“There’s a hole in Sadiq Khan’s plan for London,” said Zac Goldsmith at a Town Hall Q & A session in Harrow last night, “and it’s £1.9 billion big.”
The Labour candidate announced last month that he has plans to freeze transport fares over the next four years. According to Khan, this measure would cost approximately £450 million. Transport for London, however, have come up with a very different estimation.
At the Town Hall Q & A session in Stanmore last night, Zac Goldsmith said that the London Mayoral candidates want the same things for London. They all know what’s at stake:
These are the things that really matter to Londoners in this Mayoral election. The question that the next Mayor of London needs to answer is not: What do I do? It’s the following: How do I do it? How do I work with government to deliver for London?
To, on the one hand, vote for Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London would be to vote for a Labour politician who has no record whatsoever of having worked constructively with the Conservative government. It would be to vote for an MP who has turned a safe Labour seat (Tooting) into a marginal one. It would be to vote for a candidate who refuses to see the difference between his own utopian targets (£450 million) and what’s really at hand (£1.9 billion).
And it would be to vote for a candidate who nominated Jeremy Corbyn to become Labour Party Leader.
Ken Livingstone, said Goldsmith last night, was a Mayor who set himself targets that he could never reach. In 2016, Sadiq Khan is arguably making the same mistake.
To, on the other hand, vote for Zac Goldsmith would be to vote for a candidate who in 2010 won his seat (Richmond) from the Lib Dems and who over the course of the next five years made that seat the safest in the whole country (Goldsmiths has a 23,000+ votes majority). It would be to vote for a candidate who successfully campaigned against the expansion of Heathrow. It would be to vote for a candidate who opposes green belt developments and who wants to unlock London’s unfulfilled brownfield potential by growing the city’s rail network.
Above all: it would be to vote for a candidate who doesn’t promise anything that he cannot deliver.
The choice in 2016 is as easy as it was in the General Election of 2015. Strong leadership. A clear economic plan. A brighter, more secure future.
Or: a £1.9 billion black hole that won’t go away even if you don’t like it.