Thursday, 29 March 2012

Ken Livingstone Battle Bus in Hammersmith

Ken Livingstone will be in Hammersmith this afternoon with all the whizz bangs you would imagine at the height of an electoral campaign which is still neck and neck. Ken and the bus he calls the Fare Deal Express are visiting all 32 London boroughs over two weeks with the message 'you're better off with Ken', highlighting the Labour candidate’s key pledges to ease the squeeze on ordinary Londoners.

Specifically, he promises an across the board fares cut which he says will be worth over £1,000 to every Londoner. 

The bus, balloons and the man himself will be at Lyric Square at 12.00 today, just in time to hit the lunchtime run in Hammersmith. Lucky, lucky shoppers.

 1400 UPDATE - Well, Ken came, he saw, and he tried to conquer! Actually he used this stop to launch a new pledge, packaged as a "voucher" for voters, pictured above,  to cut what he says will be over £1,000 from all of our annual fare bills. Here's what he had to say:

“I make no apology for the fact that the focus of my transport policy is to make it cheaper for Londoners to get around. This election is a referendum on who will make Londoners ‘better off’. Under my Fare Deal, the average fare payer will save £1,000 over the next four years - many will save much more.

‘Today I am launching my ‘London Travel Voucher’. I am saying to Londoners – keep hold of this voucher so that you have physical evidence of my promise to cut your fares. The voucher will be available online from today, but will only be valid if I am elected as Mayor on 3 May. Londoners who want to save £1,000 need to use their vote to cut fares.

‘Under Boris Johnson, millions of Londoners have been hit in their pockets and purses by the rising cost of living. I recognise the squeeze Londoners are feeling and alongside my fare cut I will freeze the Congestion Charge for 4 years and protect the Freedom Pass from age 60.” 

Ken then went on to buy himself a pasty in Hammersmith, from a stall on a sunny Lyric Square, before referring not just to the national story on the VAT rise on pasties introduced in the budget but also our very own fight in Shepherd's Bush to save A Cooke's Pie & Mash from H&F Council.

 Ken said:
"Like most Londoners I can't understand why the Tories want to introduce a new tax on pies - putting 20% on the cost of pasties and sausage rolls .

'London is famous around the world for pie and mash. We have some fantastic pie and mash shops in London from Romford to Shepherds Bush - I believe we have the best pies in the world.

'Thousands of Londoners work in the catering industry - why do the Tories want threaten their jobs? If Boris Johnson won't stand up for London on this issue I will."
When I last interviewed Ken, during his visit to Cooke's Pie & Mash, he said much the same then. Traders and shopowners in Shepherd's Bush who want to save this aspect of the Bush now know who to vote for. 


  1. Hmmm.... over £1,000 to every Londoner=£7,700,000,000. That a mighty big sum to find down the back of the sofa. Either that's bovine excrement, or there are some eye-watering council tax rises/cuts to services in the pipeline.

    1. Hate to come on complaining about your anonymous contributors not reading things properly again - its tiresome, I know - but the text says 'average fare payer', not every single Londoner, so this anonymous indignation is, quite literally, miscalculated. I'm afraid I can't be bothered to look up statistics to correct an anonymous rant, but I spend well over £1k a year on public transport in London - any saving will be more than welcome. Boris's transport policies have done me no favours at all. We're all grown ups and used to politicians bending things to their own advantage, but if people want to make arch, smart-alec comments on your blog posts, can they please at least read them properly first?
      Having said that, I do think it's a shame Ken feels he has to use a gimmick like a voucher to get his message across. Is this what politics has come to? Just give it to us straight, Ken - we can take it!

    2. Because it is an average, the calculation by the anonymous commenter is actually correct - but only if it is a mean average. Yes, you are right in saying that some people would save less than £1,000. On the other hand, that means that others must be saving more to make up for that...

      Of course, the statement us ambiguous. The "average" could be a median average, which wouldn't tell us much. Or it could be a special "Ken Livingstone Averaging Method" which only looks at the top 10% of savings. We do not know. Likewise, "Londoners" provably doesn't mean "Londoners". It could simply mean people who regularly use public transport, or people in zone 1 who use the tube. He hasn't said "all Londoners", so it is reasonable to assume that he means "some sub-set of Londoners".

