Ken pushes lead with appeal to Boris voters

By Ian Dunt

Ken Livingstone has tried to build on his shock poll advantage by reaching out to Boris's Johnson's key constituency in the suburbs.

The Labour mayoral candidate has tried to appeal to outer-London voters with a pledge on "more frequent and reliable service" into central London.

The daring move reflects a growing sense of optimism in the Ken camp, after a poll found him to be two points ahead of Boris for the first time.

The last election, in which the Tory candidate trounced Ken, saw central London stay predominantly Labour but the outer boroughs almost universally switch to Boris.

Now the Labour campaign is using Ken's advantage on transport issues to strengthen his support among Boris' key supporters.

Ken is planning to allow Transport for London to take over management of suburban rail, a continuation of his decision to let it absorb London Overground during his time in City Hall.

"There will be considerable savings from the change in contracts. As a result, we can ensure that all necessary improvements can be made without additional cost to passengers," the mayoral hopeful was quoted as saying in the Guardian.

"Indeed not only can I guarantee that not a single fare will rise as a result of the merger, but many passengers will be better when rail fares are brought into line with my lower fares policy for the Tube."

Ken promised at least four trains per hour on weekdays and visible staff available to customers at all times in suburban stations.

Thge development comes as Boris faces criticism for suggesting London youth are lazy.

He was quoted in the Sun newspaper as saying: "The jobs are there and people need to have the energy to go out and get them."

Labour Assembly member Val Shawcross pointed out there are 233,673 out of work Londoners chasing just 32,843 vacancies.

"The mayor either doesn't know how bad things are for young Londoners or he is deliberately blaming them for the situation the government has forced them into," the member said.

"He's either totally out of touch with the desperate worries of young people and their families across London or totally uncaring."