Friday, December 29, 2006

Ken's party for Cuba

Ken Livingstone's track record of attempting to look important on the international stage usually ends up with Londoners footing a large bill, as he saddles up to his left-wing buddies in South America.

So it comes as no surprise that it was announced yesterday, that Ken is planning a massive festival across London, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Castro revoltion in Cuba.

The event, which is due to be staged in 2009, will involve street parties, sports venues and some of London's leading museums as well as the closure of Trafalgar Square.

The kick in the teeth for Londoners is that this will cost us an expected £2million!!

So, not only, does Ken associate himself with some of the most odious people around, it's us Londoners who are being asked to pay out for the privilage.

Besides, who in their right mind would want to attend a street party celebrating a communist revolution!

The mayoral election cannot come a day too soon.

Livingstone makes accusation of corruption at Hammersmith and Fulham Council?

The London mayor, Ken Livingstone, yesterday made a veiled accusation that Hammersmith and Fulham Council was corrupt. Hammersmith and Fulham had requested as part of their new building projects that there be a reduction in the number of new affordable homes built in a particular ward on the grounds that the overall number of affordable homes in the ward already far exceeded the 35% requirement for low rent affordable homes under the London Plan.

However, in response to this, Mayor Livingstone rejected the proposal and implied that the Council was trying to buy votes in the ward as a part of an orchestrated act of corruption similar to that of Westminster Council in the 1980s. In his press statement on the the GLA website he said,

"Hammersmith's actions have the stench of Shirley Porters regime at Westminster Council in the 1980s."

The 35% requirement that Livingstone cites as his reason is important here. If Livingstone really cares about it that much why is he not acting in the same manner with Greenwich Council in South-East London who are also not meeting that requirement? Especially given that the per capita wealth in Greenwich is far lower than in Hammersmith and Fulham. You'd think that he would be all over Greenwich Council like a rash yet he isn't.

This couldn't be because Hammersmith and Fulham is a Tory Council whilst Greenwich Council remains one of the last bastions of Labour strength in the capital could it? Is it right that the Mayor of London should behave with such blatant party political hypocrisy? What's more, is it befitting of his office to makes utterly unfounded implication of deliberate corruption at a time when the party he represents is under investigation by Scotland Yard for the very same?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Want to Earn a Good Wage

Then work for Transport For London
Across the whole TfL “group” the number paid over £50K is a staggering 821. The group employs 76 people who earn over £100K.
Nice work if you can get it. Shame its the commuters and taxpayers of London that pick up the bill.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I Hope He is Joking

Matthew Parris says he is planning to set up a 'Tories for Ken' campaign
Rumours circulate that Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, has hinted that if the Government rats on its promises to go ahead with the London Crossrail project, he will leave the Labour Party and stand in the 2008 mayoral elections as an independent.
The problem with this idea is that Ken Livingstone doesn't make the decision either way. The money comes from central government. Lobbying for cash from the centre, is of course the easiest game in the book.

Monday, December 18, 2006

What is an area of competence for an elected mayor?

Not, I would imagine spending public money on a publicity campaign calling for a debate on the merits of nuclear power. And doing so in tandem with the less than open-minded Greenpeace takes this from being dodgy to the status of full blown public outrage. That, however, is what we London council tax payers will be funding for one Kenneth Robert Livingstone. More details, straight from the horse's, erm, mouth here.

"Under the headline '£70 billion - Nuclear Waste?' the Mayor invites Londoners to participate in the debate now taking place about energy policy. The posters will appear on tube stations across the capital from Friday". But, so much for the debate as KRL says "Nuclear power is yesterday's solution to our energy needs. In London we want to lead the way in combating climate change by using the cleanest energy and most efficient technologies rather than adopting solutions that damage the environment. Developing the infrastructure for decentralised energy would be financially and environmentally more cost effective than using nuclear power, it would mean less carbon emissions and it would help reduce Londoners' fuel bills".

As I have noted before in a post called 'Livingstone's nuclear straw man' posted at Anyone But Ken, which I cannot as yet lay hands on, it is inconceivable that a nuclear power station would ever be built in London, either in Hyde Park or deepest Croydon, as British energy policy has always been to site plants in coastal areas well away from population centres. So, KRL is explicitly addressing an area wholly outside his competence, both geographically and in terms of legislation. He can mouth off all he likes, but when it comes to us paying for his opinion to be plastered all over poster sites, a line has been crossed. Do I hear 'propaganda on the rates' redux? Quite apart from the direct cost of renting the sites (or is Transport for London compelled to give them gratis?) , there is also the opportunity cost occasioned by others not being able to rent the sites.

Daniel Pipes To Debate Livingstone

Daniel Pipes, known for his critical articles on Islam and the Middle East, has been invited by Red Ken to take part in a debate.
London Mayor has invited Dr. Daniel Pipes to debate him at a conference billed as - "A World Civilisation or a Clash of Civilisations?
Whilst one hopes that Mr Pipes skewers him, I can't help wondering if this is the best use of tax payers money.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cameron attacks Livingstone

Words of wisdom from the Conservative Party leader.
Tory leader David Cameron has attacked the mayor of London as an "ageing far left politician" hanging onto outdated notions about ethnic minorities. He said Ken Livingstone preferred to see them as "potential agents of revolutionary change" rather than as equals who just wanted a better life.
David Cameron often infuriates me, but this is a perfect summing up of Ken Livingstone's views on race. He sees racism as a good thing and wants to put people into victim groups, because it furthers his cause. Mr Cameron's view is far better.
He added that they should be seen as "full and equal citizens who would rather build a better life for themselves and their families than man the barricades at the behest of middle class white fantasists".
He has Ken bang to rights.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Keep The Red Flag Flying

We thought that maybe he'd left those crazy days behind him, but apparently not.
LEFTIE London Mayor Ken Livingstone has launched an astonishing anti-US rant while sunning himself in Cuba.

He praised communist Cuban leader Fidel Castro and denounced President Bush. And he claimed Cuba had “been able to give its people the best standard of health care, brilliant education”, despite an “illegal economic blockade by the US”. America has called for free elections in Cuba since the 1959 Castro-led revolution, and imposed a trade embargo in 1962.
Those evil Americans, fancy calling for free elections. They'll be asking for freedom of speech next, and we can't have that can we.

Ken is Stood Up

Poor Ken must be heart broken, his hero Hugo has dropped out of their date.

From This Sceptered Isle:

Friday, November 03, 2006

Friend of Terrorists

I had this story brought to my attention by a commenter, but thanks to the incredibly poor way in which the BBC reported it, I misunderstood. The BBC seemed to suggest that Ken was unaware of Mohammed Kamel Mostafa's links to terrorism. However, this was not the case as we see here.
Mohammed Kamel Mostafa, 25, from Wembley, was given a security pass and had access to restricted areas - including tunnels under Parliament - during his time as a labourer at nights and weekends on the Underground. But the Mayor said he doubted the veracity of any conviction from Yemen and said Mostafa had passed Tube security checks.
So the man with personal responsibility for the safety of those travelling on London's public transport, didn't think it important that he had a conviction for terrorism offences. Why? because he doubts Yemen's legal system. He later changed h,is mind when he realised how it was going to be reported.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Priorities, Priorities

What does Mr Livingstone think his job is? When he is not worrying about South America, he wants to be the Green Movement's version of Stalin:
Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, is these days possessed of one great idea. Climate change, and how to avert it, consumes him. It now informs all his decisions on transport. It is top of his agenda for social housing and new building developments.
So the long distant threat of climate change, is more important to him than the everyday worries of Londoners. We should be thankful that he is only Mayor.
As mayor, he has one arm tied behind his back, he says. If it were up to him, he says he would legislate against almost anything that adds to the problem. He would ban inefficient light bulbs, bang on carbon taxes, and massively increase the cost of air fares.
Thats nicely liberal of him. Not that any of it would effect him:
Meanwhile, Livingstone has been to the US to link with other world cities to share knowledge on reducing emissions, and to China to see the beginning of the world's first major eco-city.
No doubt he would have still gone if the ticket price had been twice as much. After all he's not paying, we are.

