Some thoughts on public transport, prompted in part by Lord Adonis’ resignation statement.
The timing of this post is due to the resignation statement of Lord Adonis, a man who I have very little in common with, but who hits the nail on the head with his resignation statement, which you can read in full, courtesy of The Guardian, here (an excerpt is reproduced below, courtesy of twitter):
EAST COAST FRANCHISE LOWLIGHTS
The first time the East Coast Franchise hit difficulties, it was being run by National Express. The then government took it into public ownership, albeit with the (stupid) rider that it be reprivatised as soon as it was back in the black. On reprivatisation it passed into the hands of Virgin Trains, run by a combination of tax exile Richard Branson and the Stagecoach Group (as a non-driver who lives in Norfolk I know them too well and like them too little for comfort). The East Coast Franchise is now back in trouble, and the current transport secretary, Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling, as well as being a strong contender in the ‘most incompetent minister ever’ contest is such a ‘private good, public bad’ zealot that rather than take the logical option of taking it back into public ownership is bailing it out at vast cost, thereby setting a horrendous precedent which will enable any other rail franchise that hits trouble to demand a bail out.
RENATIONALISATION AS START POINT
Not only should the East Coast Franchise be renationalised now, with it being made clear that it will not be privatised again, the whole railway network needs to be renationalised. The Labour party have laid out how this can be achieved – namely by refusing to put each franchise up for tender as and when it expires. For further detail check out We Own It’sRailwayspage. However, this is only a beginning – both because railways are only one part of public transport – there are also buses, and because one needs to consider how the system should be run. As I was typing this, the following came through on twitter from We Own It:
Bus and railway services need renationalising, and they need to be run jointly. As to how they should be run – well there are two groups of people who should be represented in the body that runs public transport services: those who use the services and those who provide the services. If services are to be publicly owned (and these should be), they need to be fully publicly accountable.
SOME EXTRA RESOURCES
I have three final links to share which relate to this piece:
The Mirrorhas demonstrated yet another way in which privatisation is failing us, with fares going up by an average of 3.4% (when we already pay on average five times as much as our fellow Europeans for a service that is probably not even on fifth as good as most of them get – I have travelled extensively in Europe over the years and most countries provide far better services than are available here in Britain) – we have on average the oldest carriages since records began (that average is 21 years old, with the Caledonian Sleeper holding an unwanted record with 42 year old carriages).
Here is you reward for reaching the end of this piece:
Lionks to various pieces I have found on the internet, an answer and solution to one problem and a new problem, and some photographs.
This is a sharing post with some of my own stuff as well. I hope you enjoy it.
CROSSBOW BOLT STOPPED PLAY
Play between Surrey and Middlesex at the Oval has been halted and the ground has been locked down because a crossbow bolt was fired from outside the ground into the ground. Everyone at the ground is now in sheltered areas not out in the open. Armed police are now present at the ground. The match has now been officially abandoned, and a controlled evacuation of the ground is now underway.
I start with a tool created by the Labour Party called the living wage calculator. You enter your postcode and it tells you how many people in your area would benefit from the minimum wage being increased to £10 per hour. Below is what is says about my postcode:
In one of my posts on Monday I set a problem from brilliant. Here is I show the answer and an impressive solution. I also offer a new problem to end the section.
I admit to being lazy on this one – knowing that the internal angles of an octagon add up to 1080 degrees and that 7 x 90 = 630 I realised that with seven acute angles the remaining angle would have to be over 450 degrees, and the max is just under 360 degrees which takes you back to where you started. However 6 x 90 = 540 which means that the remaining two angles would have to add up to something in excess of 540 degrees, which is no great difficulty. Therefore I gave the correct answer of six (in less time than it has taken me to type this). However, one solver by the name of Atomsky Jahid produced a splendid effort:
A NEW PROBLEM
The mass extinction at the end of the Permian era is at the time of writing officially the largest in Earth’s history. An estimated 96% of all species on Earth at that time were rendered extinct. If the death rate in species that were not completely wiped out had been the same as the extinction rate what proportion of living creatures would have been wiped out in this event?
