The news today about the East Coast Mainline was perhaps not unexpected. Although many of us will have hoped that another method of solving National Express’s problems could have been found – sale to other transport companies who had shown interest, for example – rather than nationalization.
The beautiful Lord Adonis says that he will offer the franchise for tender again. Hopefully he will. I would deplore any move to keep it in the public sector. We fought for years to turn back the clock on Socialism’s previous nationalizations. Don’t let it happen again.
But whatever happens to the East Coast Mainline, there was a nasty little threat in what the Lovely Peer had to say.
He said it was possible he would remove the company’s two other franchises. This is seen as punishment for making a mess of the East Coast Mainline, but lawyers (and the almighty Robert Peston) believe he may not be able to do that as the East Coast franchise is controlled by a separate specially set up company.
One of those other franchises is c2c which runs the Essex line out of Fenchurch Street to Southend-on-Sea, via Upminster and West Horndon, or around the Loop taking in Dagenham, Rainham and Purfleet, or Ockendon and Chafford Hundred, to Grays, Tilbury and Pitsea and then on to the seaside.
It’s a small operation – only fifty or so miles from London to Southend – but it’s a great little railway. It always comes near the top of the league tables. Its trains are very rarely cancelled. They are punctual and clean. There are always workers clearing litter from platforms and trains. The staff are friendly, polite and helpful. Inspectors patrol the trains regularly checking on tickets in addition to the automated barriers at the stations.
So, here’s one passenger, not a commuter but a fairly regular traveller, who says to His Lordship and his government colleagues, “Keep your hands off c2c”!
Friday was a momentous day! I changed my car!
Blue Babe had been with me for 17 years and 5 months,136,000 plus miles. Before him, I used to change the car every three years, but I fell in love with Blue Babe. Already I am missing his pop-up headlights and his great tilt and slide sunroof which I always have open at this time of year.
But the time had come. I have spent a lot on Blue Babe in the last couple of years, and now the exhaust needed replacing and there are some strange noises emanating from beneath the bonnet. Also I’m off to Durham in a week’s time, which will take six hours, and I was nervous about whether Blue Babe would stand up to it. I think he probably would have done. And even now I think I probably made a mistake in getting rid of him. It troubles me to think of him standing outside all by himself at the dealer’s place waiting to be scrapped.
Talking of scrapped, I didn’t get the Government scrappage allowance because I didn’t buy new. Can’t bear to think of losing so much value the instant a new car is put on the road.
I do – I think – like my new-to-me car. Couldn’t get a blue one. It is dark grey – cosmic grey!
But I am still heartbroken at losing Blue Babe.
I see it’s just over a month since I last posted. But it’s been a good one.
I’ve had two short holidays, both great, but it doubles the pressure before and after. Trying to clear everything up before going, then in the week in between, as well as doing the special job I came back for, trying to catch up on what had arrived while I was away and clear again before going for my second break. During that second break I didn’t even read the newspapers. Then when I finally returned, lots of meetings and catching up in between.
At last, a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, and I have to confess that I’ve spent a good few hours today reading up on all my favourite blogs.
There’s a lot I would have liked to comment on at the time, but probably a bit out of date now.
Still, here goes, and I’ll start by saying how great it was to see that my good friend, James Brokenshire, has been selected as PPC for Old Bexley & Sidcup. James was an outstanding candidate at Hornchurch. I’ve never seen anyone work harder, and he absolutely deserved to gain the seat back from Labour. He was heavily involved in the constituency, and was a fine MP. It was a tragedy that the boundary changes fractured Hornchurch into three pieces, each tagged on to an existing constituency, leaving nothing for the incumbent Hornchurch MP. Those constituencies which did not select James, as he began the round of trying to find another seat, have lost an excellent constituency member, but Old Bexley and Sidcup have gained one, (dv).
Amusing to think that a constituency which once had the grumpy and rather inarticulate former Prime Minister as its MP, will now have the delightful family which is James, Kathrine and the children!
Have just heard James Purnell, Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, on Question Time.
The panel was answering a question about Scotland – Referendum – wee Wendy, and a member of the audience talked about Scottish members voting on English matters, but not the other way round; no prescription charges in Wales; and so on.
So little James bravely speaks up about the virtues of preserving the United Kingdom, and then says that with devolution they have tried other forms of government in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so they can “work out what is best for each country”.
There’s something missing here isn’t there? What about England? It seems we are not old enough or responsible enough to have the self-government the other three countries of the United Kingdom have. Labour doesn’t have to bother to “work out what is best” for England. We just have to put up with having Brown’s scottish comrades make the rules for us.
Just how blinkered are these people that they can’t see the unfairness of having a completely different constitutional framework for England than for the other three countries?
A Parliament for England now!
Well, we’ve waited all day for the London result, and it was sure worth waiting for.
A high turnout, one of the highest ever in London; over a million first preference votes for Boris; and a majority of almost 150,000 on the first preference votes, and 140,000 on the combined first and second. 53% of the vote for Boris and 47% for Ken.
The London Mayoral election is quite unlike any other. The media attention and the pressure are enormous. I was there for the first ever Mayoral election in 2000. We had a basement headquarters office for our inner team, and every time we stuck our noses outside there were a couple of TV crews there. I know how hard Boris’s team has worked this time. If it was anything like us it was 18 hours a day, seven days a week. So congratulations to Boris’s team, and to all the London Conservative Associations for their hard work.
I have to be a bit biased and say that Steve Norris was a strong and popular candidate on two occasions. I believe that if he had stood again, in the current political climate, he would have won. But that takes nothing from what Boris has done.
The first Conservative Mayor of London – congratulations and we’re expecting great things from you.
The trouble with this and any Labour government is that it doesn’t allow for people like Mr Womble on Tour and me.
I see the question of “assumed consent” for organ donation is being raised again – this time by the Royal College of Nursing. And that is despite the very clear statement on Mr WoT’s blog that nobody is to assume his consent.
You see that’s the thing about people like me. I have carried a donor card and been on the central register since the scheme was first set up. But as soon as the government sticks its great boot in to try to take control over what I’m doing, then I immediately think oh well, I won’t do it then. I’ll withdraw my donor registration and refuse consent.
Governments, particularly Labour ones, want sheep who meekly do what they tell them. But Sepoy and Mr WoT are not like that. We like to run our own lives, and any move to compulsion or assumed consent has a negative effect.
Good to see that John Smeaton got his medal from the Queen at Tuesday’s investiture.
He’s the baggage handler at Glasgow Airport who helped a police officer being attacked by a terrorist last June. A car was driven into the airport building, and John wrestled a suspected terrorist to the ground.
He was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal. He described getting the medal from the Queen as the “proudest moment of his life”.
We should be proud of him. He is a hero and thoroughly deserves the medal.