ORLY? From the Institute of Directors talk Boris gave this morning (tough audience, as usual):
It’s not just ‘not quite true’, it’s a lie – Crossrail’s own website shows why this is another example of the arrogant belief that Boris is entitled to his own facts, figures and historical record:
The 1974 London Rail Study is where Crossrail, at least as we know it today, was arguably born. A northern tunnel would join British Rail’s Western Region lines west of Paddington to the Eastern Region lines east of Bethnal Green. There would be new stations at Paddington, Marble Arch, Bond Street, Leicester Square, Holborn and Liverpool Street. A southern tunnel would connect the Southern Region’s Central Division services via stations at Victoria, Piccadilly, Leicester Square, Blackfriars, Monument and London Bridge.
That’s as old as me, basically. Boris was aged 10 or 11 at the time. It remained on the drawing board through most of the Thatcher government’s criminal neglect of London infrastructure until the turning point year of 1989 when they finally gave up on new road schemes in favour of rail:
The Government therefore commissioned and published the Central London Rail Study in 1989 – a report which took many of the schemes highlighted in the 1974 study and developed them into more concrete schemes: East-West Crossrail, a line from Wimbledon to Hackney via Chelsea (now safeguarded as Crossrail 2) and Thameslink. In addition to all this, the Jubilee line Extension was proposed in the East London Rail Study published a few months later.
The early 90s recession put paid to that one (although if there’d actually been a London government at the time I’m certain it would have gone ahead). As it was:
Behind the scenes, however, momentum was now building. A small team within London Underground continued to manage the safeguarding, and worked with developers to ensure the project could proceed if it was resurrected.
It was effort well spent, for in July 2000 the Labour Government’s ten year transport plan, Transport 2010, once again asserted that an east-west rail link should go ahead. The Mayor’s Transport Strategy also prioritised the relief of overcrowding on London Underground.
What a lot of drawing boards. The actual Crossrail legislation was prepared and pushed through Parliament during 2006-2008 under the joint stewardship of Mayor Ken Livingstone and New Labour, this being while Boris was an MP so he must have known, surely? Actually it seems he only voted once on it, so it’s quite possible he wasn’t paying attention at the time and thereby missed that the following people have had Crossrail on their drawing boards at some time in the last 40 years:
- British Rail
- The Thatcher Government
- The Major Government
- The Blair Government
- The Strategic Rail Authority
- London Underground
- Transport for London
- Mayor Ken Livingstone
As usual, then, Boris ignores facts in favour of a narcissistic alternative reality in which only he makes decisions. The outrageous thing is how many people want to believe this, although credit where credit’s due, Andrew Clark (deputy business editor of The Times, no less) gives every indication of understanding the often fictitious nature of Boris’s public statements.
UPDATE: Thanks to Andrew Clark for confirming from the official script that this is indeed what was written rather than either an off the cuff misspeak or second hand misinterpretation. What the script says is:
“Crossrail – barely on the drawing board when I was elected, now a massive and incotrovertible fact”
A massive and incontrovertible Great Boris Lie.
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