There’s a tendency among the less serious and credible mayoral hopefuls to litter their policy pledges with initiatives that are far outside the mayor’s powers and, often, would require time consuming primary legislation for them to deliver.
We don’t yet know the entirety of Thomas’s offer to Londoners but we do know at least one of his flagship ideas.
Last December he wrote that “Londoners need to be given more control over TfL,” adding “Surely it is time that Londoners were allowed some power to shape what TfL does, affect the decisions it makes and have a voice when its spending and fares plans are put together.”
He made similar comments to the Evening Standard which today reports:
“The MP, chairman of the Co-operative party, suggested that commuters could be given more power to hold Transport for London management to account, possibly through greater representation on the board.”
And the Guardian quotes him as describing TfL as “London’s biggest and arguably least accountable quango”
When Boris defeated Ken in 2008, TfL moved fast to enable him to claim victory in delivering his (much flouted) booze ban.
But unlike the incumbent Mayor who had to wait six days to deliver his pledge, Mayor Thomas would meet his the very second he took office because, and this seems to have escaped his notice, the Mayor not only chairs TfL but appoints its entire board.
He also has the power to ‘direct’ TfL to take any action he wants.
Since the mayoralty came into existence there’s never been a board meeting where the views and needs of Londoners weren’t represented around the table and, because they have to be signed off by the board, when big ticket spending decisions are made.
And of course it’s not TfL who decides the fares policy, but the mayor who, as we know, answers to all Londoners.
It’s hard to see how seating a couple of (extra) Londoners around the board table would improve on the mayor’s direct democratic accountability but no doubt we’ll hear more on this in the coming weeks.