In an astounding admission, that must have shaken Ken’s campaign to its foundations, Maria Eagles, the Labour Shadow Minister for Transport blew Ken’s fantasy about painless fares cuts sky high in the Guardian today.
All along, Boris has said it is not possible to make fares cuts costing £1.2 billion without cutting that amount of investment in services. But Ken has strung the London public along with the fantasy that he can painlessly cut fares because Boris is sitting on a pile of spare cash at City Hall. Val Shawcross, Ken’s running mate has given this ludicrous explanation several times at the London Assembly. Hard pressed Londoners, worried about the future, have been only too eager to believe her.
In an interview with the Guardian today, Ms. Eagles backed two thirds of the coalition’s spending cuts. She said: “Reducing the deficit requires us to support cuts in spending that we might not have in the past. Some of this is painful.”
Ken has not balked from using blatant distortion in this campaign – in one interview, he fibbed three times in four minutes. But his promises about fares cuts are the bedrock of his strategy. It is just not fair to mislead families who are feeling the pinch like this. Either he has never had any intention of ever cutting fares, or he is working on a behind the scenes plan to cut £1 bn of investment that will hurt Londoners in another way. Or maybe he thinks he has got away with fibbing so many times before, it’s worth another try, because many people don’t read the papers.
UPDATE: (20/2/12) The Back Boris team today said in the London Standard that Ken should come right out and admit his promise of fares cuts is a sham. Yes, he should!