A mixed bag of a post, featuring local politics, libraries, autism, science, nature and photography.
Welcome to this post in three parts. I am going to start by mentioning a local election that took place in my area today and in which I voted, then I will be mentioning an event that will be taking place at Gaywood Library (one of four such establishments in Norfolk that I visit at least semi-regularly) and I will finish up with some links to do with nature which will lead naturally to some of my photographs.
A FORCED BY-ELECTION
The election in which I voted today happened due to the laziness and arrogance of the incumbent councillor, who in spite of living just across the road from the Town Hall never attended meetings.
Four candidates were in the contest, in alphabetical order:
Rob Archer of the Green Party Francis Bone of the Labour Party Helen Russell-Johnson of the Liberal Democrats Mike Taylor of the Conservative Party
In the ordinary course of events my inclination, especially given that the displaced councillor had been from the Labour Party would have been to vote for Mr Archer. However, the Liberal Democrat candidate happens to be my aunt. Therefore I voted for her.
I have started this post by covering this election for two reasons:
I want to make it clear to the Liberal Democrats that I voted for my aunt IN SPITE of the fact that she was representing them not because of it.
Also, just in case Mr Archer happens to be reading this, I hope he will take it as both explanation and apology for not having voted for him on this occasion.
I conclude this section of the post with a picture of my Political Compass certificate (it is free and does not very long to answer the questions which are used to assign your score):
THE GAYWOOD LIBRARY EVENT
The event at Gaywood Library is a Business Eveningat which I hope it will be possible to raise the subject of the Autism Hour, one of the National Autistic Society’s recent initiatives. I have already confirmed that I will be in attendance. Here are a couple of pictures to end this section:
SOME NATURE PIECES
My nature links naturally divide into three segments, with a few photographs of my own forming a fourth. We will start with…
A NEW DINOSAUR FIND
This story courtesy of scienmag.com is about a dinosaur that has been named Albertavenator Curriei (“Currie’s Alberta Hunter”, named in honour of Canadian paleontologist Dr Philip J Currie). Below is a representation of this creature by Oliver Demuth:
A change.org petitionaimed at the sponsors of Arsenal Football Club asking them to withdraw support and so help force Kroenke out, screenshot below:
For ordinary Arsenal fans my suggestions are simple – boycott all home matches until Kroenke goes, and if you are a season ticket holder return your ticket and demand a full refund, making it clear that you will return if and only if Kroenke is no longer involved with the club.
MORE ON THE FIGHT TO PROTECT TROSA NATURE
This morning I reblogged Part 4 of Anna’s series of “Paradise on Earth” posts highlighting the wildlife that can be seen around Trosa and the Tureholm Peninsula. Since then she has added yet another post to that series, and I include links below:
Part 4, concentrating on birds including the Osprey shown below.
Part 5, also dedicated to birds. I have chosen as my sample image a Linnet.
Finally, to end this section, and the post as a whole we have some of…
The two manifestos to which I refer are those the Labour Party and the We Own It Campaign. In this post, which as a purely political post features text that alternates between red and green I will share links to some of the posts that the Labour Manifesto has already generated, and links to both manifestos and some of my own thoughts.
THE WE OWN IT MANIFESTO
This is a must-read document about public ownership. At the end of the document there is a link to click to enable you contact your candidates to ask them if they will support these measures – I have just done so. As a sampler, here is the section on Railways:
As a coda to the above I point out that most of our railways are in the hands of profit making arms of other countries state owned railways – the Dutch state owned railway by way of Abellio operates more track in this country than there is in the whole of the Netherlands.
THE LABOUR MANIFESTO
I recently shared the draft version of this manifesto with you, The final version was released yesterday, and is every bit as good as expected. The screenshot below shows the scope of the document. Please do read it in full – primary sources are always better than secondary, even on those occasions when the authors of the secondary sources don’t have axes to grind.
