Well that’s different! Boyband broadcasts and Nick Clegg going ape

So what do you make of the Greens boy-band broadcast?

I love the idea. It’s something a bit different. However, it is not fair to put the Liberal Democrats in the same group as Nigel Farage and UKIP. I really object to that. I don’t like being lumped into the establishment with Tories and Labour, but Farage is going too far. Lumping any of us in with a party whose leader thinks demonising people with HIV as part of his “be shocking and awful” strategy is really unfair.

We can be sure that everyone’s going to watch it. I suspect there will be many people who hadn’t realised what an old-fashioned socialist bunch this lot were. Nationalise the railways? How much is that going to cost?

It’s interesting that they’ve done a broadcast that doesn’t even have their leader in it.

It’s all a bit unconventional.

As is a party leader going for a climb in the trees – for fun – as Nick Clegg did earlier:

* Newshound in training. I'm sweet and full of mischief, just like my stories.

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  • If that’s your view of railway nationalisation, then lumping you in with Farage is totally fair! 🙂

  • Philip Thomas 8th Apr '15 - 10:32pm

    The BNP thought the railways should be nationalised, IIRC. Maybe they still do, they seem to have gone quiet since Farage stole their voters.

  • “I don’t like being lumped into the establishment with Tories and Labour” – I’m sorry, what?

    The Lib Dems are part of the establishment, they are in government. Their leader is the deputy PM. They have members in robes in the Lords. The Lib Dems are, by any reasonable definition, part of the establishment. If the Liberal Democrats don’t realise this then I fear that they have well and truly lost the plot.

  • Its a poor imitation of Horrible Histories – they should sue.

    And the speaker needs to improve her diction.

  • Renationalising the railways shouldn’t cost anything more than they do already surely? As each franchise comes up for renewal, simply don’t renew it and let a publicly owned operator take the route on. East Coast did really well in public hands but the coalition government thinks giving taxpayers money in subsidies to private companies to provide a worse service is a good thing.

    A large proportion of lib dem members are in favour of bringing the railways back into public hands. Are you suggesting they should join the Greens instead?

  • “…Nationalise the railways? How much is that going to cost?”

    Erm, on the basis of the very recent experience with the East Coast Line, nothing at all.

    Maybe that is why 65% of voters favour nationalisation of the railways.

    Maybe that is why even a majority of Conservative voters favour nationalisation of the railways. Is LDV under the impression that the majority of Conservative voters are “old-fashioned socialists?

  • “the coalition government thinks giving taxpayers money in subsidies to private companies to provide a worse service is a good thing”

    And your evidence for this is?

  • Tabman 8th Apr ’15 – 10:56pm

    You ask for evidence of —
    “the coalition government thinks giving taxpayers money in subsidies to private companies to provide a worse service is a good thing”

    I suggest you look for yourself and start with the privatised companies subsidised by taxpayers to the tune of £ millions every year to clean up their poisonous sites.

    Or you might like to look at the private rental housing sector where state subsidies of £24 billion from the benefits budget go straight into the grubby hands of modern day Rachmans.

    The massive state subsidies to the arms dealers — you must have noticed the £ billions that are spent every year on weapons systems and military equipment that are either never used, or as in the case Iraq twelve years ago when put to use in the theatre of war were found to be junk and in need of rapid replacement.

    The hundreds of millions of subsidies spent on one family so that we can all pretend we live in a Disney-style fairy land in which all princes are handsome, and all royal babies are beautiful. The royal business is nothing but a product of state subsidies. It is perhaps the one unaccountable oligarchy where privatisation might actually make sense.

  • Denis Mollison 9th Apr '15 - 8:00am

    The comment was in reference to East Coast, where the facts support it: under its alas temporary publicly run phase it was the financially best performing franchise, as well as providing better than average service – it’s a line I use regularly.

  • Dennis – thanks for you considered response. Was any analysis done as to why the performance was better, and would lessons could be learned and passed on?

  • “Nationalise the railways? How much is that going to cost?”

    Nothing, simply end the franchises when they come up for renewal. The infrastructure is already in public hands.

    We as a party seriously need to re-examine our outlook on public ownership in the light of actual evidence rather than political dogma. As demonstrated by countries like Switzerland (you know, that socialist basket case somewhere on the Continent) for certain public services it can work better than the private sector.

  • RC – you make an interesting point. Someone on another thread has made the same point – citing Germany as an example. There, however, if I understand it correctly the German Railways are a separate corporation with the state as shareholder. The railway is run commercially and pays a dividend to the state as it would any other shareholder. The implication, though, is that the management and workforce are not state employees in the way that was the case for British nationalised industries; pay and conditions are set by the market with the company being run for the benefit of its shareholders, which just happens to be the government.

