Transport strikes

The regular disruption of a private rail company on the Southern franchise has caused a lot of trouble for commuters which we have talked about recently. The Mayor of London has been free with his advice to the Transport Secretary, telling him to intervene to prevent the strikes. The Mayor has also said if he took control of this franchise he would be able to run it better.

Today the Mayor has a chance to show his skills at peacemaking with transport unions, as this time it is his very own TFL which faces a damaging strike on the underground. Why hasn’t Mayor Kahn be able to work his promised magic and stop it? What does he intend to do to get the tube running again properly? Does he support the changes to station staffing that have caused the problems, as he says, or is he going to back down and side with the Union over it?

The Mayor is not having a great time with transport policy. He has decided to pull the plug on new orders for the UK manufactured new Routemaster bus. This iconic vehicle launched by the previous Mayor was said by the new Mayor to be too expensive. This was because the early orders had to cover start up costs and the possibility of low volume against the costs of all the tooling. Just at the point where the London taxpayers would get some relief, with lower prices for the next orders, the Mayor cancels. Worse still the new buses he wants to buy are coming from a partnership with a Chinese company, where the UK content in the buses will be much lower. So the UK loses jobs making the new buses and has a bigger import bill as a result.

The Mayor has also backed down on his promise to freeze all fares for commuters. He’s discovering it’s easier talking about national issues from the Labour party leadership to Brexit, than actually doing a good job running London transport and using after UK manufacturing in the process.

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  1. Lifelogic
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    The old Routemaster was iconic, fairly cheap and actually worked. It had no doors so you could jump on and off it, which was its main advantage and windows you could open as needed. The new Boris bus on the other hand is a rather expensive and over engineered botch. It has doors that are usually shut, rather defeating the point, it has two staircases and doors which waste space, very poor temperature control and windows you cannot open.

    Heath and safely and the litigation culture killed it from the outset I suspect. All that was really needed was the old Routemaster, but with a far cleaner engine.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:20 am | Permalink

      All the OTT equality and disability requirements doubtless did not help it very much either. So you end up with essentially a botch that does not work very well.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:42 am | Permalink

        Such laws do the same all over industry and the state sector too, costing & wasting billions.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted January 9, 2017 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        In the coach industry the rules introduced to mandate special measures to allow wheelchair access have had a number of unintended consequences. To meet the rules special door openings and lifts etc are required which are a significant proportion of the cost of a new coach.
        Since those rules were introduced there has been a massive increase in the business of coach refurbishment – where often coaches are reduced to little more than a small square of steel with the chassis number on it and rebuilt around it. It is still way cheaper to have an old coach rebuilt in this way (with no need to meet the wheelchair rules) than it is to buy a new coach that does need to meet these wheelchair rules.
        I doubt there has been much net increase in wheelchair accessible coaches, and I doubt long distance coach travel is much easier for disable people who want to use it.
        Such is living in our over regulated land.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 9, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

          Indeed the state also had the bright idea of modifying every new house in the land (through OTT and full of green crap building regulations) to put ramps in etc. for wheelchair access. Clearly when needed regularly these can be sensible but it make little sense to have them when they are almost never going to be needed. Just another way of making houses about £1000 more expensive. I never found it hard to get my dad over a few stairs when he was in a wheelchair for a while without any ramps anyway.

          Let the owners decide on what they want and need. Everything is centrally dictated by half witted red tape in the UK, from central wage controls to how much water your washing machine uses, or electricity your vacuum is allowed to the hugely damaging and bonkers employment laws.

          Meanwhile Theresa seems to talking vacuous drivel about the mental health “stigma” and talking of forcing employers never to lay off people with mental health problems (even if they can’t do their jobs) I assume.

          The more I hear from Theresa Miliband the more I think she has taken total leave of her senses.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 9, 2017 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

          It is true that mental health care in the UK is very poor, but then the NHS is very poor in general. They often cannot even feed and water people in hospital properly, or tend to emergencies promptly, let alone give them operations promptly as needed.

          Is this really her priority as PM in the current circumstance can she not deligate? It is just pathetic distraction politics. No sensible proposals from her in the speech anyway, just the usual empty we are caring sharing virtue signaling.

          She really does seem to think that her audience are very thick indeed.

    • Richard1
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      There is an excellent plan to retrofit hybrid electric engines (supplied by a U.K. Company) which will do a huge amount to clean up pollution in London – and save cost. mr Khan could score a major political success by seeing this through rapidly.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 9:04 am | Permalink


      There was a wonderful YouTube vid of the place where the Route Masters were refurbished. The body was easily detached from the chassis to reveal all the main mechanical parts. from there everyone could do their job refurbishing and repairing it. Engineering simplicity at its best.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

        Back when decent engineers and their customers made the decisions, instead of PC politicians infected with daft but fashionable religions.

    • Bob
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      In all the years I travelled by routemaster I never saw any problems with them, they just worked. Having a conductor helping with the elderly and infirm, mothers with pushchairs etc. and making sure passengers were safely seated before the bus moved off was a very positive thing, and also acted as a deterent to deliquent passengers.

