10.4.08

Has Hugo Chavez thrown a lifeline to Ken Livingstone?

10.04.08 | There are so many reasons why Londoners should boot Livingstone out of City Hall that is hard to enumerate all of them. In my opinion, near the top of relevance list, is Livingstone's cuddling of Venezuela's petro-caudillo Hugo Chavez, a failed coupster soon to be declared supporter of a terrorist organization by INTERPOL. Mind you, one key element in Livingstone's bid to win London's mayoral race is meant to be the environment. It does not bother him in the slightest, nor does it alert his daft opponents, that his militaristic chummy has pledged to build a 8,047 kilometers oil pipeline, through South American wilderness, from Caracas to Buenos Aires, which will destroy thousands of acres of rain forest. Neither does it trouble the communist mayor that Hugo Chavez heads one of the world's biggest, most polluting oil companies.

In February last year PDVSA and GLA officials signed an oil deal. Livingstone's propaganda arm reported "The historic deal means London's bus fleet will use subsidized oil from Venezuela - leading to a massive 20 per cent reduction in the price of fuel." This is a blatant and demonstrable lie, for Venezuela is not providing subsidized oil to London's bus fleet (TfL), but rather it pays TfL, in cash, a 20% 'subsidy' of oil expenditure incurred by its contractors. Alas Chavez's charity gets Venezuela absolutely nothing; GLA and TfL officials can't even explain coherently what it is expected of them in return, though they praise Chavez's fake achievements with total conviction. Livingstone's publication also lies about the total number of beneficiaries of the programme. The pdf linked is worth a read, for it shows how those in charge of implementing the programme have, in the words of Tony Arbour, discriminated against poor Londoners: "the Mayor is distinguishing, as they did in Victorian times, between the deserving poor and the undeserving poor. You have made it quite clear in the way that this money is being allocated that people who are on Jobseeker's Allowances are undeserving but people who are not looking for work are deserving."

Livingstone however, in his desperate bid to cling to power at any cost, has pledged today that "he will seek to use £14m of funding provided by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to subsidize public transport for failed asylum seekers." Does this new announcement means that a consultation process has been held with either Hugo Chavez or his cronies? If so, how come British and Venezuelan media have failed to report it? Who gave Livingstone the right to use Venezuelan money for political gains?

Londoners should note that despite the political capital that could be obtained, Livingstone failed to register his directorship of the Venezuela Information Centre, a propaganda outlet operated by GLA staff in City Hall, which is, presumably, oil deal's quid pro quo.