Friday, 28 March 2008

Why I support Ken Livingstone for Mayor

I am supporting Ken Livingstone for Mayor but voting Green or LibDem for the London Assembly. Checks and balances, and all that.

But I cannot believe anyone seriously thinks Boris Johnson is the man for the job.

Also, I am outraged by the Evening Standard's campaign of vilification against Livingstone. Has there ever been such one-sided coverage of a local election by the monopoly local paid paper anywhere in Britain? The Standard's man Andrew Gilligan actually said on TV the other day that he was "out to get Livingstone" because he, Andrew Gilligan, the fount of all wisdom apparently, had decided that KL was a fraudster and a crook. This is a disgrace to journalism and to local democracy.

I don't agree with all of Livingstone's views by any means, but I think he is essentially an honest man. Maybe rather too honest, sometimes, if anything. I'm sure there may be a few bean-counting irregularities here and there in the accounts, but he is obviously not a crook. And I couldn't care a toss if he drinks whisky in the office at 10 in the morning, if he does the job required. (Churchill had champagne for breakfast throughout the war, and we still won it.)

The key point for me is Livingstone's achievements in transport. In particular, I can't think of any other politician who would have had the courage and vision to push through the congestion charge, an absolutely vital first step towards reducing the car-dependent mentality in our culture and beginning to restore our urban civilisation that the motor car has come so catastrophically close to smashing, in my view.

Also, he has done wonders with the bus service, which is hugely improved. Some airhead in TheLondonPaper the other day blamed him for the high tube fares! He doesn't have any power to reduce them because he has to work within an inadequate budget and with the idiotic PPP scheme forced on TfL by a scandalously blinkered and inept central government Treasury. It's obvious from his record going back to the 1970s that he would like to have reduced tube fares if he possibly could.

My vote will be for Ken Livingstone personally, in the light of all the above, not a vote for Labour, which I currently feel I might very well never vote for again.

All my life I have voted either Labour or, more often, Lib Dem. Why am I not supporting Brian Paddick? Partly because he has alienated me by climbing on the silly anti-bendy-bus bandwagon, saying they are "deeply unpopular" when they are not. I do agree with him that what we really need are trams, but who is going to agree to fund that kind of long-term investment in the mad system we have today? Also, this is a two-horse race and Paddick is not going to win.

No comments: