Never one to knowingly miss an opportunity, Labour mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone has called on transport chiefs to offer free travel on April 29th, the day of the Royal Wedding.
Livingstone's stance is a rejoinder to the calls made yesterday by London's Conservative MPs for the Labour man to denounce the Royal Wedding strike — a strike that hasn't even been balloted for, but which large sections of the media think is guaranteed. The Tories also called on Livingstone to hand back a £5,000 donation from Aslef, the union behind the phantom strike threat, or admit that he supported industrial action.
Serious or not, the call for a Royal travel freebie conforms to Ken's populist campaign thus far: it allows him once again to paint himself as the passengers' friend without having to worry about the financial logistics of actually putting it in place. Transport is an area in which the Labour candidate feels he can make inroads on the incumbent, particularly as interesting statistics (such as the rise in tube strikes under Boris) come to light.
The chances of Ken's call being heeded are remote: transport advisor Kulveer Ranger said it would be "incredibly expensive" for taxpayers. In December, City Hall came under fire for allowing a dubious high-interest loan company to sponsor free travel on New Year's Eve, and unless a more credible (and deep-pocketed) sponsor comes along, TfL are unlikely to want to go that route again. Unless, of course, a certain loved-up couple were kind enough to donate a sliver of the wedding dowry to a good cause?
Photo / Jon McLean