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Ex-Mayor Livingstone Mayor Johnson

Vote Blue Alien

The Labour campaign (it stopped being the Ken Livingstone campaign a couple of weeks ago when Labour realised that Livingstone was a liability to his own campaign) has been awful. They have made promises they can’t keep and failed to apologise for Livingstone’s epic £220K tax evasion whilst he has been out of office. Labour’s last poster just about sums up everything that is wrong about Labour and Livingstone. Negative, dishonest and wrong.

Boris Johnson is a leader for all Londoners, improving the transport system, keeping us safe and costing us all less. He does it with a smile on his face and a real connection to London and its people. Boris is a mayor for everyone. I do hope that you will vote for him.

The polls opened already at 7am this morning. I hope that you will vote for Boris for Mayor, Richard Barnes for the Ealing & Hillingdon GLA seat and for the Tories in party list vote. If you are voting for Boris you don’t need to worry about the second vote in the mayoral election – just leave it blank (it only comes into play if you vote for someone who won’t be in the top two, eg if you vote Green + Livingstone or LibDem + Johnson).

The polls stay open to 10pm. If you haven’t posted your postal vote you can complete it and deliver to any polling station. You don’t need your orange polling card – just turn up and they will look you up. If you tell the party tellers at the polling station what your number is then you won’t be bugged by party workers ringing your bell at 9pm asking if you have have voted. There is nothing sinister about it – they are just trying to get out their vote.

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Ex-Mayor Livingstone Mayor Johnson

Livingstone’s great big bus fare lie

A major plank of Livingstone’s election platform is that “A single bus fare is now up 50%”, see page 19 of London Elects “The Candidates” publication.

The recent history of TfL fares is provided by the Londonist blog. The bus fare that Livingstone is referring to is the Oyster PAYG (peak) tabulated below.

It was £1 for three years until Livingstone lowered to 90p it in the run up to the 2008 London election. This was not enough to get him re-elected but it does provide a basis for Livingstone’s statistical nonsense. When Livingstone was in power he raised bus fares by 43% from 70p to £1. His later 10p cut was totally unaffordable. At the time he made this decision the subsidy for bus journeys was already 33p per journey.

Of course Boris Johnson had to raise bus fares when he came into power. You can guarantee that Livingstone would have done too (he had previous after all). It would be much fairer to claim that Johnson raised fares from £1 to £1.35 or 35%. Not only was Livingstone’s rise bigger than Johnson’s it was earlier. Livingstone is relying on you having a short memory. Don’t buy it.

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Ex-Mayor Livingstone Mayor Johnson

Labour fares nonsense

Last night I had a bit of a debate on Twitter with Labour councillor Hitesh Tailor on the subject of public transport fares although Tailor’s debating technique is limited to spewing out one-sided, unreferenced factoids.

Transport for London’s (TfL’s) fares have been running ahead of inflation ever since it was set up and Boris Johnson has only made small in-roads into TfL’s costs but he has made better progress with this than Ken Livingstone ever did. The Channel 4 programme on the Tube in February was evidence that Johnson has demanded more for less from the Tube system taking out 800 staff. Frankly no-one was ever going to seriously tackle TfL’s costs (and its labour force) in the run up to the Olympics, least of all Livingstone. Johnson has talked about automating tubes in the future – a change that will have to be forced through in the face of extreme opposition from the railway unions that are supporting Livingstone.

Livingstone has been using Fares Fair as a weapon since 1981, 31 years, so he knows it works. We know though that he lied twice before about cutting fares.

MANIFESTO PROMISE: “I will freeze tube fares in real terms for four years” (Ken Livingstone, Ken 4 London, 2000, p. 8).

PROMISE BROKEN: In January 2004 – before the election – cash fares on the Tube rose by up to 25 per cent. Travelcards also increased. Livingstone himself admits in his recent memoirs: ‘I decided to increase the fares before the [2004] election’ (TfL, Board Papers: Agenda Item 5, 29 October 2003; Ken Livingstone, You can’t say that, October 2011).

MANIFESTO PROMISE: “I will freeze bus fares for four years” (Ken Livingstone, Ken 4 London, 2000, p. 8).

PROMISE BROKEN: In January 2004, the single bus fare outside central London was increased from 70p to £1 a rise of 43 per cent. The weekly bus pass for those travelling outside central London rose from £7.50 to £9.50, an increase of 26.6 per cent. For those travelling in central London it rose by 11.7 per cent, from £8.50 to £9.50 (TfL Press Release, New Year, New Fares, 2 January 2004).

Livingstone is not the right person to tackle the unions and work practices on the Tube which is the only long term way of lowering fares. If Johnson wants to be seen as a credible national politician in the future he needs to demonstrate that he can reform public transport in London and stop the fares spiral. Livingstone hasn’t a chance. Johnson just might.

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Ex-Mayor Livingstone Mayor Johnson

London transport week – more kidology from Livingstone

The contrast this week between the transport manifestos of Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone was quite stark. On Monday Johnson produced a crunchy list of practical transport measures that build on his solid record of achievement in the transport realm.

Today it was Livingstone’s turn. He surprised many by taking a mild approach to drivers: no rise in congestion charge, no Western Extension and no £25 gas guzzler charge. We have had almost four years of friends of Ken telling us that millions could be raised by these charges. No more.

The centre piece of Livingstone’s plans are his 7% fares cut, now rebranded as a “travel voucher”. The photo is taken from this ITV piece.

Livingstone is taking people for a ride. His fares sums simply don’t add up. He says that they will cost 3% of £9 billion London’s transport budget. That is £270 million per annum. Or £1.08 billion over 4 years. At the same time he is saying that: “He will make the average Londoner £1000 better off over four years.” The population of London is about 7.8 million. At £1,000 each that is £7.8 billion.

