Thursday, 5 August 2010

Tory respect for Scotland means longer train journeys

It has emerged that the UK coalition Government is considering axing the direct link from London to Aberdeen to save money.

Plans to upgrade the line and replace diesel trains with faster electric models were put on hold in February amid funding difficulties.

Former Audit Commission chairman Sir Andrew Foster, who was reviewing the deal for the government, suggested stopping the electric services at Edinburgh could save tens of millions of pounds. After a "passenger-friendly train change" in Edinburgh, passengers heading further north would go by diesel to Fife, Dundee and beyond.

His report states, "Some significant long-distance destinations (Aberdeen, Inverness and Carmarthen) are served by lines which are not, and may never be, electrified and therefore require diesel propulsion" and such routes would be best served by "high-quality connecting trains rather than through services."

He said a commitment that connecting services would not leave without all passengers would be needed to make the system work.

Scottish transport minister Stewart Stevenson said it would be "unacceptable" for the UK government to follow the recommendations.

"It is not acceptable that the department of transport go ahead with the intercity express programme while ignoring the realities of delivering cross-border services to Aberdeen and Inverness.

"We already face the end of services from Glasgow to King's Cross next year, and further cuts to cross-border services are unacceptable."

Another strand to the respect agenda is revealed. We are all in this together so people in Scotland can suffer.

I’m wondering if Sir Andrew has ever actually been on a train. If he had he would be well aware that this notion of a passenger friendly interchange is just totally mythical. When you have young kids and several heavy items of luggage getting off one train and trying to find another is a nightmare.

The fact of the matter is that the trains that run on the main line from London to Aberdeen date from 1976 and not a thing has been invested in the service since then. Now it’s getting difficult and costly to keep these antiques running, so rather than Scotland finally, at last get its share of the new trains we can just do without. And electrification north of Edinburgh, not a hope!

After all why would the Tories fund infrastructure in Scotland? We didn’t vote for them, we only pick up the cheque in the shape of all that lovely oil revenue that gets spent in England. So they can have their high speed electric link to Paris from London and Birmingham making journey times in England shorter but here in Scotland journey times will be going the other way. But we are all in this together!


  1. I recently made a return journey that involved 5 changes of train over 2 days. Every single train was late and on one occasion I was left with 2 minutes to get from one platform to another.

    Fortunately as the train was 2 hours late, that platform dash was unnecessary...

    Are they going to keep trains waiting for 2 hours so that people can make their connections? If so it’s going to be a bit inconvenient for people who turn up on time for the train.

    Respect agenda?

    Whoever this government is showing respect for, it’s certainly not Scotland.

  2. So, why doesn't the Scottish government pay for this itself?

  3. Because we can't borrow the money QM. The Scottish government doesn't have the powers.

    It's diabolical that the UK's oil city isn't linked to the rest of the UK by a high speed train. These are the types of decisions which made me a nationalist.

  4. I notice you faile to point out that we nasty Tories were the ONLY one of the three major UK political parties to pledge to DEFINATELY build the high speed rail line all the way up and into Scotland ... but hey, don't let the facts get in the way of a good story Munguin old boy!


  5. Dean

    I heard a tory talk about a high speed rail link, but I did not believe it then and I still do not believe it now. Tory pledges are not worth the paper they are written on, a bit like Labour or Lib Dums pledges.

    The following are reasons to believe everything a tory says.

    I will treat Scotland with respect D. Cameron.

    Enough said.

    What was that old joke again about how you know a tory is lying, something about their lips moving I think.

  6. Dubbieside,

    You said the same thing about our pre-election pledge to deliver more powers to Holyrood. You said you didn't believe it, because it was a Tory promise.

    Yet now we are doing it, giving Holyrood tax raising powers over income tax among other powers ...

    we pledge and deliver under team Cleggaroon!

  7. 'Crassrail'(typo) is part of the problem London needs more funding from all regions to keep investment in that city as new is best without upgrading existing infrastructure. HSR will never be built past Birmingham if ever as UKplc is bankrupt.