      Routemasters were well proportioned for narrow London streets and the open deck meant that passengers could hop off if the bus became stuck in a jam 20 yards before the bus stop. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

      These days I avoid using buses if at all possible.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 9, 2017 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, the new very expensive Boris bus may have a cleaner engine, but in other respects it is hugely inferior. Mainly ruined by daft new H&S laws, the litigation culture and access “equality” regulations.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Dear Lifelogic–I am no bus mechanic but I understand that, admittedly on rather a specific point, it was a quick and easy procedure to take the engine out of a Routemaster whereas, at least for its immediate replacement, the job was a nightmare, taking 48 hours, and involving removing and rebuilding the rest of the bus around the engine–Heaven alone knows why. I wonder how many people were injured by reason of the easy-on easy-off design and even if there were injuries I do not believe anybody was actually forced to get on and off while the bus was moving or in a dangerous position. Totally typical of the EU mentality in line with their ideas on bananas without bends and even if, as I have read in the past, there were never any bent banana rules that is not the point, which is that everybody believed that it was perfectly possible that such rules were very possible.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 9, 2017 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        Even if there was no such rule they surely would have been working to bring one in.

        You end up with a bus (house, energy system, indeed almost everything) designed by PC politicians, litigation lawyers and health & safely zealots and lawyers. This rather than sensible bus designers & engineers.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        Regulation 2257/94 identifies certain restrictions for fruits that producers have to conform to in order to sell their produce within the EU. The regulation states that bananas must be “free from malformation or abnormal curvature.”

        Why do they taste worse if they bend more?

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    You say “The Mayor has also backed down on his promise to freeze all fares for commuters” well he is a politician (and a lefty magic money tree one) so no real surprise there. Perhaps he cannot find the money tree after all.

    “He’s discovering it’s easier talking about national issues from the Labour party leadership to Brexit, than actually doing a good job running London transport and using after UK manufacturing in the process.”

    All very true, but it is very similar to Theresa May drivelling on about the gender pay reporting, the sigma of mental health with a huge overhaul, the life expectancies of poorer people, workers on company boards, shared society, the JAMs and she vows to correct ‘burning injustices’. This while pissing money down the drain in HS2, Hinkley, overseas spice girls, heating empty barns and endless greencrap.

    This rather than getting on with Brexit, cutting and simplifying taxes, going for cheap reliable energy, cutting red tape & reducing the size of the state hugely, sorting out the “humanitarian disaster” that is the NHS (where people are not even fed and watered properly) and getting the rest of the state sector to actually function and deliver something of value occasionally.

    She then has the chutzpa to say she believes in free markets and the Conservatives always will. Does she know what the phrase “free markets” actually means?

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    On the broader point I do think you have to have more legal controls over the rights of some workers to strike. They are already quite substantially over paid relative to others, they cannot be allowed to bring the huge public asset of the tube network to a standstill (preventing millions from working, with operations cancelled, huge disruption & billions of GDP lost etc) whenever they feel like it.

    It is not their asset and they should not be allowed to hold the public to ransom. Binding arbitration and fixing pay in line with other similar (but private sector workers) is needed.

    The state sector with pensions included is already 50% over paid relative to the private sector anyway and I suspect rather more than this in the case of London Transport.

  4. Prigger
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    He has also said that companies paying drivers less than the most expensively paid will be outlawed. It sounds good sense for the drivers doesn’t it?
    The effects: the ones earning the most will not get an increase. The ones earning less will wonder if their much smaller outfits will or can shoulder the extra costs or will simply throw in the towel and they will lose their jobs. They cannot necessarily get jobs with the bigger outfits as there may not be available vacancies and they may have left them previously after having various work issues. Less competition for the remaining buses. A stronger hand for the unions to stage a strike. No safety valve for drivers to leave their employment and despite a pay decrease get a job at a rival company.
    Gesture politics work when not in power like the Archbishop of Canterbury condemning government for low pay then we finding the Church was grossly underpaying some of its own staff and needed two years to try to fix it. Can Church staff afford to get to work in Khan’s London?

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    I see that some NHS GPs are again saying patients can only bring one complaint at a time. What a sick joke the NHS is. I assume the doctors think it is more efficient to make the little old lady with mobility problems make five appointments and five trips to the doctor on the perhaps only three a day bus. Perhaps taking three weeks to get each appointment if she is lucky.

    Anyway the complaints might well be related and thus relevant, so the doctor needs to hear them to do his job properly anyway. Does the BMA think this sort of behaviour is ethical and just fine and dandy?

    It is rather like GPs’ other rationing method of “no nothing available today please can you ring back tomorrow between 10 and 10.15 when we are always engaged to try again?”

    The (Envy of the World!) NHS can never work as currently structured. You need to make it in the interests of the service to actually serve the patients. This rather than inconveniencing them, rationing them and putting them off as now. We need more of a free market and less of a dire state sector, virtual monopoly.

