Fix the Train, then Get On It

_91547298_035705480It seems barely a week goes by without the debate on criticism from within the Independence camp rears its fire-breathing, double-sided head on social media or within comment sections on alternative media articles.

The goalposts shift, but both sides fear an own goal, and differ on what might constitute that.

Details each day vary, but inevitably feed a polarisation between these sentiments:

The first school of thought is that to criticise, however well intentioned or constructive, is to weaken the movement as a whole. It’s often accompanied by the sentiment that such criticism will have the effect of putting off have-a-go campaigners, an important part of the campaign eco-structure, not only from their efforts but perhaps also Indy altogether, and deplete support for the wider Independence movement and parties in support of it. Occasionally, accusations of intellectual elitism are lobbed around.

The second position is that some campaign ideas or actions by Indy supporting individuals and groups may very well mean well, but are ill-conceived and could ultimately backfire, doing more harm than good, whether from pushing an argument which has holes in it and so be a weakness or distraction from the overall goal or official campaign, or even set an embarrassing tone that dents the credibility of a wider argument for Independence.

The atmosphere of these positions butting up together on social media can be fast paced and responsive, and unforgiving of nuance or differing opinions. Hashtags such as #SNPBad do an efficient job of distilling the tone of some relentlessly negative politicians or opinion writers, those with a tendency to blame the SNP for anything possible, no matter how far-fetched. The hashtag carries a pinch of humour too in its mockery, and in pointing out repetition, undermines such a tack.

But, on the other hand, whilst punchy simplification of a message is the strength of such a hashtag, it is also its weakness, and this is exemplary of much of the nature of polarised political debate on Twitter.

Many Independence supporters were (justifiably) frustrated with the tone described by #SNPBad in the media and online, but unfortunately this has, at times, led to a reductive, hyper-defensiveness that lashes out at criticism that is actually well founded and evidenced.

A recent example of this is the debacle surrounding the much publicised failures of Abellio-run Scotrail, following Scottish Government murmurings of a public-ownership bid. Whilst criticism and pressure where it is due forms an important part of political discourse, Humza Yousaf as Minister for Transport has been the target of opportunist personal attack, politically driven by tiresome stunts focused more on weakening a prominent figure within the SNP than, it appears, desiring to find a cross-party solution or adding support to a proposed public bid.

But recently those looking to defend their political party from unproductive and cynical criticism of Yousaf have, at times, lost perspective. In tweeting my own frustration with the trains recently after yet another cancellation prevented attending a Book Week Scotland event, I was met with the tone of push-back one of Yousaf’s detractors might have faced. I stand by my tweeted sentiment that in recent years Scotrail has been one of the most consistently poor services or products I’ve paid for (other than, perhaps, a Kafkaesque internet contract change). Performance statistics are awful.

A national rail service people cannot trust will get them to their workplace on time, or which severely impacts the journeys of citizens and tourists trying to partake in our excellent country-wide festivals and sporting events is simply not fit for purpose. I was asked in response how often I’d traveled on a train, I was told it was fine and to stop exaggerating, and I was met with desperate denial that there’s a problem. In pretending the poor performance of Scotrail is not the case, it does no favours to the general public (“the Scottish people”) or to the Independence movement itself to pretend it’s not that bad, actually, and to tell people to stop moaning about it. I don’t share the same vision of Independence as those who might be content to look on silently at departure board filled with cancellations and delays simply because it might also have been used as fodder for a political attack. I too find calling for sackings grating; but like every other country in the world there do exist problems, and to be fixed they must be acknowledged.

Worries of piling fire on fire don’t always add up. It is almost always the case that those who constructively point out weaknesses in Independence campaigning and in policy from Independence supporting parties (recently, the Green’s slogan No2Yes was seemingly never spoken aloud before being unveiled) criticise much more harshly and less constructively those on ‘the other side.’

Similarly, the fuss around G.A. Ponsonby’s scheme to crowdfund billboards accusing the BBC of bias saw anger at those who suggested it was, perhaps, a bad idea for the paranoid hue it might reflect back. The creation of anything requires a process of analysing response, and establishing a new constitutional reality is no different. Video games are put out to market only after rigorous testing for bugs; so too are new lipstick shades. Books are sent to editors, and soft drinks with minor variations set out in a row to be score by tasters. Campaigns, whether marketing or political, must also be tested to see how they read to a general audience and hold up to scrutiny. It is the nature of political campaigning that public engagement returns public feedback; and especially when a bowl is put out to collect money for it.

I have sympathy for those who struggle with negative feedback on their hobbyist campaign ideas. It’s unfortunate the nature of social media feedback can sometimes be overly blunt, or even cruel, and to a well-meaning have-a-go individual it might be hard to take. But that is one thing; to suggest critical feedback should remain off the table altogether is childish and counter-productive, more protective of individual ego than striving for success.

