Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Jolt for Labour as London Voters Reject Tube PPP

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Jolt for Labour as London Voters Reject Tube PPP

Article excerpt

Byline: PATRICK HENNESSY

LABOUR is given an unpleasant pre-election jolt today as London voters deliver a resounding thumbs-down to its plans for a part-privatisation of the Underground.

More than twice as many electors support Mayor Ken Livingstone's court move to try to block the government's PPP scheme as those who oppose it, according to an ICM poll.

Among Labour voters, support for Mr Livingstone and his attempt to keep the Tube in the public sector is even higher.

The survey, for the Evening Standard, finds that 51 per cent of voters feel the Mayor has handled the bitter dispute with ministers well. Again, Labour voters give him a higher approval rating of 63 per cent.

By contrast, only about a quarter of the poll's 1,500 respondents approve of the way John Prescott, in particular, and Gordon Brown have acted. Some 53 per cent of voters say the Deputy Prime Minister has performed badly, while 45 per cent give a negative rating to the Chancellor.

The poll is the first concrete evidence of the continuing unpopularity of the PPP since the patched-together "deal" earlier this month which saw transport commissioner Bob Kiley effectively take over control of London Transport.

However, Labour strategists will seize on the fact that public discontent has not yet started to turn into a vote loser. Results from the same poll published in last night's Standard showed Tony Blair is set for a huge win in the capital with a lead of 20 percentage points over the Tories.

Today's findings show that Londoners are more likely to blame the last Conservative government for problems in public services - schools, hospitals and transport - than Mr Blair's administration.

Only on the issue of policing does Labour get a higher negative rating.

Today Mr Blair is stepping up his attack on the Tories with a speech aiming to hammer home the message that Labour has become the natural party of business. …

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