Chris Grayling is failing as Transport Secretary, just as he failed as Justice Secretary and as a minister for employment.
His latest disaster is the latest increase increase in ticket prices on Britain’s railways – most of which are owned by foreign companies and all of which have creamed £3.5 billion in profits off of us, while failing to provide adequate services.
The Mirror describes it as a “gravy train” for the privatised rail operators, which were once a national utility owned by all of us.
Its report stated: “Private train operators have creamed off £3.5 billion from running our railways over the past 10 years.
“These gigantic profits come despite passengers having to deal with overcrowding, delays, cancellations, strikes and among the highest ticket prices in Europe.
“It got worse yesterday as fare increases were introduced.”
Those increases amount to 3.2 per cent this year – totalling 36 per cent since 2010. The Mirror reported that top executives were making a fortune from them. So what do you think Mr Grayling had to say about it?
He blamed the employees.
A different Mirror report stated: “Chris Grayling blamed rail workers three times in an interview.
“He claimed the “biggest factor” behind the fare rises is “pay pressure from the unions”.
“”They want pay rises that are much higher than [Shadow Transport Secretary] Andy McDonald was talking about.
“”They threaten strike action across the country to get those pay rises.””
According to Rachael Maskell MP, he also attacked Network Rail:
Tory’s Chris Grayling is blaming everyone but himself for rail failure this morning … even Network Rail … accountable to who? Chris Grayling of course!!
— Rachael Maskell MP (@RachaelMaskell) January 2, 2019
Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald had withering words for Mr Grayling – after disembarking from a train that was – predictably – late.
After arriving on a train that was 25 minutes late @AndyMcDonaldMP talks to @BBCTees about another rise in rail fares today #TheDailySqueeze #railfares pic.twitter.com/YqYFqqd79u
— Labour North (@LabourNorth) January 2, 2019
According to the Mirror‘s report, he said: “This is a pathetic attempt to shift the blame for Tory fares policies onto the staff who run the railway.
“It’s telling that Grayling doesn’t suggest slashing the salaries of train company bosses or dividends paid to shareholders of private train companies.”
Labour – and the Mirror – wants rail services to be renationalised. Privatisation has been an enormously costly mistake. Who knows how much money has been lost due to overcharging by the private companies – and due to the delays their poor services have caused?
Here’s Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn:
Today the latest Tory rail fares increase kicked in.
Another 3% is being added to fares – meaning they've now risen by 36% since 2010. It's disgraceful. #RailFares #BackToWork #TheDailySqueeze pic.twitter.com/N7vvMUVsct
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) January 2, 2019
His aims are entirely achievable:
This is a very wealthy country. We can invest in a public run railways to both improve them and cut fares so that those who aren't well off can afford to use them, and we can also invest in our decimated bus services. The money is there; what's missing is political willpower.
— Owen Jones 🌹 (@OwenJones84) January 2, 2019
The party’s video clip advertising the policy is terrific:
Fed up of #TheDailySqueeze?
Here's how we'll put the ease back in train travel. pic.twitter.com/fPIgP9f68o
— The Labour Party (@UKLabour) January 2, 2019
And Labour groups across the country are rising to support the initiative, like the Southampton and Romsey party:
Time to renationise our railways. Fares are rising, but service is deteriorating #thedailysqueeze pic.twitter.com/P38uhSwo5T
— Southampton & Romsey Labour (@soton_labour) January 2, 2019
Meanwhile, Mr Grayling remains under fire for his decision to give a £14 million ferrying contract – in the event of a no-deal Brexit – to a firm that has no experience and no ships.
He has doubled down on his decision:
Grayling's defence of giving a £14 million contract to ferry company with no ferries is that "As Conservatives we back new start-up businesses". But this to to stave off a potential catastrophe. Say you had no ambulance service and you gave the contract to an unproven start-up?
— Marcus Chown (@marcuschown) January 2, 2019
But this only means he has exposed himself to further ridicule:
I've got no trains and have no experience of running a rail franchise, but I do own my own business, I think I'll get Chris Grayling to bung me £40 million to run a service on the East Coast Mainline. #BBCswitchoff
— Daisy Ecksmakina 🇫🇷 🇮🇪 🇪🇺 (@Broken_Politiks) January 2, 2019
I've just launched a hoverboard business, just like out of Back to the Future! I don't actually have any hoverboards, but that's the sort of technicality that doesn't seem to bother Chris Grayling, so can I have a £14m government contract please? cc @transportgovuk
— Owen Jones 🌹 (@OwenJones84) January 2, 2019
I don't own a boat. I've never run a ferry service. And I've no trading history. That makes me equally as qualified as Seaborne Freight to get that govt contract. In fact, I'll do it for £13 million rather than £14 million. Can't say fairer than that. What do you say, Theresa?
— Marcus Chown (@marcuschown) January 1, 2019
In response to that last tweet, Tom Pride answered: “Don’t listen to him @theresa_may, I’ll do it for 10…”
But there are serious questions too, like this one…
I wonder which minister will eventually be ‘linked’ to the company who’ve been paid £millions on the (handshake/school tie) understanding that they’ll never have to use the Ferries they don’t actually have! https://t.co/yUNNJXSsAs
— John Clarke (@JohnClarke1960) January 2, 2019
… and this one:
Big question in Grayling ferry contract scandal is why the Cabinet Secretary did not intervene. Tip of iceberg of such contracts I’m told,& deep unease in Whitehall at his subservience to Mrs May & undermining of core civil service values
— Andrew Adonis (@Andrew_Adonis) January 2, 2019
Uppermost in many minds is how Mr Grayling can hold on to his Cabinet ministerial position after this pair of cock-ups:
After Chris Grayling defends rail fare hike of 3.1%, many commuters say they’re still waiting for the delayed P45 from Westminster.
— Have I Got News For You (@haveigotnews) January 2, 2019
They’ll have a long wait, I think.
Mr Grayling will never resign of his own free will, no matter how much chaos his decisions cause.
He doesn’t have the sense of honour necessary – or even the wit to understand that it is what is demanded of him.
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They’re obviously running out of people to blame – so it’s back to blaming the workers and the unions.
How much does the Tory party get back by giving out contracts hmm Mays hubby sits on a pension fund are they owned by this in a roundabout way fraudulent trading and backhanders for the boys bribes to sweeting traitors gates need Opening up for this self serving lot