I was outside Ravenscourt Park tube station this morning handing out "Back Boris" leaflets to commuters. I was struck by how often the mere mention of his name and display of his picture cheered people up. Another thing I noticed was the group of the London electorate identified by pollsters as "Labour for Boris" certainly exist. I chatted to them this morning. "Yes, I probably will vote for Boris, but I certainly won't be voting for you," one woman told me realising I was her local councillor. Well at least she recognised me.
Wooing commuters will be one of the main battles for the election campaign for Mayor of London. The vote doesn't take place until May 3rd next year – but the campaign is very much under way.
Livingstone will be making promises about fares one of his themes but his credibility in this area is weak – especially when it comes up promises in the run up to an election. In January 2004, ahead of that year’s Mayoral election, he pledged that he would hold any further fare increases to inflation. In September 2004, after he had been re-elected, he announced above inflation fare rises. for bus and tube users.
In 2005 bus fares rose by 12.7% and Tube fares 4%. In 2006 bus fares by 12.9% and 3.9%. The bus fare rises were at least 10% above inflation and the tube fare rises represented inflation +1%.
Having misled Londoners in 2004, he then tried the same trick again ahead of the 2008 election. On November 14th 2007 he told the London Assembly that fares would only rise in line with inflation for the next four years. However, just days before that London Assembly announcement, he signed off a Transport for London business plan that would have increased bus fares by 2% above inflation and Tube fares by 1% above inflation in 2009 and 2010.
Livingstone's pledges on this subject will struggle to gain "traction" because there is a lack of trust.