Railroaded 147

The eminently sensible suggestion to renationalize the railways is one which has very strong popular support.  We have the highest rail fares per mile and at the same time the highest public subsidies per mile in the world.  The concomitant is, that we have the highest return on capital for railway investors in the world too, with the added icing that it is underwritten by taxpayer guarantee.  Renationalisation – without compensation – is the only sensible course, as it is for all the other natural monopolies.

It was sad therefore to see Ed Miliband squirming on television yesterday as he struggled to reassure various neo-con mouthpieces that he did not share the good sense of his backbenchers.  The present system was not working, he said, and we needed to explore new forms of ownership model.  What these were he did not say, but plainly they did not include taking anything back into public ownership.  The most he offered was a tepid concern about the reprivatisation of East Coast, but then he did not exactly not want it to be reprivatized either.

There could not be a more striking illustration of the fact that we do not actually have a democracy in the UK any more; we do not have major political parties offering voters a realistic choice of voter options.  What we have is different sets of prospective managers of neo-con policies on behalf of the ultra-rich beneficiaries of those policies.  The disconnect with voters is such that general election participation rates are in serious long-term decline, a fact which is given insufficient attention.  War criminal Blair’s “victories” were each based on well under half the vote, in three of the four lowest percentage turnouts of electors in history.  So much for the myth of his inspiring charisma.

Unfortunately the people who don’t vote are more inclined to apathy than revolution.  But I remain hopeful that disillusion with the political class will eventually lead to a fundamental change.  But it is also dangerous.  By vacating all of the intellectual space based around the human instincts of altruism, co-operation and sharing, the neo-con parties cede ground that in England can most easily be filled by populists whose projection of yearned for community values is also exclusive and xenophobic.  That is what is happening.  Enter UKIP.  Scotland is much more fortunate in that the neglected field of the desire for communal co-operation has been tilled by the non-racist independence movement in a shared national desire to escape the neo-con trap, which despite party hierarchies has cut swathes through the party system.

There remains a beacon of hope in new media.  Neo-con party attempts to capture this space have failed dismally.  Will Straw founded Left Foot Forward, a blog which has plenty of funding from New Labour and Trade Union sources.  Look at the last ten articles on that blog.  How many comments are there?  An average of less than two comments per article.  The truth is that despite its huge budget, almost nobody actually reads this sterile drivel.  The Tory/Government attempts at an astroturf grassroots movements with “Vote No Borders” was torn apart by social media in hours, and ended by closing comments completely.  Compare the utter vibrancy of Wings Over Scotland.

The transformation of the political space by social media is not happening nearly as quickly as many of us hoped.  But as newspaper circulations plummet and new media participation continues to rise, the process is inexorable.  The independence movement in Scotland has been advancing despite the orchestrated and near unanimous opposition of the UK government, the City of London and the mainstream media.  Social media has been absolutely key to that advance.   I think that Scottish independence can be the catalyst for an eventual much larger and much-needed process of transformation of politics throughout the British Isles.  But we also have to worry that the neo-cons, who did not get our money without being clever, will learn a lesson and look for new ways to hijack or to control the social media.


A gentleman posted an almost instantaneous comment linking to a blog by a senior Department of Transport official which claimed fares in France were higher.  It was completely tendentious in comparing the cheapest possible off-peak tickets with standard French tickets.  I deleted the comment as I suspect, by the speed of its appearance, it was from someone professionally employed to post such things.  If the gentleman wishes to contradict me I shall apologise.

Anyway, I decided to conduct a blind test, genuinely without knowing the result.  I went to book the cheapest possible fare on a train from Ramsgate to Manchester, return, leaving Ramsgate on Friday around 8am and returning on Tuesday around 9am.  This was simply a typical journey for me.  I then decided to check it against a comparable journey from Rouen to Dijon, almost exactly the same distance.

