Posts Tagged ‘Greater Manchester’

Bring Back British Rail’s Email Urging People to Vote for Labour or Greens

December 9, 2019

Yesterday I received this email from the pressure group, Bring Back British Rail, which campaigns to have the railway service renationalised. It urges everyone to vote for either the Labour Party or the Greens, as these parties have both pledged to take the railways back into public ownership. It also gives the contact details of the organisations across the UK taking on the Rail Operating Companies, as well as online petitions to have the buses in Glasgow, Greater Manchester and Bristol also taken back under council ownership. They’re also advertising their own merchandise.

Greetings from Bring Back British Rail

As the General Election looms, this is a crucial week for our volunteer-run campaign for publicly-owned public transport, founded in 2009.

Both Labour and the Greens have pledged to bring railways and buses back into public ownership in their 2019 manifestos. This General Election on 12 December could mark the change of policy we need to create the fully-integrated, reliable and affordable public transport network which can re-connect all corners of our county and tackle the climate emergency. So please make sure you get out and vote on Thursday!

We’re celebrating 10 years of campaigning with a #GE2019 Merch Special Offer. If you don’t already have one of our popular Rail Card Wallets, Enamel Badges or Embroidered Patches, now’s your chance to get the set for yourself or a friend. All proceeds support campaign materials and activities. Please share on FacebookInstagram or Twitter. Orders must be placed by end Tuesday 17 December 2019 to receive in time for Christmas.

Merch Special Offer


Taking on the TOCs

In 2019, we’ve been using our national network to continue supporting local groups fighting back against different private train operating companies (TOCs) all over the country through own ‘franchises‘ initiative. Please support:

• Norfolk for the Nationalisation of Rail fighting Abellio Greater Anglia (aka Nederlandse Spoorwegen, owned by the Dutch government)
• Association of British Commuters fighting Govia on Thameslink, Southern & Great Northern (part-owned by Keolis, owned by the French government)
• Northern Resist taking on Northern (aka Arriva, aka Deutsche Bahn, owned by the German government)
• Public Ownership of Scotland’s Railway taking on ScotRail (aka Abellio, aka Nederlandse Spoorwegen, owned by the Dutch government)

If you know of campaigns in other parts of the country, or want to start one yourself, please get in touch: info@bringbackbritishrail.org


Taking back our Buses

In 2019, we’ve also been supporting local campaigns around the UK taking on the private bus companies. If you’re in GlasgowManchester or Bristol, please join:

Get Glasgow Moving In Glasgow? Sign the Petition:
you.38degrees.org.uk/p/takebackourbuses
Follow on: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Better Buses for Greater Manchester In Manchester? Sign the Petition:
www.betterbusesgm.org.uk
Follow on: Facebook | Twitter
Better Buses for Bristol
In Bristol? Sign the Petition:
www.change.org/p/bristol-city-council-take-control-of-bristol-s-buses
Follow on: Facebook
If you know of any other campaigns for publicly-owned buses, or want to start one yourself, please get in touch: info@bringbackbritishrail.org

In my view down here in Bristol, the transport network should never have been privatised. I am very well aware that British Rail was a joke, and there were severe problems with bus services, at least here in Bristol, when they were under council ownership. But they were better run and in the case of British Rail, cheaper and more efficient than today. We are paying more in public subsidies for today’s privatised network for a poorer service. Labour has pledged itself not just to a renationalisation of the railways, but all the public utilities so that they will be better funded, better managed and provide a better service, including the royal mail, water, electricity and broadband.

So I say, vote Labour on Thursday.

Labour Wins in the Council Elections

May 5, 2018

I’ve had a look at the election results according to the I newspaper today, Saturday, 7th May 2018. The I’s attitude is that all the parties are claiming the results are good for the, with the exception of UKIP, who seem to have been decimated. The headline on the front page is ‘Everyone’s A Winner…apart from UKIP, who lose more than 100 seats’. And no bad thing either, in my opinion. Their attitude is that Labour did well, but didn’t make the spectacular gains that were expected. The lib Dems have also increased their share of the vote, and look like they may hold the balance in determining which party gets into power, just as they did at the 2010 election.

The article ‘All Three Main Parties See the Bright Side Despite Setbacks’ by Nigel Morris on page 6 states

A BBC projection of the English local election results put Labour and the Tories each on 35 per cent support, with the Liberal Democrats on 16 per cent. Repeated at a general election, the United Kingdom would be heading for another hung parliament, suggesting that public sentiment has barely shifted since Jeremy Corbyn wiped out Theresa May’s Commons majority last year.

