Railways: A Manifestation Of Thatcherism

During the post-war period the railways were nationalised after years of neglect by private owners, in many ways they were seen as key to building and enhancing Britain’s infrastructure.

Thatcherism changed all of that.

Two of its key aims were to sell off the family silver and enrich its supporters, so it was with Major’s breakup of the railways.

The net result is a poorer, accident prone railway system which rewards management failure and pays individual workers a pittance.

More examples of this Thatherite attitude has been seen recently:

“Network Rail has paid out £630,000 to four of its executive directors as a portion of their long-term incentive plan (L-tip) to reflect the organisation’s performance in the period 2009-12.

However, Network Rail’s remuneration committee decided to reduce the award by 20% to take into account specific safety and train performance issues.

Patrick Butcher, finance director, was awarded £168,000, while Robin Gisby, managing director of network operations and Simon Kirby, managing director of infrastructure projects, were awarded £158,000, and Paul Plummer, group strategy director was awarded £148,000. Chief executive David Higgins did not qualify because he was not with the organisation in 2009.”

In July 2012 even the Torygraph was moved to comment:

“The taxpayer-backed company is once again at the centre of a political row, after it put forward plans to pay five directors an extra £2.6 million under two new schemes.

Under the proposals, three directors at the company will get payments of £300,000 each in 2014 just for turning up to work for the next two years.”

It pointed out the dismal record of Network Rail’s management:

“Two months later, the operator was fined £4 million over the Grayrigg rail disaster that killed one person and seriously injured 28 others.

Within the last two years, Network Rail has also been fined £1 million over the deaths of two school girls at a level crossing in 2005 and £3 million over the Potters Bar crash in 2002 that left seven dead.

The company is also under pressure over its punctuality, leaving it in danger of a £42 million fine. It has a target of running 92 per cent of trains on time – or less than ten minutes late.

At the moment, it is only providing 89.2 per cent of services within these limits, risking a £1.5 million fine for each 0.1 per cent below the target. “

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Orwell, Atos and The Tories

Like many, I have read most of Orwell’s work, discussed and debated what he was trying to get at and even questioned some of his later decisions. Not unsurprisingly there is a lot to get to grips with. He was a multifaceted character living in turbulent times and profoundly affected by it.

David Aaronovitch does an excellent job in presenting the views of various scholars, friends and associates of Orwell. Nicely balanced. Over at the BBC Iplayer, The Road to Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Readers will remember how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) outsourced to Atos, eligibility assessments of the disabled. Atos, in return, have been roundly criticised for declaring people to be “fit for work” only to have them die a few weeks later. Charities and other organisations connected with disabilities have pointed out the flaws in Atos’s methodology.

But now, in a bizarre twist, Atos are outsourcing many of those assessments to the NHS.

So the Public sector outsources to the private sector, a nasty task, who in turn outsource it back to parts of, the once, Public sector.

Atos is using this to deflect criticism on how many of those declared fit either die or end up destitute, whilst Atos rakes in millions.

From Lebanon, Hezbollah has been attacking Syrians with rockets.

Mapping child poverty, not something the Tories or their LibDem allies will welcome.

In other news, a UN official wonders about food banks in Britain. I am just waiting for some idiot Tory to trumpet them, saying “…at least we are world leaders in food banks!”

The privatisation of education continues a pace as Gove brings in help to sack people.

Polly Toynbee on the bedroom tax and housing.

Not above shelf stacking.

Finally, NHS privatisation: Compilation of financial and vested interests, well worth a read. I can’t even imagine how scathing George Orwell would have been, of a society which attacks the poorest and weakest whilst selling off the family silver, and for once a Tory was right about something.