Boris backer slams 24hr Freedom Pass

Boris Johnson unveiled a new backer today, Brian Cooke from TravelWatch.  Cooke used the opportunity to launch a bitter attack on Ken’s plan to make the Freedom Pass for older and disabled Londoners valid for 24 hours a day.

In statement published on Boris Johnson’s campaign website, Brian Cooke called the 24hr Freedom pass “plain daft”, and “totally crazy”.  These comments make it clear that a vote for Boris Johnson is a vote people like Brian Cooke who say the 24 hour Freedom pass is a “mad idea”.’

In a new twist, Johnson’s campaign team have tried to cover up the truth by removing Brian Cooke’s comments from their website.  But you can still read the staggering comments in the press release

Ken campaigns in East London

Ken spent yesterday afternoon campaigning across East London.

After appearing on BBC 1’s Politics Show, Ken headed for the 30th Anniversary of Rock Against Racism – love music hate racism carnival in Victoria Park.

Despite the dreary weather, there was a massive crowd of tens of thousands of people – loads of whom had ken stickers and badges on as well as ones promoting the need to beat the BNP on May 1st.

Ken met some old friends from the trade union movement and made some new ones with some of the performers like Jay Sean.

Later in the day, ken was whisked off to Altab Ali park near Brick Lane for a Londoners4Peace rally organised by leading figures in the anti-war movement. The speakers included Tony Benn, George Galloway and Vivienne Westwood.

They have all joined together to support an anti-war mayor being elected in London.

The campaign has reached a frenetic pace because the election is neck and neck. Every vote will count and you can join Ken in his campaign.

Question Time highlights choice for London

Question Time, broadcast last night on BBC1, showed that after weeks of the hardest fought London Mayor election campaign since the post was created, the bottom line has really become, who is capable of leading London?

People across the city watching QT last night will have seen a clear answer.  Whatever individual issues or disagreements with him, the only person who is a remotely serious candidate to lead London as the best city in the world is Ken Livingstone.

Others can crack jokes or score individual points, but they are not leaders of our city.  Ken showed that in this important debate.

If you watched Question Time and want to support Ken, there are lots of way to join the campaign.  Sign up for email news and alerts, join a campaign activity, or donate a few pounds.  Any help you give will make a real difference – the election is neck and neck, the time to join Ken is now.

Mayor of Paris in London

Bertrand Delanoë, the Mayor of Paris, has travelled to London to help Ken kick off the final weekend of campaigning.

After arriving on the eurostar at St Pancras this morning, Ken and Bertrand campaigned in Islington, on Upper Street, and then held a press event in Westminster, with lots of press – especially French media based in London – turning out to ask the two Mayors about their work together.

Bertrand Delanoë ended his opening remarks at the press conference by endorsing Ken: “I think London needs a serious Mayor, because it is a very serious job”.

The two Mayors are now off to an event for French expats in London, so we’ll write more later on today.

Don’t forget – don’t leave the campaigning to the Mayor of Paris, join in now.  The election is neck and neck and just a few hours of campaigning by you will make a real difference.

Open letter to Lib Dem voters in London

Ken has published an open letter to Lib Dem voters in London setting out the values they share with him, and how he has worked to deliver on policies that Lib Dem voters want. Read it here…

Shared values for London

Liberal Democrat supporters in London, like all Londoners, will face a choice on May 1st.  

They obviously think their party’s policies are the best of any but in the end there will be a choice of who is Mayor for the next four years between Boris Johnson and myself. This will be decided by second preference votes of people giving their first preferences to other candidates.

The second preference votes of Lib Dem supporters are likely to be critical in deciding the outcome of this election.

Both Boris Johnson and I will be campaigning to persuade Lib Dems to back us. My pitch is simple – I agree with about 90% of Lib Dem policy and I want to involve Liberal Democrats in my mayoral administration.

In contrast Boris Johnson disagrees with many fundamental Lib Dem policies and has been highly disparaging of Lib Dems in the past, whom he referred to as having ‘a characteristic human psychological deformity’:

I do not pretend that I share every single Lib Dem policy but on 90 per cent of issues we agree and we are part of the same progressive tradition in London. And that set of shared values shines through in the many areas where we agree and where we have worked together.  I am publishing examples of these areas of agreement because it highlights how we can work together.

On most of the key international, national and London issues my positions and those of the Liberal Democrat Party have been the same. Particularly important have been opposition to the war in Iraq; support for the Kyoto climate change treaty and prioritising environmental policy, opposition to tuition fees; support for Proportional Representation; opposition to Tube privatisation, support for higher charges for polluting cars; opposition to nuclear power.

My pledge to Liberal Democrat voters if I am re-elected is twofold. First, that I will continue to deliver on the policies and values that we share. Second, that I will operate an inclusive administration which includes the talents of Lib Dem politicians and supporters.

The choice between Boris Johnson and myself could not be clearer.

Let’s work together to ensure that all Londoners share in our city’s continued success.

Ken Livingstone

Ken thanks supporters

Ken has emailed his supporters to thank them for their work during the elections.  Read the email below:

Dear friend,

I am writing to thank you for your contribution to the Mayoral election campaign.

Obviously we did not win, but what was achieved in a very difficult national context was remarkable.

Overall my first preference vote increased by 208,239 – 30 per cent, over 2004 – increasing in every GLA constituency except Bexley and Bromley. In the context of Labour’s lowest national vote for some decades that was a remarkable achievement.

In the London Assembly Labour actually won an additional seat and performed better than the national average. In the Mayoral context, I polled nearly 14 per cent more than the Labour vote nationally and nine per cent more than Labour in the London Assembly who themselves polled above Labour nationally.

