The railway station pictured above is in Wales, as the Welsh advert indicates, but this is about public money, tax from everyone in the UK. (Please see below for the English version)
I’ve been too busy, too tired and spent too long deliberating over this post. No point, it’s mostly simple vitriol aimed at useless UK Rail Services, wasteful Public Authorities and the despicable Labour Party, so I might as well just let it out.
To follow on from my last post, a couple of things have occurred in Newport since the end of the Ryder Cup and none of it is positive. I was just going to add to the post with criticism of the new railway station, but as I mentioned the appalling state of Newport City Centre, well it has now actually managed to get worse. More shops are leaving the city, including Marks & Spencer, and the Passport Office may close. So Newport is really moving forward in the afterglow of the Ryder Cup, well done…
Fingers are pointed at various parties, of course the Coalition (it is Wales, Labour’s heartlands), with regard to the Passport Office, but ultimately I think the Labour party have a lot to answer for and the situation in Newport does illustrate some of the fundamental problems caused by their Government.
The Comprehensive Spending Review has taken so many of the headlines over the last few months, but let us not forget for one moment what brought us all to this point. The financial crisis, exacerbated by our over-reliance on that sector, was the major cause of course, but the incompetence of the Labour Government and the ability of that Government and their associated authorities, to frivolously spend tax payers’ money were also major factors in bringing the country to its current plight.
Network Rail with the help of the Welsh Assembly Government (and I believe Arriva Train Wales and Newport City Council also had some part in it), erected this monstrosity in Newport, a few hundred yards down the road from the old station.
The “Futuristic” New Station in Newport
The Old Station
What’s wrong with that building? Nothing; is the simple answer to that. It now stands unused, like so many shops in the city centre.
Similar to my last post about Newport City Centre, I wonder did the ‘artist’ who dreamed up the 'vision' picture ever visit Newport? Or Britain for that matter?? That really is a vision of ‘a future’, sometime, somewhere… Not sure where he/she got the idea for those trains...?
The station opened to some fanfare, just before the Ryder Cup was due to start. It was pretty much rushed to finish in time for the event and that’s not surprising since it was the only major development that coincided with the competition, all other projects having fallen victim to the economic crash.
I’ll go into some of the details why this station is so ridiculous, but basically what I want to show is the problem of poor planning and of the complete and utter incompetence of Public Authorities in this country, particularly in Wales. Newport is a revealing example of this situation and also of the failure of 13 years of Labour Government. Which is also something I want to highlight, because it is all too often over looked in so many quarters, again, particularly in Wales.
So just a quick summary of the problems of this station and why it is such a pointless waste of money; firstly there was a perfectly reasonable station in existence, as pictured above. The main reason they built a new station was because of the Ryder Cup, to create some sort of good impression for all the visiting fans. Do they think people are impressed by s**t like that?
If the opinions of Americans were the concern, do they think the US fans are expecting hastily nailed together pieces of corrugated-iron and plastic, attempting to ape constructions in more developed parts of the world (parts of the US for instance) and completely out of character with the surrounding area?! Or might they be more impressed with a well preserved and/or renovated Victorian building?
The people in charge of promoting the city for the Ryder Cup certainly attempted to emphasis Wales’s historic setting, so how confused does this hunk of sh*te look, slapped in the middle of a decaying city centre?!!
I think originally the thought was that the old building would be utilised in some way, but while other projects were shelved and now businesses are leaving the city centre, the two unstoppable juggernauts in the public sector of collective idiocy and bureaucratic incompetence kept this project moving at a good pace…
Because most of the other city centre development projects were pulled, the station is now completely out of line with the rest of the centre. The old station was at the end of a street which, while certainly under-developed, could have had potential for success in the hands of competent planners. The new station is not aligned to any street, off a round-about and dual carriageway, behind an unrelated car-park and 300 odd yards further away from the shopping areas and bus station (which was already quiet far away). There is nothing close to it, even though it is in the city centre and there is no suitable proximate area to develop around it.
Not that the City Council can redeem themselves due to the state of the rest of the city centre, but it’s clear concerns were raised, before the project was started and in late 2008 as the financial crisis was in full swing.
So they went ahead and spent at least £22 million (although I have seen greater amounts quoted) on this monstrosity. A lot of people may have thought ‘well they’ve gone and done it, at least they’ll provide better facilities, etc’. Well you’d think…
But no, remember who this is? It’s Network Rail and the associated public authorities. It’s a little closer to its car-park, but there is no greater capacity in the actual station. There are no extra ticket windows or machines, there are less ticket barriers, when they were predicting so many extra fans going through the station for the Ryder Cup and there is no travel centre, when the old station had that facility. So really there's less capacity and there is increased pressure on the normal windows from advanced tickets and more complicated bookings.
The one shop there was in the old station has been moved to the quieter entrance on the other side of the new station from the city centre. Most people have no idea it’s there.
On the platform there is little change, the new station does mould into the relatively recently added fourth platform, but the main central platforms still have the old shelters that haphazardly join the new stairway. The old café, waiting rooms and toilets are still used, but are by the old station, as you would expect... These facilities are a long way from the new entrance.
The only mildly significant improvement is a lift to that recently added platform, but I have no doubt that this could have been managed with the old station and more significantly, at a much reduced overall cost.
As with everything that is associated with our incompetent public authorities and their massive misplaced expenditure, there is plenty of positive propaganda.
The only benefits that they are even claiming are the green credentials and the alleged improved position, which is only true with regard to the car park. It’s not even clear to me that they have returned optimum improvements for car parking, when it seems to me that they could have used some of the space taken up by this new hunk of metal for extra car parking, while the old station just rots 300 yards down the road!
Bull***t straight from the horse’s mouth and there is a time lapse video on that link showing the construction occurring. But the camera is facing away from the city, so you can’t see the city decaying before your very eyes. If you were to stand still in Newport for only one day you will catch a glimpse of it rapidly declining…
I note the mouthpiece from the City Council changed his mind and, well, most of that press release is utter b**locks! I quote “improved ticketing and information points and more shops” as bare-faced lies.
