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EDITIONS
Friday, 5 May, 2000, 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK
Livingstone - the cabbies' verdict
Too young to remember the GLC, but James Lawn says Livingstone is a "loose cannon"
Ken Livingstone's striking victory in London's mayoral election left no doubt as to who the public wants to run its city.

But what of the loyalties of London's taxi drivers? After all, the capital's cabbies are famed for being up front when there's something to be said.

And although every Londoner is entitled to their own opinion, it would be hard to find anyone who gets to see more of the city on a daily basis than a black cab driver.

In the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher was the toast of London's cab world, and some still share the Iron Lady's antipathy towards "Red Ken".
Malcolm Jones - it's a disaster

At the top of the agenda for taxi drivers is transport, but Mr Livingstone's pledge to get London moving was not necessarily welcomed.

Richard Bloor feared too much emphasis would be put on the Tube and buses while taxis would be left out in the cold.

"I'm very sceptical. I believe Ken to be too left-wing for me and I'm very concerned about the prospects for this trade in his hands."

He also balked at Mr Livingstone's reported hostility to big business, saying it "could be a serious problem".

Business question

"London depends on its business and the good business that arrives in London also helps this trade. In theory I think a mayor for London is a good idea, but in practice I'm not sure."

He urged the new mayor to cut the number of beggars on the streets, clean up litter and bring a halt to the current spate of roadworks.

Brian Spencer said cabbies suffered most of all from rising taxes on diesel.
Terry Richardson: Had I voted, it'd have been for Norris

"I hope he does not kill us stone dead. When Maggie Thatcher was in power we always had cheaper fuel than petrol," said Mr Spencer. But now, he said, the Conservatives had nothing to offer him.

"Against my better judgement I voted Susan Kramer [Liberal Democrat] even though I always voted Conservative in the past.

"When Ken Livingstone was at the GLC he was very detrimental to the taxi trade, as I think Steven Norris is for the Conservatives," said Mr Spencer.

Malcolm Jones from Harrow in Middlesex thought the return of "Red Ken" a disaster for London while Terry Richardson, from Bow, said he was willing to wait and see.

Mr Richardson said he hadn't voted on Thursday because of work pressures, but had he done so he would have backed Steven Norris. Yet he approved of Mr Livingstone's policy of bringing back bus conductors.
In theory the mayor is a good idea, says Richard Bloor, but not in practice

"It ain't a bad idea. It would stop the rowdy people - throw them off if they were playing up. It can't hurt can it?"

At 29, James Lawn was too young to remember the last time Mr Livingstone controlled London, as head of the GLC, but he had been warned by some of his passengers recently.

"At the end of the day I think he's a loose cannon," he said, perhaps mindful of Mr Livingstone's remarks that appeared to favour anti-capitalist campaigners.

"I want business to prosper in London because I earn my business out of the business."

Mr Lawn voted for Steven Norris but hoped his victorious rival would sort out London's transport nightmare.

Free-flow London

"If they can try and get more people on to buses it would be better in the long run. If they can get cars off the streets in central London the cabs can move about more freely and perhaps bring down the cost of taxi journeys."

All of which, he hoped, would eventually bring more trade the taxi driver's way.

Vince McGuire was a lone voice among those canvassed, expressing delight at the Livingstone victory.

"I think it will be a good thing. As long as he's got his act together, not like in the GLC when he went a bit loopy.

"I think he's an honest man with a bit of integrity and from a cab driver's point of view we need someone to sort the traffic out."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
London Cabbies
"I think he's a loose cannon, and that's worrying"
See also:

05 May 00 | UK Politics
05 May 00 | Business
05 May 00 | London Mayor
14 Mar 00 | Science/Nature
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