Forgive me for being a bit smug but I managed to pre-empt Mayor Livingstone’s competence offensive in a small way yesterday.
The Guardian’s Comment is free published this piece from me last night which demolishes three of the Mayor’s claimed achievements, namely Crossrail, the Congestion Charge and increased police numbers. Today the Mayor did a comment piece in the Guardian claiming a competence he simply cannot sustain and got the aptly named Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls, to underline his point, reported in the Evening Standard here.
Apparently Balls said:
But I can tell you we never came across a tougher negotiator at the Treasury than Ken Livingstone. In my seven or eight years at the Treasury, particularly on the Tube, we knew Ken was the person who was going to fight his corner hardest.
In my Comment is free piece I said:
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. Don’t forget the context – London remits Â£17.8 billion net to the Exchequer every year and we only get Â£5bn back over 10 years for Crossrail. We have to provide the other Â£11bn of the total Â£16bn and if it all goes wrong, we have to make up the difference.
It sounds like Balls got the upper hand over Livingstone in his last job if you ask me.