And speaking of the propaganda I come back to my title and this poster:
I’ve seen these posters in a few different stations, but the two posted here are from Newport station itself and there were more. Advertising the station, in the station! Genius…
They obviously think it’s funny, not pathetic.
I don’t even know where to begin with it. They are taking the f***ing p**s!
Obviously in the poster they’ve blotted out the rest of Newport in the background, but 20 minutes crawling through the town in the ever painful approach to the station would certainly limit the chance of any confusion as to your whereabouts on arrival in this “iconic” station..!
Yes, one might expect such a station in the rich and highly-developed cities stated, but in a backwater like Newport, a town in desperate need of effective planning and development, it just looks ridiculous.
But these people are completely deluded or at least they appear to be so, from the constant sh*te they spout in support of their ill-conceived projects. They actually think that people will see that poster and think 'Ooh I might go there…' I don’t mean train enthusiasts. I’m sorry but they don’t count and I doubt, after you factor in flasks and packed lunches, that they bring a lot of revenue to any particular area.
Do they honestly think the average person will turn to a friend and suggest a trip to Newport upon seeing this ‘advertisement’? “What? Go to Newport? Why?” “Well I like the look of that station, can’t believe it’s in Newport! Looks interesting. What else is there in the town?” “F**k all!”
And they will have spent a lot of money on that poster.
Note the quotes that state “much” positive feedback about the station. Intangible really…
It seems that they did temper their plans due to the financial situation, the plans were meant to be grander with more shops and facilities, so why not pull it completely? Why have this half-ar*ed waste of space that provides little, if any, improvement for over £22 million?!
Perhaps aside from some of the ‘eco-friendly’ boasts, the extremely limited improvements that have been made could have been easily achieved in a renovation of the old station, at considerably reduced expenditure.
This is the problem; these imbeciles are in charge of huge sums of tax payers’ money (and rail fares). They have no competition, they didn’t make this money in a competitive market as a normal private company would have to and more money will automatically come in to replace the millions that they sp*nk wherever they f**king feel like. They don’t have to justify their decisions to markets, investors and customers (that is customers that have an open and free choice as to where they obtain their services), they only have to justify it to other inept public authorities and to the general public (and that's the least of their worries). And let’s face it, as you can see from all the bull***t these organisations spout, they always have each others’ backs.
Other public authorities have vested interests in this project and their culture, grown up in the years under Labour, is be constantly and consistently positive. If you say it enough people will begin to believe it.
The city centre is crumbling and they spend over £22 million on an absurd looking lump of metal, one which contains barely any extra facilities.
I don’t need to point out to any rail users that the services are absolute s**t, no matter what statistical evidence they produce, anyone who catches trains on a regular basis knows the services are pitiful. And the worst is First Great Western, one of the main providers in Wales. The trains are unreliable and over-crowded and the delays are consistent. In fact their definition of ‘on time’ makes most of their statistics obsolete.
Network Rail can talk all they like about customer ‘satisfaction’ and service ‘reliability’ being at record highs but if that is indeed true, any rail user knows that is only because the levels of both used to be virtually zero!
The service is terrible and massive investment is still required, so they spend over £22 million on a station.
A station does not improve the service. It can improve the comfort and convenience in-between use of the trains, but overall it cannot improve on terrible service from the transport itself. There is so little in this station that it is difficult for them to claim any improved service, but they do. Look through all the propaganda and you will see they think it does, or at least they say it does.
Quick analogy for these cretins; a fancy new bus-stop does not prevent the bus from getting stuck in traffic, breaking down and ultimately stinking of p**s!
Similarly and as with my comment early on the station being some sort of attraction, do airline passengers choose a destination or who they fly with, or even whether they fly at all, because of what the airport looks like? No! Of course not. In terms of the airline they consider cost and service, and the destination speaks for itself.
So I’ve been through those factors in terms of rail services and Newport as a destination. These f***wits’ arguments don’t stand up.
F***wits who repeat that the station or any new building in an urban wasteland is ‘iconic’! There’s a University campus being knocked up on the riverfront on the other side of the city centre and that’s going to be ‘iconic’ as well. In fact they use the word to describe two different constructions in this article. It loses all meaning when these idiots keep repeating it to describe every f***ing lamp-post they can afford to stick up!
But back to the station as briefly as possible, again along the lines of service and the purpose of this folly, they have built this station while other smaller stations, lines and services remain closed.
There are numerous examples of this throughout the country and in South East Wales they have opened the station and line from Ebbw Vale to Cardiff. It stops in a suburb of Newport, but it doesn’t stop in Newport, to the consternation of many. Obviously cost is an issue and it doesn’t look like it’ll be opening any time soon.
What good is a f***ing ‘iconic’ station if you haven’t even got a rail service that gets you to the f***ing place?!! Apparently the EU are putting in £21 million to improve the network, local authorities just spent £22 million on this f***ing lump of sh*te. Jesus H Christ!
This is your money. Network Rail is publicly owned and the Welsh Assembly Government receives most of its money from Westminster. Even Arriva Trains Wales, the only “private” company involved in this project, are heavily subsidised.
If it had been private finance the project would have been pulled and/or fundamentally reconsidered. But as I have stated this is your money, taxes and fares, combined with the unstoppable momentum of bureaucratic incompetence; massive sums of money placed in the hands of idiots. Authorities incapable of changing direction and making sensible decisions, but most importantly not properly held to account for their ridiculous actions.
There is a serious logic breakdown in all of the reasoning and excusing from those responsible, but all done simply to cover up their stupid decisions and incompetence.
They say this ludicrous facade gives a good first impression of Newport, but what about the second impression?
Firstly the fact that there’s nothing in the station and then you step out into the desolate wasteland that is the city centre. What kind of impression does that give?
From a station exit you see a barely used shopping centre and car park and the back of a Travellodge
Allegedly the Welsh Assembly money was only available for a new construction, so this encouraged the illogical behaviour. More effective planning and decision making there, utterly incapable of making a common sense call, outside the realms of policy and procedure
Over £22 million, the local authorities input could have been spent improving the horrific city centre. In this time of austerity it could have been spent on schools or hospitals, budgeted for more needy and worthy areas. A f***ing footbridge..!
