Thursday, September 27, 2007

Boris v Livingstone

The battle had already started with the clumsy attempts by Livingstone's team to smear Boris Johnson before he had even won the race to be the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London.

But now it is official and Londoners have a real choice, between the hypocritical, bitter and divisive reactionary who taints our capital city by inviting terrorist sympathisers and human rights abusing left wing friends to visit; and an intelligent and capable man who will be accountable, careful with taxpayers' money, work tirelessly for ALL Londoners and champion the city and its people here and abroad.

Vote for BORIS JOHNSON for Mayor of London.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Livingstone - body fascist?

These two fine figures of health and fitness, Len Duvall and Ken Livingstone have set themselves up as arbiters of what is attractive and what is healthy:

And why are they straying somewhat beyond their respective remits of chairing the Metropolitan Police Authority / the Greater London Labour party, and hobnobbing with extremists being Mayor of London? Because London Fashion Week is nearly upon us.

Duvall thinks "young girls [are] starving themselves to death because of the lead being given by the fashion industry". Care to provide the figures, Len, or are you, as I strongly suspect, making it up as you go along? And not a hint of hyperbole either, I'm sure. Belief in free will is so terribly old fashioned, isn't it?

As to Livingstone, he goes that wee bit further and comments "I would be quite happy to ban under size models throughout the entire fashion world.“ A lot of the women on catwalks look disturbing. The idea that anything about this is attractive is just bizarre". And how do you look to them?

Yes, some models are thin. Then again there are plenty of people in the public eye who are not, and it ill-behoves anyone to make a judgement on what people should or should not find attractive, still less for a politician to attempt to wreck the ability of someone to maker a living based on their appearance. Insert the name of your preferred racial, cultural etc group in the place of 'under size' to get the full impact. Ideals of beauty vary greatly both across the ages and across cultures - I doubt that the average Samoan would find a Somali attractive, or vice versa. Given that the average Briton is bigger now than 20 years ago, I cannot help but think that the impact of 'size zero' models in shaping the popular consciousness has been less than enormous.

Always supposing that one's morphology is entirely in one hands, can we look forward to Duvall & Livingstone coming down like two tons of bricks on body builders, athletes, folk with orange tans, long hair, short hair, tattoos, piercings, thick ankles, split ends, acne or whatever else they consider "bizarre" for others to find attractive?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

'A consultation' - Livingstone style.

Maybe I am being naive, but the concept of 'a consultation' suggests that something is being investigated without there being pre-ordained aim. Not, however, when it comes to City Hall and the Mayor of London.

The 'consultation' is about an exciting new class war attack on folk fortunate enough to drive large and / or luxurious cars. Not that it is phrased thus, it is all about CO2 emissions, which Livingstone has determined to have caused the recent floods. Uh-huh.

There is, as one would expect, some rather poor reasoning at work in the press release, and some fairly masterful sleights of hand. The attack on the owners of these cars is justified by their only being driven by '8% of Londoners'. Given that the congestion charge zone covers Westminster and K&C, the honest figure to dig out would be the percentage of these chariots of CO2 owned by people living in those boroughs, but as the average Westminsterian / Kensingtonian probably drives something a little further up the food chain than a 10 year old Toyota that would not allow him to produce a figure of 8% for the rest of us to place, metaphorically speaking, in the stocks and pelt with unread copies of 'The Londoner'. Although doubtless he would love to do that too.

And it is 'argued' further, "Some of the worst examples produce two or three times as much greenhouse gases as the average family car". Per mile? Per day? Per whatever? If I have been taxed for the privilege of driving a car in town, having once paid the tax there is absolutely no disincentive to spend all day in it, rather than just use it for the originally planned scoot to the shops.

And there's more: "The proposals are part of the Mayor's strategy to do everything possible to reduce pollution and London's contribution to climate change - a top priority as the recent catastrophic weather has brought home".

"Everything possible"? Given that by Livingstone's own admission less than half of the non-aviation transport produced CO2 comes from cars, what is he doing about his ghastly bendy buses, for instance? And that is before he targets people for breathing out, plants for photosynthesising, etc etc.

And then compare this statement: "The Mayor will keep an open mind on the proposals until he has considered the responses to the consultation".

With this: "The highest CO2 emitting cars - like some of the so-called Chelsea tractors, high powered sports cars and luxury executive cars - can produce twice as much carbon dioxide emissions as the kind of car driven by the average Londoner. By proposing these changes to the congestion charging scheme we are encouraging people to take into account the impact on the environment of their choice of car".

Any bets on Livingstone deciding not to charge extra for some vehicles? I'll happily take any money anyone wants to stake.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Ken's "not-so-green" emissions counter

London Mayor Livingstone Ken has really outdone himself, with flagrant hypocrisy with his latest "green" gimmick.

As part of his "DIY Planet Repairs" campaign launch earlier today, he revealed a very large LED screen displaying a counter, which is counting the quantity of CO2 emissions being produced, and wasted, by Londoners.

Some of the ideas to for Londoners include switching off lights, and unplugging electrical items. However, the question has to be asked "how much CO2 is being produced to power this counter".

I would bet that if Ken switched his CO2 counter off, there would be a lot less CO2 produced. He really hasn't got a clue when it comes to green issues, every attempt he makes ends up producing higher emissions.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

By their friends shall ye know them

From the other side of the pond we hear of the latest sinister antics of Livingstone's good friend, El Presidente Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Like our own unreconstructed Communist in London, Chavez intensely dislikes his opponents having a voice and a platform from which to use it. Democracy is inconvenient like that.

Unlike Livingstone, Chavez is able to use ruthless tactics to suppress the opposition's ability to argue their case and expose failings, human rights abuses and a naked thirst for power. Livingstone is limited to hurling abuse. So Chavez spins the line that all opponents must therefore have been involved in a coup attempt against him and takes draconian steps to silence them by removing the platform.

This time it is the independent TV station RCTV that is about to be silenced as Chavez has refused to renew its licence. Instead he will replace the station with... a publicly funded one - i.e. a government propaganda channel.

Marcel Garnier, RCTV's managing director, told a crowd of cheering protesters in Caracas that Mr Chavez was trying to "topple the country over the precipice of totalitarianism where not even his own supporters can express their opinions".

I could not have put it better myself. I wonder what Livingstone thinks about all this. Perhaps he prefers the "quiet diplomacy" approach of his friends in South Africa and will tell Comrade Hugo that his actions are not really on. Or, most likely, he thinks RCTV has had it coming and deserves all they get for daring to oppose such a visionary. Either way, there will be hugs, backslapping and tributes next time they meet - assuming Hugo is not too busy that is.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Yet more Livingstone antics

Today Livingstone is hosting 'The state of London Debate', with the aim being "a chance to discuss with London’s policy makers the reasons behind London’s success and how it can remain successful in the future".

I have had a look at the speakers, all 83 of them, and done a rough and ready sorting into politicians, wonks, lobbyists and the like.

This is what I've divined:

Elected politicians: 16, of whom two are Conservatives.
Livingstone's office, advisers etc: 10
Quangocrats: 13
Media types: 3
Arts / sports: 5
Special interest groups / lobbyists etc etc: 24. Of which, there are three from Muslim organisations including that nice, moderate Mr Bunglawala, and fancy, no Jews.
Business people: Gita Patel of the remarkably obscure Stargate Capital Management and Alistair Soyode of BEN TV. Both are very specifically ethnic minority businesses.

CEO's of FTSE 100 businesses, senior partners from Big Four professional services organisations, senior partners from 'Magic Circle' law firms, Lloyds brokers, London Stock Exchange, money market figures etc etc : Zero.

Given that "Londoners have always known they live in a great city – a place where people from around the globe come to do business and enjoy all that the capital has to offer. Now an official report identifies London as one of the most successful cities in the world" what chances are there that this particular set of people is going to have much insight into the successes of the City of London - the engine of the London economy?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Now taxi drivers are Ken's Enemy No.1

If you drive a motor vehicle that transports less than 40 people at a time, then Ken Livingstone wants to price you off the road. You would have thought that with his fondness for using London's black cabs, Livingstone would be supportive of the fleet and its dedicated drivers. Not a bit of it.

As Iain Dale has explained, Livingstone is:

... making every cab fit a piece of technology which is supposed to reduce exhaust emissions. Not a bad thing in theory, but the technology doesn't work. It doesn't reduce emissions, it actually increases them! Newer cabs have it fitted as standard but older cabs have to have it fitted retrospectively at a cost of £2500. The cabbies are issuing legal challenges but Livingstone won't talk to them and still maintains the technology works despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Now there is a shock. A group of people prove Livingstone wrong and want to talk to him about it and he will not give them the time of day? Who would have thought? If you think we are being harsh on London's communist Mayor, why not watch the film below for yourself and make your own mind up?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Livingstone finds more people to offend

This time the Japanese government and its people. There may, or may not be a case for arguing that the congestion charge is not a tax, but this hardly classes as diplomacy, especially when conducted on the radio:

"Commenting recently about Japan's decision not to contribute toward the central London congestion motoring charge, Ken Livingstone told the LBC radio station, "I think there are several problems with Japan that we could go on about here. "Admitting their guilt for all the war crimes would be one thing. So if they've not got round to doing that, I doubt they're too worried about the congestion charge." (Source)

Showing his usual cavalier disregard for the facts, he fails to note that the Japanese authorities have made numerous apologies. Quite apart from the issue of diplomatic niceties, it is hardly good business to offend a major source of foreign direct investment, and the £312,000 which the Mayor considers Japan owes is a trifle compared to the potential investments that he may have deterred. He has taken aim at the US in similarly crass terms, and given that around 50 diplomatic missions are not paying the charge, perhaps we can anticipate a whole range of specially tailored slurs for individual countries.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sickening hypocrisy

From the BBC:

Mayor Ken Livingstone has formally apologised for London's role in the slave trade.

He called on Prime Minister Tony Blair to follow suit by issuing an official apology on behalf of the country.

"The government's refusal of such an apology is squalid," he said, on the eve of the bicentenary of legislation to abolish the slave trade.

Mr Livingstone urged fellow Londoners to join him in apologising for this "monstrous crime."

This is absolutely pathetic. If Ken Livingstone was so guilt-ridden about slavery why has he waited until now, years after his election, to issue his apology? This is nothing more than a publicity seeking stunt by a man who apologises for something no one alive today had any involvement in or control over.

Meanwhile Livingstone lauds Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. Castro runs a regime that rejects democracy, jails political opponents and reporters who tell the truth, and clamps down on trade unions. Chavez tells public workers to support him or leave the country, sanctions beatings and intimidation of unions who oppose his style of government and allies himself with Iran, a country which has called for an entire country to be wiped out (Israel). By their friend ye shall know them.

The squalid one is Livingstone who is displaying hypocrisy of the worst kind. He wraps himself in the blanket of suffrage and tells the population to wear sackcloth and ashes, while supporting and promoting a man in Cuba who is still enslaving an entire country and another who commits human rights violations in Venezuela.

Yet despite his warped idea of what real freedom entails, he has the temerity to demand the government join with him in his egotistical taxpayer funded guilt trip. Livingstone is behaving like a chiselling little egomaniac who appears to do nothing unless there could be a possible electoral advantage in it for him.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Junket Ken's wings clipped?

International travel is one of the things that should appear as an interest on Ken Livingstone's CV. The costs of Livingstone's overseas trips, at the expense of London taxpayers, have increased nearly ten-fold in just three years. The cost of foreign travel by the Mayor’s Office was £36,490 in 2004-05. This rose to £103,130 in 2005-06. However for the year up to December 2006 it had soared (like a Livingstone in Club Class) to £229,942.

Such is the concern about Livingstone's new found love of popping abroad and the huge additonal cost that comes with it, the London Assembly has supported a motion that states:

This Assembly believes that all international trips and visits by officers of the Mayor’s office must reflect value for money and clearly be in the interests of London, the London economy, the London environment, and Londoners.

All such international trips must have clearly defined objectives by which the success of these trips can be measured.

As Assembly Member Richard Barnes made clear: 'It is not acceptable to make trips at a significant cost to Londoners which do not seem to have a clear purpose, then attempt to justify them afterwards.' Such as those to Cuba to pay homage to Fidel Castro, when the destination was Venezuela, for example.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Put up or shut up Ken

The gay rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, has hit back at Chairman Ken, (following the disgraceful double standards shown in a Mayor's statement we touched upon in a post a couple of days ago) accusing Livingstone of dishonesty and making libellous comments. Tatchell has demanded that Livingstone provides evidence to support his accusation of Islamophobia and if he cannot, to make a public apology to Tatchell and campaign group OutRage!

Livingstone made his comments during a visit to London by the Mayor of Moscow. Russian gay rights leader, Nikolai Alekseev, who attended the press conference in London weighed in by calling Livingstone a hypocrite for saying one thing and doing another. The full story can be read on Harry's Place. It really is an eye opener.

Where Livingstone feels justified in comparing the American Ambassador to a 'chiselling little crook' for refusing to pay the congestion charge, I feel people will be justified in comparing Livingstone to a 'snivelling little arse kisser' for criticising the Mayor of Moscow behind his back, while sucking up to him face to face.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

All hail Ken and open your wallets

The planned strike by London Underground has been called off after a deal was reached for a three year pay deal. Comrade Ken has been quick to celebrate the news and revealed that:

'This three-year agreement is great news for both Tube passengers and staff and is a real landmark achievement. Passengers will benefit from the stability provided by the first three-year deal for all staff in the history of the Underground. Staff will receive above inflation pay rises each year. At the same time, we will be investing record amounts in renewing the Tube.

'Whilst there will always be differences from time to time, my administration is committed to developing a partnership between the trade unions and management to deliver the best possible services to Londoners. This agreement is a good example of what that approach can achieve.'

It most certainly is. Never underestimate what can be achieved when you pledge other peoples' money to pay for those above inflation pay rises. The brothers flex their muscle to blackmail and Ken picks your pockets to give them what they want. It's a wonderful world when you scratch the backs of those who scratch yours.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Disgraceful double standards

It is quite apparent that Ken Livingstone makes his disdain or contempt for certain people or groups known through his press releases. You only need to compare and contrast issues that receive no Mayoral attention with those that spark a personal intervention to identify which people in our community Livingstone has no time for.

As we reported recently, following a wait of three weeks, the Mayor's media centre finally decided to mention the appalling rise of anti-semitism in London when it released brief details of a meeting organised by the London Jewish Forum to discuss the findings of Community Security Trust report. The impression it left was that the Mayor's team was paying lip service to the problem and Livingstone himself is not interested in it.

Contrast that example of the Livingstone horse being dragged to water with this article on the Mayor's website, 'Mayor of London supports rights of gays and lesbians to peacefully demonstrate throughout Eastern Europe including Moscow'. Far from one of Livingstone's cabal passing comment on the rights of gays and lesbians to protest peacefully in safety, Livingstone himself made a personal statement. One wonders if the reason why Livingstone chose to comment on this matter while ignoring anti-semitism is revealed in the final paragraph of the article:

'Mr Livingstone also criticised Mr Peter Tatchell. He said: "It is clear that there is a concerted attack on gay and lesbian rights in a series of East European countries fed by diverse currents. In Moscow the Russian Orthodox church, the chief rabbi and the grand Mufti all supported the ban on the Gay Pride march with the main role, due to its great weight in society, being played by the Orthodox church. The attempt of Mr Tatchell to focus attention on the role of the grand Mufti in Moscow, in the face of numerous attacks on gay rights in Eastern Europe which overwhelmingly come from right wing Christian and secular currents, is a clear example of an Islamaphobic campaign."'

In the twisted world of Livingstone some people with religion are more equal than others. Jews - bad (some of them like Israel you see); Right wing Christians - bad; Left wing Christians - ignored; secularists - bad; Islamists and Muslims - good.

In respect of the singling out of Peter Tatchell, one wonders if Tatchell's criticism of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe has made him a target for Livingstone's wrath. Livingstone has certainly gone out of his way to target the gay rights campaigner. Clearly you have to hate all the people Livingstone hates before you can be an approved member of the club.

The issue this whole subject lays bare is that Ken Livingstone is not a Mayor for all. He is only a Mayor for his chosen ideological favourites and woe betide you if you are not on Chairman Ken's approved list.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Anti Semitism acknowledged!

How could we ever doubt Chairman Ken? It took three weeks, but finally the Mayor's website has gushed forth about the action-packed response to a report by the Community Security Trust (CST) that showed anti-Semitic attacks in the UK had risen 31% in a year, with over half of all attacks taking place in London.

As pointed out on the Waendel Journal earlier this month, Livingstone had remained uncharacteristically quiet on the subject, despite his full throated demands for action when similar attacks have been visited on people from Muslims and Asian backgrounds.

The response to the CST report was in the form of a meeting between Jewish representatives and the GLA. It was not however initiated by the Mayor or the GLA. Instead it was organised by the London Jewish Forum (LJF). Livingstone himself was not involved. Instead he delegated Lee Jasper, Senior Advisor on race relations and policing, John Ross, Director of Economic and Business policy and Simon Fletcher, the Chief of Staff, to attend. It seems that only people like Yusuf Al-Qaradawi - who has called for the killing of Jews, approves suicide bombings and excuses the Muslim punishments proscribed for homosexuals - are worthy enough to receive an audience with the Mayor himself.

At least some progress has been made. The Mayor's site finally acknowledges the existance of the CST report, even if the rhetoric from Lee Jasper after the meeting that was noted in the article hardly infuses people with any great confidence that more will be done to stamp out anti-Semitic attacks in the capital.

Ken the eco-fraud

"Rethinking Rubbish in London" is Ken Livingstone's Municipal Waste Management Strategy. It was published in September 2003 and was in part supposed to address the issue of waste being taken outside of London and buried in landfill sites.

Livingstone was proud to tell us on the Mayor's website that: "Since the public consultation on the draft strategy in autumn 2002, a great deal has been achieved." and listed a number of what he considers to be successes. The release also stated:

'Over this period the Mayor has also worked closely with London waste authorities to develop waste contracts that deliver a consistent quality of service for all Londoners.'

But seeing as this was Livingstone's initiative you can understand my complete lack of surprise to discover in the Milton Keynes News that:

London waste is being dumped in Milton Keynes and the council knows nothing about it.

The revelation comes in the wake of a letter from city MP Phyllis Starkey to the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, asking for more information about what action is being taken to curb the problem.

Environment Agency records show that 11,669 tonnes of London waste was disposed of at the landfill site at Newton Longville between April 2005 and March 2006.

The figures show that the amount rose to 15,169 tonnes between April 2006 and September 2006.

It is obviously happening elsewhere too. It seems that despite all the self congratulatory press coverage Livingstone tried to generate back in 2003, the reality is, more than two years on, his masterplan remains nothing more than demand more money and export the problem for someone else to deal with. As the article shows the Lib Dem-led authority (No overall control) in Milton Keynes knew nothing of the fact its landfill was being used to take London waste. Embarrassingly for them and for Livingstone, it is Labour MP, Dr Phyllis Starkey, who has raised the issue.

Dr Starkey has helpfully enquired of the Dear Leader what extra powers he needs to deal with this problem - as if he does not have more than enough power already - but this is unlikely to welcomed by the man who once called her 'Phyllis Stasi' in one of his regular abusive and childish outbursts at anyone who dares to criticise or disagree with him. Meanwhile the sham environmentalist trundles on...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Venezuela oil deal to go through

There are so many contradictions arising from the oil supply deal agreed between Livingstone and his communist presidential ally in Caracas, Hugo Chavez, that I barely know where to begin. The main one of course is that at a time when Livingstone is trying to assert his environmental credentials, he is buying a type of fuel that we are told contributes to carbon emissions and therefore climate change. This exposes Livingstone as a mockery of an environmental leader and the measures he takes in the name of ecological protection as nothing more than cynical tax grabs.

The oil deal is good for London, a wealthy city. It is apparently designed to provide cheaper public transport for those people on benefits. But because of the deal the people of Venezuela will not get market rate for their oil being supplied to our capital. Yet again we see more contradiction in the Livingstone rhetoric as his desire for political grandstanding and bestowing mutual unqualified support for an ideological comrade comes before the good of ordinary people who are not part of the political class. Any claims that Livingstone makes in the future about being committed to reducing poverty or to fair trade will be a sham.

Livingstone also claims he loves democracy and hails the right of trade unions to protest against unfairness. Yet the deal he will sign is with the state oil producer of Venezuela, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), which is nothing like democratic and is controlled by Chavez via his energy minister, Rafael Ramirez. In fact so democratic are the energy minister and his boss - Livingstone's friend - that last November Ramirez told PDVSA employees to back Chavez in December's election or leave their jobs. Far from censoring his minister, Chavez said that Ramirez should make the same speech 100 times a day and people who did not support him should emigrate to Miami.

In 2002 the Confederación de Trabajadores de Venezuela (CTV) union, in conjunction with PDVSA managers and employees, staged a lock out at oil facilities to try to force an early election in protest at Chavez's dictatorial rule. 19,000 workers were sacked and replaced with Chavez supporters and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) was moved to call for an independent investigation into allegations of detention and torture of PDVSA employees who opposed Chavez.

These are the kind of people that Livingstone wants to link to London. These are the people he calls friends. Livingstone speaks of spending hundreds of thousands of pounds of Londoners' money on commemorations about slavery, then ignores the behaviour of his own chums in Venezuela who are effectively enslaving and infringing the human rights of anyone who oppose them in the democratic process - which they are also seeking to subvert in order to cling to power.

Would we have seen Livingstone sign a similar deal if everything described above had happened and the oil producer in question was Chile and the leader was Augusto Pinochet? Somehow I suspect we would have heard Livingstone berating the Chilean leader and ranting about rights and freedom. So where is the moral outrage concerning the actions of Chavez? Of course Venezuela cannot be criticised because the violence there is carried out by the revolutionaries. Livingstone is moral relativism personified.

It is this kind of rancid hypocrisy that defines the nature of Ken Livingstone. He treats the pockets of Londoners as his own personal piggy bank and provides succour to odious regimes who are guilty of some of the worst abuses of democracy the world sees today. His ego leads him to generate his own foreign policy which taints London with the stench of vicious regimes in Cuba and Venezuela. Everything he does is with the consolidation of his own power in mind. He reserves his moral indignation for those people who oppose him rather than those who blight the lives of ordinary people for the sake of a bankrupt ideology.

London deserves better. Much much better.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Congestion Charge zone extends

From 7.00am this morning the so called Congestion Charge zone was doubled in size as it extended westwards into Chelsea, Kensington, Belgravia, Pimlico, Notting Hill and Bayswater among other places. Livingstone is rubbing his hands and the thought of yet more revenue and the hope of a small reduction in traffic levels.

Since the CC was brought in during 2003 (when TfL and Livingstone insisted that the £5 charge would not increase and that the zone would not be extended - both have since happened) TfL and Livingstone have consistently maintained that the scheme has been a success. Even in their press briefings concerning this extension they claim that congestion in the west of town will reduce by more than 15% and that the number of vehicles used in the zone will drop by around 10-15%.

