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London mayoral debate on LBC

April 10, 2008
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Earlier today the LBC Radio hosted a debate with the three major London mayor candidates.

Labour candidate Ken Livingstone, Conservative candidate Boris Johnson and Liberal Democrat Brian Paddick joined Nick Ferrari in the studio to face questions from Nick and from the public.

London crime is on top of many Londoner's lists of things that need to be taken care of by a new mayor.

Ken claims that statistics show how crime has declined (by a few percentage points) over the last 3 years.

Brian mentioned that telephone polls, which he believes are better indicators, showed no perceived reduction in crime. Instead he suspects that less people report crime thus lowering the crime statistics.

Boris told how he is shocked by the "28% increase of muggings of teenagers" and proclaimed that he will put more people (officers) on the streets.

The rowdy and sometimes violent behaviour on buses was brought up to which Brian Paddick argued that "the driver should get out of the cab and speak to the aggressors".

Nick was then wondering whether the driver would get assaulted and that maybe we should hire some of the Chinese bodyguards we have seen along the Olympic torch as bus drivers?

Brian Paddick still believed that "somebody has to do something about it".

The London bombings of July 2005 were brought up and Mr Livingstone
was the first to comment on it. Mr Livingstone handled the situation well back in 2005 by addressing the city with a speech of defiance. In his words the bombings had been "an act by a group of criminal men".

Ken then attacked Boris Johnson by claiming that Mr Johnson blamed the bombings on Islam.

Boris refuted forcefully by proclaiming that Islam "is a religion of peace" and that he has Muslim ancestors ("his great grandfather knew the Quran by heart").

All in all it seemed like a cheap shot by Mr Livingstone at mudslinging.

Ken's private life was brought up. A reporter was wondering whether "his relationship with London is same as his relationships to his out of relationship children". Ken kept insisting that his private life is of no one's business.

When asked about Lee Jasper, Ken stated that he "would employ Lee Jasper again if he was cleared of all allegations" to which Boris strongly opposed because he "wants a change and believes that the mayor should have full accountability" for the spending of the tax payer's money.

Regarding London transport Boris wants to offer alternatives and to improve public transport.

Brian Paddick wants to improve the state of the motorways leading into London.

"Bendy buses" are a hot topic among London drivers and Boris Johnson has promised to "scrape them and replace them with an alternative design buses that cost the same".

There is still no design on the table however and Mr Johnson was not quite sure of the cost of a bendy bus when first asked.

On the topic of London congestion charge Ken promised that the current level £8 and the future higher level of £25 would not be increased. The income from the congestion charge would go towards "cycling super highways".

Boris promised to scrap the proposed £25 higher level congestion charge, to remove the West Kensington extension and allow paying on account (no more c-charge late fees).

Further Boris wants to improve the state of London streets to allow for "smoother traffic".

Finally the candidates were asked why the public should vote for them.

Brian Paddick promised a real change and strong leadership. He continued that he has 30 years of experience as a police officer, understands communities and finally he vowed to improve public transport.

Ken proclaimed to have done many improvements in the last 8 years but that he can do much more. He has won £4 billion from the government to spend on London with which he "can build 30,000 houses for rent" among other things. Mr Livingstone will press ahead with the £25 charge on (what he calls) "gas guzzling" vehicles.

What was my impression of the London mayoral debate?

Ken Livingstone doesn't seem to listen to the public and is not honest enough. The c-charge is his main politics tool with which he will continue taxing and punishing the London motorists.

Most people voting on Brian Paddick will probably be voting for him to sort out the state of London crime but his previous spat with Ian Blair may complicate things.

Boris in my opinion is the strongest candidate for a change in London. His arguments for crime, businesses, education and transport are very reasonable.

Whoever is your favourite candidate please make sure you are registered to vote and then vote on the 1st of May.

I would recommend you to go for Boris Johnson as your first choice and Brian Paddick as your second choice but ultimately it is up you... just make sure you vote.

P.S. Rather "The grass is greener on the other side" than "Better the devil you know"



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