But this is where we are after 13 years of the most ridiculous Government this country has had in a long time. Behind all of this kind of incompetence and failure is the spectre of the Labour party; all their actions and everything they stood for.
The belief that throwing money at anything is in some way an automatic solution to any problem and the core belief that if you repeat something positive enough times, people will begin to believe it and ultimately accept it. It’s all about spin and it’s all bull***t.
With this station they claim it is good for the local economy, will attract further investment, etc and stand by their excuses even when they tore apart in front of them. But actually the local economy will benefit little, such a project benefits private contractors most of which would not have been based in the area, the labour used was unlikely to be have included many local people, the station itself makes little or no difference to the service for local rail users and the new building does nothing more to attract investment than the old station would have.
Out of the £22 million, how much makes its way into the local economy? Very little; is the simple answer for that one.
Newport also throws up a great example of Labour comfortably taking their position in opposition and it really grates. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts it is all too easy for them to criticise any actions by this coalition government made necessary by their own mistakes and they come across looking good; as the memories fade and the ill informed are easily swayed by their apparent altruism. It is very easy to pick holes when they have no responsibility and fortunately they are in no danger of having any power for a few years yet.
They are scoring cheap points from the consultation on Newport's Passport Office (Peter Hain here) and so many people conveniently over look the fundamental issues.
It does seem like a poor decision by the current administration, aside from an ever decreasing number of shops and the usual bank branches, estate agents, recruitment agencies, etc, there is nothing in the city centre. There are very few private firms of any significant size. The Government may well reconsider and the office might not close. But to me the situation highlights the fact that Newport did not develop under the Labour Government and you can see the same story throughout so many regions in the UK.
However, the vitriol is all stored up for the Tories and of course there is particular disdain for the “ConDem” coalition, with the Lib Dems seen as some sort of collaborators and all of this seems to be accentuated in Wales.
Far too often, especially in Wales, the Labour party come through apparently blameless. But it’s also obvious why; they did like to spend, no matter what the end result, so a lot of people liked that.
People have got to remember there was a world wide economic boom during the majority of their time in power. And to be put it very simply Labour did f**k all during the boom years to develop the Welsh economy. All we got was an expanded public sector based on financial sector growth and as I have already mentioned, it is the same story in so many regions. The crash completely undermined this ridiculous approach to economic ‘development’.
Labour’s transparently thin economic strategy was quite clear to me only four or five years after they came to power and it quickly became frighteningly apparent in areas such as Newport and the most parts of the valleys. The likes of Cardiff and Swansea benefitted from their size and status, and the public spending combined with more of a multiplier effect.
If Newport City Centre is decimated because one public sector office is closed, who’s to blame?
Those who are to blame will be pointing the finger elsewhere, that is for sure.
I went on far too long about that contemptible railway station, but it is circumstances such as those I have described in Newport that are the underlying cause of my disdain for the Labour party's politics. Pretty much everything is their fault.
A lot of people are confused about the bankers’ role in all of this, of course they made massive errors, but the Labour government overlooked it, happy to spend the tax receipts without asking too many questions and they didn't save a penny.
Now many talk of making the bankers pay, but a government, of any of the parties, would not be able to maintain any significant level of public spending without a functioning financial sector. They can’t screw the financial sector because that will screw the economy; an economy that is still over reliant on that sector.
I will write more about Newport, it genuinely is a good example of the failure of New Labour. Yet with two MPs returned at the last election, it’s apparent the electorate don’t hold it against them.
Also the empty rhetoric about Ryder Cup is now vaguely amusing and I have seen some laughable statements on the website of Newport Unlimited, the development agency.
The underlying feeling here is against the Labour party but this is about all public authorities, in charge of sometimes eye-watering sums of other people’s money and with clearly very little clue what they’re doing.
Network Rail’s profits have doubled they recently announced and I would hope every single penny goes into improving their archaic and absolutely sh*te rail network.
Their “futuristic” construction
What kind of future?
To me the reality is a nightmare vision of the future; this monstrosity looms large in a decaying city centre, mocking the current circumstances of the vast majority.
But unlike a future Dystopia from science fiction, it isn’t an evil corporation or power crazed despot behind the discrepancy, in Newport’s post-Labour reality it is public money that has been used to create this perverse situation, as so many struggle to make ends meet.
When I see an artist’s impression of how a development is supposed to ultimately look, it often makes me wonder if the “artist” ever visited the town in question…
Kingsway Shopping Centre development - John Frost Square, Newport, South Wales
These pictures aren’t actually up to date, but that vision was how it was supposed to open and that was the reality. It doesn’t get much busier than these pictures suggest and I must point out there are very few shops inside the shopping centre.
In time for the Ryder Cup they’ve painted some bits of the surface and stuck a couple of giant marbles in, apparently they’re fountains.
They’ve also stuck some Dragon sculptures (“SuperDragons”) throughout the town, but most of these have been vandalised and removed for repair at some point over the last few months. There are also flags and banners proclaiming various things and always that the ‘city’ is hosting the Ryder Cup 2010.
And I can't forget the Ryder Cup Countdown clock. A large digital clock stuck on the side of an old carpark, at the back of the square in this photo, the carpark on the right.
Took a while to get it working properly but it turned out to be a truly exceptional waste of money and as you can probably tell from the picture it really captured the imagination of quite literally hundreds of people who may have glanced at it as they passed through the square over the last few months...
When I see these 'imaginings' of developments for Newport, they never quite ring true. It wouldn’t just be about knocking up a few fancy buildings; they’d have to change the nature of the town.
The truth is I don’t know what has happened with developments in a lot of other towns in the UK, but I can’t help but imagine there’s a closer correlation between vision and reality. Newport has never quite managed it. Maybe one day it’ll change, but it certainly hasn’t happened as the Ryder Cup is upon the town and it comes under something of an international spotlight.
