Rejoice! The Tories have launched their London manifesto. You can read it here (.PDF). So what might the capital expect from a Conservative government? (Yes, we know, just try and suspend disbelief for a while.)
Well, most of it’s just the national manifesto with the word “Britain” crossed out and “London” written in in crayon. It’s not racist to bring back matron! Taller policemen! No early parole for the MRSA superbug! Smaller asylum seekers! Cleaner taxes! Spankings all round! Now wash you hands!
So, what does the manifesto actually offer London? After all, it would be hard to top the last 18 years of Conservative rule, which atomised London’s government, making it the only major city on earth not controlled by a single authority, and ground public transport into the dirt through underinvestment.
But that was years ago! Now, everything’s different. For a start, Howard makes a transparent ploy to claim some credit for the London 2012 Olympic Bid, pointing out in his foreword that the bid is headed by Lord Coe, a Conservative peer. Yes, Michael, one appointed by a Labour government. But well done on not muddying the issue with partisan politics! Oh, hang on, he did.
Considering this support, it’s odd that certain major infrastructure projects – Crossrail, for a start – don’t get a mention. Doubly odd if you consider how important they are to the capital with or without the Olympics. In fact, in the section headed “Transport” …
Wait a moment, there is no section headed “Transport”.
They must have something to say on the subject. Tax cuts … ending yob culture … tougher licensing laws … ah, here we are, “Ending the war on the motorist”.
Their transport policy consists of, um, scrapping the Congestion Charge. And then cutting car pollution with – you guessed it – tax cuts! Is there nothing tax cuts can’t solve? And isn’t it amazing that in the “war on the motorist”, most of the casualties – you know, the ones who actually end up dead – are pedestrians and cyclists?
Surely, however, the Conservatives must have something to say about the trains and Tube? Hang on … selling off social housing … taller matrons … cleaner policemen … it’s not racist to give MRSA to asylum seekers … Aha! “Better trains”.
Better trains: Giving well-performing train operating companies longer franchises to encourage more investment, but resisting plans for TfL to seize control of London trains which threatens a ‘commuter tax’ on those travelling into London.
And that’s it. In the whole manifesto for London, that is all the Conservative party has to say on the subject of public transport. That one sentence. No mention of the Tube. Nada on buses. Zilch on Crossrail. Just one lousy sentence.
And I think that says all we need to know about the Conservatives’ attitude to London and its people.