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Boris Johnson and Horace Cutler

Boris Johnson has won London for the Conservatives – but the last time the Tories were in power in the capital was 1981.

The man who led the Greater London Council between 1977 and 1981 was a Tory and an enthusiastic Thatcherite.

Sir Horace Cutler was – like the Conservative who now leads London – perceived as a flamboyant figure. With his pointed beard, suits and bow ties, he created a stir at the heart of London’s government.

I have never scorned publicity
- Sir Horace Cutler in 1982

He was a businessman, mainly a property developer, whose father successfully speculated in housebuilding. He went to Harrow County Grammar School and, after World War II, where Cutler served in the Royal Navy, took his first step into politics when he became Conservative member of Harrow Borough Council in 1952.
Sir Horace Cutler
He moved on to become leader of the council in 1961, was elected to Middlesex County Council and was its last leader in 1963.

He then moved to the Greater London Council – the GLC – and eventually led it in 1977. 

Issues that bedevilled Cutler are still hot topics for Londoners. Cutler wanted to expand the Jubilee Line into Docklands but was refused the money by the Labour government.

He made a failed bid to host the Olympic Games of 1988. Cutler presided over an authority with a huge budget, he cut staff and paid off debts and launched a programme of housing sales.

Cutler was knighted by an appreciative Margaret Thatcher in 1979 – but it didn’t stop him from losing the 1981 GLC elections. He left politics when the GLC was abolished in 1986. He died in 1997.

Sir Horace Cutler was defeated by Labour's Andrew McIntosh - who, in turn, was usurped by Ken Livingstone, the man who has dominated London's political life until his own defeat in 2008.


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