    In short you need to start charge something to all who can pay and encourage people to go privately as much as they can with some tax and other incentives. But Hammond just put insurance tax up yet again to 12% (and even 20% sometimes).

    So you pay three times, once for the NHS, once with all the income tax and NI on the money needed to insure and then the Insurance Premium tax two if you take private medical insurance. Hence the virtual state NHS monopoly. Still May thinks she believes in free markets!

  6. Trumpeter
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Boris has waddled off to America and is having a word with Donald’s transition team. If Trump happens to see him, maybe Boris will actually listen to what is being said,. No evidence of him so doing in the past, nor many other MPs.

    The Golden Globe Awards managed to stage actors condemning Donald for wishing all foreigners to leave the USA. Intelligent people. He actually said to massive rallies of 15-30,000 people staged several times per week he wishes “massive immigration, but legal.”

    Perhaps Boris imagines he has only managed to get access to the USA because he was born there. I guess Osborne got in there recently by crawling across the American/ Mexican border disguised as a six foot cactus, more like Goofy.. .
    The media now says Mrs May will go and see Donald in February. I thought it was going to be Spring? Must be global warming . Probably a President -Elect who has no time for faffing around and wishes to get on.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      Farage has already seen him. A bit behind the curve is our government.

      • alan jutson
        Posted January 9, 2017 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

        Mark B

        “Farage has already seen him”

        That is exactly why there is now such a Government panic to visit him.

        Once again Farage is ahead of the curve, and using his actions to try to push this Government in the right direction.

        Why is it our government is always paying catch up.

        6 months to send a letter, crazy.

  7. Caterpillar
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    1i) Is there a total cost per passenger mile comparison between the Routemaster and other d-deckers and whatever Mayor Khan plans are. And does the decision switch at a particular volume? All I’ve ever read are 350k for a Routemaster and about 200 or 250k for alternatives – but this doesn’t really tell me anything.
    1ii) Not being from London, I did think the Routemaster was part of London’s tourism branding.

    2) If the Mayor has the managers he wants at TfL he should back them and not indicate weakness and continuous negotiation.

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      The Routemaster was in several of our cities.

    • 37/6
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      Since American style litigation we stopped being British. The Routemaster killed people but we British accepted the cost-benefit of moderate risk taking.

      In many ways the Southern dispute and Union empowerment can be blamed on no-win-no-fee and the reluctance of operatives to put their liberty on the line working a flawed system. Trains used to run unlockable slam-door stock until relatively recently !

      It is no coincidence, btw, that most no-win-no-fee adverts are between Jeremy Kyle and Judge Rinder on daytime TV.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      Average occupancy of a £350K london bus (from depot to depot for the whole day) can often be as low as single figures. Buses also cause a lot of congestion by being big & stopping every few hundred yards also taking convoluted routes, and needing passengers to travel far further than they actually wanted to with the need for interchanges.

      Often you thus could fit them in two cars costing say £10,000 for both. The cars would cause less congestion, use less fuel and could take you plus your luggage directly door to door.

      Buses (and Trains) are often not green or efficient, when considered fully & properly.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

        Dear Lifelogic–Fully and properly not easy–No alternative to buses in many cases and as regards trains where is the Cr for their taking pressure off the roads or for providing employment? I am not a fan of Beeching you will gather. How many track closures now look hard to believe? No thought to the future value of the trackways in this increasingly crowded island.

  8. Lifelogic
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    “It’s wrong to assume the only issue is about funding. The issue of mental health is more about the stigma.” T May

    What complete and utter tosh! How pray are you going to stop their being a “stigma” about mental health or indeed many other health conditions? Pass an “Anti Mental Health Stigma Thought Crime Law 2017) perhaps? There’s rather a stigma about having bad breath too while you are at it!

    Government’s role is to “encourage and nurture these relationships and institutions where it can, and to correct the injustice and unfairness that divides us wherever it is found.” T May.

    No dear the government’s roll is to reduce in size, get out of the way and stop pissing taxpayers money down the drain all over the place. This as in general free markets work best. The government currently spends nearly 50% of GDP, yet they cannot even manage feed and water sick people in hospitals competently, nor fill the many huge pot holes.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink


      Don’t be so mean ! African girlie pop bands are far more important than doing simple things at home. You don’t get Virtue Signalling points for looking after the homeless etc. Not glamorous enough.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 9, 2017 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

        If they could just fill the pot holes, lock up the serious criminals and take the rubbish away it would be good but even this is beyond them.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Didn’t you know they only stigma allowed is against healthy white working males. Everybody else has a powerful lobby fighting for their rights.

      Doesn’t matter how much discrimination or abuse you throw at white working males they don’t matter apparently.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 9, 2017 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

        That seem to be the general idea, certainly on the BBC.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      So Theresa May unveils plans to create ‘the shared society’, I assume this is a re-branding of Cameron’s Big Society.

      It seem to me that we have rather too much sharing in society already via tax and benefit system. This with the feckless endlessly living off the backs of the hard working & responsible, who are over taxed into the ground.

