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The Tories Have Cut Your Standard of Living - Labour Needs to Improve It

08/09/2015 17:24 BST | Updated 08/09/2016 10:12 BST

The majority of people of have seen their living standards fall under the Tories. Labour needs to offer policies that will raise living standards for the majority. It's the right thing to do and the popular thing. Jeremy Corbyn's plan to replace austerity with investment-led growth is right- and is the main basis for the fantastic surge in his popularity.

I share Jeremy's determination to improve living standards. In London, one of the few direct levers the mayor has is the power to set fares. Boris Johnson has raised fares astronomically and Londoners now face some of the highest fares in the world. Zac Goldsmith is another Tory cut from the same cloth as Boris Johnson - a right-winger posing as a maverick.

Like Boris Johnson, Goldsmith argues against cutting fares. Labour needs a mayor who offers a clear alternative. Against austerity supporters we need to be consistently anti-austerity, to improve the economy and to raise living standards and make people better off.

My plan is to cut fares by 5% if I am mayor and freeze them for the entire four-year mayoral term. Londoners would be about 10% to 15% better off assuming a low level of inflation over four years.

A clear alternative

Goldsmith claims, just as Boris Johnson has done, that all the money is needed for investment. London needs a world class transport system and it needs affordable fares. The Tories have failed to deliver either. In the latest financial year, Transport for London had a surplus compared to budget of £760million, almost 20% of total fares revenue. Fares cuts are affordable.

But these repeated surpluses have not been going towards funding increased investment. Instead 'usable reserves' have risen by £2.3 billion in the two years to 2014 as these surpluses accumulate. Typically, what then happens is that the Tory government sees the reserves and in every new funding round slashes the financial support it provides to the transport system. This is why the transport network is creaking.

All public transport systems need financial support. In London the extortionate fares are simply helping out an austerity government. This is what the current Tory mayor has done and what Goldsmith intends to continue.

But Labour has to offer a credible alternative to win. Labour's candidate cannot say she or he is anti-austerity and will cut fares if they have a track record of supporting other austerity measures, such as cuts to welfare. The danger would be that Goldsmith or anyone else makes mincemeat of them. A Tory candidate trying to cover their own hypocrisy on investment will claim that anyone who has voted to cap welfare or supported other cuts is a hypocrite, not really interested in living standards at all.

I am the only candidate for Labour who has been consistently anti-austerity. This is the right thing and the popular thing. My plans will benefit the majority of Londoners. My policies such as restoring free school meals in primary schools will benefit outer London boroughs the most. This is how Labour can win back London.

Diane Abbott is the Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, and is seeking nomination to be Labour's London Mayoral candidate in 2016