Ramsgate depart Friday 9 May 8.01am

Manchester depart Tuesday 13 May 8.55am

Cheapest Fare 249 pounds

Rouen depart Friday 9 May 8.24am

Dijon depart Tuesday 13 May 9.11am

Cheapest Fare 122 pounds

Incidentally, despite the fact this route uses HS1 and the Virgin Pendolino, the French journey is still an average of 40 minutes quicker for the same distance, as well as under half the price.

I shall see if I can reinstate Bryan’s comment and link now.

Another Update

In fact Bryan turns out to be absolutely genuine, and I am much too jumpy today.


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147 thoughts on “Railroaded

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  • Mary

    Obama and Hague are sending special ops in to Northern Nigeria to save the girls from that ‘vile’ Boko Haram, as Hague calls them. Such heroes sending out the heroes.

    Yet in Obama’s country, fascist like ours where the likes of Blair roam free, a woman involved in the Occupy movement has gone to prison for 7 years. Her crime? Her elbow gave one policeman a black eye.

    Cecily McMillan – http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38424.htm

    Remember the sentences dished out after the demonstration against Cast Lead here?

    We do live in fascist countries.

  • Mary

    Came across this little British Pathe film made in 1953 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of St Mary’s Hospital Medical School. There is footage of Sir Alexander Fleming in his lab. Discoverer of penicillin of course.

    Plain Roger Bannister, as he then was, does the commentary. His vowel sounds are of the time!

    He is now 85 and yesterday was the 60th anniversary of his running a record sub 4 minute mile. I thought how modest and unassuming he was in yesterday’s interviews. Sadly he has Parkinson’s Disease, a rather bitter irony for one who spent his working life as a neurosurgeon.


  • Abe Rene

    Amen! Renationalise the railways and the post office and all NHS Trusts pronto! If any party promises to do that, I will seriously consider voting for it.

  • Abe Rene

    PS. For good measure, renationalise British Airways, London Underground, BT and all gas and electricity and water companies as well.

  • nevermind

    Just a word to all the hopefull EU election spammers trying their best to make this month long, ever so very important, must vote elections exciting for us.

    Don’t please, the majority here is apathetic and solely concerned with talking about change.

  • Rob Royston

    I wondered why the Nigerian situation was being given so much concern in the media. Now it’s another step on the march south for the crusaders as they attempt to wrest Africa back from the BRIC’s.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !


    You have deleted a post of mine giving a quote from Macky bad-mouthing Craig on Squonk’s blog.

    Do you not think it might be of interest to Craig and readers here to be aware of what Macky is saying about Craig on other people’s blogs?

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !


    Disregard my post at 12h15, the quotation from Macky is on the “World Domination” thread – Can’t remember whether I posted it there or whether you moved it, but peu importe.

  • Mary

    Lord Myners who is currently slagging off the CoOp. Given top billing on BiBiCee 1 One o’clock News. Formerly a Broonite, now working for the evil Koalition.

    All bases covered it would appear.

    Biography UK Parliament

    Personal Service Companies Lords 2013-14
    Works of Art Committee (L) Lords 2012-13
    Privacy and Injunctions (Joint Committee) Lords 2011-12

    Register of Interests

    1: Directorships
    Non-executive Director, RIT Capital Partners plc (investment trust)
    Chairman and a Managing Partner, Autonomous Research LLP (independent research on banking and insurance companies)
    Chairman and Partner, Cevian Capital (UK) LLP (international equity investment)
    Director, Ecofin plc (investment trust)
    Director, OJSC MegaFon (Russian mobile voice and data)
    Chairman and Director, Nomad Holdings Ltd (investment company)
    Director, Huntsworth plc (public relations company)

    2: Remunerated employment, office, profession etc.
    Pensions and other benefits arising from past employment by:
    NM Rothschild and Sons Ltd;
    Marks & Spencer

    4: Shareholdings (b)
    RIT Capital Partners plc
    Pendennis Shipyard Ltd

    5: Land and property
    Land and property in London occupied by children

    6: Sponsorship
    Complimentary service from Breaking Views (news service)


  • Mick

    Since the big banks regularly receive justified criticism for their failures with regards to corporate governance why should the Co-Op be exempt from a ‘slagging-off’ when mismanagement has cost the bank over £3 billion? A board made up of amateurs has proved to be as disastrous for the Co-Op bank as the boards of ‘professional’ bankers at RBS and HBOS.