      This system destroys the incentives to work hard, to be responsible, to save for your old age, to take medical cover, to save or to provide for yourself and family. It lowers growth and GDP hugely as a direct result.

      Theresa seems to think we need even more government and even more “sharing society”. She is wrong on both counts we need the complete opposite. We need some moral hazards and some incentives to do the right thing.

      She does after all say that she believes in free markets does she understand the term?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 9, 2017 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

        “I don’t have an “ism” other than “Conservatism”” – Theresa May said today.

        Proper conservatives believe in lower taxes, bonfires of red tape, UK based democracy, control of our borders, sensible energy policies, sensible immigration policies, no bonkers vanity projects, low simple taxes, not augmenting the feckless, not lying to the electorate before referendums to deceive, competent public services, solid defence, law and order (with real deterrents), property rights and lean but efficient government as needed.

        This woman is clearly no Conservative.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted January 9, 2017 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

        The hard working are destroyed by out of control immigration swamping their line of work with ever cheaper flows of cheap immigrants. The country is not setup for the benefit of the people it is just about delivering ever cheaper labour to big business.

    • rose
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      Send her and the pilot fish a copy of “Facial Justice” by LP Hartley.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

        That is the way we are heading.

  9. Roy Grainger
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    What Labour politicians do is go up the political hierarchy until they find a Conservative and then blame them for everything. For example my London Labour council used to blame all transport and road problems on the mayor when Boris was in charge but now they are blaming it all on the Transport Secretary.

    Somewhat surprisingly Kahn seems to be more interested in appearing on red carpets and flying to New York to grandstand with their local politicians than actually doing anything to benefit London. I thought he would be better than that. Less surprisingly he is also using his power to appoint unsuitable cronies to positions of power, like the absurd “Night Tsar” who has previously opined that the Tories are “scum”.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      Indeed that is the labour approach. It was a shame that Cameron could not find anyone better than the posh boy, ex MP, green pushing Zak to challenge him.

      Khan was always a fairly easy candidate to beat.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted January 9, 2017 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        Yep I could have beat him, not that I would have been selected. A couple of shows on LBC stating the obvious would have been all it took

  10. Richard1
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Siddiq Khan is another over-rated Labour inadequate, etc ed.

    I assume Mrs May is proving feeble on these public sector strikes because of the small majority and the need to fight one battle at a time. Can we please have a prohibition on strikes by workers in public sector monopolies, to be replaced by mandatory arbitration, as part of the next Conservative election manifesto? In the case of Southern rail, a franchise where the owner bears no loss for these strikes is not a privatisation. A new company needs to take it and either replace the workforce or have a no strike agreement, and the taxpayer must not be on the hook for losses. Everyone can be sued for anything these days so let’s get rid of the antidiluvian concept of immunity for trade unions -let them bear the costs of actions which those who suffer by them can argue in court are unreasonable.

    And let’s have a May election and bury Labour.

  11. alan jutson
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Did anyone really think Mr Kahn would do a good job ?

    He got into power because his main Conservative opponent run an absolutely dire campaign.

    Such a shame, London deserves and needs someone much, much better.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. Surely the Tories could have found someone rather more electable as Mayor than Zac.

  12. Ian Wragg
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Khan has to polish his internationalist credentials even if it means the loss of British jobs and skills.
    The strikes are politically motivated against a Tory government.
    The left only have one tool in the box.
    Wee Kranky says she’s not joking about the possibility of a second referendum. I think she has long been the joke heckling like some latter day Ena Sharples.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      The Sturgeon has surely had her day. I could never see why the Scots fell for her bonkers, “politics of envy”, “tax borrow and waste” and “everything is the fault of the Sassenachs for not giving us even more money” agenda.

  13. fedupsoutherner
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Let’s face it. This current strike is more about bring down the government than anything. Now I hear the underground is to be affected. As per normal with unions, if they hold the public to ransom for long enough they normally get what they want and damn the rest of us. The unions and Labour go hand in hand so hardly surprising the Tories get the blame for everything. People without a big union have no chance and no choice but to pay up for the demands of these bullies. It was hardly surprising that Khan got the vote in London with the diverse population on his side. Labour and the unions always have something to say about everything but often no answers – a bit like the SNP. They have power but do nothing useful with it. The situation is similar with both factions hating the Tories. I don’t know much about the transport system in London but I think without all the fighting and a little more understanding it could improve from what it is now. Why is there always so much conflict? It is always the public that suffer and ultimately British businesses. Mrs T didn’t go far enough with her union reforms!!

    • 37/6
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      This isn’t true, fedupsoutherner

      There may be radicals in the Union hierarchy but the vast majority of employees are moderates with no desire to bring down the Government. For a strike ballot to pass the requisite 5o% there needs to be a convincing local case for action.

      In the case of Southern it is to do with an inadequate DOO system (both Unions have otherwise accepted DOO elsewhere)

      In the case of TfL station staff have been withdrawn where they were promised in order to support DOO as regards contingencies and emergencies.

