Category Archives: Transport

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

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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?

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The two faces of the Tories – enscapsulated in two policies today

This is the UK’s Conservative government:

And this is also the UK’s Conservative government:

Huge handouts to rich corporations, while they take away what little the poor receive to help them survive.

It is homicidal.

But millions of poor people insanely voted for rule by these insults to humanity.

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This leading Tory just made a mockery of his party’s claims about the climate crisis

Climate denier: Matt Hancock.

So much for green Conservatism.

Matt Hancock has said he’s happy for the entire planet to burn, as long as businesspeople get to their meetings a bit quicker.

Oh, and he’s the Health Secretary, by the way.

Do you think that might be the reason the Tories have helped save the airline Flybe, when they couldn’t give a damn about retail firms like Mothercare (for example)?

This Conservative government is a sick joke – and the laugh is on everybody who voted for it.

The Tory Health Secretary has declared Brits should carry on taking short-haul internal flights despite the climate crisis.

Matt Hancock said people shouldn’t cut down on domestic air travel – because it’s quicker than taking the train.

It comes despite Chancellor Sajid Javid saying Tory plans for government were “the most green manifesto any party has ever published”.

Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said: “Either Matt Hancock thinks airplanes run on fairy dust, or he does know they’re a major source of planet-heating emissions but simply doesn’t care.

“Whichever it is, his comments fly in the face of the Conservative manifesto commitment to tackling the climate emergency.”

Source: Top Tory says we should all carry on taking short flights despite climate crisis – Mirror Online

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How the Tories used Motability to attack more than 100,000 disabled people

It was supposed to be an aid to help disabled people live normal, productive lives – but the trouble with giving people schemes like Motability is they can all-too-easily be taken away.

And that is what the Conservative government has been doing. The latest figure from the Motability Scheme itself shows that 102,000 people have lost their entitlement to a specially-adapted vehicle.

The method the Tories are using to take away this vital lifeline is simple: transfer their benefit claim from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment.

And I’ve been reporting it for years.

You see, the Tories toughened the eligibility regime for disability benefit when they introduced PIP and used it to replace DLA.

In 2015, I reported that they were stripping Motability cars from 200 people every week.

So, for example, a teenager called Olivia – who lost a leg to cancer – was told she was not disabled enough for a Motability car. The DWP said she could keep it until a certain date – then reneged on the agreement, leaving her with days to raise £4,900 to buy the vehicle.

As I stated at the time, that’s a tall order for a girl who’s still at sixth form.

By 2016, 14,000 disabled people had lost their cars, based on figures provided to the BBC by Motability. But then-minister for disabled people Justin Tomlinson claimed he did not have that figure when asked a direct question in Parliament.

Was he misleading Parliament?

Later in 2016, his successor Penny Mordaunt misled Parliament on the effect of PIP on Motability users. She claimed that, compared to DLA, “more people are entitled to use the Motability scheme”.

In fact, of customers who had been reassessed for PIP, 44 per cent had lost their entitlement.

By 2018, 75,000 disabled people had been forced to return their Motability cars by an uncaring Tory government – although then-Work and Pensions secretary Esther McVey was caught misleading Parliament about it by Lord Stirling, who co-founded Motability in 1977.

And now the total is 102,000 – and likely to go higher still before reassessments for PIP are concluded in March this year.

The loss of the vehicles means the Tories have denied these people the ability to travel to work and access leisure and other independent living opportunities.

It means they are likely to be condemned to a life staring at the four walls of their home – until the Tories find an excuse to cut off whatever remaining benefits are left to them.

And you’ll spit when you find out the reason used to take away the ability of these people to travel anywhere.

It was a change in the rules that means you lose the higher mobility rate if you can walk further than 20m. Under DLA, it was 50m.

That’s right – think about it.

The Tories took from 102,000 people the ability to travel anywhere, because those people were able to walk up to 30m further than they allowed.

Source: More than 100,000 disabled people lose Motability vehicles when reassessed for PIP

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Brexit Party tour bus towed after it was found wedged in a lay-by

Wedged: The Brexit bus in the lay-by. According to the arrow on the side, the direction of Brexit is straight into a hedge.

How ironic for the party that says it has the muscle to leave the European Union; it can’t even manage its way out of a lay-by outside Brecon and Radnorshire.

The Brexit Party has been using the distinctive blue-and-white open-topped bus to ferry its candidate in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, Des Parkinson, around the constituency.

But the tour came to a thudding halt yesterday when the bus was found, abandoned and wedged sideways in a lay-by at Nantddu, outside the constituency on the road between Brecon and Merthyr Tydfil.

BBC Wales weather presenter Sue Charles discovered the abandoned bus on her way through the Brecon Beacons last night (July 27):

She contacted the police, who had been informed already. This morning, she followed up on it – and Twitter started having fun:

https://twitter.com/Arboritae/status/1155439383748718593

I’ve contacted Des Parkinson to ask what happened. If he responds, I’ll report it here.

