Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Will Burnham's cynical tactic backfire?

When I saw the headlines claiming that Andy Burnham had pledged to renationalise the railways, I initially thought that may well have been the moment that he clinched the Labour leadership.  If you think about a typical Labour member who is genuinely wavering between Jeremy Corbyn and the "mainstream" candidates, what he or she is crying out for is some red meat from a candidate deemed by conventional wisdom to be somewhat less "unelectable" than Corbyn.  Renationalising the railways looked like a masterstroke - it would be a policy dripping in symbolism for the left, but wouldn't actually diverge from public opinion in Middle England.  It wouldn't even be especially radical - it was official Labour policy under John Smith in 1993/94, and would represent only a very modest reversal of the huge programme of privatisation undertaken by the Thatcher and Major (and indeed Blair) governments.

But it turns out that Burnham wasn't proposing renationalisation at all.  He was simply reaffirming the Ed Miliband policy of allowing the public sector to compete against the private sector for individual rail franchises, as and when they come up.  What he did do, of course, was deliberately use a form of words which he knew would be misinterpreted as a commitment to renationalisation, in the hope of generating headlines that would win over left-wing waverers in a cost-free way.

In a nutshell, what Burnham has just done is a prime example of the insincerity and doublespeak that has driven people to consider Corbyn in the first place.  It'll be fascinating to see whether he's done it subtly enough to get away with it this time, or whether he's simply dug a deeper hole for himself.

Coming up tomorrow : Burnham calls for Tony Blair to be tried for war crimes*

* In a mock trial to be held at a school for educational purposes.

35 comments:

  1. Even before I read here that his declaration that he would renationalise the railways should have come with the caveats you outline, I simply thought this was a Vow-like move from A Burnham and that he would row back on it immediately if he won. If people who are actually voting for Labour leader and who would otherwise support Corbyn are taken in by this then God help them. If you only discover a principle halfway through an election race, then it is likely that it is for convenience and that it will be jettisoned at the earliest possible opportunity. If they don't have enough experience of being lied to by now and when to spot it, when will they?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Don't you just love small print?

    Terms and conditions apply.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Glasgow Working ClassAugust 5, 2015 at 8:19 PM

    Nationalisation is about nationalism. Nat sis. The clue is in the name. Nat. Just like all you sad Nat sis. Burnham will never support nationalisation as he's not a Nat sis. In fact you could say he's a Not sis.

    The unelectable Corbyn supports Nationalisation. That makes him a Nat sis not a Not sis.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anyone know anything about how the filtering of "entryist" voters in this election is going to work? Is the Electoral Commission overseeing the process? Do rejected voters receive an explanation? I assume they won't all have been dim enough (like Toby Young) to write that they want to destroy the Labour Party on their application.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Electoral Commission have no role in internal party elections - it's up to Labour to determine their own procedures.

      Delete
  5. Why not nationalise the NHS or power generation,things that are vital for life support?
    I suppose rail travel is more important to people in SE England than these other trivial matters and that is where New Labour are at.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Actually the railway infrastructure is already publicly owned since Network Rail was "reclassified" as a public sector organisation last year: www.networkrail.co.uk/about-us/governance/

    ReplyDelete
  7. Fred Dibnah SteeeplejackAugust 5, 2015 at 10:47 PM

    1st Comment. Burnham would not nationalise the railways it would cost billions. Scotland could nationalise its railways but declined. Scotland could nationalise its buses preferably without compensation to the rascals that bought them for peanuts from the Tories. It is highly unlikely the Tartan Toreis would upset MR Souter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Scotland could nationalise it's railways but declined."

      Nope, sorry, downright lie. Scotland has no powers to nationalise railways, it couldn't nationalise even if it wanted to.

      The 1993 Railway Act prohibits the state from owning any part of the rail network. The railway act is NOT devolved, it is a reserved matter.

      It is interesting that, increasingly, the only arguments you see from unionists are flat out lies.

      Do try harder.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Pantone, I was just about to post to make the same point!

      Delete
    3. Fred Dibnah SteeeplejackAugust 6, 2015 at 1:07 AM

      Nonsense. The Scottish Government has full powers over transport and sets its own budget. They can nationalise the buses and trains. WHO WOULD STOP THEM? What should be asked is do they want to nationalise?

