Lack of ambition, in his view, has marked the first eleven years of mayoral rule. He credits Boris with engendering lots of small scale activity but, “When I stand back and ask what it really adds up to, I only give him five out of ten.” He thinks Ken Livingstone’s terms came up short too. “We have a monumental housing crisis. There’s 360,000 people on the waiting lists. Private rents went up 17 percent in the last quarter of last year, which is a sign of shortage. We’re becoming a city where only the very rich or very poor can actually afford to live. I don’t see how anything that’s been done from here has had any real impact on that.
“It’s one of the ironies that in this great world business centre we’ve got a higher percentage of unemployed people than any other region – ten or twelve percent. We have a health crisis – there’s a statistic that says life expectancy drops by ten years in the space of three stops on the Jubilee Line. On all the indicators, it is pretty scandalous. But what have we had out of the GLA over those ten years or so? Very little impact if you track back. We have not, as a city, risen to the challenges that face us.”
The standard response to such an argument is that the Mayor and Assembly have always lacked sufficient powers. But Tuffrey invests high hopes in the new levers London Mayors will soon have to hand. “We’re at a fascinating time for London government,” he says, adding with a mildly rueful chuckle, “whatever you say about the coalition we have the Localism Bill.”