Mayor Khan – travelling safely?

In March the London Mayor told us travelling on buses and the tube did  not pose a threat of catching the virus. More recently he has supervised a major cut back in services and expressed worries about the safety of staff and passengers.

The background to his astonishing U turn on public transport safety  is the fast deteriorating financial position of London Transport on his watch, which pre dated the collapse of revenues on lock down but worsened  when that happened. His early comments on the virus were probably motivated by the need to keep revenues up and to hit targets for more people using the tube and bus.  His lower fares policy left LT short of revenue to pay all the running costs and finance the improvements and expansions this growing business needed.

He has now been forced into asking for a big bail out from central government and national taxpayers. Last week the Transport Secretary agreed a grant of £1.095 billion and a loan of £505m just  to see the Mayor through to October. In return the Mayor had to accept the need for a government review of the finances and efficiency of LT, and to two government representatives on the Board.

Mr Shapps the Transport Secretary  now needs to sharpen up central analysis and supervision of this expensive state  business. The writer of the  official government release said this:

“In order to reduce the risk of crowding and to encourage vulnerable groups to from using (sic) public transport at the busiest times when there is greater risk of transmission it may not be possible to socially distance, (sic) the deal will see the temporary suspension of the Freedom Pass and the 60+ card concessions to off peak hours. It will also see temporary suspension of free travel for under 18s and special arrangements will be made to ensure children eligible under national legislation can still travel to school for free. The changes will take place soon as (sic) practicable”

There is immediate work to be done on how many services and what the rules are over the number of people allowed on each train and platform. It will also be complex to allow free travel to school but not for other junior journeys.

The  new Board members need to examine the impact of Mayor Khan’s fares policy on the finances of LT before the virus hit, and to help LT find the right fares policy to maximise permitted use and generate more revenue relative to costs. The whole structure of costs has just changed substantially with revenues much down for the next few weeks at least. They need to re-examine the whole business approach, with safety and costs in mind.

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99 Comments

  1. Cheshire Girl
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    I see that Mr. Khan is being chauffeured around London in a car. No cycle for him!

    He has asked everyone not to use public transport, and to cycle or walk wherever possible. Perhaps he would like to set an example.

    • Peter
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      Khan has been photographed cycling but his expensive, bullet-proof, chauffeured Range Rover was following close behind.

      This is all an opportunity for Khan indulge in self promotion and politicking.

      Unfortunately, the alternative candidates for London mayor are uninspiring. Zac Goldsmith was a rather diffident, unconvincing opponent who did not even seem to be able to drink a pint of beer without using both hands.

    • ukretired123
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Champagne socialism at its finest.
      Blimps, photo shoots, selfies, sound-bytes, overseas tours etc…
      Money trees …..

    • Hope
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      JR, suggest you read Richard Little-Johns article today. £137.50 each week to drive a car to work, the lower paid will not be able to afford it. Young and elederly concessions scrapped!

      Khans actions deliberate and will devastate economy and Khan knows it. His actions are political to encode pain to your govt. Again, this makes the layer of Mayors unnecessary and an obstacle to governance in times of crisis. Get rid of them.

      • JoolsB
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        Totally agree Hope and I would include devolved Governments in that.

        • rose
          Posted May 20, 2020 at 12:01 am | Permalink

          Me too.

      • czerwonadupa
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

        If Khan really wanted to save money he would approve driverless trains on the underground which have the technology to be implemented tomorrow by someone with the “bottle” to stand up to the unions.
        But being the son of a bus driver it won’t be the weak & timid Khan who seems more concerned about the affairs of foreign capitals in the Americas & the EU considering how much time he’s spent there.

    • JoolsB
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      Typical Labour/socialist hypocrite – do as I say, not as I do.

  2. formula57
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    “Last week the Transport Secretary agreed a grant of £1.095 billion and a loan of £505m just to see the Mayor through to October” – that will not be enough to see Mayor Khan re-elected though. How long before the loan becomes a grant?

    • Hope
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      JR, unemployment currently at 1996 levels under Major! It will get worse, people’s homes will be repossessed and businesses lost that owners took a life time to build. It will not be forgotten by 2024.

      I predict Khan and his ilk will be ready to blame your govt for the high unemployment and suffering even though he and Labour know his current actions will increase the misery t help poor scorn on your govt. To give him £1.1 billion without stricter clauses, such as a minister Shapps with oversight was a huge mistake.

      The govt should/could have introduced emergency powers and got rid of him and other mayors to have a clear tier of leadership. Mayors were rejected by the public, use the Chinese virus pandemic act on it.

