Ken Livingstone has told 85 different lies during this campaign

British politics' most prolific liar for a generation

In my first instalment of Ken’s lies, earlier this week, I said he and his team had told “at least 79” different lies during the campaign. Mea culpa, fifty lashes – I’ve found a further six I overlooked. His actual total is 85, compared to Boris Johnson’s 12.

On Tuesday I gave you the first tranche – lies 1 to 23, covering character and behaviour.

Earlier today you had the second tranche – lies 24 to 58, covering transport.

Here’s the final instalment, lies 59 to 85, covering crime, council tax, housing, the environment and all other policy areas not already mentioned.

A reminder of the ground rules – each lie is only counted once, no matter how many times it is repeated. And many of them have been repeated dozens of times. Ken is, I’m quite sure, the most prolific liar to have sought high public office in Britain in at least a generation.


59. Claim: “What I don’t do is play with statistics.” (Age UK hustings, 21 February)

Reality: See below.

Council tax

60. Claim: “Under Boris Johnson’s watch council tax has risen by £90, or 7 per cent.” (Ken press release)

Reality:  Over the last four years the Mayoral council tax has fallen by 1 per cent in absolute terms, from £309 to £306.72, and by 16 per cent in real terms.


61. Claim: “…the latest police figures, March 2012, showing overall crime has risen by 2.3 per cent since last year.” (Ken press release)

Reality: The Met website states that overall crime fell by 1.1 per cent in the year to March 2012.

62. Claim: “It is nonsense to say that crime’s coming down. Everywhere you go, crimes are up here, there and everywhere.”

63. Claim: Crime has “sort of flatlined” under Boris (BBC London, Jan 5).

Reality: It has fallen by about 10 per cent.


64. Claim: “In the last year, there’s been an 8% increase in murders” (BBC London, March 26)

Reality: In the year to February 2012, the latest figures at the time of Ken’s claim, there was a 24.1 per cent fall in homicides, from 136 to 104.

Violent crime

65. Claim: There is “rising violent crime” in London.

Claim: The Tories “make you less safe” (campaign website)

Reality: Some crimes involving violence or the threat of violence, including rape and robbery, have indeed risen in the last year. However, according to the Metropolitan Police, total crimes of violence against the person, a category not including robbery, have fallen by 7.3 per cent over the last 12 months. There have been sharp falls in murder, gun crime, and hate crime and smaller falls in sexual crime other than rape. With robbery, the overall fall is 4.7 per cent. One of the more desperate ways Livingstone has tried to make his politics of fear work is by defining residential burglary as a “violent crime.”

Knife crime

66. Claim: “Knife crime has risen every year under Boris Johnson.”

Reality: This is again untrue. According to the Met figures, knife crime fell in 2009/10.

Anti-semitic attacks

67. Claim: “In each year I was mayor, anti-semitic attacks [in London] declined” (Guardian, March 26; when pressed about his poor relationship with the Jewish community)

Reality: The London figures, from the Community Security  Trust’s annual reports, are as follows (reports before 2003 are not readily available online):

2003: 215    2004: 311   2005: 213    2006: 300    2007: 247    2008: 236

As will be seen, the number of anti-semitic attacks in London rose substantially – by up to 45% – in two of these years.

Police numbers

68. Claim: Police numbers have been in “decline” under Boris.

Claim: There are “1700 less police” under Boris .

Reality: Untrue – there are several hundred more police than when Ken left office.

Funding of extra police

69. Claim: “We’ve identified, you can get it off my website, £60m of savings we can make” (to fund his claimed pledge to provide 1,700 extra police) (BBC London, 26 March)

Reality: Providing 1,700 extra police officers will in fact cost at least £90 million – every year. There is no trace on the website of any explanation of how even £60 million will be found. Ken’s only costed references to funding this pledge which I can trace are a claim that he can raise £20 million by allowing the Met to charge TfL the “full price” of its safer transport teams (TfL already pays on a “full cost recovery” basis – and even if it didn’t, it would just be shuffling money from another part of the GLA budget anyway.)

The only sources of money Ken identified in his BBC interview were removing chauffeur-driven cars from senior officers (this would save £2 million) and stopping “police officers flying first class, particularly internally in Britain. This is nonsense.” Nonsense indeed – there is no first class, or even business, on British domestic flights. And even if there was, stopping a few police officers from flying it would again save small sums.

Educational Maintenance Allowance

70. Claim: I will “reinstate” the EMA.

Reality: As even Ken admits, there is no money in the Mayoral budget for this and it “will require stakeholders in education and local government to fund it.” Some of the money he claims they will give them is ring-fenced for other uses, and other parts of it has already been refused to him. Channel 4’s independent Fact Check blog has pronounced this promise “fiction.”

Air quality

71. Claim: London has “the worst air quality in Europe” (Guardian, 26 April and repeatedly at debates)

Reality: Official EU figures show that numerous cities have worse air quality than London. Even the Livingstone campaign now merely says that London is “ranked among the worst cities in Europe,” which isn’t true either.

72. Claim: The Livingstone front, Sack Boris, claims that London’s air quality has got worse under Boris Johnson.

Reality: Untrue – it has improved. The figures are here.