The Kingsway Centre was just one part of developments throughout the city centre, aimed at transforming the city in time for the Ryder Cup. To get into the complexities of the reasons behind the tragic reality would take a long time and not be of any interest to many. But to cut a long ridiculous story short:
- The Celtic Manor won the bid for the Ryder Cup in 2001, the local authorities must have thought they were onto winner and whether by holding out for the best offer or through simple incompetence, they waited through the property boom right up until just before the financial crash to start any significant development, the money dried up, the economy went into recession and all of the developments backed by private investment stopped.
- Now a large number of shops are empty; partly because the proposed developments didn’t go ahead and partly because of the downturn. So Newport city centre has a half finished University Campus, a hastily finished railway station, some superficial adornments and a foot bridge to nowhere, and very little else! All in time to welcome the teams and the world’s media for the Ryder Cup.
After 13 years of a Labour Government which coincided with a major economic boom, the city centre, give or take a few fundamentally minor developments, looks worse than it did before. With no shops, it could look no other way.
It's pathetic and though the authorities have a lot to answer for, all you ever hear is the usual positive propaganda, born of the New Labour machine.
This is political and relevant to so many aspects of modern British society. We are told one thing by detached politicians and authority figures, but it is average people who have to live with the reality and ultimately tax payers that fund their mistakes and follies.
The usual excuses are trawled out when those responsible are very occasionally held to task by an essentially partisan and apologetic local media, but the economic crash is no excuse when you consider the time they had. They had nine years through an economic boom and in the nearby cities of Cardiff and Bristol; major developments have recently been finished, as work continued into the crash. But both of those cities have had strategies that have spanned decades, Newport hasn't.
While everyone tries to be positive about what is a big event and something that can only be good for the area, the mistakes are excused and the reality for most people is overlooked, so how will the situation ever improve? When so little has been done in such opportune times and the same inept authorities will remain in control.
I suppose it must be an essential resource if you're in a position of power; you have an excuse ready for every eventuality. This one may not come from a public servant or politician, but I like in this article where David Russ, managing director of South Wales Chamber and Centre for Business claims:
“There's no point in building shopping facilities and bars and restaurants if they'd be full for a week then empty for the next three or four years.”
So why plan a f**king £200 million development in the first place then!?!! If it was only going to be used for a week?? What's the point in ever doing anything? The economic circumstances haven't stopped so many other cities continuing with developments and it hasn't stopped public money being used in Newport. A***hole! And one that doesn't have to live with the reality and is just making excuses to suit the circumstances. The fact is they missed the boat and royally f**ked up, but he just says 'ah well, no point in doing anything during a recession...' Anyway he's only from the South Wales Chamber of Commerce and from a quick search it looks like he's got public sector form...
Newport Council have slapped themselves on the back, when it is the Celtic Manor that has organised the event and built the most important facilities; the courses and resort. Notice the difference in results when private finance works alone. If the Local Authorities had been in charge of the event I think we’d be looking at another Delhi.
I don’t intend to dwell on this but there will be more to follow on the inept handling of development in Newport. The fact is these authorities do handle a huge amount of tax payers’ money, but whoever said they know what they're doing??? Whoever said they shouldn’t be properly held to account?
If they were more honest about expectations and the reality, and of course if they didn't p*ss so much money up the wall, it wouldn't seem so bad.
It would certainly seem better if they didn't sp*nk £20 million pounds on a pointless railway station, but more about that next time. Only a little more though...
Too much time spent dealing with work and the inept management of a major British company. But briefly back to the political arena and although the New Labour years were characterised by the struggle for the middle ground and blurring of party lines, the cuts and the issue of public spending are certainly redefining the divisions in British politics.
Labourites are taking to opposition with relish; I think they find the partisan nature of the British political landscape comforting. It always settles back to the same old same old…
Here’s a good example, where with the coalition of Tories and Liberal Democrats we could be seeing a style of Government based more on consensus than ever before.
Gordon Brown did already try to move into this territory with his “government of all the talents”. However, as with everything else during his premiership, it was b**locks. While one might imagine it would be Tories, with their support of First Past the Post and therefore confrontational politics, who would be against inclusive government and the politics of consensus, it is in fact becoming apparent it is Labour and the Left that stubbornly refuse to give any ground and are more than happy to revert to the old politics. Remember the Crewe and Nantwich by election.
While they have neglected their former core support they are quick to attempt to pander to old political prejudices to gain favour. It’s pathetic.
I'm losing the will to live with all the talk of cuts. I fully appreciate how important the subject is and I knew full, as this blog has indicated, that they would dominate this parliament (before we get anywhere near electoral reform...), but Bejesus Christ! We're going back and forth over the same ground in the media, back and forth and round and round in circles!
Well that's just from my viewpoint, the cuts are crucial to so many people and they are unlikely to see it the same way.
I haven't had any time over the last couple of weeks to write any further on the matter, work has dominated way too much of time, cutbacks you see, turned it into a nightmare...
I will get back to it soon, but the Labour Leadership contest is still going, not as prominent in the news over the last week or so, but it's still there, lingering, like a nagging doubt. It's got another couple of months to run! But it can still cause amusement.
I don't think John Prescott has thrown his significant weight behind any of the candidates so far. He is with some of the candidates, showing that it's about the Labour party and they're all in it together...
John Prescott amongst the leadership candidates All the usual suspects with Andy Burnham and Douglas Alexander in the front.
I think the Labour party, having not been completely annihilated in the election and although their Leadership candidates are hardly setting the world alight, are going to take to opposition rather well this time.
With cuts imminent and the best economic course uncertain, they quickly manoeuvred themselves into the position they are likely to maintain through opposition and this was apparent long before they’d lost the election.
They are the party of ‘the people’ and they are holier than thou. Of course just as it is the right of a new government to blame the former administration for so many woes, it is the right of opposition to claim that various problems and situations did not happen and would not have happened on their watch.
(For instance #neverhappenedunderlabour trended on Twitter a few weeks ago. Started by Campbell and his minions gleefully indulged him. Of course according to him the Labour comments were the funny ones and the Tory comments lacked humour. I suppose the latter included the comments calling him a massive c*** and his book a f***ing load of bull***t and a disgusting waste of trees…)
Head stuffed firmly up own ar** “If only I could…”
This opposition standpoint is of course completely hypothetical and similar to people saying the Tories would have let the banks bomb. It is all essentially meaningless because it can never be proved.
