Rail to No Profit

April 20, 2015
Public Transport

Cattle Truck

I don’t think anyone who supports a party in the election agrees with all their policies and I’m no exception.

I think the Green Party have it slightly wrong on the issue of public transport. I don’t think nationalising the railways would be a return to the bad old days of British Rail because times have changed, expectations of customer service are different and technology has totally altered how we book and while I agree it should be de-privatised, I don’t think Central Government is the place.

Instead, I’d like to see public transport turned into a ‘Not For Profit’ organisation. That way, they can make money but that money will go back into the service, not into the pockets of investors and shareholders and definitely not into Government coffers.

We also need a simpler system of fares. It’s ridiculous that the same route can cost different prices if you break it into sections or if you book at different times. Surely a cost per mile or per station would make more sense, after all the same train runs the same route for the same cost so why can’t it be averaged out?

The Not For Profit would include the booking system (we don’t need all those comparison sites when one centralised one could do the job), the maintenance, tracks, stations, trains – everything. So you would only need one management team and hopefully there would be more efficient communications inter-company.

And in the 21st Century, should we really have a first and second class – doesn’t that represent all that is bad in society?

This could also be extended to a National coach service and improved local bus services – working together with better connections.

One final advantage of removing Public Transport from state ownership is that it stops the Government using it in any way for their own political ends …. speaking of which, let’s scrap HS2!

Will Get Fooled Again

April 19, 2015

Lloyds Bank Sell-Off

Horses for Votes


So, another Tory policy straight out of the handbag of Margaret Thatcher.

This time they are going to let ordinary people buy shares in Lloyds Bank that the Government owns.

By ‘The Government’ of course, they mean us, the public.

We’ve already paid once for these shares and now we’re getting the opportunity to buy them again… wow, thanks! And everyone can benefit – as long as they have at least £250 kicking around doing nothing.

After the great success of the sale of the Post Office, what could possibly go wrong?

Here’s what. ‘Ordinary’ people will take the risk of buying a number of the original shares. The Tories, because this is a bribe to keep them in power, will make more cuts and those ‘ordinary’ people will sell the shares off for a small profit in order to make ends meet.

Pension funds and the super-rich will pick up the shares and of course they will have the time to sit on them until they are more valuable.

In other words, those who can’t afford it, or in this case can just about afford it, will be used for the good of the wealthy. Cameron looking after his buddies again.

As much as it hurts me to say it, I think these shares should be sold on the open market to get the maximum value back on them and the money received should be ring fenced for the NHS – that way, indirectly, the banks will fund some investment in the NHS.

At least that would be honest (look it up in the dictionary Mr Cameron, it’s under H).

It Means Nothing To Me, Ah Inflation

April 15, 2015
Cost of Living

Statistics and Lies

Great to hear that inflation is at zero percent, give or take.

Yet again though, a perfect example of how politicians live in a cloud and don’t inhabit the real world we all live in.

We’ve spent the last 5 years, together or otherwise, bailing out the banks while having to cut back and make do – fixing our own cars, repairing our vacuum cleaners, bodging jobs around the house etc.

But now, or very soon, these things will come back to bite us. The large items we’ve been supergluing and cable tying together will need replacing, so although our weekly/monthly outgoings stay the same, we’ve somehow got to find the money to afford them.

Most people will have to take out loans or use credit cards getting themselves in debt but the Government, whichever flavour, won’t care because on paper we’ll be spending more and that will show in the economic figures.

And guess who will claim the credit (no pun intended)?

Fight, for the Right, to Buuuy

April 14, 2015
Right To Buy

Maggie Sang the Blues

For a party that constantly reminds us about ‘market forces’, the Tories seem to have missed the point with their new ‘Right to Buy’ proposal.

When they originally sold off public housing stock it didn’t take a genius to see that a reduction in that stock would lead to higher house prices and rents. Simple supply and demand economics, if you’re going to get rid of stock, you need to replace it or prices rise.

