By this point in the 2012 Mayoral contest Ken Livingstone had harnessed up his party’s London Assembly members and was using them to glean information through Mayor’s Question Time and members’ correspondence which he could then use to inform his campaign.
Tory AMs did the same for Boris who couldn’t order City Hall staff to compile or create data for political purposes but is obliged to provide it for any AM who asks a question.
But it seems this time around there’s a bit of a gap between Sadiq Khan and the AMs, with several telling me in recent weeks that they’ve had little direct contact with the would-be Mayor and others lamenting a lack of co-ordination between his camp and their offices.
Today brings us a good illustration of this second gripe.
With Boris announcing an increase in the hourly London Living Wage rate and a further boost in the number of employers paying it, the proximity of the election meant it was inevitable opposition politicians would rush to denounce his efforts as ‘not good enough’.
But in their haste to criticise the Mayor it seems two Labour spokespeople forgot to cross-check their statements and their facts.
Labour’s London Assembly Economic Spokesperson, Fiona Twycross AM, has issued the following statement:
“Whilst this rise is welcome the real tragedy is that over 900,000 Londoners now earn below the London Living Wage, that’s almost one in five of the capital’s workforce and significantly more than when Boris Johnson came to power.
“Low paid Londoners need a Mayor who will do far more to get businesses signed up to pay the London Living Wage. Without real action to get business fully signed up, hard-working families in the capital will continue to earn a wage which keeps them in poverty.”
Yet Sadiq’s campaign have released a statement claiming:
“Nearly 700,000 London workers are paid less than the London Living Wage, and 1.2 million Londoners in poverty are part of a working family.”
So two politicians from the same party are citing figures which contradict each other by more than 200,000.
The discrepancy comes because Khan has sourced his number from the Trust for London’s latest Poverty Profile while Twycross’s higher, and therefore politically more useful, number comes from Boris himself.
That of course is the figure Sadiq should have been waving around because it has Boris’s fingerprints all over it. Instead he’s managed to claim the incumbent Mayor been more successful than his own official figures suggest.
Some better co-ordination between Labour’s AMs and their Mayoral candidate is going to be essential in the months ahead and the new boy might do well to occasionally bow to his colleagues’ greater knowledge on some of the key campaign themes.