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.


147 thoughts on “Railroaded

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  • nevermind

    @ Doug Scourgie, why not go the whole hog and dispense with the fantails of predetermined tribal and party characters on offer as Independent saviours, the usual party political repertoire les infantiles.
    So, should you consider adopting a new voting system of random representation, i.e. pull your local representatives out of a hat using a blindfolded Komodo dragon, or such like.

    This should make for a fascinating change because you would not need to take up much time of the so called intelligentsia’s and common circles of the usual etikette and reverence, a true new start.

    No longer than four years, mind, and for good money so they don’t become complacent and start moonlighting ala Mercer, but with no special pension rights or perks afterwards. A corruption proof system based on the existing NI numbers in each constituency.

    Now that should really bring a smile to all democracy loving Independents, should it not?……;)

  • Kempe

    ” rumour has it that the “Sun” might back the Yes campaign. ”

    In return for what though? Murdoch being gifted Scottish TV at a knock down price?

  • Ba'al Zevul (In Vimto Veritas!)

    As usual, the sheer blindness of our masters to any other consideration than the weight of their, and their mates’ wallets, beggars belief. This is the mob which advocates a flexible labour market (translation – a bowl of rice a day, if the boss happens to need you). And yet a flexible and affordable transport system is beyond its grasp. We had one once: Beeching buggered it up and set the scene for whizzo high-speed links being built for the notional benefit of the business class and profitable ( for the operators) franchises still heavily subsidised by the taxpayer, if not (East Coast Line) so abominably run as to make de facto renationalisation inevitable. But we don’t call it that.

  • Ba'al Zevul (In Vimto Veritas!)

    ” rumour has it that the “Sun” might back the Yes campaign. ”

    In return for what though? Murdoch being gifted Scottish TV at a knock down price?

    There are some questions which need to be asked, there. However, they don’t address the issue of independence at all. IMO a bit of ducking and weaving is to be expected, and factoring in Salmond’s other dodgy contact, it may be that the deal is done already: Connect the dots?



    Salmond never claimed to be a pretty straight sort of guy, and Murdoch thinks (rightly, IMO) he’s the most accomplished politician in the UK. But he is absolutely committed to delivering independence if he can, whatever it takes.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    While awaiting Mr Scorgie’s answers to a couple of my questions (where I echo the very ancient saying “If death should come, let it come from the King of Spain”), I wonder if commenters interested in railway transport think that the following argument has any merit:

    Since healthcare and education are (essentially and still free at the point of use, could not the same system be applied to railway travel in the UK?

    Free at the point of use but not “free” in the sense that there is no cost. Free at the point of use rail travel would of course have to be paid for through general taxation. I wonder if there have been any studies estimating how much a free railway transport system (say a system with the same extent and coverage as the present system) would cost in terms of an extra “x” percent on the basic and higher rates of income tax?

    Such a system could work – albeit with different disciplines – whether the railways were nationalised or remained in private hands (or a combination).

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !


    “And I see the neocon with the glued-on-hair has bought himself Turnberry as well. I really hope Salmond has something on him.”

    “has something on him” – surely this cannot be the bright, new, honest and transparent system of post-independence Scottish governance Mr Salmond and Ba’al claim to support? Tut tut!

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !


    “Salmond never claimed to be a pretty straight sort of guy,..”

    Not in the sense of actually saying it (as did bLiar), that’s true.

    But is that kind of perception not an important part of Mr Salmond’s prospectus? I think it is.

  • Rehmat

    @Ba’al Zevul

    The Australian-born media billionaire Roppert Murdoch has dedicated his life for pushing Israeli agenda in Europe and North America. For his great services to the Zionist entity, American Jewish lobby group ADL, honored Murdoch on October 13, 2010.

    Accepting the honor, Murdoch told his Jewish audience that Jews and Israel are under attack all over the world because people hate Jews.



    “It comes as MPs prepare to investigate the planned takeover of AstraZeneca by Pfizer.”

    Mary; What’s the problem they have with this? In ‘Merica the FTC/FDA have no problem with emerging monopolies. 🙂

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !


    ” For his great services to the Zionist entity, American Jewish lobby group ADL, honored Murdoch on October 13, 2010.

    Accepting the honor,….”

    The ADL honoured him with a “citation”.

    Big deal! Why on earth are you so excited? Have you never receives a cotation from anyone – Boy Scouts, local Rotary Club, whatever?

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Mr Scorgie


    Can anyone verify this?


    Interesting indeed to note that there are (Hamas) TV services and programmes in the “world’s greatest open-air concentration camp”. I suppose Fatah runs a TV station or two as well.

  • Mary

    Sorry to hear he has been ill but he was the worst thing to have happened to the BBC after Thompson. The BBC bias on many fronts has never been so bad.

    BBC Breaking news 6 May 2014 Last updated at 16:51
    Lord Patten to stand down from
    BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten to stand down on health grounds after major heart surgery, says corporation

    Far too many business and other interests. He had heart trouble when he was GG in HK.

    Register of Interests

    1: Directorships
    Non-executive Director, Russell Reynolds Associates Inc (company research)

    2: Remunerated employment, office, profession etc.
    Member, European Advisory Board, Bridgepoint (private equity group)
    Member, EDF Stakeholder Advisory Panel (electricity)
    Occasional income from writing and speaking engagements
    Member, International Advisory Board of BP (energy)
    Adviser, Hutchison Europe (telecomms, property, transport)
    Chairman of the BBC Trust

    10: Non-financial interests (b)
    Chancellor, Oxford University

    10: Non-financial interests (e)
    International Adviser, Praemium Imperiale, Japan Art Association
    Co-chair, India-UK Roundtable
    Co-Chair, British Council Italy-UK Annual Conference
    Trustee, the Tablet Journal

  • Mary

    Amanpour interviews Blair. There is no rational word from him and his psychopathic nature is plain.

