Protests & Placards

After yesterday’s rather moody post, here is a thought-provoking and optimistic suggestion of something the Government can do to make people feel better about the (hopefully) imminent death of their flagship only policy:

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(Genuine bodged placard, as not used on Saturday.)

Sticking to the theme, here is a futuristic picture of Tintern station with the track re-instated. (A rather old futuristic picture of Tintern station with the track reinstated, but producing a new one would take a while and show much the same thing.)

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Government Response to the Petition

British people cast their votes once again in the 2017 General Election where over 80% of those who voted, voted for parties, including the Opposition, who committed in their manifestos to upholding the result of the referendum.

This Government stands by this commitment.

Revoking Article 50 would break the promises made by Government to the British people, disrespect the clear instruction from a democratic vote, and in turn, reduce confidence in our democracy.

Dear Government,

The 2017 General Election was not a referendum on EU membership. It was an opportunity to express our opinions on which party we wished to form the Government, based on their overall package of policies and the apparent competence of their leadership (the result ultimately reflecting national confidence on the latter point).

Personally I voted on the grounds that you had promised to electrify the Great Western and Midland Mainlines, and seemed most likely to get on with this rather than starting your refreshed term of office by flogging the dead horse of rail re-nationalisation. I am deeply, deeply furious – to a degree that is practically irretrievable – that you had in fact already broken this commitment before the election was even called, did not bother to tell anyone this, and have not suggested that any of the lying MPs who inferred that this would happen in their election literature should face by-elections.

The double-standard is appalling – that because a minority interest gets a referendum it suddenly becomes more relevant than policies of actual use to the voters. Sheffield stands to gain a great deal more, rather more quickly, from faster, more reliable, newer, cleaner and cheaper-to-run trains to London, Leeds and Birmingham than it does from leaving the EU.

If the 2017 General Election was purely about the EU, not about the Prime Minister’s woeful record on law and order or about whether Jeremy Corbyn should get to be prime minister leading some kind of “coalition of chaos”, then it should have been run as a second referendum. Either that or the manifestos of parties promising to implement the EU referendum result should have made clear that no other policies would be taken forward over the next five years.

Instead we had misleading claims, apparently from cloud-cuckoo land, suggesting that the Government could cope with multi-tasking. In view of this, suggesting that the General Election in any way confirmed the referendum result demonstrates about as much relevance to the argument as if both major parties had pledged that the Moon would be made of green cheese.

The parallel is particularly relevant, given that you seem to be doing about as well at mining green cheese from the Moon as you are at dealing with Brexit.

It could be argued that “reducing confidence in democracy” is best done by making a complete hash of a key policy, smashing your Government and the constitution to smithereens and then arguing that you have to do this because we are a democracy. It suggests that if we were a semi-benevolent dictatorship ruled by an absolute monarch we would either not be leaving the EU or the absolute monarch would have done it in a way that suggested she knew what she was doing, and both options seem much more appealing than the one that we are obliged to live in as a quid pro quo for being ignored democratically.

I also look forward to your explanations for why half the Midland Mainline timetabled service will be cancelled from 1st January 2020 as a result of the inability to replace or modify the existing HST fleet in the wake of the unexpected cancellation of electrification. I am sure that users of the line will be very understanding about the abrupt reinstatement of the 1994 timetable (except with smaller trains) and how it marks an essential part of the development of our country in the wake of Brexit.

Leicester 3 JPG.jpg A HST at Leicester. As it has slam-doors, no internal automatic customer information system and no toilet retention tanks it will be withdrawn in accordance with accessibility legislation at 23.59 on 31st December 2019, leaving East Midlands Trains with nothing to operate its service. Not that it will necessarily be EMT’s problem, as there’s a franchise change due before then. The Government recently send along a Minister to an Industry Do to make a speech remarking on the wonderful impact that the replacement trains will have, which as no replacements have been ordered took the industry and observers rather by surprise – although most of them have now come round to the view that this is not a Government that does evidence- or reality-based policy. Fortunately the passengers crammed into 4- and 5-car Meridians on what remains of the service will be happy because we’ll have left the EU.

Fun & Games

Before going off for a nap for a few hours – can’t keep up the adrenaline of this Article 50 rubbish forever – I’d like to express my support for the pragmatic attitude being taken by the Brexiteer Tories who won’t back May’s deal.

As they have sensibly grasped, better to stay in the party and keep working to turn down the music, persuade the organisers to arrange a better drink selection, ensure the correct people get invited to join in, etc., than get stuck in the door on the way out – trapping oneself with sub-optimal music, inadequate drinks, etc. and a lovely view of an inaccessible opera house across the way.

It might be better if the party organiser was offering free re-entry at a later date for people stuck in the door.

Still, it’s amusing watching the Tory rats spend the afternoon rushing to re-board the sinking ship (well, twenty or so of them anyway). If enough of them push hard enough it might make it to port. Then we can set off on the exciting voyage of another 21 months where knife crime, rail problems and burning tower blocks still aren’t relevant because the Future Relationship with the EU needs thrashing out.

And if enough of them push for it to be cancelled then we might get a Government that, looking for ways to convince people that it’s not totally incompetent, becomes interested in dealing with matters which actually affect people’s lives – like knife crime, potholes, energy crises, tower block safety, housing costs, empty high streets, etc.

Meanwhile – as a distraction – the opera: