Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Once a red Ken, always a red Ken

Friday, December 30th, 2005

Ken Livingston became the first Mayor of London in May 2000 by a staggering margin (40% of first preference votes). It was generally hoped that such a maverick character would ensure the running of London would be non-partisan. After all, this was the guy that was kicked out of the Labour party when he decided to run as in independent candidate (after failing to convince Tony and chums that he was the best man for the job), so it was widely felt that he was in a prime position to serve the interests of the whole of London, and not just Whitehall.

5 years on, and I'm really struggling to see what's improved in London. He appointed Bob Kiley as the man to sort out the mess that's the tube. He was paid handsomely for doing this, a £2m four year contract with a nice little £2m Belgravia pad thrown in. But unfortunately, Bob was too busy fighting the PPP (public private partnership), a fight that he spectacularly lost that cost yet more dosh in exorbitant legal fees. But as it also sapped all of his time and energy, he didn't actually get round to managing the tube system at all. So, poor old Bob decided last month that enough was enough and resigned from his position. Well, as it transpires, not quite. His indispensable services are still to be used in the form of a consultancy, at a meager £1m per year. Oh and he gets to keep his Belgravia townhouse, all in all not bad for a 70 year old.

As for the tube. I can only speak from experience and I have to say that the improvement has been quite staggering. Staggeringly invisible. Try getting on the central line on a Sunday and you're greeted by locked stations and an hour wait for a "replacement bus service". Sometimes, just for the hell of it, they also close the Piccadilly line so that if you live in west London you are utterly stuffed. And that's without mentioning the joke that's the District line. The Hornby train set I had when I four years old was considerably more reliable and a damn sight faster than the District line is today. How about a name change from District Line to "Hope-you're-not-in-a-rush-because-this-pathetic-excuse-for-a-train-will-stop-every-
-30-seconds-for-no-apparent-reason" Line? Or perhaps something a bit snapper, like "Shit" line. And when these lines do manage to re-open (late on Monday morning), do we get improved stations, cleaner tubes, more punctual service? Nope. It just the same as ever. The Jubilee line, the youngest of all of them, is hardly ever open at weekends because of engineering works – they forgot to build the platforms long enough!

Of course, them good ol' RMT boys have decided to go out on strike over new year – ruining 1000's of people's celebrations. Complete miserable sods. The one thing Ken could do with the tube is (somehow) get rid of Bob Crow – the militant moron leader of the RMT union, who's only mission in life is to find ever more pathetic excuses for his lazy arsed workers not to go to work. I mean really, have you ever seen what a central line tube "driver" actually does? Because the trains are pretty much fully automated, they don't actually have to DO anything! (with the exception of counting their vast pay packet – they get paid considerably more than nurses, teachers, firemen etc etc…the usual list).

Ken proudly announces an improved bus service across London. Yes, we've got more buses – far too many of the damn things! The amount of traffic they cause clogging up the roads whilst queuing behind yet another bus at a bus stop is legendary. The roads in London simply are not designed to take that many buses. Especially now that conductors have been banished (why?) and with the introduction of those demented bendy buses. Which genius decided that these ridiculous contraptions would work on London roads? I strongly suspect that whoever it was never actually make it to London, and certainly never rode a bike near one of those death machines. A year or so ago, these bendy buses were spontaneously catching fire whilst on the road. This was assumed to be mechanical failure, but it wasn't at all, it was suicide. They might just work with a few modifications. Say, cut the thing in two, shove one half on top of the other and staple the two halves together with a staircase. Voilà. Hang on a minute…

Congestion charge. Another money spinning idea, dreamt up by a team of academic sprouts. The charge zone is going to be extended towards west London, and will displace the traffic towards Hammersmith. Here's a top tip for anyone yet to drive around Hammersmith roundabout: take a picnic. A large one.

So where does this money go? It pays for CCTV on every single street in central London (yet more hideous street furniture to the already congested pavements) and a vast legion of clamping cars, spying vans and patrol cars. Yet more money squandered. What has happened to the streets in the zone? The vacuum has been filled with crappy white vans, knackered taxis and inappropriate buses, all pumping out more toxic diesel fumes than ever before. Why don't we have electric buses and taxis? Is it because they can't be taxed like a normal London motorist?