  8. Dean

    Calman is absolutely nothing but a unionist con. The Scotish government can vary the level of income tax by up to 10p. As they can already vary it by up to 3p this is moving the lifeboats.

    If the Scottish government lowers the rate of income tax by 10p that would presumable stimulate the economy. This is something most governments would do if it worked but the problem that anyone with even half a brain would realize is that stimulating the economy brings in extra revenue from things like increased VAT, purchase tax, maybe airport tax and insurance tax if more holiday bought etc.

    Now Dean here is a very tough question for you, where do all these extra taxes go to? I will give you a clue it is not to Holyrood.

    So once again the union dividend is, Scotland cuts its tax revenue to stimulate the UK tax take, or Scotland increases taxes, making Scotland the most heavily taxed place in the UK. Why would anyone with half a brain think this was a good idea. Answer they do not, but it is another little unionist wheeze to try to do Scotland down.

    P.S. Dean

    When is Eton boy reducing the UK rate by 10p, this must be happening as it is such a good idea? As a matter of interest why do you think it was not in his last budget, and surely all you torys must insist it is included in his next budget. Or heaven forbid we may have to accuse torys of double standards.

  9. QM: the Scottish Government gets its money from the English government in the form of pocket money and when England makes cuts consequential cuts have to be made in Scotland. If we were allowed to keep all the oil revenue then doubtless we could afford a high speed rail link second to none but unfortunately that money has to go to pay for wars, nuclear weapons, royal families and so on. And as Subrosa says unlike a local council the Scottish government is forbidden to borrow money even against Scotland’s vast oil wealth. Oh and don’t say that is running out because regrettably they have just found a whole pile more.

  10. Dean, you know I won’t let anything get in the way of a good Tory bashing. But I can’t remember the promises you claim the Tories made with regard to high speed rail definitely coming to Scotland. Perhaps you can refresh our memories and maybe a link or two?

  11. The right to vary Income tax alone has always been a complete waste of time.

    If you are going to vary your tax take, it has to be a juggle with different taxes. It is true that you can REALLY reduce the overall take in tax, but it’s unlikely. The Labour government increased tax and so did the Tories before them.

    A government must have control over its complete tax revenues...VAT, Income tax, Inheritance, Business taxes...etc.

    It must also have the right to borrow money. The nonsense is that Dundee City council has VAST borrowing powers and the Scottish government can't borrow a brass bean.

  12. CH: you are right and of course London and Northern Ireland get a bigger “subsidy” than Scotland does. A fact the Unionist fail to mention when they are going on about the moaning Scots.

  13. Dubbieside,

    I never called for tax cuts, and I didn't comment as to the policy value.

    I merely gave you an example of a promise which we delivered on. My point is simple: can't call us liers.

    p.s Our manifesto didn't include a pledge to cut income tax ...

  14. Munguin,

    I don't have the link to hand unfortunately, but I am sure you will take my honest word for it.

  15. I'm trying to recall that Tory promise but maybe senility is started to kick in!

  16. Dean:

    First of all I do take your word for things. I don't believe you would lie to us but I Googled it and the only thing I could come up with was a story from the Scotsman where Stuart Stevenson had had talks with Andrew Adonis, his then English counterpart, about a high speed rail link to Scotland.


    Of any promise by the Tories, it seems that Google can find nothing.

    As i say Dean, I'm not in any way accusing you of falsifying, but I'm suggesting that you may have been mistaken.

    That said, it seems that if you look at the Scotsman archives, the Labour government talked a lot and did nothing about linking Scotland to England by fast train.

    Why is it that all the other large countries in Europe are served by excellent train services and teh UK has something that they might have been proud of in 1920, but which now is old tired and dilapidated.

    I think Europeans go to the Uk to laugh at their quaint railway system.

    As for Scotland north of Edinburgh-Glasgow, you have to travel on diesel trains.... who has diesel trains in the 21st century?