But the fact is that since the charge was introduced and the initial reduction in traffic volume, more and more people have been forced back onto the roads by the state of public transport. Yet more tube strikes are on the way too as Ken's friends play on his communist ideal of putting self interest ahead of service. The fact is the reduction in traffic volume from prior to the charge's introduction in 2003 to today is a mere 8%, a figure stated on the BBC this morning - and even that tiny amount has been achieved at a cost of hundreds of millions of pounds, many job losses and unnecessary business closures. Small businesses are crying out for change and being ignored. It is nothing more than vandalism dressed up as populist policy.

Motorists have a Hobson's Choice between poor public transport and paying a revenue raising levy of £8 per day. More and more are choosing to swallow the levy which shows the congestions charge is failing. The 55,000 residents given a 90% discount off the charge inside the western part of the zone will benefit as they can now drive into central London for 80p rather than £8 - meaning even more traffic in the centre of town. But do not worry about the Mayor in all this. Ken is OK. He can continue using taxis and passing the cost on to the taxpayer.

Livingstone to gain control of rail outside London?

Commuters in the towns surrounding London may end up having their rail fares into the city dictated by the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, under plans drawn up by the Department of Transport (DfT). The plan would see the Mayor take control of rail pricing in the Home Counties, which could result in people who have no say over the election of the Mayor in London being forced to pay for transport programmes inside the capital.

The obvious concern is that Livingstone, in the guise of Transport for London (TfL) could hike up fares for commuters who live outside London to pay for programmes in the capital. Livingstone could make use of this to benefit London taxpayers in the hope of enhancing his own electoral chances - at the expense of people who have no democratic ability to oppose any plans he makes. The whole idea flies in the face of democracy could hold non-Londoners to ransom. Unsurprisingly London TravelWatch backs the idea because of its vested interest in the capital's transport system.

I wonder what the reaction of Livingstone would be if the DfT handed control of transport pricing in London to Northamptonshire County Council, so the interests of commuters who go to London could be looked after from outside the capital? As long as the Mayor is Labour the flow of power seems to be one way into the Mayor's office. I wonder if the same would be true if a Tory controlled the city while a Labour PM sat in Downing Street?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Does Livingstone send 10 tonnes of newspaper a day to landfill?

As anyone living in London knows, it's only people like me these days that buy daily newspapers. Most people make do with the daily free sheets of which there are now three. The Metro (in the morning) and the London Lite and the London Paper in the evening.

As you can imagine these cause quite a lot of rubbish in the Tube and buses as people have a tendancy to leave them for the next person to read. According to TfL and the Mayor, the total weight of newspaper left on the Tube alone each week day is between ten and twelve tonnes.

What happens to all this paper is a little bit of a mystery. Obviously you'd expect, given the Mayor's "imppecable" green credentials it would all be collected and recycled, but I called TfL and asked and was told by a rather timid lady that the "majority of it gets binned". She suggested I email in for a more precise answer.

This does seem likely as another person I spoke to said that the cleaning contractors simply litter pick the trains at each end of the line, and then bin the bags when they're full. TfL/LUL's distribution services then pick up the bins from stations, and to this person's knowledge do not separate but instead send straight to land fill.

Should anyone be wondering what happens on the buses, the Mayor doesn't know as it's up to the companies that run them. So much for Livingstone's "green" strategy. I wonder if TfL would get fined for not recylcing like ordinary people might?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

World Civilisation or Clash of Civilisation?

Douglas Murray at Livingstone's recent event.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Is it unfair to attack Livingstone?

As per the post on the 18 Doughty Street post below? Perhaps his ideolgocal allies and collagues - which include members of the now defunct Trotsykite Socialist Alliance - might think so, but consider the latest press release from his people on his budget, headlined, 'Free travel safeguarded for now - 'nasty' tendency unrepentant'.

The 'sustained' attacks on 'free' transport he has been mouthing off about for some time have come to a head with this nakedly partisan press release and here it is, verbatim, in its entirety:

"Commenting on the Assembly’s budget debate today, which finally agreed the Mayor’s draft budget, Mayor Ken Livingstone said: ‘The large number of Assembly members who voted to abolish the free bus travel concession benefiting thousands of families with children should be the cause of real concern across London. ‘They have not given up on these cuts. ‘Today’s budget debate has seen free bus travel for under-18s safeguarded for now but there are some members of the London Assembly who seem to want to abolish anything that is free. Free school milk, free entry to museums, the Freedom Pass, and now free bus travel for under-18s - anything that is free gets threatened. ‘The nasty wing of politics is alive and active on the London Assembly and we should not take today’s safeguarding of free bus travel for children as the end of the attacks on this scheme.’"

So, any opposition to anything he does is 'nasty', and presumably everything he does is 'nice', yes? No prizes for guessing which opposition party he has in mind when he uses the term 'nasty'. Just as there is no such thing as a free lunch, 'free' transport is only free in the sense of being free at the point of demand - someone has to pay, in this case London's Council Tax payers.

Ken Livingstone attack ads

The team at 18 Doughty Street has launched the third of its attack ad campaigns designed to address issues politicians all too often shy away from discussing. The subject of this third ad is none other than the Dear Leader, Ken Livingstone.

You can watch the attack ad on the 18 Doughty Street website. When you have watched the ad do tell us via the comments section if you feel the ad is the sort of campaigning needed to energise politics and keep it honest. Or do you feel it would turn people off politics even more? Has Ken been hard done by, or has the ad accurately depicted Livingstone and his nature?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Ken's Low Emission Zone will make little or no improvement to air quality

A press release by London Councils (formerly known as the Association of London Government) yet again highlights that Ken's plans for a Low Emission Zone, aren't a green as he makes them out to be.

The plans, to charge high polluting vehicles to enter London, will bring virtually no added improvements to the capital's air quality despite costing around £600 million to introduce and enforce.

In Ken's defence he has quoted figures supplied by TfL, which show that the LEZ, would overall improve London's air quality by 11.6%, by 2010. All very credible, but he has so far failed to mention how this 11.6% is achieved.