      Delete
    4. "WHO WOULD STOP THEM?"

      The Presiding Officer, or failing that the courts. The law is the law. The Scottish Government does not have "full powers over transport".

      Delete
    5. Fred Dibnah SteeeplejackAugust 6, 2015 at 1:23 AM

      You are wrong James. The SNP said that they had to put out a new franchise for rail because of EU Law. But the Germans and French do not have this problem! And what about the buses James?

      Delete
    6. Read Pantone300's post again (or for the first time, because it seems you didn't bother to read it properly).

      Delete
    7. Fred Dibnah SteeeplejackAugust 6, 2015 at 1:41 AM

      I have read. Wrong.

      Delete
    8. Then address his point if you think he's wrong.

      Delete
  8. Tessa Jowell just said on SkyNews that she thinks Jeremy Corbyn is going to win.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If she's got good reason for thinking that, she should probably head straight to Betfair, because for some reason Burnham has re-established himself as the favourite over the last two or three days.

      Delete
    2. Fred Dibnah SteeeplejackAugust 6, 2015 at 1:37 AM

      Hardly matters as Labour will lose the next British election to the Tories. This will have no great effect on their Tartan Tory Pals as they will continue to moan and blame the English whilst raking in the money. The next Labour PM is in waiting but you could be pan breid by then James.

      Delete
    3. Yes, I think we can safely assume Glasgow Working Class has just regenerated into Fred Dibnah Steeplejack.

      Delete
    4. Fred Dibnah SteeeplejackAugust 6, 2015 at 1:51 AM

      James by we do you mean the clique that obey. However it was nice to actually get a response although you seem to avoid the Bus debate and the thousands who lost their jobs and those that had their wages and conditions reduced.

      Delete
    5. What "bus debate"? The bus debate seems to consist of you saying WHAT ABOUT BUSES JAMES over and over again.

      Delete
    6. Mighty Morphin Power Troll?

      Coolheads Prevail

      Delete
  9. Fred Dibnah SteeeplejackAugust 6, 2015 at 2:02 AM

    Exactly James you should raise a bus nationalisation debate without compensation. Glad I have got through to your heid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As opposed to doing it with compensation? What sort of compensation?

      Delete
    2. Fred Dibnah SteeeplejackAugust 6, 2015 at 2:24 AM

      Time for you to get some sleep James and shift change. You do not have to be the permanent Watchkeeper. The British will be running the show when you are gone.

      Delete
    3. This will scare you, GWC, but I'm British, so maybe "nat sis" like me will be running the show. Don't have nightmares.

      Delete
  10. Fred Dibnah SteeeplejackAugust 6, 2015 at 2:38 AM

    Nay probs with me James being an Eastender I give people nightmares.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Being bored to tears by idiocy rarely gives me nightmares

      Delete
  11. Not only is Glasgow Working Class's first post as Fred Dibnah exposed as a flat-out lie (see above) but now he is trying to claim that being required to "put out a franchise" for a train operator means that Scotland must have the powers to change who is legally allowed to own the railways, arguing that France and Germany don't have this problem..?

    Oh dear! Poor Fred. He doesn't realise that it is due to powers being reserved to the UK government that prevents Scotland having the capacity to change ownership of railway laws and nothing to do with what other European countries are able to do...

    I wonder if Fred also thinks that because France and Germany have the powers to raise VAT, set pension rates, decide public spending levels, decide on welfare benefits, set rates of national insurance, decide if their country bombs Syria etc etc etc, then Scotland must have these powers too?

    Still, at least we get a good laugh about it :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Fred Dibnah SteeeplejackAugust 6, 2015 at 11:21 AM

    Ah, OK, I get it now. The legislation relating to running trains and services is completely separate to the legislation related to who can own the actual railway tracks.

    The laws relating to railway tracks is set at Westminster. So although the Scottish Government has some say over how train services are run they have no say whatsoever on the laws that govern ownership of the tracks themselves.

    Currently these UK laws say that the railway tracks and network cannot be publicly owned. Only the UK Government can change this law. And for this reason the Scottish Government cannot renationalise the railways.

    Sorry, I'm not very clever, it took me a while to grasp this. My apologies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Real Fred Dibnah Ex SteeplejackAugust 6, 2015 at 10:51 PM

      I do not get why you are lying to yourself.

      Delete