Ken Livingstone declared war on a swath of government policies yesterday as he unveiled his long-awaited manifesto for the mayor of London.
The former GLC leader outlined proposals to oppose ministers on everything from transport to crime as he made his final push for votes ahead of the 4 May election. Frank Dobson, Labour's official candidate, immediately accused his rival of "gesture politics" that would cost Londoners at least £1,200 a year each and the capital £17.6bn in total. Labour also accused Mr Livingstone of "running scared" of the voters after his low-key launch of the manifesto on the internet, without a press conference to answer questions on its contents.
All of his opponents claimed that Mr Livingstone had stolen their own policies and attempted to present them as his own in a "pick and mix" approach to the mayoralty.
Mr Livingstone said: "I am standing as an independent candidate because I believe the job of mayor will be to stand up for London. If candidates and policies can be imposed centrally then devolution will mean nothing." A Livingstone mayoralty would ban lobbyists from the Greater London Authority, freeze Tube fares for four years and attempt to introduce a 70p flat rate for buses everywhere in the city.
In an echo of the GLC, a Capital Arts Card would be introduced to give pensioners, students and the unemployed access to cinemas, concerts and theatres for £3 one day a week.
But he was accused of deliberately posting a vague set of pledges as late as possible in the campaign. Mr Dobson issued a detailed costing of the manifesto and claimed that the Tube bonds issue would cost £8bn, congestion charges £2bn and CrossRail some £6bn. Lord Macdonald of Tradeston, Transport minister, agreed that public subsidy was possible, but dismissed claims that £2.5bnwould be needed.