    He revealed the same irrationality and complete lack of humanity when he gave Bush and the Ziocons their pass to the destruction of the Iraqi people and their country. Here he is saying this cruelty and chaos is part of Islam, inferring it has nothing to do with the actions of the West and especially the axis – The Zionist entity the US and the UK.



    Mary; on your 5:05 link.

    Have you seen that the Saudis are sending Takfiris to the Ukraine?

  • Mary

    We are of course going to take Cable’s promises as gospel after the Royal Mail scandal.

    Pfizer cannot use UK as ‘tax haven’
    Business Secretary Vince Cable tells MPs the government will not let Pfizer use the UK as a tax haven and promises to secure British science jobs.

    We remember Kraft’s promises on jobs when they took over Cadbury’s and then immediately shut a factory and gave the jobs to Poland. Ruthless.


  • Mary

    Craig has been busy. The links are on http://members5.boardhost.com/medialens/msg/1399395467.html

    Copied from Medialens

    Ian Pannell & ‘Chemical School Attack’ report up for awards this evening
    Posted by Robert on May 6, 2014, 5:57 pm

    The One World Media awards hosted by Jon Snow will be livestreamed from Kings Place this evening at 8pm here

    Ian Pannell (not sure if he’s in the country at present) is up for International Journalist of the Year and his ‘Chemical School Attack’ ‘report’ is up for News Award.

    My thoughts on his reporting – which I have been sharing with the relevant jury panellists and others via Twitter – are here.

    Craig Murray’s communication with the organisers is here.

    More on the ‘Chemical School Attack’ & previous awards lavished on Pannell & co here:


    Also worthy of dishonourable mention is Matthew Vandyke’s “Not Anymore: A Story of Revolution” in the Short Film category. Some background on the participants here


    Mary; Craig was wondering why the folks @ Intercept had not bothered to contact him. Craig is quite gifted at crafting letters and i suggest he email GG. I’ve never failed to get a response to my emails.



    [craigmurray.org.uk – please disguise email addresses to fol the spammers]

  • horizonism

    Further expanding on Mary’s post above in relation to Lord Patten and the BBC:

    As Mary noted, one of Patten’s many roles is as a member of the Stakeholder Advisory Panel for EDF. Note the name of his temporary successor; the current vice-chair of the Trust, Diane Coyle.

    She also conveniently happens to be a member of the Stakeholder Advisory Panel for EDF.

    I already knew about their partiality in other areas on this front, but this is just ridiculous. Swap one EDF advisor for another.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !


    I thought Craig told you to stop just posting links or cut-and-pastes which don’t support a point of view of yours. I recall he said that he didn’t want his blog to be turned into a waste-paper basket.

    Have you forgotten his words already?

  • Vote 'No2EU' on 22 May

    Even if the people of Britain (or an indy Scotland) elected a government committed to renationalising the railways, we wouldn’t be allowed to do so under EU regulations that UKIP supported in a vote in the European Parliament.

    Vote ‘No2EU’ on 22 May !

  • Tom

    Sensible? First of all, where’s the money coming from to buy the businesses and run the rail services? We can’t even afford to pay for our young people’s higher education or fund the NHS properly. So whose jobs and pensions will go to fund your sensible plan, Craig? No, once the family silver is sold off, it’s not worth buying it back.

  • James

    Having had a recent trip to Englandshire, I think the railways are wonderful.

    It represents poverty and gross underinvestment.
    Cold platforms. Over priced hot drinks. A lack of customer care.

    Altogether a “bygone age”. Please keep it.

    Meanwhile in Europe we have clean trains, They run on time. They are secure. Train stations have the proper (it is 2014 not 1955 right ?) amenities.
    Altogether pleasant….. did I mention they are “on time” ?

    Like I say, it sometimes is worth the visit to see an actual “Victorian Railway System” in service (albeit in decline even by 1800 standards).

    Keep up the good work. Not !

  • Duncan McFarlane

    Fred wrote “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.”

    Far more of the votes cast actually count in Scottish parliament elections due to the second vote by Proportional Representation than in Westminster elections by First Past the Post. So independence is more likely to provide governments and policies the majority of Scottish voters want.

    Under First-Past-The-Post candidates only need the largest minority of votes in their constituency to win – with the majority of votes in a constituency frequently binned unrepresented. Even where winning candidates have more than half the votes its often not by much – with 40% or more of votes binned unrepresented, not counting at all.

    That’s how many Westminster governments have had big majorities on a third of the votes cast.

    I do vote for smaller parties or independents when i’m not standing as independent candidate myself.

    I don’t expect that my preference should form the government if it doesn’t have the majority of the votes. I do think the parliament and government elected should represent how people voted and that everyone’s vote should count.

    In the Scottish parliament there were half a dozen Socialist MSPS and there are now half a dozen Greens (who, until the last Scottish elections, held the balance of power). In Westminster there is no chance of all viewpoints being represented.

    And in my opinion even the idea that the majority should get its way, especially when it’s often a majority of 51% to 49% – or even a largest minority of 35% to say 30% – is backward and undemocratic. Governments should reflect the whole range of opinion and always be grand coalitions as a result. That would mena more compromise, but also everyones’ views being represented.

    I always vote for small parties or independents unless i’m standing as an independent myself.

  • Peacewisher

    Results of Guardian readers poll on Rail Renationalisation:

    93%.. Yes
    7%… No

  • Mary

    Any news on Pannell Craig? or as Mark Nadim says on Medialens

    Did the zombie actors win a prize?

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