Letter: London, beware the Tory Santa

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The Independent Online
Sir: John Bowis (letter, 28 January), in his witheringly rapid rebuttal of my article of 18 January, promises Londoners a veritable Santa's grotto of public transport goodies: Crossrail, Chelsea/ Hackney Line, East London Line extension, Thameslink 2000 etc.

Apart from asking where the money is to come from for these schemes - Crossrail and Chelsea/Hackney alone would cost the equivalent of almost 4p on the basic rate of income tax - I would be interested to know if this is the same Mr Bowis who in November's Budget demonstrated his commitment to public transport in the capital by slashing investment in the Tube network by half.

Could it be that Mr Bowis's Damascus-like conversion to the cause of large-scale public infrastructure projects has less to do with concerns over our rapidly declining transport system and more to do with the rapidly approaching election? And we all know what Tory election pledges are worth the day after a Tory election victory.

If Conservative ministers suddenly wish to toss spending commitments around like confetti, that is their business. The message from the Labour Party is clear: we are not prepared to play fast and loose with taxpayers' money; we will write no blank cheques; we will make no promises we cannot keep.

Mr Bowis can attempt to model himself as the new Father Christmas of London. But the legacy of 18 years dressed as Mr Scrooge, and the lies of general elections past, are destined to return to haunt him.

GLENDA JACKSON MP

(Hampstead and Highgate, Lab)

Shadow Minister for Transport in London

House of Commons

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