Monday 10 October 2011


This is a video made by Jenny Marra, Labour MSP for North East Scotland. You might not want to watch the whole thing as she has clearly never heard Polonius's advice about being brief.

That said, the meat and bones of the video are that Ms Marra is complaining about the cutting of a bus route, by, she alleges, Dundee City Council. 

The bus route in question is the 4S, which used to take pupils directly from the West End of the town to St Johns RC Academy. That bus has been withdrawn because the company which runs the bus network says that it was not profitable. A separate bus, the 26, is available, however, it makes a more circuitous route and takes approximately 10-15 minutes longer. 

Now apart from the fact that some of the pupils seemed to need to get up relatively earlier than others because of the bus change, that there was a measure of dubiety about how many times pupils had to be late before they were put in detention, and that there only seem to be about 5 or 6 pupils in the video and thus on the bus, I was surprised that Ms Marra appears to be unaware of the arrangements for running buses in Dundee.

Since Mrs Thatcher deregulated the buses in the UK in 1986s, councils have not had direct control over the services provided. At this point public transport ceased to be run for the convenience of passengers, and became profit making organisations, run for the benefit of their shareholders, who probably never used them.  The current situation is that the buses in Dundee are run by National Express, a company which is based in Birmingham, England. It wouldn't be unreasonable at this point to say that during 13 years of UK Labour government and 8 years of Scotland Labour government, no one ventured to re-regulate the transport system.

Ms Marra is, however, calling upon Dundee City Council (an SNP administration) to "reinstate" the bus. Simply put, they can't. Ms Marra would be better employed petitioning National Express. They can. 

Perhaps a subsidy is being sought? But these are hard times; we are all having to do without. Even pensioners can't expect buses to take them exactly where they want to go, directly. Why should school pupils' buses be subsidised when there is alternative transport available? And in any case, if that is what Marra is looking for, why does she not say so instead of demanding something that she must know cannot be done? 

And she knows it cannot be done because various people from the council have told her, including Cllr Will Dawson, the Convenor of City Development. However, it's clearly not her practice to allow the truth to get in the way of a good story.

What is wrong with kids that they can't get up 10 minutes earlier in the morning, or maybe walk, at least part of the way? The pupils on the video looked to me to be around 14 or 15 years old. Marra says that they have PE kit or musical instruments to carry... not that I saw any... but what does she think we used to do with our PE kit and musical instruments?

Really, I can't help feeling that this is just a cheap shot by a Labour politician at an SNP council, which she must know full well is not in a position to do what she is asking.


  1. If you put a bandwagon outside her home she will jump onto it.

    I hope she stands in a first past the post seat at the next Scottish Parliamentary elections and comes off the list. See how she fairs then. From what I hear she only applied for the list MSP position as she couldn't get a job as a teacher.

  2. Ah Marcia, I see. I didn't know the woman at all before this came to my attention, but she's a bandwagon jumper, is she? That explains this nonsense.

    She's picked a loser with it. And she's made a bit of a plonker of herself.

  3. She is very much so a bandwagon jumper just like the Baker woman in Fife, not that is did her much good at the election in May :)

  4. Nationalise the bus service. End of discussion.

  5. it - instead of is. Must get a secretary to proof read what I type but cannot afford one due to Labour's economic legacy.

  6. Marcia, I make so many mistakes myself, I must be used to reading them, because I never noticed. Isn't it funny that you can stare at something for ages, and the minute you press the publish button, as the text is disappearing off the page, you see a howler!!!

    Well, we'll be watching out for Marra in the future.

    I see that on the Youtube page, someone has suggested that getting on and off the bus is a Health and Safety hazard... well duh. Did it occur to them that they ALREADY had to get on and off the bus. Jeez, where do these people come from?

  7. Dean: I couldn't agree more. Public transport should be a service, not a business.

    I tire of hearing that only private enterprise can run things efficiently. Whilst I accept that competition is a good thing... I like that I can chose between Asda and Sainsbury, Tesco and Morrison...there is no choice on buses.

    Instead of being owned by the people, they are now owned by 3 or 4 large companies, here and in the rest of the UK. So much for competition and driving down of fares. It's £2 to go a couple of stops, on a journey where, even at today's inflated prices I could drive for less than 25p, and take 3 people with me!

    So yes, I say nationalise buses.

    (Soutar won't like that very much!!!!)


  8. Nationalise the bus service. End of donations to the snp from Brian Souter (the well know gay rights and snp supporter he eh eh!)


    Cheap shot yeah well that's all a snp cooncil is worth and a only a very cheap one at that..

    see the ole First Fat Man Of Scotland (the snp 22% that is) has thrown in the towel on Independence and declared for Devolution within our sacred Union.

