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Thursday, 12 April 2012

Ken Livingstone: spend now - worry later

Labour Leader Ed Miliband said during a speech in Derby this morning "Labour shouldn't make promises we can't keep". Very sound piece of advice after all look at Nick Clegg, expecting to remain in opposition after the 2010 general election told a massive whopper about tuition fees. However finger pointing at the Liberal Democrats isn't what this speech was about, it was about how Labour have changed. Not promising things you can't deliver even when activists are crying out for more.

Unfortunately Mr Miliband's advice seems to of been totally ignored by the "Labour" candidate for London mayor Ken Livingstone. During this campaign spend now - worry later Ken has made some wild claims such as: "London wide EMA of up to £30 a week to help young people stay in education". Now a laudable aim but Channel4's fact check cost this pledge at £55m a year and the way Ken says he'll fund it is impossible as he has no power to force colleges, universities and local authorities to pay for it. So once again young people being let down on higher education - but this time it'll be Ken Livingstone and not Nick Clegg that lets them down with a false promise.

Sticking with young people, spend now - worry later Ken has another unfunded policy for them. A cinema discount card for young people. A policy which will cost £13,513,381 per year or £54,053,528 over a  four term mayoralty. The only problem with this policy as it sounds great for young people but it relies on non-existent money to pay for it. Mr Livingstone doesn't say where one penny is coming from. So once again Ken Livingstone will be letting young people down with a promise he can't keep. Contray to what Ed Miliband has said Labour should be doing.

Moving on: Child care in the capital, well everywhere, is expensive and spend now - worry later Ken has come up with a pledge on this too. Offering £700 in upfront grants to low income families and offering "interest free" loans to those families earning up to £40,000. pa. Ken Livingstone in a press release confirmed this pledge will cost £3.4m per year which is £13.6m over a mayoral term. But like his previous pledges out lined yep you've guessed it - not one word about where one penny is coming from to pay for it.

This document shows that spend now - worry later Ken has made twenty four unfunded pledges at the cost of £2,685,996,270. This is without the fare pledge which will mean a £1.120,000,000. cut to the transport investment budget. Either he's making promises he knows he can't keep or he's planning a nasty council tax bombshell after the election if he wins.

Spend now - worry later Ken is on record as saying that he can't reveal his financial plan as the government will amend the localism bill to stop him, which is rubbish, so he'll reveal his plan after the election. He's already told the Standard he "will increase taxes" his plans would mean an extra £348 on every London council tax payers bill. That is on top of the £964 he whacked it up last time he was mayor. Current mayor Boris Johnson cut the council tax for millions of Londoners and the Labour party on the GLA voted against that cut, shows Labour's priorities

Ken has, this time, pledged to freeze the council tax but he promised to do that with fares last time he was mayor and once in he put them up. Talking of him putting fares up. His transport pledges will mean in increase in the congestion charge, which has pledged to freeze but he's also verbally pledged to "not reintroduce the western extension" of the congestion charge but in writing on page 7 here it says the complete opposite and he will reinstate the western extension.

Ed Miliband saying "we shouldn't make promises we can't keep" is clearly a concept alien to Ken Livingstone just like it is to Nick Clegg. Spend now - worry later Ken has made billions of pounds of extra spending commitments, promises to freeze taxes, cut fares and not to increase or extend the congestion charge. As Boris Johnson put it on LBC its simply "Wonga economics" spend now - worry later.

Just like Nick Clegg - Ken Livingstone can not be trusted to keep his promises to young people. But its not just young people who will be let down by Ken Livingstone it is every single Londoner who will be hit with either broken promises over the council tax or congestion charge increases or the very people who need the most help being let down by bogus pledges. Spend now - worry later maybe a catchy way to campaign but when its real people who will have to face the consequences its safe to say - Londoners can't afford Ken!