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Have Grayling’s failings finally caught up with him in row over no-ferry ferry firm’s costs?

Chris Grayling: Perhaps it’s finally time he came out of the cabinet.

Calamity-prone Chris Grayling has lied directly to Parliament, it seems, over the small fortune he spent on consultants in connection with Seaborne Freight, the ferry firm that had no ships.

We all know the story by now: Grayling authorised a contract for post “no deal” Brexit freight ferry work with Seaborne, a company that had no ships, no trading history, and no previous experience running such a service.

Not only that, but the firm’s internet page cut-and-pasted its terms and conditions from a takeaway website, its log-in portal was found to redirect directly to Google’s home page; and neither of the listed phone numbers appeared to be manned, with both stating ‘there is no one available to take your call’ and offering no chance to leave a message.

Other features, such as language settings, were only for show and could not be clicked; and despite Mr Grayling saying Seaborne was on track to run services from April, the firm’s recruitment page was empty when it was checked last month.

Last week it was revealed that the deal was being secretly supported by an Irish firm – Arklow Shipping – but this company had now backed out and for this reason, Mr Grayling was cancelling the £13.8 million deal.

All of that would normally be enough to cancel anybody’s contract of employment – but Mr Grayling is an MP, and we have already seen that they can get away with almost anything.

One thing they can’t avoid, though, is retribution for intentionally misleading Parliament, and it seems Mr Grayling may come unstuck on this point.

Responding to an urgent question on Seaborne in Parliament on February 11, Mr Grayling claimed that no taxpayers’ money had been wasted on it. He said: “We have spent no money on this contract.”

But a report by the National Audit Office from earlier this month contradicts the claim, stating that his department had “spent approximately £800,000 on its external consultants: Slaughter & May; Deloitte; and Mott MacDonald” in the procurement process.

Worse, the report states that Mott MacDonald had found “significant execution risks” in the bid from Seaborne Freight – and Deloitte claimed they could not complete the review of the firm because of “a lack of existing financial information due to [Seaborne Freight] only being incorporated in April 2017″.

Is that enough rope with which to hang him?

It depends.

Some say Mr Grayling is kept in the Cabinet because he makes everyone else look competent.

Some might disagree with that. Let’s see what Theresa May has to say about it – if she even dares poke her ever-lengthening nose above the parapet.


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Grayling’s failings are piling up – rail fiasco adds to his Brexit ferry woes

Fiasco: It costs an average of 3.1 per cent more to board a train than it did in December – and the chances are it will still be delayed.

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:

Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald had withering words for Mr Grayling – after disembarking from a train that was – predictably – late.

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:

His aims are entirely achievable:

The party’s video clip advertising the policy is terrific:

And Labour groups across the country are rising to support the initiative, like the Southampton and Romsey party:

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:

But this only means he has exposed himself to further ridicule:

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…

… and this one:

Uppermost in many minds is how Mr Grayling can hold on to his Cabinet ministerial position after this pair of cock-ups:

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.

Visit our JustGiving page to help Vox Political’s Mike Sivier fight anti-Semitism libels in court


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Vox Political was right about Motability – there was more to this ‘shocker’ than the Mail implied

So Motability’s “£2.4 billion cash stockpile” is in fact nothing of the sort.

The money is needed to buy cars for people with disabilities and to protect it against business risks. That seems much more realistic than the far-right rag’s claims.

There does remain the matter of chief exec Mike Betts’s £1.7 million annual salary, which does seem exorbitant.

But an organisation’s remuneration schemes are its own business, and it seems entirely unfair of the Mail to complain about one executive being paid £1.7 million when others, such as bankers, take home far more while producing far less.

In a statement issued this afternoon, Motability Operations said: ‘The Daily Mail claims there is a £2.4 bn ‘cash stockpile’ or ‘spare £2.4bn’.

‘It’s quite clear to us that the Daily Mail has totally misunderstood what this £2.4 billion of reserves represents. It is not held as cash but is used to buy cars for disabled people. This reduces the amount of borrowing required.

‘It also underpins the scheme’s financial stability, protecting it from the business risks it faces, particularly in relation to used car values. The Charity Commission has today stated “that we consider the level of operating capital held by the company in order to guarantee the scheme to be conservative”.’

Moving on to the issue of the salary paid to Mike Betts, the charity said: ‘The remuneration of Motability operations directors is decided by the Motability operations board, based on the advice of their remuneration committee.

‘Remuneration is reviewed against the market to ensure that it is both competitive over the long term, and to ensure that any rewards are related to performance especially in relation to the quality of service provided to customers.’

It added: ‘The current chief executive of Motability Operations, Mike Betts, has been in place since 2003 and has been instrumental in ensuring the company is able to operate successfully and effectively.’

Source: Motability hits back over ‘huge cash stockpile’ and boss’s salary – Car Dealer Magazine


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