Mayoral Update: The Cost Of Livingstone

By M@ Last edited 130 months ago
Mayoral Update: The Cost Of Livingstone

It's still difficult to tell how the mayoral race is going - where are all the opinion polls? But there's no doubt that, in the past week, the Livingstone campaign has made a huge effort to get its show on the road.

The launch of his transport manifesto at Stratford station on Monday was designed to invite the most damning of comparisons between the present mayor's apparent grasp of the scale and complexity of the coming tasks and his main rival's lack of basic bus maths. Livingstone spoke of the greatest expansion of public transport in London since Victorian times and effectively asked, "Would you want that jackass in charge of it?".

Come Wednesday, Livingstone benefitted from high profile support by his party in the Commons. At Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday Islington MP Emily Thornberry lobbed a friendly inquiry Gordon Brown's way about the importance of - you guessed it - London buses. The Prime Minister's answer was a ringing endorsement of Livingstone's record. It remains noticeable that Brown doesn't mention Ken by name, preferring to refer to "a London mayor." But there's no doubt he recognises that a Johnson win on May 1st would represent a great and perhaps prophetic victory for David Cameron's Conservatives.

How have the past seven days been for the MP for Henley? He too asked Brown a question on Wednesday, suggesting they agree that spending a bit less money on public relations and a bit more on putting police community support officers on buses would be a good idea. Brown responded with the latest in a series of quite blatant misrepresentations of Johnson's stated policies, accusing him of wanting to cut spending on everything in sight.

The Blond's frustration was obvious in what has looked a rather frustrating week. His speech on Monday, called The Cost of Livingstone, didn't secure much coverage and he made a boo-boo on Tuesday by suggesting that TfL boss Peter Hendy doesn't travel by bus. In fact, Hendy is well-known for doing so.

He's up in Gateshead now, expending breath at the Tories' spring conference and perhaps pausing to draw a little too. Livingstone is planning a further onslaught on transport issues next week. He'd better be ready for it.

By Dave Hill, image by M@

Read more from Dave over at the Guardian, and on his mayoral blog.

Last Updated 15 March 2008