Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Boris' speech

Guess where I listened to R4 reporting Boris' speech this afternoon. Somewhere on the A75 near Dumfries. It was at the level of a second rate Oxford Union address. It did not deal with the questions of the moment. For months now everyone from business to the EU have pressed us (or the Tory government) "tell us what you want and how it will work?". Square the circle open freely moving borders including Ireland and whether leaving the EU means leaving the Custom's Union and the Common Market. Boris had no answers just Boris woffle. More speeches promised this week but do we really think any of them will have answers? I am not a remainer or a leaver. I am not Matthew Paris lying awake at night smarting from defeat. If you can, make Brexit work to our financial advantage; and if you can't, fess up to the nation over how ill led we have been. I say this with feeling because I spent the day in one of Europe's greatest strategic corridors. The Tyne Solway Gap aka as Hadrian's Wall aka the A69/75 Euroroute from the North Sea Ports to Ireland. And what is it like? You grind along surrounded by lorries from Italy, MacBurney's from Ballymena, who ever knows who from Donegal. You all get fouled up in the new roundabout at Dumfries Hospital. And so on and so forth. It is a dreadful route. Relatively speaking the Stanegate was more remarkable as was General Wade's Military Road from Newcastle to Portpatrick (a lot of which is the Euroroute but not all). What is the best reason for leaving the EU? Because we are not up to it. We have never been good at taking strategic benefit from it. Unlike the Irish, we don't how to get the EU to electrify derelict canal locks in the middle of nowhere. We muddle along because we love British amateurism. 18 months of planning for Brexit have demonstrated that. We genuinely have no idea from the Cabinet downwards how to deliver Brexit. And Boris did not enlighten. The next step..................................

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Corbyn's friendship with May

If you call for staying in the Customs Union you should be blasted!!!! That is what the Daily Express and the Labour Party agree over. Not for the first time I am left saying Corbyn is May's best friend (a critic says so in the link). It would never surprise me to discover Corbyn is encouraged by May. "Hear, you have a job for life so long as you stay in "opposition" and I will help you". Opposition is about just that, so all the other opposition parties suggest a tactic Corbyn should welcome and he says No. The British Public by a very thin margin voted to leave the EU. Nothing was said on the paper about Customs Union, Common Market, although many people had their opinions. There is ample evidence many thought it was an exercise to get rid of Cameron and the government. That went off half cock. So 2018 starts with the same meaningless record. And this is why I say it is meaningless. Because although Corbyn and the Tory Right are both united in wanting as little to do with the EU as possible, they do want this for very different reasons. One wants the Freedom to build the Socialist Workers Utopia (with the railways as an example to us all), the other wants a Hard Right fantasy. One of those is going to be disappointed. One is a small number of people and a lot of money. The other is a lot of people and not much idea about money. And in between are most of us! Like the commuters trying to get to work this week (where I am not). Stuffed by intransigence, loud mouths and dogmatists. Along come some politicians who want to break through that and Corbyn says no, even though most of his MPs think Remain a good idea. Finally who realises the inception of Concorde helped fuel British distrust of Europe. I have chapter and verse for that.  See .

Sunday, 7 January 2018

First Saturday of 2018

The first Saturday of 2018. By a thin majority the nation voted to say goodbye to our largest trading partners and 27 of our neighbours. 18 months after that vote and no-one REALLY knows how to do it. We are governed by a political party with just about 100,000 members? They are propped up by 10 Ulster MPs from the party and religious presuppostions of Ian Paisley. The most effective opposition to government comes from the SNP and its leader. Small wonder one faces 2018 in a spirit of uncertainty. If you had asked me to believe this would happen from the perspective of 1998 I would have said "Rowlocks". And above all, I don't get it, I don't understand how this has happened. And I don't know if the answer is Facebook.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Rail fares go up 2nd January 2018

Some of you will have just heard R4 with two protagonists on rail fares. Gents each from the Rail Delivery Group (who knows what that does?) and the Shadow Transport Secretary from Labour. Chris Grayling could not be borrowed to explain anything. The two who did speak were pathetic and this was based on their ignorance. The one point I heard which I think was a score was the stress on how foreign state railways benefit. It is a racket. The ignorance was for instance displayed by no-one mentioning the REPEATED failure of rail franchises. And added to it the CONSTANT changes of policy by Government. Tell me about Anglia Railways and Great Western (forgetting that serial offender East Coast) to understand this. Labour NEED to positively explain how they can do better. The guy did not. They need to say that the rail industry can only be efficient if vertically integrated and that the BR of 1993 was the most successful railway in Western Europe. All Labour needs to do is arm itself with the facts and figures of 1993 and say we will recreate British Railways as configured not for 1948 and Attlee but for 1993.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Hung Parliament

Our nation is one of the greatest nations in the World and most certainly in Europe. Viewed from the perspective of our friends and neighbours in the near Continent, this great nation seems engaged in collective long term stupidity. We want to sever relationships with our friends. At the end of the day, despite leading a very successful campaign, Labour is still a long way from government. The Tory leader (who I never felt very comfortable over) ran a terrible campaign (the visit to Eshott airfield really started to raise my eyebrows). But at the end of the day she had increased the Tory share of the vote but lost her majority. The Tories both in Parliament and the Nation remain CLEARLY the most powerful force and eclipse the Left. Yet the overwhelming power they sought eludes. Possibly because in a democracy we don't want anyone to have overwhelming power? The person who rescued the Tories was a lesbian about to marry Scot. Ruth Davidson is incredible and if you want the appealing politics of inclusivity, Mrs May should take much more advice from her than the party of the Paisleys. Do not be mistaken, the DUP are not and have never been the Ulster Conservatives. No way and never. I am not surprised Arleen Foster is relishing the idea of her politic being at the centre of British life for five years. No matter the British government is neutral with Ulster politicians to ensure the (currently broken down because of Foster) power sharing. So I think an alliance with the DUP is easily as nutty as the Referendum of 2016. We are simply as a nation not being "real". We are still pretty much unwilling to see the Referendum for what it was. We are unwilling to face down the UKIP mindset. Instead Mrs May has done her best to embrace it. I have no idea whether the proposed arrangement will last five years or a weekend. I am sure however that once Brexit negotiations start and we are forced to face the reality of saying we wish to leave the EU faced with the united 27 nations, several more wheels will depart ftom the crazed vehicle that has been British poliitics since 2014.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Our candidate called

Last night about 7.30pm, a knock on the door. It was our candidate Guy Opperman with one of Prudhoe's newly elected councillors Gordon Stewart working their way around the street. In seven years as our MP Guy has worked incredibly hard and when it comes to his willingness to meet anyone and pound the tarmac, he is faultless. He has willingly worked on railway matters with myself and colleagues. There are many reasons why he should have my vote but I will be struggling. Very little said about Brexit in this election so far but north of the Border, if the SNP receive a strong show of support, our UNION is in great difficulty over it. I think the concept of Brexit is questionable at the least. And I think the way we have set it about so far, referendum and all, is totally ridiculous. I could live outside the EU but not outside the Common Market or Custom's Union. Nuances millions would have to take time to dissect. Further, in this campaign, the Social Care issue has boiled up. Here we positively benefit from the utterly different ways Scots do things. Guy asked me how will you pay for it? My reply: not with a lottery. Pretty poor show if as a society we are not willing to share the costs and the benefits to everyone. A modern carehome boarded up a mile away is the local index to the issue.  It lies at the heart of Tory philosopy that people can work hard, improve themselves from the lottery of birth and pass that wealth to their children. A highly unpredictable death tax utterly undercuts that and in our community with its house prices will be deleterious. During the day I also met Wesley Foot who is representing the Greens. I think he is one to watch. A smart local, a businessman himself. So that leaves Labour and the LibDems. Will their candidates knock on the door? For me, the likely final point of decision will be the Prudhoe hustings 5th June 1930 in the Anglican church.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Tories offer nothing for young and old people

Earlier this week, we were asking what do the Tories offer young people. This morning, & rather to my surprise: what do the Tories offer old people? The new manifesto is apparently about to lob a series of grenades at the older generation. A Great Christian Nation should unavoidably and indivisibly be founded on Christ's great instruction to care for those in need. The demands of old age are so variable that the only fair solution is the pooling of social care. It sounds as if we are about to fly from this and that everyone can expect in old age to have their assets reduced to £100,000. Only the filthy rich will ever hand on the wealth they have created for their children. For most people there were will be no incentive to save whatsoever. I was brought up on an utter (and I thought Tory) mantra of save and avoid debt. But of course ever since that 1983 election, it has been chip, chip chip. I said a while back that I anticipate dying in penury and some friends laughed. I am more confident than ever that if I pass the threshold of 80 this is how I will end my days; in poverty, with no wealth to give my child (whose university education I have not the faintest idea of how to pay for). All because I tried to save! If it was not for the generous social care package available in Scotland I have not the faintest idea how the last 10 years with a none too well mother in law would have been managed. The Scots do think differently. Ever since I married one, I have been told that. We are a society that cares, quizzical look at me from south of the Border, do you understand? I do. DO NOT VOTE TORY if you want a future, unless you carry half a million with you. The Brexit business has already stuffed our future for our children free in Europe and now (perhaps because she really has no idea how to pay for Brexit (hence Chancellor/PM tension yesterday)), the nation is being told, you're ordinary folk, don't try and save, just get used to reducing your expectations. Does any of this rings bells for you or am I on some strange island of my own?