Don’t take Shapps for Granted on Railway

Two jobs (an MP and running a get rich quick scheme) Grant Shapps alias Michael Green and Sebastian Fox is still making it up as he goes along claiming in a BBC TV interview that Labour was responsible for the Beeching plan that decimated t Britian’s railway network.

The facts are that the brief for Beeching, former chairman of ICI, was  provided by the Tory Prime MinisterHarold Macmillan, in 1960 thus: “First, the industry must develop modern conditions and prospects modelled to meet current needs and with the premise that the railways should be run as a profitable business.

Over 4,000 route miles axed on cost and efficiency grounds, leaving Britain with 13,721 miles (22,082 km) of railway lines in 1966.  There were no proposals to improve or repurpose the usage and efficiency of the existing network or how to maintain or dispose of redundant infrastructure


Thee sceme was carried though by Ernest Marples of Marple rIDGEWAY  construction, roAD BUILDERS Minister of Transport (1959–1964). He b oversaw significant road construction (he opened the first section of the M1 motorway) and the closure of a considerable portion of the national railway network

Initially, Harold Wilson‘s Labour government continued with the policies A further 2,000 miles (3,200 km) were lost by the end of the 1960s. In  1966, a White Paper on Transport Policy identified economic utility, rather than commercial viability, as the major objective of railway policy. This resulted in a revised railway network plan with 3,000 miles of additional track surviving Beecham’s scheme

On 16 February 1965, Beeching had announced the second stage of his reorganisation of the railways. To cut 7,500 miles of trunk railway throughout Britain. These  proposals were rejected by the then Labour government and Beeching, sacked  by Labour’s transport minister Tom Fraser, returned to the ICI.

Following a policy review in 1967, the Transport Act of 1968 made provision for major capital reconstruction on the railways and deficit relief. In 1970 Ted Heath and the Tories were back in power


Boris No story gov! Then make one up

A piece in “Informed” the NUJ’s  NEC Mag (I think) has Ian Burrel claiming that “Brexit has changed political journalism beyond recognition” as he “gauged feelings on the front line.” but hey! Makes light a subject  that should bother us. I think again.


He states that despite “all the journalistic resources thrown at Brexit, there are complaints that the news industry has left the public under-served and ill-informed as reporters cotton onto  off-record briefing strategy.” There’s perceptive.

Peter Oborne a right wing commentator quoted in the article further believes that a swathe of his peers as “stenographers” for swallowing “dodgy stories and commentary” from Number 10. These two makes the point. “ Begs the question is this good for our trade.
Well: It should be noted that the two practitioners; political journalists  and politicians are/have become two of a kind the former a welter of journalists in the ranks of politicians  (MPs, PRs and advisers)and politicians seconding as journalists by trade and or inclination across tele, radio and print.

Boris is “right in the thick of it.!” To the detriment I claim of our trade.

The piece  has in a box this: “Johnson (not as with Theresa May) is at his ease among journalists  and his “eye for a  story” has put him “on the front foot” in relations with the media since entering Downing Street. A man who, as a reporter in Brussels, thought nothing of concocting stories like an  EU “plan” to regulate on bendy fruit.

“At ease with journalists” is surely the euphemism  of the century, He had  editors downwards in his pocket willing and able to play up his merits (if any) and down plays his demerits of which there are plenty. This evident in his careers as journalist, Mayor of London, MP and Prime minister and writ large as Foreign secretary.

So in considering the condition of our trade as to Boris:  The man who “thought nothing of concocting stories” and who makes true the accusation concerning journalists “if you  haven’t got a story … make one up!”

The flowers that bloom in the spring Tra la!or maybe not?

Does Brexit not look as In the Mikado where WS Gilbert tells of Nanki-Poo who courted by Katisha. An Elderly lady? sings of.

“The flowers that bloom in the spring -Tra la
Breathe promise of merry sunshine — Tra la,
As we merrily dance and we sing -Tra la
We welcome the hope that they bring -Tra la

Of a summer of roses and wine

Of summer of roses and wine.

The flowers that bloom in the spring tra la

Having nothing to do with the case.
I’ve got to take under my wing, Tra la,
A most unattractive old thing – Tra La
With a caricature of a face

And that’s what I mean when I say, or I sing,
‘Oh, bother! the flowers that bloom in the spring.’

Tra la la la la la, Traa la la la la Traa la la la la etc.”

‘A nice cup of tea will save fish and do you good’ say *experts’

Those looking to answer for the mountains of plastic which unless, eaten by deluded fish, lie festering at the bottom of the oceans need look no further than thier noses to end one of the main ingredients amongst this morass of plastic cups.

Why it should be that where thirsts were quenched at intervals of say four hours, nowadays thirst is an ever present curse of the human condition leading to the use of million of plastic cups which has got so bad a degradable receptacle (I like that! RJ) is being sought as an alternative.

The spectre of thirst that, even if not actual, haunts not only the lowly (I like that as well) but that of the nation’s leaders, with government minsters and other dignitaries seen in life and on Telly clutching plastic cups, before straws, as they rush through swing doors for meetings where they seek to save the world. Only, apparently, the dry parts.

The thousands of rest of us on the way to work, at lunch time and going home and elsewhere grip tight to the things never it sems actually drinking any of the stuff.

Plastic cups are piled high in cafes and inside machines that occupy handy positions at shops, offices , factories and leisure centres into which every known type of liquid issues forth People are condition to drink from plastic now pubs to prams where plump ones grasp at them like a lifeline.

Thus concerned people if not the fish, look desperately for an alternative to plastic A thing tried by one organisation was by substituting paper! For obvious reasons it didn’t work!

There is an alternative to one aspect of this problem that will kill two birds with one stone (but save fish) that is to supply refreshment and improve things for those risking heart attacks in their rush to work helped by drinking on the run. By slowing down when they get there

It needs the return in working time of morning and afternoon tea breaks to factories, building sites and offices administered by Tea Boys and Tea Ladies (now Tea Persons) serving up mugs of hot steaming tea from their trollies.

*I hav’nt invented a name for them yet .. but  they will be indepent.

Dickens and his ilk where are they now

This is from Hard Times by Charles Dickens.. There were in the nineteenth century and before writers of Dickens’ ilk in books and news sheets graphically exposing society’s ills. . The likes of which there is a pathetic paucity of Today.

“Coketown in the distance was suggestive of itself, though not a brick of it could be seen.

“The wonder was, it was there at all. It had been ruined so often, that it was amazing how it had borne all the shocks. Surely there was never such a fragile china ware as of which the millers of Coke town were made. Handle them ever so lightly, and they fell to pieces with such ease that you mighit suspect them of having been flawed before.

They were ruined, when they were required to send labouring of children to shool, they were ruined, when inspectors were appointed to look into there works. they were ruined, when when such inspectors considered it doubtful whether they were quite justified in choppping people up with their machinery, they were utterley undone, when it was hinted that perhaps they need not always make so much smoke.

Another popular fiction, the  threat – made whenever a Coketowner, felt he was ill used – that is to say, not left entirely alone, and it was proposed to hold him to account for the consequenes of any of his acts – he was sure to come out with the awful menace. that he would ‘sooner’ pitch his property into the Atlantic .

This had terrified the Home Secretary within an inch of his life on several occassions. However, the Cokeowners were so patriotic after all, that they never had pitched their propoerty into the Atlantic, yet. On the contrary, they had been kind enough to take mighty good care of it.

So there it was, in the haze yonder, and it increased and mul;iplied.

Brexit .. what ever’s wrong ..Its not the fault of the old.

From the NPC’s Pensioners Parliament.

Brexit and the myth of generational warfare (By Mary Brodbin)

Dr Genna Carney, Queens University Belfast, made a powerful case to argue that older voters are not to blame for Brexit.

She said that the problem was that the media played the most important role in how the referendum was conducted. Generational warfare is now as important as class and racial divides to set us against each other.

After the referendum she looked at all English newspapers from 23 June – 23 July 2016 and many of the articles blamed pensioners – ‘It falls to millennials to fix their elders’ mistakes’ was typical. But Genna took a longer term view. It wasn’t baby boomers that broke the UK. It was Cameron born in 1966 and Boris Johnson and Farage, both born in 1964.

She saw the issues of social and economic inequality as the problem. She said what is the point of having stereotypes like ‘baby boomers’ and ‘millennials’. They don’t really tell us anything. Simply throwing everybody together is actually ignoring important things like gender, class, ethnicity and any other identity you choose.

She looked at 81 articles and found only one based on meaningful research. Nineteen stories of 81 found in 15 different papers were based on the same press release from the Resolution Foundation and led on much the same tack – “Millennials are worse off than the previous generation.”

The Resolution Foundation’s “‘Stagnation Generation” report was not based on research. Instead it was provocative, partial and ideologically driven. She stressed that we must be wary of think tanks. Today there are higher levels of inequality generally – increased levels of debt, lower levels of job security, and greater levels of competition in the job market.

The Stagnation Generation report seems to suggest that each generation should be better off than the previous generation. Why is this assumption made? Children of the Great Depression were worse off than the previous generation. In the UK in the 1980s and 1990s there were children of the previous decades’ economic crisis who were worse off than their parents. It is because of the set of circumstances into which they were born and when they came of age that they hit a perfect storm of rising indebtedness and a bottoming property market and, vitally, the Stagnation Report always leaves out the retraction of the welfare state.