Considering the scale of the catastrophe Labour oversaw and the unsustainable scale of public spending and debt, I think Labour really are pushing it with the self righteousness. However, it is in their nature and so many are keen to believe it all, because they are the self appointed saviours of the working man.
I find most politicians patronising at the best of times, but Labour politicians, especially while on the defensive as they have been for some 3 years, are thoroughly patronising.
Campbell reads a book about self righteous c***s ‘Who wrote this s**t?!’
Labour did come through all of that relatively unscathed, but there are a number of reasons for that, which I still intend to look at one day.
Speaking of patronising, how about some of the BBC’s coverage of public sector, of course the Corporation itself being fearful for the future under a Tory regime. For some good objective journalism they wheel out a few sad little faces… On the weekend I saw a librarian from the North East:
“What do you think of the impending cuts and possibility of jobs losses?” “Please don’t cut me…” Awwww… Nasty Tories!
I’m paraphrasing of course… But we have sympathy for a librarian because they work for the public good and it’s not some nasty banker, we should have spat on them as they left Lehman Brothers with their belongings in boxes. Probably full of diamonds and bundles of filthy notes, the b**tards!
“Granny killer!!!” *
(* Please see below for reference)
Of course I have sympathy with any average worker and the low paid (I’m one of them!!); it’s not a good situation. But after two years of hard times for almost everyone else, I just can’t accept this blinkered view.
The problem is the focus, it is not the services that should be cut, they just need to be run more efficiently and it is backroom staff and operations which need to cut back. I will come back to this point in my next post, it is very important.
Labour’s standpoint on cuts and the handling of the economy in general, is relatively simple position to hold. They don’t have to deal with any of the fall out and they don’t have to get their hands bloody in any way.
Just a quick analogy, that is far from perfect – I’m not a Tory supporter but it’s like someone smashing into a car, causing a huge pile up, then walking away to criticise the emergency services. “Oooh they’re not doing a very good job, not helping everyone…”
Or having a massive party at someone else’s house, carrying on until the funds have run out or have been cut off and everyone moans as a care taker comes back to break it up and clear everyone out. “Killjoys!”
I think there are plenty of analogies (much better, more thought out…) that could be made, but I have no doubt people will ignore the obvious problems with Labour’s rhetoric and their responsibility for the situation. The supporters are already doing as such with reckless abandon and apparently quite enjoying opposition.
“I like how (The Tories) rage about a joke about killing 1 OAP whilst gleefully introducing cuts that'll actually kill loads of 'em” (* So by way of causation...)
“Unlike Thatcher McDonnell has never *actually* assassinated anyone”???
Apparently only Labour supporters have a sense of humour, but I’m not sure about their sense of proportion… All of it smarts of ‘Evil Tories, they used to eat babies don’t you know. Yes, in the 1980s…’
I used to hate them as well, but some of the sniping is verging on pathetic and after 13 years of government it seems very hollow now.
But it is true, Labour in general do have a sense of humour. They certainly like taking the p*ss. They show us the way to have a laugh through adversity.
Worth it because they know they look good for all the projects given the green light and services they have funded on the tick, there was even the chance of swaying votes for the election, but more likely, they knew the new government will always look bad as they have to take it all away. Boo! Tories! Boo!
Did he really think it wouldn’t become public? If so surely someone that stupid shouldn’t hold public office? And if he did know really then he must think everyone needs to get a sense of humour apparently. If you’re stuck in a sh*t job, facing the sack or unemployed because of the downturn, the least you can do is laugh at this c***’s joke. It lightens the day…
In the Independent article about today’s announcement Liam ‘Joker’ Byrne is quoted as saying the last minute spending only amounted to 0.05% of total spending, but does that only suggest the massive scale of Government spending?
And also since he admitted there was ‘no money’ left, well we'd have had an extra £9 billion, you f***ing w*****r!
Still Labour continue to attempt to look like the party of the people and humour, but they are very selective in both respects. Who they help and who and what they take the piss out of…
So who has the moral high ground?
Elliot Morley? Jim Devine? David Chaytor?
Who do these people speak for?
And who do these people represent?
It always brings me back to their "Future Fair for all?", but there is no doubt it would have been fairer for some than it would have for others.
More to follow on the nature of the cuts in Government spending and the tactics of the Labour party, and rarely forgetting their epic Leadership Contest...
Since my last post there’s been the Labour hustings and the endless talk of cuts, which is of course leading somewhere, to the “emergency” budget, but otherwise there has been little to talk about. I’ve been busy, the world moves on, everyone is concerned with their own s**t at the moment…
There has been international incident and focus, particularly the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which definitely did get worse and doesn’t appear to be getting any better yet, not to mention the political fall out.
I haven’t paid a great deal of attention to the Labour party leadership contest. Obviously Diane Abbott’s inclusion was the biggest talking point and it is a good thing, it provides something of an alternative in a rather limited line up.
It could be seen as a pretty cheap gesture from David Miliband.
David Miliband toying...
She won’t win of course and he looks good, perhaps wins friends on the left, maybe from the two Eds. Yeah it’s cheap and Machiavellian. It could even backfire. I don’t know the intricacies of the voting system but today I have read that Ed could be edging ahead and the system might help him
It's not just about a duck. David and Ed see the Labour party as their play thing... Miliband of Brothers
The contest is going to go on for an age, so I will comment again on the candidates and their potential affect on the Labour party, when the race has developed and I’ve had time to look into it.
But I think the strongest candidates are still very much of the political class and tied to New Labour, will they be capable of genuine change..?
I've mentioned old Ed Balls before but I should also mention Andy Burnham is involved in the contest. Well done Andy...
I was going to write about the issues of the week, from Laws to Campbell, but throughout the last week or so, on the internet and on the TV, this question continues to be posed almost relentlessly:
"Why should Civil Servants pay for the mistakes of bankers?"
And it will continue to be asked over the next few months/years as the cuts are planned and take effect.
So I just wanted to return to this issue, briefly...
I have seen comments on social media that say public sector workers get 'paid less' than private sector works and this is one of the common misconceptions that are generated from the public sector, unions and the left wing media.
