this week, Times columnist Philip Collins throws a bucket of cold water at those who think Boris Johnson is prime minister material

A past president of the Landscape Institute wrote in The Times on June 10, 1982 about the threats to London’s skyline. Fearing that inspiring views of St Paul’s Cathedral would be lost behind new structures, he urged developers to consider the “silhouette of London”.

Last week, the Shard was baptised in a bevy of bright lights and lasers - but the largest skyscraper in Europe has its critics.

Before the Shard’s developers were granted planning permission, a 2003 article by Jonathan Meades said that “volume builders” like Berkeley Homes, not skyscrapers, were the biggest threat to the capital’s skyline:

It is not really a question of the material – mainly glass – or of the building’s shape but, rather, of their sheer dominance. They are set to overturn the balance of the cityscape in a way that a tower five times their height will not.

(Chronicler: Alexander Godfrey)

Thanks, WSJ yanks. And as for whinging:

It’s just a stupid fleck of glass like a thing for monkeys to worship in a sci-fi film.

(Source: The Wall Street Journal)

Magazine Rack | London, police informants, alternative energy & dusty library shelves

The Economist says London is Europe’s only global city

Ted Conover on what it’s like to be a police informant in The New York Times Magazine

Vaclav Smil is skeptical about alternative energy sources on IEEE Spectrum

In the Times Higher Education Supplement, John Sutherland doesn’t appreciate the democratisation of knowledge. He would rather a select few academics heroically dig it up from dusty library shelves

Compiled by @TomasRuta

Formula One on London’s streets? Sounds like a grand prix of machismo | Camilla Cavendish

Should Londoners be exhilarated at the prospect of fast cars screeching around Piccadilly Circus and Buckingham Palace, and overtaking on the Mall?

As the pro-London grand prix arguments go: you’d only have to shut down central London for a few days; Formula One is just so popular; shops would coin it; tourism would flourish, heavenly trumpets would sound and Britain would be Great again.

Oh come on. This is really about machismo. Have you ever been through the hell that is London traffic? A grand prix could choke central London for a week.

I actually like speed. I remember hitting 100mph on a motorbike without a helmet in Maine. That’s freedom.

But the prospect of seeing Bernie Ecclestone, cigar in hand, standing aside Nelson’s Column while Trafalgar Square is obliterated by even more exhaust and noise than usual? That’s tyranny.

Twitter: @CamCavTimes

Read The Times’s exclusive story on the plans for a grand prix on London’s streets and see the proposed route map. See also our leading article: A Grand Prix on London’s streets would boost the capital

Loading posts...