MORE ON THE LABOUR MANIFESTO
In this section I will share four links to posts concerned with the Labour Manifesto:
The Skwawkbox have produced a piecethat combines commenting on the Labour Manifesto with showing the sheer desperation of the Tory response to it. This post also has an excellent accompanying graphic, reproduced below:
I have no objection to tactical voting where such represents a chance to be rid of a Tory. In certain seats, notably Brighton Pavilion which they already hold and the Isle of Wight among others I would unhesitatingly call for a vote for the Greens, given that they have stepped aside in no fewer than 30 seats to improve Labour chances there and that I have a great deal of time for the Greens. In my own constituency of North West Norfolk there is only one way for any progressively minded person to vote – for Labour Candidate Jo Rust. Make sure you use your vote on June 8th.
The Tories, without shame, claim they’re the pro-women party because of the fact of their two female prime ministers. Right…
They’veknown for yearsthat their policies have a vastly disproportionateeffect on women – and that has never stopped or moderated their actions. They’ve evenrefused to publish impact assessments on the extent of the damage. In spite of the willingness of media mouthpieces to talk about the issue with deadpan face, it is, beyond doubt, pure posturing and snake-oil.
Jeremy Corbyn started his leadership of the Labour party by appointing the first-ever majority-female Shadow Cabinet and has continued to strengthen the position of women on the Labour front benches – and his party’s victory on Friday shows even more clearly that Labour is the real party that promotes and cares about women.
Stalking is not, of course, only suffered by women – but it isprimarilywomen who are…
A post prompted in part by Mike Sivier’s excellent open letter to Angela Eagle and in part by having a few other things to share – enjoy.
This post is a bit of a pot-pourri, although one of the links and the open letter are related.
THE OPEN LETTER AND RELATED LINK
The author of this open letter is Mike Sivier of Vox Political, on whose blog I found it. Here is the open letter in full, followed by a link to the blog post in which I found it:
Dear Ms Eagle,
As a Labour voter of many years’ standing, and a member of the party for the last six, I am writing to express my outrage at your comments following the vandalism of the Wallasey party office.
We can agree that the damage to the window – like any crime – is unacceptable. However:
How dare you claim that it was carried out by a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, “in his name”? Do you have any evidence? Do the police already know who did it? I think not – otherwise we would no doubt have heard about it.
In fact, Mr Corbyn has made it abundantly clear – many times over the past few weeks, that he finds such behaviour abhorrent and wants members of the party to discuss their differences in a cordial manner. This leads me to my second point:
How dare you try to pontificate to the rest of the party about “bullying”, after the behaviour you have forced Mr Corbyn to endure, together with the other 170+ PLP rebels?
Look at the behaviour that has occurred in YOUR name:
Months of secret plotting against Mr Corbyn after he won the Labour leadership last year;
The intention to mislead the public into thinking the Labour ‘coup’ was prompted by Mr Corbyn’s performance in the EU referendum when it had been pre-planned over many months;
The co-ordinated, on-the-hour resignations of shadow cabinet members throughout June 26 in an effort to BULLY Mr Corbyn out of the Labour leadership;
The purchase of a web domain entitled ‘Angela4Leader’ the day before those resignations;
The hasty and unconstitutional calling and passing of a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Mr Corbyn in another attempt to BULLY him out of office;
(It has been implied that some, or indeed many, Labour MPs were BULLIED into supporting that vote)
The attempted BULLYING of Mr Corbyn himself at a Parliamentary Labour Party meeting;
The many letters by your fellow Labour MPs, trying to BULLY Mr Corbyn into resigning; and
The fabricated smear stories intended to undermine Mr Corbyn’s support among members and, again, BULLY him into resigning – including your claim today about this broken office window.
If you are serious in your claim that bullying “has absolutely no place in politics in the UK and it needs to end”, then perhaps the best way to start would be by ending your own challenge to Mr Corbyn’s leadership, submitting yourself to the mercy of your constituents who are holding a ‘no confidence’ vote on your conduct later this month, and considering your own future in politics.
