Who do you believe about Corbyn’s train trip? The profit-making rail company or the politician set on re-nationalisation?

160823 Corbyn train Keren HarrisonIt’s really hard to believe Richard Branson on this – never mind the fact that the right-wing media have leapt on it.

The allegation is that Jeremy Corbyn lied about a Virgin Trains service from London to Newcastle being “ram-packed” when he was filmed sitting in the floor rather than upgrading to First Class.

The company has produced CCTV footage of him apparently walking past empty seats before taking his place on the floor.

My question is: If there were empty seats, why were other people sitting on the floor with him? They weren’t all Corbyn supporters so that can’t have been the reason.

These people have spoken up, saying that Mr Corbyn was right and the railway company was wrong.

So let’s consider the possibility that the rail firm is lying. Why would Richard Branson’s minions possibly want to deceive us?

Because Virgin is a private, profit-making firm that hasn’t improved its services to a point where everyone who has paid good money for a seat actually gets one, and Mr Corbyn wants to re-nationalise the railways?

That seems a good reason.

We know that Mr Corbyn walked past reserved seats, and we know that the train company upgraded other people to First Class in order to provide seats for him and his companions, after realising he was on the floor.

Doesn’t that indicate there was no other way to get him into a seat, for a company showing a certain desperation to kill the bad publicity being generated for it?

And you don’t see any CCTV of the corridor areas, do you?

The whole story seems to have backfired on Virgin, with people queuing up (it seems) to post a joke about it.

Here’s Sue Perkins, for example: “Journeys on Virgins Trains are going to be so much more interesting now I know that Richard Branson personally reviews the CCTV footage…”

It also backfired on Owen Smith, who has been pilloried for providing a “crap joke” (as the ‘i’ website described it). Here it is: “My campaign remains on track. Proud to be genuinely standing up for ordinary people.”

Given all of the above, who do you believe?

Earlier this month Mr Corbyn released a video of himself sitting on the floor of a Virgin East Coast train arguing that “this is a problem that many passengers face every day”.

The train company, however, has released CCTV stills showing Mr Corbyn finding a seat on the train, saying that it “clearly wasn’t the case” he could not find somewhere to sit. Though Mr Corbyn did not claim that there were no seats on the train, he said it was “ram-packed”.

Other people on the train have however come forward to say it was in fact very busy, at least at the start of the journey.

One passenger, Keren Harrison, posted a picture of herself on the train with Mr Corbyn and gave an account of events that contradicted the company’s version.

“I was on said train and it was very busy!” she said. “He got seat about 45 mins in when staff started shuffling people around!”

She added in another tweet that the train was “chock-a”.

Separately, Charles Anthony, a Corbyn-supporting video journalist who shot the original film also released new footage and disputed the company’s account.

“Video footage of Corbyn sitting down is after he filmed video. And after people got off,” he said in a series of tweets.

Source: Passengers dispute Virgin Trains’ claims about Jeremy Corbyn ‘sitting on floor’ video | News | The Independent


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68 thoughts on “Who do you believe about Corbyn’s train trip? The profit-making rail company or the politician set on re-nationalisation?

  1. Barry Davies

    There being empty seats doesn’t mean they were available they could have been reserved for people getting on later. I have been int he position of no seat on a virgin train, but they tend to offer you a first class seat if there are any not reserved to clear the corridors and door areas.

    1. Kenneth Billis

      Part of that report showed Mr Corbyn walking towards the camera. You could see a ticket on the headrest of every seat indicating it was reserved.

      1. Tim

        You can sit on unoccupied reserved seats and, I believe, Mr Corbyn was between stations when filmed and so could have used reserved seat until the people that booked them arrived. In fact even Mr Corbyn admitted that there were unreserved seats he could have used but because he wanted to sit with his wife couldn’t find two unreserved adjacent seats. Obviously Mr and Mrs Corbyn are very close but couldn’t they have sat in separate seats for a few hours on a train journey? I mean, come on.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        Can you prove your allegation about the reserved seats? No.
        As for his wife, he was making a point and did it in a good way.
        You are nit-picking and getting nowhere.

