Posts Tagged ‘‘The Times’’

We Own It Appeal to Send Letter to Transport Minister to Take West Coast Railway into Public Ownership

December 2, 2022

And now, after the sketches of various TV presenters and characters, here’s some serious stuff. Don’t worry if you like the art, I intend to put some more of it up later.

I got this email from pro-nationalisation, pro-NHS organisation We Own It on Wednesday appealing for people to send a form letter they have created to the transport minister to take West Coast railway out of Avanti’s hands and into that of the state. The email runs

‘Dear David,

The governments of England, Wales and Scotland have been forced to take five of our railway lines into public ownership in the last few years.

Now you have a HUGE opportunity to make it SIX. Let’s bring the West Coast Mainline into public ownership.

Can you send our letter to the Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, to demand he save Christmas for millions of passengers and take it into public ownership?

Take 2mins to send the letter to the transport minister

The private company running the West Coast Mainline, Avanti, is doing such a terrible job that the government has said they may take it into public ownership.

The transport minister said in October that a publicly-owned operator is ready to take over if Avanti does not improve the service.

It is clear that the service is not improving – even though they paid out millions in profits to shareholders last year.

Now even right-wing papers like The Times are acknowledging that the publicly owned East Coast Line is doing a much better job than the West Coast Mainline.

It took We Own It supporters like you – alongside our allies at Bring Back British Rail (BBBR) – to force the government to take the East Coast Line into public ownership in 2018.

Now you have an opportunity to force the government to do the same for the West Coast Mainline.

We know sending them our letter can work – because it has worked before.

Demand the government take more of our railway into public ownership

You know our trains would be run much better in public ownership.

Instead of money being sucked out by private train companies, profits can be invested to cut our fares and make sure trains run on time.

Train drivers’ union, ASLEF, just revealed this week that £3.2 billion has been syphoned out in profits from our railways. 

That money could have been used to cut fares and make sure our trains run on time.

And it could have been used to pay our rail workers who kept our country running during the pandemic what they deserve.

But you can force change on this issue now.

We Own It supporters like you – side by side with our allies at Bring Back British Rail (BBBR) – forced the government to take the East Coast Line into public ownership when it was failing passengers.

With Avanti now failing to run West Coast trains properly, you have a unique opportunity to get another BIG WIN by forcing the government to step in.

Take 2mins to send our letter to the Transport Secretary now

This action can make a big difference. Send the letter to Transport Secretary Mark Harper and share the link with your friends and family and ask them to send the letter as well.

Thank you so much for everything you do to make sure our railways work for people, not profit.

Cat, Alice, Johnbosco, Matthew, Kate – the We Own It team’

I’ve signed it, because everything it says is correct. And the quotation from ASLEF shows that we need the unions not just to protect workers’ jobs, but also to provide proper information on the destructive effects of privatisation rather than Tory propaganda. If you also feel as I do, please feel free to use the links and send the letter as well.

The White Stars and Celebs Who Punched People Live on TV or at Awards

April 2, 2022

Much of the news and debate on the interwebs this week was about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars for making a joke about his wife’s baldness. Jada Pinckett-Smith had shaved her head because she has aloepecia. Rock joked about her doing G.I. Jane 2, so Smith got out of his chair, walked up to Rock and slapped him. After sitting back down, Smith told Rock to keep his wife out of his ‘f***ing mouth’. And then the outrage and speculation began. People have condemned Smith for assaulting Rock, who has not pressed charges. There has been speculation that the incident was somehow staged, as the ratings for the Oscars has been falling with something like only 10 per cent of the American public watching the last one. Hence the suggestion that the kefuffle was set up to add a bit of drama and boost viewing figures. I doubt it very much – it all seemed genuine to me. And if it was set up, it hasn’t worked because the figures for the Oscars were still the second lowest they’ve been.

