Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Red Ken comes over all Green

Sian Berry

Kev Livingstone is making a pitch for green votes in the London mayoral election. He may have little success in attracting first preference votes from the Green's impressive Sian Berry. The Oxford educated sciene graduate is surprisingly the only woman candidate apart from a rather grim lifelong revolutionary put forward by the Left List. Rather unfairly described as a 'ditzy blonde' by one commentator in conversation with me, Berry is both smart and personable.

Ken is, of course, going after supplementary votes from those who choose Berry as their favoured candidate. These could be crucial if he can close the gap with leading contender Conservative Boris Johnson. Some of the ideas put forward by Ken look like crowd pleasers, e.g., turning Victoria Embankment into 'London beach' for the whole of August. If it's such a good idea (and it has apparently worked in Paris), why hasn't he implemented it before?

However, a key battleground will be the congestion charge. In what looks like old style 'envy politics' rather than a real contribution to a greener London, Ken is proposing to slap a £25 C-charge in sport cars, 4 x 4s and people carriers.

I was down in London yesterday and it seems to me that the congestion has been getting worse for some time. The West End seemed to be gridlocked (I was on foot, I hasten to add). Apparently there has been a dramatic increase in the number of cars in London with 'private hire by pre-booking' stickers. It's not difficult or expensive to get a private hire license and once you have it you are exempt from the C-charge. People will always find loopholes in regulations.


VCB said...

I'm not sure you can dismiss the charge on "gas-guzzlers" as "envy politics". If it is not about a contribution to a greener London, it's about raising money. I'm not sure we all want to be them or have their car. When I'm skinning a 4x4 in my 1 litre corsa, I look over and I don't envy them, I think they're idiots. When they merge without looking on fast roads so I have to slam on the breaks not to go into the back of them and literally die, I don't envy them, I think they are inconsiderate, dangerous and awful people. They know that anything they hit bar a truck they will come out without a scratch, so it doesn't matter to them. Do I envy people so bad at driving they need to be in tank several feet higher than anyone else just in case they
When we are on the bus/train/tube in London, do we really think "God, I wish I was driving through central London in an SUV right now"? I don't think so.
Economical VW golf diesel or Mitsubishi "animal"?
Anyone who digs cars/driving and has no need for a badge to say "I have so much money, lack of fuel economy doesn't matter to me" chooses the former.
It's not envy. I can't think of anything worse than the SUV life.

I don't see why anyone would drive in central London for reasons other than business, and if you live in the zone, you have enough dough to cough up.

I have noticed the many private hire stickers too. Not only on your classic minicab cars.

Do you have information on how the system is doing financially. I know when it first came in, it was losing money. Did they reverse that significantly?


Wyn Grant said...

I'm not an advocate of SUVs, I think that you have a valid point about their safety for other road users and I certainly wouldn't drive one myself. Although I don't live in London, I have an Oyster card for use there. Having said that, the tube in particular is often dangerously overcrowded and the buses are very slow. But I doubt whether relatively marginal changes in the taxation regime either in London or nationally will make that much difference, especially when they can be evaded. I'll try and find out how the system is doing financially.