Ken Livingstone was interviewed on the BBC’s London news last night. In an interview lasting less than four minutes, he managed to tell at least three direct lies.
He claimed that after falling sharply during his mayoralty, crime had “sort of flatlined” since he left office. In fact, crime has fallen by 12.6 per cent since Ken left office.
In Ken’s last year, to April 2008, there were 862,032 crimes in London. (Click on the 2007/8 Excel spreadsheet and go to the “grand total” in the far bottom right corner.) In the year to April 2011, the most recent full reporting year, there were 753,821 crimes. (Click on “text view” when you get to the page; the figure is shown at the bottom right.) Crime has continued to fall in 2011, by just under 2 per cent in the year to November.
Ken was also pressed about promising in 2003 to hold the congestion charge at £5 for at least ten years, then increasing it to £8 – a rise of 60% – within two years. He replied: “I went into the election in 2004 saying I would increase the congestion charge.”
He didn’t: his 2004 election manifesto made no mention of increasing the congestion charge (though it did promise to extend the charging area to the west). Nor can I find any reference to any increase in the press coverage before the 2004 election.
Ken’s first public reference that I can trace to increasing the charge was in a radio interview on 2 September 2004, three months after he was safely re-elected, when he stated that it would “almost certainly increase” but “how much or when, I still don’t know.” On 1 November 2004, he said: “I have always said it would be in the region of £6 in this [mayoral] term.” On 30 November, he announced that the charge would in fact rise to £8.
I have asked the Livingstone campaign to point me towards any statement before the 2004 election that I may have missed where Ken promised to increase the charge. I have so far received no reply.
In his interview yesterday Ken also claimed that bus fares “went down in real terms by 9 per cent” over his eight years. I have been unable to find any trace of the analysis he cites. The official figures, from the Department for Transport, state that London bus fares between 2000 and 2008 went up in real terms by about 7 per cent. (See table B on the Excel spreadsheet.)
Ken’s biggest handicap is that people simply do not trust him. He did nothing to repair that failing last night.