      99.99% of rail staff are not on strike and never have been and nation wide contagion has been prevented by privatisation and the comparmentalisation of franchises.

      DOO = Driver Only Operation.

  14. Edward.
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Khan is a disaster waiting to happen, just give him enough time, though in the interim, I despair in steadfast unity and empathy with all patient, very long suffering Londoners.

    On the ‘Southern’ strikes, trades unionist haughtily claim primarily to be concerned with the health and safety of the passengers. But then consider for a moment, every day these union men are on strike, people’s livelihoods are inevitably affected, some may lose jobs and then their whole life is put into reverse and worse chaos, how can it then be claimed that, the passenger’s health is, are of primary concern?

    On the underground stoppage, Khan merely flies his colours, the people of London should, must take note.

  15. Roman Townie
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Mr Khan should seek advice from around the country. He will point out before he starts “Yes but London has specific problems.” He will be right. He may not agree, he may need to find out…. London does not a have a solution or a complex of solutions to its transport problem.

    London is too big, diverse in all respects, with people rushing around tumbling over one another like an overpopulated ants nest. However good a draughtsman, you cannot draw straight transportational lines and make Order out of the impossible to order.That, by definition of its functioning is ad lib momentary order in specific places based on their own local chronology.
    London is a complex of individual towns which idiots “Time ” and “Ad-on” made into a nonsense that few can allow themselves to see and admit. BECAUSE, London is a GREAT city!! The ants nest is a GREAT ants nest too.

  16. Bert Young
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    The London Mayor maybe an amateur when it comes to transport matters , but behind the issue is the extent of the damage all of the strikes are having . The Unions have once again decided that it is time to exert influence come what may ; they have shown little interest in how they were wrapped on the knuckles in the past .

    The Government must now decide that enough is enough . What ever it takes to reduce the influence of the Unions ought now to be put in place . Since the days of “discontent” the place and attitude of the individual in society has changed ; the public want to pursue their everyday tasks without the sort of umbrella Unions professed to give . Unions are a vestige of the past and should now be seen be as unwanted and unnecessary .

  17. Mark B
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    From London to Edinburgh they do love to tell the rest of the nation what to do rather than do good for those who they are responsible for and accountable too.

    What next, will they be phoning the White House to tell the new President to; “Tear down this wall !”

  18. margaret
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Things are always more difficult than anticipated when in position .What seems a sensible way to progress is often stopped by other staff and a selfish stance thinking that they know best .
    Lifelogic ; you always have plenty to say and you don’t have a good word for anybody ( except Dr John Redwood) Obviously John does not think it is wrong for you to have far too many comments published , or he wouldn’t do it .I do however. Those put in positions of power e.g Theresa May or other leading politicians don’t get there by rudeness like you display. You try to undermine everyone with you disrespectful approach . I won’t say ‘who do you think you are’ as it is patently obvious , by the continuous put down remarks. Free speech is all very well , but don’t keep trying to undermine everyone . I would not think that Mrs May is either ‘dear’ to you or vice versa.

  19. SM
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    I was active in London Conservative politics during Livingstone’s terms, and BJ’s first term. Ken gave birth to a monster in TfL and BJ did little, if anything, to tackle it. Quite obviously, Khan doesn’t know what to do with it or the Unions either.

  20. Eyes open!
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    So, for arguments sake everyone starts work at 9 am and finishes at 5pm. If you have a small town with a number 44 bus setting off from the bus station, going along a a route, turning around at a terminal and going back to the bus station it should work out everyone will queue for an acceptable amount of time and get to work and home reasonably. Extend the town, you will need more buses along the route and then flexitime of workers to cope.
    Intelligence beyond that of a dingbat or monkey is required, it seems, to realise that if you extend the town further still there will be a problem. Extend it more then the problem will increase in a linear manner; extend it yet more then the problem enters the realm of Complex ; extend it more then: don’t!
    On top of that, you have a political trades union, a political mayor of a slightly different hue to the union and a government of a completely different hue to both. Eventually London will just break down as a workable entity that will be as obvious as a traffic jam or a transport system where a few can stop it all dead. No doubt we will be able to see the obvious before that idiotic and fantastical dystopic scenario ever ever could become a reality.

  21. Iain Gill
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    The “new Routemaster bus” is rubbish. The supposedly hybrid power plants are routinely running on just the diesel engine due to unreliability of the rest of it, so much so that they would have been cheaper and more efficient to just have a modern diesel and nothing else. Indeed many are driving around without even having a hybrid battery in them. Their supposed eco credentials are non existent with the hybrid component removed. And they are dangerously underpowered with just their low output diesel engine with no top up from the electric motor they were designed for. The air con routinely fails making upstairs unbearable with any sign of sunshine as there is no provision for other ventilation, so a winter double decker only, a single decker in summer. Nice idea but badly executed. Better than bendy buses though which are just downright dangerous and are still dangerous now they have been sold to Coventry and such places.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      Indeed breath taking and entirely predictable incompetence from Government with both the Boris and Bendy buses. The old Routemasters just needed a little updating mainly with new clean engines. Politics and the health and safely, equality & green religions win out over sound engineering and logic every time in the EU/UK.