  3. Posted May 19, 2020 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    London messes things up and receives over £1.5bn in the blink of an eye.

    • Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      Dear Mr Johnson

      For many years, London has been sucking the life out of the rest of the UK. Would you please spend the HS2 money on the travel infrastructure north of Watford.

      • anon
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

        Experience getting a train at rushhour & paying full fare for it?

        HS2 is an EU project, except paid for in the main by London taxpayers who don’t really support it.

    • Fred H
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      ‘London’ s/be ‘Mayor’.

  4. Javelin
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    More importantly. The world is about to put large trade tariffs on Chinese exports.

    Xi (who made himself a lifetime President) run an “industrial dictatorship” which profitises Chinese labour. Removing profits will lead to an internal revolt. Given the nature of an industrial dictatorship the question is what will happen if the profit is removed .

    – Will the profit makers of the Chinese Industries remove the CCP leadership?

    – Will the senior CCP leadership remove Xi

    – Will Xi strengthen his position by going to war with Taiwan

    – Will the Chinese people rise up and revolt

    My take on this comes from the observation that the Chinese propaganda strongly promote the “China Number One” slogan very strongly. Chinese are constantly told they are the best country. I don’t see the people revolting and I don’t see the army revolting because they have expanded massively under Xi.

    So I am going to predict China will go down the classic route of distraction by invading Taiwan. US intelligence thinks the same.

    My private information is that every Chinese magazine rack is dominated by military magazines and that the people will support Xi if he starts a war.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      Yes possibly correct and furthermore of greater importance than a little local difficulty with transport.
      Perhaps we should turning our attention to the potential benefits for us in pivoting towards our old allies, Australia included, for trade and strategic alliances. The world is changing, and the old Brexit arguments will be a vaguely irrelevant sideshow when the need to position ourselves correctly relative to China/ S East Asia and the anglophones is brought into focus.

    • Peter Wood
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Your forecast is certainly possible, but not without risk.

      First, why bother to go the military, rather old-fashioned, route, when economic power works just as well and is lower risk? Taiwan’s export are, I believe, @ 50% going to the PRC, so to bring Taiwan down, just stop imports and do a ‘Cuba quarantine’ at worst.

      If Xi is mad enough to go ‘kinetic’, and he might be to show strength, then he’d not get much response from Trump. BUT, if Trump did respond, then the risk is very high for Xi, for the simple reason that the Chinese economy would very quickly grind to a halt and all those newly ‘wealthy’ middle-classes would find their lives very hard, and that would mean civil unrest.

      The Chinese think long-term, a version of option 1 is the route.

    • ukretired123
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      Serious indeed and sounds like history repeating itself by distracting major events like a classic chess move removing the pawns. Very sad for us all!

    • Hope
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      The world should stand against China imposing 80% tariffs on Australia. This sort of bullying should not be allowed.

    • Emperor Budgie Lugs
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      “Xi (who made himself a lifetime President ” He could not have done it without some support. I have declared myself Emperor of the UK for instance

    • forthurst
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Stick to the day job.

  5. DOMINIC
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    Khan. Labour.
    RMT. Mick Cash. ………

    Khan in bed with Cash to engineer a collapse to cause maximum inconvenience to voters (call them passengers if you must). Collapse happens. Cash and Khan then duly blame the useless ‘evil Tories’. Tories sit in silence like scolded children for fear of upsetting the authoritarian unions who now control our infrastructure and then once again abuse the taxpayer by throwing money at organisations that they simply refuse to reform for fear of conflict with their mortal enemies.

    I would argue that 25-30% of all State spending is spending to appease political opposition and to finance a refusal to reform rather than necessary spending to efficiently deliver services to the public. The taxpayer is financing political cowardice

    Cash is a bruiser. Like Bob Crow before him he’ll take no crap from anyone. Cash didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge. No Siree. He just doesn’t do polite debate. I admire that even though I despise his politics

    Either way McCluskey (Unite the chosen union of all bus drivers) and Cash can cripple London and the entire nation with a flick of their wrist. Why and how is this possible? Tory appeasement of the hard left unions has brought us to this point

    It is my belief that the damage we see around us today is more to do with Tory appeasement of the left than the left’s project to dismantle the UK

    I yearn to see a PM who stands up and declares ‘We will defeat the (authoritarian ed), progressive left and elevate freedom of speech, the individual and morality to their rightful places’. Maybe Patel but who else? Certainly not Johnson. A celebrity PM without principle or conviction will never be able to dislodge old style (lefties ed)like McCluskey and Cash.

