Category Archives: Transport

Government will relieve HGV driver shortage by removing ‘reversing’ element. Idiotic

Tempting fate: this is what happened when an HGV driver tried reversing in a Welsh country road. Expect many more such incidents after the Tory changes to HGV driver tests take effect.

The UK’s stupid Tory government has promised to increase the number of HGV driving tests available in order to relieve the current driver shortage – by eliminating a vital element in which drivers must show they can reverse the vehicle.

This Writer knows how valuable the ability to reverse properly is, because I have reported on what happens when it goes wrong.

Very early in my career I reported on an inquest into the death of a man after an HGV reversed into him. I won’t go into the details because they are distressing.

So I am looking forward to the Conservative government guidance that shows how HGV drivers will be able to avoid reversing in the future.

Also eliminated are the “uncoupling and recoupling” element for vehicles with trailers.

The government says these parts of the test take a long time so it’s better not to bother. They’ll do it later… maybe.

Why not do it straight away, at the test that shows drivers are qualified to do it? I don’t believe what these ministers and civil servants are saying.

In addition, car drivers who want to tow a trailer or caravan won’t need to take a test, freeing up a further 30,000 more HGV tests.

The new legislation to make these changes legal is being pushed through by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and the Department for Transport (DfT).

The DfT says the move won’t affect the standard of driving required in order to drive an HGV, while car owners are being encouraged to undertake extra training in order to tow trailers and caravans.

Huh?

If car drivers will need extra training to tow trailers and caravans, then they won’t be qualified to do it… and that implies that the parts removed from HGV tests are also vital. Doesn’t it?

That’s what I’m seeing on the social media:

I suggest a new general election slogan for, well, any party, really:

Keep death off the roads! DON’T VOTE CONSERVATIVE!

Source: Government promises 50,000 HGV tests a year and relaxes car towing rules – Car Dealer Magazine

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Food chain collapse means Brexit is hitting schools – and the media are whitewashing Johnson

School meals: Boris Johnson’s Brexit means these are soon to become a rarity.

The Brexit-prompted HGV driver shortage means school canteens are going to run out of food, it was revealed – just as English schools reopened for the autumn term.

Now, why wasn’t this ever mentioned before?

HGV drivers are chronically low-paid, which is probably why there was a shortage of 60,000 even before all the EU-national drivers – 25,000 of them – were told to go home by Boris Johnson’s gang of xenophobes (you call them the government).

There were plans to train up 19,000 new drivers but they were foiled by Covid-19.

So that’s 104,000 HGVs that aren’t servicing our supermarkets and schools. It must be terrific for reducing pollution but it’s not so good for your child’s nutritional needs.

But that isn’t even the worst of it!

Farmers are struggling to get workers to bring in the harvest, meaning much of the food they have grown over the last year may spoil.

Formerly people came from the European Union but “post-Brexit, that is a problem”.

Apparently 70,000 seasonal workers are needed but only 30,000 seasonal work permits are available to people now living in the EU. And there aren’t enough UK workers to fill the gap.

Either the Tories didn’t think about this when they were setting the number of seasonal permits available… or they deliberately planned to sabotage the harvest. Neither alternative is particularly palatable, is it?

This Writer will be charitable and suggest that the Tories didn’t think. There’s a precedent for this: they didn’t think the withdrawal from Afghanistan would be the mess they made it and they didn’t think giving Covid-related contracts worth billions of pounds to their inexperienced friends would do any harm, after all.

So this is probably just another symptom of Boris Johnson’s spectacular – nay, stellar – incompetence.

I’m sure you’ll take comfort from that when you look at your empty plate later this year.

And by the way, that’ll be partly due to a knock-on effect of all this: food prices are going to rocket:

According to the FT report,

the shortage of lorry drivers and more regulatory checks on imported food [will] combine with rising prices for fuel, freight and raw materials, experts have warned.

So that’s even before the effect on the harvest is taken into account!

People are, understandably, angry:

But some are strangely silent.

