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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Chris Grayling - Departure Time

It’s not only Iain Duncan Cough who is thought of as not one of the Tories’ sharper minds: that attribute can also be awarded to Chris Grayling, who is still Minister for Transport, but after recent revelations, one wonders for how much longer he will remain in post. When Grayling was appointed to the Transport portfolio by Theresa May, it was thought that little would change in that sphere, if only because of his intellectual inertia.
You've no sodding idea, have you?

But that thought was misplaced: the much-trialled further involvement of the private sector in the railways was unveiled this week, to the clear distaste of those at the Guardian, who observedMr Grayling is not really the pragmatist he is pretending to be … he is certainly discriminating against the public sector and against forms of public regulation he dislikes”. And something else he dislikes is the prospect of Labour politicians in power.

We know this because the Evening Standard, having experienced a Damascene conversion from fervently backing Tory Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith, only to now decide that his opponent Sadiq Khan was actually the better candidate, has published a “private note” from Grayling to Khan’s predecessor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, in which he asserts he doesn’t want Labour to get their hands on anyone’s trains.

Although in favour of Bozza’s call to have Transport for London oversee more of the suburban rail service, Grayling adds “While I am generally a great supporter of what you are doing in London, I would not be in favour of changing the current arrangements - not because I have any fear over the immediate future, but because I would like to keep suburban rail services out of the clutches of any future Labour Mayor”.

As the Standard points out, “Mr Grayling was writing as a South East MP although he was Justice Secretary at the time so would have had a seat at the Cabinet table where any decision on rail devolution would be approved”. The Guardian notedSome London MPs were furious about the letter, with Bob Neill, a Conservative former minister, saying Grayling should step down for prioritising party politics over the interests of his Bromley constituents”. And there was a less than happy reaction from Khan.

If I’m honest, I simply do not understand why the government is now so vehemently opposed to improving suburban rail services in London … I sincerely hope it is not because they are reluctant to give control of these lines to a Labour mayor - commuters’ lives are far, far more important than party politics”. Also, readers were reminded of “Patrick McLoughlin, the former transport secretary, and Johnson striking a deal before the election to allow devolution when franchises come up for renewal”.

All of which means that the Guardian’s London man Dave Hill was reading the runes correctly when he told readersDoes Chris Grayling really want to give troubled Southern rail to Sadiq Khan? Despite sharp exchanges between the London mayor and a Tory opponent there is cross-party consensus on suburban rail devolution, which includes concerns that the transport secretary’s heart isn’t in it” back in September.

After the leaked note, there is really only one timetable path that can be made available for the Grayling Express, and that is one featuring an immediate departure. He’s not just a fool, he’s very publicly a fool, having been condemned by his own words.


Alan Clifford said...

Has anybody yet calculated total profits made by the profiteering train companies and the builders of the cross rail scheme?

I think we should be told......

Bob said...

Two politicians describing the current state of the rail service -
Grayling: ‘Bursting at the seams’(Today programme yesterday)
Corbyn: ‘Ram packed’
Will the minister incur the fury of the right wing press/Branson in the same way as Corbyn did, who does regularly use the trains...don’t hold your breath.

SteveB said...

"There is no problem on the railways that cannot be made worse by the addition of a politician with their own ideas" - Me, during discussion with candidate during 2015 election (but feel free to use the quote!)

To which I would also add, journalists with opinions, despite increasing evidence that journalists are now geneticaly bred to not understand anything including basic language when it comes to railways. Eg, how many journalists can explain what a commuter actually is?

Anyway, services in Graylings constituency (which I belive he was writing about) ARE bursting at the seams during peak hour. This is more to do with a failure of national employment strategy over the last 50 years rather than the railways so he is wasting his time somewhat by making it a railway issue. And has no chance of correcting the real problem.

But Corbyns train was not ram packed.

So the journos were right to give Corbyn more stick - by pure luck probably as they will neither understand the facts nor care about them. And as a way of demonstrating the Corbyn effect, last night I boarded the 17:30 out of Manchester Piccadilly at the last minute. People were standing in the doorways, but I know that means nothing so squeezed past. As expected there were enough empty seats, including one being used for a womans knitting bag which noone asked her to move. What do you think the doorway travellers will tell anyone who listens?

And no, Alan, I doubt anyone has calculated the total profits since 1996 because that would only produce a meaningless statistic and would be a waste of time. Perhaps if someone were to list train company profit MARGINS (as a percentage) and compare that to other common companies, such as Sky TV or Volkswagen or Wetherspoons we might be better informed on relative values.

Alan Clifford said...

Sophistry, sophistry......all is sophistry......

Sophistry, shmophistry......what's it matter so long as you love your mama?