      3. Tim

        Prove? Huh? Didn’t you notice I included the verb “believe” in my sentence? I have to admit that the unswerving devotion Jezza inspires is as funny as it is touching. I would advise everybody to look down at their idol’s feet however and behold that both of them are made of clay. But on we go anyway like a band playing on the titanic as the ship goes down.

      4. Mike Sivier Post author

        This comment contained nothing that could be described as evidence. Still, you do say you are relying on belief.
        That seems to be all you have.

  2. industrioushippy

    I think people are missing the point. Even if he did walk past empty seats and didn’t HAVE to sit on the floor, he was making a point that quite often people DO have to sit on the floor. This was a good way of drawing attention to that fact by using his relative fame as a politician.

  3. Tim

    An incident like this won’t win or lose Labour any votes when all is said and done. How sad that some younger gentleman with stronger and sturdier legs wouldn’t surrender his seat to an old age pensioner with nowhere to park his bum. If I was Jezza I would reserve seats for both myself and staff in future; pity he didn’t have the foresight to do this previously.

      1. Tim

        He doesn’t have to do anything at all. But why shouldn’t he? Hasn’t Jezza reserved seats or had seats reserved for him on trains in the past? (No doubt we will find out in due course.) Thing is the whole half-baked episode, whether true or not, looks contrived rather than happenstance. What would have been more meaningful would have been for someone to film people using public transport bereft of seats and ask them about their experiences. The trains aren’t good but then again they weren’t much cop when Labour was in power.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        They’re dreadful now. Still starved of investment, but public money subsidises them much more than when we owned them.
        The only part of the system that is doing well is the part that was never sold off – in NI, I believe.

      3. Tim

        The trains are dreadful, yes, even more so on many branch lines in my experience, but Corbyn would have got more mileage out of his escapade if there really was nowhere to sit, had spoken to a few other ticket holders sitting on the floor with him because there were no seats, explained how a nationalised railway would be an improvement and how Labour planned to pay to renationalise the train companies and the track. That’s the way to do it: Show the problem, obtain independent corroboration, lay out a solution and explain how the solution will be achieved. It always surprises me that nobody has ever suggest issuing a government bond, like a war bond, to raise money to fund parts of a hugely ambitious scheme like this, i.e., rather than appeal profit making private industry and investment. Government could launch a bond offering a sensible rate of return to the general public, pension schemes and the like, who could then benefit from a guaranteed return on their investment rather than involve unscrupulous rip-off concerns like the ones involved in the disastrous Private Finance Initiative.

      4. Mike Sivier Post author

        There really was nowhere to sit.
        He spoke with quite a few other ticket holders sitting on the floor with him.
        As for the rest – you’re the only one saying it’s absolutely necessary right now.
        Your bond idea seems quite good, on the face of it.

  4. philipburdekin

    I think it’s the idiots who oppose him that are causing all this chit in the party but I think Jeremy will win this battle and will make a great PM.

  5. Zippi

    I have been on many a Virgin train. I reserve my seats but see many people, often, on the floor. If you’re smart, you’ll check the reservation ticket that’s on display; not all reservations are from the start of the journey so it may be possible for you to sit out, if not your entire journey, a large part of it, depnding, of course. This is, in fact, a regular occurrence and it does seem to me rather silly to have empty seats, while there are people who could use them, clogging up the entrances, or sitting by the toilets. Yay!
    I read, somewhere, the Mr. Corbyn was told that he could, or should reserve a seat, in future. Even if he had reserved a seat, what was to stop him from sitting, in solidarity, with those passengers who could not get one? So, Mr. Corbyn is incompetent, racist, misogynist, homophobic, anti-Semitic (see racist), incites and condones violence (odd, for a pacifist), a bully (again, odd, for a pacifist), a terrorist sympathiser and a liar, to boot. Have I missed anything?

    1. littlemouse22

      The truth is he was only on the floor for 45 minutes of his 3 hour journey, in that 45 minutes there wasn’t a seat, but he did manage to get one after 😀

    1. Tim

      I think these days it’s because some professional people work during train journeys and need a bit more room and space. Others that can afford it probably prefer to pay more for better seats and a better service and train companies can make more money from such passengers by offering two-tier trains. It’s often like that in the service industry. You might as well ask why should some restaurants have more Michelin stars than others.