      If he does cut bus and tube fares, though, it is fair to say that anyone who uses public transport will see a little more cash left in their pocket...

  2. Not Gerard - I've heard of averages - mean, median ( and modal, come to that). Anonymous is wrong - not because he doesn't understand averages, but because his figures are wrong. The mistake our anonymous mathematician makes is assuming that everyone in London counts as an average fare payer. Of course they don't - there are certainly nothing like 7.7 million of them, as his calculation assumes.
    I also think you are mistaken in assuming that Ken is using the term average in is mathematical sense. Politicians are rarely good at using scientific language precisely: I think Ken is using the term average in its layman's sense, in order to postulate a typical regular transport user - someone who probably goes to work every day on the tube or bus, and uses an oyster or season ticket. If you want to be über-precise and include everyone who uses the tube, you'd need to aggregate occasional users into 'full-time equivalent users''. ( but that's probably going over the top. Anyway how many Fte users would there be? 2m? 4m? I don't know, and frankly can't be bothered to find out. But if there are say 1m, Ken's promise will cost £250m in one year. The £1,000 is spread out over 4 years, of course, something which anonymous disingenuously ignores.)
    But that's not the point - the point is that anonymous IS patently and wildly incorrect. His object was to have a swipe at Ken, and he wasn't going to let accurate arithmetic get in his way.....

    1. "Specifically, he promises an across the board fares cut which he says will be worth over £1,000 to every Londoner." is what the second paragraph above says. Have a look - there's nothing wrong with my reading skills!

      Even with your - completely plucked out of thin air - example numbers, you are assuming that there is £250m p.a. just waiting to be used to reduce fares. This strikes me as likely to be either complete nonsense or at best vastly in excess of any amount that can be saved quickly.

      Moreover, reductions in fares benefit many non-Londoners - tourists and home counties commuters in particular - whereas cuts in services and rises in council tax will be borne only by Londoners. They are, in consequence, an extremely inefficient use of scare resources, which - if they really exist, which I doubt - would be better either spent or used to reduce taxes.

      And that's true whether I tell you my name or not!

    2. Oh, dear.....
      Without wishing to be impolite, I'm afraid there is something wrong with your reading skills: you're confusing what Ken's reported to have said, with his actual words. You are quoting Chris Underwood, not Ken Livingstone. But read the actual quote from Ken (and every other statement you can find about the Fare Deal, if you like) and you will realise, like I did, in spite of my impaired reading skills, that the "offer" is to the average fare payer - not to every Londoner. So perhaps it's not as ubiquitously wonderful as you thought.

      And as far as figures go, Ken does indeed claim that there is a £1bn surplus of Tube revenue built up under Boris because of fare rises and investment. We are grown ups and can decide how much to be swayed by that claim, but we ought to base our decisions on what facts we can establish and accurate arithmetic.

      Your point about tourists and home counties commuters is strange - why would you want to discourage people from coming into London and spending money?

      So there you are, anonymous - now that you understand what he's saying, you can vote for Ken with a easy conscience......!

  3. Ken's a hypocritic.

    He introduced the 'C' charge which is a tax.

    He complains about VAT rises but he is an old school tax and spend socialist.

    His fares pledge is just a bribe to get votes and you WILL have to pay for it somehow. He is bribing you with your own money!

    1. The money he'll be giving you back is the money you've been paying through the nose to Boris for the last four years. Haven't you noticed how tube fares have gone up way above inflation? And how bus fares are 50% more than when Boris took over? It's Boris I can't afford, not Ken!

  4. I’m disappointed with Ken and his jumping on the bandwagon with his price of pies opinions. The tax on take away hot pastries is an unfortunate ill-thought-out central government fiscal policy. It has absolutely nothing to do with buying votes for London Mayorship, goes nowhere towards convincing ordinary people he’s fit for the job. Who does he think we are here in Shepherds Bush? What’s the big picture? Where’s the new airport going to be? What future for London on the world stage?