For example – the BBC. The omission that Peter Stefanovic mentions below is just symptomatic of the Corporation’s efforts to safeguard Boris Johnson and his Tory gang from any responsibility for their stupid decisions:

And – inevitably – they are helped in this by the utter failure of Labour MPs to highlight the harm and the reason for it. Anyone would think they had faults of their own to hide:

Perhaps it’s time people were reminded that they voted for this fiasco. Given a choice between a leader who would have ensured that there was food on our plates and Boris Johnson, the UK’s people voted for starvation:

For some, this will be the hardest part to swallow.

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News media accept supermarket food shortages are due to Brexit – contrary to Johnson’s propaganda

Lorries without drivers: news outlets are finally admitting the shortage is due to Brexit. Boris Johnson won’t like that!

This is an important admission from The Independent, although it lags a considerable time behind some of us in the social media.

The newspaper’s article Brexit food shortages could ‘cancel Christmas’ and last into 2022 acknowledges – in its headline – that Brexit is responsible for the emptying of your local supermarket’s shelves – not Covid-19.

It states:

Britain’s post-Brexit supply chain crisis could “cancel Christmas” and continue to cause food shortages well into 2022, industry leaders have warned.

Boris Johnson’s government has been urged to ease immigration rules so some EU citizens who left the UK during Brexit can return and help fill major gaps in the workforce.

McDonald’s had run out of milkshakes, [and] chicken shortages caused Nando’s to temporarily shut 50 stores last week because of supply problems linked to Brexit.

The RHA [Road Haulage Association] estimates that up to 20,000 heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers from the EU left during Brexit.

Tom Southall, policy officer at the Cold Chain Federation, said Brexit was partly to blame for recruitment problems across the food sector – predicting that it would be 2022 before the nation begins to get to grips with the backlog of vacancies for drivers, pickers and processors.

Norfolk food firm Alfred G Pearce, which grows and processes vegetables, is also struggling with labour shortages, having seen its workforce reduced 20 per cent to 30 per cent down after EU employees returned home during the Brexit process.

Bryan Roberts, retail analyst at Shopfloor Insights, said it would take time to train new workers, even with a major recruitment drive. “Sadly I think things are only going to get worse in the run-up to Christmas and we’ve got a whole load more regulations coming in from Brexit in October,” he said.

Other news media have caught on and are starting to say the same:

It seems people in the UK are finally turning the corner and realising that the way to conquer our differences with the EU was to remain a member state and argue for change (in a rational way, not a David Cameron do-as-I-say-or-I’ll-have-a-strop ultimatum) and not to walk out and end all the trade agreements and border deals we had in our favour.

Of course, the shortage of lorry drivers would be over if Boris Johnson and his Tories would only make two decisions: first, they could swallow their misplaced pride and bring in drivers from the EU to cover the current shortfall; second, they should raise pay rates above subsistence level – otherwise there would be no reason for anybody to help out at all.

Some employers have seen the light and raised wages unilaterally…

… but Johnson and his gang won’t impose these changes nationally because they themselves are not suffering. They don’t care about you and they never did.

So you see now that Brexit was created to engineer the very shortages you are experiencing today, deliberately, by Johnson and his Brexiteer Tories.

Source: Brexit food shortages could ‘cancel Christmas’ and last into 2022, says industry | The Independent

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Racist Tories indicate they’d rather have criminals driving our lorries than foreigners

I’m not happy with this.

It seems Boris Johnson’s government is thinking of letting convicted criminals – who are serving prison sentences – deliver lorry loads of goods to ease the driver shortage caused by Brexit (not Covid-19).

The option was tabled by the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers, which is apparently meeting with HM Prison Service this week (although I don’t know why. Most of the prisons are run by private companies these days, aren’t they?) to ask for lorry drivers to be prioritised on the Release on Temporary Licence (ROFL* ROTL) scheme.

The meeting comes after Nando’s had to close 45 fast food joints due to a shortage of chickens. In related news, McDonalds recently ran out of milkshakes.

And of course the nation is running out of patience.

But that didn’t stop ministers rejecting calls for temporary work visas to be handed to drivers from the European Union after overtures were made to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.

The response was clear – and clearly racist: “The British people repeatedly voted to end free movement and take back control of our immigration system and employers should invest in our domestic workforce instead of relying on labour from abroad.”

In other words: “We don’t want Johnny Foreigner coming over here and helping us out of a problem we created because of our racism against him! We’d rather cut off our noses to spite our faces!