That achievement of our campaign could not overcome the scale of the swing to the Tories throughout the country and in some London constituencies, notably Bexley and Bromley, Havering and Redbridge and West Central.

The swing to the Conservatives was assisted by the collapse of the Liberal Democrats in London, in part due to the conservative nature of their London Mayoral campaign.

It is noteworthy that a number of parties to the right of the Tories notably the BNP polled much higher in the Assembly list than in the Mayoral vote, suggesting that some of their voters voted tactically for Boris Johnson. The BNP got 61,004 votes more in the Assembly list than in the Mayoral election, for example.

In the City and East division there was actually a 2.9 per cent swing to me in the Mayoral election.

Overall, with more than a million votes the election showed a powerful progressive alliance in London.

There is no doubt that the new Mayoralty will inaugurate decline and division.

I hope you will therefore share my view that progressive London should remain organised and ready to face the challenges to come – including a general election.

Yours sincerely

Ken Livingstone

Ken in the Guardian

Ken has written an article for the Guardian analysing the results of the elections.  Read the article below…

Yes, I lost. But still Labour must learn from London

Forget left or right turns. The party needs to put itself at the forefront of a progressive alliance that can inspire the electorate

By Ken Livingstone

As I can testify, May 1 was a bad day for Labour. But in London the party did better than nationally, and I believe there are some general conclusions to be drawn as we prepare for a general election.

Nationally Labour’s vote fell by 2% compared to 2004, but in London the percentage of first preference votes I received in the mayoral election went up very fractionally. The increase in the absolute number of votes was striking – up by 220,000, or 30%. There was no Labour “stay at home” factor in London. Four years ago I polled 10.8% ahead of Labour nationally – a week ago this increased to 13%. I received slightly more second preference votes than Boris Johnson. On the London assembly Labour made one net gain.

We lost in London. But in the context of very bad national results, Labour’s results in London were the best for any major area of the country. What lessons can be drawn nationally, and what to do next in London?

Following May 1 some people are posing the choice as between moving “to the left” or “to the right”. This is not the right question. Labour must place itself at the centre of a progressive alliance that can solve the problems facing the country.

What are the key elements of this? There are three tasks for a government and a mayor – to ensure the country and London are an economic success; to ensure everyone shares in that success; and to ensure that success is sustainable in the long run through improving the environment.

Labour’s campaign in London gained major support from business. The Financial Times concluded that the majority of big business in London supported my re-election. There is no way to check that, but I know from meetings that very large sections of big business supported my campaign.

This is because they understand the need for large strategic investment, which only the state can provide. In London much is physical infrastructure. Tube modernisation, Crossrail and the Olympic games each cost £1bn a year. But the same principle applies elsewhere.

Another part is “soft” investment – ranging from skills through to promotion in key new markets such as China and India. Labour should say to business, as we did in London, that the private sector and the market will not automatically provide the scale of investment required – the Thatcher experiment in London brought the city’s infrastructure to its knees.

The need to ensure that everyone shares in success is an immediately comprehensible issue for the electorate, and one where the difference with the Tories is stark. There is not the slightest evidence that “trickle down” – the automatic operation of the market – is a sufficient mechanism to ensure everyone shares in success or to deliver decent services. In London the shattering contrast, within a mile’s distance, of the wealth of the City of London and the poverty of Tower Hamlets shows this brutally. But even relatively prosperous middle-class areas of the capital require decent public services to provide transport, policing and environmental protection.

In London, without national powers of taxation, we intervened to ensure that all shared in the city’s success: by, for instance, insisting that the Olympics, with all its infrastructural development, be located in the poorest boroughs of east London; by massively improving bus services – the transport most used by poorer Londoners – and introducing free travel for under-18s on the buses; by campaigning for the London living wage; and by deciding that 50% of all new housing in the capital must be affordable housing. These policies were right and were the underlying cause of that huge increase in turnout for Labour on May 1 in London. In the poorest part of east London there was actually a swing to Labour.

On the environment, London positioned itself on the cutting edge of the fight against climate change. London chaired the C40 group of the largest international cities on climate change, and its climate change action plan is recognised as one of the most advanced of any city in the world. Numerous major environmental writers in Britain preferred my re-election on May 1. The importance of the environment and climate change is only going to increase; whatever the short-term mood due to economic shifts, Labour must command the high ground on climate change.

London, under a Labour mayoralty and a Labour government, became recognised as the most successful capital city in the world. We introduced new social programmes, helped sustain a cultural life that was the most dynamic in the world, cut racist attacks by more than half in eight years, and led the way on climate change. The new London administration represents decline – economic, social, cultural, and environmental. In 2012 Labour must return at the head of a progressive administration and restore London as the number one capital city in the world.

One important development at this election was a formal agreement with the Green party calling for second preference mayoral votes for each other. This benefited the Greens – who added 40,000 votes and maintained their share of the vote and existing number of London assembly seats – but also aided the high turnout and Labour. Had I been re-elected I would have given Green nominees a central role in my administration.

In contrast, Lib Dem failure in London was massive. They chose to stay outside the progressive alliance of Labour and the Greens. As a result they failed even to reach double-figure support in the mayoral election, and their London assembly seats fell from five to three. Hopefully this suicidal orientation will be reversed in the next four years.

Amid the worst electoral defeat for 40 years, even Labour’s best electoral performance in the country could not stop London entering into a period of Tory decline. But as that decline proceeds, a new progressive alliance will be forged, which will go on to regain its position and restore London as the greatest capital city in the world. I’ll have plenty of time to do some very welcome gardening – and to participate in that resurgence.