TONY Travers, the LSE professor who is a bit of a go-to guy for London’s TV news when they need an expert in local governance, has a new book out: the £25 hardback, London’s Boroughs. Its release marks the 50th anniversary of the formation of the capital’s boroughs and he was a guest speaker at last week’s anniversary celebrations at the Town Hall.
As interesting as it may be for council politics spotters, friends and family of former council leader Raj Chada may want to think twice about wrapping up a copy and putting it in his Christmas stocking. For Raj, who was given less than a half a year to make his mark on the Town Hall when Dame Jane Roberts stepped down just six months before Labour’s council elections defeat in 2006, has been rather wiped from the record.
Raj’s name is carved into the marble tombstones, as Martin Morton called them last week, outside the main chamber at Judd Street. But his micro-stint as leader (late 2005 to May 2006) does not feature in the roll of honour at the back of the Prof Travers’ book, which otherwise lists all of Camden’s past and present chief executives and council leaders. It bounces from Dame Jane to Keith Moffitt as if there was nobody in between.
His supporters still see him as the victim of Blair, Iraq and a protest vote, and, ten years later, grumble about how it would’ve been fairer for Dame Jane to have given him a longer run to make his case on a more local basis.