    • Ginty
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:18 am | Permalink

      Now’s the time to get a no-strike law through Parliament. What are the rail unions going to do about it now ? Strike ???? Ha ha ha !

    • Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      We need a Trump.

      • glen cullen
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

        totally agree

    • Caterpillar
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      Dominic,

      I can no longer see Patel being as you suggest. She is taking the immigration points based bill through and continually lowering the salary threshold, goong down to 20,480 or 25,600* for extra points. These thresholds should be set significantly above not below median. Low wage immigration severely limits the socio-economic mobility of people already in the UK. Many people join unions and live with/are persuaded by the extremism because they have no security. The Conservatives could have started breaking this down by rolling out a UBI (and scrapping minimum wage and many benefits) instead of furlough during the epidemic, it could certainly have increased the salary threshold for immigration when unemployment is rising and about 10 million are furloughed. Providing reasonable security to people, enhancing social mobility, not punishing saving, avoiding workplace fear etc. limits the space for extreme unions. I agree the Conservatives should be tackling the extreme unions, but they also need to put in place policies that give individuals the confidence and opportunity to succeed. Sunak’s behaviour, the BoE’s decade of zombie supporting (which is likely to continue when it mistakenly buys riskier assets next month) and now Patel’s low income immigration policy all act against this – even if they believe/argue that the policies are well intended.

      * People currently entering the UK for incomes much lower than GDP per capita are very probably adding value less than GDP per capita to the economy, hence immigration will be reducing GDP per capita and there will be less to go round. Coming in with an income much greater than GDP per capita indicates a value add that means there is more to go around (e.g. in infrastructure).

  6. Nigl
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Mayor Khan, of course was looking to get re elected hence his transport giveaways, once again a labour politician runs out of other people’s money. Why a grant not a loan, it means I have paid for his poor management and if they are strapped, how are they going to pay the 500 million back, cue it gets extended/forgotten about.

    Sharpening up central analysis and supervision of a state business. The ultimate oxymoron. I tire of saying this but why wasnt it bloody well done before it happened? These things never are and you never learn.

    As for the Board Members presumably the usual bureaucratic nonentities and what authority have they got anyway to make changes?

    I was involved in London when Ken was mayor and the waste was pitiful. Boris got it back but since then you have allowed, frankly a political pipsqueak, to run rings round you preferring to allegedly run the country rather than putting up serious opposition in London and guess what, we are all paying for your failure of oversight yet again.

  7. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    We have friends who live a considerable distance outside London and I was amazed when they said they get free transport in and around London on buses and the underground. They are over 60 but presumably these costs are picked up by others.

    • Andy
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:08 am | Permalink

      Yes. Free travel for pensioners is paid for by taxpayers like me. Another handout for being old.

      • Edward2
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

        You youngsters get loads of state handouts too.

      • Cheshire Girl
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

        Andy:
        Dont bother to apply for a free Travel Pass when you are old.

        Btw, old people pay tax. I still do, and my 21st birthday was many, many ,years ago.

      • NickC
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

        Andy, Just as when today’s pensioners, when working, previously paid for people older than themselves. But you know that. So you’re just demonstrating your ageism. Again.

    • Peter
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      You have to live in a London Borough to qualify for a Freedom pass. That is usually within Zone 6 on the Tube map.

    • Fred H
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      The Freedom Pass was available for those over 60 (plus other exceptions) living in Greater London.

  8. Ian Wragg
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    And Khant is still going ahead with road blocking schemes to disrupt traffic.
    We need maximum flexibility in transportation to get the country running again, not some dim wit pseudo green crap.

    • Know-Dice
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      Tony Page also intends to do that in Reading and has publically stated that changes will be permanent. I wonder what the business rate payers of Reading think of that?

  9. Dave Andrews
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    To improve infection control on mass transit systems like the tube, they should have services set aside for healthcare and care home workers, who analysis has indicated have 6 times more likelihood of having the virus.
    On the tube for example, there could be key worker only carriages which everyone else should avoid, and non key worker only carriages so the remaining passengers can travel more safely.

    • a-tracy
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Good idea Dave

  10. Mark B
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    He has now been forced into asking for a big bail out from central government and national taxpayers.

    And watch all the other devolved administrations do the same.

    The whole point of these useless bureaucracies was to make public spending more accountable and closer to the needs of the people. What has now happened is that these people see it as a platform to advance their own political careers. Ahem 😉

    But look on the bright side, the Congestion Charge is going up. Shame that there are no cars on the road 🙂

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      Indeed just yet another government bureaucracies to tax, boss around and inconvenience the public at every turn.

