By Malcolm Tipper (Newton Abbot CLP – Political Education Officer)
A headline in my paper this month was ‘Johnson pledges £5bn overhaul of bus services to fend off HS2 revolt’.
Today buses seem to be the prerogative of the teenager going to College or the elderly equipped with a bus pass, or so it seems in the Teignmouth area. In the large cities London, Manchester or Birmingham buses are an essential part of commuting to work. Buses in London were never deregulated when services were privatised across the country. Margaret Thatcher’s Government deregulated bus services outside London in the mid-1980’s arguing that competition would lead to increased passenger numbers by reducing fares and improving services. The House of Commons Cross party select Committee found last year that “bus use has declined year after year, and successive governments have made no concerted or coordinated effort to reverse or even stem the decline. So much for privatisation.
If Transport for London is able to direct provision to make sure it meets the needs of the whole community, and private operators can’t just cherry pick the most profitable routes surely now deregulation should apply country wide. Andy Burnham, the Labour mayor for Greater Manchester has announced that he will be seeking de-regulation in order to provide a better service.
Before widespread car ownership my family like the majority were reliant, especially post-Beeching, on buses for business and pleasure trips, in those days it was Devon General, now StageCoach SW (does that mean they keep getting held up!) But now according to the Urban Transport Group over the last decade bus use fell 15% from 1.1 billion journeys in 2009/10 to 908 million in 2017/18 (the latest year we have figures for). In Devon for the year 2017/18 2million fewer journeys were made. This situation will only get worse as Local Government subsidise many routes and they are subject to severe financial cuts. Buses provide a vital service for the passengers who rely on them. They are disproportionately used by people on lower incomes, who may not be able to afford a private car. Whatever your income a cheap and reliable bus service would reduce the need to use private vehicles and consequently reduce air pollution.
Boris Johnson revealed recently that he has a hobby of painting London double-decker buses full of happy smiling people. How long before those happy faces will change to grumpy frowning people? I wonder when the last time an Old Etonian actually travelled by bus, ah yes the one which had on its side “we send the EU £350m a week – let’s fund our NHS instead” which apparently a lot of people still believe! Or was it the ones encouraging Immigrants to go home. Either way I shouldn’t think Boris or our own M.P. Anne Marie-Morris have experienced the delights of the No.2 through Kingsteignton.
Teenagers in Teignmouth would probably like a better late night bus service to Exeter so they can enjoy a night out without having to use expensive Taxis to return, the last bus returns at 2340 (which isn’t too bad actually) but under a Labour government the under 25’s would also have free bus travel.
Boris Johnson is hoping that the new £5bn investment will allow bus passengers to “turn up and go” and perhaps he is thinking of the system in use in Switzerland.
The Swiss public transport system is called taktfahrplan, literally the clock timetable. In the Zurich city region the local authority closely defines three levels of bus service.
A village of 300 people or more receives a level one service, a bus every hour.
Level two is every half-hour, and is guaranteed to routes where the flow of passengers from multiple settlements combine to boost demand, this would be like Newton Abbot, Teignmouth and Dawlish
Level three provides one or more buses every 15 minutes and is for large, densely populated areas.
Bus timetables are linked up to train timetables, so buses are scheduled to arrive at major stations a few minutes before specific trains depart, and leave a few minutes after.
At present this sort of system is impossible in Britain because of the privatised and fragmented nature of our public transport system. Labour wants to make public transport an essential service, as the Swiss consider it to be, and would municipalise bus services giving local authorities back total control, as well as taking back Railways into Public ownership. This would provide the kind of transport service that would shift millions out of their private cars and into sustainable, low carbon options.
We could take public transport seriously and have a service which served everyone, and which everyone could be proud of.
Liz Pole, Media Officer for Devon Labour, commenting on the defeat in the House of Commons of Labour’s amendment for climate action in the Transport bill this week, said: “All eight of Devon’s Conservative MPs have this week voted against climate action in Labour’s amendment to the Transport bill. It is now clearthat the promises these Conservative MPs made on climate action to voters in village halls across Devon during the General Election campaign were empty. I urge voters to judge them by their actions in Parliament, not by their words.”
