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Monday 5 January 2015

Michael Dugher - You’re A Clown

The Labour Party has appointed someone with a tendency to voicing strong opinions to the shadow transport brief. This could be a good thing, but sadly, Michael Dugher, well-known as an attack dog, has not paused to engage brain before opening mouth. When Mil The Younger needs to prove competence across his team in advance of May’s General Election, he needs Dugher shooting his mouth off like a hole in the head.
Michael Dugher MP

Nor does Labour need Dugher’s reaction to criticism, much of it well-informed, which is to blubber that anyone passing adverse comment upon him on social media is atrolland block out their comments. If there is one area where Labour needs to listen, especially to those concerned about road congestion, the environmental damage being done, and getting people to walk and cycle, it is this one.

Instead, Dugher has dredged up the mythicalwar on the motorist”, which he has pledged to end. This is the easiest of pledges to make, as there has never, repeat never, repeat never been a “war on the motorist”. The concept is the stuff of Daily Mail editorials, as are Dugher’s associated obsessions, motorway repairs apparently closing off more than is needed, and utility companies supposedly not co-ordinating digging up roads.

And he fails to take on board that rail commuters are, if anything, rather more politically sensitive than those using their cars, as he ventures over the abuse line to tell “I want to be a Transport Secretary not a train-spotter and there have been too many train-spotters in the job”. When politicians resort to abuse of that kind, all it does is to demonstrate total intellectual bankruptcy. That’s not good enough.

Why Dugher takes this line is not hard to figure out: “The Barnsley East MP, who drives down the A1 each week to ­Westminster in his Vauxhall Astra” tells the Mirror. Yeah, right. Edward Timpson - still representing Crewe and Nantwich for the Tories - drives, but in his case that means driving to the long stay car park at Crewe station of a Monday morning and getting the train to Euston.

Dugher has a perfectly good, fast train service available at Doncaster. How can anyone take his spiel on the environment seriously if he insists in adding to the congestion and consequent pollution instead of using it? Instead, we get a commitment to champion “White van man … and any other road users”, and assertions such as “Most ­politicians don’t talk about road users enough and we have got to put right”.

Well, isn’t that fine and dandy? Labour wants, if Dugher is to be believed, to say it’s fine to get in your cars and make more road journeys. There is no commitment to decent public transport, which, away from the railway and the big cities, is a joke. No sense of all those voters, especially younger voters, leaving Labour for the Greens. No sense of vision for transport other than a mishmash of soundbites and abuse.

Michael Dugher needs to disengage attack autopilot and engage brain. And sharpish.

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