    • Fred H
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      I have to ask – – – is there any Congestion?

    • Hope
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      Johnson has stupidly helped the devolved administrations with testing! Scotland was faring far worse than the rest of the U.K. He should have let her get some deserv d kicking from th express before helping.

      JR, Kath Gyngell article worth reading in Con Woman today, she is along the same critical lines against the left wing Conservative party as Dominic yesterday! Perhaps you ought to make a similar petulant comment below her article? On the other hand perhaps you and colleagues ought o be more active to the public opinion and regain your party from following and outbidding socialist ideas from Labour and become conservative once more.

      The last election graphically demonstrated that your left wing copy act party would prefer “RED ED” which your party repeatedly warned us about in 2015 to letting him get elected in 2020 rather than stand down to let a Conservative Brexit Party MP get elected!

      • NickC
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

        Hope, There are two main problems. For many MPs it’s about power, not principles. And the second is that a newly elected MP is grateful to be elected, but rapidly descends into thinking he is there by merit, rather than lottery. Both are dangerous. That is why I would have more direct democracy. But who can trust that, given the exhibition Parliament has made of itself these last nearly 5 years?

  11. Nigl
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    And if you look at the MPs report on HS2 you will see a history of inefficiency, cost overruns, obfuscation/dissembling/down right lies from public servants and guess what, the DOT says the project has been reset with greater transparency etc and, whoop whoop a dedicated Minister as if that will make a difference.

    Allegedly the income was based on a number of trains running per hour that hasn’t been achieved anywhere in the world, even Japan who are the experts.

    Only took the project cost to double, maybe more, before something happened.

    Any one held accountable? Of course not. Just the poor old taxpayers pocket hit again.

    • turboterrier
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      Nig1

      So very true. Accountability? My backside

    • BOF
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      And HS2 gravy train rumbles on. Heard someone (?) from Tory party on the radio and deduced that they still think it a marvelous scheme. Too many important snouts in the trough, it would seem.

      With the Corona led rise in video conferencing, it will be redundant before a mile of track is laid. Cough up and shut up, taxpayers.

  12. Roy Grainger
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    He is already blaming the government for the fare increases but in fact he announced them in March. He has also reintroduced the congestion charge for driving in central London and put it up to £15 a day, just when the government has said people should avoid public transport and travel by car.

    On 3rd March on TV he told travellers ‘There is no risk in using the Tube or buses or other forms of public transport or going to a concert.’ So far 28 bus drivers have died on his watch.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      Good points, but will Government Ministers remember such things when the MSM attacks them, as it surely will, on such things. Knowing this lot, probably not, when they should be primed with rebuttal points we will get a whimpering Minster sitting there taking a kicking without the will or ability to defend his government.

      They should take a lesson from Bob Seely MP, who last night took NewsNight and the Professor they put up to the cleaners.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      £75 a week out of your taxed income just for this congestion tax.

    • a-tracy
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      I don’t believe it is fair to hold people, following scientific advice at the time, solely responsible. Everyone in the UK saw the reports of CV19 in China and Italy, we started to hear it was spreading through the ski holiday crowds and holidaymakers in Tenerife and Spain.

      At the end of February, we had tested 7132 people since the outbreak began in the UK and at that time 13 were positive, including 4 that had returned from the Diamond Princess.

      How many other cruise boats dropped off passengers in the UK at Southampton and other docks whose clients then used London public transport straight off the ship?
      How many of the bus drivers that sadly lost their lives had other family members they lived with in the health and care occupations as we now know they had a high resistance but virtually became super spreaders?
      How many of the bus drivers were taking infected returnees and their baggage from flights from severely infected Countries into Heathrow and Gatwick? Khan was wrong, as I said on this blog at the time, not to advise all people travelling on buses and tubes to wear face masks, I’d go further than that too I think people involved with customers at TFL and passengers should wear a reuseable visor that they need to disinfect every day to protect their eyes and viral overload on mass transit systems. There should be a way we can all buy a couple of reusable face masks that have filters that we can replace if we use high volume public enclosed spaces. This disposable ppe needs fixing with washable, reusable and effective protection as soon as possible so that people feel safe.

  13. Richard1
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    Mr Khan is useless indeed, a parody of a self righteous and virtue signalling leftist, posturing wherever he can in the media while presiding over poor services and incompetent financial management.

    I was looking forward to a chance to vote him out, now delayed. Unfortunately I fear that Khan is rather like the Welsh Assembly for the Conservative Govt. Useless and damaging and something to campaign against, but actually quite helpful politically as they are a reminder to voters in national elections of what bad news Labour govt generally is.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      Indeed but not even a half decent candidate to challenge him.