Only Labour’s Ben Bradshaw voted in favour of the amendment, which simply called for a “plan to eliminate the substantial majority of transport emissions by 2030, to decarbonise the UK’s entire bus network, to invest in an electric vehicle charging network that can support the majority of vehicles on the UK’s roads by 2030, to cut bus and rail fares, to increase public transport patronage, to provide funding for cycling and walking, including investment in cycleways and grants for ebikes, to introduce a network of clean air zones to tackle illegal levels of air pollution, and to bring aviation emissions within the UK’s climate targets.”
The UK’s transport emissions have increased since 2010. Former Conservative rail and environment Minster, Claire O’Neill, has said that the government have failed to provide leadership on climate change. She also said that the government are “miles off track” in the setting of a positive agenda for the COP26 United Nations summit in Glasgow, and that “promises” of action were “not close to being met.”
Note to Editors
All eight of Devon’s Conservative MPs voted against Labour’s amendment to the Transport bill on 5th February 2020
Last night Newton Abbot CLP met to decide who gets our nomination for Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. Following a well attended and friendly mannered meeting, with members speaking up passionately for the candidates.
For Leader we nominated : Rebecca Long-Bailey who won with 70% of first preference votes.
For Deputy Leader we nominated : Richard Burgon this contest was a lot closer with Richard winning after 3 rounds beating Angela Rayner and Dawn Bulter by 1 vote at round 3.
Thanks to all those who turn out to join in the discussion and vote. The next step is waiting for the individual ballots to drop in a couple of weeks.
Long-Bailey introduced Labour’s 30 point plan green pledge it rather caught got
up in a lot of other radical ideas in Labour’s 2019 manifesto. Fortunately
Rebecca has an opportunity during the Leadership campaign to devote more time
to perhaps the single most important issue facing all of us.
The climate crisis
messages have been with us for some time and are still occurring “Record heat
in world’s oceans is ‘dire’ warning on climate crisis” Guardian 14th
January 2020. The causes of oceans warming is obviously not the responsibility
of just one country but each country must clearly show it is taking climate
change very seriously and that is why we mustn’t lose sight of Labour’s radical
policy when the leadership changes.
when shadow Business Secretary said that a future Labour Government would
oversee an economic revolution, using the full power of the state to
decarbonize the economy and create hundreds of thousands of green jobs in towns
and cities across the UK. We can be pretty sure that the new Tory Government is
unlikely to use the full power of the state in anything bar supporting the
United States in any wars it might start or clamping down on terrorist
organisations such as Extinction Rebellion!
As Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell promised legislation to force UK
listed firms to take adequate steps to fight the climate emergency, this is not
going to happen now.
A lot of analysis has
gone into why traditional Labour voters in areas in the north and midlands have
switched their allegiance to the Conservatives who are unlikely to act in their
best interests on wages, benefits or local services. I have a fairly simplistic
view that in the Thatcher years Conservative Governments closed down swathes of
traditional industries employing thousands of people and did nothing to replace
those jobs. The Labour Governments that followed did nothing to support those
communities and in some ways encouraged the low skill, low wage, insecure job
market that now exists across the country.
Labours Green pledge
had at its heart the creation of 850,000 skilled jobs in the green industry.
The figures were not just plucked out of thin air but were prepared by a team
of economists at the Sustainability Research Institute backed by the University
of Leeds. These jobs would arise out of:
upgrades for every home in the country such as double glazing focusing first on
damp homes and areas with fuel poverty.
8m electric heat pumps to start getting away from gas heating.
another 7000 offshore wind turbines and 2000 onshore wind turbines
national network of electric vehicle charging points
new solar panels to cover 22,000 football pitches
The Green pledge would necessitate
nationalization of the energy network as Rebecca Long-Bailey has said “energy
customers have been ripped off by the privatisation of the UK’s energy grid,
with shareholders paid £13 billion pounds in dividends over the past 5 years”.
She went on to say “only by taking the grid into public ownership can we
decarbonize the economy at the pace needed to secure the planet for our
children and grandchildren while ending the rip-off, creating good jobs in
local communities and making heating and electricity a human right”.
Allied to the policies
for climate change is the tricky subject of meat and dairy production
particularly in a county like Devon. For me as a vegetarian and subscriber to
Veganuary giving up meat and dairy is not a hardship. The magazine Science
published a paper showing that a plant-based diet would release 76% of the land
currently used for farming. This land could then be used for the mass
restoration of ecosystems and wildlife. If our grazing land was allowed to
revert to natural ecosystems, and the land currently used to grow feed for
livestock was used for grains, beans, fruits, nuts and vegetables for humans,
this switch would allow the UK to absorb an astonishing quantity of Carbon. Now
would a Conservative Government encourage farmers to make the change and
without EC subsidies to offset the cost, answers on a postcard!
