Mary Creagh is the shadow Secretary of State for Transport, and therefore speaks for Labour on the issue of rail fares. With what are called regulated fares – including commuters’ season tickets – set to rise by more than 5% in the New Year, there are swing votes to pick up from the discontent, especially in London and the South-East, and also across the former Metropolitan Counties.
Would you buy a used car from this man? Er, no
Ms Creagh has made a number of proposals – you can read her article on LabourList HERE – which have clearly struck a nerve with the Tories, to the extent that party chairman Grant “Spiv” Shapps has decided to counter them personally. However, and in this case we encounter a significantly sized however, Shapps has either got his facts wrong, or hasn’t bothered checking them in the first place.
Moreover, “Spiv” could quite easily have picked apart Ms Creagh’s statement “We’ll make it a legal right to get the cheapest fare” by pointing out that getting the cheapest fare is already within one’s rights – it is getting sales staff to offer it that is the problem, especially when it may involve splitting tickets mid-journey (such is the byzantine nature of the UK’s fare system).
So what did Shapps do? He did the first thing that came into his head, and pulled a whopper. “Without [a] hint of irony, Mary Creagh [note he does not tag her on his Tweet] makes [a] rail fare promise, YET Labour’s inflation-busting ticket prices [included an] 11% rise in their last year alone”. As regulated fares rose at the time at RPI plus 1%, that would have needed double-digit inflation.
Spot the whopper
You may not have noticed that double-digit inflation, and this is because there wasn’t any. The last time the UK experienced such conditions was when Nigel Lawson was Chancellor and Mrs T was in 10 Downing Street. Perhaps Shapps was merely exaggerating? Ah well. Labour’s last year ended in May 2010, the inflation and fare rise numbers are known, and it is clear that exaggeration does not cover this one.
The 2010 fare rise was calculated on the basis of the July 2009 inflation figures, which, given that this was just after the financial crisis, were negative. In fact, it was sufficiently negative, at -1.4%, for the 2010 rise in regulated fares to also be negative. Yes, Labour’s last fare increase was not an increase at all: regulated fares actually fell, on average, at the start of 2010.
Small wonder, then, that “Spiv” Shapps didn’t tag Mary Creagh in his blatantly fraudulent Tweet. Once again, the Tory Party chairman has been caught with his trousers well alight. Fortunately, only one of his fellow MPs Retweeted him. To little surprise, that MP was (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries. Mid Bedfordshire residents should be on guard next May for that one to be recycled.
Will Shapps withdraw and apologise? Will he heck. What a complete fraud.