Some Suggestions Re Public Transport

Some thoughts on public transport, prompted in part by Lord Adonis’ resignation statement.

INTRODUCTION

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 Guardianhere (an excerpt is reproduced below, courtesy of twitter):

adonisresig

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’s Railways page. 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:

we own it buses tweet

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:

  • A second piece from the Guardian on the Adonis Resignation
  • Mike Sivier of Vox Political has offered his take here.
  • The Mirror has 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).

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here is you reward for reaching the end of this piece:

TW30TW29TW28climbing squirrelrunning squirrelTW27TW26TW25TW23TW22TW21TW20TW19TW18TW17TW16TW15TW14Sun on the Great Ouse11 lapwingslapwings and gullMallard drakes and white duck

 

Links, Pics and Puzzles

Lionks to various pieces I have found on the internet, an answer and solution to one problem and a new problem, and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

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.

SCIENCE AND NATURE

First a trio from wildlifeplanet:

  1. “Unreal Photos Of Animals From The Scandinavian Vicious Forest” – a piece highlighting the work of Finnish photographer Konsta Punka taking pictures of forest creatures:

  2. “Beach That Disappeared 33 Years Ago Has Reappeared” 

  3. “Here Is The Bird That Is Able To Fly For 10 Months Non-Stop (Video)” – a piece about the swift.

Hurricane Harvey has quite rightly received a lot of coverage. Here are three of the better pieces:

THE BEST BUS STOP

This bus stop is the subject of a post on illaboratoriodipleeny titled “Una meravigliosa fermata del bus….” that was brought to my attention by Anna, who was as impressed by it as I am. Here is the bus stop:

SOME POLITICAL PIECES

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:LW

My next two pieces both come from the Skwawkbox:

A SOLUTION AND A NEW PROBLEM

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.

Thomas’ answer:

Screenshot 2017-08-31 at 5.51.15 PM

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:

Screenshot 2017-08-31 at 5.52.52 PM

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?

PHOTOGRAPHS

Guildhall
With Heritage Open Day coming up soon I decided to revisit these first two pics which feature thw town hall.

window

Greyfriars + wm
Greyfriars tower and the war memorial
Library
The library, taken today

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A hald-moon in an early evening sky.
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The first of three closer up and enhanced shots of the half-moon.

P1040563P1040562Moorhen£2 - end of WWII

A Variety Post

A mixed bag of a post, featuring local politics, libraries, autism, science, nature and photography.

INTRODUCTION

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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):

Political Compass Certificate

THE GAYWOOD LIBRARY EVENT

The event at Gaywood Library is a Business Evening at 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:

Personalised SymbolPublic Libraries DisplayPL coinPL stamps

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:

IMAGE
Credit: Illustrated by Oliver Demuth. © Oliver Demuth

OPPOSITION TO TROPHY HUNTING

Stan Kroenke, current owner of Arsenal Football Club, has just launched a new TV channel devoted to blood sports. I have two links to share, and some words for Arsenal fans at the end:

  1. A Guardian piece titled “Trophy hunting is vile. Stan Kroenke’s TV channel must be banned” which gives full detail on this.
  2. A change.org petition aimed at the sponsors of Arsenal Football Club asking them to withdraw support and so help force Kroenke out, screenshot below:
    KroenkeOut

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:

  1. Part 4, concentrating on birds including the Osprey shown below.
  2. 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…

SOME OF MY LOCAL NATURE THEMED PICTURES

Mother and childMoorhen3 CormorantsCormorantCormorants at waters edgeCormorants and gullsMoorhen in upper purfleet

Little Egret 1
I close this post by revisiting the Little Egret.

Two Great Manifestos

Covering the Labour and We Own It manifestos.

INTRODUCTION

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:

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.

LM

MORE ON THE LABOUR MANIFESTO

In this section I will share four links to posts concerned with the Labour Manifesto:

  1. Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK first response was this post, titled “Labour has delivered a good manifesto for the UK
  2. Following up on the above post, Prof. Murphy has also produced the following, titled “How to pay for renationalisation
  3. The Skwawkbox have produced a piece that 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:
    con fake news grinder.png
  4. Jeff Goulding on RAMBLINGS OF AN ORDINARY MAN has produced a splendid piece titled “Labour’s manifesto: a triumph of leadership and hope over cynicism and despair“, a very detailed analysis accompanied with some excellent pictures, one of which I reproduce below:

JUNE 8TH

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.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Just a few photos to end this post:

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Lot 1107 in James and Sons upcoming auction.
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1107-a – A Northern line train of 1956 stock.
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1107-b: The last two items in the album.
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Mama duck with her brood, the Gaywood River near Beulah Street.

Labour’s latest #effectiveopposition for women stark contrast with Tory damage

An excellent post from Skwawkbox…

The SKWAWKBOX

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 womenand 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…

View original post 316 more words

Pictures, Links and an Open Letter

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.

INTRODUCTION

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.

With kind regards,

Mike Sivier

Link: Vox Political

A NEW POST ON WWW.LONDONTU.BE

I have just put up a new post on my London Transport themed website centred on the Institute of Education.

IOE Close Up

SOME NEW PHOTOS

Just a few photos that I have not previously shared:

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A work colleague who knows of my interest in railwayana gave me this badge. By the way, this union was one of those amalgamated to form the Rail and Maritime Transport workers union (RMT).
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Moorhen with two chicks, upper Purfleet, King’s Lynn
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I saw this near Lynn Sport on Sunday

Marxism 1: Getting There and Day 1

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.

INTRODUCTION

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.

THE JOURNEY

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:

  1. As people who depend on election results they feared that Corbyn could not win an election and…
  2. 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.

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Mark L Thomas giving his talk.

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.

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Sally (left as you view the picture) and Ruby preparing for the meeting
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Sally giving her talk

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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.

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The whole panel of speakers
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Emma Davis calls the meeting to order
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Emma introducing the first speaker.

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ACCOMODATION

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.