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Monday, 26 March 2012

Despite what he says - Ken's fare deal is "fiction"

The Guardian today held a question and answer session with the Labour candidate for London Mayor, Ken Livingstone. The asked for questions from the public and I was pleased to post one. Which they put to Mr Livingstone: "Why should anyone believe Ken's "fare cuts" pledge when in the past he made promises to freeze fares and broke those promises?"

I will post Mr Livingstone's answer in full: "The fares cut I am offering is the biggest policy in this campaign. It has set an agenda others have to follow and I will carry it out, at no cost to the investment programme. We need it. Londoners want it. My fares pledge in the past was to freeze fares in real terms, meaning that they would not rise by more than inflation. In fact what happened was that they fell in real terms on the tube and very substantially on buses, which have more travellers than the tube. This is shown in this official data from Transport for London (fig. 8.6).  If I can make a broader point, I don't think there is a single other politician in Britain more associated with cutting fares and reducing the cost of transport, from the development and expansion of the Freedom Pass in the 70s and 80s, to the Fares Fair cut, to the abolition of bus and tram fares for everyone under 18 in full-time education, student discounts, the freeze on fares in my first term, and now my plan for a Fare Deal fares cut.  And if you really don't believe me after all of that, the commitment is totally crystal clear. If I haven't cut the fares on or by October 7 this year I will quit the mayor's office and precipitate a byelection".

Now Ken says it wont affect the investment programme now that is simply not true, if he slashes fares by 7% as he has promised to do in his fare deal then the move would reduce the income from fares by £1.12bn over this parliament. This money is already factored into the budget and if it disappeared it would have to be taken from somewhere else. It would be up to the mayor what he where he would plug the gap, but TfL said it would most likely delay the upgrade of certain tube or bus lines. So it would affect the investment programme contry to Ken's claim.

Ken claims he kept his fare freeze pledge and fares actually fell. Well that isn't true is it Ken. As he admitted in your autobiography - that he has broken election promises on fares twice. Why? Because he’d rather "hike fares than cut investment". Now I don't criticise him for not wanting to cut investment but as his pledge means he'll have to cut the investment programme by £1.12bn if he is to keep his pledge as the TFL £729m surplus he claims. Transport for London say it doesn't exist as the subsidy from Whitehall has been cut and Shadow Transport Minister John Woodcock confirmed in the Commons on Friday that Labour support that cut and therefore Ken would have the same cuts to deal with if Labour were in government too.

As Channel4's Factcheck confirm Ken's pledge doesn't stand up to basic scrutiny and actually call it "fiction". Ken can't deliver his pledge to cut fares by 7% without cutting funding and would therefore have to resign, however there is no guarantee he'd keep that pledge either. It has been shown Ken can not be trusted to keep his promises on fares, as he admits himself, he's broken his promise on both occasions he won. Don't give him  a chance to get the hatrick of broken promises on fares.