      Time for a change but we have T May.

  22. 37/6
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    The Mayor can’t stop the strikes because they are legal. They are also based on reasonableness. The TFL dispute (if you were to believe the Mail) is about Luddism and the refusal to accept automated ticketing. In fact it is about the de-staffing of stations (which are never meant to be unmanned) on an already Driver Only Operated (DOO) system (which the unions have accepted.) They were promised that station staff would be on hand for contingencies and emergencies in our incredibly crowded capital city. For background details of these problems I highly recommend a blog called Aslef Shrugged (and its commenters.)

    As discussed previously. The Southern dispute is not about DOO (already accepted by Aslef and RMT) but a system which the Unions claim is flawed and has problems with fogging, misting and with cameras switching off too early. The rail unions have accepted job cutting, DOO, changes to working practices and other automations elsewhere. Redundancy has long been an accepted part of the railway environment – where it is justified.

    It is largely the Right Wing press which has stoked a Mexican stand off over issues which are very hum-drum and non-political. There are rumours that the Southern dispute has been provocation by the DofT of the Unions through a management group by proxy.

    I have in my wallet a coupon which I’ve been meaning to fill in and post in support of press freedom. I feel disinclined to do so in recent days. The Mail purports to want decent jobs for ordinary people but where they exist (in a booming sector) they can’t abide it.

    That said you can’t have oiks holding the country to ransom. Indeed they aren’t. 99.99% of rail workers are not on strike and never have been.

  23. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Off-topic. it’s interesting that the German Vice-Chancellor believes that “Germany is the biggest beneficiary of the European community – economically and politically.”

    Maybe there was something in what Nicholas Ridley said back in 1990?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      Indeed he was right, see also his sound letter of resignation on the link. This shortly before the dire John Major started burying the party for 3 plus terms with his ERM, pro EURO, pro EU agenda.

  24. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Off-topic again, I’ve just been reading this article from last week:

    “Liberal Brexiters and Remainers can work together”

    Which says:

    “… we could leave the EU, join the European Free Trade Association (Efta), which we originally set up, and through that the single market.”

    As I’ve tried to point out, we could not in fact join the EFTA “which we originally set up” because it simply no longer exists as we originally set it up.

    Unlike the EEC the name of the organisation has not been changed, but the treaty has been changed to bring it much closer into line with the EU:

    “Short Overview of the EFTA Convention”

    “The updated EFTA Convention, the Vaduz Convention, was signed on 21 June 2001 and entered into force on 1 June 2002 … ”

    The article also says:

    “In the long term, being in Efta makes it much easier to re-join the EU … ”

    Note, not smooth the path out of the EU to a proper, normal state of independence, but make it much easier to reverse the referendum result and re-join the EU.

  25. turboterrier
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Is it not the case that when they get elevated to this high positions it is then that all the old dross and dogma comes out. I thought the primary concern of Mayor is to unite the people and achieve common areas of improvement. Flying all over the world and grandstanding with his peers does him no credit at all, Just cost the London inhabitants loads of money.
    He should look around and learn from others in this country, for all intents and purposes make a success of the day job and the people will support you and be tolerant. So true in this case “what you vote for you get” Labour never learns no matter what position they achieve and as they carry on at the moment they never will

  26. Antisthenes
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    When left wing ideology and incontinent thinking meets reality the result is always damaging. In Mayor Khan we are being provided with the spectacle of a once relatively well run and world class city becoming second rate and environmentally unfriendly to those who generate it’s prosperity. Coupled with the rise of militant trade unionism who are intent on gaining political advantage from their militancy a recipe for economic and social destabilisation is being concocted. That does not fair well for London and the South East the bed rock of the UK’s well being so not good for the whole nation either.

    Nothing can be done about Mayor Khan for at least 4 more years. So his damaging tenure will have to run it’s course. However militant trade unions are just as much a threat perhaps even more so. Such that government must act to to curb them and force them to act responsibly.

  27. Original Richard
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Kahn needs to grasp the nettle and start to make moves to make the London underground trains driverless.

    With reference to rail current disputes it is ironic that guards patrolling the train are needed more than drivers who can more easily be replaced, particularly on very simple rail systems such as the London Underground.

    • 37/6
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      Those gaurds will have to be trained in fault finding, manual override of the driving and signalling – along with rules and regulations as to how to deal with train equipment and signal failures, DC electrical isolations, evacuations, fires, fatalities, depot stabling, preparation and disposal of trains… in other words another essential unionised bod with the ability to withdraw his labour. To what gain ?

      If you want an untrained person on a 1000 passenger commuter train underground with (as we now know) staff-less stations then you will find out very quickly what a false economy your idea is.

      Not even the DLR (as simple as it gets) is totally driverless.