People have also been wondering how much of it was due to Will Smith’s own unconventional marriage and the influence of his wife, Jada. Smith and his wife have an open marriage, though this is due to Jada having an affair with a Rapper called August. Smith doesn’t seem to have done anything to initiate the open marriage, except put up with his wife’s affair. And phone camera footage from someone in the audience shows Jada laughing immediately after the attack. The conservative commenter Matt Walsh has argued that this definitely shows she isn’t a good wife, as part of a wife’s responsibilities are to stop their husbands behaving like idiots and destroying their careers. In this view, a real wife in the circumstances would have told Smith to sit down, not to be stupid and that they weren’t going to the after show part as she wanted to have a long talk with him when they got home.

And then there was the response of History Debunked to all this. Webb put up a video with a title about this being something to do with increased diversity at the Oscars.

I don’t think so, because I don’t believe that people are violent or otherwise simply because of their ethnicity. Whatever the real motives behind the slap were, it definitely wasn’t the result of urban Black ghetto culture. It simply seems to be a man reacting, or overreacting, to a gibe about his wife. And besides, there have been plenty of White stars and personalities, who’ve punch or tried to punch someone either on camera or at an awards show. Here’s four.

  1. John Wayne vs Barry Norman.

Way back in the 1970s, John Wayne, the star of so many classic westerns, tried to punch the late, genial host of Film (fill in name of the year). But why, I hear you ask, given Norman’s calm, laid back and generally placid demeanour? Apparently it was during various student protests in America. Wayne, who had very right-wing views, started ranting about Communists. Bazza thought he was joking and started to laugh. Wayne got angry and was about to swing a punch at him when someone pressed another whisky in his hand and he settled down. And why not?

2. Angry Husband vs Bernard Levin on That Was The Week That Was.

This is quite similar to Smith’s attack on Rock at the Oscars. Every so often one of clip shows on TV shows this incident from the classic 60s satirical show, created by David Frost. A man comes out of the audience and walks towards Bernard Levin, one of the show’s other hosts. He politely asks Levin to stand up. Levin rises from his seat behind a desk with an expression that shows he has absolutely no idea what’s going on. The man then punches the Times journo and walks off. He angrily tells Levin that it’s because he gave a bad review to a play his wife was in.

3. Jeremy Clarkson vs. Piers Morgan.

This was at an awards ceremony, though I’ve forgotten what it was about. Clarkson’s talked about this on television himself, and said he’s genuinely not proud of his behaviour. Morgan had apparently walked up to Clarkson and accused him of having an affair. Understandably, Clarkson got annoyed and punched the former Mirror editor. At which point, in Clarkson’s telling of the incident, a crowd formed around them. A man smoking a cigar told them to take it outside. A small bloke suddenly rushed up, tore his shirt off and said, ‘No-one mess with me – I’m from Newcastle’.

4. Argy-Bargy between Guardian and Mirror Journalists at the Newspaper of the Year Awards

This was reported in the ‘Street of Shame’ column in Private Eye, way back in the ’90s. The two groups of journalists from the above papers had already been shouting insults at each other and getting increasingly drunk at the press awards. Things came to a disastrous head when the Guardian/Observer team won an award for best investigative reporting. The Mirror crew, who believed it should have gone to them, stormed the stage and tried to grab the much-coveted glass trophy. This slipped from their hands, fell to the floor and smashed. The evening’s corporate sponsor was understandably not amused, and withdrew their sponsorship. However, it would sponsor Young Journalist of the Year, who they clearly trusted to be better behaved.

These incidents aren’t at the same, global level of the Oscars, but they definitely show that irate members of the public, film and TV stars and journalists have been trying to cause bovver on TV and at awards ceremonies long before Smith and Rock. Race doesn’t have anything to do with it. If there’s any common factor here, it’s often men getting angry at what they consider to be outrageous attacks on their wives or marriage, or, in the last case, simply a mixture of intense professional rivalry and copious amounts of alcohol. Which may also have played a factor in Smith’s case.