Only 56 affordable homes built

 73. Claim: “The supply of new affordable housing has all but dried up. In the last six months for which figures are available [April-September 2011], just fifty-six new affordable homes started construction in London.” (Ken manifesto page 35, and on numerous other occasions)

Reality: The actual number of new affordable homes started in London between April and September 2011 was 2,270 – 40 times Ken’s claim. See table 217 here.

As the statistics show, there were a further 2,700 new affordable homes completed in the same period, hardly a “drying up” of supply.

“Rent controls”

74. Claim: “What we need, and Ken Livingstone is proposing this in the elections, is rent control.” (David Lammy, Ken campaign chair, BBC Question Time, Jan 26)

Claim: “I would cap rents. We want to have rent control.” (Ken, Evening Standard, 4 October 2010)

Reality: The mayor has no power to cap rents and Ken is in fact merely promising to “campaign for a London living rent…learning from the success of the London Living Wage in arguing, cajoling, intervening and collaborating.”

Rent levels

75. Claim: “Under Boris Johnson’s watch the average London rent has risen by 42%.” (Press release)

Reality: Johnson has no responsibility or control over rents and the figures are in any case hugely exaggerated. Over the last four years the average social rent has risen by 16% and the average private rent has risen by 27%.

Energy bills

76. Claim: “Under Boris Johnson’s watch the average energy bill has gone up by 36% and the average water bill by 22%.” (Press release)

Reality: Johnson has no responsibility or control over the prices set by the private water and energy companies.

Standard of living

77. Claim: Tories “make you less well off” (website)

Reality: Boris has put up transport fares only fractionally more than Ken did, and has reduced some. Including his freeze of the council tax, compared with Ken’s large increases in it, most voters have been made better off under Boris.

Savings from “free home insulation”

78. Claim: Anyone spending more than a tenth of their income on energy bills “can save an average of £150 on your energy bills every year for four years after receiving free home insulation.” (“How much you will be better off with Ken” calculator, campaign website.)

Reality: The scheme depends on funding which has already been allocated elsewhere and which expires in December anyway, meaning that the number of people who could benefit, if any, is far fewer than Ken claims.

Savings from “not-for-profit lettings agency”

79. Claim: Everyone who rents “can save an average of £624 every year for four years through the all-London not for profit lettings agency.” (“How much you will be better off with Ken” calculator, campaign website.)

Reality: It is not clear how the figure of £624 has been calculated. Any saving would in any case apply only to those tenants moving house and only in one year, the year they moved. No landlord would be obliged to use Ken’s letting agency and the vast majority almost certainly would not do so.

“Childcare grant”

80. Claim: Anyone eligible for full tax credits, in need of childcare and returning to work “will receive a £700 one-off payment to be spent on childcare for one year.” (“How much you will be better off with Ken” calculator, campaign website.)

Reality: Only the first 1200 applicants will receive this payment, as Ken’s campaign confirms.

Savings from “bulk energy purchase” scheme

81. Claim: “You can save an average of £120 every year for four years through the all-London bulk energy purchase scheme.” (“How much you will be better off with Ken” calculator,campaign website.)

Reality: It is unclear whether this scheme could be established – it would depend on the agreement of the energy companies, who would probably resist the loss of their customers – or how much it would actually save, which would depend on energy prices at the time. It certainly could not be established the instant that Ken takes office, meaning that a saving “every year for four years” could not be attained.

Total savings from all Ken’s plans

82. Claim: “My plans to cut fares, drive down energy bills, restore EMA and improve childcare will save families as much as £10,000 over four years.” (Press release)

Reality: Even if all Ken’s claimed savings were correct, it would be almost impossible for any family to save this much.

GLA budget

83. Claim: The Mayor’s budget is “£14 billion a year” (State of the Race speech, 22 April)

Reality: The Mayor’s budget this year is in fact £16.4 billion.

Hosting extremist cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi

84. Claim: “All I knew about Qaradawi when he came was that the Sun had praised him as a true voice of Islam.” (Newsnight 4 April)

Reality: Livingstone had actually been furiously lobbied by liberal, Jewish and gay groups not to host Qaradawi. A Labour Home Office minister, Fiona McTaggart, pulled out of the City Hall event with the hate preacher, urging Ken not to meet him and saying that “a perfectly good cause had been hijacked” by Qaradawi and his supporters. The shadow home secretary, David Davis, asked Ken not to give Qaradawi “the oxygen of publicity.” When Qaradawi touched down in the UK, the Sun in fact proclaimed: “The evil has landed.”

“Fatal  consequences” of global capitalism

85. Claim: Defending his 2000 comment that “every year the international financial system kills more people than World War Two,” Ken claimed: “When you actually look at the impact that the financial system has on the poorest societies… the infant mortality rate is absolutely shocking. Those are not my figures. They’re UNESCO’s figures, actually.”  (Newsnight 4 April)

Reality: Never have so many poorer countries grown so fast as in the last 15 years – not just the well-known ones like India and China, but also dozens of others such as Vietnam, Bangladesh and a huge range of African countries. UNESCO is the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and publishes no figures on infant mortality. It is best known for its list of World Heritage sites.

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