OPINION - The Standard View: Heat rises in the Tory leadership scramble

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·3-min read
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 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

As the mercury rises, so too do the stakes in this Conservative leadership contest. Television debates will add a frisson of live drama, as outsider candidates prepare to have their breakthrough moment while the favourites hope not to make any unforced errors.

The public for its part will want to learn more about the candidates, particularly those less well-known who are hoping to leap into Number 10.

Into next week, the big three — Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt and Liz Truss — will be closely studying the Parliamentary arithmetic, hoping to sweep up as many votes as possible from the eliminated contenders. Deals will be made, promises broken. It will be a mighty scramble. The contest is likely only to grow more bitter as it progresses.

Already, we are seeing separate “Stop Rishi” and “Stop Penny” campaigns. The blows and horsetrading become more intense as the battle to make the final two and face the Tory party membership reaches its denouement. It is genuinely too close to call.

Stop the fare dodgers

We’ve all seen them — people squeezing through or climbing over the barriers, striding to the platform without being stopped. Fare dodging on the Tube is soaring, and it is no victimless crime, costing Transport for London more than £100 million a year. Money that it desperately needs.

This spate of fare dodging is also coinciding with an increase in the crime rate across Tube, bus and Overground services — that is despite passenger numbers being 21 per cent lower. Moreover, Siwan Hayward — TfL’s director of compliance, policing, operations and security — said “chronic” fare evaders are responsible for 34 per cent of attacks on Tube staff.

The rise in evasion has partly been driven by virtually two years of TfL officials not checking tickets, with inspectors asked to focus their attention instead on enforcing face mask regulations. At the same time, the ballooning cost of living has driven many more people who are now simply struggling to afford the price of a ticket.

TfL says it will be upping its game, threatening to ban any fare dodgers from the network. An extra 60 ticket inspectors are being hired this month and the penalty for not paying the fare is set to rise from £80 to £100. The power to ban chronic fare evaders is not new, but TfL says it will be used more proactively.

Similarly, while 40 per cent of penalty fares go unpaid, TfL says it will now convert these into prosecutions to bring non-payers before a court.

Fare dodgers should be prosecuted. Our world-class transport network relies on people paying for services, and the Mayor will have to show he is maximising all possible revenue streams as part of the never-ending negotiations with the Government over that much-needed long-term settlement for TfL. Cutting down on lawlessness is a good place to start.

Lionesses march on

Going into the final Euros group game with qualification for the next round guaranteed is a luxury, but one earned by the Lionesses, who take on Northern Ireland in Southampton this evening.

A win would be welcome but no injuries, please.

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