Londoners are worried about public transport, traffic, crime and their local environment. Its not the mayor's job to tell them that their priorities are wrong and replace them with his own.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Ken's definition of Islamophobia

The Pub Philosopher has noticed that London's Great Leader has a strange definition of Islamophobia:
Islamophobia is discrimination, intolerance or hostility towards Islam and Muslims.
Take this literally and you have the end of religious freedom in the UK. Hostility toward a religion or all religions is an important part of our freedom.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

James Whale

Whilst the Conservative party is still trying to lure Nick Ferrari, UKIP have got themselves a Radio Personality candidate.
Radio presenter James Whale could become the UK Independence Party's candidate for London mayor in 2008.
So it could be the newt lover versus the whale.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

No Abuse of Human Rights in Venezuela

The mayor has an almost touching naivety over the good intentions of his South American best buddy:
There is no evidence that fingerprinting technology has been used to abuse human rights in Venezuela. I have no reason to believe that the government would use the technology to do so in future.
Here we have an authoritarian populist, who has abused his position to ensure his grip on power. A former army general with a failed coup attempt to his name, whose best friend is a communist dictator who has kept an iron grip on his nation for almost half a century.

Ken would implicitly trust this man, never to commit human rights abuses?

Green Credentials

Mr Livingston likes to shout about his green credentials. He has changed his mind over the tax formerly known as the congestion charge, and now proclaims it an environmental levy. So it will come as no surprise that he has exempted this electric car, from the congestion charge, it fits with his new found religion.

Unfortunately, the car is a complete environmental fraud, if we take the take into account the charging and power transmision loss, as well as the full life-cycle CO2 emission of power generation, as this calculation shows:
That means, making 18.8KWh of electricity releases 18.8Kg of CO2 into the athmosphere, leading to the startling fact that the G-Wiz chucks out 138g CO2 / km.

On the other hand, a Ford Focus 1.6D creates 127g CO2 / km.

Our esteemed Mayor is not the only one to be taken in by the myth of this car, but it fits very neatly into his view of the world. Claim to be doing everything for a good reason, and leave the facts out of it.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Ken will make millions of pounds of investment worthless

Millions of pounds will be wasted over the next three years as Mayor Ken strives to achieve his Oyster dream.

Ken and TfL's strategy to date, has been a massive hike in cash fares, and the reduction of Ticket Office opening times across the Network, last February. However, the next strategy will end up with the millions of pounds already spent on station refurbishment projects being wasted.

A large proportion of refurbishment budgets, at present, is spent on updating, and in some cases re-building, of ticket offices at their equipment. But all this expenditure will be prove to be fruitless as Ken's TfL quango have made it their next abjective to further close ticket offices.

Along with hiking up cash fares, TfL with make it even harder for people to purchase tickets forcing them on to the Oyster Card. The latest figures have revealed the extent of the closures, only 30 ticket offices are expected to remain, across the network. That means over 250 will be closed permanently over the next three years.

The problem is that millions of pounds have either already been spent, or currently being spent, on ticket office refurbishment, and Ken's Oyster dream will render that investment worthless.

In addition, any closure will no doubt infuriate the trade unions causing more unrest, with your average commuter having to suffer as a result.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Beating Up the Weak

One of those things that sets politicians with principles apart from those without, is that they do not use their elevated position to make life difficult for weak opponents.

Men like Livingstone however, revel in the power that they have.

Back in June, with that beacon of democracy Hugo Chavez in London, he took the opportunity to make derogatory public remarks about a Venezuelan Blogger. The blogger tried to sue the Mayor, who of course has legions of lawyers, paid for by Londoners. Realising that he was not going to win, he withdrew from the case. Ever since Ken Livingstone has continue to repeat his criticism, safe in the knowledge that his position allows him to do so.

The fact that a man with responsibility for London, should spend so much time trying to make a political opponent's life miserable, just illustrates what a vindictive little bugger he is.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Livingstone, Trams and Peckham

Earlier this month, serf blogged about the failed tram plans from TfL. Well today I've heard of a similar story, but this time it's in Peckham, an area which has rightly seen substantial regeneration investment during the last few years. It appears that Livingstone wants to allow a large area of Peckham’s town centre to be blighted by plans for a Tram Depot on it.

The Depot would form part of the Cross River Tram, which has already cost around £25m. What doesn't make sense is why Livingstone wants to have the tram depot in the middle of a town centre. Croydon, which already has trams, has sensibly located it's depot outside the town centre.

There's now growing opposition to Livignstone's proposals locally which is calling for full public review of the plans. The question is what Livingstone and his TfL politiburo will do. Listen to the locals or whatever he wants with his new "strategic" powers? You know what they say about asking a silly question!

Livingstone, Trams and Peckham

Earlier this month, serf blogged about the failed tram plans from TfL. Well today I've heard of a similar story, but this time it's in Peckham, an area which has rightly seen substantial regeneration investment during the last few years. It appears that Livingstone wants to allow a large area of Peckham’s town centre to be blighted by plans for a Tram Depot on it.

The Depot would form part of the Cross River Tram, which has already cost around £25m. What doesn't make sense is why Livingstone wants to have the tram depot in the middle of a town centre. Croydon, which already has trams, has sensibly located it's depot outside the town centre.

There's now growing opposition to Livignstone's proposals locally which is calling for full public review of the plans. The question is what Livingstone and his TfL politiburo will do. Listen to the locals or whatever he wants with his new "strategic" powers? You know what they say about asking a silly question!

Monday, September 25, 2006

The £550 Million Buses

Subsidies that would make a French farmer blush are being shovelled into the London bus service.
In 2004/05 - the most recent year for which fully validated data is available - the bus network required a subsidy of £550 million.
Streamlined and efficient government I am sure.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

London boroughs to come out fighting against Livingstone?

Apparently the results of a survey by the Association of London Government into the new powers that have been bestowed on Livingstone will be released tomorrow. Word is they're not exactly positive towards the idea of dictator Livingstone.

There are already cross-party supported mutterings against Livingstone's powers in Camden, and these survey results will show a similar backlash across the London boroughs to the concentration of power in the Mayor office.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

'State of the art' solar panels for the Great Glass Eyeball.

City Hall's media centre has a puff piece on how the building has "has been given the go ahead for state-of-the-art photovoltaic solar panels to generate non-polluting energy". The breathless prose does not, however, give any indication as to what percentage of the building's electricity will come from these panels, nor, of course, quite how much these 'state of the art' panels actually cost.

Livingstone commented "I hope that other agencies and firms will now start to copy our lead and install solar panels on their own buildings."

Maybe they will, maybe they won't, but one thing is certain: companies will be answerable for the cost of any action of this sort, whereas we Londoners have the pleasure of paying for this exercise in fashionable tokenism. What chance of flushing out the information via a Freedom of Information request?

Slick Ken's oil deal

In the latest show of anti-Americanism from Ken Livingstone, the news of his deal with ardent George Bush critic, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, is completely wrong in so many ways.

Firstly, the deal itself. Ken has brokered the deal to allow him to get subsidised oil from Venezuela, in return for consultancy advice on transport, CCTV, and finger printing. Sounds like an opportunity for another TfL style quango .

In his speech to the London Assembly on Wednesday he said: "I suspect we are two or three months away from finalising this deal, but it was certainly the case that President Chavez wanted to target the benefit to the very poorest, the unemployed." However, if that was the case wouldn't Chavez want to get full price for his oil to help the poor in his own country first.

In addition, when you considering the fact that Mr Livingstone has criticised the war in Iraq as being an oil grab by the US, isn't he just doing the same?

Also, as has reported in the past, this is the lastest in a string of policies by Ken that destroys his "green" agenda. Instead of looking at alternative fuelled vehicles for use on London's roads, he is simply going to keep the fleet of carbon producing diesel buses.

The deal for more oil, doesn't exactly make much sense, especially when you are supposedly trying to turn London into a low-emissions zone. Or, is this simply a show of solidarity for his socialist, anti-Bush, friend?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Cash fares to increase by 33% on the Tube

Ken Livingstone yesterday announced his latest move for forcing people on to the Oyster card, and penalise those who still pay for their fares by cash.

In the January fares revision, a zone 1 tube fare is will rise by a staggering 33% from £3 to £4 for a single journey. Cash fares for bus journeys in zone one will also rise from £1.50 to £2 as part of the fares package.

