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Arguments for socialism :: Planning
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Mayor of London Sadiq Khan recently released his 'Mayor's Transport Strategy' for public consultation.
His foreword opens: "Transport is a cornerstone of my vision for a fairer, greener, healthier and more prosperous city." He wants "a city where transport is affordable, reliable and accessible for Londoners." But can we trust billionaire-loving, Corbyn-undermining, Mayor Khan to achieve this?
The strategy document is filled with pictures of people strolling and cycling down wide, well-kept leafy streets, with lots of sunshine.
There aren't many cars in most of the pictures, but 36% of trips in London are currently by car. By 2041 he wants this to be 20%. This is long-term vision. One aim is for 2050. In fact, step free access to all tube and rail stations isn't scheduled even by then!
Khan hopes to replace car journeys with bus, cycle and walking trips. This extra exercise, together with a cleaner environment and lower road speeds will improve everybody's health. The aim is to stop all road deaths and serious injuries by 2041.
Socialists are very much in favour of a vision for the future of the capital, including a clear transport strategy. But Khan's "vision" is not based in reality and has no prospect of becoming a practical plan.
Over the last decade British governments (including Gordon Brown's, when Khan was briefly transport minister), have imposed savage austerity cuts on our public services because they decided to bail out the failing banks and capitalist financial system. Even London is now being hit, with big cuts in government subsidies to public transport and transport price hikes.
Working people find it increasingly difficult to remain in London largely because of high house prices and rents.
Jeremy Corbyn's manifesto pledged to renationalise rail (as the franchises expire). Khan doesn't even have this limited plan.
Although a Labour mayor, Khan pledges to be "the most business-friendly" mayor yet and condemned tube workers' strike action against ticket office closures and cuts in station staff levels as "completely unnecessary".
It is impossible to balance the idea of long-term planning for the benefit of all with the narrow interests of big business, where decisions are made by companies to maximise private profit.
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Article dated 5 July 2017
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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