  14. George Brooks.
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Ken Livingstone took 8 years to bring LT to its knees and left it in a complete mess and totally broke. Khan is to be congratulated, he has done it in half the time and is trying to blame it on Covid-19.

    It took Boris only 4 years to resolve the disputes and restore its financial viability. He also binned the bendy-buses.

    In 2016 London was running well and holding it’s place amongst the leading cities of the world. Khan is incompetent, out of his depth, wrecking the cities finances and in danger of turning the place into a ghetto.

  15. agricola
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Socialists, piss ups, breweries says all that needs to be said.

  16. Ian @Barkham
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Mayor Khan, reminds me of the old school Mayor of Boston Mass, whos doctrine was to keep nurturing the support of those less privileged by making the city uncomfortable for those in a more comfortable position.

    The idea being the underprivileged would always vote for him. So letting crime rise caused those that could afford it(the non-supporter) to move out.

    So here we have London moving towards being the crime capitol of the world, a transport system that’s on its knees even on a good day then when you look at how untidy and dirty the streets are left in normal times – this is someone saying get out. If you can afford to go, go – you wouldn’t vote for me anyway.

    The hypothesis being that the only people left (in this case the left, the Metro Marxist ) will ensure the Mayor’s re-election.

    Cynical, yes. But why else would you pursue these policies.

  17. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    How much of that £1.5 billion loan and grant was need because tube workers who, like other public sector workers continued to receive full salaries when they weren’t working?

    8 weeks’ running costs down the pan and now they want to ration our use of the system, possibly asking us to book a slot in which to travel.

    The tube already costs too much without fare increases and the congestion charge is just a tax on movement. HM Government wants us to get to work and pay our taxes, reduce the cost to do so.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:24 am | Permalink

      Thumbs up for the freedom pass only being operable outside rush hour and children only getting free buses to and from school.

      Pensioners travelling during rush hour are generally working so should pay and children should walk for exercise. I would withdraw it in the future from children completely, it may encourage parents to send their kids to the local school rather than passing four or five on their free journey.

  18. Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Why does Shapps want less capacity for trains and buses? Won’t that add to overcrowding? It strikes me that subsidising public transport with adequate capacity is the way to go until passenger numbers can grow back to normal levels.

    Given that LT is not the only disaster created by khan when is the government planning to expel him from his vanity role?

  19. M Brandreth- Jones
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    It is obvious to the general public that if a virus is in the air (which it is as this is the way virus’s travel) that travelling in a confined space will cause the virus to land on its passengers.
    The problem is the absolute focus on washing hands as the only protection. This was a mistake from the beginning . Of course once corona virus settles on a person it is transmitted by touch etc , but the story of the virus should have been told from the beginning of transmission .

    • M Brandreth- Jones
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      I better add to this afore a competitor jumps on it. There are also other ways of original transmission for example; water born infections and transmission .

      • M Brandreth- Jones
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

        Just watched horizon and what they omitted to tell us is concerned with antibodies. The team made it clear that it is an animal to human virus , however I would like to know the immune status of the animals it has jumped from. Are they so immune that the virus needed different hosts ?and if this is so what is being done to look at the animals sera.

  20. Andy
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    A disingenuous assessment.

    Mr Khan does not have tax raising powers. TFL is largely funded by fare-payers revenues but does get a top up from the government. When most fare-payers stayed at home – as advised by government – of course revenues collapsed.

    But there remained fixed costs and the need to run some services. Any mayor would have required a bailout.

    • NickC
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

      Andy, If we have lost 35% of our GDP, then 65% of UK GDP is still being generated. Many of that 65% are essential workers – water, sewage, electricity, gas, etc – needing transport. Which Mayor Khan closed down. Causing overcrowding. And preventing social distancing. With only a limited job to do, he has bungled it from start to finish.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted May 20, 2020 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      Many of the variable costs (staff) continued to be paid despite the fact that staff were not working. Furloughing staff and not topping up to the £60K per annum a driver gets would have saved a fortune.

  21. Anonymous
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    I take it that state school teachers won’t be using shops then. Their job is about a third less risky than being a shop assistant as regards CV-19.

    If you can’t do then teach.

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      I should rephrase that. A teachers job is between a quarter an a third of the risk of a shop assistant’s.

  22. Andy
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Yesterday Tory MPs voted to take away free movement.

    They did this while pretending to be open ‘to the world’.

    Actually it was a big ‘up yours’ to the main EU citizens who have made their lives here.

