Describing Labour's selection procedure to choose its candidate for London mayor, Tony Travers, director of the Greater London Group at the London School of Economics, said it was "messy and shambolic ... like London itself: noisy, not well managed but terribly exciting".
Travers has been hooked on the excitement of London since arriving from North Wales as an undergraduate at the then North East London Polytechnic, where he began his academic career.
He joined the Greater London Group in 1987. George Jones, chairman of the group, suggests that it was because he came from the "wilds of Wales" that he became fascinated "by the cosmopolitan nature of the city". He praises Travers's analytical sharpness, clarity of prose, expertise with figures and ability with the media. For the past 20 years, Travers has researched issues involving local government and London - from transport to education, theatres to the economy.
He predicted headaches for prime minister Tony Blair over the decision to have a mayor for London, and he recently added to Labour's woes by jointly authoring a report criticising the party's favoured public-
private partnership policy for the Tube.
He is a regular contributor to both print and broadcast media, and his role as expenditure adviser to the select committee on education and employment makes him one of the longest serving advisers to any Commons select committee. He has long criticised the lack of coherence between higher education institutions in London.
He has also been a member of the Audit Commission and an adviser to the House of Lords Committee on central-local relations.
During 1996, he undertook a major research project for the Corporation of London on business improvement districts in New York and London.