Coffee House

Health diktats, rail renationalisation – Labour’s leftwards lurch continues

4 May 2014

9:58 AM

4 May 2014

9:58 AM

BmvIT72CEAAAZWs The evolution of Ed Miliband’s Labour Party continues today with a letter in the Observer from candidates demanding that the party renationalizes the railways to lower the fares. It would be popular in commuter towns, they say – no wonder, as this would pass the costs from commuters to the general taxpayer. When challenged about it on this morning’s Andrew Marr show, Miliband didn’t rule it out. ‘We’re looking at all the options,’ he said. His only concession was that he is ‘not going back to old-style British Rail,’ – he plans a new form of state intervention.

Miliband then went on to accuse Cameron of being a ‘cheerleader’ for the Pfizer’s proposed takeover of AstraZeneca and said that he’d set up an independent inquiry to see if the government should stop shareholders selling to Pfeizer. Yet again, his instinct is to interfere.

Time and time again, we see that Ed Miliband’s plans for government tend not to involve government. They tend to involve edicts that he’d issue to those not in government. Landlords, power companies, moneylenders – and, today, supermarkets. The Mail on Sunday has got hold of Andy Burnham’s health agenda, which is says has been approved by Miliband, where he’d ‘outlaw cheap drink’ via minimum alcohol pricing, and get ride of those Frosties (they’rrrrre verboten) because they’re too sugary. Then tell supermarkets which shelves they should use to display the drink they sell.

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When Marr asked him why he wants to boss about businesses so much, he was unapologetic – he said he wanted ‘markets working in the public interest’. In other words: markets (i.e., people) working along the lines dictated by Miliband’s government. The very notion of commercial freedom seems to worry him. He sees problems even where they don’t exist. ‘I am going to stand up for the generation that rents in this country because our rental market doesn’t work,’ he said. Really? The same rental market that has seen rents fall, even in London, in real terms? As I argued in the Daily Telegraph on Friday there is not a problem with rent prices, down about 15pc in real terms since 2005. Yet Miliband proposes sweeping powers of government intervention nonetheless.

The Sunday Telegraph asks eight of its writers who they think will win the next general election. I still think that Miliband is (narrowly) more likely. Yes, his opinion poll lead has now narrowed to one vulnerable point, according to an ICM poll for the newspaper today. But that’s all Labour needs for a majority. Half of Liberal Democrat voters are now with Labour (as the party itself becomes a southern phenomenon) and right now the election is Labour’s to lose. That’s why we should take its rail and health plans seriously: we’re a year and a week away from an election that could bring to Britain what Francoise Hollande has brought to France.

UPDATE: I had the honour of being on the Marr sofa this morning, and was thankfully not asked back at the end where guests have to decide whether to nod their head, tap their feet or sit frozen while a band plays the show out. Both Ed Miliband and Nigel Farage chose the latter option. But afterwards, Red Ed came to join everyone for breakfast and sat next to Farage. Chatted away quite the thing. I was there as a guest so I shan’t say any more, but it reminded me of one thing.

Gordon Brown’s personal behaviour, his rudeness and misanthropy were notorious. Miliband’s personal decency and integrity is a defining characteristic, evident on and off screen. You can say, as I do, that he’s wrong about everything – and dangerously so. But it is hard, pretty much impossible, to say that he’s malign or not in politics for the right reasons. That will be to Labour’s advantage when the campaign starts.

UPDATE2: Here’s me reviewing the papers with Shami Chakrabarti (she of the Rod Liddle column fame)

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Show comments
  • Des Demona

    ” They tend to involve edicts that he’d issue to those not in government. Landlords, power companies, moneylenders ”
    About time someone did.

  • SidneySnott

    It is hard to understand given the absolute mess of Railtrack and rail privatisation why the UK, the country that invented this highly efficient means of transport cannot once again start organising its railways properly. Did things not improve when Network Rail came into being? The late great Winston Churchill agreed with Britain having a rail network owned by the country/state but it would appear that fundamentalist people on what has become the raving right of British politics will decry anything that involves state ownership. Perhaps it’s better to let foreign owners cream off the profits who in some cases use the UK transport network as a cash cow to push money into their own transport systems while insular parochial minds in the UK cry foul at any hint of the state trying to take back what should really be run as a public body run in the public’s interest.

  • http://www.piedpiperchildrensshoes.com/ christimathews

    Miliband is trying to prove his authority within the UK. He thinks he has power in his hands.

    http://rehabandlandlordloans.com/

  • darwins beard

    Putting my neck on the line here, but why should we pay for people who choose to be obese, drink heavily/ turn up to A&E through their own excess, smoke, use class A drugs ect ? I think the National health service is our greatest legacy and should be seen as an investment not a burden, and we should protect our investment from those who abuse it.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Oooh! Fraser! Them Mi$limibandians are SO different from CMD arent they?

  • Realpolitik/ fruitcake/ racist

    I love the front cover of the Observer “Nigel Slater” in UKIP colours, most probably referring to the second-rate chef, but very revealing all the same.

    Miliband is a Marxist, let’s stop beating around the bush as we tend to do with non-UKIP parties. He thinks increasing state ownership will enable us to get better value for money. Rather than the alternative, increasing competition and consumer choice in the market. This is just a ploy to attract thick people who love the idea of state ownership almost as much as the idea of taxing hard working people because they earn more than them. In reality buying these companies back would cost the tax-payers’ a fortune and the railways will become just as bloated, lazy and inefficient as every other state owned institution. Labour will use PFIs just as they did for the NHS, ie borrowing money to use as a rug to cover the enormous black hole and a further cost to the tax payer in repayments often, as in the case of the NHS being 6 times more than the initial loan……. Until the nasty Tories get back in and look evil when cutting these institutions.

    • Conway

      When I was a sixth former I had a summer job with British Steel. Even at that age I could see that it was massively inefficient.

      • Realpolitik/ fruitcake/ racist

        Fear not, due to EU emissions taxes and exorbitant energy bills both of our last steel smelters have been forced to close and move to India. Same ‘global’ pollution output. But then again, it’s not like global warming is a ‘global’ problem is it?

    • Kaine

      You’re revealing your own ignorance about the facts. There is no need to buy anything back. The franchises are for fixed terms. As they come up for renewal, the government selects DOR, the state company currently running East Coast, to operate the franchises.

      And as I say yet again, the majority of Britain’s rail network is state run, just by the German, Dutch and French states.

      • Realpolitik/ fruitcake/ racist

        Notice I say “these companies” as in the privatised companies of which Thatcher sold, I also say AND the railways will become……

        What is a “DOR”?

        It is state run but the private sector run aspect is heavily subsidised by the state.

        • Kaine

          The structure of your sentence indicates that the change in the railways will be a result of the purchase of said companies, and that you therefore were referring to the TOCs. If this was not the case, you need to be clearer.

          DOR is Directly Operated Railways.

          The subsidy of the private sector rent-seekers is precisely why the railways should be brought back into public ownership, as 75% of UKIP supporters agree.

  • Conway

    Rent controls, nationalisation, bans – I would say back to the ’70s, but we were spared a finger-wagging, authoritarian nanny state then. This is the worst of all possible worlds!

  • John Smith

    Interesting Labour are using policies last seen in the 1960’s, 70’s & 80’s.
    That all went well . .
    Only older people will realise its all a ruse ..

    • Kaine

      Railways weren’t denationalised until the nineties.

      And Georgie Boy dreams of unemployment as low or growth as high as under Heath.

  • Gary

    The right wing press still seems to be stuck in the Thatcherite mindset of the 80s. Nationalisation, isn’t taboo anymore and appears to be popular with the British people, not just the “commuter towns” or champagne socialists, in a recent poll 68% of voters across the political spectrum supported some form of energy nationalisation and 63% supported nationalisation of the railways.*

    I don’t think anyone believes that the current transportation system we have reflects a free market, the franchise system has made local monopolies and lined Mr. Branson’s instead. Is it such an anathema to the Spectator to even consider a German system where the national railway is a private company with the state as a majority shareholder?

    *www.cityam.com/article/1383618852/there-sadly-mass-support-nationalisation-and-price-controls

    • Alexsandr

      the german system is probably illegal under EU law, as are many other european rail systems. But as usual the UK follows the EU regs to the letter instead of ignoring them.

      • Kaine

        Actually the banning of British Rail or Directly Operated Railways from bidding for franchises is UK law, not EU law.

    • John Smith

      The more astute people in this country are aware it will not work, because we end up in the strike bound hands of public sector unions

      • Kaine

        And again, over half the network is state run. What magic does Deutsche Bahn have that DOR would not?

  • Mark_ld

    It seems that Fraser likes sometimes to be an apologist for Labour and Ed M on Question Time and other comfy, bleeding heart, left leaning ‘talk’ shows (mostly BBC). I suppose it helps with his Profile, Magazine and the invites back however please remember that we will have to live for five years under these morons.

    • HookesLaw

      Correct – but if you vote tory you can save yourself.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        No, your Camerluvvie buddies are as dead as disco, lad. Nothing can save them now.

        But since you seem to be worried about it, we’d suggest you not split the UKIP vote.

      • Alexsandr

        tories are yesterdays right of centre party. There is a new kid on the block ready to give the fading party a kicking.

  • Raw England

    No. This has gone far enough. Our people and our nation have been overwhelmingly compromised.

    Democracy is now dead. Sinister forces now dictate the terms. Immigrants have collapsed our economy, society and culture.

    We need one big radical intervention; an intervention that will smash, totally, the current system, and hand power back into the hands of native British people.

    • HookesLaw

      Go stuff yourself you ignorant racist. Or better still go and have a pint with your friend good old Saint Nigel.