I'm sure civil servants are sick of seeing all these contract cleaners, warehouse staff, factory workers, call centre workers, admin staff, bar/hotel staff, waiters, care workers, etc, etc, etc, driving around in Porsches or the like, mocking their impending plight..!
The misconceptions and propaganda seem to confuse the whole of the private sector with the financial services. As if all the workers listed above are on massive wages and bonuses. A common quote I've heard over the years from public sector representatives when confronted with the issue of their pensions and benefits, was that they wished they could have the 'bonuses of the private sector'. (Well apparently some government agencies do hand out bonuses, just to perfectly contradict this oft-repeated mantra. One fine post-crash example was the FSA)
It may be true that some industries, particularly the financial services, have a bonus culture, but it is far from all and certainly few at the lower levels.
It has been the low paid private sector that is currently being criminally over looked during the election and now as the issue of cuts takes centre stage. Unemployment has been an issue, but not the conditions in the private sector as belts have tightened for two years. Gordon Brown even tried to take credit for keeping unemployment low even though it is in the private sector that changing working conditions (e.g. going part time, reducing hours, etc) meant many clung onto their jobs.
Times have been very hard for nearly two years, but apparently it is civil servants paying for the downturn? That doesn't really ring true in many circumstances.
Those rejecting the need for cuts seem to use the word 'victims' quite regularly, again as if they alone are feeling the brunt of the crash, just two years after it happened. That's a painfully slow shockwave...
The simple fact is we should all have to deal with it. It is actually quite insulting to those who have suffered, the unemployed and the low paid.
It has also been harder in non-unionised industries, obviously recent examples of Network Rail and BA have shown that changes in conditions are not forced on to them without a fight. While my opinions of unions have altered over the years and I do believe in collective action in principle, these actions are unlikely to ultimately help. Workers in many any other industries have simply have to put up with changing conditions, or leave, if they so wish.
Public sector unions will mobilise over the cuts, of course attempting to defend the interests of their own members, but I think ultimately that is the problem of modern British employment. The solidarity throughout the working population, formerly found in industrial labour, no longer exists and the influence is much more limited. Unions will be looking after narrow interests that wouldn't necessarily benefit the larger population, those who have already suffered, no matter how well intended any action is.
There is huge scope for cuts in the public sector and while the private sector has largely been squeezed it within an inch of its life, little has changed for public servants and surely it is only right and fair that the situation changes.
It is now close to two years that this downturn has effected the world economy and as it transpired the two main culprits have come away largely scot-free.
It was the banking sector and Government, through action and inaction respectively, that caused the crisis. However, with the banks having been propped up by Government and the cuts in public spending having largely been postponed until now, in many ways these two sectors have not felt the full effects of the downturn, or at least no as perhaps they could have, should have...
Yes there have been job losses in the banking sector and the Labour Government was thrown out at the election (though only just, Brown was clinging onto the door of No. 10 with his fingertips...), but the banks were saved from extinction and they have in some ways returned to business as usual. Perhaps they are trying to balance the books a little better, so have tightened their belts (much to the dismay of some would be borrowers), but bonuses are back. While in terms of Government as I have stated clearly for nearly two years the public sector has been largely saved from cuts.
The debt has gone from the debt of banks to sovereign debt, the debt of the nation. So who will take the greatest relative proportion of that debt? Not the rich, the rich will not suffer in the downturn and that was clear and identified long before the crash actually happened. In the global economy the super rich will prosper over the long term as the Times rich list has already illustrated quite clearly this year.
And in terms of my two protagonists, the Labour party don't seem too disheartened by opposition, since they weren't completely annihilated. I mean Big Al Campbell is having a right laugh on Twitter, on Question Time and while getting publicity for his trashy book.
Alastair Campbell A man utterly convinced of his own importance
The fact is the level of economic growth was unsustainable therefore the level of investment in the public sector was also unsustainable. Cuts have to be made.
The idea of sustainable growth reminds me of the huge of amount of rubbish stated about Brown's economic record. The absolute best was early on in the crisis when on Jeremy Vine's Radio 2 show John Prescott claimed that Brown had delivered 10 years of "sustainable" economic growth. It so completely nonsensical it doesn't require analysis.
I don't think Vine picked him up on it properly. It astounds me that the likes of Prescott and Campbell get away with such nonsense so easily, or are allowed to by professional presenters and journalists.
John Prescott F***ing clueless
Stick to what you know best John Spot on
Maybe in a few years' time the higher level of investment could return, if significant growth returns. But probably not if the Tories have anything to do with and greater efficiency does need to be brought to the sector. This is a main aspect in the disparity between the public and private sector and I do intend to look more closely at Labour's legacy in the public sector and employment in Britain.
The issue of debt reduction and cuts is complex, but many of those fundamentally opposed to spending cuts are suggesting that the debt should be paid by increasing taxes.
So effectively the private sector pays, even if some public sector workers suffer de facto pay cuts, the basis of the debt would be paid from wealth generated in the private sector.
Taxes will have to be increased of course, but the idea of just taxing the rich, or the banks, or whoever; will not work without the corresponding cuts. The rich should pay their fair share and banks need to be levied (something Labour was waivering on), but tax increases have to be combined with spending cuts.
To put it simply, the rich will avoid the taxes as best they can and the conditions at the wrong end of the private sector will continue to deteriorate as the burden of the tax is shifted. Even if the low paid are not directly taxed, companies will cut further in attempts to maintain profits.
I have to admit that this scenario adds some credence to the Tory and business leaders claims about the NIC rise, the 'tax on jobs'.
Job cuts, pay freezes, etc, etc. The low paid in the private sector shouldering an even greater level of the burden to maintain the conditions in the public created during an unsustainable boom.
It's just the way the system is now. Labour and their supporters may not like it, but then they had 13 years to at least try to do something about it.
I don't know if I'm hammering the point home... I would hope the point is clear enough, there is more than just the disparity between the rich and the poor in this society Tory and Labour alike have mangled over the last 30 years.
A bit bogged down by debt and cuts. I will move on this weekend...