For Labour voters and
supporters it was tragedy that we didn’t win the election, however, it is
important not to dilute the green pledge that appeared in the manifesto as I
think increasingly this will be the issue that will attract voters and I would
encourage members to use their vote in the leadership election to support the
candidate you think is most likely to honour that commitment.
More Poverty, More Corporate Greed, Less Compassion
Remember, Remember the 12th of December a date Labour activists will never forget. “For the many not the few” lost out to “Get Brexit Done” and has condemned many to 5 more years of austerity, more reductions in workers’ rights more unbridledcapitalism with more obscene salaries for the few.
A mere 9 years ago the Conservatives supported by the Liberal Democrats started the process where the cloak of Brexit covered the destructive force of austerity. The Social Metrics Commission set up in 2016 to develop a new way of measuring poverty found that 14.3million people now lived in poverty and 7million people including 2.3million children were affected by what they described as persistent poverty. A separate piece of research has also indicated 1.5million people suffer extreme poverty or destitution as a result of benefit cuts and high rents. The State of Hunger Report 2019 was compiled by academics from Heriot-Watt University.According to the research “there is clear and robust evidence that people struggling on the lowest rungs of the income ladder are pushed rapidly into destitution when their already tight budgets are broken by benefit payment delays, cuts, deductions or sanctions”. It found five welfare policies- the rollout of universal credit, increases in benefit sanctions, the bedroom tax, the benefits freeze and the withdrawal of disability benefits-had sizeable and significant effects in pushing up demand for food parcels. In 2018/19 one in 50 UK Households used a foodbank.
Shelter says that for many people on housing benefit who on average are now having to find £113 a month to meet the shortfall between their housing benefit payments and their rent demands for many these can be catastrophic amounts, forcing many to choose between paying rent and buying food. If they cannot meet the difference, they are at risk of eviction. Also, in the last six years Council Tax debts have risen by 40% making it the most common form of debt. The most visible form of homelessness is of course rough sleeping although the charity Crisis estimates there are 71,400 people “sofa-surfing” and have been for more than 6 months making it the largest form of homelessness. In 2018 the number of homeless people dying rose by 22% the highest since records were first collected in 2013. Charities, M.P.’s and experts say austerity and cuts to services are driving a homelessness crisis. Work is obviously the answer to Poverty or is it? A study by the institute of Fiscal Studies shows that between 1994 and 2017 the share of poverty accounted for by working households had jumped from 37% to 58% caused by more expensive housing and weak earnings.
Those fortunate enough to be in work can still expect to be poor, but not so the bosses who are rubbing their hands with glee as the new Conservative government will make further relaxations in employment laws. For a more detailed view of the excesses of corporate pay see Left hand View on Pay (June 2019). Since that blogthe boss of Persimmon the house builder received an £85m bonus, the founder of Bet 365 paid herself £323m last year the equivalent of 10,152 teacher’s salaries, whilst the boss of Virgin Money saw his salary doubled to £3.4m per annum despite a second consecutive annual loss. Whilst Deliveroo who employ 60,000 delivery riders, all self-employed contractors with no guaranteed minimum wage, holiday pay or sick pay sees a Director receive a 57% pay increase with £8.3m of share options. Overall between 2014 and 2018 shareholder payments to FTSE 100 companies have risen by 56% whilst during the same period wages edged up by just 8.8%. Only strong Trades Unions can fight against corporate greed and worsening pay and conditions.
We might have expected a modicum of compassion from the Liberal Democrats but ex M.P. soon to be ex Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson in a Channel 4 interview said she had “no regrets about the coalition” despite its role in bringing about austerity. We can expect no compassion from a Tory government given the green light to introduce further public spending cuts, reduce workers rights, continue to force elderly people to sell their homes in exchange for inadequate social care, continue to let graduates run up thousands of pounds of debt, do nothing about homelessness and probably pay lip service to climate change. Be careful what you wish, vote for.
We can’t afford NOT to have public ownership. Privatisation is leaking out £13 billion a year (£250 million a week). We can’t afford to keep wasting billions so a handful of shareholders can profit from failed privatisation.
Sky high rail fares. Polluted rivers. A National Grid that fails to link up with community renewable projects. Post Offices and bus routes closing down. Competition in our NHS.
