Among Sadiq Khan’s extensive range of dubious taxpayer-funded spending sprees as Mayor of London is ‘Talk London’, which is informatively described on his official website as:
“an inclusive, vibrant online community that supports City Hall to involve Londoners in meaningful debate and consultation about how to improve the capital.”
Despite Sadiq throwing almost a quarter of a million pounds at the project, it’s still not clear what it actually does, although it does claim to have 45,662 “community members” and also carries out surveys on its members, with over 20,000 responses reportedly submitted so far.
One such survey which Talk London seems particularly keen for its members to take is the ‘Talk London Budget Challenge’ – so much so that they appeared to email their entire mailing list last month encouraging them to take it. Guido decided to take the challenge for himself, after being forced to sign up as a “member” first…
Question 1 looks pretty innocuous, asking the reader to guess what the Mayor’s sources of funding are (no lottery funding or parking tickets). But it soon becomes clear that the ‘Budget Challenge’ is less of a “survey” and more of a propaganda exercise to promote Sadiq’s own policies…
Take Question 2, which is ostensibly about the cost of new police officers, but actually becomes an excuse for Sadiq to blame someone else once you click on your answer:
Question 3 looks like it’s about the new ‘hopper fare’… except it’s actually an excuse for Sadiq to repeat his manifesto claim that he’s frozen TfL fares until 2020 (he hasn’t). Has he remembered to include his £2 billion Crossrail bailout in his funding figures?
The next question is one that no doubt keeps many Guido readers awake at night: “What percentage of London’s jobs are in the creative sector?” Pick your answer (it’s 17%) and get rewarded with the fascinating information that “The Mayor is funding ten Creative Enterprise Zones across London to support creative and cultural jobs, and develop talent for the future”. Good to know!
Question 5 takes a more agricultural turn: “How much of London is covered by trees?” It turns out it’s 21%, and what’s more: “The Mayor has committed £5 million during this term to support tree planting and new woodlands”. Great news!
Funnily enough, the survey mysteriously fails to mention Sadiq’s much-publicised manifesto pledge to actually plant a whole two million new trees by 2020. Sadiq hoping Londoners won’t see the wood for the trees he never planted…
The rest of the quiz carries on with this classic bait-and-switch technique, asking a largely spurious question about some aspect of City Hall spending in order to rope in another factoid about all the great work “The Mayor” is doing. Just one question seemed to be missing from the survey: what is “The Mayor” doing blowing £240,000 of taxpayers’ money on a propaganda service for himself?