So who's telling the truth? City Hall contenders focus fire on trust game


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The Independent Online

The three main candidates were greeted with cheers, amused booing – and some mooing. Later on the BNP candidate registered his protest at not being on the platform. He had a very Italian accent (is the party at risk of confusing its supporters?).

We had heckling, yelling, laughter, talented abuse, clever needling and just the right amount of quiet listening. It was a full hall, a lively evening, a terrific evening for London politics.

"He's not telling the truth; he knows he's not telling the truth." Who said that? They all did, at one point. Ringmaster Clive Anderson – to whom the good humoured tenor of the debate was largely due – summed up two claims with the words, "I don't know who to trust."

There was – according to Ken – Boris' disastrous record on crime, transport, environment, investment. While according to Boris, there was Ken's relentless mendacity.

Ken said he brought down tube crime; Boris said tube crime had gone up 521 per cent. Both were fighting their reputation – in Boris's case earnest, serious, and a bit boring as befits a man with "a nine-point plan".

Ken went so far as to challenge Clive Anderson to a press-up competition. That's not quite wise for a winning candidate. But judging by the audience reaction Ken isn't getting back into the mayoralty.

A number of good ideas. Brian Paddick is going to offer a one-hour bus pass and take senior policemen's perks away (will he stop drawing the £64,000 police pension we're paying him?). Ken is going to get wholesale energy prices for domestic users.

Ken's best lines were all about Boris; his biggest applause was quoting the Mayor declining to come back to London "because it would be rewarding the rioters".

The best lines about Ken came from our good-humoured compere who pressed him pleasantly but with fearsome clarity about his tax affairs. The hall broke into growling, rumbling, moblike muttering, punctuated with exclamations of disgust.