    Lord Myners was asked to join the Board of the Co-Op Group to help improve their governance, having read his suggestions they appear to be very sensible and would deliver an accountable but capable Board. No?

    What role does Lord Myners carry out for the Coalition, I could not spot any government roles in the provided biography.


    “I wondered why the Nigerian situation was being given so much concern in the media. Now it’s another step on the march south for the crusaders as they attempt to wrest Africa back from the BRIC’s.”

    Yes. TPP is proving to be too flaccid a dick for waving around proudly.

    Hab; change your diaper. the rash is overtaking your good sense.

  • guano


    The Co-op is the envy of the jungle economy of the city and the Powers That Be have shaken it as hard as they can to see if it can be unseated from its popular and profitable security.

    As in all politics, the shenanegans of bosses are an easy target for greedy takeover merchants. The disgusting secrets of other senior management keep them nicely in line, but with the co-op, the dirt was dug and thrown.

    I have chauffeur driven a car of very senior management chuckling over a wife-swapping event, and a very senior lawyer tickling up his secretary sotto voce on the phone.

    Co-op should never given in to PTB bullying to betray the nest egg of real money and real goodwill from having been a proper mutual until very recently.

  • Mary

    Correction. The CoOp board commissioned Myners to report when Myners was on the board. Myners then resigned from the Board but carried on with the report. Out of the goodness of his heart no doubt.

    Note his joining Huntsworth, the giant PR consortium run by Gummer’s brother, Lord Chadlington. He is always in demand and answers the calls.

    28 April 2014
    Former Labour City minister Paul Myners was today named chairman of listed public relations group Huntsworth as non-executive directors Richard Sharp and Joe MacHale depart.

    Huntsworth’s chief executive, Lord Chadlington, is brother of former environment secretary John Gummer and Tory party president in David Cameron’s Witney constituency. Lord Myners resigned from The Co-op earlier this month.


    Chadlington sold Cameron some of his land to enable Cameron to enlarge his garden. They are ALL in it together.

    The previous chairman of Huntsworth was ex Goldman Sachs. Same old, same old.

  • Iain Taylor

    I saw on Newsnight UK last night after 11pm that, during an aside to a Liberal spokesperson, Labour’s representative John McTernan dismissed the renationalisation of the railways. With a wave of the hand, he announced “Thaat’s not going to happen.”, and since he appears to be in charge of policy at Labour, he would know. I wonder if he has told Mr Miliband yet.

  • Vote for 'No2EU' on 22 May !


    Sorry if you perceived my comments as spam: I actually thought I was joining in the conversation about re-nationalising the railways.

    The very fact that the forthcoming election is quite unimportant illustates the undemocratic nature of the EU. The European Parliament is effectively just a talking shop, with virtually no power at all.

    The only up-side of that is that for once you can support a party with policies you actually believe in, without worrying that you are wasting your vote.

    ‘No2EU’ stand for re-nationalising the railways, re-nationalising the post office and kicking the privateers out of the NHS.


    Vote for ‘No2EU’ on 22 May !

  • Mary

    ‘Welcome to the International Monetary Conference website for the 2014 IMC in Munich, Germany.
    This website is password-protected, and all of the information contained therein is strictly for the use of IMC members, invited guests and speakers. Passwords have been provided privately to all participants.
    Please contact Janet Puls ([email protected]), Associate Director for Membership, if you require assistance with a password. ‘

    Enough said. As the author below indicates, it is a closed elite.

    It’s Time to Expose Global Banking Elites at the International Monetary Conference
    Part 1 of 4 Part Series

    by Andrew Gavin Marshall / May 8th, 2014

    Ever heard of the International Monetary Conference? No, I’m not referring to the annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank but rather to another, more secretive annual gathering – this one hosted by the American Bankers Association and bringing together chief executives from over 100 of the world’s largest banks.

