Some shocking news follows. A significant proportion of Londoners, young people included, are still considering a vote for Ken Livingstone in the upcoming battle for City Hall. For this reason I would like to devote the following column in the hope of understanding such a perplexing phenomenon. Previous polling has suggested that amongst younger voters Ken may even have gained a slight lead. Such a situation is in need of careful scrutiny, for fear that it may spiral out of control and Ken be elected.
There are ostensible advantages in pledging you allegiance to Ken, reinstating the EMA one of the best amongst them, a reduction in the cost of transport another. Although quite how these pledges will be paid for is still unclear, even to Ken himself, who, when challenged earlier this month was forced for a brief moment to contemplate the annoying implications his promises would have, should he ever be elected. Such predicaments have come to characterise the Ken campaign even in these early stages. The EMA allowance, it turns out, relies on other people’s money which they have not agreed to give him; a process that he, in fact, has no control over as Mayor. The EMA promise does, however, rest on slightly more solid grounds than his proposed cut in transport, which according to Transport for London, ‘the money does not exist at all’.
Due to the closeness of the race, support from London’s 18-25 year olds could prove decisive. Recent polling puts Boris slightly ahead of Ken overall, yet amongst younger voters Ken has a slight lead. Consequently, Boris has acknowledged the need for such support in order to secure victory.
It is important that people recognise the vacuity of Ken’s policies and the unfounded premises upon which they rest. Boris is the safe vote for young people in London. On the most significant issue for young voters it is Boris who has the loudest voice. The unemployment rate amongst 18-25 year olds has hit unprecedented levels and this has rightly taken the priority in his campaign. Apprenticeship schemes, youth employment funds and a pragmatic approach to economic policy are the grounds upon which this campaign should be fought.
A vote for Ken would also be a vote for hypocrisy of the highest order. Colossal mistakes have been made in this respect by campaign staff. Of the most important is the sate of Ken’s taxes. The simple truth is that you cannot run as the populist banker-bashing candidate, whilst surreptitiously channelling hundreds of thousands of pounds of your own earnings into a company jointly owned by your wife. His handling of the phone hacking scandal saw a similar ability to defy logic. After hurling the insults at Boris for enjoying lunches with the former editor Rebecca Brooks we remember that Ken had in fact been a columnist at the Sun for several months after the scandal broke.
I am sure that young people will recognise the hypocrisy and vacuity of Ken’s rhetoric. Even in these early stages Ken has been exposed as a clown pretending to be a politician and Boris a politician who pretends to be a clown. I will be voting for the latter…what about you?