There wasn’t a peep of protest from the Labour contingent as Boris laid Ken’s fares policy to its final resting place. Maria Eagles’ interview on 17th February with the Guardian dealt a painful blow to a policy that had inititally received a rapturous reception from hard presssed Londoners. After her carefully worded backing for Boris’s cuts and investment policy, the doubts set in. Then there were the damning facts published by the Channel 4 News Fact Check on 30th January. Fact Check is a highly credible, independent study service from ethical lefties.
This study revealed that under Boris’s Mayoralty, there have been fewer stations closed, fewer journeys delayed, fewer passenger hours lost and less excess journey time than under Ken Livingstone. Ken’s claims that “that delays and line closures on the Tube have got worse under Boris Johnson’s stewardship of Transport for London” have been proved to be utterly false.
Today, in front of a silent Labour cohort, Boris, with a rapier thrust, elegantly dealt the coup de grace to Ken’s much trumpeted fares policy. He said, clearly, “Ken’s fares promises are a sham. The Labour Party also says it is not workable. There is no surplus.” At the first Mayoral debate, Brian Paddick had backed Boris up on this.
Val Shawcross said “We all support the investment programme…….” but Boris answered swiftly “No! You do not! You want to take £1.2 billion out of the investment programme to finance your fares cuts” and he then explained, very clearly, how damaging it is to employ a stop/start policy to fares, which only ends up costing Londoners more in the end anyway.The Labour plan, said Boris, is “short term, short sighted and politically motivated.”
This is where poor Val made her fatal error. She said “Our plan is to hold down fares for 18 months……” and Boris lunged in for the killer blow! “AHA!” he said. I see your plan! 18 months of deceit, followed by the revelation, as you all creep out of the Trojan horse! You either cut investment, or whack fares up, RPI +12%!. In 2004, you held fares down then whacked them up. You cynically froze fares in 2007/8, worried about the outcome of the election. This left an £84 million huge black hole.”
Boris explained that thrift and a mentality of saving was entirely foreign to the high spending, wasteful, self-indulgent Ken administration. Ken was Mayor against a background of the Brown government, merrily racking up huge debts. They have no understanding of the discipline and prudence of Boris’s Mayoralty, where the aim is to cut savings by £4.7 billion.
Poor Val Shawcross was red as a beet. Indignantly did she deny that she had admitted that Ken planned to freeze then raise fares. But we all heard her say “freeze fares for 18 months.” The clear implication was that they would then rise. And there were no more crazy claims from her that Boris was sitting on a massive surplus. Boris had made his point. Ken’s fares policy is dead as a Dodo. And the whole thing was highly highly revealing.
WEBCAST OF MAYOR’S QT: Boris destroys Ken’s transport policy. Click on Wednesday, 23rd February, and best bit starts at 01.24.00. Boris proves that transport has vastly increased since he took over. He also clearly explains why Ken’s promises of painless fares cuts are a sham.