Ken onslaught continues with pledge to resign over fares

By Ian Dunt

Ken Livingstone tried to build on his surprising new lead over Boris Johnson today with a promise to resign as mayor if he fails to cut fares.

The pledge comes after polls showed just 30% of Londoners believed the Labour candidate could fulfil his promise to slash seven per cent from tube and bus fares.

"There could not be a clearer choice. Boris Johnson raised your fares for the fourth time this January, but on October 7th 2012 I will cut them, saving the average Londoner £1000 over four years," Ken said.

"By setting the date for the fares cut I’m showing that politics is about change and about doing something real for the majority, not just a privileged few.

"My commitment to carrying out this cut is such that I give my word that if I do not cut the fares on or by October 7th I will resign the office of mayor immediately and cause a by-election."

Boris branded the policy "voodoo economics".

He told Sky News: "I certainly think it's a swindle to pretend to Londoners that you can magic money from nowhere and then cut fares.

"We can't go back to the kind of voodoo economics of the Labour government that racked up these huge debts."

Recent polls have shown Ken with a two-point lead over his rival, who was previously considered a safe bet to retain control of the capital.

The Labour candidate also gave an interview with the Guardian newspaper in which he mocked those who claimed the fare cut was impossible.

"In a budget of £8 billion if you can't find the money to have a seven per cent fares cut, you are breathtakingly incompetent," he said.

He also raised the prospect of lower salaries in the higher echelons of City Hall.

He said: "When I was leader of the GLC [Greater London Council], by the time I had been in control for three years, the difference in pay between the cleaner and the director general was a four-to-one ratio. I find that attractive."

Ken still trails Boris on personality, crime and economic policy, but he is seen as being more in touch with ordinary people.

The interview saw him express his irritation with Boris' popularity, just months after jokingly comparing the London mayor to Hitler.

"I loathe and detest all this trivialisation of politics," he said.

"I liked it when we had ugly politicians who droned on about issues."