Against the clock once more. I don't seem to have enough time outside of commuting to work, to do my part in paying off this massive national debt, under increasingly difficult conditions. It's a hard life...
There has been a reasonable amount of activity of course, in the early days of this coalition, but two major stories that hold my interest are the Labour leadership race and the impending cuts in public spending.
These are ongoing matters (the Labour leadership bun fight will drag on for months it seems), so I will look them again, but I wanted to make some quick comments, in a vain attempt to keep up with things.
Ed Balls and Ed Miliband criticised the Iraq war over the weekend. Well that's very big of them... Just 7 years after the war, and granted neither of them were MPs at the time of the war, but we heard barely a squeak out of them until now. Now Brown has gone these brave boys have piped up.
Balls thinks he can do what he likes now Brown has gone. "S**t. Is that Gordon?!"
But it is David Miliband who has once again stated that we 'should just move on'. It is true that none of what has happened can be undone, but the effects of the war will continue to be seen for years to come. Many people feel the angry about the thoroughly deceptive way the Labour Government acted before and after the war and that we have not received anything close to satisfactory answers and admissions. You could make a lot of comparisons to other historical events stretching back over many years and the extent to which we've 'moved on', World War Two seems to still get a lot of press these days...
But a good example I saw a couple of years ago was on Question Time when the Leader of the SNP, Alex Salmond, picked up the former Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, about his dismissal of questions about the Iraq war. Lord Falconer was saying we need to 'move on' and it's in the past now, when Salmond pointed out that this attitude was coming from a Government that was considering an apology for Britain's involvement in the salve trade.
Some people do pick and choose which parts of 'history' to move on from. Maybe we'll hear from Blair's descendants in 200 hundred years. Now there's a thought...
This sort of attitude from David Miliband is just an example of the dismissive and patronising disposition that I came to expect from the New Labour hordes in the latter years of their government. He's going to have his work cut out trying to change the mechanics of that spin machine. As since he was integral to it, can it really change?
"Next Labour", really? That's pretty desperate and I reckon they are scrambling around trying to come up with something new.
Maybe that was a covert parting shot from Alastair Campbell? Whoever it was, I bet Mandelson was probably laughing his arse off that one.
Mandelson and Brown consider their legacy "Well we f***ed over Miliband. Me and you Gord, they won't forget us in a hurry..."
Patronising, dismissive, deceptive; some of New Labour's finest traits and all embodied in Peter Mandelson. But they still like to have a laugh...
They're all at it, Tory or New Labour, taking the piss. But some of them get caught out.
Different economic and political circumstances he might have got away with it. But I've seen Mr Byrne's 'performances' a few times, I can't say I'm a fan...
But laugh it up, because cuts are on the way. A lot of people are running out of time (just as I am as I write), because the axe will fall as announcements today have made clear.
I will come back to this subject again, as I say it will continue to roll on of course, not least because of the reactions from the Unions as plans are laid out and the cuts begin. The thing that I find slightly disconcerting is this very common viewpoint that the public sector should be saved from cuts, on various timescales, what a tragedy the cuts will be for normal working people and 'why should civil servants pay for the mistakes of Bankers?'
I agree that no job cuts are good and also that frontline services should be protected as much as possible.
But hundreds of thousands of people have been losing their jobs in the private sector over the last two years. Pay and recruitment freezes and declining working conditions have occurred throughout the private sector. There is a common focus on higher earning bankers apparently carrying on regardless, but this is not replicated through the rest of the private sector at all, times are still very hard for those at the bottom.
In comparison the public sector has been largely sheltered from the downturn and in many ways it has been sheltered from the effects of the global economy over the last 30 years, which have continued to radically change conditions in the private sector. Except in one way, in that Gordon Brown's Treasury benefited from a long period of economic growth based on global economic circumstances, so the public sector grew. And as that growth turned out to be completely unsustainable, surely it correlates quite directly that the size of the public sector is unsustainable?
I don't think anyone if they were honest and had some real experience of the public and private sectors would deny that there is huge scope for these cuts. Only the most rabid Unionist or sheltered public sector worker would object to any cuts. I imagine we'll see a few in the coming months/years.
The fact is we're all going to have to pay for the mistakes of the Bankers AND the Labour government, because of their lax regulation.
I don't see why the private sector, particularly the low paid, should have to work and compete in increasingly difficult environments, to help maintain the conditions of the public sector through these hard times. As well as have to pay off all this debt.
Would that have been Labour's "Future Fair For All"?
So there we go, they cobbled together some sort of agreement. Let's see how long this lasts...
The first coalition government in 65 years, of course the last one was during the war. Adverse times we are living through, but I don't think it's quite the same as fighting the Germans... Unity is necessary in such times, I'm not sure it will work out the same way now. But then Nick Clegg does seem desperate to grasp hold of his chance at government. Who knows what he'll endure...
Nick takes one last look at his 'supporters' Forgive me...
"We got you now Cleggo!"
A journalist asks Nick Clegg a particularly testing question "So are you now David Cameron's b*tch?"
Oh yeah, never forget who's in charge. B*tch...
Later that day
Obama congratulates Cameron but is quick to explain the World Order "You're my b*tch now"
It all sinks in...
In truth is it does seem that the Conservatives have conceded a reasonable amount to the LibDems. They're both desperate for power. Is the cynical view. Or they both want to maintain a stable government to steer the country through these tough economic times. Is the bull***t view... They're all power crazed lunatics
Why would any normal rational person want to do such a s*** and invariably thankless job..?
There does appear to have been a reasonable level of compromise. The Tories have given five cabinet posts (even Ken Clarke pushed aside from Business secretary, but they had to get Vince Cable in somewhere), however token, they will need to have some sort of voice otherwise they will leave the coalition.