However, in the same set of TfL figures it also does show that of the 11.6% forecast improvement in London's air quality, 11.3% will be achieved simply as a result of new European standards on emission levels for new vehicles, in that timescale.

So, that begs the question why is Ken so willing to spend £600million on just a 0.3% improvement on air quality, or is he simply attempting to continue his war on motorists by imposing yet another stealth tax and hiding it behind a green issue.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Communication breakdown or sour grapes?

A recent debate at the Queen Elizabeth II centre in London mentioned on this site recently - A World Civilisation or a Clash of Civilisations – featured Ken Livingstone and Salma Yaqoob squaring off against Daniel Pipes and Douglas Murray.

Given that many people were unable to attend the event there has been quite some interest in a transcript or video recording of the main debate being released. Particularly as many of the reviews of the debate on the blogosphere rated it as one of Pipes’ best ever performances in exposing the failings of multiculturalism and rebutting Livingstone’s ineffective arguments in favour of it. Apparently the debate was not Comrade Ken’s finest hour of oratory.

Despite the fact that this event was put on at the expense of London taxpayers – and apparently was recorded on video and transcribed - there has been no sign of a transcript so far. One commentator on Daniel Pipes’ website called Tom Power revealed he had contacted the Mayor’s office to enquire about a transcript and had been promised that the main speeches rather than the debate would soon be uploaded to the GLA website. Daniel Pipes replied to the comment some six days ago and said he had received a raw transcript to edit. As of 10.00am, I had not been able to find anything on the GLA or Mayor’s website.

So I emailed the Chief Communications Officer at the Mayor’s Press Office, Ben McKnight, and asked him about the availability of a transcript. His reply was succinct:
‘Apologies, but we do not have a transcript, I am afraid.

Well that confirmed that I had not missed it hidden away somewhere. Anyway, knowing a bit about communications I decided to push it a little more by replying thus:
‘Dear Ben,

Thanks for your quick reply. I had been led to believe that a transcript of the debate had been promised by the GLA, so maybe I have come to your department by mistake?

Do you have a contact I could get in touch with who may know if/where
there will be a transcript made available? Thanks in advance once again.

Yours sincerely'
But Ben was having none of it and replied with:

Not sure who would have promised a transcript in advance. In any event ther [sic] is not one available.

So what are we to make of these emails? Has Comfort Labeodan, the Co-ordinator of London Stakeholders who replied to the enquiry of Tom Power got it wrong? Or does Ken’s Chief Communications Officer not know what has been promised on his watch?

Or could it just be that Comrade Ken would rather withhold the transcript because he has sour grapes about being bested by Pipes in front of a large live audience? Stay tuned and lets see if anything appears on the GLA site.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Livingstone going for road tolls

I'm honoured to be joining the team on 'Anyone But Ken', so I thought I would crack on right away with this piece of news.

The Supplemental Toll Provisions Bill is the name of a proposed piece of legislation going through Parliament that Conservatives say will enable Transport for London (TfL) - Ken Livingstone - to make any road in London a toll road, allowing them to charge motorists at will for car journeys. TfL and the newt-loving Comrade deny this is the case, with a TfL spokesman quoted as saying:
'It gives us additional powers to collect and enforce tolls. It does not give us any powers to set tolls.'
Strictly speaking the TfL spokesman is right. But he is deliberately ignoring legislation that does allow TfL to set tolls - this Bill is designed to give teeth to that existing law. I am not a legislative expert, but from a layman's view a quick look at the provisons of the Bill suggests the Tories have got it dead right, and that should the Supplemental Toll Provisions Bill make it onto the statute book, TfL and the Mayor of London would be able to create and enforce road tolls throughout the capital.

In any case, despite Livingstone's denial (not that his word means anything after his lies about extending the congestion zone - see 18 Doughty Street Livingstone attack ads) the Tories know full well what powers might be conferred because they are not exactly short of legislative experience. TfL and Livingstone are not being honest. The preamble of the Bill clearly states:

(2) It is expedient that further provision be made in relation to the manner in which tolls chargeable under toll orders made by Transport for London under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (c. 22) ("TfL toll orders") are charged, collected, recorded, refunded and paid:

(3) It is expedient that provision be made enabling the imposition of penalty charges in respect of acts, omissions, events or circumstances relating to or connected with a TfL toll order:

(4) It is expedient that further provision be made in connection with the operation and enforcement of a TfL toll order:

(5) It is expedient that provision be made for the imposition of offences for acts and omissions in connection with a TfL toll order:

(6) It is expedient that Transport for London should have powers for the removal, immobilisation or destruction of motor vehicles in relation to the non-payment of penalty charges imposed in connection with a TfL toll order:
The underlined emphasis is mine. To me the section suggests that the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991, used in conjunction with the Supplemental Toll Provisions Bill, could give Livingstone and TfL the power the Tories claim would result from successful passage through the House. If TfL can make toll orders and this new Bill gives them the right to enforce the tolls, then their denial is laughable. Why else would TfL want so desperately for this Bill to become law? Certainly not just for the sake of it.

Livingstone's London. Your little piece of Cuba nestling in the glorious south east of England...

Just how much time does the Mayor of London have on his hands?

Is it within the remit of the Mayor's press office to monitor blogs by borough councillors and then to smear those with opinions different to his own as being 'extreme'? Maybe it is, maybe it is not - but it happens.

Councillor Phil Taylor of Ealing Northfield ward blogs and has noted the cost of 'free' travel for the old and disabled as being £213m, and makes the perfectly respectable assertion that "that much of this resource should be re-targeted at the very old who can’t even physically get on a bus. There are few people who are in work or on good pensions who would strongly argue that they should be the recipients of this largesse".

