It’s been a busy few days for the Garden Bridge since Lord Mervyn Davies, chair of the Garden Bridge Trust, was given the luxury of 500 words in the Times newspaper to advertise his development last week. The final trick in their book, when truly desperate, is to wheel out Joanna Lumley with her dulcet tones to sell the Garden Bridge. They also did this, though her appearance on BBC London Radio didn’t quite go as she had planned.
The Trust only get these two on the PR offensive when they face serious problems, and these outings foreshadowed their biggest yet as a new inquiry led by Margaret Hodge MP into the whole of the Garden Bridge from proposal to now, covering the procurement, Boris Johnson, TfL and funding has been announced – more on that in the next blog post.
The Times comment piece by Lord Davies desperately pleaded for the Garden Bridge with semantic looseness and somewhat misleading phrasings, attempting to wrap in Brexit into a confused argument – it needed heavy annotation to correct the many flaws. His advertorial was followed by an appearance by Joanna Lumley on the BBC Radio London radio Vanessa Feltz show. She had clearly been briefed to be ‘on-message’ by the Garden Bridge Trust on a supposedly safe media outing, but her 13 minutes on air couldn’t have gone worse for her or for the personal memorial she wishes to vandalise the centre of London with.
Lumley is the originator of the whole failed idea, dreaming up the project first in 1998 for an entirely different location. It was intended to be right next to Westminster Bridge, though she seems to forget this when responding to Feltz, suggesting that the current location was always the intended spot. That was lie number 1.
It was followed by one about the levels of public funding and then another when she said, “It belongs to the public and it’s for the public, so it’s not a private bridge”, totally contradicting the truth as outlined in the planning application:
Then she said the whole thing only came about because Boris Johnson was planning 13 new river crossings and there was an opportunity for a pedestrian crossing in this location. These are both lies, Johnson’s statements of 13 new crossings only appeared well after the Garden Bridge was on the scene, and her bridge only became known to Boris Johnson because of the letter she sent to him in 2012 – in which she thanked him for a gift of tulips he had sent her.
However, despite that gift of tulips, frequent charity appearances together, Johnson waxing lyrical about her soft hands in a 1999 Daily Telegraph article and Lumley proudly stating she has known him since he was four. in this interview she claims, “I have to say, I don’t know Boris.” That took her to a total of 5 lies in her opening statement alone.
What followed for the next 10 minutes was simply Vanessa Feltz reading out listener’s emails and text messages which were, obviously, overwhelmingly in opposition to her vanity. In between lie-riddled responses Lumley managed to find a moment to patronise a “local group” (ie, Thames Central Open Spaces) stating there were only 2-3,000 people against it while there are “millions” of silent people who want her to build it. How clever of her to know what silent people think, despite all polls not paid for by the Garden Bridge Trust showing quite the opposite.
More lies followed, repeatedly, including “well, it’s not concrete for starters” (yes, Joanna, it’s 15,000 tonnes of concrete) and claiming “you can’t blame the Garden Bridge” for blocking loved views of St Pauls Cathedral for “it being there” (yes, Joanna, you can). She again repeated it was a “public thoroughfare” despite it in reality offering no public right of way, and went on to claim that the Millennium Bridge was “privately funded, completely” when in fact it had major input from the Heritage Lottery Fund and associated scrutiny of process and value for money.
As the radio disaster went on and Feltz read out more and more hate from the audience, Lumley’s voice slowly reduced to a plea as it dawned that nobody agrees with her or wants her private folly. At one point she hilariously says, “Sometimes it feels as though you’ve knocked on the door, bought a bouquet of flowers – and the person’s jumped on them. So that’s a bit strange.”
After Lumley left the studio more and more listeners called and messaged in raising their serious and considered dislike of the project. However, bizarrely, the Garden Bridge Trust decided it would be great PR for them to publicise this car-crash of an interview. Digging their own hole…
— Garden Bridge Trust (@TheGardenBridge) September 21, 2016
You can listen to the whole interview here, courtesy of the brilliant SE1 website:
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