We are a diverse movement and a diverse country. A moderate level of dissent and the ability to handle it is the nature of a healthy and productive campaign movement that will avoid stagnation. Similarly, a vision of a country that can accommodate debate, multiple viewpoints, and strive for improvement by identifying problems such as transport in order to then work constructively and cross-party on them, will convince uncertain voters more easily than presenting a dubious impossible absolute.

Fix the train, then get on it, and you’ve got a better chance of getting to your destination.

Comments (37)

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  1. Rod Graham says:

    I wonder if part of the problem here is that everyone’s experience of Scotrail is different. For example, my regular journey has been severely disrupted only once in the past six months, and is a faster and more frequent service than in the past. But then, I commute through a mainline station, Motherwell.

    Leaving that aside, I am in favour of a nationalised railway.

    1. c rober says:

      Still you have to laff at the negatives about public owned rail , Abellio well is it not public owned , just not the Scottish public.

  2. bringiton says:

    Enagland’s Tories seem to have discovered that separating track and trains maybe wasn’t a good idea but in their haste to sell off everything they could before Blair took over (as it turned out there wasn’t any need to rush!) they weren’t thinking too clearly,or even thinking…. period.
    “Normally” even grocer shop managers can’t manage their businesses successfully without having complete control over income and spend so what chance does Yousaf have?

  3. bringiton says:

    Apologies,for Enagland….never heard of it.

  4. Josef O Luain says:

    Fortunately, I’m not forced to use trains; it’s buses I’m forced to use. Buses, in common with trains, suffer from a similar problem: monopoly operators.

    Here in my semi-rural idyll of Barrhead, we have one company running the complete show. Want to go to Glasgow, it’s McGills. Want to go to Paisley, it’s McGills. Want to go any feckin where, it’s McGills. (O.K. I’ll admit: there’s a twice daily Irvine to Glasgow service operated by Stagecoach which luckily passes through Barrhead; an excellent service it is too.)

    The point is: near monopoly conditions mean that operators are allowed to service their routes on a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ basis, often using antiquated, uncomfortable and frequently litter-strewn vehicles; I won’t even mention fares.

    Until fairly recently McGill’s vehicles on their Barrhead to Glasgow route were sporting passenger instructions in both English and Irish Gaelic, graphically indicating the second-hand provenance of the buses. You can be sure that CIE in Ireland got their money’s worth before selling those buckets on.

    And finally: the quango to which a person is invited to air their displeasure about such things is the creature, in my experience, of the bus operators.

    Sorry for going O.T., Laura.

  5. Alf Baird says:

    In transport policy, Scotland has far too many engineers making decisions, rather than business-savvy people. Engineers tend not to think about the user, much.

    1. Willie says:

      Here now Alf what’s all this about too many engineers. There are not enough of them if truth be told. And what have the engineers done today to raise your wrath. Saviours of the planet, they are and infinitely more useful than the worthless resource squandering sub classes that comprise the accountants, lawyers, bankers, and dare I say it, the politicians.

    2. Graeme Purves says:

      “Enough of experts” klaxon!

      A wide range of interests and skills need to be brought together to develop a successful transport policy. “Business-savvy people” quite understandably think about turning a buck before the interests of users. They aren’t necessarily particularly adept when it comes to making policy.

      1. c rober says:

        Graeme perhaps then if it is public owned , operated and NFP , only then it can be called public transport?

        As for the other end of transport , the roads themselves , I seem to remember seeing a graph with road building and vehicle registrations comparing one another – there has been no new road building in the UK in the same line as traffic increase since 1981 , it has decreased sharply , and the result is what we see today nose to tail peak times and sardine carriages.

        One cant fail to notice that the failure in new infrastructure , roads and rail , goes hand in hand with trying to move the sheep over to private subsidized wealth creation transport , ie public funded despite private owned , through a double whammy ie under the guise of the green credentials.

        The only presumption therefore can be that ALL public transport is private wealth creation…. just like cars , canals , air , sea and the rail networks all were in the beginning . But with rail we are still funding it even if we dont use it , or own it anymore – through being a taxpayer without any choice in the matter.

        If rail is to operate as private owned companies , then it has to do so without subs , then of course we see the capitalist market forces of adapt to survive. Then when it fails it can be hoovered up again for a song then nationalised on the cheap. I suspect this is why so many clauses were added by Holyrood.

        Hs2 is going to be more of the same , public funded , private profits , from the land to the engineering , and perversely to import labour from the futher suburbs more cheaply into London for the wealthy to make even more personal wealth including housebulders.