And finally, Ken has the audacity to publish a newspaper called "The Londoner" at our expense which is nothing but 100% pure and utter propaganda. It really is a publication from the Ministry of Truth (1984). Everything is apparently getting better, trains are faster and cheaper, crime is going down, stations are cleaner, buses are redder, everyone is happy, the sun shines more, cancer and poverty have disappeared and no doubt we're winning the war against Eurasia. Or is that Eastasia.

So, under Ken's rule, my bus fare has more than doubled, the tube fair increases are well above inflation year upon year and I there's an £8 daily tax to drive my car into town.

I would love to know where my money's gone. Ah yes, I remember, it's paying for Lord Bob of Belgravia.

Rail Security

Monday, November 14th, 2005

Its obvious that it’s now far too dangerous to travel by train because of the risk of terrorism through luggage and suicide bombers. We all need to deal with this threat in a serious and proper manner – and just stay at home. A ban on all forms of public transport will severely hamper the terrorists and will send out a very strong message to Al Qaeda: will are resolute and will not give in!
Obviously we’d then have to look are private transport and remove any opportunity for car bombers. Perhaps only permit naked drivers in transparent cars? But then the risk would probably shift towards pedestrians – especially those carrying luggage. Obviously, a total ban on any kind of luggage would be the answer. Oh sod it – let’s just ban people.

Damn animals

Saturday, October 15th, 2005

Every evening my small London garden is attacked by a troupe of incontinent foxes that leave the most disgusting turds in my flower bed. For once, I can't blame Tony Blair. Oh, hang on – yes I can!! Fox hunting's been banned!!
If anyone has a cunning plan to restore the colour of my garden from beige to green, then I'd be very, very grateful for your help.
Please, it's bad.

Question Time

Friday, September 30th, 2005

I would like to propose a new feature for BBC's Question Time. At the end of the program there should be an audience clapometer to indicate how well they thought the panel faired. Maybe a custard pie for the one with the worst rating?

From last night's program my impression of the panel was… (oh, and please feel free to comment!)

Ken Clarke
Surprisingly accomplished performance by the hush puppied, jowler wobbling old boy. His candidacy for the Tory leadership was, I originally thought, quite comical. But his apparent honesty and people's touch have won him many supporters and his momentum (all of it) is gaining. Had the popular vote from the audience – or was it a protest vote. Almost blew it at the end by denouncing wind power in favour of nuclear.

Simon Hughes
Muddled and incoherent arguments with no real passion or self belief. Came out with a few mediocre pro-liberal stabs but was largely ineffective. Was chastised by Dimbleby for not answering a question and then behaved like a naughty school boy.

Janet Street-Porter
Excellent performance all round. That end of the table always seems to be reserved for people with lucid opinions who have no need for accountability, but she spoke buckets of common sense and was very eloquent in execution. Her obsession with anti-private practice in the NHS was, however, a little naive and unrealistic.

Steven Green
What a tit! Wasn't able to form a single opinion of his own without first quoting from the bible. A miserable performance at ever conceivable level that would make even (his) God utterly embarrassed. Every time he spoke there was a collective groan from the audience. He made me feel slightly sick.

Patricia Hewitt
This can't have been easy for her as the knives were out and sharpened by the audience and fellow panellers alike. Despite the tide of public opinion against her she gave a robotic performance designed to disarm her (and government) critics by deliberately waffling on about absolutely nothing for as long as she was allowed to get away with. Sapped up precious broadcasting time with bags of government spin, empty sentiments and painfully slow delivery. Pathetic Hewitt. Should have had a sack of potatoes instead.

David Dimbleby
Possibly the sharpest and most hostile I have seen him in a long time – gave the panel a tough time and elicited some hard truths (especially from God's Twit). Apart from when he kept banging on about an IDS quotation to Ken Clarke to the point of embarrassment, he was otherwise quite brilliant.