15 February 2008

Evening Standard's Increasingly Surreal Hysteria Over Ken.

There is an air of desperation in the latest attack by Andrew Gilligan on Ken Livingstone.

First he criticises...
Ken for making policy announcements in the run up to an election. Yes seriously how on earth can you criticise someone for this? Isn't this a good thing? It would be nice to hear Boris actually make a decent policy announcement rather than just snide comments about the congestion charge, slagging off under 18s' free public transport and the 4x4 charge (while at the same time claiming they have 'his full support') Fat chance! If you want Ken's policies you have to vote for Ken, not some Tory right-wing liar.

Then Gilligan writes that because Ken has got funding for central government for most of the new 1,000 police officers on the beat, he shouldn't be able to claim credit. I would have thought Londoners would have been even more impressed that this is not coming out of their council tax.

Next he suggests that Ken's £500m for cycling is a sham because the Tory boroughs will oppose it. Even more reason not to vote Tory I would of thought. The government could and probably would give Ken the powers to overrule the boroughs if they put party political posturing over the real concerns of Londoners to have decent cycle facilities.

Finally he suggests that while the 4x4 charge will be popular, it will have little impact on pollution. Well it is better than doing nothing, or even worse, doing what Gilligan's mate (and employer) Boris Johnson does - slagging off the environmental charges on both 4x4s and highly polluting lorries. The 4x4 charge, if it does nothing else, will at least provide extra funds for public transport and cycling. In all likelyhood it will reduce the number of these oversize cars that kill so many Londoners.

So as usual, Boris and his Evening Standard mates have nothing but negativity to offer London. It will depress me enormously if these forces of despair and fear triumph over someone as decent as Ken - who is running the sort of policy rich campaign that I hoped Labour would nationally (no sign yet!). Hopefully Ken will win in May and democracy will triumph. Otherwise New Labour's kowtowing to Bush and the Tory press would have been proved electorally to be the right strategy. I hope not.

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