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.

UPDATE

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.

 


147 thoughts on “Railroaded

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  • Tony M

    Kempe @2:52pm There were no Scottish Banks involved in the crash as there are no Scottish Banks, there have not been any since the ‘big bang’ of 1986, they’re London domiciled and regulated in terms of tax and liability. ‘Scottish’ in their names was just branding. Green Giant sweetcorn, doesn’t contain green giants. Captain Birdseye doesn’t personally catch every fish finger.

  • Resident Dissident

    “there have not been any since the ‘big bang’ of 1986, they’re London domiciled”

    Just not true both HBOS and RBS had their head offices in Scotland.

  • kashmiri

    Craig, I fully support renationalisation of railway. But your comparing of UK and French fares does not reflect travel options in both countries:

    – UK: you can fly or travel by train if you can afford. If you want it cheaper, you can always get to/from Manchester by taking a Megabus or National Express for a fiver or less.
    – FRANCE: intercity buses are legally forbidden, your only option for cross-country travel is rail. Fares are centrally set at a level affordable for average earners, and French railways can, but do not have to, be profitable.

    Why not comparing with German or Swiss fares?

  • Mary

    No UK trade benefit from EU membership – Civitas report
    The report questioned the quality of the EU’s collective trade agreements

    Cameron ‘won’t be PM’ if no EU vote
    Clegg: Lib Dems must fight EU myths
    UK split on EU membership – poll

    Membership of the EU has not given the UK any “insider advantages” in trade with other European countries, social policy think tank Civitas says.

    In a study it finds “no discernible impact on UK exports of goods to other member countries” from membership of the EU or its single market.

    The study also questions claims that collectively negotiated EU free trade agreements (FTAs) benefitted the UK.

    It seems to contradict analysis by the Confederation of British Industry.

    The Civitas report – called Where’s the Insider Advantage? – adds that EU membership does not appear to have benefitted UK service industries either, although it admits the data available on this is not so detailed

    /..
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-27284489

    http://www.civitas.org.uk/about.php#trustees

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civitas_(think_tank)

  • Ben-LA PACQUTE LO ES TODO

    “RE-Naationalize”, craig?

    How is Socialism and EU compatible? If you mean ‘window dressing’, ‘natch. I will start to worry if you suggest nationalizing the Gas and Petrol Industries.

  • Kempe

    ” There were no Scottish Banks involved in the crash as there are no Scottish Banks ”

    Then what was Wee ‘Eck going on about? As RD has already pointed out both RBS and HBOS had their HQ’s in Edinburgh and to the best of my knowledge still do.

  • Ben-LA PACQUTE LO ES TODO

    ” Indeed democracy is an obstacle to the free market and this is easily demonstrated by the constant interference in politics by the big hitters of the City of London, aided and abetted by the main-stream-media, particularly the right-wing newspapers and television stations and the BBC.”

    Doug ; Democracy is like carbon-monoxide. Rarely can you detect the poison until it’s too late. It’s designed to satisfy all, in theory, but everyone being unsatisfied with the result means it works. Get it?

  • doug scorgie

    Techno
    5 May, 2014 – 12:37 pm

    “But how can you be sure that Scotland wouldn’t start erecting barriers after independence?

    Because Mr Techno, Scotland will remain in the EU.

    “The nationalists seem to be considerably motivated by Scottish supremacist sentiment, and a racist hatred of the English.”

    What a load of f…ing crap!

    Can you back up that nonsense?

    Thought not.

  • Techno

    “Because Mr Techno, Scotland will remain in the EU.”

    Didn’t Barroso say it would be at least five years before Scotland could join the EU? Five years is enough time for isolationist sentiment to take hold.

    And why go to so much trouble to gain your sovereignty just to give it away again to the EU? That would be really, really stupid.

    “Can you back up that nonsense? Thought not.”

    You don’t know what will happen either. It is a Pandora’s Box. I don’t care either way – in fact, I am marginally in favour of it just so we can all see the consequences – but as a previous commentator said, Scottish nationalism may lead to more English nationalism. It is a case of “be careful what you wish for.”

  • Techno

    “Techno/Fredo: If you cannot have a sensible discussion with anyone, the fault is within yourself, and your views are founded on prejudice, smears and lies. That is the polite answer. You’re fundamentally dishonest and irrational. Hope that helps.”

    No Tony M, your extremist ideological position doesn’t help. Anybody who says “love our European brothers and sisters as part of the great mosaic of humanity” is hopelessly naive.

  • fred

    Anybody know what Alex Salmond talked about in his secret meeting with Rupert Murdoch at the beginning of April?

    I think we have a right to know, the tax payers paid for his trip to America.

  • John Goss

    When they take back the railways and Royal Mail into public ownership can they not forget energy companies? These I think are the worst with annual increases of nearly 10% year on year.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Mr Scorgie

    You end your “reply” to Techno by writing

    “What a load of f…ing crap!