        Personally every day I wake up even more to politics , and see what is unseen or deliberately obscured in the MSM. All politics is wealth creation for the few , wars (including on drugs) , housing , transport , health , benefits , public buildings works , these are the committees that create private wealth in even our own Holyrood.

      2. Alf Baird says:

        Graeme, one of the first things business-savvy Trump will do is look at the books, and he is already telling Boeing the $4bn cost of a single new Airforce1 aircraft is not on; Hillary would have said nothing. This sadly reminds me of CalMac, e.g. a business-savvy ferry operator would buy a new boat for £20m whilst CalMac/SG ‘public officials’ happily pay £50m for an overspec floating hotel in order to please RMT members. Or aircraft carriers, trains, PFI buildings, trams, Holyrood, transport hubs etc etc the list of very poor deals brokered by civil servants is endless. Public procurement is an incompetent swamp, that is partly why the national debt is what it is. Civil servants don’t know how to do business deals, especially on specialised assets like transport vehicles – and they have little understanding of what is a global industry. The public sector couldn’t deliver a pizza and they prove it over and over again. The evidence of that is all around us.

  6. Joan of Alba says:

    I think anyone who looks with an open mind at the attacks on the Transport Minister Humza Yousaf would agree that the railways are being used to attack him with, even though much of what he is being attacked for is beyond his control. Last week there seemed to be a lot of people, especially on social media defending Abellio, after Abellio tried to deflect criticism of their performance by shifting the blame onto Network Rail. According to the most recent period’s figures Network Rail were responsible for 54% of all delays in Scotland. You might be forgiven for thinking that casts Abellio Scotrail in a slightly better light and that it paints Network Rail as a shambolic organisation which is dragging Abellio’s performance down. That’s not exactly true.

    When the railway was privatised one of the biggest cottage industries created was that of allocating and deflecting blame, or delay attribution. Railtrack as it was, and then Network Rail ware made contractually liable for many of the delays which happen on the railway even though they may be to a certain extent outwith their control. A blocked drain on a road causes the road to flood and the water cascades onto the railway and floods the railway delaying trains: that’s Network Rails fault. Trespassers climb over a fence and onto the railway, causing trains to be delayed as they are stopped and warned: that’s Network Rails fault. Children throwing stones at trains means drivers have to be stopped and advised: that’s Network Rail’s fault. People driving their car through level crossings, high vehicles striking bridges, people committing suicide, snow, rain, even storm force winds are Network Rails fault. These are a contractual necessity because at the end of the day somebody has to pay; in effect much of the delay which is Network Rails fault is down to accounting, not bad practice or poor maintenance.

    That’s not to say Network Rail are blame free, far from it. But with every minute of delay having to be paid for, it’s worth ensuring that Network Rail are left holding the bag. Train Operators are paid a compensatory amount if Network Rail delay their trains by more than 5 minutes, but don’t have to pay up any money to passengers unless their train is more than 30 minutes late! This is not chicken feed and it runs to hundreds of millions of pounds across the industry. If a train operator such as Abellio Scotrail is able to stall and argue about specific delays that they have caused for long enough, those minutes are eventually shared with Network Rail so that the taxpayer stumps up rather than them. How fair is that?

    If Scotland is able to move to a position of publicly owned trains then we must look to a better model than the current one which is failing to deliver a clear account of who is responsible for delays and why they occur, and this could be almost certainly eradicated if we could have a fully nationalised railway where trains and track come under one management structure.

    1. c rober says:

      Totally agree , but I should point out that Abellio should never have been given the appointment as a state owned company , and that is my interpretation of the EU rules… which is the reason why I suggest an indy Scotland should be exactly that including not joining the EU which would prevent such rules being bent , yet being like Norway for everything else in a common market.

      If we can take the rail network to public ownership , track and all , then it will require funding and no doubt increased fares as a result , so that might mean adopting a different kind of cost cuttings that we are already seeing strikes about in the UK.

      It would probably mean the streamlining of services to more than hourly. With today’s big data and cloud computing this can be easy enough , but we still see carriages 6 long even in hourly off peak trains , but standing room only during peak time – the rest of the day is ran at a loss even with subs.

  7. tartanfever says:

    ‘Performance statistics are awful.’

    Really ? My understanding is that while cancellations are a major disruption, they are a vast minority of the actual number of train journey’s that take place daily in Scotland. I believe that the figures are just shy of 90% of all trains running on time.

    Like Scottish Labour’s press release made hand in hand with BBC Scotland news reports that claimed ’50 trains a day are being delayed/cancelled’ it did not, nor did the BBC in it’s reporting, give a context. That context is that some 2,000 train journey’s take place throughout Scotland. That context is vital, yet our author chooses to ignore those facts and instead uses the trains, like opposition parties and the BBC do, as an attack against not the SNP but independence supporters.