  17. I remember Thatcher 'promised' a direct link to the channel tunnel, how many decades ago was that!

    Perchance to dream. I remember now after Scottish oil funded the Tunnel and built the M25 thats when she said it. Has any of this happened (outside England)? Thought not back to Freud dream on.

  18. Tris,

    Found it! [Knew I would once I made an effort]:

    "The next Conservative government will begin work immediately to create a high speed rail line connecting London and Heathrow with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, with construction to begin in 2015. The commitment to build this line is the first step towards achieving our vision of a national high speed rail network to join up major cities across England, Scotland and Wales"

    Place particular emphasis 'commitment' 'achieving' high speed rail "up to join major cities across England , SCOTLAND and Wales"

    Now, Labour only pledged to built it to Birmingham, LibDems said nothing, and we have pledged ourselves to its construction all the way up to Scotland and Wales.


  19. Further on that article:

    "Our plans to take high speed rail to the North will boost jobs and investment right across the country and bring particularly strong benefits to the regions. We believe it is essential that the North is not short changed and left out of high speed rail and the major regeneration opportunities it will generate"

    ... As I say, a balanced blog might have included this Tory intention, being the only major Party to make this pledge ...

  20. Dean: thank you for that. I’m afraid that is not really what I would classify as a cast iron commitment. I would say it was more in the way of nebulous aspiration intended to convince people in Scotland that the Tories would respect them should they be elected. The here and now is that the direct link from Aberdeen to London, which in 1976 was the standard bearer of high speed trains in the UK, is recommended to be discontinued with the likelihood of electrification north of Edinburgh never going to happen. It won’t even start in England till 2015, a key date for you as it is the other aspiration of your party, the next general election.

    I’m sorry Dean I will not be accepting that my piece was one sided based on that. As Cynicalhighlander says Mrs Thatcher promised something similar for the Channel Tunnel with high speed trains to Glasgow and Edinburgh from Paris. If I am going to include every Tory aspiration as if it were even remotely likely to happen in everything I write then they would be so long and anodyne as to be unreadable.

  21. Dean:

    I apologise. I hadn't seen that... but it is, in their own words, a vision.

    "....The commitment to build this line is the first step towards achieving our VISION of a national high speed rail network to join up major cities across England, Scotland and Wales..."

    Not a promise but a vision.... and at that, the first stage (in England of course) will not begin till 2015.

    I image that when we are old and grey, if Mr Cameron stays prime minister for 40 years, we may see some real trains in Scotland, maybe ones that run on electricity!!

    It's a pity that Mr Mitterrand had that vision for France in the late 1970s... and now they have one of the best high speed rail systems in the world....TGV

    Mrs Thatcher's vision, on the other hand, was to downgrade railways and have road transport. The M25 writ large.

    Fortunately for us Mr Mitterrand prevailed when it came to the high speed link between London and Paris, which Mrs T wanted to be a road link. And quite recently the English section of the train moved to what passes in the UK for high speed lines. ...2/3 of the speed in France.

    If I’m not mistaken when the work started on the tunnel we were promised that Eurostar trains would come from Paris and Brussels to Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh... that was a vision that soon evaporated when the cost of new rails became apparent. It took 20 years to get the train to St Pancras...

    Just imagine though the boost to the economy if Edinburgh were directly connected to Paris and Brussels!

  22. All politics is aspiration - in fact its a tad like the SNP and their independence referendum, is that now just a vision too?

  23. When one has lost the arguement change the topic.

  24. Cynical,

    Once you make a point which isn't focused on Thatcher and 30+ years ago, maybe I will answer rather than avoid your irrelevent 'point'.

    Times change, and so does politics.

  25. I'm not sure that it is the same thing really Dean.

    First of all, as you know, a minority government of any shade has to deal with the reality that it must make alliances where it can to get its legislation through on a bill by bill basis.

