Monday, 19 May 2008

Ken Livingstone attacks hesitant Boris Johnson

In a two-pronged attack on Boris Johnson, Ken Livingstone has both criticised his hesitancy to introduce the 24hr Freedom pass and slammed his attempts to prevent him from standing again.

The attacks come after the Mayor has faced a series of difficulties over his new appointments and in a week when he is due to face his first grilling from Assembly members.

Freedom Pass

During the campaign for Mayor, Boris was forced to declare his commitment to the 24hr Freedom Pass after his team issued a statement labeling the scheme as 'mad'. However, Boris then only committed himself to 'working with the boroughs' to achieve it's implementation. This was a less than convincing pledge given the previous reluctance of many of the boroughs to do so. 

On Boris' failure to commit to an immediate roll-out of the scheme, Ken Livingstone said today:

“The first pledge I made during the Mayoral election campaign, on 15 January, was to make this extension so that the pass can be used around the clock. Boris Johnson was then forced to match it.

“There is no reason whatever why the 24 hour extension cannot be implemented immediately as there are no technical obstacles to this. On Wednesday (Mayor's Question Time) Boris Johnson must therefore honour the pledge extracted from him in the course of the election campaign and announce immediate implementation of 24 hour operation of the Freedom Pass.”

Term Limits

Ken's second attack came after Boris announced his intention in the Evening Standard to prevent any candidate from standing for Mayor once they had already served two terms. Livingstone, who has not yet ruled out restanding, then sent out the following statement, reprinted by Dave Hill here:

"Only three weeks into his Mayoralty Boris Johnson's letter to Hazel Blears calling for no Mayor to be allowed to serve more than two terms shows he believes his administration is going to fail and he is manoeuvring to try to undemocratically prevent Ken Livingstone running against him in 2012.

This assessment by Boris Johnson is entirely realistic. After only three weeks it is already evident his administration is a going to be a shambles - it has abandoned his flagship pledge to introduce a new Routemaster, it has been forced to abandon as illegal its attempt to employ Sir Simon Milton as the planning adviser, it has moved to scrap half yearly taxi safety testing and, in what will be the first of many steps alienating environmentalists, it has backed an energy guzzling desalination plant for Thames Water rather than keep up the pressure for them to stem to (sic) vast loss of water from its antiquated pipe network.

In these circumstances it should come as no surprise that one of Johnson's first concerns is to try to undemocratically block Ken Livingstone from unseating him in 2012."

Now whether or not these attacks hit home will depend entirely on the responses that Boris makes this week in City Hall. 

Because tomorrow, we have the first meeting of the new Standards Committee, where Boris will face some serious questions over his bungled appointments so far and the conflicts of interests that surround them. If he fails to give adequate responses to these questions then he risks seriously damaging the progress his administration has made so far. 

The very next day he then faces his first questioning from the entire Assembly at Mayor's Question Time. Among the questions posed will be one about the implementation of the 24hr Freedom Pass. If he fails to shut down the issue at that point, then he will risk falling under the same kind of repeated difficulties that he has faced with his Routemaster proposals. 

So while Ken Livingstone's attacks today will no doubt be criticised by the Evening Standard and the other usual suspects, if Boris cannot clear up the many problems he has already given himself so far, then it will not just be the spectre of Ken that will be haunting his days in City Hall.


Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see how Boris copes with such a grilling. During the hustings he could always try and push a question onto the other two. He won't have Ken Livingstone to hide behind this time - he will be on the front row!

The Tory Troll said...

He doesn't like his magnificence being questioned, so he won't cope particularly well I would have thought. Still, he has the advantage of not actually having implemented anything yet, so their will be more difficult ones in future sessions. I doubt we will see any more of his table thumping anyway, although you never know.

angelneptunestar said...

The people bemoaning the fact that Ken is no longer Mayor seem to ignore one important point. Ken was voted out and Boris Johnson won. The will of the people prevailed.

Vox populi vox dei est.

Ken did some good things, but there were huge areas for concern, a fact that is always totally ignored by his fans. It is not like he was this brilliant Mayor, starring in KEN, THE GOLDEN AGE.

Londoners voted him out and that's it! Ken has a brilliant media career to look forward to and it would be better to embark on that, he needs to let go and allow Boris to do his job.

The Tory Troll said...

Anything to say on my post Angela?