    Can you back up that nonsense?

    Thought not.”
    ___________

    May I point out that those words offend elementary debating etiquette and even elementary logic?

    After you ask someone to back up something, you should wait a little while for him to try and do so.

    Only after he has not done so would you be justified in saying “Thought not”.

    Hope that’s clear!

  • CanSpeccy

    we do not have major political parties offering voters a realistic choice of voter options.

    Good point. For if it were otherwise, mass immigration to Britain would have ended years ago.

  • CanSpeccy

    we have the highest return on capital for railway investors in the world too

    Can you be more specific? Which companies? What returns? Information about good profit opportunities is always welcome.

    Oh, but then you say: “Renationalisation – without compensation — is the only sensible course.”

    If that were truly an option, it would explain a high return on capital, i.e., depressed share values due to the risk of expropriation.

    Incidentally, is that why you’re so anti-Putin: because he won’t restore Communism?

  • Mary

    Off topic but important.

    Save the Internet!
    To ensure the Internet is open to all on an equal basis we must act now to prevent mega-corporations from destroying Internet Freedom

    by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers / May 5th, 2014

    Update: Actions every day starting on Wednesday, May 7th, at noon and 5 pm. To Save The Internet, we are building a People’s Firewall against the FCC’s proposed rule that will create a ‘pay to play’ Internet by ending net neutrality.
    http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/05/save-the-internet/

    Does anyone here know any more about the ramifications of this?

  • FormerDundeeMan

    Train fares have gone up massively in the Netherlands in the last years and there are no end of complaints. Having said all that, Groningen to Vlissingen which is about 225 miles comes in at €25.40 one way, €50.80 return (about 40 quid). Multiply by 280/225 = GBP50 return.
    That is the MAXIMUM 2nd class ticket price, buying at the platform and getting directly on the train. No internet early bird crap, no cornflakes packet discount coupons.
    Departing outside peak hours with a €99 year pass you’ll take 40% off this price.
    The Netherlands also have some real twats in power and dabble in Neo-Con bullshit but the gulf between UK and here was/is so huge in terms of crime, equality, poverty (or lack of), infrastructure and standard of living that it can slide for a hell of a long time before it will come near UK levels. UK poverty and class division is on such a horrendous scale as to be near incomprehensible to folk in Holland.
    Scottish independence is so obviously the right answer and the repercussions will benefit the whole UK.
    http://formerdundeeman.org/2014/04/22/independent-scotland-will-set-uk-free/

  • Resident Dissident

    I’m wondering where Craig’s political affections will alight next after the inevitable betrayal by Alex Salmond and his ilk – the Peoples Republic of Laphroaig or similar?

  • Ben-LA PACQUTE LO ES TODO

    “Only after he has not done so would you be justified in saying “Thought not”.”

    Not necessary. The silence is pre-eminent and highly predictable.

  • Kelly ben Maimon

    Bryan McComb 12.50pm 5 May 2014.

    Mr McComb, I have been reading Craig Murray’s blog for sometime now and can tell you that I find some comments posted, downright abhorrent but at the same time, there are others that make me laugh, force me to think and even on rare occasions, educate. Which is why I still keep reading. Then there is the ‘cyber space community’ and different ‘personalities’ emerge and the banter displayed is humorous. I have never met Craig Murray and nor do I have shares in his blog, but am beginning to become accustomed to his ‘sharp mind’ and ‘forensic analysis’ on a variety of topics.

    We all have off days. No one is perfect. I’m a complete novice, when it comes to posting comments. Think it is more of a case, of gaining confidence. For what it is worth, did re read what you had written a few times and it was both interesting and informative. Equally impressive was to see at 5.26pm, CM posted an unreserved apology. Don’t know the man personally, but have concluded a hint of humility and courage in him that I like, for doing this publicly.

    Okay, it may not have been the most ideal initial response to first post, but I would certainly like to read more posts from you. Please don’t stop. Your contribution is important. That’s not to say I might not be having arguments with you in the future!

    Some one called Mary posted some info about a meeting at BBC, where Lord Patten would be present. I’ve signed up for it. Hope you attend.

    Warm regards,

    Kelly Rebekah ben Maimon

    PS Please come back.

  • Bryan McComb

    Craig:

    You’re a big man. Thank you.

    I’ve now read your OP (past the bit that hammered my empiricist eyeballs), and I agree with all your conclusions. I had no wish to derail (SWIDT?!) the thread. I was just a bit taken aback by the vehemence of your response to my post. So much so, in fact, that I had to go outside and cut the hedge while I had A Bit Of A Think.