    Hailing primarily from Western Europe and North America, the banking chiefs meet for several days along with invited guests who hold prominent “public official” positions – major finance ministers and central bank governors among them. The meetings of the International Monetary Conference are notoriously private, with very little if any news coverage or public accountability regarding what goes on there.


    Last year’s programme – Shanghai. I see Sorrell was there and that they lay on ‘spouse tours’. Sexist bastards. They have us by the proverbials.


  • Ba'al Zevul (Elämä on hyvä!)

    The Prawer (Begin) Plan-

    Like Prawer, the Begin Plan is also based on the notion that Bedouin are “squatters,” ignoring the fact that most of the villages have been in existence in their current location since before the establishment of the State of Israel. Other villages were established by government transfer during the period of martial law.

    What will happen if the plan is implemented?

    The plan will lead to the uprooting and forcible eviction of dozens of villages and 30-40,000 Bedouin residents, who will be stripped of their property and their historical land rights. Thousands of families will be condemned to poverty and unemployment. The communal life and social fabric of these villages will be destroyed. Like its precursor, the current plan also seeks to restrict the Bedouin to a specific area and to forcibly apply this policy.
    (Rabbis for Human Rights)

  • Mary

    Amazon UK boycott urged after retailer pays just 0.1% in tax
    Margaret Hodge says consumer action forced Starbucks to pay tax in UK and could persuade Amazon to follow suit

    Juliette Garside
    theguardian.com, Friday 9 May 2014 15.10 BST

    Shoppers have been urged to boycott Amazon’s British business after it paid just £4.2m in tax last year, despite selling goods worth £4.3bn – more than the UK sales of Argos, Dixons or the non-food arm of Marks & Spencer.

    Margaret Hodge, chair of the public accounts committee, said shoppers should find alternatives to the Seattle-headquartered retailer, after consumer action persuaded coffee chain Starbucks to resume UK tax payments last year.

    “It is an outrage and Amazon should pay their fair share of tax,” said Hodge. “They are making money out of not paying taxes. I no longer use Amazon. We should shop elsewhere. What we demonstrated with Starbucks is the power of the consumer voice.”

    Amazon’s most recent charge brings to just over £10m its contribution to the public purse through corporation tax in a decade. Over the last four years, Amazon has generated £23bn in British sales. It made a tax contribution of £3.2m the previous year


  • Ba'al Zevul(for All The Wrong Reasons)

    Who said this?

    “Israel better rid itself of the territories (grabbed in 1967) and their Arab populations as soon as possible. If it does not Israel will became an Apartheid state. Demography is a greater danger than not having the territorial depth the right wing is always claiming Israel needs to defend itself.”

    No, not one of the usual suspects. Read this excellent analysis and find out:


  • Mary

    I thought the comment from Yolande Knell was fairly hard hitting considering the source.

    Yolande Knell
    BBC News, Jerusalem

    This jail sentence is a dramatic fall from grace for a man who was once one of the most powerful figures in Israel.

    It is also likely to end any hopes of a political comeback for Ehud Olmert.

    Recently, as he criticised the Israeli government’s handling of peace talks with the Palestinians, it seemed he still held ambitions to return to public life.

    However, the judge in this case said that Olmert’s crimes involved “moral turpitude”, meaning he will be barred from office for seven years after serving his sentence.

    In his memoirs, Olmert claims he came very close to a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in 2008.

    But in his three years in office he also took Israel into two bloody, armed conflicts – the 2006 war with the militant Lebanese Shia Islamist group Hezbollah, and a three-week offensive on Gaza in 2008-2009 that left some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.

    Now corruption has been added to Olmert’s political record. However, many Israelis hope his sentencing is a sign that their country is cleaning up its political culture.’


    Omlet as we call him will not go to jail of course. Appeal after appeal…mitigating circyumstances etc. We have heard it all before with IDF atrocities.

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