An account of my experiences onj the opening day of Marxism 2016, topped and tailed with details of getting there, and getting to my accommodation after the final meeting.
Welcome to the first of what will be a series of posts about Marxism 2016, a five-day political festival that happened in London between June 30th and July 4th.
I made my usual allowances for things to go wrong, catching the 10:54 train out of King’s Lynn. This then ran very smoothly, meaning that I had time once at the event to deposit one bag, pick up a final timetable and plan my meetings without hurry.
MEETING 1: CORBYN, THE LABOUR PARTY AND THE STRUGGLE FOR SOCIALISM
This meeting, with Mark L Thomas as speaker was scheduled for the Drama Studio on level one of the Institute of Education building. However, the numbers of people wishing to attend led to a last minute change of venue to the Elvin Hall.
The talk started, as it had to, with some stuff about the attempted coup against a leader voted for by 59.5% of the membership. The 172 PLP members who voted for the motion of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn are vastly out of step with their membership – most are pro-austerity while their membership is anti-austerity.
One of the points made about the progress of this attempted coup was that if it succeeded Labour would have lost all claim to be regarded as democratic party – 172 highly placed individuals would have demonstrated that their opinions counted for more than those of over 250,000 who voted for Corbyn.
Mark L Thomas reckoned that the right-wingers in the PLP had two fears:
As people who depend on election results they feared that Corbyn could not win an election and…
As right wingers they feared that Corbyn could win an election (Blair himself had said opnely that he would rather lose an election than win one with Corbyn as leader).
This meeting was an excellent and inspiring start to the event. Of course since then tens of thousands of people have joine the Labour party, many stating that their reason doing so is to support Corbyn.
I will finish this section with a suggestion/ challenge: if the 172 are so confident that they are in the right why don’t they resign their seats, triggering 172 by-elections, in which they stand without the benefit of the Labour rosette against whoever the CLPs choose as the Labour party candidate? Of course the answer to this is the same as the answer to why hasn’t one of these individuals garnered 51 signatures and challenged Corbyn to a leadership battle: they know that in a fair, open fight like that they would get thrashed.
A late addition – it appears from breaking news that the Chilcot report (it is fairly obvious from the timing of the attempted coup against Corbyn that they wanted him out before Chilcot was released) is very damining – here is a snippet from a much longer piece that can be viewed here:
In its damning report the inquiry panel found:
Judgments about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction – WMD – were ‘presented with a certainty that was not justified’;
There was ‘little time’ to properly prepare three military brigades for deployment in Iraq, the risks were not ‘properly identified or fully exposed’ to ministers, resulting in ‘equipment shortfalls’;
Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the invasion were under-estimated;
Planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam’s fall were ‘wholly inadequate’;
Mr Blair’s government failed to achieve its stated objectives.
MEETING 2: WOMEN, SOCIAL REPRODUCTION AND THE FAMILY
This meeting, with main speaker Sally Campbell (editor of Socialist Review magazine, and author of Rosa Luxemburg: A Rebels Guide) and chaired by Ruby Kirsch was also very interesting and lively.
THE OPENING RALLY
Finally in terms of first day meetings came the Opening Rally, at 7PM in the Logan Hall. We heard from a variety of workers who have been involved in struggles in various places (as well as speakers from the UK this panel included an Irish TD and a French railway worker. Perhaps most impressive were Victor and Juan, two cleaners who spoke by way of a translator, and who have been part of an all out strike in the heart of the City. After all these amazing contributions Amy Leather (organiser of the Marxism festival) made the last speech. The whole thing was superbly chaired by Emma Davis, a teacher.
The person who had put me up last year had offered to do so again this year. Unfortunately he could not attend the opening day of the festival, so we had arranged a meeting point at the Rose and Crown on Hoe Street, which I located without undue difficulty.
I chose to use Russell Square because although I knew Euston meant a journey without changing I wanted to top my Oyster Card up and reckoned I would wait less long at Russell Square than at Euston.
A Piccadilly line train arrives
The change from Piccadilly to Victoria at Finsbury Park is cross-platform.
