In his Evening Standard article last week launching his campaign for Mayor of London Ken Livingstone did show that despite his advancing years he retains a certain degree of energy. The level of deceit in the short piece of writing was so intense that it is not possible to rebut all of it in one go.
He warms up by repeating Gordon Brown's economic illiteracy that cutting public spending equates to "removing billions from the economy" – as if money the Government spent came out of thin air rather than being taxed or borrowed from people.
Livingstone criticised Boris on fares, saying "a single bus fare has risen by a staggering one third." In fact for this year’s fare package when the freeze on Travelcard prices is taken into consideration average bus fares increased by 12.7% and average Tube fares by 3.9%. This is no more than the increases in 2005 and 2006 when bus and Tube fares increased by 12.7 per cent and 4 per cent, and then by 12.9 per cent and 3.9 per cent respectively. Cash bus fares also increased by 20% in 2004. Cast your mind back to who was Mayor at that time.
In any event around 40% of bus passengers travel free or at a concessionary rate and Boris has actually increased by perhaps 150,000 the number of Londoners who can travel by bus (and tram) half-price, thanks to extending that concession to the unemployed and ESA claimants as well as those on income support.
At the last mayoral elections Livingstone then promised a fares freeze but Brian Cooke, the then London TravelWatch chairman, exposed this as "misleading" – TfL were planning increases. Leaked TfL emails
confirmed Livingstone duplicity over his plans for fares.
Livingstone says that plans to “ticket office opening hours will hit outer London stations hardest”. In fact stations should always be manned when there are trains running. With very few cash and cheque transactions, where do customers want station staff in suburban stations – behind a glass screen or out on the concourse or platform, where they can more easily be of assistance?
When it comes to the subject of highly paid advisors one might have expected a certain reticence from Livingstone. But he seeks the moral high ground by promising to take no pay rises for four years and freeze pay for senior Mayoral appointments. But what will be the starting salaries of his new Mayoral appointments? Will his wife Emma Beal get her own job back as "Head of Administration" at her old salary of £96,000? A useful addition to his household coffers.
Will Bob Kiley be back on £3,200 a day? (For which Kiley said: "If you ask me what I actually do to earn my consultancy, I'd have to tell you, in all honesty, 'not much'. ")
Will the Socialist Action coterie return with their six figure salaries? If so will they have contracts that ensure them another £1.6 million pay offs should a future Mayor dispense with tther services again?
Will Lee Jasper be back on his £120,000 salary?
Livingstone also has he nerve to complain that Boris "gave himself a five per cent rise in his Mayoral salary." Under Livingstone, the Mayor’s salary increased in his second term from £112,639 to £140,060, just under a 25% increase.
When Boris became the Mayor, he did have the local government pay award, so it rose to £143,911. However, the following year (09-10) he did not take the award and is having his pay frozen again this year.