In terms of policies, the Tories were always going to keep Trident (though a massive part of Lib Dem spending cuts), the same goes for nuclear power with the Tories' 'Green' side. The Lib Dem stance on immigration was never likely to get far with the Tories. The issue of Europe is one will just have to see develop. On civil liberties they had common ground and no matter what anyone thinks of the new government, I don't think many will mourn the passing of ID cards, which had become something of a white elephant. In terms of the economy they seemed to agree on the urgent need for cuts to deal with the deficit, though apparently the perceptions of the scale of the urgency varied slightly. They also have common ground on banking reform. The Lib Dems have got agreement on the £10,000 tax threshold which did surprise me. And no matter what Labour might argue about how that could affect the books, how can anyone of a Left wing leaning argue against that? (Unless a rabid communist...) A huge financial boost given directly to the lower earning working class, of any circumstance, not just credits given to those who are eligible. It's a well intentioned tax cut and it puts Labour to shame as far as I'm concerned. The Tories have also conceded their Inheritance Tax change, which is a good step in a similar direction. It's possible the overall tax burden will shift (VAT rise) and we will pay in some manner, but I would hope the balance could not be redressed completely for low earners.
The major condition was always going to be electoral reform, the LibDems know that they have to come away with something. This is their first major opportunity at power in 35 years, they can't waste the chance to change the system to give themselves better prospects at future elections and of course allow all of the electorate to have their votes count.
Just imagine the scenario where they do not get reform and the Tories manage to increase their popularity. That could potentially consolidate First Past The Post for any number of years. Though that is of course a worse case scenario, but not impossible for one reason I will mention below.
The Tories knew for the coalition to be serious they had to offer something, so the Alternative Vote (AV) system is on the cards for a referendum.
It's certainly not Proportional Representation. It really is just a token gesture, one that was first made by a desperate Labour party earlier this year. Simply to curry favour, when they knew full well they were heading to defeat. I therefore took an instant dislike to it.
It is basically an extension of the FPTP system, the constituency aspect will remain and be the basis for the allocation of Parliamentary seats. There is just a greater aspect of preference and choice in the casting of ballots.
But there are a couple of Pros, as far as I'm concerned:
- It could lead to a better correlation between the overall votes and seats and could give some smaller parties a chance. - It could be a stepping stone to PR, if successful.
The Cons I can see are speculative. The system is in use elsewhere, but not on the scale it would be used in a General Election here. Obviously as I mentioned that essentially it is just a form of FPTP and does not necessarily reflect the overall wishes of the electorate.
- A large percentage of the voters in any one constituency will still not have their interests represented by the selection of the winning candidate. - In safe seats where there is a strong Labour or Conservative bias it is unlikely to have any affect and will only really affect marginals. So effectively just a slight expansion of competition in the FPTP system. - Tactical voting is still likely, but would be more complex. Someone could easily mark their own party down and another up, in an attempt to prevent a party winning. - As it is, many people find it difficult enough to decide on one party. A lot of voters' rankings will not necessarily reflect any considered preference. - Like it or not, accept it or not, it is more complicated and could put off voters. Although it appears you can rank any number of parties, but then as the point above implies, if people vote for fewer parties or only one, it takes the system back towards normal FPTP.
Despite the negatives I envisage, I would vote for it, in the hope that it could lead to acceptance of a further change.
The only issue I see, as I alluded to above, is that a referendum on AV could work in favour of the Tories and their instinctive desire to keep FPTP. It might be why the Tories were willing to offer AV. They could risk it because he system is not too different to FPTP and in a referendum, if the Conservative vote combines with a vote determined to get some form of PR, perhaps in a low turnout, then it could go against AV. The Tories could then use that against any further moves for reform.
The LibDems push for fixed terms does seem to be an attempt to prevent the Tories from ceasing the opportunity to consolidate power and in turn halting reform. It'll be interesting to see how that works out.
Anyway the old argument for FPTP, ensuring strong government was clearly weak. It's possible but look at the mess now. There is a confrontational political culture and that would have to change in a proportional system.
The ironic thing about our system is that the parties are instinctively opposed, even though they have converged on the middle ground. They now just fight it out over very similar policies, from similar perspectives.
There is some common ground between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats as I have mentioned, however, the similarities do seem to be greater at the higher echelons; those hoping to consolidate power. MPs and particularly grassroots on both sides do not seem anywhere near as keen and that could topple the coalition quite quickly. But who would sabotage this opportunity in Government, without giving it a chance? Not the average Tory surely?
A Lib/Lab pact would not have worked and the negotiations appeared half-hearted. Dark Lord Mandelson's powers were apparently ineffective and the talks broke down quickly with each side grumbling about the other, again half heartedly.
How could it have worked? Even with Brown gone, it wouldn't have lasted.
And Brown couldn't have last.
A defeated man
Brown resigns as Prime Minister I do hope he doesn't break down on me, he looks awful..! Where's Phillip when you need him? Oh no, I remember, Mr Brown made his opinions quite clear during the election...
A bit more like it "Ah yes, you're one of us"
I thought Nick Clegg looked he was fighting his conscience, trying to keep down those nagging doubts that he's selling out. But maybe not. I mean he's a public school boy too. Of good European breeding. So maybe... Maybe all is not as it seems.
Well Cameron has almost got what he wanted. He is Prime Minister, the youngest Prime Minister in 200 years. But has he bitten off more than he can chew? I don't think many would deny that it is a Poisoned Chalice. The economic situation is dire, whichever way you look at it, and there are tough times ahead. The deficit is huge and dealing with it will be difficult, while Labour can snipe from the sidelines at the solutions to the problem they in part caused.
I don't think Labour should be allowed to get away with anything like that. They need to have a good look at themselves, though I'm not sure they will.
But I won't let it lie whoever is in power. They're all the same...
The three party Leaders at last Sunday's VE Day remembrance service What are these men thinking?
Well it seems more apparent here. Clegg: Thanks Dave. No-one about, I'll just slip this massive 'sweetener' in here. No-one suspects a thing... Cameron: Why don't you just quit, you old goat?! Brown: Is that a bigot I can hear?!
More to come on Labour, they may be in opposition now, but that won't stop them. Plenty of parting shots from them and they're as patronising as ever, they just can't help themselves!
Their Leadership race will gain pace and that should be amusing. And Gordon Brown needs a proper Goodbye of course...
A disillusioned former Labour supporter, never a Tory, now trying to look at the political world and society more objectively.
But having a child and working, there isn't much time in the day to be objective...