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Tory candidate Shaun Bailey already blaming Sadiq Khan for congestion zone increase. Erm…

A future congestion zone boundary?

Well, that didn’t take long.

Conservative Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey has come out and tried to blame Mayor Sadiq Khan for the possibility of widening the congestion charge to a larger area of London incorporating area within the south and north circular – despite all signs pointing to this coming directly from Whitehall and central government.

Tweet on 18 Oct

We’ve been here before. TfL bailout number one was announced on May 14th which saw a number of measures pushed onto London by the Department for Transport and Grant Shapps. If they weren’t accepted accepted, the vast majority of public transport would cease.

Tweeted a day after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps insisted upon congestion charge increase

On 14th May 2020 from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps sent a letter to TfL with a number of punitive measures, including:

Letter from Grant Shapps MP highlighting his demand of TfL

Bailey then stated on numerous occasions the complete opposite, including this on 16th May:

16 May

He carried on with more of the same for days and weeks:

Other measures enforced by Shapps were DfT representatives placed on the TfL board and a move to remove Freedom Pass and child zipcard fares.

Fast forward six months, and it looks like history is repeating. Sources state government are now asking for the congestion charge to expand across a larger part of London. TfL board meetings have Deputy Mayor Heidi Alexander on record opposing the move. The DfT are silent.

Shaun Bailey’s latest attack line is to point at pensions as a major source of TfL ills. Not the virus, lockdown and a 90 per cent fall in fare revenue, but pensions. Someone thought this is a worthy attack line, yet even by their own figures the total comes absolutely nowhere near the cost that corona virus and related fare income reductions have led to, let alone the cut from central Government.

Bailey states that excessive pensions have cost TfL £812 million over four years. Let’s assume for his sake it’s true, how does that compare to other costs? Well:

  • Covid fare income reductions led to a need for £1.6 billion from May to October 2020 or the system would collapse.
  • Central government cuts from 2016 are now £700 million per year

In Bailey’s world if only the pension issue didn’t exist all would presumably be fine, though his pension argument (that £200+ million a year pension contributions by TfL are too high) would have bought TfL less than one extra month’s operation after May before requiring assistance given they require £1.6 billion for six months.

Like all his previous attack lines, it doesn’t stand up to any degree of scrutiny when the numbers are studied and the sheer drop in fare income is revealed.

If the pension issue is so bad and wasn’t fixed over the past four years, why did Boris Johnson leave the pension structure as it is when he left the Mayoral position in 2016?

Transport “policy”

Bailey has a long history of “mistruths” on transport. Even among politicians and dodgy claims, his are so transparently bad it’s a mystery the Tory party let him into such a prominent position

He claims a fares freeze is also a major factor in TfL’s financial problems right now, though at £640 million over four years is less than a single year’s cut in funding from central Government. He also claimed it only benefits tourists – which is utterly bizarre.

He claimed rising Travelcard’s costs are Khan’s fault, even though it was the Department for Transport element for rail that was rising by inflation each year.

Bailey is now going into an election with a bizarre campaign promise to raise fares, then at the same time claiming fare rises are bad and the fault of Khan. It’s true that Sadiq Khan was planning rises next year anyway, which would match fare rises the DfT have already enforced on rail for years, yet the Shapp’s letter show Government are insisting Khan sticks to TfL fare rises. Of course Bailey doesn’t mention that – nor the continual rail rises for years from the DfT.

He has also claimed that Khan had threatened to halt London’s transport as if a  choice – despite it being a legal requirement for TfL to halt most services without financial assistance. By law they would need to enact a Section 114 notice when income falls to a certain level – which was imminent by May 2020 after lockdown was implemented on 23rd March and fare income reduced substantially. London is more reliant on fares than most other major world cities – in large part due to cuts from central government:

London is heavily reliant on fares.

Halting services was, and will be soon, a legal requirement and not a “threat” from TfL and the Mayor.

Government money for support comes with cuts and congestion charge increases. It’s no secret. It really is hard to think of a candidate that treats the electorate as bigger idiots than Shaun Bailey. There are plenty of legitimate criticisms of Sadiq Khan – Silvertown Tunnel for one and how he continually ignores many of the issues, and a lack of protection for bus drivers back in the spring.

Instead of fighting for the city Bailey has mostly opted for a continual stream of statements that anyone with basic knowledge can see through. He is playing the role of a lackey for central Government, which is an awful strategy for a Mayoral candidate.

At least if you are a bit of a yes-man, don’t make it so transparent before an election. Have some sort of independent voice and fight the corner of the people you hope to represent rather than roll over to Whitehall.

His floundering in the polls shows it isn’t working, but still he goes on. Has any candidate ever treated Londoners as bigger fools?

12 Comments

  1. Roy

    From the Bailey articles and pronouncements…it has been obvious that no matter how little I regard Sadiq Bailey would be 10 times worse.
    Whoever chose him as the Conservative Party Candidate must have been lacking medication and just come out of kindergarten.
    I would be voting Sadiq rather than being lumber ed with such a waste of space…
    Surely there must be better candidates out there……

    • Comment by post author

      fromthemurkydepths

      Many Tories are embarrassed by him in private.