In his speech Livingstone stated: "the big differential between cash and Oyster card fares is designed to speed up the system by getting people to switch from cash to Oyster. I want to see every Londoner paying the lowest possible fares by switching to Oyster".

The move has sparked anger amongst the majority of tube users, as it means the cost of travelling one stop on the Tube will have quadrupled in two years.

Brian Cooke, Chairman of London TravelWatch said: "we are extremely concerned about the rise in cash fares on buses and on the tube if the journey includes Zone 1. Cash fares on buses are rising 33% to two pounds, and cash fares on the tube in zone 1 will also rise 33% to an astronomical four pounds. There are still not adequate facilities for visitors and tourists to buy Oyster cards easily, so this will really hit hard. London is already an expensive city - it has now become even more expensive for visitors to the city.

The fares increase is not what London needs, as it's just Ken's way of taxing the use of public transport even further.

After all he wants to further tax cars in London to force us on to public transport , and then further penalise us until we switch to his oyster card dream by increasing fares by a ludicrous amount to reap the profits.

Ken Doesn't Tell the Truth

I know that readers will be unwilling to believe such slander against the great leader, but I have it on good authority.

Ken claims that better management of the London Transport system has enabled a less than previously expected increase in ticket prices. Unfortunately it seems that most of the money actually came from central government and that cash fairs are going up by a whopping third.

You know what else is whopping? Ken's lies of course.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Livingstone's bid for a brass neck award

The site contains KL's message of 'good will' for Rosh Hashanah. In the light of his less than sensitive interventions on matters Jewish, it is perhaps not surprising that he is not attending the Simcha to be held in Trafalagar Square on the 17th, but instead sending Nicky Gavron....

Oyster Cards to be sold to tourists before they come to Britain?

A few days ago, Ken Livingstone's monopoly transport provider, TfL, made a press announcement which was heavily picked up around the world saying that Oyster Card are to go on sale in India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Spain, Portugal and the US via VisitBritain online shops.

Can anyone smell a junket coming on? What exactly is wrong with selling Oyster Cards at the airports and train stations? Why such far flung reaches as well? According to the Office of National Statistics the USA is the only nation in the top five for inbound tourism that is also on TfL's list.

You have to then ask yourself why start issuing Oyster Cards out in places like India, Hong Kong and Singapore? I expect that in the next few months there will be a few "fact-finding missions" to these far flung reaches by TfL staffers at the London taxpayers expense.

However, something else that the reports say is that these pre-pay Oyster cards will be based upon the local currency for where they are purchased. So a card bought in India will have Ruppees put on it and people will not have to worry about "Exchange Rates". What does that imply for pricing?

Ever feel like you've been cheated?

Monday, September 04, 2006

£24.5m spent on tram that may never run

From This is London
TRANSPORT for London has spent £24.5 million on the controversial West London Tram scheme, despite the possibility that it may not go ahead.
Funding depends on the central government providing the money, the residents along the route largely oppose the project and yet they forge ahead.

Mere democracy cannot be allowed to get in the way of Ken's grand vision, nor stop the nice little earner for all those consultants.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Ken attacks Britain's Race Equality Chief

In a live radio interview yesterday, Mayor Ken showed us all why he should not be re-elected in 2008.

During the interview he accused Britain's Racial equality chief, Trevor Phillips, of being so right wing that he could join the BNP.

The mayor, who fell out with Mr Phillips in the fight to lead London, told BBC London radio: “I don’t know where Trevor Phillips is going. I mean I remember when we had the first mayor election . . . he denounced me as racist because I said to him, ‘Would you like to be my deputy?’.”

Ken then went on to say: “Ever since then he’s gone so far over the other side that I expect soon he’ll be joining the BNP. I think exactly what Trevor is doing is trying to move the race agenda away from a celebration of multiculturalism and pandering to the Right, and I have to say it’s absolutely disgraceful.”

It is plain to see that Ken cannot conduct himself professionally in public office. He is simply unable to hold a sensible discussion without degenerating into personal and childish slurs at anyone who disagrees with him.

His list of shame also includes calling a jewish news reporter a "nazi war criminal", and the US ambassador in London a "thieving little crook".

And people wonder why this site was set up.

Pot, Kettle, Black

Ken Livingstone has called Trevor Phillips of the Commission for Racial Equality, a self publicist, who is only interested in getting into the papers.

Note to Ken, take a look in the mirror. He should also take into consideration the fact that Mr Phillips doesn't have a £100 Million self publicity budget.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Anyone But Ken Talks to Lee Rotherham

In the fourth of our series of interviews with prospective Conservative Party mayoral candidates we've spoken to Lee Rotherham. As with all our interviewees, we'd like to thank Lee for taking the time out to answer our questions.

As you’d probably agree, whoever is the Mayor of London should have affinity with the city. So what do you most like about living in London?

I suppose it’s the weight of history. The British Empire gave a unique dimension to this city of Marlowe and Shakespeare. The grandeur of our Victoriana and the whole bustling vastness of the Docklands; the legacy of the many galleries, museums and theatres that are of world class standing: they give the city a unique place on the planet. Of course, with the Empire came different cultures that have added vibrancy, variety and (at times literally) spice. It’s a beautiful, ancient city that’s alive.

What is your earliest memory of living in London?

My very first memory of London is from a school trip. We came down for a day from primary school. I was astounded by all the tower blocks and snapped away with my camera at one after another - an early interest in social housing, perhaps!

Which part of London is your favourite?

That’s not an easy choice to make, because part of the city’s attraction lies in its variety. I suppose it would be the Covent Garden-Leicester Square-Chinatown triangle. But my favourite single spot would have to be the view from the south bank of the river at Blackfriars.

What do you consider to be the worst thing done to London and Londoners during Livingstone Administration?

The problem is that there are so many examples from which to choose. Perhaps that’s the issue – that as part of the process of squandering both local democracy and all our tax money, Mayor Livingstone has also brought his position and our city into disrepute. I was particularly shamed by his Tiananmen gaffe.

As has been commented on ConservativeHome. Should the Mayor be spending large sums of taxpayers’ money promoting himself? What would you do instead?

It’s a disgrace that we have this huge propaganda budget, endorsing a shaky system of government and by extension the incumbent. Can someone possibly tell me who in the Mayor’s Office has run a cost-benefit analysis of his cinema adverts? How much has been frittered away on the We Are Londoners ads? It’s a classic case of stable doors being closed after horses bolting.

Is it fitting for the representative of London’s electorate to spend time on South American politics?

At least Sting campaigns to save the rainforests.

Ken Livingstone is not the Foreign Secretary. But that’s a symptom of the problem, and one reason why I want to ditch the whole mayoral level of government. The job encourages grandstanding.

If Mr Livingstone wants to retire tomorrow and run for Mayor of Caracas instead, I’d be delighted to sign his nomination form.
London is one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. As such, should the Mayor be seen on the same platform as extremists?

Patently not; the veneer has slipped to show a flash of the old GLC Livingstone.

Should the Mayor be extending the Congestion Charge zone?

I think we should be honest and call it what it is – the Congestion Tax. No, it shouldn’t be extended. It should be scrapped.

It’s been reported that London has the most expensive public transport system in the world. Is that something to be proud of?

Given Mr Kiley’s recent comments, absolutely not.

Perhaps while we’re on the subject, some of your readers could help answer one or two questions. Firstly, on the Oyster card; given that there are now millions of them out there, who holds the three pounds’ deposit on each card? In what bank account is it held, and who benefits from the interest? Secondly, regarding the ridiculous disparity between the charge by card and the charge by underground machine, is this legal under EU trading regulations, as it discriminates against non-residents? Either way, the rack up is disgraceful.

Should there be greater balance struck between contemporary high rise architecture and the iconic views of the London skyline?

I believe that’s an issue that should be decided by local councillors. I’m mindful of the critical debates that took place forty years ago, when the new GLC tried to override local concerns and turn Central London into a Soviet-style skyline. On a personal level, I obviously would prefer to retain such views of St Paul’s as remain.

Is Neighbourhood Policing and the greater use of uniformed civilians the solution to London’s crime and anti-social behaviour problems?

I wrote a piece for ConservativeHome on this.

