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home » blog » 4 May 2008 [opinion]

"(S)he can't chew gum and walk on a straight line at the same time"

On the 1st of May we had local elections in London. I was in Greece at the time eating solid meat (aka easter festivities :) but I was happy to hear that my fellow londoners used their wits and showed the door to "Red" Ken Livingstone, London mayor for the past 8 years. Good riddance!

Two policies marked his autocratic rule: the oyster card and the congestion charge. The oyster is a travelcard for london buses and underground that was imposed on us. It is technically dubious (I need a new one every other month) and cannot be used in south london where trains are the main mode of transport. I'll give you one example how we were all bullied into getting oysters: The london bus fare was £1. Then suddenly it jumped to £2 if you paid by cash and "half price" if you paid by oyster. Uzbekistan style!

Then there's the infamous congestion charge, basically a tax for driving in central london, £8 a day! I am all for saving the environment and all, I am using a bicycle on daily basis, but the congestion charge is a half-thought gang-ho measure. It is extremely expensive to run; they have erected cameras in all roads into central london, and use automatic number plate recognition to send you the bill — or fine if you forget to pay. Cool technology, only it absorbs a huge percent of the £8 drivers pay (up to 80% allegedly!). You can get more value for money running down the high street and breaking all the glass displays with stones!

What I can't understand is how could Red Ken get away with such stupid and far reaching decisions. My only guess is that the Mayor office is a new idea over here and there are not the necessary checks in place to stop one in his position acting like a dictator. What about the new mayor, Boris Johnson ? How can he be any worse? At least he is going to entertain us with his antics <g>

ps. Did I mention that during Ken's reign the apparent crime in london has increased? We're turning into LA here, kids shooting and stabbing each other along with innocent bystanders. Thanks Ken!

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