    Those numbers point to a pretty successful train service, which could improve, but maybe under the circumstances of now entering the 9th year of the worst recession in living memory is striking a higher ‘pass rate’ than many other public sector providers.

    I ask the author,

    Would you give the BBC (a public sector provider) a 90% pass mark ? Or would you give Theresa May and her government a 90% pass mark ? Would you give the now majority publicly owned Royal Bank of Scotland a 90% pass mark ?

    No, I thought not.

    Yet here you are, complaining about people who are fed up with ‘Fake news’. That is, the real fake news, the kind of stuff we get daily from not only the BBC and just about every other corporate news outlet in the land, not the internet based media that the corporate sector are desperate to undermine.

    Fake news is clearly emerging as an extreme threat to the now, fragile peace that we currently experience. We have countries like us and the US and much of mainland Europe that since the hoax of the US backed Ukrainian coup has now set a dangerous path to war with Russia and continue it relentlessly.

    Think it’s a joke ? Remember the biggest fake news story of this century. It killed over 1 million people. That was that Saddam Hussein had WMD’s. Now we read that Trump is in the hands of Putin, who rigged the election against Clinton.

    On and on it goes. It never ends. So, why not have a pop at the BBC and their fake news agenda ? Surely that is a more vital problem ? Time and again we let the BBC, the most influential organisation in our society today, get away with.

    So my message is this. Complain about the things that really need complained about. Corporate news is the biggest thing that needs complained about. It is the biggest danger we face today, and it should be attacked at every opportunity.

    In the meantime, why not write an article saying how well under the circumstances of recession that many of our public services are actually performing ? Then you can follow it up with an article saying how those services are being undermined by the corporate agenda of the UK media ?

    Then again, in context, you did miss a Book Week event, so I suppose that top of your agenda must be that public services you personally require must run at 100%.

    I find your article quite offensive.

    1. John Tracey says:

      Agree wholeheartedly. I fear that it is not just the big media such as the BBC that are happy to deliver ‘part news’.
      Scotrail are doing very well in the circumstances. NHS Scotland is doing very well in the circumstances, Our Local Authorities are doing very well in the circumstances.
      The ‘circumstances’ are controlled by Westminster allocation of funds and real power to the Scottish parliament.

    2. Laura Waddell says:

      Here we see a timely example of that described in the article.

      “Why not write an article saying…”

      You do realise you can go ahead and write such an article yourself instead of demanding it of others?

      1. Broadbield says:

        This is the kind of article (and many of the kind of comments) that have stopped me from coming here the past couple of months. “Fake news”, partial, incomplete stats, no comparisons with other similar rail companies, no in-depth analysis to back up your claims, just polemic and hyperbole. Does nobody any favours.

        Tartanfever sums it up very well.

      2. Broadbield says:

        This is the kind of article (and many of the kind of comments) that have stopped me from coming here the past couple of months. “Fake news”, partial, incomplete stats, no comparisons with other similar rail companies, no in-depth analysis to back up your claims, just polemic and hyperbole. Does nobody any favours.

        Tartanfever sums it up very well. John Robertson – is a good antidote.

    3. Alex Wright says:

      Thank you, for articulating many of my own thoughts t/f. I think it is imperative for many commentators to maybe start concentrating their ire on more important issues. Top of the list should certainly be the misinformation being propagated by all sections of the corporate media.

  8. Caz says:

    This is exactly the kind of paranoia and goalpost-moving the article was talking about. Do you really think 90% on time is a good record for a train service? Would your work think it was fine if you were significantly late once a fortnight? And the problems with Abellio aren’t all about being on time anyway – there are trains with too few carriages, massive overcrowding leading to trains not stopping at certain stations, etc.

    And would I give the BBC a 90% pass rate? Hell yes. If you just mean the 6 O’Clock News, say that, but otherwise, do you have any idea how much the BBC does? There are absolutely problems with BBC News regarding Scotland (and other things), but pretending they’re The Worst is daft when you look at their direct competitors, and even more so since you give the impression you probably get your news from Russia Today instead.

    (You are right that context should be given for statistics, though.)

    1. c rober says:

      I get news all day , not just from RT , but many sources some not even in English.

      2 weeks before an item on bird flu was all over the eu news , not a peep on BMSM until it looks like and increase on this years xmas goose…. thus profiteering. Not unlike Asda et al pre indy , or Marmite etc and brexit.

      Indy 2014 , not a peep about the beeb and edits , yet all over RT , DW etc.

      Native american and the oil pipe , all over EU , independent news for weeks and RT , dropped from USA and UK media for peak time news.

      The rise of the Euroright , riots on Greek streets , Italy heading back to wheelbarrows for wallets , all the Uk media have went silent….. aided by rolling fluff news repeating and shovel burying during real news , ie the play down of the national grid sell off. All of this is most likely to keep the quid low for exporters ,but while doing so not mentioning the import price rises as a result (in a net importing nation) , that would have the great unwashed panic when they realise their weekly shop is more expensive.