Again, let me reiterate that I believe it’s not the Mayor’s part to sort these issues out. Police line managers should be left to get on with their job, and it’s down to the Home Secretary and Parliament to remove the burdens that they’re facing at so many different levels. Nobody else can do it.

Should the Mayor have veto powers over local authority planning decisions?

No. We ought to let local councillors decide.

The Mayor has recently rejected the construction of the desalination plant that formed part of the 2012 Olympic bid he supported. How do think London should deal with the problem of clean water shortages?

This is a very pertinent question. It’s too easy to attack the water company. It’s also daft to tell people not to flush so often. Nor do I understand the Mayor’s apparent position that he prefers water shortages over greenhouse emissions. If we need that plant, then clearly we should be building it.

The root of the problem is a macro one. The simple fact is that the population is expanding due to a variety of factors, especially due to migration. That can only be solved over the long term by the Home Office getting a grip.

Should threats to withdraw funding for local council be used as a means to an end by the Mayor’s office?

Do I support the use of political blackmail? No, that’s unacceptable.

Finally, what would you aim to do in the first 90 days of gaining office that would make an immediate improvement in the quality of life for Londoners?

As an abolitionist, I’d improve people’s lot by lightening the load of government.

My very first act would be to cut the Mayor’s salary from a very un-Marxist £136,677 to be on par with a backbench Member of Parliament’s. That means by over half.

Following that, I’d make telephone calls to the heads of all the Borough Councils to map out a round table forum. I want the Boroughs to be at the forefront of the democratic process of London Government while I remain Mayor. In those areas where there remains a legal strategic requirement for the Mayor to act, I want the decision-making to be done by Borough representatives, with myself simply playing the part of chair.

Those calls made, I’d slash back on the hangers-on at the GLA building. I would only need a single press officer, for instance, and the place seems chocker with ideology wonks that don’t need to be there.

Which takes us on to the finances. From the start, I would apply Zero Base Budgeting to all the expenditure. There must be a clear cost value with every item. I rather suspect this is at best questionable in a majority of cases. Where the auditing fails to identify such a benefit, then the tax money would be stopped. Local councillors would be encouraged to feed into this process directly.

Those first three months would be vital. They would be the spur to demonstrate in practise how Borough-driven London government should run - freed of the bureaucracy and duplication, and pared of wasteful expenditure. I would then take the example set to David Cameron in Downing Street, and establish a working group to repeal the parliamentary legislation and give power back to local communities.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Mark of a Dictator

One of the things that mark true democracies apart from tyrannies is that those in power are not allowed to indulge in abuse of power. Property rights cannot be overturned by whim. Unfortunately, The People's Republic of London is different.
THE mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has put a question mark over the £600m-plus sale of London City airport by suggesting its future could be up for reconsideration.
So our democratic right to vote once every few years for a Mayor, is in exchange for his right to absolute rule in between. And Why?
The mayor said the proposals “will need to weigh the economic benefits of growth in London City airport capacity to London’s economy — and that of the Thames Gateway in particular — against the disbenefits of amenity loss or diminution, environmental harm, and loss of development capacity in the London Thames Gateway area”
On the subject of environmental harm, the esteemed Mayor is obviously of the opinion that he can stop air travel by closing an airport. On the subject of development, does he really believe that an airport is a barrier to development? Would he suggest destroying Heathrow so as to make the land available for development?

Ken Livingstone show the capriciousness and self centred ignorance of a Hollywood starlet. His understanding of how the world works is not much more developed. Voters should not let his chummy man of the people image stop them from seeing the truth.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

1 in 8 bus passengers are fare dodgers

Ken's bendy buses have increased fare evasion on one London route (Ilford to Oxford Circus) to the point that 1 in 8 passengers has an invalid ticket. Most people have been aware for some time of the problem of people just getting on the back of bendy buses and then jumping off again without swiping their card. However, since Ken got rid of the Routemasters which had conductors without increasing the level of ticket inspection it's hardly a surprise that far dodging is so rife.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Anyone But Ken talks to Richard Barnes

In the third of our series of interviews with prospective Conservative Party mayoral candidates we've spoken to London Assembly Member, Richard Barnes. As with all our interviewees, we'd like to thank Richard for taking the time out to answer our questions.

As you’d probably agree, whoever is the Mayor of London should have affinity with the city. So what do you most like about living in London?

The people. They have an amazing vibrancy and creativity. Coupled with the sense of history makes London the best capital city in the world.

What is your earliest memory of living in London?

I moved to London in my late twenties from Oslo and the first striking memory is of the one bedroom flat we rented with a landlady who could strip wallpaper with her acid tongue!

Which part of London is your favourite?

St James’ Park is my personal favourite. The beautiful wide-open space within the heart of the City is simply a stunning place to go and reflect.

What do you consider to be the worst thing done to London and Londoners during Livingstone Administration?

There are so many policies and initiatives to choose from, actually selecting just one is difficult. A number of items immediately spring to mind:
  • Congestion Charging: increased costs and the unwanted Western extension to the zone.
  • West London Tram Project: £27 million pounds spent without a track being laid in anger.
  • 2012 Memorandum of Understanding: This potentially leaves Londoners with an unlimited liability to pay for any overspend on delivering the Olympics in 2012.
  • Increased public transport fares.
  • Proposals to register pedal cycles.
If pushed for an answer I would have to say the year on year inflation busting increases to the GLA precept. Increases over and above inflation are severely affecting those on low and fixed incomes the worst.

In June 2000, the GLA precept for a Band D property was £122.98 yet by April 2006 this has increased a staggering 134.6% to £288.61 with little to no visible increase in the level of service provided to Londoners from Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police or the London Fire Brigade. One must ask why Transport for London in 2005/06 spent £78 million of Londoners money on advertising what is effectively a public transport monopoly. The mind boggles at the number of additional police officers or firemen this could fund, actually making a visible and perceptible difference to Londoners quality of life.

First and foremost the future increases to the GLA precept needs to be brought under control and the tiers of management, bureaucracy and waste at each functional body needs to be identified and removed to ensure that the Mayor can confidently sit back and say that Londoners are receiving value for money.

As has been commented on ConservativeHome. Should the Mayor be spending large sums of taxpayers money promoting himself? What would you do instead?

The simple answer is no, the Mayor should not use his office or indeed taxpayers money promoting himself, unless something exceptional has been achieved by implementing a policy that has benefited London.

A good Mayor should be judged on the benefits they bring, not on the calibre of their press team and as such I would look at why the current Mayor requires 16 full time press officers.

Is it fitting for the representative of London’s electorate to spend time on South American politics?

The only foreign policy the Mayor of London should have is promoting London. As Mayor of London, a City with such a diverse nature forging good relationships with different countries from all around the world is an essential part of the job, however when this takes up large amounts of officer time or indeed taxpayers money a balance should be struck between what is relationship building and shameless self promotion.

The recent visit of Hugo Chavez to City Hall was nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt and claims that the Government of Venezuela would provide oil at a discounted rate was an empty promise that will raise expectation, grab a few headlines and fail to materialise.

London is one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. As such, should the Mayor be seen on the same platform as extremists?

The current Mayor is an extremist and is not one to shy away from controversy once sharing a platform with members of the IRA during his time at the GLC and moved onto Sheikh Al-Qaradawi during a meeting at City Hall during 2005. Personally I would never share a platform with anyone who condoned suicide bombings, the beating of females and execution of homosexuals.

Engaging in dialogue with people of differing views is paramount to building bridges between different groups but not when their views are clearly abhorrent to Londoners.

Should the Mayor be extending the Congestion Charge zone?

No. I do not support the Western extension of the Congestion Charge zone, any further expansions across London or a new scheme around Heathrow Airport. I can see the theoretical benefits of reducing congestion within the capital to reduce emissions and dangerous levels of air pollution but since the introduction of the current central zone independent reports have shown that traffic speeds in London have reduced, air quality is poorer and many small businesses have been forced to relocate or close due to a decrease in trade.

Any new Mayor must tackle the problem of congestion as a priority but by using a balanced view. Cars are part and parcel of our way of life and to most people their only way of travelling. Sensible options should be investigated such as re-phasing traffic lights controlled by Transport for London, removing inappropriate bus lanes to enable better flow of traffic, altering the charge times and ensuring that any potential road pricing system does not “tax” those on lower incomes off the roads would be better placed to improve congestion and air quality.

