Ex-Mayor Livingstone Mayor Johnson

Better off with who?

Both the Livingstone and Johnson campaigns today used the same slogan.

Livingstone launched his “6 pledges for London” this morning under the slogan “Better off with Ken”. His pledges are:

  • Cut the fares by 7 per cent this year – saving the average Londoner £1,000 over four years
  • Reverse Boris Johnson’s police cuts, restore local sergeants
  • Help reduce rents, improve homes with a London non-profit lettings agency
  • Tackle heating bills – through insulation and an energy co-op to reduce prices and help households save over £150 a year
  • London EMA of up to £30 a week to help young people stay in education
  • Support for childcare with grants and interest-free loans – and campaign against Tory cuts to childcare tax credits

Every single one of these is either unfunded, so tiny that it will only affect very few people or simply outside the Mayor’s competence or a combination of these!

On the same day the Boris Johnson campaign was using the same slogan but looking back rather than forward and reviewing, in some detail, the promises made in the extensive manifesto documents published by his campaign in 2008. The Johnson campaign is claiming to have delivered 91% of 2008 campaign promises. I am sure that critics will challenge some of the detail but this level of transparency and traceability being offered by a candidate is new to British politics. Usually politicians try to hide their old manifestos so that people can’t hold them to account.

Johnson’s record looks way more plausible than Livingstone’s pledges.

5 replies on “Better off with who?”

Ken’s offers don’t seduce me, because I know his history and I don’t want these unfunded offers to result in an increase in my CT bill.

But to the less well informed, you have to admit that his pledges hit home in just the places where there is a lot of pain.


I had a look at Boris’s progress report. One of the first things he is pleased about is scrapping the Western congestion zone. Yesterday the Evening Standard ran a story about levels of London air pollution having soared to record levels. Still, it’s true that reducing the congestion zone benefited drivers.

Maybe you could tell me which of Boris’s pledges are relevant to someone in their twenties who uses public transport to get to work? There may be less delays on the tube, but there have been far more tube strikes, which usually add hours to my commute. Cutting council tax is good, but other than that I get the feeling he’s not interested in my vote. Ken appears to have a couple of pledges relevant to young people and those looking to start families. I’m not particularly a Ken supporter, I’m just trying to see which manifesto would be best for me.



The choice between the two does come down to trust. In the past Livingstone has promised lower fares but not delivered them (twice). Johnson has been pretty brave to say London will be better off in the long run if we invest in public transport and that in the current climate this money has to come from fare payers. It is an honest offer even of you don’t like paying. Livingstone doesn’t have the money to make his fares promise unless he chops off bits of the current investment programme. You choose.

The Livingstone EMA promise is almost certainly undeliverable. It depends on councils, colleges and universities all working together to do something that many of them will not believe in. In any case Livingstone is talking about taking bursaries given by colleges back with one hand and giving them as this new EMA with the other.

The child care promise is extremely tiny. He is talking about £700 grants to 1,200 families. As welcome as this cash will be to those that can use it we are talking about 10p per Londoner here. The funding for this comes out of contigency. These funds are put aside for when things go wrong and are sensible financial management. You can’t spend money twice. Things will still go wrong. The contigency will still be required. Another Livingstone swindle. Under his last adminisatration his Childcare Affordability Programme just hosed £42 million at childcare but failed to demonstrate that anyone took up work as a result.

The Boris offer may not be exciting but his main two jobs are public transport and the police. These are not very exciting. Excitement is an expensive business. How much do you want to spend on your excitement?


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