Labour MPs and officials are seeking to exploit a gaffe by Boris Johnson’s campaign team which led to them releasing a statement of endorsement criticising Johnson’s own plans to replace bendy buses and describing extending the Freedom Pass as a “mad idea”.
Yesterday Mr johnson’s campaign circulated a personal statement (PDF) by London TravelWatch Chairman Brian Coke which contained a series of detailed criticisms of Livingstone’s approach to transport policy.
Less widely spotted was that the statement also undermined Mr Johnson’s protests that Labour were misleading voters by saying he posed a threat to the Freedom Pass.
Earlier this week Mr Johnson accused Labour of playing “dirty tricks” which “play on the most vulnerable in our society” promising to “support the London Boroughs who give free travel to the over 60’s. I will work with them to extend it to operate 24 hours a day.”
However that policy – shared by Mr Livingstone – was dismissed by Mr Cooke as a “mad idea” which would “make transport system even more crowded and more uncomfortable for those that will be paying to subsidise the others.”
Labour MP Karen Buck said “Boris Johnson’s total incompetence has again been exposed in a major self-inflicted gaffe.”
The gaffe came on the same day that Mr Livingstone launched a poster designed to portray Johnson as too inexperienced to manage London’s transport system.
This is not the first time Cooke’s backing for Johnson has caused problems. In February Mr Cooke withdrew from appearing at the launch of Johnson’s transport manifesto after TravelWatch were questioned about his appearance at a party political event.