KEN Livingstone yesterday rubbished Conservative claims he would struggle to secure central government funds for the capital, telling City A.M.: “George Osborne will be no problem – I’ll just tickle his tummy.”
The Labour mayoral candidate added that he had a successful track record of lobbying for money in the face of Treasury opposition: “I got £39bn extra for London in my eight years as Mayor and I got that from Gordon Brown, who hated me with an absolute venom.
“Anyway, George Osborne will be pleased that I’ve eliminated his main rival to be successor to Cameron.”
Conservative candidate Boris Johnson has repeatedly suggested that his close links with the Tory-led Westminster government give him unique access to capital investment for London.
But Livingstone, speaking as he pledged to extend the Tramlink system to Crystal Palace, promised that belligerence and a democratic mandate would trump funding concerns – even for his headline-grabbing seven per cent fare cut: “If I win the election at my first meeting with the leadership of TfL they will have worked out how to implement the fares cut, because they can do it.”
A spokesman for Boris Johnson said: “By working constructively with government, Boris has secured £22bn for Tube upgrades and Crossrail, £300m for primary school places, £90m for police and £3bn for more homes in London. In contrast Ken Livingstone repeatedly took his own government to court but won nothing – they didn’t even trust him to upgrade the Tube or build homes in London.”
Livingstone’s flagship fare cut came under further attack from unnamed senior officials last night, with one claiming that TfL “would run out of cash during 2015”, according to internal emails seen by the Times.