      1. Tim

        Don’t find many motorway cafes serving lobster thermidor either. You have pay for quality wherever you find it. First and second class travel is very common as far as transport is concerned, certainly on passenger ships, aircraft and trains. You’re thinking about it in the wrong way. Budget travel was originally invented to enable poorer people, or meaner people I suppose, to use transport which would otherwise be too expensive for them. Personally I always travel in a cheap seat myself, because what you get on a first class ticket isn’t worth the extra as far as I’m concerned, but couldn’t care less if others want to fork out more to receive a better service and more than I care whether people choose to occupy an expensive room in a five star hotel or cheap as chips back bedroom in a bed and breakfast.

        I suppose you could even things out and make second class a bit better and first class a bit less luxurious, with second class tickets going up a bit and first class ticket prices going down a bit I suppose. Not wanting to pay more for my second class travel, as far as I’m concerned, I’d rather keep things cheap and cheerful in the budget seats and save myself a few bob.

    2. Tim

      Oh! And Virgin is a private company running its own trains; Virgin trains are available to the public but not publicly owned any more. Our rail system is not really a “public” service these days.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        More nit-picking. It’s a commercial transport system for public use – public transport.
        You undermine all your other comments with this silliness.

      2. Zippi

        Whilst I understand some of what you say, your comment about lobster thermidor is way off. Firstly, if you want lobster thermidor, you will go to a place that offers it. Secondly, when you go to such a restaurant, you will not be seated according to what you order from the menu. As far as I am aware, all customers, in such circumstances, are, or should be, treated the same way, because the money is the same. One would not be expected to eat from the floor, in a restaurant, because the second class tables were all full. How many people get discounted travel, because they have to stand, or sit on the floor, by the toilet?

  6. Michael Broadhurst

    i’d love to know if any other European country has 1st and 2nd class on its rail system.

  7. Kenneth Billis

    Branson’s problem these days is that the majority of his income is provided by government generosity with money supplied by taxpayers. The channels for this generosity are the railways and the NHS.

    Mr Corbyn threatens both those sources so I imagine Branson is beginning to feel twitchy. He therefore has quite an incentive to dispute anything that shows him in a bad light.

  8. hayfords

    A Corbyn source said a handful of seats had been available, but not two together, and the Labour leader wanted to sit with his wife. As a result he, his wife and team were among a series of other passengers forced to sit or stand in the corridor.

    So he CHOSE to sit on floor

    1. John

      Well, we now know that Corbyn WAS looking for two seats (to sit with his wife), BUT just because he couldn’t find two seats together (and there WERE seats available), that does NOT mean that his statement about the train being ‘ram packed’ WASN’T true.
      So, yes, he CHOSE to sit on the floor, but again, that does NOT mean that the train wasn’t full.

    2. Kenneth Billis

      Haven’t heard anything else from Branson about this. Could that be because his “customers'” dissatisfaction with his dire and over-priced franchises has now been broadcast to the whole country causing him not a little embarrassment? It has also made it clear to many that Mr Corbyn’s experience was not staged and any attempt to brand it as such is going nowhere. I bet Branson wishes he had kept his arrogant mouth shut now.

      It may also have adversely affected any hopes he has of picking up more rail or NHS business (or any other government business for that matter). It has made it certain that his days of reliance on a compliant government and the taxpayer are numbered.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Wasn’t he involved in a road collision of some kind, after the train story happened?

  9. NMac

    Jeremy should try Cross Country. He wouldn’t have even found much space to sit on the floor. He was making a very valid point and Branson is getting worried that his lucrative taxpayer-funded “gravy train” might come to an end.

  10. Dez

    I guess he was lucky to be able sit temporarily on the floor. The appalling south east early commuter trains you can only stand up in the latter part of the journey as would be unsafe to sit down….so you pay top dollar for a stand up journey that largely never arrives on time. I always dread the thought of a major train accident, or worse…… Yes fully on board with nationalisation instead of lining the pockets of useless uncaring overpaid chairpersons and their boards….. paid by the taxpayers…..again.

