Boris Knows Which Part Is The Joke. Ken Doesn’t.

There is nothing about Ken Livingstone which is without controversy. Let alone the new allegations coming out in the Evening Standard about suspicious payments and cronyism, Ken has never been on the money. Look beyond his speech-making and focus on his record. It is shocking.

London has the most expensive public transport in the world.

The Congestion Charge has increased congestion and pollution right round its edge on roads not designed to carry high volumes of traffic, and is nowhere near the financial success it was meant to be.

Ken’s crazy about Cuba where tens of thousands have been tortured and murdered by an oppressive regime. He has a fascination and seeming affection for corrupt violent oppressive regimes and other users of political violence such as terrorists…except, of course those who rained on his own Olympic Parade, those who carried out the London bombings.

To those he made a speech saying that, no matter how many more they kill, people will keep coming to London. Even that doesn’t sound quite right, somehow, when you think about it.

You track back over his career and nothing adds up. It’s all front and bravura, wasted money on an industrial scale, botched projects, – probably the biggest, most unproductive and most expensive ego trip in London’s history (and maybe Britain’s history too, second only to Brown and Blair) – carried out in all seriousness and doubtless, with good intent, but hopeless in its results.

Commentators have had their say about Livingstone. melanie phillips on how he embraces the cause of gays and Jews, and then the next minute, hosts and praises those who issue blood-curdling threats against them. When challenged on this double standard, he issues his own Islamist-quality blood-curdling threats, abuse and insults.

ADDED 25.1.08
He’s been likened to a tin-pot dictator.

kirchick comments that campaigning against homophobia and then embracing gay-slaughtering terrorists as if there were nothing inconsistent about it, and says ‘Given his remarkable obtuseness, one cannot help but conclude that the irony of this situation is lost on Livingstone.’

And that to my mind sums up Livingstone best of all. He just doesn’t know which part the joke is, and which part is the serious reality.

He muddles it all up together into a non-sensical mishmash.

Mary O’Grady in wall street journal lists Castro’s victims. Cuba is a place where Livingstone loves to holiday, and spend time – and he invites Cubans along with highly undemocratic President Chavez to London to celebrate the Cuban Revolution, and grandstand. He cannot tell where good and evil start and finish. It’s as if he has a mental blank.

He too quickly forgets the victims who are already buried, in his desire to be enthusiastic for his strangely chosen friends. I found some articles on the net in Spanish from Cubans who are less than pleased at the kudos he has given to Castro. But such thoughts wouldn’t connect with Ken. He’s disconnected from any realities. He lives for any impression he can make, to shock, to create theatre.

He doesn’t know where reality and fantasy begin and end, or where humour fits in.

That’s what you can say about Boris Johnson. He does knows which bit the joke is, and which bit is the issue. He wrote with wit in the columns of The Spectator, while at the same time running it as a successful business. Livingstone just lumps it all in together and hopes somehow the mess will unravel itself along the way. It doesn’t. It needs a precise mind to do that, and he clearly doesn’t possess one.

THIS CLIP from Trigger Happy TV sums him up beautifully. In what is obviously just a spoof, he carries on as if in a world of his own and keeps going with the interview in all seriousness. He must have realised it was set-up but it’s just like everything else he does, all muddled up. Great TV, but in all seriousness, he’s disconnected from what’s actually going on around him – professorial on occasions like in the video and relaxed in a kind of dreamworld, but also prepared to get nasty when it all goes wrong, as it inevitably will.

Just look at the results he achieves.

HE PROMISED CHEAP TRANSPORT AND ENDED UP WITH THE MOST EXPENSIVE IN THE WORLD

(from Wikipedia)

Livingstone’s greatest challenge as Mayor of London has been dealing with the city’s ageing transportation infrastructure. Despite conflict over appropriate funding schemes and engineering challenges to modernizing both the London Underground and the city’s bus system, an Association of London Government survey, conducted by MORI towards the end of Livingstone’s first term in 2004, suggested growing public satisfaction with public transport, with buses in particular being seen as more frequent and reliable.[14]

In accordance with his pre-election pledge, bus fares were frozen for four years, but then the standard single cash fare on buses more than doubled. Further, and contrary to his election pledge, Livingstone removed the famous Routemaster buses from routine service on 9 December 2005, claiming it was because the new buses were wheelchair-accessible, although several of the old buses are used on shortened “heritage routes.”[15].