From here to the meeting place was about a ten-minute walk.
An account of voting in the Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner election and of my day at work.
I have had a busy day imaging auction items at James and Sons, but before going to work I did find time to…
The only election in which us Norfolk folk had a vote today was for Police and Crime Commissioner, and to put it mildly I was not 100% convinced that this was an election worth voting in. However, in my inbox this morning was an email from the Grteen Party candidate, and that settled the issue – I would vote. The polling station was not a hive of activity (indeed to judge from the reaction to my arrival I may well have been the first voter the folks running that polling station had seen that day). This election used a preference system – one vote for your favourite candidate and one for your second favourite. With three of the candidates being respectively Tory, UKIP and a highly suspect Independent, and a fourth standing for what is effectively an ex-party, I used my votes for the Green party candidate (1st) and Labour (2nd):
Today’s imaging consisted of two distinct parts, first a collection of police helmets and such, and second starting work on some postal history items. I will start with the…
These feature a wide range of police organisations.
Most of the postal history stuff was not so interesting in appearance, although there were a few hihglights…
This cruciform pattern was the most distinctive of all the postmarks I saw today.
With so much of interest lot 371 merited a five image gallery
Accounts of a public meeting about disability and a protest against the possible closure of the Fermoy Unit, enlivened with photographs. Read, enjoy and please share!
I am treating these two events together because my attendance at each was connected, and I talked about one at the other. While I had strong personal reasons for attending both events, I was also motivated by not wanting to be in a position of “when they came for me there was no one left to speak out”. I will deal with the two events in chronological order and at the very end will also share some unrelated photos.
THE PUBLIC MEETING ON DISABILITY
This toom place at the Vauxhall Centre in Norwich on Thursday evening. After speeches from various prominent local campaigners came the keynote speech of the evening. This was Roddy Slorach, author of “The Politics of Disability”, talking about the ideas expounded in his book. After this there was time for contributions from the floor. It was during this period that today’s demonstration was mentioned, and more details provided by me as the second part of my own contribution following mentioning the Positive Autism Awareness Conference of the previous Friday. Here are some photos from that evening for you…
THE PROTEST AGAINST THE POSSIBLE CLOSURE OF THE FERMOY UNIT
I took custody of the National Autistic Society West Norfolk Branch banners and some NAS flags yesterday evening, and worked out a way to set up the banners that was suitable for them being on a march:
We assembled at the bandstand in The Walks at 12 noon, and Jo Rust who did most of the organizing introduced a few speakers, before we set off on our march around the town. Many people expressed support for us while we marched through town, and at least one person took the trouble to express their gratitude that NAS were represented on the march. The event then finished with a few speeches outside the Majestic Cinema. Although organized by the local Labour Party and the King’s Lynn and District Trades Union Council this march was not a party political event, and Sir Henry Bellingham MP had been invited to attend and to make a speech, an invitation that he spurned. The turnout was excellent, helped by bright sunny weather (yes there was a serious nip to the wind, but this is King’s Lynn after all).
I finish this brief account with a few photos…
SOME UNRELATED PHOTOS
I start this section with a photographic message for those who have reached this part of the post…
My remaining photos are presented as a’tiled mosaic’ – to view an individual image at full size click on it…
An account of James and Sons auction on March 3oth and 31st, with some other stuff at the end.
As the main part of this post, about James and Sons’March auction (I am also sharing a few other bits at the end) develops it will become obvious why I am doing it now as one big post, and why I have posted very little these last few days.
PART 1: THE PRELIMINARIES (TUESDAY)
With the auction scheduled for Wednesday 30th (lots 1-699) and Thursday 31st (Lots 700-1051) the setup at the venue (The Prince of Wales Suite, Fakenham Racecourse) had to be accomplished on the Tuesday. This day did not require any earlier start than a regular work day would, and although a lot of heavy lifting was involved (a thousand plus lot auction, four people fit to do serious carrying) it was less draining than the other two days.