    Worse it was a removal of rights from 66 million Britons. Now the only people in Western Europe who are stuck in their own country. A right stolen by old people.

    Meanwhile at the same time Tories are still whining about the little boats coming over the Channel. Some seem to think this is what free movement means.

    The will never admit what the assault on free movement is really about. They are too cowardly. But we do know that white, Christians from Europe are not the immigrants they mostly object to.

    • NickC
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      Andy, Yesterday Tory MPs voted to restore the right of the people of this country to decide who comes here, and how many. It was, after all, one of the main themes of the Referendum campaign.

      I see you are still whining about the little boats coming over the Channel. Why are they so keen to escape your EU paradise, do you think? And you have frequently been told that “old people” (65+) constituted only about 16% of those who voted Leave – the heroes who have helped us regain our independence.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted May 20, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      I started to respond to this but then decided against it.

      You do not get it Andy and never will so there is no point debating with you

    • Fred H
      Posted May 20, 2020 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      The EU citizens here can stay. If they wish they can return to their homeland.
      The problem is what exactly?

  23. Adam
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    London has become too large and dense. Congestion is caused by too many people living too close together with attractions pulling them across each other’s path. The present Mayor appears misguided and incompetent. The office is unworthy.

    Local authority should be vested within each local Council. Having a London Mayor creates unwanted nuisances like the EU does in Europe. Major issues in London can be sorted out by the Councils in team with the UK Govt, supported and disciplined in common sense by the electorates that select both of them.

  24. majorfrustration
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    So why does Parliament let this idiot get away with it?

  25. Ian Wilson
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Can anyone please explain to a simple mind what benefits these mayors provide?

    • Mark B
      Posted May 20, 2020 at 4:28 am | Permalink

      To the likes of you and me, none ! To all those on the political gravy train, a cushy job and retirement prospects. I mean. Look at all those failed politicians that get these non-jobs ?

  26. Lifelogic
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Indeed perfectly safe and cleaned with “hospital grade” cleaners Khan said. Plus he is now charging motorists a fortune everyday in motorist mugging taxes to deter them from going to work.

  27. turboterrier
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    I decided sometime ago not to join in with making comments on this site, just treat it as read only. But something crops up as always that needs to be vented. Sadly off topic.

    If the news reports are anywhere near the mark regarding patients being released to care homes and not being properly tested and the subsequent baying of the press with possible cries of Criminal Negligence, then the party is over for this government

    The vast majority of this country backed them with their plans despite the planes still landing, trains running and passengers debarking. We all have a degree in hindsight but a full lockdown should have placed upon the country from day one. Nothing in, nothing out. Identify, isolate and exterminate the virus and maybe this extended painful experience would have been sorted in weeks not months. Heads will have to roll as full responsibility and a accountability will be demanded from the British public.

    One can only wonder and be afraid of what we will get out of this when and if the dust settles. Mind blowing incompetence of mammoth proportions.

    • rose
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

      How suggestible you are. Nursing homes are under the regulation of councils, not the Government, and when people are discharged back to them from hospital it is a clinical decision, not a Government one. Two thirds of nursing homes have not had the Wuhan virus. The ones which have, most likely got it from nurses and other workers going in and out, as is the case in the rest of Western Europe. Half of Sweden’s Wuhan virus deaths are in nursing homes, and greater proportions than that elsewhere. Do you want all those governments to fall on that account?

      How could you have had a full curfew and shut the borders from what you call day one? Do you mean in October, November, December, when people first got the symptoms? Or do you mean in January when people first got them officially, with hindsight? Or do you mean when the WHO first declared a pandemic, having told us in late January that the Wuhan virus could not be transmitted from human to human? As late as February they were also telling us not to shut the borders. Would you have shut the borders and barred entry to the 3 million Britons abroad? One and a half million have come back now, mostly on commercial flights, and were told to isolate themselves at home. With the rest of us at home, how could we have caught anything from them? Or they from us? By that time the virus had seeded itself here. Now it may be coming down to very low figures by next month, it makes sense to quarantine air passengers again, as was done at the beginning when passengers were quarantined from Wuhan and Hubei, from South Korea, Iran, and Northern Italy.

      Do you know that we didn’t have a diagnostics industry like the Germans? In addition, our NHS and PHE are ideologically opposed to private enterprise and wouldn’t countenance using private labs. In desperation the Health Secretary set his much derided target, without which we would still have a capacity of just 2,000 a day. Whose heads do you want to roll for that? We are beginning to have the capacity now. When the Government came to power, we didn’t.