  11. Peter North

    Does Virgin not do simple book-keeping for tax purposes? If it does, it should be easy enough to check the number of tickets sold for that train journey against the number of seats available, allowing for the number of reserved seats. As he is calling Jeremy Corbyn a liar Branson should be asked to back up his claims with some actual proof, rather than CCTV footage that may not be an accurate reflection of the facts.

  12. David Woods

    Can you imagine the media ‘uproar’ though with pictures of Jeremy Corbyn seated in a 1st class compartment while ‘common’ commuters were relegated to sitting on the floor!
    Especially the brown smelly liquid type from Owen Smith’s media support!

  13. Tim

    What utter unadulterated daftness. How long before this incident starts getting called Traingate, or Virgingate, or similar? Is this now the standard of political debate in this country?

  14. hayfords

    Corbyn spokesman last night: “That line about only wanting to sit with his wife is nonsense and not from us.”

    Corbyn today: “Yes I did look for two empty seats together so I could sit down with my wife to talk to her.”

      1. Tim

        Jezza apparently angrily confided this at a press conference about the NHS. Some of it was shown on BBC News. (It on now on Freeview channel 130 the reporter being Glenn Campbell.) If fairness if he wanted to be sure of being able to sit beside his wife he really should have reserved adjacent seat as I suggested earlier. If you keep the BBC News channel on for long enough this titbit will eventually come round again and you can see it for yourself.

        Egg on the face time for Jeremy.

        What a stupid stunt.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        I take it you hadn’t seen my story about the press conference when you wrote this.
        Why, exactly, should Mr Corbyn have booked seats when the train company should surely know how many people are likely to take the train and should have ensured enough seating to accommodate them?
        Have you considered that he might not have known what time he would be catching the train?

      3. Tim

        It looks as if you’re stretching a bit, Mike, trying to find excuses for Mr Corbyn’s railway (mis)adventure. (Come, come. The episode reeks of being a stunt seeking to rubbish the privatised railways.) I can quite believe that Mr Corbyn didn’t know what time he needed to catch the train. In fact I could well believe that he doesn’t always know what time of the day, or even what day of the week, it is based on his too often vague behaviour. Jezza ought to hire a personal assistant to handle his diary for him in order to avoid embarrassing and corrosive events such as this happening to him in future.

        Don’t pay for the ammunition your enemy uses against you.

      4. Mike Sivier Post author

        I was referring to the real possibility that schedule slips can happen because of unexpected last-minute issues.
        I see you have tried to twist that into a spurious claim that Mr Corbyn may have dementia.
        Away with you, now. you’re wasting our time so I shall not be bothering with any more such silliness today.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Am I?
        Perhaps I should remind everyone at this point that name-calling and personal attacks are not welcome here.
        We talk about ideas, events, issues – we don’t gossip about other people.

  15. casalealex

    Mike, sorry, my “Nincompoop” was in response to Geraint’s :

    “Corbyn and his cronies are more dangerous than Isis.”

    What other response could one give to this?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      That’s what I thought you meant.
      Still, you know the rules.
      Geraint didn’t support his bald statement with any kind of evidence; it appears to be a confession of ignorance more than anything else.

  16. Jean Hardiman Smith

    Corbyn and his people missed the traiun they had booked seats on because he was talking to an “ordinary person” about her issues. She has been interviewed as apologising for him missing his train. In some of the carriages in Virgin trains the seats are so close together you have your head inches from the seat in front, and share seats with the person next to you elbowing each other every tme they or you move. It is claustrophobic even without people standing in the aisle. You can’t even see out the window in some seats. I pray I am in an older stock carriage when I have to go to London.

  17. Zippi

    The point that most of the people who are criticizing Mr. Corbyn seem to have missed is that he sat on the floor, WITH OTHER PASSENGERS! Why were they not seated, or are they, too, part of Mr. Corbyn’s “stunt?”

Comments are closed.