    • HK

      I agree Roy. Sadiq should be easy to challenge with a half decent candidate from the Tories, but Shaun Bailey is terrible!
      I’ll personally be voting David Kurten

    • Halligan

      Bailey is so bad he makes Sadiq Khan look good, spouting false information and trying to dupe Londoners, He won’t be getting my vote

  2. GB

    Whichever way you think about Bailey, a bail out from the tax payer (it’s not government money it’s everyone’s including those in the North) needs to have conditions. Why should taxpayers subsidise fares for those in London including children when they are not available elsewhere.

    Why should taxpayers now subsidise a public body that refused to raise fares like every other transport organisation that has to be able to wash its face?

    London is not an island but a very large part of a whole and whilst it should be able to fund itself given how much money revolves around it, it has been mismanaged throughout and is now in trouble. Responsibility seems to only be reserved for central government by commentators but devolved administrations are given a free ride (taxi if TfL and paid for by taxpayers).

    • Comment by post author

      fromthemurkydepths

      That argument falls down as soon as thinking about the greater good. Why should southern taxpayers now pay for a health crises that is currently hitting the north harder? Because it’s the right think to do. Same with flooding around the coast or a whole multitude of events.

      Imagine saying to a coastal resort that had flooded, sorry, we will only provide sandbags if you, say, double the charge of local services.

      “Able to wash its face”. No other nation looks at transport this way. It’s seen as a public good – and essential to move millions of people efficiently without clogging up urban areas.

      Government are trying to hold the capital hostage, an area that is more reliant on public transport than any other due to its very function as a major, busy world city and major generator of wealth.

      It’s not as if London transport is that great by international comparisons. It’s better than most of England as central Government have failed to invest in other cities for so long.

      “Why should taxpayers subsidise fares for those in London including children when they are not available elsewhere.”

      They wern’t until this crises. All central Government funding has been cut – almost unique in the world. Now we are in a crises and they can either assist or try to remove assistance at the worst time or apply punitive conditions. It’s telling they are going for the latter, though havn’t when assisting private companies in a whole field of areas.

      Shouldn’t the question be why other areas can’t be approved rather than dragging London down to their low standards?

      • Richard

        London’s transport network is the best in the world. There is no other city with such comprehensive, extensive and frequent trains of all types. Only Tokyo could compare and the private and public parts not joining up and making it confusing still makes London the best. London’s network is far larger and better than anywhere else on Earth. You can’t compare small cities with London’s entire metropolitan area. European cities are all smaller than London’s network and urbanised landmass. It is a whole different scale. So your attitude to London’s transport network is wholly wrong. You are spoiled. Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore are all nowhere near as large as London’s rail mileage over its entire metropolitan area. Seoul has a mix of rail metro types like London and Tokyo. It ranks up there with London and Tokyo but isn’t as large. Most metros are all underground in ‘new’ cities and this is no good for wider metro requirements – too slow and too short. Not to mention stations are very inaccessible in Chinese cities with congestion abound due to the one dimensional network choice, poor passenger flow models and then construction, small access and exit space for passengers, security barriers slowing everyone down – it is a nightmare! You have rose tinted glasses on.

        As for the rest, let’s just settle for Khan’s support for stabbings. He hates stop and search despite its unarguable results. Anyone is better than Khan, including a donkey.

    • Matt

      Thanks for analysing the argument line by line. Helpful from a nearly neutral to see what does and does not stand up.

      Why does anyone vote for a party that in recent years has such a disgraceful history of lying?! It would be pretty scandalous in a parish council let alone London mayor

  3. AF

    Why do the public keep falling for these blatant lies.
    I cannot believe Bailey is trying to push the blame of ULEZ extension on Khan.
    There will be people where we live who will regurgitate whatever the Tory line is with absolutely no care with of what any of it actually means for them.

    Lets look at it like this:

    *Khan is forced to take the bailout and the ULEZ gets extended.

    *People hate Khan and vote him out next year.

    *You get Sean Bailey who will be nothing but a mouth piece for the Torys.

    *The Torys lie again and keep the ULEZ extension on and blame Kahn for having to do so.

    *ULEZ stays and everyone who voted Khan out gets shafted financially by the very people they supported.

    They’ve been doing this since December (and beyond but hey lets keep it short) saying one thing and completely doing another with no care who is effected. If you need proof, just take a look at whats happening in Kent.

    I just wished people actually took the time to think about things before nailing their colours to mast of a ship that cares nothing for them.

  4. AF

    N.B.
    Props to Murky Depths for seeing exactly what was going to happen and for making public the terms of the bailout.

  5. Gmv8

    I am now fed up with devolved power. We just shouldn’t have it. All it does is allow politicians to shift blame between each other, and confuse the electorate, rather than having one side we can blame, and vote out. I will not be voting for Sadiq Khan, as he has made a complete mess of London, and for each mayoral candidate I want to see what a list of what they are hoping to achieve and hold them to it, although I would just prefer to abolish the mayor altogether and hold the government responsible.

    • Comment by post author

      fromthemurkydepths

      England is already the most centralised state in the developed world – and most English cities lag behind on a wide range of measures. London stagnated without powers and a strategic voice after GLC demolished. It still has weaker powers than most other equivalent cities. Giving more powers to Westminster is not wise.

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