Wednesday, 26 March 2008
Red Ken comes over all Green
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.