It would also suggest the Liberal Democrats could decide which party leader was handed the keys to Downing Street, as they did in 2010.

After declarations from all but one of the 150 authorities holding elections, Labour had gained 59 seats but lost control of one council overall. The Tories recorded a net loss of 31 seats and two councils, while the Liberal Democrats gained 75 councilors and four councils. however, the night ended in disaster for the UK Independence Party which was virtually wiped off the electoral map with the loss of 123 seats.

The article then quotes a polling expert, John Curtice, who said that the Tories had gained a small swing from Labour since the seats were fought four years ago, but that it was impossible to say in this situation that one party was ahead of the other and that it was a draw.

The article also states that Labour failed to gain some target constituencies in London, such as Barnet, Wandsworth, Westminster, and Hillingdon, but still retained its dominant position in the capital. It gained Plymouth, and became the largest party in Trafford in Greater Manchester. However, it performed ‘weakly’ in Dudley, Derby and Redditch, which the I declared suggested that it did badly in pro-Brexit areas.

The I also noted that as well as gaining Plymouth and Trafford, Labour also took Kirklees in West Yorkshire, but also lost Nuneaton and Bedworth. The Tories increased their majority in Barnet, which has been blamed on the anti-Semitism allegations against Labour. (p. 7).

On page 8 there’s the election results. Labour has 73 councils, the Tories 46, Lib Dems 9, and there are 21 with no overall control.

Labour also has 2,299 councillors, the Tories 1,330, the Lib Dems 536. There are 96 independents, 39 Green, UKIP 3, and one councillor described as ‘other’.

Labour and the Tories are neck and neck at 35 per cent in the projected share of the national vote, Lib Dems at 16 per cent, and 14 per cent ‘other’.

While this isn’t the spectacular landslide people were predicting and hoping for, it’s still a good, solid election result, especially considering the massive vilification of Corbyn and the attempts to undermine his leadership and programme through the anti-Semitism smears.

There is, of course, much room for improvement, especially if the Lib Dems are expected to decide who gets into parliament through a coalition. Cable has said he won’t go into coalition with Labour. I’m not surprised. For all he cited the supposed anti-Semitism in the Labour ranks as his reason, the reality is that the Lib Dems are now a Thatcherite party little different from the Tories. They were all too keen to go into coalition with the Tories in 2010, and, despite their claims, did absolutely nothing to hold the Tories back from their extremist policies. In fact they were more extreme when it came to the tuition fee increases.

We need to smash both Tories and Lib Dems to get a Labour government we deserve and Corbyn in No. 10.

Private Eye on the Dodgy Foundations of the Troubled Families Programme

February 17, 2015

I also found this article in the 27th July – 9th August edition of Private Eye criticising the government’s Troubled Families Programme. This was an initiative to tackle the problem families that feature so much in Tory propaganda and the pages of the Daily Mail. They’re the type of neighbours for whom ASBOs were invented, and whom Gordon Brown famously declared to be ‘feckless’.

The problem is, as the Eye reveals, there simply aren’t that many of them to require the massive amounts the government wishes to spend on the programme. Coupled with the fact that the contractor hired to carry out the programme is G4S, with its superb reputation for quality. Here’s the story:

The government’s Troubled Families Programme is itself troubled after coming under sustained attack from critics who argue that it’s simply blaming people who are poor rather than tackling anti-social behaviour.

Ever since it was launched by the unlikely figure of community secretary Eric Pickles, experts have criticised the foundations of its claim that there are 120,000 “troubled families” whose behaviour costs the country£9bn. They point out that the 120,000 statistic is based on an estimate of families with multiple disadvantages, not antisocial behaviour, and that nobody can come up with figures to justify the £9bn stated.

Just as well, then, that extra help is at hand. Under a £200m outreach service run in conjunction with councils and companies delivering the Work Programme, six firms will be staking their own money on their ability to turn troubled lives around under the government’s second big payment-by-results project.

Troubled families and local authorities in Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Warrington are especially fortunate to have assistance from a company that specialises in managing and co-ordinating the provision of services “to support workless people into meaningful, progressive employment”. Step forward, fresh from its triumph at the Olympics, G4S.

