Posts Tagged ‘Trains’

Cartoon: Cameron, Clegg and the Tories as David Lynch’s ‘Eraserhead’

June 26, 2017

There isn’t much to say about this cartoon, except that it was based on the film poster for David Lynch’s disturbing flick, Eraserhead. This is about a man with one of the weirdest hairstyles in cinema attempting to look after a weird, mutant baby, whose head resembles an eraser, hence the film’s title. It’s set in a crumbling, dystopian world, whose audio backdrop is in industrial noise. It’s been described as a horror movie, although it’s not quite that, as well as surreal, which it certainly is.

I thought it was a suitable metaphor for the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, as they’ve certainly done their best to make Britain as decadent and dystopian as possible. This is a Britain in which austerity killed 30,000 people in 2015 alone, according to researchers at Oxford University. Over a hundred thousand people are now forced to use food banks to stop themselves from starving, where 7 million people live in ‘food insecure’ households, where the family members don’t know if they’ll eat tomorrow. Families where the mothers are starving themselves in order to feed and clothe their children.

And all the while more people are forced into poverty through wage freezes, and cuts to welfare benefits. A country in which the poor, the unemployed and the disabled are vilified simply for being poor.

It’s a Britain where the NHS and the schools and universities are being privatised for the profit of private healthcare companies and school management companies, and in which uni students will graduate owing something like £40,000 worth of student debt.

This is a Britain in which homelessness is on the rise. Except you won’t see it, because local councils are passing laws to clear the homeless off their streets, so the site of them begging doesn’t annoy or upset the richer residents.

It’s a country where public services, like the trains, are being starved of investment so that their share value remains artificially high, and the bosses can award themselves big bonuses.

It’s a country where the private energy companies also keep prices high for the same reason.

It’s a country, whose natural beauty is in danger of being plundered and despoiled, as the government despises clean, renewable energy sources, and removes environmental protection legislation for the benefit of fracking companies.

It’s a country that’s heading rapidly towards dictatorship and authoritarianism, as New Labour, the Tories and their Lib Dem enablers passed legislation setting up secret courts, in which the defendant may be tried behind closed doors, with vital evidence and the identity of his accuser also kept secret, if the government decides this is required for reasons of ‘national security’. Just like the judicial system in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Stalin’s Russia.

But to make sure you don’t realise that this country is becoming a crumbling dystopia, the media do nothing but lie about how evil the left is, and how wonderful everything is under the Tories, including the BBC. A media dominated by a very few newspaper magnates – Rupert Murdoch, the Barclay Twins, Richard Desmond, Vere Harmsworth and a pair of Russian oligarchs.

So I drew David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith all in black and white with the same weird hairstyle as the film’s hero, played by Jack Nance, like the film’s poster.

This is the face of the Tory-Lib Dem government as it was a few years ago. But things haven’t changed since under Theresa May, who’s gone full steam ahead with all the old, wretch Tory policies.

Don’t have nightmares! Just vote for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour poverty, to end austerity and the predatory capitalism that sustains it.

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Soviet Space Art and Music

April 19, 2017

This is another fascinating space video I found on YouTube. Russia had a very strong space culture, possibly because it was the one area where they were undoubtedly in front of the Americans and the rest of the world for so long, arguably right up to the Moon landings. At one point there was a regular spot on Soviet television, where schoolchildren spoke to the cosmonauts on board the Salyut space stations.

The paintings in the video come from a magazine called Tekhnika-Molodezhi, which I think translates into English as ‘Technical Youth’. It shows how the Soviets imagined a future in which the Soviet Union, and by implication, the rest of the Communist bloc, were conquering space, landing on the Moon and colonising Mars. Back on Earth, they were pioneering new forms of transport technology, including giant walking robots, trains powered by magnetic levitation and futuristic cars. Many of these illustrations seem to have come from the 1950s. This was an optimistic decade for the Soviet Union. Stalin was dead, and Khrushchev had pledged himself to destroying the old b*stard’s ‘cult of personality’ in his 1953 Secret Speech. Living standards were rising, and consumer products were being developed and becoming more widespread. Something like an ‘affluent society’ was developing in the Soviet Union. At one point it looked like the Soviet Union was going to realise its potential and overtake the West as the most developed, progressive economy, a prospect that terrified the Americans. For more information on this, see the book Red Plenty.