  28. Anna
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink


    The ‘stigma’ of mental health is a real problem for many who have suffered, recovered (yes, many mental illnesses respond to treatment) and want to return to work and find it difficult to do so because of ignorance and prejudice. This is damaging to individuals and detrimental to our economy. The answer is not legislation but education and information. Mental illness need not be a lifelong disability; recognition by employers that it is treatable and often curable will get people back to work and reduce dependency on benefits.

    Sometimes a ‘stigma’ can be a good thing. I can remember when drunk-driving, though an offence, did not carry the stigma it does today. Again, education about the dreadful effects of drink driving, the damage to individuals and the cost to the NHS for treating the injured have made people aware of the consequences, beyond a prison sentence, of driving while drunk, resulting in a dramatic drop in deaths from drunken driving. Surely a good thing?

  29. Mike Wilson
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    This endless war of attrition is set to run and run – as more and more people lose their jobs to automation / robotics. We seem to have dodged the issue so far – by more and more people working in very low paid, service industry jobs. But there is a limit and we seem to have reached it with more and more people who work having to rely on tax credits and food banks. I think these strikes are really about trying to keep jobs.

    We need a government with vision – that can work out what on earth 40 million of us are going to do for work in the future. Unfortunately, we are stuck with alternating Labour and Tory governments who seem to be doing nothing but endlessly increasing debt. Where is the vision? Where is the long term plan?

    • turboterrier
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      @ Mike Wilson

      Where is the vision? Where is the long term plan?

      Sadly Mike as with some of the current problems highlight, the majority of the Westminster Parliament are very lacking in understanding and training in these areas.

      Those that are are nearly all confined to the back benches.

    • 37/6
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

      We can choose to shop locally, avoid automated servers and be prepared to spend where it might not seem prudent – independent coffee shops, pubs, restaurants, tradesmen… get our money into circulation.

      Mass immigration is not helping with the automation crisis.

  30. old salt
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Seems to me too much decisive power in the top man. Did not such decisions be made across the board to have a more balanced outcome? As usual people get what they (deserve) vote for.

  31. rose
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Whenever I hear this man on the air he is grandly talking about himself as “the Mayor of London”, as he did in Southwark Cathedral when he was installed. Then he goes on to say something nasty about his predecessor and to announce a dissolution of what his predecessor did. The buses, the water cannon, the garden bridge…I know not everyone supported all of these, but the motive here is to discredit in a spiteful and petty way. In the same way he continues with his smear campaign against Zac – smearing him by accusing him of smearing. This dispute he now blames on his predecessor. It is like Barack Obama in reverse.

    • stred
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      He should be called Mayor Khant. Khan’t build affordable housing in the numbers promised. Khan’t keep underground fares down. Khan’t squirt water at rioters next time. Khan’t stop pollution by building more bike lanes along main roads and causing gridlock. Khan’t stop people breathing polluted air in these clogged roads by putting up signs in railway stations. Khan’t stop strikes.

      But he can go to the US and cathedrals to grandstand with like minded thinkers.

  32. forthurst
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    “Well, I’m tempted to say the people who are getting it wrong are those who print things saying I’m talking about a “hard” Brexit, “it’s absolutely inevitable it’s a hard Brexit”. I don’t accept the terms “hard” or “soft” Brexit. What we are doing is going to get an ambitious, good, the best possible deal for the United Kingdom in terms of trading with, and operating within, the single European market. But it will be a new relationship because we won’t be members of the EU any longer. We will be outside the European Union, and therefore we will be negotiating a new relationship, across not just trading but other areas, with the European Union.”

    What does this mean???? Perhaps: Brexit means Brexit means Brexit….

    • turboterrier
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      @ forthurst

      But it will be a new relationship because we won’t be members of the EU any longer.

      The way things are hopefully going there will not be an EU as they continue to fight amongst each other as more countries are really beginning to see the light

    • rose
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      I would say it meant we will be out of the EU, so out of the internal market and customs union, and making our own arrangements, including with the EU.

  33. Chris
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    O/T but I wondered if you could advise, Mr Redwood. This extract about Theresa May and definition of Brexit appeared on the Guardian website today. I feel it is not reassuring and is muddled at best:

    “May says it is wrong to claim hard Brexit is inevitable.
    This is what Theresa May said about not accepting that she is heading for a so-called hard Brexit. (See 12.02pm.) She was responding to a question from the Sun’s Tom Newton Dunn.

    Dunn said, in the light of what she had said early about not saying anything new yesterday (see 11.57am), either the markets were getting their interpretation of her Brexit stance wrong or she was getting it wrong. Which one was it?

