Livingstone's manifesto aims for repeat victory

Click to follow
Indy Politics

The Liberal Democrats are targeting the capital's disaffected Muslim voters in an effort to avert a third-place defeat for their mayoral candidate.

The Liberal Democrats are targeting the capital's disaffected Muslim voters in an effort to avert a third-place defeat for their mayoral candidate.

Simon Hughes is making several visits to London mosques to capitalise on the Liberal Democrats' record of opposition to war in Iraq. He is campaigning today in Brent East, where the party scored a spectacular by-election victory on the back on the Muslim community's hostility to the war. It is one of a series of events reflecting the belief of his strategists that he can mine a rich vein of support among a group of voters formerly loyal to Labour.

His need for a dramatic turnaround was demonstrated by a poll last week which showed him trailing with just 17 per cent of the vote, with the Tory hopeful Steve Norris on 27 per cent and Ken Livingstone - who launches his full manifesto today - extending his lead to 41 per cent for Labour.

Mr Hughes was putting the strategy into action at the weekend as he canvassed the Queen's Crescent market in Camden, and finding the ethnically diverse community fertile territory.

Adbul Farah, a 45-year-old Somali community leader, stopped the canvassing team offer his services as a volunteer. "I used to be Labour supporter, but they've disappointed us in every sense," he said. "They've become arrogant. So I'm volunteering to help bring about a change. Most of the Somali community are Labour supporters, but they are unhappy. They will opt out - unless they have a little push to vote for someone else, and I am willing to give them that push."

But Sharma Kulbushan, 40, who runs a clothes stall on Queen's Crescent, had a warning about the uphill challenge he faces. He said: "Labour are still strong. The congestion charge is working: pollution and traffic have been cut. So I'm going to stick with them. I know a lot of Asians vote for Labour, because they do a lot of work for us."

The Lib Dems' drive for votes comes at a delicate juncture for the party, and for Mr Hughes in particular. Charles Kennedy, the party leader, last week called an emergency meeting to examine why he was not making more progress in the polls against Mr Norris.

Concern among the Lib Dems that they may come in third in the election prompted Mr Kennedy to schedule the dressing-down, which took place in front of the whole parliamentary party. Mr Kennedy called on Mr Hughes's team to explain the campaign's lack of impact so far, expressing concern at the way things were progressing for the party.

The election is looking more and more like a two-horse race, with Mr Livingstone dwelling on the successes of his first term in office, and promising to extend the congestion charge into west London and build the Thames Gateway bridge.

Mr Norris, meanwhile, has been voicing growing confidence in his chances against the current mayor, hoping anti-war feeling and Mr Blair's unpopularity will see him to victory. He said last week: "For the first time I know I can't lose." He added that Mr Livingstone had "made the biggest mistake of his life" in rejoining Labour and realigning himself with Mr Blair's unpopular foreign policy. "People are telling him, 'I'll vote for you, Ken, but I won't vote for Labour,'" Mr Norris said.

Last week he made still more of a play for the anti-war vote by calling for British troops to be withdrawn from Iraq. In a direct attack on Mr Livingstone's pro-war party affiliations, and echoing recent comments by the Conservative leader Michael Howard in the House of Commons, Mr Norris said: "We were wrong to have gone to war in the first place. We should now make a firm commitment to withdraw out troops at the earliest possible date."

If elected as mayor, Mr Norris will focus on tackling crime and improving transport, but last week said he was also entitled to express his view on foreign policy. He is said to believe the margin between himself and Labour candidate Ken Livingstone is narrowing, and knows that public opposition to the war in Iraq is higher in London than elsewhere in the country.

WHAT THE CANDIDATES ARE PROMISING FOR THE CAPITAL

Ken Livingstone

Labour

CRIME

Continue to increase number of police in capital (now 30,000). Build on scheme to establish programme of dedicated police teams of six officers for each neighbourhood

CONGESTION

Consult on extending congestion charge zone westwards; make scheme easier to use; suspend charging at Christmas and New Year; tough regulation of all minicabs

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Fit buses with CCTV and improve information at stops. Invest £1bn a year in Tube. Late trains on Friday and Saturday nights. Rescue suburban rail stations from neglect

ENVIRONMENT

City to be a "low-emission zone". Protect green spaces and waterways. Increase recycling; create waste authority. Encourage environmental education in schools

SERVICES

Create more affordable child-care with the long-term aim of offering high-quality child-care to every parent in London

JOBS/HOMES

Construct 15,000 'affordable' homes - 50% of all new-builds - every year; develop property near supermarkets, rail and Tube stations

Steve Norris Conservative

CRIME

Get "far more" officers on the streets; zero tolerance on transport network - fare dodgers, vandals, illegal minicabs prosecuted; effort to tackle crime in the suburbs

CONGESTION

Scrap the congestion charge; amnesty for outstanding fines. Ban trucks and lorries from morning rush-hour. Charge utilities for digging up roads

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Extend Tube times until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights. Negotiate no-strike deal with Tube unions. Review bus services and fund school buses. Increase cycling routes

ENVIRONMENT

Protect suburbs from high-rise tower blocks and open spaces from development

SERVICES

Boost training for unemployed and unskilled workers. Deliver "substantial increase" in affordable housing; establish London building society to help low-paid

JOBS/HOMES

Demand "fair share" of Treasury cash to close national spending gap. Be a "catalyst" to win investment and create "business-friendly environment" at City Hall

Simon Hughes

Lib Dem

CRIME

Give neighbourhoods their own "community police forces". Every street to be well-lit and signposted to reduce crime. Press for increase in the civil defence budget

CONGESTION

Extra day to pay congestion charge; shorten charging period; not extend zone westwards into Kensington and Chelsea. Pedestrianise Oxford Street by 2008

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Extend Tube running times until 2am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Install CCTV and emergency phone points in rail stations, with graffiti and litter removed regularly

ENVIRONMENT

Plant bushes and trees in the central reservations of major roads and dual carriageways. Work with borough councils to improve street cleaning

SERVICES

Produce a "one-number" round-the-clock contact system to inform people about all services provided by the GLA, and, eventually, the boroughs

JOBS/HOMES

Identify unused space around supermarkets and railway stations for affordable housing, creating 10,000 homes. ABusiness Council to advise on key priorities

Darren Johnson

Green

CRIME

Take tough action on violent crime and tackle the causes of crime. Ban replica guns and cut off gun supply. Focus police resources on violent, corporate and hate crimes

CONGESTION

Set £3,000-a-year levy on company parking spaces and expand congestion charging to a £4 Outer London zone. Cut 30mph limit to 20mph and ensure safe school routes

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Stop all new roadbuilding; spend the £1.2bn saved on public transport and improvements for cyclists and pedestrians. Invest in zero-emission buses Integrate the travel card for use on river buses Quadruple the cycling budget.

ENVIRONMENT

Create 80,000 jobs in transport, environment, creative industries, manufacturing and local public services. Set minimum pay at £6.70 an hour and raise London weighting

SERVICES

Ensure health care, libraries and post offices are within walking distance and are of decent standard. Improve local shopping parades and support local goods

JOBS/HOMES

Make solar panels compulsory in new developments. Create 1,000 allotment plots. Promote local food production. Protect green spaces. Ban junk food adverts on Tube

Comments