  9. Aye well, Niko, whatever.


    Mr Soutar will need to live with what I think and if he doesn't like it he can refuse to have me on his buses.

    Dundee Council isn't bad as councils go. It's a bloody site better than the disaster it was under Labour.

    And no, I hadn't heard that Mr Salmond had given up on independence. I'm sure you'll keep me informed though. :)

  10. Dundee Council can have any bus service it likes as long as it provides the subsidy. National Express would be happy to take the money if the council wanted the catholic bus service for kids. Barnhill recently got one of it's services back after the council and the bus company came to a deal.

  11. Well, as I said, Monty, why didn't she say that instwead of burbling on for an interminable amount of time about these poor wee bairns having to get up ten minutes earlier?

    I'll have to go now; I'm starting to tear up.

  12. It would be easier to ask NE to re-time one of the 26 each way to cater for the few passengers on the loss making service.

    Balmossie did get a bus service restored but that is subject to a review, if the numbers using it make it uneconomic then that will get the chop as the 14 bus there was cut back to Douglas some time ago. NE have a habit of choping services that make a continued loss and that includes services with a council subsidy. If the subsidy doesn't cover the running costs then it goes.

    A lot of politicians never travel by bus.

  13. I see from her bio that she's ex St johns, a GMB member and is on the climate change committee at Holyrood. Looks like we'll be stuck with this taxpayer sponger for years.
    The billions thrown away on the global warming scam could provide the kids with a helicopter each to take them to their segregated catholic school.

  14. If I understand correctly, and I may be wrong, the 4S was a subsidised school service. National Express apparently decided that they no longer want to run subsidised services in Dundee. Clearly even with a subsidy the 4S was not making the private company enough money.

    Dundee City Council would need to buy their own buses and a bus garage, employ drivers, maintenance teams and so on and then leave the buses sitting around empty and doing nothing for most of the time. I could hardly expect the Council Tax payers in Dundee and the Scottish Government would think that was a good use of the money they pay to Dundee City Council, all for those five kids in the video. And of course once those five kids get their own bus there will be howls from parents all over the city demanding to know why their kids don’t get a bus to take them to the school door. It would be cheaper to hire a limousine to take them to school and back every day.

    One wonders what all the other kids in Dundee and across Scotland do when they can’t get a bus to act as a taxi and take them door to door. Oh yea they either walk some or all of the way! Is childhood obesity not a huge problem in Scotland? What better way to get kids to exercise than by walking?

    Clearly Ms Marra knows this and she has certainly been told by everyone. But still she presses on relentlessly with her “campaign” and her faux outrage.

  15. Marcia: I guess if you ask private companies to run your buses, and these private companies have a board which requires massive salaries and bonuses and shareholders who want large returns on their money, asking them to consider the fate of 5 bairns whose parents choose to send them to the other side of Dundee for education, is rather like asking David Cameron to REALLY hug a hoodie.

    Out of the question. As Dean says, buses should be a public service, not a profit making concern.

  16. Well maybe the Tories have a point about not letting list MSPs sit there on comfortable salaries forever, Monty.

    I suppose the poor woman has to do something to be noticed, and at least this has got her noticed.

    The fact that she looks a bit stupid doing it is besides the point.

    Maybe, as Marcia suggested she'll stand against Shona Robison at the next election and then she can go back to teaching at half the salary.

  17. You'd have thought, Munguin, that, given her background as laid out by Monty, she would have been one of the people who would have been actively FOR children walking to school, but it seems not. At least not while there's a chance to have a false go at the council in Dundee.

    I can understand that if the bus only had a few children on it, it would require a HUGE subsidy from taxpayers. I guess there is a standard subsidy available, and that is that.

    As I said, that is the trouble you have when the bus companies exist to make a profit and not serve the public.

    Nation Express must be an odious company. The buses are dirty, the staff are surly, and many of them drive like it was their first lesson. They treat the customer with disdain. But there's no choice, which was exactly what there was supposed to be. And they are run from Birmingham, where of course they know the needs of the Dundee people so well.

    Still, I believe that First is even worse and that's the compensation.

    I imagine that the council has already asked if there are any other bus operators who would like to take this up. Stagecoach, and there are a few tiny ones that operate in Fife might have offered a small bus.

    The other possibilities are for the parents to hire a large taxi, or for them to walk. They are children after all. A wee walk in the morning before school would do them a power of good. Or maybe the church could contribute, or the children could go to Harris, which is just up the road. They will still receive a Christian education there.

