In last year’s mayoral election there was something of a push on the left to support Ken Livingstone to keep Boris Johnson out of City Hall. This was a push that inevitably spilt over into a general “vote Labour” to keep out the Tories.
Personally, like all on the left, I did not want to see Boris elected and the Tories to winning in the assembly. And so I gave my second vote to Ken for the mayoralty.
I did not think this was a reason not to stand against him, nor did I think this was a reason to fall into a back Labour position.
When Labour is the party implementing pro-big business policies is not the time to start pretending that there are real qualitative difference between their policies.
It should not move from giving grudging electoral support as the lesser evil into political support. If you tell people that Labour will be better you only court disappointment when it turns out otherwise.
One of the reasons much put about to back Ken against Boris was that he wanted to get rid of the Freedom Pass. Something he does not actually have the power to do, but hey that’s politics.
So it came as no great surprise when I was informed that there is a threat to the Freedom Pass, and that it comes from the Department of Transport, and the Secretary of State, Sadiq Khan, Labour MP for Tooting.
At present the Freedom Pass in London is funded one third by local authorities and two thirds by central government (elsewhere it is fully funded by the government).
At present this costs the Treasury £29m, a drop in the ocean of state spending.
The Department of Transport is now proposing to pay only half of the cost rather than two thirds. More will have to come out of the already straightened budgets of local councils, at a time when, due to the recession, their services are more in demand than ever.
So the party we were meant to vote for (Labour) to defend the Freedom Pass is the party now squeezing it.