Any potential road pricing schemes must stand up to scrutiny. They must be there to solve the problem of congestion and air quality and should not be what the current Congestion Charge is: a further stealth tax imposed by the current anti-car Mayor.

It’s been reported that London has the most expensive public transport system in the world. Is that something to be proud of?

No, it is not something to be proud of, and needs to be tackled if we are to encourage a greater use of buses, trains and the underground network. Public transport has to be a viable and safe alternative to car usage and this can be achieved without spending £78 million of taxpayer money on advertising the Transport for London “brand” as is the current policy of the Mayor and his Transport for London cronies.

Current Mayoral policy of free travel to children under 16 (extending to under 18 in education from 1st September 2006) costing an estimated £75 million in lost revenue is simply an unaffordable luxury which if scrapped would allow fares to be frozen or reduced. Gimmicks such as this hit taxpayers hard in the pocket.

Should there be greater balance struck between contemporary high rise architecture and the iconic views of the London skyline?

Yes, there is the need for greater balance. The Mayor is in thrall to developers. “Human” cities need to retain a perspective – glass canyons destroy it.

Is Neighbourhood Policing and the greater use of uniformed civilians the solution to London’s crime and anti-social behaviour problems?

The Safer Neighbourhood initiative is a groundbreaking policy that has yet to show any visible results. Personally I see no problem with the use of Police Community Support Officers by the Metropolitan Police Service as long as their recruitment is not at the expense of warranted police officers. In an ideal world with unlimited resources I am sure everyone would like to see just warranted police officers in their neighbourhood but the reality is that with clear direction and targets Safer Neighbourhood Teams can compliment the work of officers already based within the Boroughs.

The idea of having dedicated police teams within every ward I am sure over time will deliver results. Whether these results will be cost effective remains to be seen and I believe that the teams should be target driven, providing a visible police presence whilst at the same time addressing issues brought to their attention. There is little point to visible patrols if they do not tackle crime and anti-social behaviour within their areas and I would like to see the Police Community Support Officers designated with additional powers by the Commissioner to allow them to be more effective in their roles.

I have undertaken research into the teams and have received feedback, both positive and negative from residents of several Boroughs of London and the responses vary dramatically. Many people do not know who their teams are, how they can contact them and what their role within the community is when it comes to tackling crime and anti-social behaviour.

Greater engagement with residents outside normal working hours, late night patrols and local crime indicator targets must be introduced to allow residents to gauge the success of their teams.

Should the Mayor have veto powers over local authority planning decisions?

No – The Mayor must work in partnership with the Boroughs to arrive at a fair and balanced solution to any potential planning issues.

The Mayor has recently rejected the construction of the desalination plant that formed part of the 2012 Olympic bid he supported. How do think London should deal with the problem of clean water shortages?

Thames Water needs to invest more towards fixing leakage from their pipes. I would also grant permission for a desalination plant to provide reserve capacity.

Should threats to withdraw funding for local council be used as a means to an end by the Mayor’s office?

No, it should not be used as a means to an end. The current Mayor has in the past withheld funding from the London Borough of Barnet as a way of voicing his opposition to their decision to remove road humps following consultation with local residents and has recently threatened to withhold funding from the newly elected Conservative controlled London Borough of Ealing following their announcement to suspend two bus lanes following a campaign by residents concerned by the congestion and associated pollution.

Both of these councils have shown that they listen to the residents they consult but this holds no weight with the Mayor who only wishes to pursue his own agenda regardless of local feeling.

Following a lengthy standoff the Mayor did provide funding to Barnet leaving him with egg on his face. To be Mayor of a great city means that there is no place for a personal agenda’s and feeble attempts to influence local authority decisions that fall outside the remit of the Mayor’s Office.

Finally, what would you aim to do in the first 90 days of gaining office that would make an immediate improvement in the quality of life for Londoners?

In the first 90 days I would of course move into my office and remove from post all of the GLC hangers on that follow the Mayor at every turn and then review every spending contract entered into by the current Mayor.
  • Review funding of the Metropolitan Police to recognise that the key priority of the Metropolitan Police Service is to arrest criminals and protect the public. Making actual police officers more visible and available to the public is a key factor in improving satisfaction with the service. A single instance of what is deemed poor interaction with the police should be seen as a failure.
  • Stop the self-promotion of Transport for London and utilise funding towards fare reductions/discounts or improvements in security. I would also seek to immediately appoint an independent Chairman of the Transport for London Board.
  • Review the work of the London Development Agency. What contracts they have entered into, ongoing projects and grant giving since June 2000. I would also produce a set of key strategic priorities for the Agency to ensure that all of London benefits from the money made available.
  • Revise the Core GLA budget with the objective of a “lean, mean effective organisation” run on similar lines to a private sector organisation.
  • Re-examine the Memorandum of Understanding with the Government and endeavour to put a cap on London’s share of the cost of the Olympics in the event of cost overruns.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Ken Livingstone accepts Aid from Third World

Most of us worry about those unfortunates that live in less developed countries. Governments of rich countries like the UK send billions each year to help those worse off. Now it seems that Red Ken is to reverse the process.
Last winter Chavez delivered cut-rate oil to low-income Americans through Citgo, the Houston-based subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company. He offered to do the same during his visit in May and it now looks as though he's delivering on the promise. Surely Livingstone's London isn't so destitute that it needs overseas aid from a self-styled latter day Che Guevera?
In the interests of Communist solidarity, or Livingstone populism, the self styled man of the people is to accept the charity of a nation whose people are far poorer than us. Wonderful isn't it.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

They Notice in Tehran

When we have finally got rid of Ken, maybe they would like him in Tehran. They certainly take close notice of what he says.

Livingstone throwing his weight around

Most of us would think that his current responsibilities are quite enough to fill his working day, but apparently not. The Sun notes his intervention to assist that renowned London band, the Scissor Sisters (they come from a borough called New York) to play a gig in Trafalgar Square.

It notes "The former Labour MP — known as Red Ken because of his Left-wing rants — put pressure on the capital’s Westminster Council to allow the New York band to put on a show in the shadow of Nelson’s Column....They made moves to get Trafalgar Square for a big free concert but Westminster Council — who have the final say — weren’t too keen. “Ken intervened because he thought it was a great event and his help appears to be making a difference.” The firebrand politician has no direct authority over Westminster Council, but as the elected representative of all of Greater London he can use his influence over local matters".

Can't say I have any great knowledge of the band in question, but doesn't Livingstone have more important things to do than serve the PR machines of bands on the make, especially when the decision was one for Westminster council? I wonder what chance the average Londoner would have of getting him to react so quickly to a request to intervene in a borough issue?

Monday, August 07, 2006

James Cleverly withdraws from race

Sadly, James Cleverly has withdrawn from the race for the Tory mayoral candidate spot. A real shame, but we wish James the best of luck.

Do we Trust Ken with our Data?

I came across an interesting post that mentioned Mr Livingstone's favourite play thing.
The government is systematically trying to monitor our every movement. 'Red Ken' is currently using his Oyster Card scheme to register every person who uses public transport, not just in London but in the entire in the South East of England (I should imagine most of them) where half the population lives.
Is this really what Oyster is about? Should we trust even the best intentioned politician, (let alone Red Ken) with this kind of data?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Anyone But Ken talks to James Cleverly

Following on from our recent interview with hopeful Mayoral candidate Victoria Borwick, today we have another. This time it's fellow blogger, James Cleverly. We'd like to thank James for taking the time to talk to us.

As you’d probably agree, whoever is the Mayor of London should have affinity with the city. So what do you most like about living in London?

On Wednesday I bought a Bento box from a six foot Nigerian who spoke perfect Japanese. I love that. I can buy a proper curry or walk a few minutes along the Mile End Road and get pie and mash with liquor. I love the fact that some of the most innovative architectural executions in the world (the Swiss Re building and the Lloyds building) sit alongside mediaeval churches. That the most famous tennis tournament in the world is played in a quite suburb and that the oldest sporting contest in the world is rowed on the Thames. Mostly I love the people.

What is your earliest memory of living in London?

I remember playing football in the street in Hither Green (part of Lewisham) and sneaking through a fence into the River Quaggy. The boys that I was playing with and I followed the river for what felt like miles, it was probably a couple of hundred yards. My mother was beside herself with fear and cried for hours when I got back.