      You must surely realize that if the Health Secretary had suggested we change to the much lauded German health system – insurance based, localised, heavily interlaced with private enterprise, and topped up by the taxpayer – he would have been torn to pieces. Whose heads should roll for that sorry situation?

      It is not the job of the Health Secretary or the PM to administer the NHS – or private and council nursing homes. There are at least 26,000 managers for that and they have £170 billion a year to spend, including on procurement.

      We hear all the time from the media that there is to be an inquiry and the Government should own up to its mistakes. But it is not for the media to decide what are the mistakes. Some, like you, think the curfew should have been imposed much earlier and more tyrannically (Germany imposed hers five days before we did.); others think it should not have been imposed at all. Instead, the old and the susceptible should have been shielded. I think a very big mistake was to give the media “essential worker” status. They should have been under curfew like the rest of us. I would like an inquiry into the abuses by the media. They have shown themselves to be indeed, as Kipling put it, the harlots who exercise power without responsibility. Huge power, and they have done huge damage. Others would like an inquiry into how a scientist who had been shown so often to be wrong, was able to spook not only our government, but also the American government.

      • rose
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

        An important point to bear in mind when demanding heads roll, is that this majority Boris government is younger than the Wuhan virus.

        You would have to go back to the 13 years of majority Blair/Brown government to find a time when the necessary reforms could have been made and paid for, thanks to the good housekeeping of the previous Chief Secretary. But they blew the opportunity they had, as they did in so many other areas.

        • M Brandreth- Jones
          Posted May 23, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

          well said Rose

  28. The truth
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Mr Khan is not democratically elected.

  29. Free-rider
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    ” temporary suspension of free travel for under 18s” Why do under 18s ever get to travel for free? Generation never got free travel nor expected it nor indeed deserved it. We quite enjoyed cycling even when we had the money to do otherwise. It was “a laugh”
    Btw . We saw tiny pieces of England which most people never see. Some interesting. Kids get everywhere! Such adventures!

  30. Fred H
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    ‘The writer of the official government release ‘ ;- needs to work on the grammar, phrasing and message to be communicated. Grade awarded ‘C’ in the examination.

  31. The Auditor
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    The Tory Government is entirely responsible for what their man Mr Khan does in his unelected role as Mayor. No use blaming the government’s chosen employee ( without he presenting so much as a job application)
    Any misdirected money by employee Mr Khan should be refunded by a deduction of salary by MPs.
    MPs will pay a very heavy price indeed for this dictatorship of our people. They may as well get used to it by starting now.Pay up!

  32. Christine
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Why has TFL been allowed to subsidise their public transport using tax payers money? I have to wait until I’m 67 before getting a bus pass to use the substandard transport where I live but if I lived in London I’d qualify at 60 and have free access to a buses, trains and tube. My children had to pay full fares from age 14. It’s right these perks should be cancelled. They should never have been there in the first place. The same applies to all the perks Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland receive. The suspension of these perks shouldn’t be temporary, they should be permanent. I’m sick of living like a second class citizen in my own country whilst our Government give away my hard earned money.

  33. acorn
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Transport for London (TfL) to use the correct term, is an Executive Agency under the Greater London Authority Act 1999. If Thatcher was still around it would have been privatised by now. Perhaps that is what you’ve got in mind?

    • NickC
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      Acorn, Thatcher didn’t privatise enough.

  34. Alan Jutson
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Perhaps if Mr Khan spent less money on self promotion and more on things that really matter, things may improve.

    He is simply an awful advert for London.

  35. zorro
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    As you quote, the press release shows all you need to know about government competence!

    zorro

  36. Posted May 19, 2020 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    A new lockdown in part of China on 100 million people; what does the Communist party there know about this disease that we don’t? Flights from China to here should be stopped immediately. The government won’t do this of course, so my further question is what does the Chinese Communist party know about the members of our government and civil service?

    • Otto
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      ‘….what does the Chinese Communist party know about the members of our government and civil service?’

      What everyone here knows – incompetent – no secret.

    • Posted May 19, 2020 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      On my way to buy food this afternoon through the still almost deserted streets, I walked around the corner of a church in a churchyard slap bang almost into the path of a tourist from the Far East.

    • forthurst
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      According to the SCMP, there is a lockdown of Shulin city in Jilin province, population 700k, because of a new cluster of 45 cases whose infections have been traces so far to a police laundry lady. The Vice -President who sorted out Wuhan has been sent there and as with Wuhan has done a clearout of local officials who have failed to act decisively or in a timely fashion. Dear, dear; what would she have done to the Tory government?

