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Monday 21 September 2015

Farage Labour EU Rail Fail

With all the attention being given by the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate to dredging up anything and everything they can about Jeremy Corbyn, some out there on the political fringe, who depend on press attention to keep their name in the public eye, are no longer feeling the love. And the fringe politician hating the lack of attention the most, to no surprise at all, is UKIP supremo Nigel “Thirsty” Farage.
Now it's squeaky rail franchise finger up the bum time

How could he grab the megaphone back from the Labour Party? This looked difficult, especially as the Kippers’ policies do not overlap significantly with Labour’s, but when Corbyn made a firm commitment to talking rail franchises back into public ownership as and when they expire, Mr Thirsty saw his moment. He knew all about railways. And he knew that the rotten EU passed things called directives on the subject.
And so it came to pass that the UKIP Twitter feed told “Sorry Jeremy . . . the EU won't let us renationalise our railways!” This was backed up with an article by the party’s transport spokesman Jill Seymour, “who sits on the Transport committee in Brussels”. She says “Ever since the First Railway Directive back in 1998, the EU has dictated that all member states must provide competition and allow independent companies to apply for non-discriminatory track access”. And she is plain flat wrong.
Member states must provide for competition, which is not the same thing at all. And franchised operators are operating services specified by the Government, using trains allocated by the Government. That same Government can award franchises to a company owned and run by itself - and on two past occasions in the UK, it has done just that.
So when Farage blusters “Sorry @jeremycorbyn but it would be illegal under EU law to renationalise the railways due to European Union directive 2012/34/EU … Can @jeremycorbyn answer how he intends to overrule EU law to renationalise the railways whilst advocating that we remain in? … Come on @jeremycorbyn, be honest. You can't renationalise the railways inside the EU”, he is also plain flat wrong.
When National Express handed back the keys for the East Coast franchise in 2009, the then Labour Government mobilised a subsidiary called Directly Operated Railways, which ran the franchise until earlier this year. Government can also step in before any default, as they did in 2003 with Connex South Eastern, forcibly taking the franchise away and running it through a publicly owned company.
While Mr Thirsty wibbles “Railways another example of an issue where the EU decides rather than Westminster. Let's leave and run our own country”, he’s talking out of the back of his neck. What Corbyn has proposed is allowable under EU rules and directives - otherwise, how would all those state owned railway operators in other member states have survived? This is another example of why UKIP are fast becoming an irrelevance.

Oh, and Farage should get his transport spokesman to stop telling porkies, too.


Unknown said...

It's lucky for Jill Seymour that her attendance record for the Transport Committee appears to be hidden behind a paywall, because I suspect her attendance record is similar to that of her Dear Leader's attendance record for Fisheries (i.e. appearing only enough times to claim expenses and spending the rest of the time propping up the bar).

I'd wager the only train she knows about is the gravy train she's boarded yet hypocritically complains about whilst pocketing all the money she can lay her hands on. At least when Sinn Fein won parliamentary seats they didn't take them up on a point of principle.

But that's UKIP for you - less morals and principles than apologists for terrorism.

Anonymous said...

I support the principle of a common market (which is what it was supposed to be in its original form) and a European Union.

What I don't support is a capitalist EU. You need look no further than Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain to see why.

Tony Benn and others like him campaigned against the EU because they saw what was coming......Well, here it is in all its inglorious, mafioso, thieving bankers corruption.

If the EU won't mend its capitalist ways then it's time to get out. Fuck them and their "free markets" (read: rigged markets) and "competition" (read: monopoly theft). At this rate the only countries left in it will be Eastern European basket cases run by crackpot ur-fascists.

Maybe it's time for Corbyn and co. to start analysing the legislation for the quickest exit strategy. Me, I'd just say "Shove it" and walk. Anything that gets between us and restoration of a decent society should get short shrift. There is no obligation to obey an unfair contract front-loaded in favour of thieves.

SteveB said...

actually it was EU rules that REQUIRED Network Rail to be nationalised last year, not that they are bothered one way of the other about the railway bit - it was the finances that concerned them.

And I think you'll find the non-discriminatory track access thing already works in Italy (where German and Austrian STATE railways jointly run trains on Italian STATE track without cooperating with their STATE train company), in France and Belgium (where German STATE railways runs on their STATE tracks), in Germany where Thalys (owned by the Belgium/French STATES) operates on German STATE track. And that's just passenger services, German STATE freight trains are everywhere but in some areas of Germany they all seem to be operated by others!

Not missing the most important point that Britain's so called privatised train companies are mostly nationalised - by the Germans, Dutch and French!!!! As are many of our buses. Just shows how little use (thankfully) Farage makes of public transport.

Railwayman said...

The EU's Fourth Rail Package, to which Mr. Thirsty may be referring does propose compulsory tendering for public service contracts, which is pretty much what we do with franchising. However, it doesn't specify that operators should be public or private; it would still be possible to award a contract to a public sector operator after an open competition. So it might be more difficult for Jeremy Corbyn to introduce his plans, but not impossible.

In any case, what you refer to (rightly) as the mystic art known as 'five minutes googling' reveals that the market opening pillar of the Fourth Rail Package, which covers tendering, is at its First Reading stage in the European Parliament, so it's likely that it will be a while before it comes into effect, and could be modified by then.

Even better, Mr. Thirsty is a member of that same Parliament. Therefore, if he really felt that the railways would be better in public ownership, or wished to defend the UK against 'interference', he could always persuade his motley group of allies, or team up with another group of MEPs to block the proposal, instead of moaning how undemocratic the EU is. You couldn't make it up...