Wednesday, 19 March 2014

HS2 London-Leeds-Edinburgh direct

The more you study the existing HS2 phase one and phase two routes you sooner you realise that the whole route has been drawn up by a civil servant with a red crayon. The 225 mph train will take a elongated 256 miles to travel from Leeds to London over a distance of 168 miles by straight line. My suggestion is to cut out Birmingham altogether where people can already reach London in under an hour and take a straight or straightish line from Leeds south to London, in 168 miles which could be travelled in a staggering 45 minutes, and 162 miles north to Edinburgh which would take another 45 minutes. HS2 phase one would start in Leeds and travel south to London over the East of England using Agricultural Land and away from Cities and Towns, and Likewise for HS2 Phase two striking South from Edinburgh.


The Route


Friday, 14 March 2014

Mori Polls show Lib Dems ahead of UKIP


AN IPSOS-MORI poll published today in the London Evening Standard shows that the Lib Dems are winning the battle against the reactionary forces of UKIP. The party rose in the polls up 1% to 13% ahead of UKIP on 11%.  Labour  continues to lose support down 3%.The party is gradually regaining lost supporters who defected to Labour and are returning to party as it debates Nigel Farage on the IN/OUT referendum. We are now only 4 points down against the party's support in February 2009 of 17% and the support is on a similar trajectory which saw support strength towards the election when the party polled 23%.


The Crimea Crisis - understanding Russia and opposing aggression

It is 100 years from the First World War, where an ethnic dispute in Eastern Europe dragged the world into war. It is 75 years since Nazi & Soviet
aggression in Eastern Europe dragged the world into the Second World War. All nations must look calmly and with understanding and determination that aggression is not rewarded and that minorities, democracy and self-determination are protected.
Russia's concerns about Ukrainian fascists are not without substance, however the Use of Military force to annex and intimidate democracies is not acceptable.
I have 3 suggestions to steer a course of respect and cooperation between Russia and the World.
FIRSTLY
a) An acknowledgement that Russia's concerns are legitimate and that fast moving events in Kiev have alarmed all policy makers.
b) A commitment by Kiev to exclude and confront Ukrainian Fascists such as Svoboda.
c) A recognition in the UK, US and Europe about the alarm the rise of Ultra Right and Anti-European "Freedom" type parties  such as Golden Dawn in Greece, National Front in France, UKIP in the UK and others in Hungary which is being perceived as a Rise in Fascism in Europe by Russia.
d) Real concern in Moscow about the potential of Ultra-Nationalists taking power in Russia to mirror the events in Ukraine.
d) A realisation that Europe and America signed up for a Power-Sharing agreement in Kiev which then collapsed when the Ukrainian president fled which caused the coming to power of Ukrainian democrats.

SECONDLY
a) The US and Europe to table a proposal to seek Russian agreement that the UN Security Council approve the sending a UN Peace Keeping Force to Crimea to replace Russian(Militia) troops.
b) A UN plebiscite be held to approve Crimea move to International UN Control
c) Sending of UN Peacekeepers to Ukraine/Russia border

THIRDLY
a) An international UN commission to establish the future status of the Crimea.
b) Economic and Asset freezing if Russia opposes a negotiated settlement to the Issue.
c) If Russia annexes further Ukraine territory and refuses negotiated agreement, negotiations opened to allow accession of the Ukraine to partial associate NATO membership to allow military defence of a defined core-military defence area for the Western part of Ukraine covering Ukrainian speaking majority areas.
d) Ultimately a deal with Russia which acknowledges the fact of the need to protect Russian minorities might include a trade off on Syria where Russia would support real efforts to change the Assad regime and help humanitarian efforts in the Syrian Civil War while preventing the outbreak of a Ukraine Civil War.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Liberal Democrats against HS2

The controversy around HS2 continues to rage and why not? A commitment to High Speed Rail was clearly stated in both the Conservative and Labour 2010 Election Manifestos but was not part of the 2010 Liberal Democrat General Election Manifesto. It found it's way into the Coalition Agreement because it was part of Conservative Policy.
Some Interesting facts to ponder:

  • Projected HS2  Cost £40 billion - miles of track 330 miles which equates to £121m per mile of track
  • Real probable cost of HS2 £80 billion takes the cost per mile to £242 million per mile of track.
  • Over half a million homes will be blighted and need £14billion in compensation
  • The scheme could cost the coalition parties a million votes in 2015.

Compare that to real alternative to North-South transport infrastructure - the cancelled East Coast Motorway which could make an immediate contribution to GNP growth and promote economic growth in the poor performing Eastern Part of UK - Eastern Scotland, NE, Humberside, Lincolnshire, East Anglia.

Such a vital link would cost a mere £24 million per mile and make a contribution as great as HS2, lowering transportation costs for the British Food Industry and Manufacturing and boosting exports.




Perhaps if we need to consider that a High Speed Rail scheme is necessary (and I'm not convinced) then why not look at reopening the long closed victorian Grand Central Railway closed by Dr Beeching in the 1960's. 

Labour MP for Luton North Kelvin Hopkins advocated such a step and the scheme could provide an affordable HS2 for a mere £6 billions - perhaps 10% of the current £60-80 billions HS2 white elephant scheme!
Clearly the commitment to the current HS2 will lose millions of voters for both the Conservatives to UKIP (who are opposed) and Labour (who are in favour but ambivalent and my look at the cheaper and better Grand Central route) 

A Second alternative which has a great deal to say for it is HS2 PLAN B

This is an imaginative route which would be a Northern Cross rail and would take the route away from Wakefield. 