  37. Caterpillar
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    off topic:

    we hear growing signals from the BoE that it intends to buy more risky assets and drop interest rates below zero. In other words it wishes to protect zombie companies again (they needed to fold a decade ago they need to fold now, the economy needs to adjust) and continue to stick the knife into those who have tried to be self reliant and tried to prepare for a rainy day. The nastiness that the BoE brings on decent but not wealthy people’s lives in order to help the wealthy and reckless is tantamount to murder – what is the point in people trying to live, trying to plan when Haldane advises keeping people down.

    The BoE has got the country stuck in a loop where investors seek returns ballooning the BBB credit market, keeping zombies alive so the economy does not adjust. And now it seeks to push this stupidity even further by buying risky assets to keep the zombies alive for longer, create more zombies and encourage more ballooning. It has been dumb for a decade (for the majority of the country not the few) and it is beyond dumb now. The Govt needs to take back control and stop this (and its own) stupidity. The cure to the zero lower bound is not to go below it, it is to move firmly above it, admit the problem is not monetary and let the economy readjust – which in the current situation needs the PM to come out and admit the Govt did too much too soon in its response to CV19, switch off all of the lockdown immediately (and perhaps other supply side constraints which at other times I would support) and get back to work. It will mean sacking Hancock and Sunak, it will mean giving No11 its freedom back. Haldane’s apparent plan of further depreciation of the GBP needs to be publicly slapped down by Bailey – following a route to a poverty UK without its own worthwhile currency needs to be stopped immediately.

    I mean all of the above positively and with hope. If the Govt sets the people free, and the Govt and BoE let the economy respond rather than locking the zombies in then I believe the UK can flourish, but the path that is being followed now needs to be left immediately.

  38. glren cullen
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Have we really just employed 21,000 covid-19 contact tracers

    I thought the app was fully automated i.e when you have the symptoms you tell your app, that then alerts everyone who has been within Bluetooth range of you so that they can ‘be alert’, and that it could be mapped

    Whats the budget for employing these 21,000 and what do they do ?

  39. DavidJ
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    London and our country need rid of Khan and others who demonstrate their total incompetence on a regular basis. We need some way to assess the competence of candidates for such posts to avoid such problems in the first place and an end to the Political Correctness which has favoured them.

  40. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    The lesson for central Government is that it is going to have to subsidise public transport heavily in order to get people back to work over the next few months. Public transport will need to operate 16-hour days with no more than 20% occupancy on weekdays. To finance this, furlough payments must be tapered off, starting on 1st July. It’s a mixture of carrot and stick needed to minimise fiscal incontinence.

    We are not “all in this together”. So far the private sector has taken all the hit. But Sir John and others must answer these questions:
    MPs have reduced effectiveness; have they taken a salary cut?
    Judges are not presiding over trials by jury; have they taken a salary cut?
    Have any teachers been furloughed? There is less teaching going on.
    Has the Heathrow runway project been deferred for several years?
    Or HS2?
    Does Network Rail need so many employees during lockdown? Have any been furloughed?
    Are Civil Servants, e.g. in regulatory bodies, fully employed?

    Sir John can say that a Labour Government would be worse. But the Conservatives are in power and we would expect a Conservative Government to behave like Conservatives. As things are going, our choice at the next election will be between a Conservative Government spending money like water but not raising taxes and a Labour Government that spends money like water and does raise taxes. Neither will get my vote. I want a Government that doesn’t spend money like water. It may be that only the Brexit Party fits the bill; we will see when the time comes.

  41. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Now the Government has changed to lumping all cases and deaths together (i.e. not just focussing on hospital statistics). My source for the day-to-day data is Wikipedia (although not the original source). All I have done is to form 7-day moving averages in a spreadsheet and graph them. For those not of mathematical bend, a 7-day moving average is formed by adding to the value for a particular day the values for the 3 days before and the 3 days after, then dividing by 7.

    Summary:

    The number of cases roughly plateaued at over 5000 throughout April, the moving average value for 3rd May being 5126. The latest moving average value is 3275, so down by a third.

    The number of deaths peaked on 11th April with a moving average value of 943. (This is later than the peak for hospital deaths alone because the peak for care home deaths came later). The latest moving average value is 368, so down by 60%.

    7-day moving averages get rid of ‘noise’ in the data and the weekend effect.

  42. rose
    Posted May 19, 2020 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    How the chickens have come home to roost since Blair and Brown’s reckless policy of increasing the population.

  43. Nicholas Wood
    Posted May 20, 2020 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Given that we’re being discouraged from using public transport for the time being, isn’t his proposal to increase the congestion charge counter intuitive? Surely there should be a temporary suspension, or reduction, thereof.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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