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Goodies From Ken

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Goodies from Ken

We came home from our Easter break to find that the offspring had taken delivery of a sturdy parcel from the Mayor of London, addressed to me personally. “DIY Planet Repairs” it says on the box, “Will you help with the repairs?”. Inside, there’s a collection of prezzies from Mayor Ken himself:

  • A china mug with the slogan “Only boil enough water for the cups you’re making”
  • A “DIY Planet Repairs” button badge
  • A handy four-minute shower timer
  • A window sticker
  • A set of labels to stick on your appliances, saying “switch off”, “turn down”, “unplug”, “wash low”
  • A leaflet for a £49 loft insulation offer from British Gas
  • Last but definitely not least, a booklet of energy saving hints of tips. There’s actually some quite useful information in this (he said grudgingly).

There was no covering letter with this bundle, so I can’t be sure why I received it. I certainly don’t remember asking for it. It was addressed to me personally, so I may have got myself on some mailing list at london.gov.uk.

Whatever the reason, I’m sure there must be thousands of other people who received the same mailing. Someone has spent a lot of money and energy on getting this lot sent out. I applaud the message, of course we need to save energy and water, but there’s no information that isn’t freely available in many other places. I can’t help feeling that the timing, a month before the mayoral election, is either clumsy or cynical or both, and may backfire.

I like Ken Livingstone, and I’ll vote for him once again in May, but I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate for a moment. Is it really the Mayor of London’s job to lecture his ‘constituents’ on environmental matters? There’s a fine line between policies that directly affect the welfare of Londoners, and using the power of the Mayor’s office to promote his own pet projects. Coming so soon before the election, freebies like this can only be seen as a campaign stunt using public funds, providing ammunition for the opposition. This would be a shame, because I don’t see either of the other two major candidates (sorry, Green Party) showing any desire to make a platform on environmental issues. For that reason alone, it’s vital that Ken Livingstone gets re-elected, and I hope this little parcel doesn’t work against him.

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Written by Pete Smith

April 15, 2008 at 11:44 am

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