The rail crisis is reaching its reluctant and rather tawdry head. Even passengers campaigners are being singled out for flaming criticism by the government’s supporters in the press, as the leaders of the Association of British Commuters were so unfairly over the weekend.
We are in short being forced to take sides in the traditional management versus labour battle – when people like me believe that the slow collapse of Southern Rail is mainly to do with incompetent franchising from the Department of Transport and absentee landlord behaviour from the Treasury and owners Go Ahead (as well, of course, on the usual useless industrial relations).
How do we keep up the voice of passengers in this great squeeze? The answer is to learn from Gandhi. Which is why I’m going to demonstrate a little light civil disobedience on Wednesday at 5.45pm at the barrier at Brighton Station (assuming they don’t cancel my train).
In short, as a regular user of GTR services (Southern, Thameslink etc), I have now reached the end of my tether. I’m not any more prepared to submit my ticket (which I will buy) to the company for inspection, when they have manifestly failed to provide me with an adequate or reliable service, now for eight months.
So do join me. I hope it will be fun. We will politely, demand to see the manager to open the gates for us – on the grounds that they are not keeping to their side of the contract. We will also have cake to celebrate our revival of the Blitz spirit in the face of such official indifference.
If the gates are open already, we will claim victory and try again another day. I’ve been blogging about this crisis – and the industrial dispute which is also going on – since June now. And I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a matter of self-respect. If we can be pushed around like this on this relatively small matter – taking our money, increasing fares, giving us an increasingly useless service – then what else will they do to us? It is time to draw a line in the sand for reasonable people.
Please come along on Wednesday and help me draw it!
* David Boyle is the author of many books and is co-director of New Weather Institute. Prosperity Parade is available on Amazon and as a downloadable pdf at http://www.newweather.org/2016/03/13/why-policy-makers-dont-see-the-next-local-economic-revolution/