    May replied:
    ‘Well, I’m tempted to say the people who are getting it wrong are those who print things saying I’m talking about a hard Brexit, [that] it’s absolutely inevitable it’s a hard Brexit. I don’t accept the terms hard or soft Brexit. What we are doing is going to get an ambitious, good, the best possible deal for the United Kingdom in terms of trading with, and operating within, the single European market. But it will be a new relationship because we won’t be members of the EU any longer. We will be outside the European Union, and therefore we will be negotiating a new relationship across not just trading but other areas with the European Union.” ‘

    Reply Hard and soft Brexit is nonsensical Remain language

    • rose
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      I’m tempted to say people who are in charge of other people’s pensions etc appear to be incredibly thick. How can we come out of the EU if we don’t come out of the internal market? And we are coming out of the EU. Either incredibly thick or incredibly dishonest. Etc ed

    • bratwurst
      Posted January 10, 2017 at 4:00 am | Permalink

      May said “the best possible deal for the United Kingdom in terms of trading with, and operating within, the Single European Market”. She might mean just that – operating within the Single European Market.
      Currently the only way that the UK can operate within the Single European Market, from outside the European Union is through the EEA Agreement, via membership of Efta.

  34. a-tracy
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Surely someone can work out how many tickets are bought at each station, then have the staff numbers, that can be redeployed on alternative duties if the office isn’t required to be open all hours, to maintain productivity levels at the required and comparable measures to the rest of main city underground services. People just cannot expect jobs for life in technological advancing services, they had plenty of warning of technical advances in ticket purchasing to be retrained into other jobs that become available just as millions of other people have had to do in other industries.

    Just how does the London network compare to Japan, New York, Paris etc. how is the staff productivity calculated and compared. At the end of the day, City workers don’t want to keep paying more and more for their travel tickets to keep other people in slow underproductive jobs, Khan said he wouldn’t put up fares but up they go by 2%, savings are required and other systems and methods of working are a needed of the future because a small minority of workers can’t hold the Capital City to ransom like this, perhaps each tube station needs to be franchised and run independently.

    • 37/6
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

      So a station with a footfall of 10s of thousands of passengers a day is going to cost how much per ticket to have a member of staff there for evacuation and incident management ?

      • a-tracy
        Posted January 13, 2017 at 8:51 am | Permalink

        Franchised stations would get a % of all ticket sales according to their footfall which is easily calculatable from the exit and entrance barriers.

        What % of tfl staff are there now for evacuation and incident management, how is it determined? How many ticket staff are trained to do this task?

        In all the time I was in Berlin I didn’t see ticket officers. How many transport police are there in each station?

        I’m really curious now, I wonder how staffing levels in each station are calculated, are there more part-time staff at peak hours, how does Berlin run its underground in comparison. I think its time we start comparing our operation to the best technically advanced stations around the world.

  35. Qubus
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    I was on the morning train from Cambridge to London fairly recently. The passengers were like sardines in a can. Needless to say, not only was every seat occupied, every square inch of standing room was also occupied, with scarcely the possibility to even turn round.
    As I have read someone comment recently, this is definitely a safety issue in the event of a collision. If the railway workers are so concerned about safety, surely they should go on strike about that.

  36. turboterrier
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Totally O/T

    With the news breaking out of Northern Ireland it will be a very brave person to shut their eyes and ears and think “it couldn’t happen here”

    When there are easy subsidies to be had it is always open to abuse.

    Watch this space, and possibly see the story grow and grow.

  37. Newmania
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Doing something about the injustices created by having only those in the public sector and quasi public sector unionised should surely be on the Conservative Party to do list
    Instead ,a golden opportunity presented by a Labour`s collapse is being wasted on Brexit.

  38. Iain Gill
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Wow corbyn has come out against free movement and now says immigration must come down, Vince cable did the same last week, conservatives are going to look like the party of high immigration if not careful.

  39. ChrisS
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Off topic I know but this made me really mad !

    Heidi Allen wants to be Mayor of Cambridge as well as being an MP which begs question, how much spare time an MP might work in Heidi thinks she could do two supposedly full time jobs.

    BUT : If Heidi doesn’t have enough work to do as an English MP, just think how much free time that bunch of louts from the SNP must have when most of their job is being done for them by MSPs !

    When you think about it, Scotland’s 59 MPs have about 20% fewer voters than the average Conservative in England AND for every Scottish MP there are slightly more than TWO MSPs over-governing the country as well ! Over-manning anyone ?

    Now every MP costs us £74,000 in salary plus the gold-plated pension and generous expenses. BUT for every single Scottish MP we are also paying a scandalous £249,000 in salary and office expenses to employ 2.2 MSPs !

    I wouldn’t really care what they do North of Hadrian’s wall but we English are paying for this incredible waste ! What do they all do all day other than whinge ?

  40. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted January 10, 2017 at 2:45 am | Permalink

    Why should London tube services be run at a loss at all? The government should be discussing the best method of privatisation and nothing else.

    When is this so called Tory government going to promote the interests of tax payers. It has opted for HS2, which will be a permanent White Elephant, when there are better infrastructure packages available. It has opted for Heathrow when Gatwick would be half the price at most. Indeed, it the government scrapped the BAA and allowed London airports to compete with each other, there might not be any need for taxpayer funding apart from financing upgraded land transport links to airports.

    Bluntly, Mr Redwood, does this government believe in capitalism or does it not?

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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