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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  • Ba'al Zevul (In Vimto Veritas!)

    Dirty business –

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2621161/Bill-Iraq-war-inquiry-hit-10-million-Tony-Blairs-row-publishing-letters-George-Bush-pushes-end-date-two-years.html

    Why Chilcot is being punted further into the verdure –

    ‘It’s certainly not going to be ready before the end of the year and it would be a highly political act to publish in the months before an election. The can is going to be kicked further down the road.’

    Labour strategists are said to be alarmed at the prospect of voters being reminded of the Iraq war in the months before the election, since the conflict was blamed for driving many of its voters to the Liberal Democrats in 2005 and 2010.

    The delays and the spiraling bill has added to the anger felt by families of soldiers killed in the conflict, it claims.

    Rose Gentle, from the Military Families Support Group told the Daily Mirror that members of her organisation feel Mr Blair is ‘laughing at them’.

    You’re not alone in that, Ms. Gentle.

  • nevermind

    Ba’al, did he just ride Raisa? after what is said about Wendy deng and bliar, we should realise that its not just the boys at the bar lusting after him.

    Yes I want a vote on the genocidal policies of this Government relating to barring the rightfull owners of Diego Garcia from ever returning to their homeland.

    I reckon that Blair will soon leave the country for somewhere safer, he’s becoming a manko to the establishment.

  • Ba'al Zevul (In Vimto Veritas!)

    Nevermind – he’s screwed the pooch in so many ways…add bestiality to the charge list.

    🙂

  • DRE

    Not only extremely profitable but Virgin (probably the rest of them) pay no corporate tax here.

  • babushka

    Somehow I doubt the safety of anywhere for BLiar, Nevermind.
    I am with you on the right of return for all Diego Garcians. – another horror story we have come to understand as City of London and Washington DC playing the pot and kettle game, all the while raking in the profits of crime.

    BLiar would struggle to be incognito anywhere on this Planet.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Ba’al

    “Politics is a dirty business, isn’t it? And Salmond is entitled to make the same dubious compromises as any other politician.”
    __________________

    Quite so, and I’m glad to see that you don’t seem to agree with those who hold the view that Scottish politics and politicians are of a (somehow) nobler stamp than English ones

  • Mary

    The Hinkley Point contract.

    6 May 2014
    Hinkley Point nuclear power contract ‘may be invalid’

    The contract for building the UK’s first nuclear power station in a generation might not be “valid”, a leading legal academic has warned.

    Former Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth, who lectures at Cambridge, said the deal with EDF over a plant at Hinkley Point could be seen as an “unjustifiable subsidy” under EU law.

    The contract fixes a price for energy provided if the scheme goes ahead.

    /..
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-27291087

  • Mary

    Is Boris just grandstanding? Does he really care about what happened in Iraq? No and we all know Chilcot was theatre.

    Boris Johnson: ‘eel-like’ Tony Blair will avoid being imprisoned over Iraq war
    London mayor expresses sympathy with those who want former PM locked up and says Chilcot report should be published now
    Nicholas Watt, chief political correspondent
    Tuesday 6 May 2014
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/may/06/boris-johnson-eel-like-tony-blair-iraq-war

    Yet another hypocrite.

    How Boris Johnson voted on Foreign Policy and Defence #
    Voted strongly for use of UK military forces in combat operations overseas
    Voted very strongly for the Iraq war
    Voted strongly for an investigation into the Iraq war
    Voted very strongly for replacing Trident with a new nuclear weapons system
    Voted moderately against more EU integration
    Voted moderately for a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU
    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/10999/boris_johnson/henley/votes#foreign

    and I should not mention this for fear of upsetting the tr—s but I will.

    Overseas visits

    1-4 November 2004, to Israel, paid for by the Conservative Friends of Israel and the Government of Israel. (Registered 14 March 2008)
    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/10999/boris_johnson/henley#register

  • doug scorgie

    Fred
    5 May, 2014 – 5:57 pm

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

    Fred, rumour has it that the “Sun” might back the Yes campaign, that could be what they spoke about.

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

    Yes taxpayers have a right to know but the trip was an official visit during Scotland week not a tax-payer funded visit to see Rupert Murdoch.