And of course they didn’t replace the stock, neither did Labour for that matter, they all left it to the private sector because ‘market forces’ take care of everything …. except when they don’t!

So now we have ridiculous house prices and rents and they think the answer is to sell more stock off.

If the theory is that by paying rent over a long period, you are somehow entitled to some ownership of that property, then surely this should be extended to the private sector. So if you pay a private landlord, after a period you should have a right to some of the value of the property.

Of course that won’t happen because the big private landlords (the property companies) are the Tories pals.

If they really must go down this route of vote buying by proxy, it should be fully costed, not financially but they should have to show how the properties will be replaced.

Update:
Just seen this on Twitter from @SuziePerkins- if it’s true, and I’ve no reason to think it’s not, this is just disgraceful.

Richard Benyon Tory MP owns 300+ council houses Thatcher sold. Makes millions each year in Housing Benefit. Sums up Tory housing policy!!!!”

You Can Leave Your Hatton

April 13, 2015
Hatton Garden Heist

Bit late officer?

OK, it’s a bit late but I thought I’d mention the Hatton Garden Heist – from a slightly different perspective.

There’s been a lot said, rightly, about the police response … or lack of it but at the end of the day you have to have a grudging respect for the gang. No one injured, 2 days of work and even a break in between.

I feel sorry for any small family businesses that have lost out but presumably they will be insured because all their records will be up to date and legit…

Some of the stolen goods are supposedly previously stolen by their current owners so you can’t have a lot of sympathy there.

Then there are the people who had large amounts of cash or jewellery – well, the jewellery will have been documented and insured (won’t it) and if there are large amounts of cash you have to ask yourself why? Tax avoidance anyone?

But the real story should be that this is just one example of the police not bothering to turn up and it’s only getting the publicity because of the amounts involved.

What about all the ordinary people who are robbed, have houses burgled, cars stolen or are assaulted with no response from the police. These are the real victims and they deserve better.

Basically, the wealthier you are, the more likely you will get a police response – I remember when a well known footballer had his mansion robbed a few years ago, there were police at the electric gates, helicopters above and a large police presence. Don’t see that happening when old women or war veterans are attacked in their homes!

And watch out the gang involved in the heist because if they do track you down, and there will be massive resources allocated to it, your punishment will be much harsher than if you had stolen from Joe Public.

If a Job’s Worth Doing ….

April 10, 2015
Office Monkey

Office Monkey

The Conservatives are telling us the economy is back on track thanks to them, and pointing to low unemployment rates and the high number of those starting their own businesses.

(Labour rightly point to the fact that many of these jobs are zero hours contracts but they are missing an opportunity by not mentioning that a lot of the newly self-employed didn’t have an option and won’t be earning good money, so they will have to claim benefits.)

But even if those new employment/unemployment figures were all they are cracked up to be, there is a hidden problem.

I work with some major companies, both UK and Internationally based and one thing that has become apparent recently is the lower standards in the sector I work in. And it’s not just the outsourcing to foreign call centres with all the problems that entails.

More relevant seems to be that these large corporates don’t have to pay as much to fill positions now, so the staff probably don’t care too much – why would you? (Peanuts = monkeys)

The end result is less efficient businesses which must mean less productive which presumably isn’t good for the country – or the economy. How often are you feeling the need to complain about Customer Service?

So yet again, what the politicians make to look good on paper doesn’t look so good when you dig a little deeper.

Back to Frack

April 1, 2015
Fracking

(Pic – Huffington Post)

The BBC have a good site at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election/2015/manifesto-guide giving a guide to how the parties treat different issues so I thought I’d see what they think about fracking. The results were unsurprising.

The Green Party are against it, as are the SNP.

Labour would give it the go-ahead with the right checks and balances in place – don’t really know what that means but then they probably don’t either. That really isn’t an opinion, it’s sitting on the fence with every intention of doing what you want anyway but dressing it up with pro-fracking ‘experts’ when you need them.

The Lib-Dems are pro fracking – and there was me thinking they were an environmentally minded party.

