Thursday 18 November 2021

Great Britain in 2021 - A crapocracy with Benny Hill at the helm

 I had  a very odd dream last night. I had a dream that I was watching the news and our esteemed Prime Minister was opening a new crocodile enclosure at London Zoo. Unfortunately, he decided to step in and the next thing, a bevvy of crocodiles started to chase him. I suddenly realised that there was the Benny Hill music being played and I was actually watching Have I got news for you. Then I woke up. 

Before you ask, I had a sober evening, a rather good band rehearsal. But the odd dream got me thinking about Boris Johnson. I was reminded of this gif

As the old saying goes, it would almost be funny if it wasn't true. Barnet Council have rather helpfully installed the perfect metaphor for his administration in Mill Hill Park.

The last few weeks, we've really started to become aware of the crapocracy that we are living in. The whole business of the sleazy way MP's are conducting their business and the Prime Minister prioritising getting them off the hook rather than ending the sleaze was something that I don't think any of us were not left speechless by.

As to the state of the nation. Today is the day when we visit the cash and carry in Watford to collect drinks and snacks for our vending machines at the studio. We've been doing this for at least 25 years. We have a printed sheet, with all of the items we've sold for years. Every so often, we swap things around, last year we replaced nik nak's with Levy Roots Reggae Reggae crisps. My studio manager would nip up, fill up the car and come back. Britain under Boris Johnson isn't like that. Whereas the list was set in stone and we'd have management meetings to discuss changes to products stocked, now it is turn up at the cash and carry and see what you can get. We've been unable to get the Levi Roots crisps for a month. Last week, there was a shortage of the standard walkers crisps. We were told that there's a potato shortage. It seems that we are so short of crop pickers, thanks to Brexit, that they are being put on the higher value crops at the moment. I am not sure whether Spuds can be left in the ground a bit longer, but an Xmas dinner without roast potatoes may become a very worrying prospect if this gets worse. I believe many supermarkets have long term contracts with farms to supply spuds, so hopefully their stocks will remain unaffected, but if we've not got people to pick crops, they will not turn up on your dinner table. 

Today, we saw one of the most blatant pieces of spinning bad decisions in the history of government in the UK. The transport secretary announced that the Eastern leg of HS2 to Leeds is being scrapped. Mr Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, made a series of announcements to try and pretend that they've found a better way to deliver a modern transport system, fit for the UK, for less money. They will restart the electrification of the Midland Mainline Railway. This was a project that they 'paused' a few years ago, to save money. As they'd already started, a short spur from Bedford to Corby was already nearly done, so that was completed and some almost 20 years old, clapped out trains borrowed from Eastern region to provide an 'upgraded service'.  It seems that they will still build a spur of HS2 to East Midlands parkway, but the super duper new trains will run along the old Midland Railway to destinations further north. There is some talk of a new spur from Sheffield to Leeds, so that the trains can continue and cut a few minutes off the time allotted, but rather than freeing up space for freight and commuter traffic, they will simply be shoehorning more trains into a railway that is already congested. This is how we do things. We all know that sooner or later, they will have to build the Eastern leg of HS2 properly, but it will be more expensive and decades late. Billions of tons of freight that could have been put on rails, won't because of lack of capacity and millions of car journeys made, because the rail network isn't up to scratch. 

Why is this important? Well if we want to cut carbon emissions and to get people out of their cars then we need a decent railway service. The anti HS2 brigade, who claim that building it will generate huge carbon costs, ignore the fact that the cars, new roads and airplanes etc that it will replace produce far more. I totally get that campaigners have huge, real concerns about the environmental impact of HS2. What they have failed to do is present a workable vision of Great Britain's transport infrastructure without it, one that delivers our climate goals. It may well be that other routes would be better, other methods of traction (hydrogen cell?), may be greener or that the pandemic will mean there is no market for it, but if we wait and see, then that will mean years or even decades that we don't have will be wasted. I'd like to see all major rail trunk routes either electrified or running on clean energy such as hydrogen cell. It is totally ridiculous that the Chiltern mainline railway, that links London with Oxford and Birmingham runs on diesel in the year 2021, with no plans at all to electrify it. 

It wouldn't be so bad, but they've already spent billions on HS2, all that money on the Eastern leg is simply being flushed down the drain. 

Sadiq Khan  was on BBC Radio London earlier, saying that TFL's deal with the government expires in 23 days. After this, buses and tubes may have to be cut. This is insanity. London is the only major city in Europe that runs a transport system without public subsidy. The reason for this standoff is purely political, a Labour mayor and a Tory government. A partial TFL shutdown would be a nightmare for London and bad news for the UK. 

I could go on. It seems that every day, we get another example of how the mob in charge couldn't organise a booze up in a brewery. 

I love this country and it breaks my heart. 

In short, we are a crapocracy with a Benny Hill figure at the helm. 

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