This, plus a comment from the Deputy Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, Roger Evans prompted a full blown shock and awe press release from the Mayor:

"This attack on the Freedom Pass is the latest of a series of threats to free travel schemes in London. Last month we saw a series of attempts to abolish my ability to guarantee the Freedom Pass. Amendments to my budget on the London Assembly sought last week to abolish the free bus and tram travel scheme for youngsters. The arguments used by those who are threatening the Freedom Pass are increasingly desperate and extreme.....Cllr Taylor’s call for the Freedom Pass to be “retargeted at the very old” is code for huge cuts which would hit hundreds of thousands of London older Londoners and disabled people, many of whom rely on the Freedom Pass to get to the shops and see family and friends".

Note that the Mayor has just opened up both barrels on his own foot in the final clause - 'many of whom' - an admission that there are users who do not rely on the scheme. It should be a matter of considerable concern that a well-funded press office is able to launch attacks on privately run blogs at London council tax payers' expense. I very much doubt that this will be the last time that the press office behaves in this way. Meanwhile blogger Tony Sharp notes that the Mayor has still not seen fit to comment on the surge in anti-semitic attacks against Jewish Londoners.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Livingstone's idea of a debate

As is painfully obvious, the mayor is keen to get his hands on ever more areas of the capital's life more properly dealt with by borough councils or the citizenry themselves. However, the attempted land grabs are quite mild compared to how he reacts if he thinks he might be undermined.

In his, or the press office's. words: "The Mayor of London Ken Livingstone said today that he must retain the ability to guarantee free bus and tube travel to older and disabled Londoners, as London Councils stepped up their campaign to abolish the reserve scheme that allows the mayor to step in if there is no agreement on the funding for the Freedom Pass".

Showing just how open to a debate he is, note the following with its rather limited audience and the very loaded use of words: "The Mayor said that he would be inviting representatives of groups who benefit from the Freedom Pass to discuss the undermining of the free travel scheme".

And I'm sure theat the invitees will rise as one to declare that they are really not that bothered one way or another.

Oh, and two examples, from different organisations, make for 'a sustained attack': "There is now a sustained attack on free travel schemes in London. Late last year the deputy chair of the London Assembly transport committee proposed that free travel for children on our buses and trams should be abolished".

Not Contradictory?

Take these two statements:

  1. I am a classic liberal on this - I endorse completely John Stuart Mill's formula that you should be able to do anything you want as long as it does not interfere with others.
  2. But I am a socialist because I know without an escape from poverty, without healthcare, education, housing, and many other things, "freedom to chose" is a hollow sham.
Are they not mutually exclusive? Moreover, do these statements (especially the first) not clash with just about everything he has ever done?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The City that Embraces Globalisation

I read the following press release with a little curiosity.
As with London's other international achievements in the last period, such as winning the Olympic Games, London achieved this success by adopting a strategy of being the city that embraces globalisation.
How can the darling of the extreme left, make such statements? After all this is the man whose best friends are fighting hardest against globalisation, to say nothing of his previous comments:

The Taxpayers Alliance pointed out (Word Doc) that he gave £250.000 of our cash to:

The Forum, an international meeting for anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation groups
When running for mayor, the first time round, he had this to say:
"Global capitalism has been responsible for more deaths than the Second World War"
With Livingstone, the answer is never simple, but I think I have cracked it. When he says globalisation, he means something completely different from you or I:
Democratic Socialists cannot turn their backs on the global economy, but we can, and must, open the debate on how to bring its functioning under democratic control.
Trade is ok, but socialists must control it. Still someone should probably still tell Hugo.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Livingstone - Tram spotter

We do not see much of the Mayor in these parts, but he has developed a keen interest in Croydon's tram system:

New information has now come to light. In October last year, HMRI found Tramtrack Croydon Ltd to be in breach of both the Health and Safety at Work Act and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. As a result, Tramtrack Croydon Ltd was served with two Improvement Notices. These are legal notices informing the company that they have broken the law and that in order to avoid prosecution by HMRI, they must meet certain conditions within a set time limit. Tramtrack Croydon Ltd failed to inform TfL, as they are contractually obliged to do, of these notices". Source.

Ever the one to be in favour of upholding contracts, if Tramtrack are in breach then doubtless there will, and should be, consequences. However, guess who thinks it should go just a wee bit further:

"This leaves me no choice but to call for the directors of Tramtrack Croydon Ltd to resign and for the company to sack its entire management team. I would urge the banks and shareholders to hand the company over to Transport for London so it can be safely, efficiently and reliably managed, allowing those who live or work in Croydon to enjoy the service they deserve".

Showing a most selective use of facts, Livingstone notes that two of the three improvement notices issued to tram operators have been issued to Tramtrack Croydon Ltd. Given that are only a handful of tram systems in the UK, this is not that much of a shocker, frankly. A more useful comparison would be with rail operators, and lo and behold there are multiple repeat offenders among the othe rail companies. The Office of Rail Regulation has the details, complete with monetary figures marked against each offence. Given that the figures are variously ten pence and twenty pence, if they are fines I suspect the companies were not that concerned.

That Livingstone might have more on his mind than safety, efficiency and reliability of the network is suggested by the TFL site: " TfL is directed by a management board whose members are chosen for their understanding of transport matters and appointed by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, who chairs the Board".

Naturally there has never been a health / safety breach by the underground or bus network. Or has there? The HSE has ten pages worth...

(BTC continues to be Croydonian)

Anti Ken Petition

Our least favourite Mayor, is the subject of a petition.

Personally I prefer to campaign to get him voted out the usual way.

Tram Could Put up council tax by £315

Press Release from Hammersmith & Fulham Council
Campaigners against the West London Tram have warned that the project could leave Londoners with a bill of £315 for every household in the capital. The figures were revealed on the eve of a major Tram Summit, organised by the three councils affected, to rally opposition against the scheme.

The summit will be held on Wednesday 24th January, at 7pm in Shepherd's Bush Library. This is the first time all three directly affected councils - Ealing, Hillingdon and Hammersmith & Fulham - have come together to discuss ways to fight the scheme.

The councils fear that the Tram will cause gridlock in West London, whilst leaving taxpayers with a construction bill of £1bn. This is because new build trams, like the one in Sheffield, have never been able to recover their capital costs.