Which part of London is your favourite?

Anywhere that gives me a view over the city.

What do you consider to be the worst thing done to London and Londoners during Livingstone Administration?

Clearly the 7/7 attacks were the worst, they were a wake-up-call and every lesson possible should be drawn out of them. Livingstone’s refusal to heed the findings of the London Assembly committee which looked into these attacks is therefore unforgivable.

As has been commented on ConservativeHome. Should the Mayor be spending large sums of taxpayers money promoting himself? Would you do things differently?

I remember seeing poster after poster with Livingstone’s smug grin beaming down on me, all paid for out of my, and other people’s, taxes. He has at least moved on from blatantly promoting just himself to promoting his pet policies, it’s an improvement, but not much. If his policies were effective he wouldn’t need to spend millions telling us how good they were. I would spend tax payer’s money on governing and delivering, not spinning.

Is it fitting for the representative of London's electorate to spend time on South American politics?

Once the Mayor of London has sorted out all of London’s problems he can spend time on whatever pet project he likes. Until then he should concentrate on the job in hand.

London is one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities. As such, should the Mayor be seen on the same platform as extremists?

The Mayor should be a figurehead as well as an administrator. As such he should be very careful about alienating sections of London’s population, women, the Jewish community, the gay community etc by “endorsing” visitors who vilify them.

Should the Mayor be extending the Congestion Charge zone?

No, no,no,no,no. The expansion of the congestion charge zone is a blatant attempt to make the scheme more profitable, it will not reduce traffic merely displace it. The zone, its costs and its effect on London commerce must be looked at, honestly, dispassionately and apolitically. Only when this is done can London have a proper debate about the continuation or abolition of the scheme.

It's been reported that London has the most expensive public transport system in the world. Is that something to be proud of?

It is a farce. Transport subsidies have increased dramatically under Livingstone and yet fairs still rise. There is an argument for high subsidies and low fares; there is also a valid argument for no subsidies. But to have high subsidies and high fairs shows a level of financial and political incompetence which alone should disqualify Livingstone from holding office.

Should there be greater balance struck between contemporary high rise architecture and the iconic views of the London skyline?

London is a living city not a giant museum. Modern architecture has its place and will become iconic with time, the Swiss Re building and the London Eye are already established parts of London’s cityscape. Quality must be the deciding factor, London deserves no less.

Is Neighbourhood Policing and the greater use of uniformed civilians the solution to London's crime and anti-social behaviour problems?

It is part of the solution but not the whole solution. A much more visible police presence and a force which is closer to the community will help to reduce street crime and antisocial behaviour but much of the serious, habitual crime is linked to drugs, poverty and social exclusion. This side of the equation has been overlooked for too long. I intend to create a Social Enterprise Unit from existing mayoral staff with task of finding groups who are tackling these problems and supporting them.

Should the Mayor have veto powers over local authority planning decisions?

No, planning should be done at the most local level possible. The Mayor should be involved with significant projects but the ultimate decision should remain with the local authority.

The Mayor has recently rejected the construction of the desalination plant that formed part of the 2012 Olympic bid he supported. How do think London should deal with it's clean water shortage problem?

The first thing to do is ensure that the problem gets no worse. Livingstone’s plans to push London’s population densities even higher will put increasing strain on our infrastructure. Water provision, waste removal and treatment, education and health provision are already close to breaking point so shoehorning more and more people into ugly, high density housing is environmentally short-sighted.

I don’t know enough about desalination in general or the Olympic site scheme in particular to comment on that decision but London’s water needs are not going to get smaller so we should be open to new and innovative ideas.

Should threats to withdraw funding for local council be used as a means to an end by the Mayor's office?

I am completely against this as a tactic. Councillors are locally elected representatives and as such are more in touch with the needs of their specific areas than a London wide mayor. I intend to give a lot more power back to the boroughs and take power from central government in return. I don’t believe that this repatriation of power should come with strings attached.

Finally, what would you aim to do in the first 90 days of gaining office that would make an immediate improvement in the quality of life for Londoners?

I would set up the Social Enterprise Unit, it will seek out charities, community groups, faith groups etc. who are fighting poverty, social exclusion and drug addiction and help them succeed. This would form part of my two prong attack on crime and the causes of crime the other being a dramatic increase in visible community policing.

I would set up an apolitical review of the congestion charge, the findings will be put into the public domain so that Londoners can make an informed decision on its continuation, amendment or abolition.

James' campaign website can be visisted by clicking here

Friday, August 04, 2006

Tory Primary Process delayed

ConservativeHome is reporting the following statement from Francis Maude:
Eight weeks ago we set out plans to give every Londoner the chance to become the Conservative Partys candidate for Mayor of London, and to give all Londoners the chance to play a part in the selection process.

Since then we have received a number of excellent applications. This has been extremely encouraging. We have also received expressions of interest from a number of very serious potential candidates for whom the timescale we originally set is too restrictive.

Given that the mayoral elections are still nearly two years away, we are therefore extending the deadline to give these and others the chance to come forward.

We want as wide a range of people as possible to take part in this exciting and innovative process with a view to selecting a candidate next spring.
Nick Ferrari come in?

No Bigger Task

Hobnobbing with important people for a change (and not terrorists or dictators) Mr Livingstone had the following piece of wisdom to share with us:
"There is no bigger task for humanity than to avert catastrophic climate change.
Some of us would beg to differ. Here are some statistics on a few bigger tasks that face us:
  1. Measles, malaria and diarrhea are three of the biggest killers of children — yet all are preventable or treatable
  2. Six million children under five die every year as a result of hunger
  3. 134 million children between the ages of 7 to 18 have never been to school
  4. More than 300,000 child soldiers are exploited in armed conflicts in over 30 countries around the world
  5. 171 million children work in hazardous conditions
Just a small selection of the things that are really important. Climate change ranks pretty low down the list when you consider what is really wrong with the world.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Eric Ollerenshaw for London?

The Telegraph's Spy diary column says Eric Ollerenshaw, the non-A listed Hackney councillor who was somehow considered "local" in the Eltham selection process, is planning to run for the Tory candidacy for Mayor.

The closing date for applications is tomorrow, and Celia Walden says that her source told her, "Eric's a straight-talking former deputy head who represents a gritty patch of inner London... He's not a Cameron clone or part of the Chelsea set. What's more, after years of taking on Ken in the assembly, he understands his opponent."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Major for Mayor!

Interesting piece on Comment is Free by Julian Glover suggesting the only person suitable to be the Tory candidate for London Mayor is John Major because of his profile. Sounds great but I imagine China becoming a democracy tomorrow is more likely.

Hat tip: Iain Dale

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Anyone But Ken talks to Victoria Borwick

A few week's ago, serf posted about two of the prospective Conservative alternatives to Ken. During the last week we managed to arrange an interview with one of those potential candidates, Victoria Borwick. We would like to thank her for taking the time out of her schedule to answer our questions.

As you’d probably agree, whoever is the Mayor of London should have affinity with the city. So what do you most like about living in London?

The fact that it is a world city – constantly changing and evolving, but still with hidden corners and communities that remain constant. The old historical London what embodies so many years of tradition and has endured the plague, the fire, the wars, and now London today, bringing together vibrant international cultures – taking advantage of technology to be the world’s most competitive centre for global financial services. London is more than just our capital city, London’s importance as a trading centre makes us one of the world’s leading nations.

What is your earliest memory of living in London?

Having been born in London and brought up here – I remember the parks, walking to school and, like all small children, jumping up to balance on low walls, and running sticks along the railings. Walking home from school in the thick smog, or mist - delighted we don’t have those any more. However London felt safer and the traffic was easy.

At Christmas time the treat of going to the underground passageway between Barkers and Derry and Tom’s when it became a Christmas grotto and “sleigh-ride”. I also remember the arrival of Biba and psychedelic fashions in Carnaby Street.

Which part of London is your favourite?

I love the local street markets, which are individual to each community around London, the vibrancy of Covent Garden. I love standing on Westminster Bridge and watching the Thames flow, and the London skyline; the new architecture in Docklands contrasting with our wonderful parks and open spaces.

What do you consider to be the worst thing done to London and Londoners during Livingstone Administration?

