Sunday, June 11, 2006

This month’s ‘The Londoner’

Ken is a big fan of revisiting his old tricks, and those of us of a certain vintage will remember how the GLC used to inflict propaganda on the rates on the denizens of The Great Wen. Anyway, ‘The Londoner’

is London’s very own version of The Peoples Daily, in which all is sweetness and light and Livingstone is a combination of Thomas Jefferson, Father Christmas and Nelson Mandela, and we lucky people get a copy through the letter box once a month. As the title contains very little advertising other than from the wholly captive like London Transport, we also have the pleasure of paying for this bilge. With Pravda at least one had to elect to read it and fork out some kopecks for the privilege. The site seems to be acting up at present, so I have been unable to find any mention of the cost of publishing it.

So, without further ado, onto this month’s 12 page issue:

Mentions of Ken Livingstone – 9

Photos of Ken – 1

There is plenty of material in the current issue to raise the blood pressure, but for now I will focus on a staggeringly misleading item on the extension of Oyster to overland rail services:

Passengers will be able to use pay as you go Oyster cards on all of London's overground suburban trains within two years. Oyster makes travelling easier and faster and reduces queues at ticket offices. Many single fares and Travelcards are also considerably cheaper by Oyster. Since the card was brought in, it has only been accepted at a handful of rail stations while all Tube, bus, tram and Docklands Light Railway passengers are able to use it. This means London's six million Oyster card holders have to buy costlier paper tickets for daily travel when using overground mainline trains”.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Well, this year’s fare hikes saw Oyster and paper ticket prices move out of sync, by virtue of a massive rise in the cost of paper tickets and now they have the audacity to spin it as Oyster being cheaper, rather than acknowledge that differential pricing was introduced to pressure users into using the pre-pay card rather than conventional tickets.

Imagine, if you will, this parallel: Apu owns the Kwik-E Mart, where I pick up a newspaper, a Mars bar and a packet of fags every morning as it is the monopoly supplier. For this I hand over six quid. Then Apu devises a Kwik-E mart card, for which one has to pre-pay, and if using this I can continue to pay £6 for my purchases, or if I want to use cash, £9. Would Apu have the brass neck to tell me that his availing me of the use of Kwik-E mart card constituted a bargain?

Because that is the nature of this Oyster / ticket stitch-up. Furthermore, this smart card has a unique identifying number, and should she get hold of it, whoever has the misfortune to be Ms Croydonian this week could data mine my purchases with it and then berate me for buying cigarettes when I swore blind I’d given up.


dizzy said...

Good post old chap. I never get the Londoner thank god.. I think it would make me very angry if I did.

Croydonian said...

Thanks Dizzy.

Yup, it cranks up my blood pressure to the levels that normally only Polly Toynbee can take it to. Just don't click on the hyperlink...

Meanwhile, I've started sieving through the online back issues to see what the highwater mark for Ken mentions is, and thus far his best score is 32, but I have another three or four years to work through...

Phil Taylor said...

In response to an enquiry I made on 6th February Nicola Golledge wrote on 28th February from City Hall to let me know how much The Londoner costs us. In the last financial year the budget for the Londoner was £2,882,800. This year the budget is slightly reduced at £2,857,488.

So it costs about £3 million a year if you exlcude the fact that its so-called advertising income comes from the "GLA family", eg TfL who I suspect get little choice in where they place their ads!