The music’s electronica from 1984, according to the website. It’s interesting looking through some of the videos on the site, which also show that Russia produced some very interesting electronic/ synthesizer ‘pop’ music. The impression we always had when I was at school was that in popular music, the Russians were way behind us in the West. It’s fair to say that the Soviet authorities did distrust ‘decadent’ western music – Boney M’s ‘Ra-Ra Rasputin’ was banned because it was all about the Mad Monk, who was a non-person to the Soviet censor and official history. But it also shows that there was also a thriving youth musical culture as well, something I only found about at College.

Branson Denies Corbyn Forced to Sit in Corridor on His Train

August 25, 2016

Mike also put up a couple of posts this week about another controversy to hit Jeremy Corbyn. A few months ago the Labour leader released a video of him sitting in the corridor while travelling by Virgin Trains, Richard Branson’s rail franchise. Now Beardie Branson has released footage apparently showing Corbyn walking past empty seats. Of course the right-wing media has leapt on this, as Mike says, as it appears to show Corbyn is lying.

But Mike in his first article asks his readers who they’re prepared to believe – Branson, or Corbyn and the people he was travelling with? Since the video was released, other passengers have come forward confirming Corbyn’s story that the train was indeed ‘ram-packed’. Mike also points out that the video shows Corbyn walking past reserved seats, and that it is known that the train company upgraded other people to first class, after they realised he and his companions were on the floor.

He also makes the point that Branson has every reason to dispute the Labour leader’s account. Corbyn has said that he wants to renationalise the train network. Branson would lose out if this occurred, quite apart from the fact that his section of the rail network has not improved to the extent that is actually required. See Mike’s article: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/08/23/who-do-you-believe-about-corbyns-train-trip-the-profit-making-rail-company-or-the-politician-set-on-re-nationalisation/

In a further article, Mike quotes Steve Walker, who knows this area of the law better than him, to point out that Beardie Branson and the Beeb may have broken the Data Protection Act by showing the footage. There is nothing in the law which allows such footage to be used by a company to defend its reputation, and by putting it on YouTube and then giving to the Beeb, both Branson and the Beeb may have broken the law, and specifically the provision against using footage that specifically shows one individual.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/08/23/did-virgin-trains-break-the-law-by-releasing-cctv-footage-of-jeremy-corbyn/

Yesterday the ‘I’ joined in the right-wing attack on Corbyn, running the headline ‘Corbyn’s Train Seat Campaign Derails’ on the front page, with a photo of Corbyn walking past apparently empty seats. Here’s the photo.

Corbyn Train Pic

If this is supposed to show that Corbyn was lying, it has not done so. All the seats in the picture are reserved, as can be seen from the paper tags fixed to them.

And regardless of whether Corbyn was right about this specific journey, he is right in calling for the trains to be renationalised. The train service is now more expensive in public subsidies, and more efficient than it was in the last days of British Rail. I’ve been on train journeys, where I’ve been forced, with others, to sit in the corridor because the train is literally jam-packed. And there are frequent delays. On the rail network stretching from the south-west of England up to Scotland, for example, there are a frequent delays of anything from a few minutes to well over an hour regularly. Privatisation hasn’t, and isn’t working. Even Olga Maitland, the very Tory peer, wrote a piece in the Mail a few years ago recommending that the trains should be renationalised.

Site for the Renationalisation of British Rail

March 17, 2016

I found the following advert on the back page of Private Eye’s issue for the first fortnight in May last year (2015).

