This is a guest post by Annie Powell, a Labour Party member living in London.
As Ken Livingstone’s mayoral campaign has intensified over the past few weeks, I have become increasingly convinced that his campaign team is missing a trick. This Tuesday and last thousands of leaflets detailing Ken’s promise to reduce fares by 7% were distributed to train and tube passengers. The leaflets are great, and Ken’s commitment on fares is a vote-winner. But the campaign is neglecting a vital section of the electorate: bus-users.
This group has suffered the most as a result of Boris’s successive fare increases. On average, bus-users are much poorer than those who regularly take the tube. Transport for London data shows that professional and managerial workers constitute almost 80% of tube-users with those in the bottom half of the income spectrum making up only 22%, down from 28% in 2003. This poorer group now represents 37% of bus-users, up from 31% in 2004.
Many Londoners have been forced to use the bus because the tube has become prohibitively expensive. And to make matters even worse, bus fares have gone up by 50% since Boris took office in 2008.
Bus-users have most to gain from Ken’s commitment to cut fares. Their votes should be easy to win. It is therefore inexplicable that Ken’s campaign isn’t leafleting bus-stops as well train and tube stations.
The good news for Ken fans is that the campaign is planning more leafleting in the lead up to May 3rd, so there is time to alter the strategy. In the meantime, those who have signed up for leafleting may wish to consider taking their leaflets to the bus-stop nearest their allocated station next Fare Deal Tuesday.
We’re hoping to run more posts on the London elections in the next few weeks. Do get in touch if you’d like to contribute.