      The reason – news direction , or should it be misdirection , not quite the Orwellian news production line , but not far from it. But its primary reasoning is to have the lead on wealth creation for the few , knowing where the ebb and flow is for profit to be made.

      British media is heading the way of the “little white girl down the well” (FoxTM), but instead its “paedowatch” news shifting , which worked with the bankers bashing , so why not with anything at all as a newshift .This can only be worsened with Sky already heading towards being FOXUkNews , even before a cheque is in the post. Just how tied up is our media with our politicians , well its gimp suits all round.

      But out politicians in Holyrood , no NEW punitive legislation created for any media lies , be that print or tv , hmmm I wonder why?

      They cant keep using the WM cop out kerd forever , HR has devolved powers for forming a press complaints commission (independent of course) , not that it would matter , ie phone hacking – funny handshakes are for conspiracy tin foil hatters , the reality is it REALLY is a secret society , just one of wealth protection and creation rather than rolled up troosers .

      So what is our illustrious elected representatives up to in the good fight , I haven’t seen a single retraction about the BT lies demanded or even a fight from them , so just how can they be serious about indy? Perhaps they dont have to be serious , to even achieve their core mandate , and trod on creating jobs and troughs regardless for their ilke , after all they have been rewarded with their 2014 failure to supply with increased membership and elected postions?

      IMO failing to take on the media is the biggest weakness of the SNP , one that may well see them start to unravel as a political mass in Scotland , if they cant fight for themselves , then just how can the voter expect them to fight for them? Those blinkers that up until 2014 were still on SLAB voters can just as easily be removed by SNP voters as a result of their SNP inaction.

      Theres a reason why news is controlled , communication is after all the first attack on a military target in war , if politics is war , then we are the frenemy.

      1. Alf Baird says:

        Yer deid richt thair; “competent (i.e. loyal, not troublesome) management” o thon Holyrood/Executive unionist devolved construct on behauf o oor Westminster maisters nae langer cuts the mustart. Oor chyce is aither bein led lyke sheep ower a Hard-Brexit craig or takkin Hard-Indy oorsels. Hes thon SNP at lang an last the stamack tae gae ‘ower the tap’ efter ten year gettin fattened up an becomin awfu easy-oasy at thon unionist troch? We’ll see suin eneuch.

    2. Joan of Alba says:

      90% may not be good enough, but given that there always have been train and infrastructure breakdowns, and that trains may be delayed due to external factors beyond anyone’s control (floods, suicide, trespass or vandalism are just a few of the possible causes) then what number is acceptable?
      Because anyone who says 100% is clearly deluded. In fact anyone who puts a target on an unknown is deluded.

  9. Dcanmore says:

    I live and work in London, my commute by train is 22 minutes. Not much I know, or seems to be on the surface. This year the train service got so bad I decided in June to not use the train service for both commuting to work in the morning and evenings. Consistently late and cancelled trains, station skipping, lack of drivers, lack of carriages, people on the tracks, signal failures and breakdowns. Passengers squashed to the point where angry foul-mouthed exchanges take place were frequently heard.

    Once I abandoned the train, replaced by an hour-long bus service, my city life has generally improved. There you go… welcome to London.

    1. c rober says:

      Yet todays BEEB news was giving London Transport glowing reports vs Scotland , and stated categorically Scotland has a long way to go? Funny that , how they never asked any Londonites.

      Of course though anyone with a brain can see the SBBC for what it is , and that it has a weekly “expose” of something SNP bad , nhs , schools , transport. IT wont be long before it has crossed over to Alex Salmond orchestrated 9/11 with jimmy saville , or caused Lockerbie hence the reason for releasing Magrahi…. but what are our elected bodies doing about this war declared on Holyrood , thus Scotlands democracy? Absolutely Fking Nothing.

      Its time to whip out the stocks for those trying to put Holyrood in it , they are awfully good at firing out FOIRS to Holyrood for data , but not so good in doing the same.

      ts not like the SBBC is ran from a foreign country as a reserved power , used as a income stream by an illegal unavoidable tax , with key personel staffing it hired from outside its borders , or its news room has direct links to two political parties through employment directly or by marriage in its recent history.

      The BBC as a news supplier while state controlled , public funded , and yet not publicly accountable is corrupt , so not fit for purpose , and may well see itself in the frontline as a result in indy 2 – only the next time it wont be a nicely treated.

      1. Alf Baird says:

        SBBC “key personnel” aye seem tae be awfu guid Unionist-Gael buddies fae Western Isles. Whits the probability o thon happenin ‘naiturally’?

