Ken Livingstone: another meltdown and another lie

Ken and Vanessa in happier times

Ken lost his temper on the BBC’s Vanessa Feltz show this morning after being challenged about calling Boris Johnson a “pickpocket” on fares.

He spent the first several minutes of the interview angrily attacking me for pointing out the inconvenient fact that he had raised Travelcard prices by almost exactly the same amounts as the “pickpocket” Johnson.  The BBC shouldn’t be quoting me, he said, because I killed Dr David Kelly. A winning argument, I feel sure…

The figures I used aren’t my own, Ken: they are from official sources. The 2004 prices are here (p221 of the PDF), the 2008 prices are here and the 2012 prices are here. They show that, for instance, the zones 1-2 Travelcard went up by 20.7 per cent in four years under Boris – and 19.8 per cent over the same period under Ken. Check them out some time!

When he finally got round to producing an argument of his own in defence of his record, Ken claimed : “The Independent, who did a study of this at the end of my mayoralty…said that in real terms in my eight years, bus fares went down by 9 per cent and Tube fares went up by 1.4 per cent. Those are the facts…

“The Independent’s position was absolutely clear. Fares cut by 9 per cent on the bus in real terms and only up by one and a quarter per cent on the Tube. That’s the simple fact of the matter.”

No such “study” or newspaper article comes up in the Factiva cuttings database, on a Google search, or on a search of the Independent’s archive. But I think I have finally found what Ken means: a January 2008 article by the paper’s political correspondent, Andy McSmith.

With this article there is a graphic which does indeed say that bus fares fell by 9 per cent in real terms over Ken’s eight years. Alas, however, this is not a “study by the Independent” or a statement of “the Independent’s position.” In tiny type at the bottom of the graphic, the source of the claim is given as, ahem, “TfL and London Mayor’s Office.”

The Independent’s own actual position is indeed made “absolutely clear” in the body of the article. McSmith writes that “bus and Underground fares have gone up.” That’s the opposite of what Ken claims the paper said. It is also the truth – as the official figures, from the Department for Transport, show (tab B of the Excel file.)

It is, of course, an occupational hazard of my job to be attacked as a liar by liars. But when is Ken going to learn that lies aren’t working for him any more?

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