Even the cheapest and nastiest tabloids – and yes, Richard Desmond, yours might just be the name in the frame – seem able to churn over a PR or press piece without making a hash of the facts. Sadly, even this skill has evaded the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his tame gofer Henry Cole at the Guido Fawkes blog, the Laurel and Hardy of the blogosphere, today.
Plenty of press releases to choose from
The less than dynamic duo, in a shameless and fawning early pre-election broadcast for their favourite politician – that being occasional London mayor and regular collector of “chicken feed” from the Maily Telegraph Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson – have sung the praises of Bozza’s “New Bus For London”, but sticking to the facts has proved difficult to do.
“The last of the despised killer bendy-buses is off the streets” trumpets the Fawkes blog, seemingly unaware that those bendy-buses killed a total of zero Londoners, unlike Bozza’s policy towards cyclists, which Staines and Cole won’t be going near, not after the recent “cycle superhighway” deaths and the Tory AMs walking out yesterday so as not to have to talk about it.
Never mind, let’s see how the less than dynamic duo continue their PR whoring. “The first new Routemaster will be on the streets next week”. Oh dear. It isn’t a Routemaster. Bozza and his jolly good chums call it the “New Bus For London”, although the more grounded call it a vanity project with a deeply flawed design that no other city in Europe will be ordering any time soon.
But do go on: “according to the experts, most advanced bus in the world”. Laugh? I thought I’d never stop. What experts? It’s a hybrid drive double decker, the only significant difference from an off-the-shelf hybrid being that those cost £350k a time, whereas the BozzaMaster is coming in at over £11 million just for the first five. That, in plain English, is a ripping-off of London’s council tax payers.
Let’s cut to the facts, shall we? The BozzaMaster is more than nine feet longer than the original Routemaster, yet seats two fewer passengers (62 versus 64). It is more than half as heavy again, so the weight per seat is around 60% more. Any saving in fuel economy is more than outweighed by the capital cost. Residual value will be lower as few outside London, or contract operators, will be interested.
The vehicles will need a costly second crew member when the much-vaunted rear platform is in use, but whoever that is won’t do revenue protection, so there will still be fare evasion. And comparing Bozza ordering a few buses, while disposing of another few buses, is hardly an achievement to rank alongside any of the tasks facing Young Dave and his coalition partners.
Why not just say “vote Bozza” and have done with it? Another fine mess.