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Katherine Shonfield

Was the Trojan Horse the first object building? It had the same irresistible attractions of the familiar writ large: an overscale toy which you could also get inside. It arrived overnight, it was an apparently benign architectural insertion, and it went on to successfully scupper the reigning regime. As in the case of the Greek Heseltine who deposited his Dome on departing to the back benches, the puzzle is that nobody has really asked why the object was left behind.

The government is now in serious trouble with its Trojan Dome. Though not a recognisable quadruped, it has to be fed with ever-increasing amounts of paper money. But don't let it be said that New Labour hasn't learned the lesson of leaving behind oversized object buildings to scotch their enemies. Just such a stitch up preceded the London mayoral election by just two months. An 'irrevocable' lease was signed in February by the DETR and the developers of the Greater London Assembly building. So the government has plonked the Assembly's whacking great rental bill of £4.7 million a year on the London mayor. Not just us but you too, they seem to be saying to Ken, can achieve new depths of unpopularity thanks to an unwanted, unasked for gift.

But whoops. It looks like Ken Livingstone may have the ability to translate the true meaning of Trojan Horse, in the context of the assembly building, which is 'White Elephant'. A vivid memory of his previous incarnation was the transformation of County Hall from bureaucratic monster to peoples'palace through an open door policy. If Ken wants to be popular he should save architectural rhetoric and declare the importance of the buildings which belong to the people: hospitals, children's homes, libraries, railways, and yes, galleries - not the places where the people who should serve us will work.

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