The statement continued: “We recently announced a package of measures to help tackle the HGV driver shortage, including plans to streamline the process for new drivers to gain their HGV licence and to increase the number of tests able to be conducted.”

In other words, new drivers will be trained to a lower standard, and tests will be of a lower quality, in order to put more drivers on our streets. And bring more death to our roads?

The alternative is the use of prisoners. You can read about it here and here.

Owain Gardner (below) makes some good points about it:

And so does Richard Murphy:

We’re coming to a point where we don’t mind who we trust to deliver our food – or what condition it may be in when it arrives. That’s why I don’t think such a scheme will work.

Which prisoners would the government allow to be used? What crimes would the government deem to be harmless enough to allow them to deliver food to us? How would they be supervised?

My guess is that the answers to these three questions are: any, all, and not at all.

And that creates a danger to us. It only takes one con with a chip on his shoulder to cause all kinds of problems. I’m sure I can leave the consequences to your imagination.

Oh, I’m exaggerating; overdramatising. Sure.

But we have prisons to stop dangerous people from doing dangerous things. This scheme will give them free rein to do it.

And I’m only wrong about this until something happens to prove me right.

*ROFL is of course an Internet acronym meaning “Rolling On the Floor Laughing”. I mention it because of its similarity to ROTL, and also to connect with Keir Starmer’s howler at his latest relaunch of his party leadership, in which he used the slogan “Winning The Future” (WTF). You’re probably aware that WTF is Internet-speak for “What The F***”.

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News-hacks take note: Army ‘on standby’ to deliver food after BREXIT drained UK of lorry drivers

At least Metro couched its reporting of the government-sponsored lie by saying the crisis caused by the lack of lorry drivers “is thought to have been exacerbated by the so-called ‘pingdemic'”.

We know the shortage of lorry drivers has little to do with the government’s Covid-19 warning app on mobile phones, though, don’t we?

It happened because of Brexit; the drivers have all been sent back to the EU nations where they were born.

And now the army has been put on standby to deliver supplies to supermarkets.

That’s 2,000 qualified HGV drivers to make up an expected shortfall of 100,000. Does that seem realistic to you?

We all know the truth, and we’re all saying more or less the same thing:

There is one conclusion to be drawn from this story.

It is that Metro is written by stenographers for government propagandists, rather than by proper reporters.

That’s not my opinion; it’s that of Ian Leslie in The Critic, who wrote the words quoted here:

“Journalists check our stories about what’s going on against the facts and give us different, more truthful angles.”

That certainly doesn’t seem to have happened here! A caveat that the problem “is thought to have been” due to the ‘pingdemic’ doesn’t cut any ice.

Aren’t we lucky to have journalism like that of Vox Political, here on the social media! And what a shame most people are too busy reading Metro to even give it a glance.

Here’s a thought:

Why not share this article with your friends, to show them what they’re missing?

Source: Army ‘on standby’ to deliver food amid shortage of lorry drivers | Metro News

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This is how supermarkets should explain the Brexit-created supply shortage to customers

If only supermarkets explained the facts to their customers, like this:

Personally, I could live without the swearing but it makes the point well.

The strongest point is the comment about the cause of the empty shelves.

We know there’s a driver shortage which the Tory government is trying to blame on Covid-19-related illnesses – although I notice there’s no attempt to tell us why all the drivers are supposed to have suddenly become ill at the same time.

In fact, the missing drivers have all been sent packing back to their EU countries of origin because the Tory government demanded it after the UK left the EU.

So the caption that reads,

Brexit caused this – All other COVID affected countries have plenty of stock

is particularly effective and accurate.

Why don’t supermarkets do this for real (I get the impression that this is just a satirical mock-up)?

They’re probably afraid customers will take offence at having to face the facts of their own stupidity – and shop somewhere else.

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Is Department for Transport planning ‘all-out assault on jobs, pay and pensions’?

Two-fingered salute: Boris Johnson’s message of thanks to transport workers who kept groceries, other goods and medical supplies moving during the Covid-19 crisis. His government is apparently planning to attack their jobs, pay and pensions as soon as it can.

The Tory government is planning to reward key transport workers who kept the UK running through the Covid crisis – with a kick in the teeth, it seems.

