UK politics news

A small selection of recent UK politics news articles

Continue ReadingUK politics news

UK politics

Recent UK politics articles and one about abuse in Florida.

“I want to use this election to raise awareness of the imminent danger posed to the NHS by the EU/US trade agreement which will allow American companies to carve up the NHS and make the privatisation process irreversible.

“I also want to alert the public to the gravity of the threat to the NHS from this government with its programme of cuts, hospital closures and privatisation and to send a powerful message to politicians in Westminster and Brussels that people will not stand by and let their NHS be destroyed.

“If elected, I will strive to ensure that EU regulations don’t adversely affect the NHS and are always in the best interests of the health of British people. The health of the nation spans all areas of policy from the environment to the economy”.



Continue ReadingUK politics

Politics news allsorts

Image of reams of paper on a palletThe ConDem coalition government has published the HS2 bill. At 49,910 pages long it evades democracy by preventing representations. 891 pages would need to be read every day to simply read it in the 8 weeks for representations. It presents a wonderful opportunity for protestors although it will waste a lot of paper and ink. No MPs were seen under the bill in parliament as it was passed almost unanimously last night.

A source close to the government said “That was a good wheeze – it was one of Lansley’s again. Drowning the NHS in bureaucracy, castrating 38degrees, charities and the unions with the lobbying bill and now this. We’ve decided to ruthlessly pursue our narrow class interests now that it’s accepted that we have no chance to win the general election. HS2 should sustain us for a decade or two if we take it easy on the port.”

The Guardian asks what it would take to regain Labour voters. The comments are clearly calling for nationalisation of utilities and trains and to abandon Neo-Liberalism. No chance of that with this ‘Labour’ party.

I must confess that even I was taken in by Miliband pretending to be a Socialist at the conference this year. It only lasted about two days. It’s very clear what the Labour party needs to do to attract voters. I’m effectively disenfranchised without a choice between the three main Neo-Liberal parties. It’s clear that there are many that feel exactly the same.

Shadow Home Office Minister Diana Johnson makes a valid point about Theresa May supporting migrant domestic slavery by tying their visas to one employer.

Unfortunately she also accepts uncritically the current case of “invisible handcuffs” slavery saying “The Labour party would deal with this case proportionately. We would try the ‘invisible handcuffs’ factional splitter Maoist squatters case in the special Court of Make-believe and convict to ten years in the pretend prison at the back of the wardrobe.”

No mention of Cameron’s plans for web censorship. Let’s hope it’s quietly forgotten.

Continue ReadingPolitics news allsorts

Parliament to discuss HS2

The UK parliament is set to discuss the proposed High Speed 2 rail link today. Larry Elliott has an article in the Guardian.

The economic case for the high-speed railway does not add up. Far better to put a fraction of its £40bn-plus cost into freight lines

The economics of HS2 suck.

Traditionally, public money is allocated using cost-benefit analysis. Whitehall estimates the costs of a project and tries to put a monetary value on the benefits. On this basis, HS2 doesn’t wash its face. The cost is high and the benefits, in many cases, are spurious.

There is a need for the UK economy to be less dominated by London but HS2, in its current form at least, looks like an expensive way of making regional imbalances worse not better.

So, the likely upshot of HS2 is that London will benefit most, the big regional hubs such as Birmingham and Leeds will get some benefit, but cities bypassed by the line will lose out.

It’s worth noting, also, that the money saved from scrapping HS2 would find its way into the economy one way or another: handing each adult a cheque for £1,000 would almost certainly provide a bigger boost to economic activity in, say, Rochdale than a new high-speed railway that ends in Manchester.

HS2 is a gravy train for the construction sector, lawyers, transport consultants, bureaucrats and the rich people who will be able to afford it. It will be the misery line for just about everybody else.