Bring Back BR pic

I tried out the website, and yes, as I write Bring Back British Rail is still going at the web address, bringbackbritishrail.org. If you go there, you’ll find a petition, which you can sign requesting the government to renationalise and unify the railway. I’ve signed it, because I’m heartily fed up with the many times I’ve spent waiting for delayed trains. During the 1970’s and ’80s, British Rail was frequently the butt of jokes on comedy programmes like the Two Ronnies. The nationalised rail service had a reputation for running late, poor service and quite appalling food. Its privatisation under John Major was supposed to sort all that out.

In fact the opposite happened. The service has continued to deteriorate. It is still marred by delays and poor maintenance. Moreover, the actually cost to the public has increased. The British taxpayer is now paying more in subsidies to the privatised rail companies that it did under British Rail. I can also remember talking to a disgusted railway instructor about 20 years ago, who was appalled at how the service had declined. He maintained that in the last days of British Rail, when the service was managed under the slogan Operating For Quality the railways were more efficient than at any time since they were nationalised. That achievement was wiped out after it was privatised.

He was also disgusted with the evasions and stonewalling given to the victims and the families of the victims of several major rail disasters. He stated that under British Rail, when accidents like these occurred, the company admitted responsibility, then set to work to correct the errors and failures that had produced them. After privatisation, the network was split into at least five major train operators, as well as a separate company that owned the track. And each one was passing the buck to the other after these disasters, so that it had been five years after one very serious accident, and the responsibility for the crash had still not been settled, let alone compensation for the injured and bereaved.

He was as disgusted as you or I.

So, I signed the petition. If you have a similar design to reverse this particular failure of John Major’s time at Number Ten, please feel free to go to the above site and add your name.

I think the food on sale at railway stations has improved, though. But it’s the only thing that has.

Spitting Image on Maggie Thatcher’s Victorian Values

February 14, 2016

Okay, in my last piece I put up a section from Maggie Thatcher’s own book, The Downing Street Years, showing that her ‘Victorian values’ meant that principle of less eligibility, under which people have been thrown onto the street and left to starve and take their own lives in order to stop them becoming dependant on welfare.

Many people recognised this at the time. It even formed the basis for some of the satire in the 1990s puppet TV show, Spitting Image, which regularly lampooned the Leaderene, along the Royal Family, the president of the US, and just about everyone else amongst the Great and the Good. I found this mickey take of Thatcher’s Victorian values, presented as a spoof ad for the Victorian Britain Theme Park, in the Spitting Image book, Thatcha! The Real Maggie Memoirs (London: Mandarin Paperbacks 1993).

Victorian Britain Spitting Image

If you can’t read it, the piccie says:

Visit the largest theme park in Europe.
The Victorian Britain Experience
Located all over Britain now!

We’ve recreated a period of history you thought was gone for ever!

Yes, no details have been overlooked to give you the feeling that the clock has been turned back a hundred years. Find out what wages were like in 1850, travel on the very trains used by the Victorians! Visit the same hospitals! Catch tuberculosis!

It’s so convincing you’ll think it’s really happening!

As you walk around the Victorian Britain Experience you will chance upon the sort of melodrama you might have seen in any 19th Century slum. Father is sacked by the wicked factory boss for going on strike. His poor family are evicted from their dwelling as mother is forced to go from door to door singing ‘Who will buy these overpriced dusters?’ and father scrapes together a living delivering pizzas on a moped, er I mean carthorse – oh well you get the idea … I mean there’s rubbish everywhere, the drains smell, all the roads are caving in, the lifts never work – I mean it’s a bloody third world country.

The Victorian Britain Experience

NB Please note that it has not been possible to recreate every single detail of Victorian Britain exactly. We have not been able to show what it would be like to live in a major world power with a massive trade surplus and booming manufacturing industry.

It’s as accurate a depiction of post-Thatcherite Britain as it was when it was written, to take the mick out of Thatcher’s own squalid little tome.

As for Britain becoming a third world country, this is what the Thatcherite authors of Britannia Unchained want – for Britons to work the same long hours for low pay as the peoples in the Developing World. All while they get rich, of course.