Labour’s policy on rail – at last a rational way forward to a public railway

The debate on the future of the railways is among the most interesting at the Labour Party’s National Policy Forum.  The challenge was to understand that there are three key challenges facing the rail system – the privatised structure, capacity issues, and the cuts in subsidy in recent years that have contributed hugely to the […]

Privatising the roads: the policy time-bomb in the Infrastructure Bill

There has been much debate since the last election about the piecemeal privatisation of the NHS – despite the fact that the mainstream media have given it far less coverage than it merits.  But there’s another huge piece of privatisation being lined up, and the Infrastructure Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech is laying the […]

Off the rails: why rail renationalisation is the wrong priority

The purpose of Private Members’ Bills is not always to create legislation, and can be an opportunity to embarrass the Government; in that sense Caroline Lucas’ Bill to renationalise the railways, due to receive its Second Reading today, is unusual in that it is more.  It’s certainly not remotely fit for purpose as a piece […]

How Brighton Tories’ litter plan is about profit at the expense of the city

Hove MP Mike Weatherley issued a largely overlooked press release earlier today, commenting on the success of a pilot scheme in Croydon which aims to provide sanctions against those who drop litter and leave mess.  In the press release Weatherley states: Following a recent anti-social behaviour crackdown by Croydon Council, Mike Weatherley, the Conservative Member […]

Rail fares, renationalisation and a profound misunderstanding

Listening to the noise around today’s announcement of rail fare rises from January next year has been dispiriting.  Time and time again, the issue of fares has been linked to renationalisation – as for example in this Guardian opinion piece which is notable for a complete failure to understand the issues around fares and ownership. […]

Tories, blood plasma and altruism

The Government has sold a majority holding in Plasma Resources UK, the state-owned enterprise that forms the basis of Britain’s blood plasma supplies, to an American venture capitalist, Bain, for £230m.  While it is not clear whether this will affect the blood that is given by millions of donors across the UK, it has certainly […]

Abolishing the universal state pension – the new Westminster consensus?

Over the weekend, Ian Duncan Smith made widely reported comments that wealthy pensioners should be prepared to return some of their benefits – notably winter fuel payments and free bus passes.  This morning on the BBC Today programme, Labour DWP spokesman Liam Byrne (unsurprisingly) refused to defend the principle of universality. Nick Clegg and his […]