Mayoral Debate | Liveblog

Election 2008Editor

Welcome to LondonUnlocked's liveblog of the mayoral debate. I'll update this throughout the debate whenever transport issues are mentioned. 23.10 - Brian Paddick's opening comments: nothing on transport directly.

Cross examination by Ken Livingstone: on Congestion Charge - Paddick wants congestion charge not carbon charge. In favour of essential users not being penalised.

Cross examination by Boris Johnson: on 'bendy' buses and where he would put them - review of London bus routes, are there suitable routes? Not really a solid answer as he bats the question back to Boris.

Questions from the audience: how would he differentiate between essential users and others with the Congestion Charge? Puts his faith in technology, reiterates his desire to remove cars from central London.

---commercial break, Ken's up next---

23.29 - Ken Livingstone's opening comments: Wow, nothing on transport.

Cross examination by Boris Johnson: Again, nothing on transport.

Cross examination by Brian Paddick: Crime seems to be the issue of the night for Ken's opponents - again, nothing on transport. I spoke too soon - Paddick on if the Congestion Charge works financially, Ken answers by saying it wasn't introduced to make money.

Questions from the audience: Why did he ignore the consultation on extending the congestion charge? He states he was justified as the scheme worked. Also (and I hope this was a joke) that the people will get to live longer to oppose him if he introduces the £25 charge.

---commercial break, Boris up next---

23.46 - Boris Johnson's opening comments: we need transport that gets us there on time, safe buses for out children.

Cross examination by Brian Paddick: nothing on transport.

Cross examination by Ken Livingstone: how does he pay for conductors on all London buses? Says he doesn't want them on all buses, but that they would cut the high assault rate there currently. On why he didn't vote on CrossRail - votes were grandstanding by Labour government, not actually affecting policy which he claims is still unclear.

Questions from the audience: there is a very voluble bald man shouting at Boris. I'm finding it hard to concentrate. He would like children to be able to cycle to school safely like he did. Bless.

Summary from Brian Paddick: nothing on transport.

Summary from Ken Livingstone: proud of his achievements with regards to transport and the C40 forum which London hosts.

Summary from Boris Johnson: a brief mention of cycling safely, but that's it.


Conclusion: The strange format of the show, hosted by an ex-Blue Peter presenter, certainly didn't help the debate - with adverts there was actually very little in the way of genuine debate. It was also a curious decision to allow the audience to consist (almost entirely?) of rival supporters - both Ken and Boris had to answer over the cat-calls of their rival's supporters.

Away from the format, there was a disappointing lack of focus on transport. Given that it is one of the Mayor's largest defined roles, it beggars belief that comments were restricted to vague mentions of the congestion charge and cycling. 2007-8 alone has seen the creation of London Overground, the collapse of Metronet, the debate over Heathrow expansion, and the new Eurostar terminal opening up (but to name a handful). London deserves a proper debate about transport - an issue which touches every Londoner on a daily basis.

The lack of detail was partially a problem of the show format, and hopefully future debates will correct this issue. However, it still remains the case that outside of this debate there have been pitifully few transport related statements from the major candidates, aside from the Mayor's open musings for the 'carbon charge'.

Hopefully this will all change very shortly. Londoners deserve to be able to make an informed decision about the choices they have ahead of them - so far they are unable. Rest assured, when those policies are released, LondonUnlocked will cover them.



Friday morning update:

The BBC has a summary of the debate here, whilst the Economist profiles the race in this article.