  18. PS: If bus companies will not run subsidised services, should they have their licence (or whatever it is) to run the service taken away?

  19. tris..
    I ventured into the quagmire of MSPs expenses to see how much this unelected busybody is sponging off us on transporting herself around the country but she's not logged onto the system yet.
    I checked out a typical month for another unelected busybody ( Mary Scanlon)and see she trousers over £400 a month just to carry her sorry arse around her fiefdom. Think of the carbon dioxide darling lol.

  20. Oh the link might have timed out to the gin palace. Have a go at the expenses funhouse yourself ;)

  21. Oh Monty... I knew that deep down inside you worried about the carbon footprint.

    The expenses are really horrendous. I think we need to be shaming these people into video conferencing, and using emails rather than traipsing all over the place. Certainly Scanlon has a massive constituency, but she needs to be encouraged to reduce her expenses by planning her journeys.

    I'll have a skeck and see who else takes my fancy for an expenses rummage.

  22. Maybe someone should have told her it was a stupid idea to go and sit down at the back of the bus right beside the engine when she was wanting to talk into the camera.

    Plus she has just highlighted the fact that not many kids actually use the bus - how stupid!

    Plus she should be complaining about the fact that separate are wasting millions of pounds and causing kids to have to trek for miles to their nearest schools instead of all going to one local one.

  23. Oops! Separate schools Tris. Another howler on your nice tidy blog - sorry.

  24. Ha ha, Billy... tidy.... ouch, I think not. You'll not have noticed Brownlie ticking me off for getting words wrong....?

    Anyway, I completely agree with you, and the editing was well poor. There was a great big bit in the middle that was just her at a distance talking to kids, but with no sound. I nearly lost the will to live at that stage.

    I know a few people who read this blog stopped watching less than half way through...

    So a career in video making is definitely not on the cards for her.

    I totally agree that kids should go to a local school. If their parents wish them to trek across town to attend some other school of their choice, then that is their business, not ours.

    As I suggested earlier, the RCC might want to pay for transport to their school, in order to keep their numbers up.

    Personally I think that separate schools is a divisive thing and should not be allowed... and that goes for Muslim and Jewish schools too.

    Religion is for the home, and for church, temple, synagogue, mosque, or whatever... not school. The Americans and the French have that right, and strangely they are much more religious countries than Scotland.

  25. All sad individuals I think you will find that Ms Marra is far more qualified than most of the SNP front bench.

    As for cybernats, feel macho do we? Getting all angry behind our little keyboards? Sad, angry, lonely men.

  26. Anon..
    "As for cybernats, feel macho do we? Getting all angry behind our little keyboards? Sad, angry, lonely men."

    LOL from another anonymous. Is that you Elmer ?

  27. Aye Brenda. They make you giggle don't they... "sad and lonely", "getting angry from behind keyboards", no, I'm wrong... it was "little keyboards". Goodness, I didn't know you got little keyboards.

    And they sign themselves anonymous, and fail to see the irony of it.

    Still, as I say, it has put a smile on my face, and we all need that from time to time.

    BTW, welcome to Munguin's Republic, Brenda. Don't be a stranger.

  28. I’m tempted to suggest that anonymous is Ms Marra and that is why he/she or it has such a high opinion of herself and such a low one of the SNP front bench, but I wont! I would never dream of assuming that Ms Marra is so shallow and insular as to “google” herself. What I will say is:

    “As for cybernats, feel macho do we? Getting all angry behind our little keyboards? Sad, angry, lonely men.”

    Sorry Ms Mar....I mean anon is that not a good definition of what you are doing yourself?

  29. Anon. Well qualified in History and Scots law Ms Marra may be.

    However, she seems a bit dim in practical terms. The facts are that the private company running the bus service, National Express, was not satisfied with the subsidy that the City Council paid for the service. The council has a limited amount of money. This is thanks to a miserable settlement from the London government brought about by the economic melt down that Labour left the country in.

    As a result we are all having to put up with cuts. No one is escaping.

    There is a perfectly good school, Anon, just up the road. These children's parents have made a choice to send them to a religious school. That is something they have the right to do. The people of Dundee were prepared to pay a limited amount towards travel as subsidy to the bus company.

    We can't be expected to keep upping it because the rapacious National Express, run from Birmingham in England, is greedy.

    Ms Marra needs to take the matter up with the bus company. She has repeatedly been told to do this, yet failed totally in the video to mention this.

    Scots law she may well know; however, she seems to have put that on one side in order to appear to do down an SNP council. Cheap nasty politicking, using school children for her political advantage.


  30. Could be Munguin. Could indeed be.