        1. c rober says:

          Alf brother , its mair like Unionist regardless of politics – therefore it falls back to my argument of either wealth creation or protection.

          The token Gaels are not frontline , nor are they news editorial , which is the unseen power.

          The editorial is at the moment , when it comes to investigations against the SNP as Holyrood , purely Anglo driven propaganda based on lies against the SCOTS , not just separatist nationalists.

          IF the McYoons cant see that they are despised , even with the desire to remain British , then they are frankly fools – much like the NI working class unionists.

          Those that enable their masters wealth creation , under a tribal , political or religious mandate include themselves in indentured servitude by proxy , so are only removing wealth from themselves and their children – as they have done for hundreds of years , the poor are all the same to the wealthy , they are income streams including their own troops.

          The gaels within SBBC though do punt oot some guid programming on occasion , ie Black oil doc and the MCrone report , allbeit buried in the Gaelic Channel and prevented from being aired on any other channel , I also liked their piece on the big man as well…pity they never went for a dramatization on that one as all Scots would have liked it not just the east enders.

          As SBBC is filling with even more eager yoon eager beavers , the BEEB south of the border is rewarding oor ain with positions in higher pay for services rendered for 2014 , but this will also be used as a hate thing against the same Scots in middle England , as they ask “just why are there so many scots on the beeb news teams in Engerland”. OF course though they may have been shifted as the enemy , to prevent the subversive , but I highly doubt it…. History has shown that Scots well burns had it on the nail.

          I have one warning for BBC Scotland , its not cyber nats they will have to worry about in round 2 – the next time they will be able to portray the INDY movement correctly as borderline terrorists for real rather than the lie. If there is a state funded war on the people of Scotland as a colony , then the militia might well rise.

          SNP , Holyrood should have a white paper on moving beyond the SBBC as the nations purveyor of shite , where a public and impartial body is exactly that as a goal , or its removal entirely for being a profit maker for BBC proper. Have we seen a thing on those parallels , white papers , committees , no. Thus if our Govt wont act , then it leaves it to the people , but if they are sheep , then it leaves it to those with the stomach for it.

          Nulabour , were deep in the BBC and in Scotland , still are to a point , Scottish Tories too Im sure Ruth the Truth has a direct line still.

          SO if Politics controls it , legislates it , therefore it is subject to partisan output by result or participation.

          To remove it to public accountability , public control is the end result desired for democracy , so perhaps thats why the SNP are loitering on the issue in order to wrest control for them , rather than to prevent as a political tool for any – thus the complete removal from political steering and public socioengineering should be the end result.

          Much is made on how Brexit has supplied “UK” democracy , but has failed Scottish democracy.

          Then perhaps then it is time for every election to have at least one public democratic decision on the ballot papers. Say “should the BBC exist” , “or be devolved” , well it could be one of those early questions – after all it would be the democratic will of the people , not its external or internal masters would it not ?

          But as Twain put it “if voting made any difference they would ban it”. Today though the man would be called a Tin foiler for such a thing , and be shafted with 140 chars or less political terrorist social media of the middle right on classes.

          Sun Tzu is definately on my reading list for indy 2 , the last colony needs to learn to fight more than chianti and social media can supply them from the comfort of an armchair in order to believe they have contributed…. hands will have to get dirty if your enemy plays dirty,

  10. Laura Waddell says:

    For those querying stats, dipped to 86% in Oct-Nov, below contractual requirements to hit 91.3% – and yes, some lines, such as the very busy Gla-Edin, have been affected more than others.

    This comes just after Abellio were fined heavily for not meeting minimum standards in cleanliness and other service elements.

    1. c rober says:

      Tokenism fines , if they are subbed , then out one door and in from other. Suprised Stagecoach , the worlds largest bus operator hasnt been on the blower to wee nic , but then again arent they just a little bit yoon?

  11. Doug Daniel says:

    “The first school of thought is that to criticise, however well intentioned or constructive, is to weaken the movement as a whole. It’s often accompanied by the sentiment that such criticism will have the effect of putting off have-a-go campaigners, an important part of the campaign eco-structure, not only from their efforts but perhaps also Indy altogether, and deplete support for the wider Independence movement and parties in support of it. Occasionally, accusations of intellectual elitism are lobbed around.”

    Yeah, I really don’t like the notion that bad ideas cannot be criticised, just in case they lead to people spitting the dummy or whatever. If the goal is increasing support for independence, then we need to be trying to see things from the perspective of soft-No voters, not molly-coddling people with fragile egos who, in all likelihood, probably aren’t particularly active campaigners anyway.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      “the perspective of soft-No voters”

      Ye’ll nae chynge the mynds o thon extrae hauf a million postit votes whit streengely appeared fi naewhaur in 2014. And even if Yes won an ‘advisory’ Ref2, does anyone seriously trust Westminster to ‘grant’ Scotland its independence?