Livingstone’s pledge only applies to 1 in 8 Londoners. Or his pledge is only worth 1/8th of what he says. Either way it is nonsense. You choose.

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Ex-Mayor Livingstone Mayor Johnson Policing

The Met repudiates Livingstone Safer Neighbourhood Team pledge

One of Ken Livingstone’s six main pledges, made last Wednesday, relates to policing.

Boris Johnson has admitted cutting 1,700 police officers. If I am elected, I will reverse his cuts. And I will reinstate sergeants to all 600 Safer Neighbourhood Teams, more of which will be beefed up to a minimum of nine officers.

Livingstone in particular made much of last year’s decision by the Met to pull 150 sergeants out of their Safer Neighbourhood Teams. This affected Northfield ward. When our wonderful Sergeant Gergory Fox retired last year he was not replaced. Instead the sergeant running the Ealing Common team took over ours. Of course we would have liked to have kept our sergeant but the police decided that they wanted to use their sergeants for other roles. Labour have tried to dramatise this as a decision by Mayor Boris Johnson. Of course it was not. It was an operational decision taken by the Met.

Livingstone is simply not entitled to make his pledge on SNT sergeants. It represents operational interference with the police. In any case where would he magic experienced, trained sergeants from? The Met is entitled to make the decision that the traditional SNT sergeants have too small a span of control and can often easily manage two five man teams as our new sergeant does.

One week after Livingstone’s pledge the Met made an announcement about beefing up Safer Neighbourhood Teams after the Olympics, see here.

At the end of his remarks Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne, head of Territorial Policing, confirms that it was the police that took out the sergeants, not the Mayor who has no power to impose operational changes on the police. He also makes it clear that the changes will stick in spite of Livingstone’s promises. To me this press release looks like a specific repudiation of Livingstone’s policing pledge just one week after he made it.

Last year we announced changes to the number of sergeants on Safer Neighbourhoods teams to make the supervisory ratios more inline with other police forces. Our new model now increases the number of police officers in local communities at a time when the MPS is facing budget challenges so this step is a clear statement of our commitment to local policing.

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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.

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Ex-Mayor Livingstone Mayor Johnson

“Professor” Pound backs Livingstone, talks nonsense

Ealing North MP, Stephen “Call me Steve” Pound, is never shy of making a fool of himself so this video comes as no surprise. He seems quite happy to endorse the Livingstone campaign’s misinformation about public transport and fares.

Pound repeats the misinformation about TfL’s non-existant surplus in spite of this having been debunked by Channel 4’s independent Fact Check blog at the end of January.

Pound also has an intern pulling faces about various alleged transport failings under Boris Johnson. Tfl’s official figures that show Tube performance has improved by 40% under Johnson and indeed one of the main complaints of the fishy Confessions from the Underground “documentary” on Channel 4 was the hard driving by TfL to reduce delays.

Pound calls Boris Johnson out of touch and refers to his much discussed £250,000 earnings from his Telegraph column, which he pays tax on like regular people. Obviously he fails to mention Livingstone’s personal tax evasion scheme called Silveta Limited. It is perfectly legal to set up a limited company in this way but Livingstone looks like a hypocrite for just setting up the company. When he talks about setting political expenses against profit he admits to committing a tax fraud.

With his majority and long-standing service to Ealing Pound can afford to engage in this partisan nonsense without damaging himself too much. No sign of Pound rising above it any time soon.

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Ex-Mayor Livingstone

Ken’s coming back – no way!

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Ex-Mayor Livingstone Mayor Johnson

Boris is keeping the wheels on – that is enough

Today Boris Johnson launched his “9 point plan for a Greater London” at the Tory Spring Conference.

Out campaigning for Boris it is sometimes hard to point to the big, exciting achievements of his mayoralty. Keeping his share of council tax constant for three years and cutting it next year, increasing police numbers by 1,000 and cutting crime, making public transport more reliable and securing Crossrail and the Olympics for London. It is all a bit business as usual. Or at least it would be in normal times. Through the worst modern recession and huge government cuts Boris has kept London’s wheels on. That is a huge achievement and if his 9 point plan looks similarly modest then I say hooray. We don’t need promises we need to keep what we have at the least possible cost. Boris is the man for the times.

Ken Livingstone on the other hand keeps throwing out increasingly ludicrous promises. At the start of the year it was his Fare Deal which was comprehensively debunked by Channel 4’s independent Fact Check blog before January was out. This Thursday Livingstone proposed reinstating the £30 a week EMA for London’s teens. This claim has died before the week was out and again was debunked by the Fact Check blog. The idea that cash strapped colleges and councils are going to hand over millions to Livingstone’s latest new quango to dish out to students is quite simply risible. If Londoners fall for this nonsense I really will despair.

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Ex-Mayor Livingstone

Livingstone on the police

The Livingstone campaign is using February to make unfunded claims about policing that look as silly as their unfunded claims about public transport last month. They seem to think that their calling Boris Johnson a thief is going to work for them. Lovely people. The only way we will have more police under Livingstone is if he massively puts up the precept.

Police numbers went up, they went down, they are going up again, they will end up about 1,000 higher than when Boris started with an extra £90 million from central government that ensures that they stay at the 32,000 mark well into the future.

Meanwhile you wonder what this policeman is doing walking down the street with a bunch of Labour politicians. Is he there as a prop? In which case what is going on? Is he a proper cop or an actor? If he is a proper cop why on earth is he using public funds to support the Livingstone campaign? At least Julian Bell’s camel overcoat gets another outing.

Notably Livingstone came to Ealing unannounced. He knows he is too unpopular to advertise in advance.