That in spite of all his promises he has not managed to reduce crime – particularly street crime – The most important role for the Mayor is to keep Londoners safe. This is our city, we live here, work here and we want to be able to go out safely and feel pride in our capital city.

As has been commented on ConservativeHome. Should the Mayor be spending large sums of taxpayers money promoting himself? What would you do instead?

No of course he should not, it is part of Livingstone’s desire for self promotion. I see the role of the Mayor as more of a Chief Executive working with the Boroughs, the Strategic Authorities, the Police, Transport for London, all the Transport authorities to work in partnership for the benefit of all Londoners. The job of a CEO is to promote the company not themselves, and though it is tempting for Livingstone to be attracted by power and publicity, he should have resisted this.

Livingstone appears to enjoy being controversial and to draw attention to himself rather than getting on with the job of leading London.

Is it fitting for the representative of London’s electorate to spend time on South American politics?

No. We should work to encourage community cohesion in London, the Mayor is here to represent London, not to go back to the bad old days of the GLC promoting dictatorships and the IRA.

The Mayor should not waste money on his own foreign policy – that is a job for Whitehall. When Ken has run out of ideas to improve London, he cheers himself up at our cost with this sort of stunt.

London is one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. As such, should the Mayor be seen on the same platform as extremists?

Absolutely not. The role of the Mayor is to promote cohesion and inclusiveness. Backing extremists to get attention conflicts with the Mayor’s duty to Londoners.

Should the Mayor be extending the Congestion Charge zone?

No – the recent consultation showed that Londoners did not want the extension – Livingstone was quoted as saying the consultation was a charade. Businesses, and particularly small shops will suffer; those who need to travel in and out of the zone will suffer, it is not necessary. The recent TfL survey showed that traffic speeds in the congestion zone were no faster than before, with a larger congestion zone and more vehicles receiving a discount this can only get worse.

It’s been reported that London has the most expensive public transport system in the world. Is that something to be proud of?

Livingstone likes the oyster card and to make transport users buy the card he has forced up the single trip fares which is damaging to our tourist industry.

Our visitors to London suffer, but those who are regular travellers and have travel cards, oyster cards pay a reduced rate. Over 60 have free travel as do young people, but this is paid for by the Boroughs. Central London is reasonably well served, but we need to improve the transport in outer London and the ticketing arrangements. The first tubes were around in 1863, so we have a very antiquated system that costs a lot to maintain. Other countries have cheaper systems, generally because they are more modern and receive subsidies.

In many cases we seem to have paid for over-runs in the maintenance budget by delaying or cancelling refurbishments that will reduce our long term costs. This is merely a case of getting a manager to manage London, not someone whose whole life has been dedicated to politics.

Should there be greater balance struck between contemporary high rise architecture and the iconic views of the London skyline?

London’s skyline has constantly changed over the years, we enjoy confident architecture and have many landmark buildings. I do not want to destroy the past, but as London continues to expand we have the space for some new landmarks. However we do need to protect the strategic London vistas.

Is Neighbourhood Policing and the greater use of uniformed civilians the solution to London’s crime and anti-social behaviour problems?

Having recently spent some time with the Police – both the Police Community Support Officers and the Met police, I am still firmly of the view that more uniformed officers on the streets reduces crime. The police obviously have to use intelligence wisely – as we all know the majority of crime is committed by a small number of people, who are known to the police. In order to continually reduce crime we should all be vigilant and not make life easy for the criminals. The main role of the police is to catch the criminals and get them off the streets, but to achieve this we must have an effective criminal justice system and a probation system that does not release known criminals with a known high risk of re-offending back onto our streets.

A wise policeman once said “we don’t solve crimes in the majority of cases, people tell us who did it”. But to achieve this policemen have to know their communities, be known in the local shops, local streets, local estates. As Londoners we have to feel confident that by helping the police, we will actually see safer streets. In parts of London, we are not helping the police because of fear of reprisals - the gang culture is stronger than the forces of law and order.

Should the Mayor have veto powers over local authority planning decisions?

I believe this is extremely dangerous. It concentrates the power to override local views and knowledge into the hands of one man who has already made clear that he will use his powers to force through unpopular decisions.

The Mayor has recently rejected the construction of the desalination plant that formed part of the 2012 Olympic bid he supported. How do think London should deal with the problem of clean water shortages?

Reduce the leaks – this would almost double the amount of water that would get through to our taps, and educate consumers to be more aware of the amount of water they are using.

Should threats to withdraw funding for local council be used as a means to an end by the Mayor’s office?

No. The locally elected councillors and Boroughs should have power over their area, but I would hope that by working in partnership with the boroughs and by encouraging neighbouring boroughs to share resources and services that Londoners would receive better value for money.

Finally, what would you aim to do in the first 90 days of gaining office that would make an immediate improvement in the quality of life for Londoners?

Quick improvements would be:

Publish the list of crime hot spots and work with the police to resolve these – what resources does it need, is it bad design/ lighting/ environment that is facilitating these crimes? In London we have a perception and fear of crime and we need to restore confidence both in the police and the public. Many officers in the Met have a zero tolerance approach and we need to support that.

British Transport Police – the Conservative Group proposal was to increase these by over 600. I support the Evening Standard campaign against unmanned stations. The technology is now there to improve the safety on the tube and increase communication – learning the lessons from both the Kings Cross fire and last year’s terrorist attacks – I would re-open this whole agenda to improve safety for Londoners.

Phasing of the traffic lights to get Londoners moving. Stop making more traffic constrictions and start the removal process of some of the bottlenecks.

More “smart” bus stops, so that you know when the next bus is coming and ensure there are not queues of buses in Oxford Street and no buses in outer London. Look at routes and timetabling to improve orbital journeys.

Waste at City Hall – every year the Conservative Group have proposed lower budgets to remove excess costs, whilst maintaining services. Reduce the waste in self promotion and study the budgets in detail to reduce the cost of the Mayor – London households paid £1,000 for the Mayor for the first four years of office, and now the figure continues to rise. The final budgets for the Olympics have not been set and judging from previous experience will not be cheap for Londoners.

Housing - everyone needs somewhere to live and in my view one of the crisis points here is the lack of affordable housing in London. London attracts people from all over the country as well as those from overseas and we benefit from their industry. We must look at the provision being made for key worker housing, affordable housing, intermediate housing projects and have the political will to provide these throughout London. London needs to be an integrated cohesive city not a city divided into areas of wealth and areas of poverty.

What's it Got to do With London?

Once more Ken is more interested in world affairs than the problems of London.
London Mayor Ken Livingstone yesterday called for the "largest possible" turnout at a national demonstration demanding an immediate ceasefire between Israel and the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.
Why does this meglomaniac think it is his job to support particular demonstrations? Could it be because he thinks the everyday problems and issues of Londoners is below him?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ken's view of the GLA Members

If you've ever wondered what the Mayor's real opinion is of Greater London Assembly members then a quote from him in yesterday's Evening Standard is certainly revealing.

When he was asked about the prospect of facing Lord Stevens at the ballot box he said that he wasn't sure Lord Steven could stand "two and a half hours each month, [of] tedious questions by members of the London Assembly".

Should someone that holds the GLA in such contempt really be in it's top job?

Cyclists will be next to be hounded.

Not content with making every motorists life a misery, Ken is now turning his attentions on to one of his "success" stories, the cyclist.

In Ken's latest brainwave, he wants all cyclists in London to fit number plates to their bikes. All bikes then would be registered so that riders, caught on traffic and CCTV cameras breaking the law, can be punished and fined.

Speaking on LBC yesterday He said "I think i'm now persuaded, we should actually say that bikes and their owners should be registered." He added "You have got to have legislation, but I think, most likely we'll be putting up a private Bill and I think can get the London Boroughs - all of them, irrespective of parties - to most likely go along with that and have a proper vehicle/bicycle registration scheme."

Or course Ken can get the boroughs to go along with it, he'll just threaten to cut their funding like he did with Ealing over their bus lanes.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

As predicted in May, the congestion charge will cover Greater London

Back in May I posted about Ken Livingstone's plans to start congestion charging for the entire Greater london area - that is to say within the M25. Today this plan became official policy when Livingstone announced that his "Low Emmission Zone" plan would begin in 2008, when he would start charging lorries, buses and coaches that fail to meet a minimum pollution standard if they drive within Greater London.