The Conservatives of course are all for it. Well they would be wouldn’t they, after all, they and their chums at the oil and gas companies are very tight. If I had the time I’d research how many Tory MP’s have business links with, or shares in, the industry … maybe when I win the lottery!

Bear in mind, the emissions from fracked gas might be lower than fossil fuel but the amount of carbon needed to extract it actually makes it more polluting. There is also the pollution as a result of chemicals used, the unbelievable amounts water used and the general detriment to health to consider.

So no real surprises (well, maybe the Lib-Dems) but one of the reasons I’ll be voting Green.

Never Mind the Ballots Here’s the Best System

March 31, 2015
Proportional Representation

Voting System

I remember when I first heard of Proprtional Representation as a voting system it seemed like such an obvious idea, the result of the election based on the overall wishes of the entire country.

The counter arguement was that there would never be a majority Government under this system and we’d end up being like those unstable European countries (?).

But there wasn’t a majority at our last election and it looks like it will be the case in the current election too so that arguement against PR doesn’t hold water. Again we’ll have a Government that is formed to suit one party’s agenda, irrespective of the wishes of the people.

I wouldn’t expect the Conservatives or Labour to be pushing for PR but it would benefit the Lib-Dems so I’m surprised they haven’t been mentioning it – or is it a case of not liking the present system but benefitting from it last time and not wanting to change something they may benefit from again.

I’d like to see a simple system of PR – choose the number of MP’s we need (much fewer and therefore cheaper would be my suggestion) and share those seats out as a percentage of the vote. An arguement against that is that the parties get to choose our representatives but the reality is that happens already when favourites are parachuted into safe seats.

The key is in the name – Proportional REPRESENTATION.

Back For The Future

March 29, 2015

Animal Cruelty

Capitalism & Climate


It’s been a while, so what made me revisit and revamp the blog (and the Twitter and Facebook pages)?

First, I recently read the latest book by Naomi Klein, THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING – CAPITALISM VS THE CLIMATE and it re-ignited my interest, frustration and pent up anger with how things are regarding the environment and corporate responsibility.

Then of course there is the upcoming election with the usual meaningless promises just to win votes, promises we know won’t be kept, and the realisation that while concentrating our minds on their comfortable battle grounds NHS, Education, and the Economy they are managing to miss the ‘Elephant In The Room’ issue of Global Warming which could soon supersede all their key issues.

Some research on the Internet soon revealed just how little a prospective Government (any of the main parties) care about the issue, with licences for Fracking covering most of the UK and the main parties not even mentioning it – and certainly not mentioning how closely they work with the major polluters like the big oil companies.

So I took a look at the Green Party’s policies and realised that, in general, I liked what I saw.

Making the changes needed for the environment before time runs out and making society fairer at the same time means making some serious decisions which the main parties won’t even consider, so I’m going to be adding my two pennies worth.

Enjoy!

Thatcher – RIP or not RIP?

April 8, 2013
Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher

Opinions of Margaret Thatcher are obviously diverse.

There will be plenty of comments each way on various sites and blogs and, as usual, I strongly recommend the Scriptonite blog for researched, common sense comment.

Without doubt the country is more divided since her time in Government and large corporations have benefitted from the sell-off of State assets.

The sale of council houses was a perfect example of this – giving the impression that she was empowering ‘normal’ people but actually reducing the number of social housing available to those without the money to buy them while filling the pockets of private landlords.

She classed Nelson Mandela as a terrorist – guess she got that wrong too.

I lived in London when she was in power and having moved oop north fairly recently, to an ex-mining area, it has been a real eye opener for me hearing what went on at the time and how strongly people feel.

There are however two things that I feel need mentioning:

First – The final irony is that the woman who wanted to privatise everything owned by the state, will have her funeral paid for by the state. I can sympathise with her family on a personal level but they should be picking up the cost… or maybe it could be sponsored by one of the big corporations.

Second – Is no one else noticing that everything they are saying about Thatcher will be said about Cameron in years to come …. assuming we are still allowed to criticise politicians by then.