PART TWO: DAY 1 (WEDNESDAY)
I had to be at the venue by 8AM, which meant leaving my flat at 6:30AM to be sure of catching the 6:50 bus, to make sure that the IT setup was working and to assist with the viewing the precedes the sale. A couple of technical hitches at the start aside the day went smoothly. There were some great successes, although the flag that we had hoped would raise serious money did not attract a bid high enough to warrant selling it. The books tanked, as anyone with any experience of books at auction would have expected. Lot 466 fell to me, and lot 494, five volumes on Buildings of Scotland, found its way to East Rudham. Here are some pictures from day 1 at the venue…
This was still in the sky when I left my flat on the Wednesday morning!
Not one of ours – one the racecourse’s own pictures)
The view from the rostrum
The rostrum before the auction started.
This shell has been interestingly decorated, although it would still have looked better when it was on a turtle’s back.
A building frontage in Bridge Street, Fakenham that I had not previously noticed.
After the sale had concluded it was time to get the unsold lots from day 1 back to the shop (and they had to go on the top floor of the shop, including four plastic tubs full of back issues of Private Eye magazine). Then finally, work was done for the day.
PART THREE: DAY 2 (THURSDAY)
Fortunately I was able to set off an hour later than on the first day as although I would still have to do some preliminary IT stuff there were unlikely to be many viewers present (and indeed there weren’t). The internet was still very lively however, and a number of the early commemorative and proof coins on this second day sold exceptionally well. The stamps and postal history did not shine especially brightly. Lot 920, an Isambard Kingdom Brunel £2 set, went to me. The last lot went under the hammer just before 12:00, after which it was time for the clear-up. Once we had the first van load back at the shop we stopped for lunch, before doing the unloading, heading back to the racecourse for the last bits and getting them back. At this point there was a break from heavy lifting, during which I obtained a full printed list of those who had signed up to bid via http://www.the-saleroom.com, which ran to a James and Sons record 277 (paddle numbers 400-676 inclusive). There was a little bit more lifting to do before the end of my day, as it was necessary to get some stuff ready for loading for a collectors fair on the morrow. I have some pictures from day 2 as well…
One of theirs again!
This tapestry is also theirs.
Caravans parked where on race days there would be bookies.
Golfers in action, srrounded by the racecourse (hence no golf on racedays – a mishit shot might do more than frighten the horses!)
Che Simnor auditioning for the role of security guard!
An item on display in the shop.
The Fakenham Sign
A FINAL THOUGHT ON THE AUCTION
I have not previously been involved in running a two-day auction, and it was an incredibly tiring three days. However, the auction was very successful.
LOTS 466 AND 920
These were the two lots I bid on, and I got both. Both lots attracted my attention because of my special interest (in the best autism circles we do not use the word obsession) in railways (and indeed public transport generally – check out my website www.londontu.be).
This was a rail atlas of Britain, dating from around 1980 (Blake Hall station was open so it is pre-1982, but that whole section of the Central line – Epping– Ongar – was already being considered for closure), and it is very detailed, showing goods and passenger lines. Here are pictures, starting with the images that were available at auction and finishing with some later shots…
This was the Brunel £2 set, and I have the image that was available to auction followers, some images taken of it on display at the venue and some further images taken of it at home…
HAIRPIN POINT – UNINTENTIONAL COMEDY FROM THE GOP
I have called this ‘Hairpin Point’ because it represents a switch in direction on this post away from anything connected with my work to other matters. To set the scene, here is a screen-dump from my email inbox:
The Gun Obsessed Plonkers (GOP for short) have made a spectacular blunder here:
As my email address surely indicates (it ends .co.uk after all) I am not American.
Even I was American the odds against me ever even voting for a Republican, let alone being a registered member would be of the order of zillions to one against.
How someone came to perpetrate a bloomer on this scale I do not know, but it did provide a laugh.
And at the very end, a link to a piece by Mike Sivier of Vox Political about what Labour is doing to attempt to save British Steel, and a follow-up link to a petition on the same subject that has already garnered more than the 100,000 signatures needed for a debate in Parliament: