Thursday, 19 March 2015

Two more local Tories defect to UKIP

Today the Medway UKIP were proud to announce that they are now the third biggest party in the Council having leapfrogged us (LibDems) having gained two new councillors via defection.

Yep, Councillors Vaughn Hewett and Tom Mason, both former mayors, have joined UKIP. No one seems too surprised at Mason but Hewett has raised a few eyebrows.

The big question is; Is this a prologue for May’s elections?

Hard to say at this point, all that can be said is that two people have swapped party, they were not selected by the people and their constituents in their wards will not get a choice until the May local elections.

The other thing is that these two former Conservatives have been close to the cabinet and the failings of the Conservative administration in Medway over the last God knows how many years. UKIP like the rest of us opposition parties is to defeat this incompetence with fresh voices and faces not bring those same faces back under another label.

Some might say that they have swapped sides because they saw which way the winds were blowing but that is just probably the ramblings of a bitter cynic isn’t it? After all if you are going to defect you should do so for your convictions and beliefs and that the new party represents our outlook more than your old party right? I’m sure that was for that reason, there has been quite a bit of desquite in the Local Conservative party with a long running split between the Rainham and Rochester branch and definitely between backbenchers and the cabinet.

It also makes me wonder about the disinterest and/or distrust of traditional parties that has grown to the point that people will vote UKIP even if they stood a pot of lard.

All that I can say is that Medway’s political landscape is going to change, maybe not the personnel but the colour of their ties and rosettes.

Enough of this Tories are bad with railfare BS

With my book deadline pushed ack to the end of the month and still a lot of work to do but I have taken ten minutes (odd) to question this latest Labour Tweet, the second of which I've seen in the last two weeks:

Rail season tickets in Chatham have gone up by 100% since 95. Tory complacency on economy as real pplfeel sting >>

— TrisOsborne (@cllrtrisosborne) March 18, 2015

Firstly I should state when it comes to rail fare I am completely neutral as I have been commuting for the last seven years and have watched my monthly Season ticket raise exponentially to the point that I am losing 33% of my wage which is somewhat unsupportable. It is something I have written about at length over the last five years feel free to browse.

I, like many commuters (the people that the tweet is aimed at in the hope of garnering support) know the history of the rising railfare.
The good ol' days of Cheap travel only 20 years ago!

Yes - the Tories privatised the railway. Was that a good move? Debateable. The people of Kent have had some bad franchises - Connex were awful and Southeastern, although debatably  *improving*, are still not a British company and a lot of their profits are being ploughed into the German railways and seemingly not into ours. Other franchises have been more successful on other networks. The reason for privatisation are at this exact moment beyond my memory and as mentioned earlier if it involves reading something that doesn't have a vessel sailing under a flag with an Iron Cross and Eagle on it then it is a waste of my time until the 2nd April.

The big point is that yes since 1994 the fare rise has gone up a significant rate but is it the Tories fault?

Let's consider who was running the country between 1995-2015. So John Major was Prime Minister up until 1997 (2 years) and the Coalition from 2010-2015 (5 years) which comes to 7 years of Conservative rule. From 1997-2010 we had 13 years of Labour Government in which the fares really started to go up with the introduction of RPI+3

Now when the government decided to construct HS1 from Ashford to St Pancras, you know that really expensive way to get to the wrong side of London that wasn't quicker than the other services from Medway (that's why the fast service to Victoria now stops at Meopham), you know the one that you can always get a seat on as it is too pricey? Anyway, they decided to spread the costs and so Labour came up with the escalator of RPI+3 (like they did for petrol) which ultimately is the Rate of inflation plus 3% so roughly your train fare would come up by 8% a year and they wrote it into the franchise contract so it could not be easily removed.

There was a fare freeze in 2010 (election year) I grant them. What did the Gillingham-Rainham MP do about it? Bugger and all as Paul Clarke (their candidate for 2015 for the same seat by the way) was a junior transport minister at the time. Thanks.

I'm not saying this government has been perfect either. Despite the remonstrations of Mark Reckless, Tracey Crouch and Rehman Chishti the government has done not much to improve it. Indeed the letter I received form the minister at the time Theresa Villiers basically was the written version of a shrug and a meh.

Yes prices have still gone up (though not always at the full RPI+3) this government but it hasn't been as bad. In fact for a percentage break down of 2004-12 which is telling check this out.

Basically to effect a movie/Star Wars metaphor ->

John Major's government came up with the idea of making Prequels to the popular Star Wars trilogy an arguably good/bad idea but sadly we got Phantom Menace.

Tony Blair/Gordon Brown's regime came up with the idea to make Phantom Menace that bit more appealing and make more money to fund episode II so they came up with the idea of the highly marketable Jar Jar Binks which ultimately made everybody's life gradually more unbearable.

Cameron's government have basically said Well it is made now  and we're releasing this but we'll throw in some more R2D2 will that make it better? No ah well....

So what are the solutions? I have no answers the only thing I can say is that;

1. This is a problem that ALL governments, both Labour and Tory, are responsible for this mess and something needs to be done and agreed on by Parliament as a whole before everyone but the rich are priced off the railways.

2. This kind of patronising political comment not only insults commuters, who are painfully aware of how we've got to this level of pricing, and is so opportunistic it actually stings my eyes to read it.

I had responded to a similar tweet a week ago asking about RPI but got no response. There is no need for this kind of BS and it is why people are turning away from blame the others style of politics of the big parties and turning to *Shudder* UKIP...

Right back to work, I have 6000 words on SMS Konigsberg to write before Saturday.