The Railways- A Solution to all our Problems


Image taken from www.original-political-cartoon.com.

It’s been ages since I published a political/opinion post but with the next election fast approaching, I figured it was time. Please feel free to leave your opinions below!

The general election is less than a year away, a thought that is as freighting as it is exhilarating and while we continue to lead in the opinion polls, the public remain sceptical of Ed Miliband. Optimists will assure you that our lead is healthy and that the General Election is ours to lose but as last month’s European elections prove, there is still a lot of work left to do.

The battle lines for the election have now been drawn for a few months and the issues are likely to hit Labour where it hurts, the areas where the public least trust the Party. We shouldn’t be shy about having open and honest debates on these subjects, stating clearly the Labour Party stance and not pandering to the right as many expect will expect us to do. Instead we should fight our corner, defend the vulnerable and ensure that the facts are represented, face the challenges head on and not be afraid of going against the public opinion.

In fact this might be exactly what Labour need to ensure victory at the next election, a clear and concise vision that stands up for working Britain while demonstrating leadership. A recent editorial piece written by the New Labour think-tank Progress agreed, stating that “a staunch defence of immigration and Europe might fly in the face of public opinion but, in doing so, it may give just the fillip to the Labour leader’s ratings…”. The public are obviously the people that chose the election outcome and public opinion really does matter, but unless we abandon some of our most important values there are some issues that we just can’t win. However taking a clear and honest approach to these debates, combined with a bold and achievable policy agenda, might secure us the election. The pledge to freeze energy bills was a really good start and it’s unsurprising that it was immediately followed by a spike in Ed’s ratings. More of this is what Labour need and there is one issue on which we can’t go wrong. The railways.

The privatisation of the railways has failed, it’s expensive to the treasury and the population, and it’s time that it was finally brought back in to public ownership. Numerous surveys have proven the issue to be incredibly popular, drawing support from across the political spectrum, with 52% of Conservative voters and 79% of Labour voters supporting the policy. Last month we saw UKIP nipping at our heels in the European election in several safe seats and in a handful of our key win seats they won, this policy could potentially win back the voters that we appear to have lost since the 1997 landslide. It also challenges all the myths held about the Labour Party economic credibility because the economic benefits of renationalisation are convincing in themselves. Currently privatisation costs us £5.4 billion a year, meaning that we are paying a company to make profit of a public service. Yet at the sometime some of the companies that currently run several services are publicly owned by other countries like Germany for example, meaning they also make a profit from our rail industry which is then reinvested back in to the German rail network.

The Transport for Quality of Life think-tank found that renationalising could save £1.2bn a year. We only need to look to the East Coast Line to see that nationalisation works, especially when you compare it to the privatised services. The East Coast Line has the highest levels of public satisfaction, it invests £17 million back in to the service a year and its shareholders (who in this case happens to be the taxpayer, us) received £640 million. When you put it like that it’s not radical, its common sense.

Over the course of the next parliament all but two of the rail lines come up for tender, meaning that renationalisation is a policy that can be achieved, something that will have overall benefits for politics in the UK. Pledging and then following through with something this bold, will reignite people’s support and belief in politicians. Renationalisation could win us the next election and I’m therefore calling on Labour to adopt it.

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