Monday, August 21, 2006

Jeremy Clarkson for Mayor of London

Jeremy Clarkson, the world's funniest car journalist has written in The Times about what he would do if he were elected Mayor of London. He wouldn't be perfect, but since he has, half jokingly, declared what his manifesto would be, I am not in disagreement with the fundamental end objective- abolishing the Greater London Authority.
The functions of that entity either do not need to be performed (planning or the Greater London Development Agency) or can be performed by others (Metropolitan Police Authority could be administered by the boroughs, Fire Brigade could be privatised, London's arterial road network can be corporatised and then privatised).
Abolishing the GLA would save over £60 million a year at least, and its transport functions can be transferred elsewhere (the tube and buses could all be commercially viable if stupid policies like free buses for under 16yos were abolished).
Clarkson would get rid of the personality cult mayoralty of Livingstone, not welcome dictators like Hugo Chavez at our expense and stop nannying about with nonsense ideas like registering all bicycles. He'd get rid of bus lanes, whereas I'd just keep them if the bus companies were willing to pay for them, or make them toll lanes anyone could use, at a price.
However, it's a start - a Mayor that would abolish the office of Mayor. What more could one ask for?


Anonymous said...

Oh not Jeremy Clarkson! Slightly to the right of Ghengis Khan politically, it is no surprise that he wants to shut down dissenting voices.

However, as usual the right forgets that most people don't want to drive in London, and can't afford to either (high cost of parking, insurance, fuel, car repairs and the lack of parking in residential areas.) The Right also ignores the fact that most of the wealthy people in the City go to great lengths to avoid paying tax, and that charges like the congestion charge are one of the only ways to get them to actually contribute to the society they get so much out of. But a £50 a day congestion charge would certainly require more buses and trains, which would require funding somehow. Otherwise people would not be able to get to work, and London would suffer.

As for cyclists, they need to obey road rules like everyone else- there should be cycle police to stop the buggers running red lights into pedestrians. Banning them is just silly!

While there is certainly bureaucracy galore in this country, a city the size of London does need some overarching authority- the local councils are not coherent enough, and the central government is run by the Scots and not focussed on the long term interests of the city.

As for the privatisation of everything in sight, they tried this in the 80s and it didn't work then. Do you really believe it would magically be free of the usual endemic corruption, nepotism and profiteering?

Every time an essential service is privatized, the result is the same- far worse service, much higher prices, and the total failure of long term planning. This is often followed by a spectacular collapse and government bailout, while a select few consultants and shareholders walk away with vast sums.

Agree totally with Clarkson about the bendy buses though, they suck!

Libertyscott said...

Council tax is hard to avoid, as is VAT, I think you'll find wealthy people pay quite a bit. The congestion charge needs to be updated and made more flexible. Many DO want to drive, as car ownership continues to increase - it just should be expensive to use precious road space.

The GLA doesn't run anything, the buses are privately run and the tube is getting more investment via the PPP than it ever did for decades of public ownership.

The "essential service" argument ignores the essential provision of food, clothing and housing, which seems to occur very well without any state involvement - the situation you describe is rare, and typically due to the way something is privatised and the poor investment in the past. BR ran down the rail network for decades - same thing happened in NZ in the 80s, with no pre-stressing of track.

Anonymous said...

VAT is a regressive tax - which means it typically consumes a larger proportion of a poorer person's income than a richer person's. This is because poorer people necessarily must spend a greater proportion of their income on day to day living.

Richer folks tend to be able to afford accountants and off-shore bank accounts.

Liberty, I'd have hoped you'd learned from Rogernomics that the idealism of extreme right-wing economics is as every bit as foolish as that of the extreme left.

Libertyscott said...

I don't like VAT either, it is an invisible tax that fleeces people with them having little incentive to oppose it.

Anonymous, if you want to debate economics, feel free, but it isn't just about idealism. It is about letting people make their own decisions about their own money, I simply think that is moral.