Ken Livingstone revives £25 gas-guzzler charge – and refuses to rule out extending the congestion charge

In an interview with the Guardian today, Ken has said that a £25 daily congestion charge for fuel-consuming cars is “definitely an idea we will revisit.” It’s in line with his strategy of re-fighting the 2008 election on the 2008 manifesto – but the gas-guzzler charge was almost certainly a factor in Boris Johnson’s victory.

In 2008 it was clearly intended as a symbolic attack on the hated 4×4 driver – it certainly wouldn’t have raised any money, or noticeably cut pollution (a study for TfL found it might actually have increased it.) But quite a lot of people own a 4×4, or would like to. It would also have hit a lot of non-4×4 owners, such as small businesspeople with older vans, and families with older estate cars.  It contributed to “middle London’s” general impression that Ken was not interested in them. Surprising numbers of people would raise it when you talked to voters.

Ken also said today, however, that “gas-guzzlers are just a small part” of what he plans to do to reduce traffic and pollution. Asked: “Are you interested in extending road pricing at all?” Ken declined to rule it out.

Well done Ken – another finger-on-the-pulse moment!

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