    2. c rober says:

      Agree , to “not criticize is to prevent change “, just ask Slab how that “ignoring the voters” is working out for them.

      Its not like its in hard print in the little blue book of SNP membership not to criticise the SNP is it , oh wait a minute…. it bloody is.

      Eventually any “thing” fails , living or not , religion , political ideology , or a machine – though its lifespan can usually be prolonged somehow .

      In the mechanical engineering universe , servicing when done correctly is preventative maintenance prolonging the life of the machine . Criticism is for me is necessary for political servicing – when its the truth.

      This is something that your SNP follower cant get into their head , in order to keep the party you want , the way you want it , well we all have to be critical mechanics in order to maintain and preserve its functioning state.

      You would think that with so many SNP new voters having defected from NuLabour that they would understand the need for policing as “servicing the machine” , after seeing and witnessing it first time around with the Blair Brown years . Their failure to supply Scotland a proper devolved federal parliament , twice inc the VOW , as well as the re-industrialization of Scotland and Council rebuilding that were promised locally to get them into WM during Thatchers reign.

      Blind faith is not a political benefit , its useless , but then again perhaps it is , that is if your failure to supply is still rewarded ie indy , with WM 56 , and possibly further in 2017 CE , then not only can you be teflon to criticism , but also able to expand on it via blame WM and playing the victim.

      The be all and end all for achieving an indy Scotland is proof of supply , it really is that simple , people are selfish and the “insert currency name here” in their pocket is that single driver.

      Indy will be supplied on one thing , the economic argument , that is if its a fair fight. So criticism should be a goal , in order to achieve it , remove the criticism = populist win.

      As of yet SNP and Holyrood haven’t done anything to bring in the 7 percent needed to cross over from the last round , and thats not including those that may in turn have changed their minds through VALID criticisms on SNP stewardship and supply since… ie small beer land reform , which is a power devolved so no one else to blame.

      But we could always go the LUXEMBOURG route for electoral voting , ie those born in Scotland as well as currently resident being the voting criteria , should no10 decide on a triple lock. Which should supply instantly a removal of 10 percent of the yoons.

      Do we really think Holyrood has the sphericals for that one though , if its not the size of the dog in the fight , and its the fight in the dog , unfortunately ours is looking like a little Mexican runt of the litter and gumsy.

      For example , the financial case , the Scottish GDP output of 2015 per capita is proof of economy output in an independent Scotland in a sub par year , and one that can be bettered further with sovereign economic levers ?

      This GDP figure alone shows Scotland as the richest country in the world per capita , if it were independent , beating Qatar by near 50 percent – This with low oil price as well as output , so low gdp. But have I seen one single report comparing it to Gers , the deficit lies countered by either Hoyrood or the SNP, or the AAA+ ratings we would have based on it , as well as low interest rates prolonged historically for investment? NO.

      If non criticism is the response expected of the SNP from its members , or the wider indy II movement , then its time in the political peak is now at an end .

      Scotland then can get back to more serious things , like another 300 fking years of more acceptable criticism instead.

      1. Anton says:

        You say that “This GDP figure alone shows Scotland as the richest country in the world per capita , if it were independent , beating Qatar by near 50 percent”, and complain that this hasn’t been widely reported.

        But surely it can’t be true? The Scottish Government’s figures from March this year put us at 15th in the international rankings and I can’t believe that our GDP has more than doubled in the meantime. See

        Certainly we’re a rich country, but the richest in the world? I think not.

        1. c rober says:

          Anton , heres the numbers for you. And anyone else that would like to confirm or prove it wrong.

          Uk gdp in 2015 was 3 Trillion dollars , of which Scotland supplied 22 percent , second place to London with 10 million people at 33 percent…. and as we can therefore extrapolate that SCOTLAND is more profitable per capita for Westminster than even LONDON.

          22 percent of 3 trillion is 750 billion.

          750 billion , divided by 5 billion for per capita , means 150 , 000 dollars , and where Qatar is in 2015 , 102 000 per capita.

          Feel free to repeat the maths , you can google the UK gdp and the per capita GDP of the world nations and find exactly what I have. This during low oil price.

          Of course this is while being part of the UK , in near recession terms and protracted global slowdown , and where the argument would be from the usual culprits only achievable as part of the UK bull5417.

          However , with proper economic levers this would end up north of 1 trillion dollars within 5 years as an independent GDP scenario. More so in a new currency pegged to the difference in the EURO and English pound , our biggest markets , in order to make and keep gains on both import and export balanced .

          OF course we then can add the full tax receipts denied while a colony , and with staying out of the EU proper avoid many legislation’s that have led to Brexit , yet still trade and have the free movement without any contributions of the financial kind.