Thursday, 22 August 2013

Syria - The Need to boycott those who bankroll genocide

The Chemical attack on Syrian civilians - 1300 women and children is a tipping point which calls out for Global action. Military force is a last resort which will only see more violence and death of innocents. A moral campaign across the world in all public opinion areas, religious,political, economic and consumer to boycott an organisation or country which bankrolls, endorses or supports genocide in Syria.
What is important is that all the major powers find a way of ending violence and supporting human rights. A coalition of hope should seek a de-escalation of arms supply on all sides and UN and Arab League action to endorse this. Syria needs stability, moderation, peace and human rights.
A time for moral outrage, determination for those guilty of war crimes to be brought to trial and for consumers to stop buying products from those who bankroll genocide. If the Syrian regime is guilty of this crime against the world, then the countries like Russia which bankroll and arm that regime should feel the ire of global consumer opinion. Russian gas companies should see a consumer boycott.Let Global consumers and Global suppliers put and end to this horror.

Russia Arms Syria



Unacceptable Horror
 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher - Last words

Spot the Fascist


The Death of Margaret Thatcher this week has highlighted the deep divisions the 11 plus years of her Premiership left in Britain, and the differing opinions of the Iron Lady around the world. In an ICM opinion poll in the Guardian Newspaper - stark divisions in Britain were quantified. Whilst 60% of  those polled in the South rated Thatcher as having been "good" for Britain, only 47% in the North agreed with 34% in Wales and 23% in Scotland - opening old wounds as those in London try and make a spectacle of her funeral at St Pauls Cathedral. Many of the Thatcherite "reforms" still command support such as

  • Council House Sales          65%  (For)   24% Against
  • Taking on Trade Unions    50%   (For)  34% Against
  • Trident Nuclear Deterrent  40%  (For)   28% Against
  • Anti-Europe                      38% (For)    39% Against
  • Income Tax/Vat changes   38% (For)    38% Against
  • Privisation                         35% (For)    49% Against
  • Inflation over Jobs            33% (For)     41% Against
  • Tax Cuts for Rich             28% (For)     47% Against 
  • Poll Tax                           14% (For)     70% Against

People may question why £8-10 million pounds is being squandered at a time of Austerity for a State Funeral in all but name. Questions may be asked about the breach of Constitutional protocol which will see the Queen attending what is a politically divisive funeral. For the many millions of British families adversely affected by Thatcherism during the 1980's and 1990's - in the ex-Coalfields of the North, the ex-Manufacturing cities and in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - Thatcher is still (and rightly) a figure of hate and loathing.

None can deny that in retaking the Falklands (having left the Islands unprotected in the first place) and opposing Soviet Communism she scores highly on Foreign Policy. However on the damage done to relations with Europe, the  wrecking of the Manufacturing economy in preference to the Casino City Economy and the damage to the society she denied existed she rightly is denied a State Funeral. She saw herself in the mantle of Sir Winston Churchill who was awarded the honour of a state funeral. Churchill was however a figure who was capable of uniting the nation at time of national crisis behind a line of principled opposition to Nazi tyranny against more expedient lines advocated by appeasers such as Neville Chamberlain. Churchill unlike Chamberlain was able to rally the nation behind his premiership which included a coalition of Liberals and Labour. Thatcher might have led the country during the Falklands but she was incapable of uniting the nation in such a coalition. Interestingly she came from the same political wing of the Conservative Party that backed Neville Chamberlain and opposed Churchill. Britain might have stood alone in 1940, but Churchill did not, Thatcher would have stood alone and not been able to carry the country with her.

The backlash to the attempts to re-write history have created a gallows humour which is not edifying - "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead " - heading the Charts, "Rejoice" Street Parties, or Tweets of "Gotcha"  - Jokes of burial at sea off the Malvinas etc but real questions about her politics are being raised. In Australia - Bob Carr tells  of her alleged racist views in full earshot of his Asian wife. We remind ourselves of her personal friendship with the Fascist monster Pinochet to whom she gave sanctuary instead of justice to the victims of torture, of her describing Nelson Mandela as a Communist Terrorist, of her support to South Africa and the views of her pro-South Africa partner Denis. The Spotlight is being shone on many of Thatchers supporters and backers who used here for their own nefarious purposes.
Personally I found the resurrection of the Iron Lady by Meryl Streep far more nauseating, but when Childrens Heart Hospitals are being closed why not blow £10 million to say farewell to someone who remains for many a hate figure. 



Sunday, 17 March 2013

Sunday Telegraph predicts Lib Dem Revival

An opinion poll commissioned by the Sunday Telegraph points to the Lib-Dems achieving 18% at the 2015 General Election. It clearly shows a general revival in expectations of Lib Dem support in 2015 along with pressure on the Conservatives in 2015 from UKIP. Labour is the most likely winner in 2015, yet a party led by Ed Milliband is unlikely to command a majority of public confidence in 2015. With a strong showing from UKIP, the Conservative manifesto in 2015 will seek to appeal to UKIP voters just as the Labour manifesto will seek to attract disaffected Lib Dem voters. This positioning in the event of hung parliament will propell opinion into a Lib-Lab coalition with a Tory-UKIP opposition.

It may well be that Labour secures a Blairite Majority of 162 under First past the post, with Lib Dem support similar to the 1997-2000 period.

It is likely that the 2015-2020 period will show a Lib Dem-Green-labour alliance in opposition to Con-UKIP.