  • cromwell

    Great I hope the trend continues and rail, electricity, water are re nationalised and run for the public weal and not private profit for the rich.

    • Alexsandr

      so how will that help. Do you remember the mess some of them were in before nationalisation. The water and gas infrastructure were not fit for purpose. and done get me started on post office telephones. 6 month wait for a line? And will the state be any more efficient that the private sector? Or will it be rubbish at it (Like the useless rail division at the DfT) and just make lots of overpaid jobs for the boys in Quangos.

  • El_Sid

    I suggest one state intervention – pass a law that no political party can put forward candidates for election to the Commons whilst that party is running a loss or has net debt on its balance sheet. If they can’t run their own affairs competently, then they’re clearly not fit to run the country, and we should enforce legislation to enforce it.

    • cromwell

      I suggest no party that accepts donations for favours be allowed to put forward candidates. In fact parties should not be allowed to accept donations at all but be publicly financed depending on their level of support thus eliminating a lot of corruption.

      • Alexsandr

        nooooo
        if they have public fundng then new parties can never start. I would suggest no one person may give more than a certain amaount/percentage. And I would ban parties from borrowing. If they cant fund campaigns from memberships then they have no right to exist.

      • Conway

        That will go down well with the taxpayer, I’m sure.

    • HookesLaw

      Most companies have debt. Most families have debt – one obvious one being a mortgage.

      Still, you spout a novel load of garbage to entertain us.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Well, you socialist Camerluvvies are certainly following that splendid debt pile up, as we know. You’re the best indebtors of all time, in fact.

  • HookesLaw

    Why should not Miliband smarm Farage. They are both totalitarian and Farage and UKIP ar on course to deliver the crypto marxist ‘version to the country.

    • Grey Wolf

      It’s Sunday, mate. You can stretch your legs and be calm and contemplative.

      • HookesLaw

        Go back to sleep – oh sorry you are sleep walking.

  • MikeHomfray

    However – as you are a free market enthusiast this is to me a great encouragement. Labour should not be offering that option. If people want that they have the Conservatives. Let’s have a proper election with a choice of parties believing in different things.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      No, this Speccie teenager is not a “free market enthusiast”. He’s a Camerluvvie lickspittle, and worships at the shrine of the H2B. Socialism rebranded, in other words.

      It’s amusing that the kid speaks so glowingly of the Millipede. It reminds us that LibLabCon are, well, they’re certainly not political “enemies”. And they can’t rightly even be called rivals. They’re more like associates, from different departments within LibLabCon.

      For the LibLabCon clones and this Speccie kid, their only political enemy is UKIP. That’s who threatens LibLabCon, and the Speccie kid fears whatever threatens LibLabcon. That’s why he speaks so glowingly of the Millipede. He’d be comfortable if the Millipede wins, just as he was comfortable with Blair and is today comfortable with the H2B.

      • HookesLaw

        Are you still spouting your ignorant garbage? How is the Grand Wizard?

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …what are you blathering about now, lad?

  • you_kid

    Now this is getting interesting. The British political discourse solely circles around various degrees of ‘Forward Socialism’.
    Labour demand a renationalised essential public service. UKIP demand the socialist protectionism of markets by curtailing unskilled labour movement. What next, Cameron facilitates a communally-owned shale gas market?

    Inept centralist corporatism is dead – long live Forward Socialism.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …is that what you fascists are calling it now, lad? Is the goat on board with these semantics?

  • RavenRandom

    Socialism worked so well for us in the 70s. Must we go through all of this again?

    • Colonel Mustard

      Socialism is the repetition of policies which have been proven to fail in the hope that eventually the outcome desired will be achieved. The current argument seems to be that because “capitalism hasn’t worked” the same old failed Labour policies should be re-applied with extra nannyism.

      Not a great prospect. A complete lack of imagination for alternatives to the shortcomings of both polarised ideologies seems to apply to all parties.And all of them seem to buy into the idea that more rather than less state intervention is better.

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    I don’t know whether to commend Fraser’s objection to the proscriptivist tendencies of recent Labour ‘initiatives’ or to wonder why when the tories run this sort of thing up the flagpole the power and influence of the might Spectator are not instinctively turned to oppose them. Cameron appears to be exactly of the tendency to want to control and interfere. It must be opposed every time no matter what is the source.

    • Colonel Mustard

      “Interventions” rather than initiatives. Creeping the precedent, and not so stealthily, that the state should run the intricacies of our lives and knows best what is good for us.

  • Andy

    Why does that idiot Miliband just turn the whole of the UK into one big Gulag and be done with it.

    • Colonel Mustard

      “Intervention” is the new euphemism for the state sticking its bureaucratic nose where it has no business, mainly it seems to distract attention away from the appalling mess of the institutions it should be running. Burnham cannot conceal the fact that he is a nasty little “interventionist” fascist by nature who thinks he knows best what is good for us. The meddling quangocrats and fake charity gauleiters who earn lucrative salaries from state-sponsored bullying must be rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of that gang coming to power.

      I watched Generation War last night, late thanks to the BBC’s gormless sport agenda. The dreadful coercive group think and self delusion of the regime reminded me of Labour. What is it that makes some people strident and determined to control how everyone else should lead their lives?

      • Andy

        Because they are Fascists, as I frequently remind Telefascist. The Labour Party needs to be destroyed.

        • saffrin

          Oh God, if that happens, Harriet Harman will end up as a social worker.
          Think of the the minds of the poor little children that hypocrite will damage.

          • Andy

            Well given what happened with P.I.E. perhaps we should spare a thought for the damage this deranged hypocrite has already done.

            • Alexsandr

              sir. I move to amend your post adding the word ‘spiteful’ between ‘this’ and ‘deranged’

              • Andy

                Amended as you suggest.

        • Grey Wolf

          What you say for Labour applies in equal measure to Con and LibDem too.

          • HookesLaw

            No. You are a nutjob hysteric.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              Yes. You are a socialist Camerluvvie lickspittle.

              • HookesLaw

                Nope I am a conservative – you are a nasty bigot who has no argument other than lies and fantasy like liblabcon etc. Everyone is a socialist to you who is half reasonable and caring and not a racist like you are.
                What a disgrace to humanity Farage is when he panders to evil people like you. Stick to wiping your backside with all your saved up Confederate money and leave the interweb in peace.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Heh. You’re about as much a “conservative” as Mao, laddie.

                  You are a socialist Camerluvvie lickspittle.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  “Reasonable and caring” is telemachus’ li(n)e about Labour.

                • Andy

                  You are no Conservative.

            • Grey Wolf

              Really! In our little exchange if anybody has become hysterical and resorted to ad hominem it is you.

              The Cons are egalitarian, world improvers. Where did the marriage equality come from otherwise? They seem very keen on providing state-guarantees to private home buyers. Where did that come from?

            • WillyTheFish

              Sometimes ‘hysteria’ is the only sane option.

        • George_Arseborne

          ” Labour Party needs to be destroyed”. Those are your words Andy and only a Facist could come out with such a phrase. Labour Party are concern with human wellbeing on like your ilk in the Tory Party that are more glue to robbots and careless about humans.

          • Andy

            The Labour Party, of which you are probably a member, all but destroyed the British Economy. They launched numerous foreign wars killing hundreds of our own people. As to your lies that the Labour Party is ‘concern with human wellbeing’ you should try telling that to all those who were murdered in Mid Staffs on their watch. The Fascist Labour Party should be proscribed.

            • Conway

              No political party should be proscribed. That way lies totalitarianism.

              • Andy

                Try telling that to the Fascist Labour Party.

                • Conway

                  I agree that many left-leaning posters seem to be keen to stop people with the “wrong ideas” voting. It’s extremely disturbing.

                • Kaine

                  I’m all for as many people voting as possible. We should make the general Election Day a bank holiday. If the 18-34 demographic voted to the same extent that pensioners do we’d have a Labour landslide.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Ageist creep.

                • Kaine

                  Saying I want young people to have the same sense of civic duty about voting as their grandparents is ageist?

                • Colonel Mustard

                  No, but you are.

                • Kaine

                  Could you provide me a complete list of all the attributes you’ve given me in your fantasies darling?

                • Colonel Mustard

                  No, I’ve got better things to do. But if you review your own comments here without suppressing your own self awareness you should get most of them.

                • Kaine

                  Better things? Darling are you arguing with another young man online? You brazen hussy!

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Only my wife ever called me Darling.

                • Kaine

                  Why the past tense?

                • Hexhamgeezer

                  as a 14 year old I fear you don’t understand many 18-34s

                • Kaine

                  Boom boom!

                • Inverted Meniscus

                  And very soon thereafter, government by the IMF.

                • Kaine

                  One gerontocracy is as good as another.

              • Inverted Meniscus

                Vote Labour and you will eventually get totalitarianism. The ultimate goal of Labour is to create a one party state.

                • Kaine

                  Shhh! Don’t tell them! That’s the last time I’m inviting you to one of the secret meetings.

          • Hexhamgeezer

            Luvvin that gramma

      • Conway

        What is it that makes some people strident and determined to control how everyone else should lead their lives?” It’s because they are convinced that only they have enlightenment and moral certitude; everybody else is unworthy.

        • Inverted Meniscus

          The perfect definition of a Labour politician.

      • Gary Wintle

        The State subsidizes the rail networks in this country, you buffoon. You are effectively forced to give your money to a bunch of shareholders and foreign governments. Germany’s rail service is subsidized by British taxpayers.
        Likewise, landlords live off the state by charging extortionate rents which the taxpayer then has to subsidize. They are the real parasites shamelessly sponging off the taxpayer.

