Andy Burnham’s policy on railway ownership is too weak

railwaysI like Andy Burnham: he clearly has been on a political journey and he has played a good role on the NHS, but in my view his position on rail policy today not only doesn’t go far enough – it indicates the disconnect between voters and Westminster politics that we must repair.

In the National Policy Forum process last year, Labour agreed a new deal for the railways. This included a commitment to allow a public sector operator to take on franchises and challenge the train operators on a level playing field in the public interest. This was the basis of our position at the election. Continue reading

Tories’ pre-election fantasising comes back to haunt them

Osborne Liar LiarNorthern powerhouse deflates into Northern power-cut. It was so hurriedly propagated by Osborne before the election as portraying the government as dynamic innovators of English devolution, but none of the details had been properly worked through, including the required transport infrastructure as we now know. So the election gimmick, if not evaporated, has dimmed at least to the long haul. Just 7 weeks after the election when the Tories boasted of the biggest investment in the railways since Victorian times, the grand 5-year £38.5bn plan has collapsed, with the government trying to dump the blame on Network Rail. The Tories are all the more culpable since they still vaunted their grandiose plans in their election manifesto though Network Rail admitted “very early on last year” that the 5-year plan would be ‘incredibly difficult to deliver’. Continue reading

The politics of Tory pledge-breaking

Tory-manifesto-coverPolitical gravity is starting to assert itself on the Tories’ ridiculous manifesto. You will recall that this gang of scaremongerers, who spent the entire election trading on economic competence, getting the deficit and public sector debt down, and “strong leadership” promised £28bn in unfunded spending commitments – presumably with the view that they’d never get chance to implement them because coalition negotiations, etc. There’s a lesson there: one should avoid tempting fate. You may also recall the fright UKIP gave the Tories all throughout the last parliament, the one that gave CCHQ willies enough to make a rash in/out referendum pledge on European Union membership. It’s been fewer than 50 days since the general election, so let’s take a look at how our overlords are doing. Continue reading

Labour 6:1 in favour of a public railway, stronger unions and an end to austerity

BE BOLD LABOUREarlier this week we reported that, following Syriza‘s remarkable victory in Greece on a platform of ending austerity and greater state intervention in the economy, 15 Labour MPs including Michael Meacher had called for a similar change in direction here. They issued a statement calling for an alternative to austerity, for public ownership of the railways and for a return to collective bargaining and employment rights in the workplace.

Now LabourList have carried out a survey showing that 83% of their readers agree with that statement, with only 13% disagreeing. That is a remarkable result. LabourList themselves say: Continue reading

As Syriza win on an anti-austerity platform in Greece, Labour MPs seek a change in direction here

SYRIZA Labour logoAs Syriza wins a remarkable victory in Greece on a platform of ending austerity and greater state intervention in the economy, fifteen Labour MPs have today expressed concerns about elements of Labour’s policy agenda, and proposed a change of course in three key areas. They have issued a statement calling for an alternative to austerity, for public ownership of the railways and for a return to collective bargaining and employment rights in the workplace.

Michael Meacher – who co-ordinated the statement – said: Continue reading