All of these are the result of deregulation and neo-liberalism spearheaded by Thatcher and Reagan and taken up willingly by the likes of Blair, Cameron and latterly Theresa May. They have replaced an era that provided the welfare state, NHS and defined benefit pensions between 1945 and 1979. If you live long enough as baby boomers to see new ideas from the 1980s such as deregulated markets and globalisation cause massive surges in inequality you might be a little disillusioned with politicians and big institutions that seem to put themselves and their interests ahead of the majority of people.

Much of the insults aimed at older people should be aimed at governments that use deregulation. And if you are old enough to have seen this happen you might decide to vote leave. We should work together and call out the politicians who are playing roulette with our democractic institutions, demolishing our welfare state and allowing the large multinational companies to operate as stateless entities without any corporate responsibility.

She ended – in terms of the NPC we must take a strong stand, be assertive with the media and refuse to be blamed for exercising our rights. In particular we need to keep doing what we’re good at: writing letters to MPs, newspapers, and anyone else who will publish alternatives to the mythical concensus that Brexit is a war of generations,

The Equality and Human Rights Commission investigate FA of Wales Age ban.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have accepted my case“ (against the Football Association of Wales) as a strategic priority referral because there may be unjustifiable age discrimination which is a strategic priority for the Commission.”

A casework and litigation officer has been allocated to look into the case. This meant first off the case officer having interviewed me.

The story so far.

In 2014 the Football Association of Wales (FAW) decision to introduce an age limit rule (of 65) for members seeking election to its association boards was contested as in conflict with the direct discrimination as per the Equality Act 2010,

the intention of the Football Association of Wales (FAW) to introduce an age limit rule (of 65) for members seeking election to its association boards.

The latest fact to emerge is that the rule is practised by England, Scotland and Northern Ireland FAs have the same rules. A request for details of the English FA has had no response. (Par for this course.)

Age” was added in 2012 to the Act’s seven “protected characteristics” Race, sex, disablement etc to which it is illegal to practice discrimination thus: “A person (A) discriminates against another (B) if, because of a protected characteristic, A treat B less favourably than A treats or would treat others.”

Over the four years the opinions of equality bodies, lawyers and an MP, evaluating the law, declared over and again the FAW rule to be discriminatory.

The FAW’s case was that its Councillors do not have the benefit of the protection from discrimination provided by the Act Part 5 because FAW “is an incorporated entity and the Councillors are unremunerated directors. If it any time paid councillors the exemption would end.”

The rebuttals of the FAW’s case is that it applies Part 5 of the Act on Employment, ignoring Part 7 “Associations” which the FAW clearly is and an association’s duty is not to discriminate in any way against “a member.”) It is/was also in its own rules!

This was answered only once by “No it isn’t! according to our lawyers” and then by a wall of silence by the FAW.

The rule came from the FAW’s Review of Wales Football Governance 2013 its only “evidence” for it being that some members had “fallen asleep at meetings.” Nothing more and nothing of age’s experience and virtues. One lawyer’s answer to people sleeping at meetings was simple: “Wake them up!.”

The Equality Act has a get out clause on “age” that allows for discrimination if: “A does not discriminate against B if A can show A’s different treatment of B is proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.” There seems no case law showing this to have been tested.

A “source close to the FAW” told Martin Shipton of the Western Mail; “The whole point of the change is to bring on younger people . Around 60 per cent of board members are in their 60s or older and that’s not representative of the population.” .

This begs the question “Do the FAW intend make councils “more representative of the population by rule changes designed to boost women’s’, ethnics and the disabled presence on boards.”

The FAW’s final answer to the charge of age discrimination “See you in court then!” has to be met sometime.

In that case a person “qualified” would have to stand for election to a FAW council seat in order to demonstrate that the FAW has discriminated against him/her on the grounds of age. It can’t be proved theoretically.

The next election is July 2019 but the chance that someone is willing to go to the trouble and expense of mounting this challenge for an FAW council seat. would surely deter the hardiest of souls.

Conclusions are that.

Because Age was added late to the list of Equality law Positive Characteristics it has not had the publicity of the others.

If it were not about a person’s age but being black, a woman, disabled a rule banning these from office it would never be considered.

The traditional way of depicting older people as somehow “doddery and daft(is) prevails. Where age discrimination is considered its treated in cavalier fashion.

Where age discrimination surfaces it needs to be challenged. The “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim” (for an exemption) is needed. To make way for younger people is not enough.