        And lets not forget the scumbags at Lazard who screwed the British taxpayer deep and hard in the Royal Mail sell-off, and the dumb/crooked morons in the UK government who colluded with them to sell RM off for a stupidly low price..

        Rail is not a “private business” at all. I’m all in favour of the government leaving it to its own devices so long as all taxpayer subsidies are ended.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Don’t think I mentioned railways did I? But thanks for the rant.

        • Hexhamgeezer

          So you’ll be voting UKIP?

    • HookesLaw

      He will if you give him the chance.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …so will Mistress May and the rest of you autocratic socialist Camerluvvies, lad. You socialist nutters despise freedom and liberty, free press and all the rest of it.

  • shelltop

    Same old labour, ban this this and that, think this and dont think that, renationalise industry, impose false market controls……

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …same old LibLabCon, actually.

      • Alexsau91

        No, the current Conservatives are not like they were in their heyday under Thatcher. That said, they are turning around Labour’s economic mess, despite the unpopularity it brought. They could have turned back at any point, as everyone including Labour, the IMF and much of the left-press called, but they didn’t.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          They adopted Darling’s budget, and just about everything else Lab was doing, from envirowhacko kookiness, to neocon invasions, to the NHS insanity, to the tax increases, to the EUSSR. I don’t agree with your characterization.

  • Kaine

    Taking railways back into public ownership is popular with a majority in all political parties, including half of Tories and three quarters of UKIP voters. Under the current system, more subsidies are given to private companies than were ever given to British Rail. Further, the East Coast Main Line had the lowest subsidy of any line in 2012/13, amounting to around £7m in total for the entire year.

    Lastly, it is worth noting that over half of the rail franchises are in fact state controlled, just not by the British state. Three by the Germans, three by the Dutch and four by the French. Are we some ‘third world’ state that we need European governments to come in and run our services for us?

    A state company, run at arms length from government, bidding as part of the normal process as the contracts come up for renewal. I’m sick of my ticket fee subsidising Continental infrastructure.

    • Shinsei1967

      But why would subsidies be lower under nationalisation ? If the government chooses to keep rail fares down by taxpayer-funded subsidies how will this miraculously change under nationalisation.

      There’s a reason why subsidies are so high – much higher health & safety costs and massive infrastructure investment. And running a railway in a crowded country is an expensive business, hence why passenger rail is subsidised in every single western European country. Only freight is actually profitable (without a subsidy).

      If you want lower subsidies then you need either higher fares or worse service/investment. This economic fact of life doesn’t change under nationalisation.

      • Kaine

        Straight off the bat you save the £2bn a year that is drained out of the system by private companies for their shareholders.

        But no, I don’t think it will be a panacea. And I know you can’t make these things profitable. That is precisely why they should be run as a public service. Private sector involvement adds nothing, and in fact increases inefficiencies by compartmentalising staff and duplicating management, as well as encouraging companies to overbid to the extent they walk away, as we saw on East Coast, twice.

        This isn’t a dogma thing for me. I don’t have the starry-eyed vision of some of the comrades. But a nationalised version would be, mildly, more efficient. We can go from there.

        • Rhoda Klapp8

          The government did not build the railways nor does it know how to run them. The problem with the privatisation was that is was done stupidly, not that it should not have been done at all.

          Private companies built the railways. They could run them fine with no subsidies, or go broke in the attempt. That is what should happen. Railways should not be competing for taxpayers’ money with hospitals, welfare and aircraft carriers. That is what didn’t work in the past, they become political footballs. People who want to ride on railways or send freight on them should be the ones who pay.

          • Kaine

            Actually the evidence from East Coast, which has seen massive improvements in every area since it was taken back into state ownership, would indicate that Directly Operated Railways knows a damn sight more about running trains than either National Express or GNER.

            You cannot run a railway without subsidy, hence why so many of those previous operators went bankrupt. Is is largely because many of the externalities of rail travel; environmental benefits, less congested roads, greater mobility of people etc are difficult to monetise.

            Your choices are to accept that railways are a national asset and public good to be run as a public service, like hospitals, schools and the armed forces, or to accept the annihilation of the network.

            Now you may favour the latter, but I favour the former.

            • Andy

              The best operator on the East Coast route was GNER. The current lot are dreadful.

              • Kaine

                The statistics, as well as the fact GNER couldn’t complete its term operating the franchise, would indicate otherwise.

                • Andy

                  I’m telling you as a frequent passenger.

                • Kaine

                  And I’m telling you that the independent watchdog Passenger Focus gave East Coast under public ownership a 92% customer satisfaction rating, the highest the line has achieved since the survey started in 1999.

                • HookesLaw

                  Probably to do with the lenient way the public company dole out compensation to its passengers.

                • Kaine

                  Except the number of complaints has gone down during public ownership.

                • Alexsandr

                  maybe the moving goalposts of the open access operators may have been a factor in GNER failing to remain sustainable. I think you will find GNER stated this was damaging their business and would cause the franchise to collapse is well documented.