  • nevermind

    Just lost everything I wrote to finger disphoria…..;)

    Great news, lets now look at long term projects and jobs in tidal energy schemes. Three large one’s would do.
    A Wash tidal energy scheme, a barrier and lock system would safeguard one fifth of our national fresh food supplies for the next 100 years and return as musch energy as two nuclear power stations.

    A Severn tidal energy scheme and lock system would most likely achieve the same energy returns.

    A Thames tidal energy system, from Shoeburyness to Sheerness would safeguard London for the next 150 years, generate vast amounts of electricity and buy time for solutions to our unsustainable city’s.

    The jobs involved are in the hundred of thousands, some long term.

    I would like to suggest an art installation of wind turbines alongside these tidal energy schemes, right there on the barrier, so they can be enticed to a walk of shame,an installation aimed at educating all those fossile fuel lovey’s, gas/oil pushers, not failing to mention the grey radiating faces of our nuclear (weapons)lobby here.

    And no more sdubsidies for Norwegian royals or Croatian investors, whether its for solar or wind, taxpayers can’t afford to enrich those who already have enough, its not that these alternative energy schemes, sofar, have benefitted us the consumers much, bar those who could afford them.

  • doug scorgie

    Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !
    6 May, 2014 – 11:40 am

    “Quite so, and I’m glad to see that you don’t seem to agree with those who hold the view that Scottish politics and politicians are of a (somehow) nobler stamp than English ones.”

    It’s not the politicians so much as the system Habbabkuk.

    The corrupting influence of the Westminster elites, the City, the House of Lords all will go under independence.

    It’s a chance to build anew without that baggage.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Mr Scorgie

    So I think you’re saying that in a future independent Scotland there will be no system and that the absence of a system will enable politicians to translate fully into practice the noble side of their natures.

    I suppose you’re also saying that a country can be system-less.

    Interesting point of view.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Mr Scorgie

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

    Yes taxpayers have a right to know but the trip was an official visit during Scotland week not a tax-payer funded visit to see Rupert Murdoch.”
    ___________________

    I suspect the answer to this question is obvious and therefore it won’t be difficult for you to supply it : if official visits are not tax-payer funded, who does fund them?

    Thanks.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Mr Scorgie

    BTW, since you were kind enough to comment on my comment to Ba’al, do you think you could do the same for the comment I addressed to you? You’ll find it on this page (5 May, 18h44).

    Thanks.

  • Mary

    Why are Cameron and Osborne seen to be waving the Pfizer takeover of Astra Zeneca through? A new conglomerate can hold the NHS to ransom on the cost of pharmaceuticals. Any lobbying of the ConDems by Pfizer’s PR team perhaps?

    Astra ex-boss fears Pfizer will be a ‘praying mantis’
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-27291162

    ‘The former chief executive of AstraZeneca has attacked the attempted takeover of the UK pharmaceuticals firm by its US rival Pfizer.

    Sir David Barnes was chief executive of AstraZeneca until 2000 and deputy chairman until 2002.

    He told the BBC’s business editor Kamal Ahmed he feared Pfizer would act like a “praying mantis” and “suck the lifeblood” out of AstraZeneca.

    Pfizer offered £63bn for the UK pharmaceutical giant on Friday.

    [..]

    No 10 denied Labour claims it is acting as a “cheerleader” for the deal, saying it is fighting for British jobs and British science’

    ~~~~

    Working with the NHS

    AstraZeneca’s relationship with the NHS is at the centre of our UK Marketing Company activities.

    The NHS is the primary customer for AstraZeneca medicines in the UK and we engage with NHS staff on many levels on a daily basis.

    We interact with healthcare professionals as part of our sales and marketing work, ensuring that clinicians have the best access to information about our medicines in order to make appropriate prescribing decisions.

    At both national and local level, we work closely with NHS staff to help facilitate decision-making and budgetary planning. We’re committed to ensuring that AstraZeneca’s business is aligned with NHS priorities and supports delivery of excellent patient care.

    /..
    http://www.astrazeneca.co.uk/astrazeneca-in-uk/who-do-we-work-with/working-with-the-nhs

  • doug scorgie

    Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !
    6 May, 2014 – 1:32 pm

    “Mr Scorgie”

    “So I think you’re saying that in a future independent Scotland there will be no system and that the absence of a system will enable politicians to translate fully into practice the noble side of their natures.”