The Department for Transport is hoping to employ a “union-buster” to take on workers in an “all-out assault on jobs, pay and pensions”, according to the RMT union.

And where the DfT leads, will other government departments follow in a renewed effort to destroy workers’ representation once and for all and begin a new dark age for the people of the UK?

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Employees (RMT) reports that the DfT is recruiting for a Rail Pensions and Workforce Director who will be a member of a new-created team of 15 workers.

An advertisement in The Guardian states that the successful applicant “will shape and define the future of pensions and workforce in the rail sector”, operating in a “politically sensitive environment”.

Welfare Journal quotes RMT general secretary Mick Cash:

RMT has been warning that the Government and the employers would be gearing up for a post-COVID assault on our members across the transport sector and here they are headhunting a dedicated hitman or woman.

It would be a scandal if the essential transport workers who have kept key staff and freight moving throughout the pandemic were rewarded with a kick in the teeth on jobs, pay and pensions.

And why not?

Matt Hancock has already slapped NHS employees in the face with his refusal to reward doctors, nurses and support staff for all their dedication, working to keep thousands of people alive in the face of indifference from their political employers who failed to source appropriate equipment.

So why shouldn’t the government tell the people who transported all the supplies – including, no doubt, the medical gear that we all needed (when it finally turned up) – that their contribution is not appreciated at all and that they will be punished rather than rewarded for it?

What did these people expect from selfish, ignorant, entitled toffs?

And what can you expect in the future? You know the Tories will get around to attacking you as soon as they’re able – don’t you?

Source: Government ‘gearing up for an all-out assault on jobs, pay and pensions’ | Welfare Journal

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If these lies are all Johnson has, Sadiq Khan is on course for a second term as London mayor

Boris Johnson used Prime Minister’s Questions to launch an unwise and unmerited two-pronged attack on London’s Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan.

First he said that financial problems suffered by Transport for London (TfL) were Khan’s fault.

The Department for Transport is, it seems, refusing to provide £5.65 billion to keep TfL running after it suffered huge losses due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. It is offering a “papering-over-the-cracks” funding package that comes with a demand that Khan accepts measures including higher council tax, a larger congestion charge zone and higher tube and bus fares – including the removal of free travel for children and young people. Otherwise, the threat is that the Westminster government will take over control of TfL from City Hall.

Asked if he was going to inflict a congestion charge on four million Londoners who had already been afflicted with Covid-19 and financial ruin, Johnson said: “The current Mayor of London had effectively bankrupted TfL before coronavirus had even hit and left a massive black hole in its finances… Any expansion of the congestion charge or any other measure taken to improve the finances of TfL are entirely the responsibility of the bankrupt current Labour Mayor of London.”

Responding to a further question from Tory Bob Blackman, Johnson became extremely concerned with self-justification: “The black hole in [the] finances of TfL, the bankruptcy of TfL, which, by the way, was left in robust financial health by the previous Mayor—it certainly was—is entirely the fault of the current Labour Mayor of London, with his grossly irresponsible demagogic fare policies, which, I may say, were never pursued by the previous Mayor of London, and the fault lies entirely with him.”

But Johnson’s claims were put to rest within minutes by the fact-checkers at the BBC’s Politics Live:

Khan himself brought figures directly relating to TfL to TV audiences later:

Not satisfied with one lie, Johnson also used PMQs to claim that Hammersmith Bridge is falling down because of Khan’s “incompetence”: “Hammersmith bridge has been closed thanks entirely to the incompetence of the current Labour Mayor of London, and that Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate, is going to reopen it, which is the best thing possible.”

In fact, the incompetent who failed to repair the bridge at the right time was Boris Johnson himself.

The bridge was built 133 years ago and is structurally unsafe after decades of failure – by successive political authorities – to repair it while traffic for which it was never intended used it.

It was closed in 2014 and repairs could have been authorised in 2016 – but the mayor at the time – Boris Johnson – refused to authorise them.

Instead, Boris Johnson spent around £50 million on consultants working on his vanity ‘Garden Bridge’ project that was ultimately cancelled.

Oh, and didn’t a bomb go off there as well?