The Tram is also unpopular; a survey conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of Transport for London showed a majority of residents opposed the scheme. 53% do not believe they would derive any benefit at all from the Tram.

Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, said,

"This tram will cause misery for commuters by effectively closing down Uxbridge Road. It is unpopular with residents and is likely to leave taxpayers massively out of pocket. We welcome investment in public transport but this scheme will only bring gridlock to our already congested roads."
Not that Ken Livingstone will care. Your income is nothing more than a resource for him to plunder.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Could Blogging Play a Major Role

London Salmon has an interesting post, on blogging and the Mayoral Election.
I think blogging has a lot to offer to upcoming Mayoral contest. For too long the London media have towed the Livingstone line, unwilling to question his policies and ideas, instead focusing on the personality flaws, and not covering any issue in any detail whatsoever.
I hope so.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Oyster Steals Stephen Pollard's Cash

Much has been said on the privacy implications of Oyster, but Stephen Pollard had a different problem.
The latest thing has been putting £40 cash on my Oystercard last night, getting on a bus this morning and having it record that I have only 90 pence on it. And when I then go back to the station where I put the money on, being told that it is not possible that I added £40 as the system cannot fail. In other words, I am a liar.
I have no idea how these things happen, but no system is foolproof, least of all one managed by the public sector.

A World Civilisation or Clash of Civilisations?

Another generous use of taxpayers cash, A World Civilisation or a Clash of Civilisations

Adloyada has a good sum up here, and Oliver Kamm's is here.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Livingstone condems Big Brother whilst proving he has not watched it

The Mayor of London appears to have done a Tessa Jowell a la Brasseye Special and issued a statement condemning Big Brother within which lies proof that he has not actually watched the show. In his press release here, he says,
Ms Shetty has been subjected to sustained racism. Contestants have said: “You need elocution lessons."
In fact, it was Ms Shetty who said that to Jade Goody. Arguably she was right, and clearly Livingstone hasn't actually watched the programme he has condemned.

It should also be noted that Livingstone, had he genuinely been watching Big Brother, and genuinely was concerned about racism in all its forms, would be calling for Jermaine Jackson to be evicted after he said to Shetty earlier this week "these people are not like us.... they are not people of colour.. they are white trash".

I wonder if Livingstone wants a hand down of the bandwagon that he has so ably leaped upon?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Livingstone attempts another land grab

I do wonder how Livingstone finds the time to attempt to rebut just about anything The Standard, London Councils (individually and collectively) etc say about London, in between hob-nobbing with dictators, insulting ethnic minority Londoners and generally behaving in an odd way, but he does.

London Councils has put out a release noting that "when London boroughs’ recycling rates for 2005/6 are compared with similar large urban authorities in England , nine of the top ten performing authorities are London boroughs. London also sends less waste per head of population to landfill than the national average". In part this is due to there being less gardening related waste in London than elsewhere, unsurprisingly.

Anyway, the Livingstone media machine was electrified into action by this, and in a release dripping with bile (London Councils and research are both put in inverted commas) Livingstone or one of his homunculi, 'argues' "The London Councils 'research' has trawled through the available research on recycling and all they have managed to show is that half of London councils are recycling less than Barnsley. We cannot go on like this - we are the major global city in Western Europe and we should be at the cutting edge of recycling". There then follows a very selective laundry list of cities that recycle a higher percentage, although if this is a valid like for like comparison it is not explained. London (pop. 7.5m) is compared with Melbourne (pop 3.7m) and Seattle (pop 600,000), inter alia although not with Gay Paree, which with a population of 9.6m (city limits) or 11.1m (metro area) has at least as good a claim to be 'the major global city in Western Europe' .

Rather than greenery, what I consider Leninspart is really interested in is a land grab: "The only way to deal with the vast amount of waste we produce in this city is to have a London-wide body responsible". And I wonder who that would be answerable to? Answers on a postcard please. Perhaps the great lover of democracy might like to consider that once statutory obligations have been discharged, how councils choose to direct their time, energy and spending is an issue for the councils and their electorates, and wrapping oneself in a green shroud does not give him, or anyone else, such a unique moral authority that it trumps localism.

And there's more - London Councils have now responded to KL, "Environment minister Ben Bradshaw MP has written to all London council leaders to reject the Mayor of London’s calls for the creation of a single waste authority in the capital. He also warns that setting up a single waste authority would mean Londoners having to pay more through their council tax to deal with their waste – KPMG have estimated that the costs would total an extra £5.5 million per annum".

Quite the turf war.

(BTC is, in fact, Croydonian)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Council tax rise to plug Olympic shortfall?

Council taxes may go up soon.

Apparently Ken Livingstone will soon come under pressure regarding the £900m shortfall in funding the Olympics.

The original deal, as set out in the Memorandum of Understanding, is that any shortfall would be met either by the Lottery or council tax. However, the Big Lottery Fund has expressed its unwillingness to pay any extra.

Ken Livingstone has repeatedly vowed that he would not increase council taxes beyond 38p per week to pay for the games. The thing is, can we trust him to keep his word? Remember his promise to save the Routemaster? Remember his ancient promise to freeze tube fares in real terms for four years? Remember his promise not to raise the congestion charge for ten years?

Judging by his past record, don't expect Ken to keep this latest promise. Expect your council tax bill to go up. If it does not, I will be very surprised.

Monday, January 08, 2007

London without Livingstone?

Hammersmith and Fulham to become the torch bearer for a better deal for London Council Taxpayer.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Livingstone's words versus London's reality

In a letter in this morning's Telegraph, the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone has said the "Ninety five per cent of Tube journeys in London are not paid for in cash." If this is true why is it that on average less than fifty per cent of the machines in stations are Oyster machines? If so many of us use Oyster cards why is Livingstone and TfL so actively promoting the use of cash still?

Livingstone goes on to say that his "policy remains to have the lowest possible fares for Londoners". If this is true why do we Londonders have the most expensive transport system of all the world's capital cities?