                • Kaine

                  The collapse of GNER’s parent company and their dubious bidding probably didn’t help either. Interestingly the former CEO of GNER said “the market will self-destruct”. He would know.

            • Rhoda Klapp8

              Anything which absolutely requires subsidy is wrong. Subsidy only supports inefficiency and waste. Maybe that nineteenth-century technology has run its course?

              • Kaine

                In which case wouldn’t it make better sense for the government to begin winding down the network in a co-ordinated manner, rather than tying itself in knots signing fifteen year franchise agreements with private firms and foreign governments?

                The current system is the worst of all worlds.

                • Rhoda Klapp8

                  On that we can agree.

            • HookesLaw

              Rail technology news says ‘East Coast was the worst performing franchise yet again, with a PPM of
              just 77%, way below target, with an MAA of 82.2%. Network Rail said the
              major impacts on performance were infrastructure related, comprising 49%
              of delays. It said it “apologises” for these delays.’

              So a lot of the problems were infrastructure related and the fault of network rail – you guessed it a nationalised company.
              It hardly paints a brilliant picture of the East Coast line though does it? I think I will take a dim view of the pro nationalisation propaganda.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                You socialist Camerluvvies certainly take a bright view of it, lad. That’s why you’re pushing the great socialist project… HS2.

                Forward, comrades!

                • HookesLaw

                  Everyone is a socialist to you who does not carry a flaming cross and wear a white sheet over his head.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  No, not everyone is a socialist, lad. But you and your Camerluvvies are, along with the rest of your LibLabCon clones.

                • HookesLaw

                  Everyone is a socialist to you who is not a rabid redneck nutjob. Your farcical views give it all away.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  No, not everyone is a socialist, lad. But you and your Camerluvvie buddies are, along with all your LibLabCon soulmates.

              • Kaine

                There were problems owing to flooding at the southern end of the track. Unless you think privatisation can stop it raining I don’t see the relevance.

        • Alexsandr

          well the DfT have not been that good in their micromanaging of the railways. they made a right mess of west coast franchising, the HS2 is a clusterf*ck and their idea that Northern could be a no growth franchise was so wrong. And they micromanage the rolling stock allocations. badly. Maybe with less interference from government the railways may flourish.

          • Kaine

            The West Coast debacle demonstrated why the franchise process is not fit for purpose, which begs the question as to why the government are charging ahead with it for East Coast.

            Northern Rail is already run by government, the Dutch government to be precise, in partnership with Serco.

        • HookesLaw

          So why not nationalise everything and have no shareholders?

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …soon, lad. After the EUSSR gets a firm grip, that will happen.

            • HookesLaw

              What an @rse you are.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                …sorta like you and your EUSSR buddies, eh lad?

                • HookesLaw

                  No like you you berk. Stick to waving your fiery crosses.
                  We see the way the real evil USSR behave right now in Ukraine. But then totalitasrian gay hating Putin is your hero.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  We’re going to have to get another of you socialist nutters in here to translate this nutter’s gibberish.

                  It’s part of the new socialist economy they’re building. Jobsworths translating services.

      • Gary Wintle

        Passenger rail is subsidized in every European country…by the British taxpayer and commuter. The fact is, the UK taxpayer is funding the lower fares in foreign countries.

        We don’t have a private rail network; its run by foreign governments who are effectively taxing the British people. Being state owned, their priority is their own people, so cheaper fares in Germany and Holland, higher fares for Brits.

        The same people who scream about the evils of nationalization don’t mind the German, Dutch, and French governments controlling this country’s infrastructure. Its like they hate Britain.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Are you saying that the domestic government isn’t in control and can’t regulate these matters?

          And why would you fear these foreigners anyway? Don’t you statists prefer EUSSR control?

    • RavenRandom

      Yes because British Rail was brilliant wasn’t it. Try to remember how crap it was under the state.

      • Colonel Mustard

        I don’t think he can remember. He is not old enough.

      • Kaine

        Who said anything about recreating British Rail? It is however a simple fact that BR cost less than the current system, and that the privatisation process acknowledged that BR would be able to underbid other operators, which is why they were the only company banned from bidding from the franchises.

        As I say, over half the rail network is already state run,just by our European neighbours.

        • HookesLaw

          Who says British Rail cost less? It spent and invested less. And delivered less.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Good thing you Camerluvvies are around, to spend and “invest” on Brownian levels, eh lad?

            • Grey Wolf

              Great riposte

          • Kaine

            Mathematics.

    • HookesLaw

      Under the present system we have seen massive invesment and improvement and more passengers carried.
      All railways are subsidised all the world over. The Germans subsidise their railways heavily.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …and Lord knows you socialist Camerluvvies want to be exactly like your socialist comrades, eh lad?

    • Conway

      Will we be able to nationalise the railways while we are still subject to rule by Brussels?