    Clearly Mrs Goldie has used that to her advantage on occasions ... I suppose you could say to make a short term coalition... If the Liberals had not agreed to go into coalition with your party in London then David Cameron would have had to do the same thing. He may yet if the coalition falls apart. I won’t then say... “I see he didn’t honour his party manifesto” every time that he loses a vote in parliament.

    When you have a majority your aspirations can easily become your policy and, with whipping, can become law. That’s easy. Under the FPTP system that is how it always is. (That’s why Britain is so far ahead of all other European countries in so many different things.... )

    The SNP manifesto commitment was written, as was everyone else’s, as a programme for government. In short, had the SNP been a majority government then there would have been a bill and the likelihood is that that bill would have received royal ascent and become law. You can say that under the Scottish system no party is ever likely to have a majority, and therefore should not have made such rash promises, but I’m sure that all of us have to write a manifesto that doesn’t rely on “if we can get someone to agree with us we shall......”

    I’m really surprised that the unionists don’t just let the SNP have their referendum and campaign vigorously against it, let the SNP loose (the most likely outcome) and we can forget the whole thing for 10 years, or until the next SNP government or whatever is decided....


  26. Oh yeah Dean.... as for Cynical's point, I think that that is what you have to deal with as Tories in Scotland.

    There are people who lived through the Thatcher years. She did cause misery, and Major didn't make it any better... Blair might have a little for the poorest before he fell in love with a boy called George and started going to war wherever Georgie told him....

    My point is that until Cameron proves that he is not what 18 years of the Toreis were before, then that is what we think of the Tories.

    We can't remember Mr Heath or Alex Douglas Home or Winston Churchill... we have to base our knowledge of Tories on Mrs T and Mr M...

    It's up to Dave to prove that they are not like that... and so far he's getting about 1/10!

  27. Dean I also think it is fair to point out that Thatcher was PM till November 1990 and unless I am much mistaken that was only 20 years ago. I would also point out that as someone who harks back to the Toryism of Harold MacMillan it is a bit incongruous of you to be critical of other who do that. Also as you have said yourself it is history that shapes the present and therefore it can never be wrong to look back at it with the benefit of hindsight. Only inconvenient, if like Labour and the Tories you have been in power since time immemorial and have already played every dirty card and told every lie to stay at the top of the greasy pole.

    The point Tris and Cynical make is, in my opinion, valid and you really ought to try and answer it.

  28. Munguin,

    It is more logical to 'hark' back to MacMillan than Thatcher. Cameron displays more MacMillanite tendances than he does with Thatcher.

    Going on about how terrible the majority of Tories are, who weren't even walking most of them, when one lady became PM 30+ years ago is childish. Absurd, and frankly disgusting.

    I find it disgusting when anyone supports the appilication of a 'hereditary guilt principle'

  29. Well that’s not what I was trying to say. I don’t think you can avoid the history and legacy of your own party because it’s inconvenient. People have every right to be pissed off with Mrs Thatcher or John Major or Harold MacMillan or Winston Churchill or whoever it was that materially affected their lives, their country, their future and their kids futures. We can’t just ignore that Thatcher years like they never happened. It’s part of your party’s history and you have to embrace it like it or not.

  30. Munguin,

    I accept my party history, I just don't want the entire Big Tent of Toryism to be white-washed by historical revisionists as universally dogmatic Thatcherites.

    All because she happend to be our Party leader more than two decades ago ... its not an unreasonable point frankly.

  31. Dean: not unreasonbale as far as you are concerned, but clearly the majority of Scots don't share that view and that is why you (like us) did not do as well as you hoped in the GE.

    We were promised a high speed rail link to Scotland via the Channel Tunnel by Mrs Thatcher's government. It never happened. That's a fact. Now you are telling us that David Cameron has a similar vision. Have you ever heard the adage about once bitten twice shy?

    Now the point that needs to be answered is why should we believe David Cameron when Mrs Thatcher lied. And please no rhetoric about hereditary guilt.