    Personally I would not have an issue with that model.

  • A proper centrist position would dictate some things are best left to the market (hotels, IT, resturaunts, retail, car manufacture) and some left to the state (police, railways, fire brigade, armed forces).

    Rail renationalisation is centrist politics. As for the privatisation of the probation service and replacing probation officers with machines, that is clearly hard right fantasy. And it is now a reality…

    And does anyone really have any faith in G4S / Capita / A4e / Serco / Sodexho over the state?

  • “There’s an argument, in some ways, for saying that one could renationalise the railways. If you look at the French and the German nationalised railways, they’re actually here, acting like private companies. So why is it that they’re able to make successful businesses, which work on a capitalist method of being able to acquire and buy railways, and we’re not? Why is it that we seem hamstrung to be able to trust our own business people to get involved in some form of nationalisation or a co-operative? I do think that we should be considering, and there should be an open debate at the moment, whether we should have nationalisation or through an organisation like a co-op.”

    Steven Woolfe – UKIP.

    I’d argue that is more progressive thinking than anything the Liberal Democrats have said about railways in the last few years – and I don’t support UKIP. Although didn’t Charles Kennedy advocate renationalisation at one point?

  • With the possible exception of the Royal Mail and some areas around defence, employees of nationalised industries in the UK we’re not employees of the state.

    Perhaps Tabman is not old enough to remember the actual situation. There is a very good documentary being shown on TV on BBC4 this week about British Rail. It demonstrates how BR took a collection of inefficient and almost bankrupt private railway companies and turned them into an efficient railway system which served the public whilst also investing and modernising. It covers the development of the APT and the InterCity 125 and makes the point that the latter is still in use today 40 years later. The lack of similar capital investment in modernisation by the private sector in the last 20 years stands out. The facts seem to get in the way of the free-market mantra of private good, public bad.

  • David Ellams 9th Apr '15 - 1:33pm

    Much as I don’t like the LDs being lumped in with that lot, this is by far the best “the other lot are all the same” broadcast I have ever seen. Got to take your hats off to them.

  • John Tilley – well if you’re old enough to remember the situation, you must have been in your early teens in 1948, which would put you at the age of 80.

    The reason the private railway companies were bankrupt in 1948 is that they’d had no investment in the preceeding decade due to the Second World War.

    Nationalisation didn’t create “an efficient railway system which served the public” when you consider the impacts of Beeching, whereby some of the most efficient and profitable routes (such as the GCR) were closed and the land and infrastructure sold off rather than being preserved for possible future use.

    The nationalised railway became a political football, starved off investment and run into the ground with dwindling passenger numbers. Since 1995 passenger numbers have increased significantly.

  • David Ellams “this is by far the best “the other lot are all the same” broadcast I have ever seen. Got to take your hats off to them.”

    It’ll be shared on social media for a few days by a few people who won’t actually bother to vote.

  • John Tilley – “There is a very good documentary being shown on TV on BBC4 this week about British Rail. ” I’ll check it out. They also did an excellent documentary on the destruction of Grammar Schools. I suggest you check that one out too.

  • Tony Greaves 9th Apr '15 - 4:21pm

    There are a lot of things wrong with the railways now but the fact is that they are carrying twice as many passengers as at the end of BR and on many lines, eg those between the North of England and London, the levels of service are far far better than they have ever been. That means ever.

    Essentially the (passenger) railways consist of three lots of companies. (1) Network Rail. (2) the Train Operating Companies (TOCs) which are mainly franchisees. (3) The rolling stock leasing companies (ROSCOs). The third of these might appear to be money for old rope (or even new trains) with little risk. But NR is effectively a nationalised company already. Which leaves just the TOCs which are the up-front face of the railways for passengers. There is a strong case for some of these being state-owned. But the praise heaped on East Coast is largely illusory, and the service provided in the last year or two has been inferior to that provided on West Coast by Virgin (I know because living in the middle of the Pennines I can and do use both).

    It’s arguable that the main things wrong with the railways are to do with money – the very complex system of government funding, which most people do not understand, and the even more complex charging and ticketing systems.

    Then there is freight and it is hard to see how nationalising all the freight operating companies (which operate within a very competitive market) would improve matters. What rail freight needs is investment in the infrastructure and that is mainly the job of NR so it already comes straight back to the Government.

    Tony Greaves

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