      • Kaine

        Actually there was talk at the time that exclusion of BR from bidding was illegal under European law, though as usual that was never pushed. There would be nothing to stop DOR bidding for franchises as they came up, inside or outside the EU.

  • Grey Wolf

    Ed M was squirming in his seat when he came face to face with Nigel on the issue of debating him. And then he went on to charge Nigel with promoting Thatcherism!
    It is easy to see how the establishment left + pretend right politicians and the pathetic mainstream media have joined hands to pull Nigel / UKIP down. Their vile tactics will not work.

    • Greenslime

      It wasn’t so long ago that Millipede was saying how he admired Thatcher.

  • mhjames

    I know that some economists oppose absolute bans on building on green belts, but there’s probably not a consensus.

  • mhjames

    Don’t all economists reject rent controls? You could say that ‘the economics is settled’ and that Miliband is an ‘economic denialist’.

    • Chri5H

      What do economists say about our Greenbelt laws, which is one of the leading reasons for impossibly high house prices?

      • Conway

        So a massive increase in demand due to an expanding population isn’t a more important driver for house price inflation? If there were fewer people needing accommodation, the housing stock supply would more easily meet demand, would it not? Then there would be no need to concrete over every blade of grass.

    • Shinsei1967

      It’s pretty much the only thing in economics that meets with almost universal agreement (95% at last recorded poll).

      There’s both theoretical justification and bucket loads of anecdotal evidence. Fraser has entertained us with his Swedish experiences (massive housing waiting lists & parents putting new born kids down at birth for a house). Anyone who knows anyone in New York knows all about the black market trade in rent-controlled properties and the lack of investment & high prices for everyone else.

  • ohforheavensake

    Just watched the Marr interview- he seems clear and confident.

    • Inverted Meniscus

      I assume you are referring to Miliband. You need to add the words “and utterly preposterous and wrong” after “confident”.

      • realfish

        Miliband was far more confident that he was entitled to be…but that is usually the case with fanatics. And despite what Fraser says, I don’t think it will be an advantage for the Labour Party when the campaign really starts.
        I for one, resent being co-opted into Miliband’s ‘cost of living crisis’ movement. And I resent him telling me what I am supposed to be thinking about.
        Miliband is not in politics for the right reason, he is in it because like all socialists he wants to control.

        • Inverted Meniscus

          Agreed. Two characteristics define every socialist. Firstly, they feel compelled to control every aspect of of the lives of a country’s population. Second, they live n perpetual terror that somebody, somewhere might be happy.

          • Kaine

            You seem to have confused Socialism with Christianity.

            • Inverted Meniscus

              Sorry, I forgot to mention socialism’s third key characteristic which is to lie continually and its fourth which is to be financially incompetent. There, I have cleared up your confusion.

              • Kaine

                Given that your line was originally used about Christians, the Puritans specifically, your rather crack-handed attempt to adapt it was always going to be muddled. Now you’re just adding verbosity to the error.

            • HookesLaw

              You are just confused

              • the viceroy’s gin

                …all of you socialists are confused, lad.

            • Colonel Mustard

              Christianity has not enacted Acts or Statutes or pursued campaigns to enact Acts or Statutes that constrain liberties or remove freedoms.

              http://loveandliberty.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/new-labours-4289-new-laws-yet-blair.html

              You can try and distance socialism from New Labour as much as you like but a new day had dawned, had it not?

              • Kaine

                I prefer not to click on links given to me without context by strange old men on the internet.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Yeah, that’s about your level. Dodge the issue with a nasty ad hominem.

                  Your assertion about socialism and Christianity was beyond dumb.

                • Kaine

                  Except his original line is adapted from a saying about the Puritans.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Shinsei1967

    Ed Milliband describes everything as “dysfunctional” or “not working” when what he really means is that it is expensive.

    No one would claim that railway season tickets, or gas bills or the rent on a 2 bed flat in London are cheap. But that’s a far cry from thinking that these things aren’t cheap because the consumer is being “ripped-off” by rapacious landlords or profiteering big business.

    There’s a reason why rail fares are expensive (though commuter fares have gone up less than inflation under privatisation) because the network has been starved of investment since the 60s, the Hatfield rail disaster push dup H&S requirements and the tax payer subsidies for fares is being reduced. None of this will change under a nationalised system. Possibly CEO salaries might come down but then overall wage bills would probably rise as unions secure more generous pay deals & higher staffing levels.

    And it is the same argument with housing costs & gas bills. There are systemic reasons why these things are expensive and non of Milliband’s pointing and shouting “dysfunctional” deals with those underlying issues.

    • Kaine

      Actually Network Rail since it’s inception has poured around £30bn into the infrastructure. This amount is ultimately underwritten by the Exchequer. However because of the variation in interest rates between what NR can get from bond holders and what the Government could get, we pay an extra £160m a year in interest, for the dubious privilege of not having that amount ‘on the books’. Just one of the ludicrous effects of ‘privatisation’.

      • Shinsei1967

        You assume that bond market participants aren’t clever enough to work out that government guaranteed Network Rail debt is part of the UK government’s debt regardless of whatever label the Treasury gives it. So one must assume that actually this debt does come with more risk than standard gilts.

        • Kaine

          Of course it comes with more risk than gilts, that’s exactly my point. We have a state company borrowing money from private bondholders at a higher rate of interest than the state, even though the DoT has stated, quietly, that the UK government is ultimately liable. But the distant possibility that NR could default is enough to cause a minuscule change in the interest rate, which blown up over £30bn of debt become as substantial sum.

          So why not just fund it through government debt? Because that would put it ‘on the books’, and while I have no doubt the bondholders understand the difference, laymen and journalists who glance over the figures most likely will not.

          • Shinsei1967

            But if all the borrowing of these “sort of fully guaranteed by the government but not entirely” organisations were to become fully 100% guaranteed then gilt yields would rise marginally to compensate for the greater exposure the Treasury is exposed to.

            I genuinely don’t think Treasury smoke & mirrors has any actual impact on the bond markets (who are sophisticated enough to see through it) but it is done purely for political/rhetorical spin reasons.

            • Kaine

              I’m not disagreeing that it’s done for spin reasons. What I’m saying is that that spin builds an amount of risk, albeit minute, into the system. After all £160m is merely half a percent of £30bn. It’s only the colossal sums involved that make it a considerable figure. Anyone that isn’t a gilt is going to pay a price simply for not being a gilt. It is theoretically possible that the government could withdraw this guarantee tomorrow. Staggeringly unlikely, but it would be remiss of any investor not to request some compensation for that risk.

              As you say, the markets are sophisticated enough to have worked is out anyway. Which is precisely why I object to the state spending £160m a year to pretend to itself that the debt isn’t really it’s debt, a necessity that only arises because of a political need to not want the system to be nationalised.

              I think we’re actually to a large extent in agreement on this. Neither of us think renationalisation will have a massive effect either way, but I think it will have modest efficiencies whereas you think those efficiencies will not materialise.

              • Alexsandr

                the government has been putting stuff at arms length for a long time. then it can walk away from blame when it goes wrong.

                anyway, the fines handed down to network rail that end up at the treasury. what is that all about then. NR is given money to do stuff to the rail network, not give back to the treasure. its a stupid money go round.

      • Alexsandr

        the ONC has reclassified netowork rail debt as public borrowing.

      • HookesLaw

        Whose money is that? Currently network rail is proposijng a 37 billion programme of investment – over just 5 years – and as part of that lowering subsidies. Actiually I think its already started.
        ‘It wants to cut the cost of running the railways cut by a further 18% and annual public subsidy reduced to between £2.6bn and £2.9bn in 2019 – down from £4.5bn in 2009 and £7bn in 2004.’
        http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2013/jan/08/network-rail-35bn-pound-investment-plan
        I think a lot of that spending is going to come from sources other than its own spending. ie the rail companies and passengers. But even as a nation we invest this money we rely on the private market to deliver the service and the outcomes efficiently.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …yes, you and the Broun have it all figured out, eh lad? Glorious spending, and all scrubbed from the books.

        • Kaine

          The TOCs have no money. Not a single franchise is profitable once you take into account investment in the network, and that’s despite NR having slashed the track access charges. And again, the majority of the rail network is not run by private companies, it is run by the state ventures of other governments.

          • Gary Wintle

            This. Its hilarious hearing the same Conservatives and so-called Libertarians bleating about the evils of state control of rail, etc, be not at all upset by the fact foreign governments, foreign states, effectively control our infrastructure.
            Surely, the one thing worse than state control is foreign state control. Its far more pernicious and dangerous than any EU directive, yet not a squeak from the flag-waving wing of Tories. How odd.
            The fact that Fraser refers to these state entities as “businesses” shows his deceit and intellectual shallowness.

            Here’s something for the lovers of privatization to ponder: Given that your taxes subsidize rail, and the German and other governments own many of the companies running that rail, you are effectively being taxed by foreign governments without representation. Let that truth sink in…

            • Kaine

              It’s economic colonisation. I’m all for co-operating with our European neighbours, or anyone else. But as equals, not as supplicants.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                You statists can pass laws at your leisure, to regulate these “colonists”. I’m not following your point here.

                • Kaine

                  Quelle surprise.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Is that supposed to suffice as your non-response, lad?

    • Conway

      And it is the same argument with housing costs & gas bills. There
      are systemic reasons why these things are expensive and non of
      Milliband’s pointing and shouting “dysfunctional” deals with those
      underlying issues.
      ” Some of those reasons are of Miliband’s making. If there weren’t such pressures on housing due to mass immigration “to rub the noses of the right in diversity” and the Climate Change Act didn’t add 20% to bills for green taxes, we’d be a lot better off.

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