Ex-Mayor Livingstone


The Mayor pretty much used his whole election broadcast tonight to try to make one point – “I am competent, Boris isn’t”. Interestingly he didn’t really point to some of his so-called achievements such as the Congestion Charge. Aside from Crossrail he wasted no time talking about transport (Tubes, buses, DLR, roads, etc), even though this is the biggest part of his direct responsibilities and is an area where he has totally lost control in spite of being the chairman. Apart from the line “more police on the street” the Mayor’s second priority was ignored too. No mention of the 11 kids killed on London’s streets so far this year.

He spent the first minute of his 3.5 minute allotment just setting the scene. I hope that Boris does not waste time like that tomorrow when he gets his big TV moment. There was a fair amount of smug self-congratulation such as: “… it [London] is a real model for the rest of the world …”.

All of what Livingstone says about the City, meaning the financial services industry, was true before he arrived in 2000 and he can make little claim to have made much contribution. The claim that “We have more Japanese banks in London than you’ve got in Tokyo” was as true 8 years ago as today and has nothing whatsoever to do with Livingstone.

Waving his hand over a model of Docklands he says “Twenty five years ago there wasn’t a single job anywhere here …”. So one can only conclude that it was a product of 18 years of Tory government then. Correct.

The first competence issue is Crossrail: “We absolutely have to get it right”. The Mayor keeps trying to make out he is the only person who can safely deliver Crossrail because it is such a risky project. Who made it risky? Who negotiated it? Livingstone. He was so desperate to get control of it he wrote a blank cheque with Londoners’ money. He managed, he says, to limit our liability with the Olympic project, but there is no such limit of liability with Crossrail. Competent negotiator? Competent executive? No.

Don’t forget the context – London remits £17.8 billion net to the Exchequer every year and we only get £5 billion back over 10 years for Crossrail. We have to provide the other £11 billion of the total £16 billion and if it all goes tits up we have to make up the difference. Thanks Mr Mayor.

Livingstone gives himself away with the line “The question of who is Mayor may even be more important than who is going to run the Government”. What does he mean by this? It’s OK to vote Tory at a general election but the world will fall apart if you kick me out?

We need a Mayor who will focus on the things he can change not try to change the world.