As of 1 January 2007, London’s public transport is the most expensive in the world, with a single-stop tube journey in zone 1 now costing £4 when paid in cash, more than twice the cost of the second-most expensive transport system in Tokyo.

[16][17][18] Livingstone has been a strong proponent of the Oystercard smartcard ticketing system for London’s public transport network introduced in 2003. In late 2005, Livingstone proposed large fare increases for on-the-spot tickets across the Tube and bus network to encourage regular travellers to use the automated Oyster system to reduce queuing at Underground stations and avoid delays in conductorless buses as drivers issue tickets.

The plans, although ratified by the GLA and introduced in January 2006 were condemned by those who argued that the increases would increase the cost of travelling in London to tourists and others who do not travel regularly.

Civil liberties groups have expressed concern over the way in which Transport for London is able to track the movements of passengers using the Oystercard system.[19] Livingstone moved to make all bus journeys free for passengers under the age of 18 enrolled in full-time education who travel with an Oystercard[20] and introduced initiatives to enable visitors to buy an Oyster card before arriving in London.

One of the key points of conflict between Livingstone and the Labour Party had been the proposed ‘Public-Private Partnership’ for the London Underground. Livingstone had run in 2000 on a policy of financing the improvements to Tube infrastructure by a public bond issue, which had been done in the case of the New York City Subway. However the Mayor did not have power in this area at the time as the Underground operated independently of Transport for London. The PPP deal went ahead in July 2002, but it did not diminish Livingstone’s desire to re-join Labour.

Metronet, one of the winners of the contract for PPP, subsequently went into administration in July 2007.

CONGESTION CHARGE – HE PROMISED LOWER POLLUTION

Livingstone introduced the London congestion charge with the stated purpose of reducing traffic congestion in central London. Since being introduced the charge has proved to be controversial, though transport for london, chaired by Livingstone, maintains that traffic has fallen by 20% within the charge zone since the scheme began. [21]

One reason for the controversy is that whilst the scheme has been lucrative for its private-sector operators, Capita, it has failed to raise the promised levels of funding for public transport .

It is claimed that were it not for revenue raised via late-payment fines (which would be alleviated by a fairer or more efficient collection system), the scheme would actually run at a loss.

Meanwhile, congestion and pollution levels on already-inadequate roads outside the zone have increased dramatically.

WHERE ARE THE 70 PROMISED HYDROGEN BUSES?

The Mayor has agreed to support the five-year transport programme developed by the London Hydrogen Partnership. This programme involves the operation of 70 hydrogen-fuelled vehicles by 2010/11 including 10 buses, working with Transport for London, London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority and the Metropolitan Police.

Are we straying into the realm of fantasy here? Full marks for trying, but how much has this unlikely target cost London, and with what result if any?

CRONYISM’S NOTHING NEW FOR KEN

In March 2002, while still independent, Livingstone was accused of “cronyism” by some Labour party members in the London Assembly after he had appointed six officials as special advisers at a salary level which seemed to them excessive, and a manoeuvre to help his chances of being re-elected. Livingstone denied the allegations and stated the appointments were a “necessary efficiency drive.”

And now we have all the revelations coming out in the Evening Standard written by Andrew Giligan. It will be interesting to see if Livingstone realises things are serious this time. Or maybe he thinks corruption is behond his control like everything else he’s responsible for.

Boris could stand on an anti-corruption anti-muddle ticket.

Is transport expensive? yes.

Are Ken’s favoured oppressive regimes lethal to many? yes.

Are Ken’s friends homophobic and racist? yes.

Has Ken helped pollution? No

Has he lost billions? Yes.

Is he corrupt, or just hopeless or both?

Whichever it is, London needs a change of Mayor. And this time one who doesn’t muddle humour up with seriousness, good with evil, and competence with incompetence. Ken’s inappropriateness costs too much and hurts too many.

Boris’ sharp mind will keep taxes down and boost services. That should raise a smile, without the sense of uneasiness, and the list of victims that accompanies everything Livingstone touches.

Peace of mind for London, at last.

His slogan will have to be “Ken’s No Joke”.

UPDATE (same day) – The London Mayoral contest is turning into the Battle of The Buses. I like Boris’ slogan – “Back Boris – For A Greater London”.

The Tap Blog is a collective of like-minded researchers and writers who’ve joined forces to distribute information and voice opinions avoided by the world’s media.
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