    Social media has a massive part to play whatever the result of the independence referendum. The guy in Seat61 has proved (to me at least) to be a hugely useful resource that probably couldn’t have existed without it. I think he’s probably due an apology too. I’m just some schmoe off the internet. His reputation’s way more valuable than mine.

    Oh, and Kelly… This is not a flounce. I’ll keep reading.

  • Kelly ben Maimon

    Thanks for that Bryan. Understood. In the meantime, will try not to go off topic myself and concentrate on thread.

    Goodnight!

  • Rehmat

    British government is not run by the British majority. It is controlled by the “Friends of Israel” in both Conservative and Labour parties. David Cameron has publically claimed to be a Zionist Christian while Labour Party is headed by a Zionist Jew, Ed Miliband.

    UK’s so-called “Crown Corporation”, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Jewish Governor, Baroness Ruth Deech, last year called for an apology from internationally-famed violinist Nigel Kennedy for calling Israel “an apartheid state”. She said Kennedy’s remarks were “offensive and untrue”. She also claimed that there is no apartheid in Israel or the Israeli occupied PA territoris (Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem).

    BBC has announced to censor Kennedy’s following statement in future broadcasting.

    “It’s a bit facile to say it, but we all know from the experience of this night of music, that giving equality and getting rid of apartheid gives a beautiful chance for amazing things to happen.”

    http://rehmat1.com/2013/08/19/bbc-israel-is-not-an-apartheid-state/

  • Salford Lad

    The neo-con trap to loot and plunder is financial warfare at its most ruthless.
    In the middle ages an army came into the land and conquered it. Slicing and dicing land holdings to its soldiers ,who became wealthy on the backs of the labour of the peasants.
    Today we have ,what Henry CK Liu calls the ‘Tequila Trap’, because of it first use in the destruction of the Mexican economy and peso in 1994 and the East Asian economies in ’97.
    This was targeted financial warfare by a cabal of the Wall St mega banks. The scheme was devised by Robert Rubin ,ex-Goldman Sachs and later Secretary of the Treasury under Clinton.
    A free trade agreement was devised which necessitated the Mexican peso be free floating against the US dollar. Massive dollar amounts were used to create a bubble in the Mexican stock market for a couple of years. Credit to industry was freely available.
    Then the trap was sprung. Massive naked short selling of the stock market and the peso caused the market and the peso to plunge in value and a flight of capital out of the country. The Mexican Govt used its US dollar reserves to attempt to protect the peso , but to no avail. They then were forced to borrow Dollars at exorbitant rates to halt the slide, but it was a spiral to the bottom. They were forced to privatise their nationalised banks and industries at cents on the dollar to make payment to the US bond holders.
    Any country that does not have a sovereign currency with a fixed exchange rate is open to this kind of attack.
    The Euro is an example of this type of manipulation, where the Italian,Spanish , Greek and Irish Govt ‘s have no control over their economies and the Troika can come in and force them to sell off State assets to the private sector to make payments on bonds.
    Most politicians are economic illiterates and are easily manipulated by the Financial parasites, Maggie Thatcher being one such’ useful idiot’.

  • fred

    “The depressingly tiny differences between Miliband’s policies and the Coalition’s are one of the reasons i’m for independence.”

    Parties will adopt the policies they think the majority of voters want, they are playing to the same audience therefore their policies will be very similar.

    There are lots of smaller parties from Communists to BNP you can vote for if you prefer.

    It’s people who think democracy should provide the government they want not that which the majority want which is a concern about independence.

  • Ba'al Zevul (In Vimto Veritas!)

    Anybody know what Alex Salmond talked about in his secret meeting with Rupert Murdoch at the beginning of April?

    A. It wasn’t secret. You know about it.
    B. It’s a secret.
    Delete as applicable.

    But seriously, like every other UK political leader, Salmond was probably trying to cut a deal for the support of Newscorp. The Holy Blair did it,

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/feb/26/tony-blair-new-labour-hero-political-embarrassment-murdoch

    and Cameron had a similar interest in a favourable press –

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/phone-hacking/9118305/Horsegate-I-did-ride-Rebekah-Brookss-police-horse-Raisa-says-David-Cameron.html

    Politics is a dirty business, isn’t it? And Salmond is entitled to make the same dubious compromises as any other politician. Because dubious compromises are what politics is. And if you don’t, they inevitably will.

  • Ba'al Zevul (In Vimto Veritas!)

    It’s people who think democracy should provide the government they want not that which the majority want which is a concern about independence.

    How so? If a majority of Scots vote to be independent they will (in theory – many a carefully staged slip ‘twixt cup and lip) become independent. If not, not.

    Ah, I see where you’re coming from. If the UK voted as a whole, independence would be impossible. Wonder what the EU would say about the UK? Just a minute, the US has a stake in this game. Let’s have a worldwide vote on whose tributary fiefdom the UK should be, eh?

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