    “I suppose you’re also saying that a country can be system-less.”

    At least you’re consistent Habbabkuk – at being a complete tosser!

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Mr Scorgie

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

    Fred, rumour has it that the “Sun” might back the Yes campaign, that could be what they spoke about.”
    _____________________

    An interesting speculation. As you’re in Scotland and will presumably be eligible to vote, and as I believe you are in favour of Scottish independence, and as you deplore the influence of elites (presumably including the Murdoch press), I think it would provide a service to readers if you were to do some work here and attempt to find out what was discussed: you could, for instance, write to Mr Salmond’s office and then report back?

    Thanks.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Mr Scorgie

    ““Mr Scorgie”

    “So I think you’re saying that in a future independent Scotland there will be no system and that the absence of a system will enable politicians to translate fully into practice the noble side of their natures.”

    “I suppose you’re also saying that a country can be system-less.”

    At least you’re consistent Habbabkuk – at being a complete tosser!”
    ___________________

    Thank you for that comprehensive and thoughtful answer. Looking forward to your response to the other outstanding questions.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Mr Scorgie

    Since you were mentioning “elites” (which would, I imagine, include the Bank of England) would you give us your views on whether an independent Scotland should have a separate currency and if so whether it should take the steps necessary to join the euro?

    Thanks.

  • doug scorgie

    Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !
    6 May, 2014 – 1:36 pm

    “…if official visits are not tax-payer funded, who does fund them?”

    I’ll rephrase Habbabkuk so you can understand. Don’t forget to read this slowly.

    Fred said:
    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 [what was said], the tax payers paid for his trip to America.

    Fred clearly says that the taxpayers have a right to know what was said in a private meeting with Murdoch because taxpayers funded his trip to the USA.

    They have a right to know how much the trip cost and what the funding was used for.

    They do not have a “right” to know what was said in a private meeting.

    What do you think Habbabkuk?
    Do the taxpayers have a right to know what was said in the Salmond/Murdoch meeting?

    If so please elucidate.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Mary

    “Why are Cameron and Osborne seen to be waving the Pfizer takeover of Astra Zeneca through?”

    I too would, on balance, be against the takeover of Astra Zeneca by Pfizer, and so – given that Astra Zeneca is a publically quoted company in which the govt holds no shares – I’d be interested to hear from you whether the UK govt disposes of the legal instruments which would allow it to block that take-over?

    Thanks.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Mr Scorgie

    “What do you think Habbabkuk?
    Do the taxpayers have a right to know what was said in the Salmond/Murdoch meeting?”
    __________________

    Well, there is probably no legal right, but since you are very much in favour of transparency in political life (I’m right in thinking so, aren’t I?), I’m sure you’d be on the side of those who feel that taxpayers have that right.

    You do seem to think so, judging from your “Yes taxpayers have a right to know”, posted at 12h47 above. Glad if you would just confirm that.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Still awaiting your view on the sources of funding for official visits by Mr Salmond if these are not funbded by the tax-payer?

    Thanks

  • Carlyle Moulton

    Craig.

    I have a reply to your reply to my comment on the Rushbridger thread.

  • Ba'al Zevul (In Vimto Veritas!)

    What really pisses off the Salmond-haters is that Murdoch has form for backing winners. And you’d think the prospect of that Scottish Labour block vote being forced to remain north of the border would be motivating strong Tory support.

    Floreat Etona! What?

  • nevermind

    looking at this datamine of international rail development and infrastructure that is rail related, the companies involved, are very handy.

    http://www.railway-technology.com/news/industry_news_archive.html

    the demand that is rising steadily, and I would like to thank dundee man for his manifest, the investment in the Netherlands, with many new rail connections added during the last ten years, has meant higher prices, commuters also pay for the highspeed Intercity cock up.

    But railways are the future, highspeed Intercity should, theoretically be cheaper, as proven on the continent, were there are less companies/shareholders involved in providing rail services which work.

    Alstom is very popular for its train making and expertise, so thats why GE is gunning for it. Lets hope that the French will stop this happening in its track, however much these taylorists offer.

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