As I also mentioned, such a scheme is going to have a significant impact on public services such a private school bus companies as they will need to spend thousands on their vehicle fleets. Additionally many haulage companies may have to stop operating in the capital completely as it will no longer be commercially viable to do so.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Propaganda on the Rates

A good post on Conservative Home, highlighting what we have mentioned here before.
You can hardly go to the cinema in London without one of the Mayor's propaganda ads appearing. The Londoner newspaper contains pro-Ken publicity alongside practical information about life in the capital. The Conservative Party should be exposing this political use of council taxpayers' money and investigating who is benefiting from the contracts for these ads.
Commenter Phil Taylor adds an extra dimension:
The Mayor's freesheet The Londoner will cost £2,857,488 in the current financial year (see post). This is not the whole story though as this budget is net cost not gross cost. Every issue carries 4 pages of full page display ads from bodies in the GLA family. They have no choice about these ads and in effect it means that the Londoner costs more like £4-5 million.
No wonder Ken likes dictators and Caudillos so much. He has so much in common with them.

"Green" Olympic plan will result in increased pollution

Ken promised, in a letter to The Times last week, that the 2012 Olympics would be the "greenest" ever. Which is all part of his plan to make the capital a lower emission zone.

However, as previously reported on this blog, Ken's plans are, as usual, well off the mark.

This is most obvious in the way he is currently dealing with one of the companies trading within the boundaries of the planned Olympic site. Concrete crushing company, Bedrock, are due to be evicted relocated as a result of the Olympic developement.

Bedrock currently makes 400 lorry movements a day, resulting in the recycling of one million tons of demolished concrete, and preventing it from packing the landfill sites, each year. Concrete crushing itself, although a dirty job, plays a very important role in the recycling industry.

The LDA has, however, offered Bedrock an alterative location, in Dagenham, seven miles futher east. This move would result in Bedrock having to purchase a further 25 extra lorries, which do eight miles to the gallon, and would have to be on the road for an extra 2800 miles a day.

But that would work out quite nicely for Ken, after all he's planning to charge "dirty" vehicles that produce high levels of C02 emmissions for driving in Greater London.

How thoughtful of him. Evict a recycling company, to a site that means they have to purchase more C02 producing vehicles, so that they can be charged extra for the use of.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Whatever happened to "Cooling the Tube"?

Anyone who gets the tube iat the moment knows only too well how bloody hot it is downt here. The tube network, whilst probably the most complex in the world, also happens to be the oldest. The result is no air-conditioning on trains whatsoever, and temperatures which can soar past 50 degrees celsius.

Three years ago, our illustrious Mayor Ken decided that he would have an open competition to engineers called "Cooling the Tube". The competition received a lot of press coverage and the prize was to be £100,000.

Here we are three years on, and nothing has happened. Another example of Ken saying, rather than doing.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Tractor Production Rises

Check this Blog for details of that obnoxious little liar's problems with the truth.

1,100 habitable rooms per Hectare

The Borough of Haringey has voted to approve a new planning system.
The UDP will shape planning decisions made in Haringey until 2016 and, in its present state, could see new homes packed in to the borough at two to three times the current density.
The people of the borough are up in arms and the councillors are none to happy either. So why did they vote for it?
Haringey Council had to approve the UDP on Monday, or risk being led by Ken Livingstone's London Plan, which is much more general and could invite even higher rates of development in Haringey.
Because to do otherwise would have invited London's own Caudillo to force his plans on them. Democracy, don't you just love it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Conservative Alternatives To Ken

The details of the selection process are still a little hazy, but we have already had two hats thrown into the ring:

First off the mark was Warwick Lightfoot, former Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea.

Quick to follow, we have Cllr Mrs Victoria Borwick.

I know nothing about either of them, but I am sure they would both be better than Ken.

I have added links to their websites in the Blogroll

Friday, July 14, 2006

Official: Ken has become a dictator

Yesterday, the Government gave Ken further powers over London that effectively make his office a dictatorship over the notional state of Greater London. He now has executive control over planning, skills, public health, environment and housing. As a result power is being dragged up from borough into an all powerful single figurehead office.

Sir Simon Milton, the leader of Westminister city council, quite rightly condemned the moves and said that this extension of "his remit is going against the trend of local government, where decisions and accountability are moving to the neighbourhood level, not to a remote regional centre. If the mayor is to have more powers, it is essential that the assembly should be given greater powers to hold him to account and to force him to moderate his plans."

This now a nightmare scenario in planning terms as Ken Livingstone, a politician, is a one man planning auhtority. He has been given ddirect power to conest and refuse planning applications arbitrarily on the very vague grounds of his "strategic" requirements. Soon we'll have pictures of Ken on the side of buildings as well.

Nick Ferrari to run against Ken?

There's a rumour going around that Nick Ferrari (the LBC 97.3 Breakfast show presenter) has decided to enter the planned Open primary to find a Conservative Party to run against against Ken Livingstone at the next mayoral election in 2008. Nick has been mulling it over on his blog and his show over the past week (even inviting people to call in and ask him questions).

Nick Ferrari would, I'm sure, make an excellent mayor and be a breath of fresh air to London after being under the control of Red Ken for so long. The biggest challenge we face as a party against Ken is his high profile. Nick Ferrari, has a high eneough profile to match Ken.

All Nick has to do is get through the primary, which, if the rumours are true, could include Sir John Stevens.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Congestion charge to increase to £25 for families

Yesterday, Red Ken announced his plans for greater revenue to his quango TfL under the guise of environmentalism. Livingstone said that he's going to make Central London a low-emmission zone and to do this he's going to start charging the owners of so-called "chelsea tractors", £25 per day to drive in the CC zone.

"'Chelsea tractors', many of which are responsible for some of the highest CO2 emissions of any cars on our roads, have to be dealt with.... I want TfL to look at lower congestion charges for cars responsible for lower than average CO2 emissions, broadly the retention of the current rate of £8 for most cars, and much steeper charges of perhaps £25 for the really environmentally damaging cars such as the so-called 'Chelsea tractors'."

There are a number of serious, and very fundamental problems with this plan. First up there's the issue of using generalised language to stigmatise a particular group. The so-called "chelsea tractor" is a catch-all phrase for anything remotely 4x4. The fact that so many of these vehicles don't actually fall into the range of emmissions that would result in a higher charge is ignored. Ordinary families who just happen to have a big, 4x4 looking car are thus being viewed as some sort of environmental pariah, when they're not.

The second problem is the claim that these car are the highest polluters. They're no more polluting however than many stupidly fast sports cars which also drive around places like Chelsea and the rest of the CC zone every day. However, apparently you're not an evil environment killer if you drive one of them because it doesn't look big and the chattering classes don't talk about you at the dinner parties they drove to in their hiugh emmission TVRs, Boxtsers, Subaru Imprezas, etc etc.

The third problem is more about where this is heading. Ken Livingstone claims that his target is to make central London (ergo the CC zone) a low emmission zone. This may sound laudable, however what happens to the congestion charge then? If everyone is driving low emmission exempted cars then CC revenue will plummet. He'll have two choices, either, make all those cars that were exempt, not exempt (likely, he's threatening it with LPG cars already). Or, move the charge further out and start charging families £25 a day to drive around the suburbs of greater London. Even if those people used their cars only two days a week, that would amount to an extra £2600 a year in Livingstone's coffers at City Hall.

There is also one final fourth problem. When the charge was brought it was apparently about cutting congestion. However, putting aside the independent research by the RAC that shows congestion levels in the zone have now reached the same as they were prior to the charge's introduction. It's now being argued the charge is tool in the fight to cut CO2 emmissions.

The number of times that Ken Livingstone has now lied about the Congestion Charge is, quite frankly, becoming a joke. He promised not to put it up before his election, then put it up straight after. He said he wouldn't do it again till 2010, it's just gone up again. He's trying to make out he's saving you money if you pay on the day rather than the next when in fact you're not, and now he's planning further increases on the grounds of a cars "look". More worryingly is that that the logical ends of his policy of low emmission zones is that the charge will have to move outward further and further as revenue dries up in the centre.

We have to get this man out of city hall.