          To make this even more worthwhile I would suggest a trade consortium agreement with the Nordic states – with all keeping sovereignty of currency and parallel taxation agreements to prevent infighting and currency wars …. an EU II if you will , without the failures with industrial states and southern ones unable to devalue to compete.

          We can then presume that if this is without peak oil price , that oil is indeed the cherry on the cake. OF course the McCrone report was right , even without oil , so keeping such information from the Scottish public will always be the goal. The fight for indy II will be so much more dirty than the first.

          I would like to see bella do an article on the maths comparing the lies of gers and the maths above – its time to shoot down the fear before its even taken flight.

          1. c rober says:

            My data was based on one independent report detailing the Qatar Per capita gdp of 102k dollars , but there is for example many figure sheets showing variations , from under that 102k to near 143k for qatar. One can presume that the same fluctuations would apply for the UK.

            However the UK gdp proper seems a constant for 2015 of 3 trillion dollars , and the contribution to that of 22 percent from Scotland also constant.

          2. c rober says:

            Mistype in post two above says “divide by 5 billion” , when it should read 5 million , ie population of Scotland for the per capita.

            750 billion divided by population of Scotland for per capita.

  12. Joan of Alba says:

    As someone with many years experience working on Scotland’s railways I am absolutely disgusted by the political posturing by unionist politicians and their lackeys in relation to First Scotrail’s recent run of poor performance. Kezia Dugdale again showed off her complete ignorance of the challenges which face our railway when she sneered that someone should have foreseen moisture on the railways. I’ve got news for Kezia; Network Rail and Scotrail did, which is why maintenance teams are working out on the lines in all weathers and conditions through the wee small hours while she lies in bed dreaming of a Labour comeback in Scotland. ASLEF’s Mick Whelan joined in the tag-team stupidity with a call to sack Humza Yousaf as he is ultimately the man responsible. Can we back up a bit? Since when did Humza Yousaf control the operations of a private company? He doesn’t. He has the option, if performance falls, to remove the franchise of that private company, but nowhere in the small print does it state that he can remove it under half-baked criticism from half-baked politicians and their chums.
    Over the last couple of weeks I have seen the most bizarre attempts to smear Mr Yousaf. Not enough carriages, that’s his fault. A train breaks down, that’s his fault. I wouldn’t be surprised that he gets the blame if the sandwiches sold on the train are a bit stale either.
    In the last week Abellio Scotrail has been forced to drop the policy of missing out some stops so that trains can recover time. This isn’t a new policy, it is standard practice across the industry and has been for years, but it’s now been shelved because of a campaign by people with limited understanding of the industry and an axe to grind.
    The recent train failure over a junction in Edinburgh is to the railway what a broken down truck at every exit of a major roundabout is on the roads. Nothing moves, and unlike the roads, other trains simply can’t squeeze past. To lay this at the door of Humza Yousaf is to publicly broadcast your own stupidity, and it looks like we can take some comfort that Kezia Dugdale has no power because she would be dangerous with it.
    By her logic the UK Transport Minister Chris Grayling should be sacked for being the man holding the ministerial bag when the fatal Croydon tram crash occurred; or for the Yafforth Level Crossing incident when a train struck a motor car; or the fatal accident at Alice Holt level Crossing, that must be his fault too. Not to mention Govia Thameslink who have seen their public performance figures fall in twelve months from a pitiful 74% to an even more pitiful 69%. With all this on his watch why isn’t Mr Whelan calling for Mr Grayling to be sacked? It appears he’d rather have the Tories in charge than the SNP.
    Misguided and ill-informed comments from the likes of Kezia Dugdale, aided and abetted by their media chums, specifically the BBC, inflame the public and put pressure on the workers who have to deal with them. Staff are verbally and sometimes physically abused on a daily basis and the last thing they need is inflammatory rhetoric which leads the public to look for someone to blame and who will pick on the staff on the platform and the train, rather than the boardroom, or simply won’t accept that there is such a thing as plain old-fashioned mechanical failure.
    In her determination to shout SNP Bad at everything, Kezia has become derailed. It’s time she was shunted off and parked in a sidings before her career finally hits the buffers.

    1. c rober says:

      Perhaps then we should be looking for our own McUssolini ?

      Let them carry on , they hopefully are helping to bring it back into public ownership.

      But of course we could talk about the coppers giving him the 3 points for no insurance , in that Westminster refuses to allow Police Scotland vat free status , yet the other forces in the UK are vat free. I dont seem to remember a word from the opposition parties or the media about that.

      Dugdale is running oot the clock , for services rendered will still be elected to Holyrood through the party nominations in the regional list ad infinitum , until a proper socialist clear oot – which is in unicorn shit territory.

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