A black hole so large gravitational waves have been detected

17 February 2016, Blog

Labour’s candidate for the London mayoralty has received constant criticism over the past few weeks for his plans to freeze tube fares in cash terms for the next four years. Sadiq Khan’s team claim this will cost just £450 million over the four years, but TfL’s analysis claims they’re out by almost a factor of four, and his proposal will actually cost £1.9 billion instead. Zac Goldsmith has labelled this discrepancy as Sadiq Khan’s ‘black hole’, a term repeated by many Conservative figures including the current Mayor Boris Johnson.

So far Khan’s tactic to defend his key transport policy has been one of denial, claiming that the £1.9bn claim is “nonsense” and doesn’t come from TfL at all, accusing journalists of misleading the public and telling them “I am correcting you”.

In response to media inquiries, TfL has responded very clearly: “A four year fares freeze … would reduce our income by £1.9bn over the course of our Business Plan to 2020/21.”

The Conservatives are painting a worst case scenario for the public, with Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin saying central government won’t pick up the tab, “If Khan becomes mayor and fails to balance the books, it will be Londoners who pay the price for Khan’s policies.” CCHQ has even claimed that plugging Khan’s back hole may result in council tax increases of 59% for ‘typical’ households.

Sadiq and his team are trying to start a debate which would chime with a lot of Londoners: fare increases hit commuters’ pockets hard. By letting the facts get muddled however, they have managed to turn a matter close to voters’ hearts, and one about social equality, into an argument about Khan’s own honesty and credibility.

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