Continue ReadingParliament to discuss HS2

KPMG to face MPs again over HS2 report

Consultants to defend forecast of £15bn economic boost following claims that calculation was ‘essentially made up’

Consultants KPMG will again be called before parliament to defend their report into the regional benefits of HS2 which claimed the high speed rail line could boost the economy by £15bn a year.

Last week leading transport economists told MPs that they believed a key calculation behind the figure was “essentially made up”.

The Commons transport select committee is summoning representatives from KPMG, and the transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, to answer its questions on the high speed rail project in the light of “significant new information”. The hearing is scheduled for 26 November.

The committee, which broadly supported building HS2 in a 2011 report but said there were still questions over its economic basis, is reopening its inquiries after the government issued a fifth Strategic Case for HS2 in late October.

The Department for Transport’s strategic case included figures from a KPMG report, commissioned by HS2 Ltd, into the potential impacts of HS2 on the economy at a city and regional level.

It said: “The results of the analysis suggest that HS2 could increase economic output by £15bn per year. Even with more cautious assumptions the annual benefit could be £8bn.”

At a Treasury select committee hearing last week, the KMPG partners behind the report said their work was robust and stood by the £15bn forecast, despite admitting it did not have a firm statistical foundation.

Continue ReadingKPMG to face MPs again over HS2 report

HS2 … the high-speed train route with the same old staggering fares

With commuter tickets already costing thousands of pounds, will anyone be able to afford to travel on it?

Image of channel tunnel trainThe government says its proposals for High Speed 2 “assume a fares structure in line with that of the existing railway”. So we can probably expect to fork out an absurd sum for a ticket unless we trawl through websites three months in advance, can be absolutely certain we are going to travel on the 3.42pm on a Tuesday afternoon, and we craftily split the journey half way to Manchester. Get any stage wrong and the inspector will haul you off the train and land you with a huge fine.

It is remarkable that in the debate on HS2 so little has been said about fares. Will taxpayers be expected to pump billions upon billions into a Mitterrand-style Grand Projet then find it’s out of the reach of anybody other than swish executives on expense accounts? The omens, despite the government’s reassurances, aren’t good.

Take the prices for travelling on our only existing high-speed track, HS1, that whizzes through the Kent countryside. If you live in Ashford, the opening of the line promised a huge improvement in train times into the capital. Sure enough, it now takes just 35 minutes into London St Pancras compared to the 61 minutes it takes on the former route into London Victoria.

But at what cost? A season ticket for commuters from Ashford to a London terminal using the old route, plus an onward journey on the tube, costs £4,996 a year. That’s a pretty staggering sum for a 54-mile journey (about the same as London to Brighton). But if you want to take the HS1 trains, and save half an hour, the cost rises to £6,360. A commuter paying 40% tax has to earn £10,600 a year just to pay to get into work (oh, and there’s a £700 to £900 a year bill to park at the station).

The Ashford example suggests that using HS1 costs 27% more than the fare structure of the existing railway, which I think we can rely on as a better indicator of what fares will be like on HS2 than what the politicians are telling us. The – so far – lacklustre economic gains that HS1 has brought to north Kent should also deflate some of the more ambitious claims about the impact of HS2 on northern cities. An analysis in the Economist this week suggests HS1 has brought benefits for London, but little elsewhere.

Continue ReadingHS2 … the high-speed train route with the same old staggering fares

HS2: MPs to vote on releasing money for preparation

MPs will vote later on whether to let the government start spending money on preparations for the HS2 rail project.

Money released by the vote would pay for surveys, buying property and compensating evicted residents.

Some Conservatives are expected to vote against the plans amid continued uncertainty over Labour’s support.

In June the government revised the estimated cost of building the high-speed link between London and the North of England from £32.7bn to £42.6bn.

HS2 would see lines built between Birmingham and London, followed by a V-shaped second phase building separate tracks from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds.

[HS2 is a total waste of time and money. Instead of being a part of an integrated transport policy it simply replicates already existing train routes.]


Continue ReadingHS2: MPs to vote on releasing money for preparation