From this is appears that the Troubled Families Programme has been launched not because there is an actual need for the programme, but to satisfy the ideological and propagandistic needs of the Tories. As well as provide a nice little earner for the welfare-to-work companies.

Tory unemployment policy is based on the principle of ‘less eligibility’. Poverty isn’t due to economics and poor circumstances. It’s due to laziness and poor character of the unemployed themselves. Hence all the stories in the Daily Mail about problem families, and areas of high unemployment riddled with crime and plagued by drugs. The criminality and drug problems in those areas aren’t due to lack of job opportunities and poverty. No, they are the results of the immoral character of the people themselves, who prefer the squalor and misery of their lives to one of honest and respectable toil. and if people like them don’t exist, or exist in much smaller numbers, then it also casts doubt on Tory welfare policies as a whole. Without them, there is much less justification for harassing the disabled and ordinary unemployed. In order to keep up this façade that unemployment is all down to the anti-social bad attitude of the unemployed themselves, the government needs to be able to point to a large number of such ‘problem families’. And these clearly are invented through exaggerated and massaged statistics when they don’t exist. Hence the inflated statistics.

It also shows just how much of a scam the welfare-to-work industry is as well. I’ve posted a series of blogs on the repeated scandals of the welfare-to-work firms overcharging the government, to its marked indifference and even, it has been alleged, support and connivance. Private Eye has argued that the economics involved in government outsourcing means that these firms are only commercially viable through such fraud. It would appear from this that the Tories know this too, and so are desperate to give work to the private contractors in order to maintain the profitable illusion that private enterprise really is more efficient than government bureaucracy.

Quite apart from the fact that these companies may also be able to offer lucrative directorships in their turn, when the terms in power of certain MPs come to an end.

Private Eye on Corporate Interests Favoured over Members 2013 Tory Party Conference

February 7, 2014

Jeremy-Hunt

Jeremy Hunt, the man in charge of the NHS. He would rather talk to the private health care companies than grass roots Tories, it would seem.

One of the pieces I put up this week was on the group, Bite the Ballot, which tries to get young people interested in politics and voting. I remarked that if the government and other political partiers were serious about encouraging more people to vote, then they should actually try to expand their party’s membership amongst ordinary people, rather than simply give all their attention to wealthy donors from private industry.

I’ve also blogged on the similarity between the Tory’s policy of taking over experts from the private sector and putting them in charge of government departments and other concerns, in order to have them run according to the wishes of private industry, and the Nazis’ policy of ‘commission management’. This was the industrial policy in which the heads of private companies were co-opted into the bureaucracy of the Third Reich. Carl Krauch, the head of I.G. Farben, for example, was appointed general plenipotentiary for chemicals in 1938 and Director of the Reich Office for Economic Consolidation.

In their issue for the 23 August to 5 September of last year, Private Eye covered the way card carrying members of the Tory party were in a minority at their conference, and were even excluded from some events altogether. The article runs:

‘That only 38 percent of those attending the Tory party conference next month will be card-carrying Conservatives has attracted a lot of attention. But even they won’t be allowed entry to some key events.

The schedule for Reform, a think-tank with links to the party top brass, reveals a number of invitation-only talks paid for by those who really matter: the commercial and other lobbying interest who make up 36 percent of the attendees.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt, for example, will have a “private roundtable discussion” on NHS reform, paid for by BMI Healthcare, one of the UK’s largest private hospital groups. Reform has also arranged a private chat with health minister Dan Poulter, paid for by Baxter Healthcare, a US firm that sells blood and kidney services to the NHS.

Elsewhere Damian Green MP will speak on “policing and technology” at a meeting “in partnership with” Airwaves, which sells radios to the police; Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester, will speak courtesy of private security firm G4S; and Hastings Tory MP Amber Rudd will discuss “infrastructure investment” thanks to train leasing firm Angel Trains. How cosy!’

Apart from showing us who some of the firms lobbying the Tory party for the privatisation of the NHS are – Reform, BMI Healthcare and Baxter Healthcare, it also shows how low the party’s view of their own grassroots membership is, when they are excluded from so much of their conference.

If the Tories really are serious about encouraging people to vote, as they claimed to be when backing Bite the Bullet, then they will have to start by listening to their own members and opening up their conferences to them fully.

But given the elitism and preference for the company of respectable members of private industry over the masses, that probably won’t be happening any time soon