President Hugo Chávez is a little concerned that Londoners might have difficulty paying for public transport. This week his government signed an agreement to subsidise the fuel bill for London’s buses. Venezuela will transfer up to $32m a year to fund bus journeys for the cities' poor.

Ken Livingstone, London's mayor and well known looney left wing socialist, said the 20 per cent discount would fund half-price rates on buses or trams for 250,000 Londoners who receive welfare payments.

In return, London will send over its transport chief, Peter Hendy, to set up an office in Caracas, where British officials will impart to the Venezuelan capital London’s expertise in traffic management and urban planning. It is not clear exactly what Caracus can learn from London when it comes to transport. London has one of the most expensive and congested transportation systems in the world.

This deal was never about serving the interests of the citizens of these two cities. Rather, it is about promoting the the public relations interests of Chavez. The London mayor also agreed to act as the UK mouthpiece for the Venezuelan dictator. The mayor of London’s office had pledged to “actively and efficiently promote Venezuela’s image in the UK”.

In effect, London, which is the wealthiest region in Europe, is now receiving foreign assistance from a developing nation.