Public ownership is a great deal for the public purse – but a tiny number of vested interests, backed by the billionaire press, don’t want it to happen.
The right wing press are not on the side of you and me. They’re on the side of the bankers, the shareholders, the asset managers, the profiteers.
We should be investing money into public services so we can make society fairer and tackle the climate crisis. Not wasting billions on shareholder dividends.
Our response to the Tories claim that Jeremy Corbyn’s policy of continuing free movement with the EU would cost over £4 billion in benefits
European migrants living in the UK contribute £2,300 more to public purse each year than the average adult, suggesting a net contribution of £78,000 to the exchequer over their lifespan in the UK.
In preparation for Brexit, the government asked its Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to report on the economic and social impacts of EU migrants in the UK. The MAC commissioned Oxford Economics to analyse the fiscal implications of immigration using the most up-to-date data and sophisticated modelling techniques.
The resulting study, The Fiscal Impact of Immigration on the UK, represents the most comprehensive assessment to date of the net contribution that all migrants make to the UK’s public finances.
The study finds that
The average UK-based migrant from Europe contributed approximately £2,300 more to UK public finances in 2016/17 than the average UK adult. In comparison, each UK born adult contributed £70 less than the average, and each non-European migrant contributed over £800 less than the average.
The average European migrant arriving in the UK in 2016 will contribute £78,000 more than they take out in public services and benefits over their time spent in the UK (assuming a balanced national budget), and the average non-European migrant will make a positive net contribution of £28,000 while living here. By comparison, the average UK citizen’s net lifetime contribution in this scenario is zero.
Taken together, this means that the migrants who arrived in 2016 will make a total net positive contribution of £26.9 billion to the UK’s public finances over the entirety of their stay. The value of this to the UK’s public finances is equivalent to putting approximately 5p on income tax rates (across all marginal rate bands) in that year.
At the hustings in Teignmouth yesterday (Friday 22nd November) I spoke of the consequences of almost 10 years of cuts and austerity. Austerity voted in by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats while in coalition 2010 to 2015. I have seen some of the pain and despair caused to vulnerable and unwell people in our constituency while working as a Mental Health Nurse in the NHS.
This election is probably the most important in our lifetime. The climate change crisis is very real and very urgent. The action we take must be radical and it must be immediate. The Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn will see our country regenerated with a radical and innovative green industrial revolution:
I am not standing to become an MP for myself. It has not been my lifetime ambition to become a politician. I have worked in the NHS for 15 years and I am a nurse but I have to take a stand. Things have got to change. This election isn’t about an individual. It’s about the 14 million people plunged into poverty because of political choices made by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. It’s about 17000 people who have died before receiving the benefits they need. It’s about disabled people losing vital financial support while forcing them to pay bedroom tax. It’s about the fact that infant mortality rates have increased year on year, with the highest rates being in the most deprived areas. This election is about the increasing numbers of homeless people. It is about the 1 million people accessing foodbanks.
This election is about the Nurses, Doctors, Radiographers, Occupational Therapists, Porters, Facilities Staff, Administrators and all NHS staff who work under immense pressure and who have suffered a ten year pay freeze. It’s about the police and firefighters who have been underpaid and deprived of resources.
This election is about the Teachers who have been under paid and overworked. It is about schools being deprived of funding and parents, teachers and students who have had to buy school equipment out of their own pockets.
Teignmouth Community School Exeter Road will have a shortfall of £456,627 A cut of (£483) per pupil. Mill Lane School works out at a cut of (£531) per pupil. https://schoolcuts.org.uk
I am standing in this election for you and for your families. For your children. Things can only really change when we have empathy and compassion in society and when the people who represent us care as much about others as they do about their own friends and family. I want every child in this constituency to have the best opportunities in life. I am standing for each and every person negatively affected by austerity. I stand with the Windrush generation where British citizens were wrongly deported because of a hostile immigration policy. I stand for the elderly, the sick, the vulnerable, the families trapped in poverty accessing foodbanks and working multiple jobs.
I stand for the future of our country and the future of our planet and I pledge to do all that I can to tackle the climate emergency.
This is my pledge to you as a fellow human being, as a son, as a brother, as a grandson, as a husband, as a father, as a friend and as a neighbour.
This election is a choice between Labour or Conservatives. Labour are second in Newton Abbot. With your vote we can win here.
Labour have a fully costed manifesto of hope. Let’s make it happen.