The public were having none of Boris Johnson‘s lies:

Shaun Bailey has agreed that he would re-open Hammersmith Bridge if he became London Mayor…

… he just didn’t say he would repair it first. So members of the public have drawn their own conclusions about what he would do:

Yes indeed: “Shaun Bailey will probably suggest a zip wire across the river.”

The issue of the bridge can be summed up in this tweet:

That’s right – Boris Johnson can indeed make it up. And he did.

But we know the facts. All he has done is show the world he’s the stupidest kind of liar – and that his lickspittle Bailey should never be given elected office anywhere.

When Khan became London Mayor, he was voted in with the highest personal mandate of any UK politician in history.

Johnson’s words today may help ensure that he is re-elected with a mandate that is even higher.

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Here’s the reason it is impossible to treat the plague in a post-truth country

The United Kingdom is never going to get to grips with Covid-19 if its government ministers continue to lie about it.

Grant Shapps – a man well-known for playing fast-and-loose with the facts – was up to his old tricks at a press briefing last week when, as Transport Secretary, he claimed trains were not overcrowded since the Tories ordered people back to work, despite numerous photos of overcrowded trains.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

That looks pretty crowded – and this was the Victoria Line. The Central Line at the height of rush hour must be a nightmare.

Bear in mind that social distancing rules still apply and we are supposed to stay at least two metres away from other people.

Shapps claimed that tube trains have been at just five per cent occupancy – which leads This Writer to wonder whether he has been averaging out usage over each 24-hour period, rather than examining the situation at times when people are most likely to be infected by close proximity to others.

He has announced that it will be mandatory to wear face masks on public transport from June 15, when the government intends to ease lockdown restrictions further and send more people back to work.

There is no justification for such easing; the nation remains at Covid alert level 4, meaning the virus remains at large and its reproduction rate is increasing.

But this is a government that won’t accept our truth; it is too busy pushing its own on us.

So snake-oil salesman Shapps told us, in very poor English: “In fact, there hasn’t been very much crowding situation going on.

“It’s not the case … that transport’s been overcrowded. We’ve been watching it very carefully.”

He continued to deny the facts, despite being shown photographic evidence of overcrowding on trains, taken on different days since the lockdown was eased:

“We tracked it on a day by day basis.

“I can literally tell you the trains where there was an issue, because the train was broken down, or Canning Town [in east London], where those pictures were shared very widely.

“But actually the broad picture is there have been one or two people sitting in carriages a lot of the time.”

What can you do, in the face of such blatant denial of the facts from a government minister who is hell-bent on exposing you to a killer disease?

What will you do?

Source: Grant Shapps claims trains aren’t overcrowded despite photos of overcrowded trains – Mirror Online

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Johnson’s latest Covid-19 demand will make us ALL look like ‘bank robbers’ and ‘letterboxes’

If we’re going to wear face masks, let’s wear these: they were seized by US authorities during the George Floyd protests, to stop demonstrators protecting themselves from Covid-19 and are going spare. Can an enterprising entrepreneur please import them?

Funny how the things we say come back to haunt us.

Boris Johnson infamously said that Muslim women who wear the burqa look like “bank robbers” and “letterboxes” in an Islamophobic newspaper column of a couple of years ago.

But now his government has issued a decree that we should all wear face-coverings when we leave the house, starting on June 15.

The response has been logical:

The answer is that it has been deemed necessary for people to wear face coverings as more of the UK’s workforce return to their place of employment due to the government’s unaccountable decision to ease lockdown while Covid-19 infections are still increasing (as shown by the fact that we are still at alert level 4).

The simple fact is that anybody in public should be wearing them anyway:

The advice is to make masks at home, but I have a better idea.

If you read the caption under the image at the top of this article, you’ll know that US law enforcement officials seized masks that were intended to protect people from Covid-19 during anti-racism protests in that country. They are emblazoned with the words “Stop killing black people”.

Over here in the UK, government policy has led to a situation in which black people and other ethnic minorities are four times more likely to die of Covid-19 than the rest of us. The government suppressed a report on the reasons for this.

My suggestion is, wouldn’t it be a great idea to offer to take these masks off American hands and wear them ourselves – as a reminder to Boris Johnson that even his plans for dealing with the pandemic are racist?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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Health Warning: Government! is now available
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The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
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