Ken do better

By Liz Simpson

Our very own Dick Whittington really does believe the streets of London are paved with gold if he thinks drivers in the British capital can afford the £8 congestion charge. London might be a place of opportunity and plenty for some but Mayor Ken Livingstone is surely in danger of killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Does he think he can fleece Londoners and still be around to carry the torch at the 2012 Olympics?

Enough is enough. 'Red' Ken is not penalising the wealthy with what is, in effect, a regressive tax – he’s telling the rest of us what to do. Those who’ve made it can cruise around from Chiswick to
Chelsea in a Rolls-Royce Phantom or travel at the taxpayers’ expense, chauffeured from the Home Counties to Westminster in a government car. It’s Joe Public who Livingstone has sold down the River Thames with his punitive levy. It’s the workers who can’t afford to drive in the capital and small businesses whose income he’s slashing as a result of their loss of income from fewer customers. Yet these are the very people the self-proclaimed people's champion the Mayor claims to support and who voted him into office for a second term.

Part of the awkward squad by nature, Livingstone realised that to slap a charge on his voting public might require some groundwork if he was going to survive the next mayoral election unscathed. His manoeuvrings involved narrowing streets, blocking off slip roads in the centre of London and forcing all cars on to the same route. Bolstered by an ever-increasing army of strategically sequenced traffic lights, Livingstone has brought the city damn close to a grinding halt. Pummelling through his crazed transport plans, he is in danger of driving the good old London cabby out of business and the rest of us to boiling point.

Bully-boy Livingstone, not content with telling us who can and cannot drive around the capital, has now told Londoners, forced to travel on public transport that is overcrowded, smelly and unreliable, that they must pre-pay or pay for this through the nose. So, now it’s our choice if we want to pay cash but we’ll pay almost double for the privilege. Sadly, not everyone has disposable income to invest in the almost mandatory Oyster travel card and not everyone wants to be manipulated by economic forces administered by a man who claims to wear the red rose of Labour, does not own a car and can be driven around when ever he wants as a perk of his job. It’s testament to just how out of touch this Mayor is that, in bulldozing his way through the streets of London, he’s giving the freedom of the city only to those who can afford it like himself.

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