UK Politics

Train chaos, botched buses and rising crime toxifying the Tories

BY Iain Martin | iainmartin1   /  4 July 2018

Jeremy Corbyn was right. You don’t often hear me saying that. What I mean is that he was right to go “on the buses”‎ at PMQs, that is to choose the subject for all of his six questions to the Prime Minister.

Some Tory MPs appeared to find it amusing. Silly old duffer Jezza, asking about cuts and price rises on the buses when so much else is going wrong for the government, or something. I mean, who travels on buses? Millions of us. I’m on one now, on the way to a swish summer party in central London. Much quicker than taxi, and much cheaper despite the price rises.

And no, before you say it Margaret Thatcher did not say that anyone travelling on a bus is a failure. ‎That story seems to have been made up. She may have thought it, but I doubt it. Thatcher was very much for road building being the future, and she loved opening the M25 in 1986, but she knew about the life of voters, having come from a humble background, unlike most entitled, pampered, Communist public school Corbynista hipster twits.

Anyway, ‎someone close to Corbyn has worked out that the state of the public realm is going to be front at centre at a future election. The Tories moved to neutralise this attack on the NHS, with a huge spending boost announced last week. What will it be spent on? Pass! Next question…

Some other areas that should have the Tories terrified of public anger:

1. Trains off the rails. The chaos in the north of England since the timetable change has been well-documented. Elsewhere, the system is fraying badly. If you are unlucky enough to use Waterloo station ‎every day you’ll know what I mean. In the last fortnight the place has been packed with fuming commuters cursing authority. The weather seems to be playing havoc. A blizzard of cancellations and chaos has been the result. On four days in the last fortnight, my journey home has been at least double the usual length. Hundreds of thousands of voters are experiencing this farce, jammed on to trains that only if you’re lucky have air conditioning.

2. Buses. As I said, users are angry over service cuts and price rises.

3. Rough sleeping. The Tories have been warned endlessly about this surge by charities. Nothing seems to change. Britain’s town and city centres are awash with rough sleepers. The problem stems in part from the benefit sanctions associated with welfare reform. But the drug trade plays a major part. I’ve written before about the rise of the drug Spice. Next time you see a youngster on a London pavement homeless near the National Gallery, their face covered in marks and bruises, remember they have almost certainly been beaten by dealers who hand the stuff out freely and then come to collect from every rough sleeper in the area. Why? High demand means it’s easier to run it is a protection racket.

4. Moped madness. The London Mayor is as much to blame on this, but that won’t save the Tories from the backlash on rising crime. The thieves are brazen, the cases endless. Combine this with concern stabbings in London, and concern nationally about violent crime and the government can be accused of having lost control of what really matters.

Yes, it’s too hot and everyone needs a holiday and I’m off for a glass of Pol Roger champagne. Still, the dye is being cast, much as it was in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and the Tories are being retoxified.