Secretive plans to privatise UK’s best performing rail service

Anyone who has ever been on the Metro will have been struck by the contrast to our privatised railways.

As with Royal Mail, attempts to involve the private sector in this service are couched in terms of gaining “investment” and “value for money”, debate is one-sided with privatisation offered up as the only solution, and public ownership derided whatever the truth of the matter.

From the Morning Star:

Transport bosses slammed for ‘secret’ Metro plans
(Thursday 22 January 2009)

ANTI-RAIL privatisation campaigners protested at the transport authority’s failure to come clean on its plans for the Tyne and Wear Metro on Thursday.

Protesters, including members of rail union RMT, demonstrated outside a meeting of the county’s Passenger Transport Authority (PTA) in Newcastle yesterday morning before attending the meeting.

The government has pledged £300 million to “reinvigorate” the service, which is already the best-performing in Britain. But Metro operator Nexus intends to invite private-sector bids to operate passenger services and maintain infrastructure.

An ICM poll conducted for the Keep Metro Public campaign in September found that 60 per cent of residents wanted the service to be publicly run, compared to just 22 per cent who favoured private management.

RMT regional organiser Stan Herschel pointed out: “We’ve already been stopped from speaking at PTA meetings, but now the authority has failed to keep its promise to respond to questions put to it in writing.

“This is supposed to be a publicly accountable authority, yet it appears to be doing everything it can to avoid answering questions about the future of the Metro. The PTA knows that there is overwhelming support for the campaign to keep the Metro public, yet for some reason it seems to think it can get away with ignoring public opinion.”

He stressed: “The authority spends huge sums of public money and we have the right to question what is being done with it, not least when there are plans to transform our Metro into a cash cow for privateers.”

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Students give Palestinians a better kind of occupation

In the seventies and eighties, there was a movement in this country opposed to apartheid in South Africa. It looks as though a comparable movement is developing now against Israel’s occupations…

From Socialist Worker:

Student occupations in solidarity with Gaza spread around Britain online only

A wave of student occupations in solidarity with the people of Gaza is continuing to spread across Britain. There are currently occupations at Kings College London and Oxford, Sussex, Newcastle and Kingston universities. There have also been sit ins at Warwick and Manchester Metropolitan.

These have been inspired by successful protests and occupations at Soas and LSE in London and Essex University. The first three occupations have all ended now, as their main demands have been met.

In Oxford more than 80 students have occupied the historic Bodleian building.

The demands put forward by individual universities are similar, but vary depending on the specific circumstances of each institution. Oxford’s give a typical flavour.

  1. Statement
    Oxford University should release a statement in support of the right of Palestinians to education and its support to the Palestinian Academic community. The University should condemn in particular the attack on the Islamic University in Gaza.
  2. Divestment
    Oxford University currently holds investments in BAE Systems, a firm that the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (caat.org.uk) states provides weapons and ammunition for the Israeli military. This means that our university is being directly funded by the Israeli war on Gaza. Oxford University must divest from BAE and other companies which supply arms to Israel.
  3. Five fully paid scholarships for Palestinian students
    Particularly after the attack on Gaza and the ongoing hardships suffered by Palestinians, Oxford University should offer 5 fully-funded scholarships to Palestinian students as a way to contribute to greater access to education for those affected by the conflict.
  4. Cancellation lecture series inaugurated by Shimon Peres
    The group demands that the Master of Balliol College cancel the lecture series that was inaugurated by the Israeli President Shimon Peres. It is not appropriate to have such a lecture series in light of the attack on Gaza and the ongoing siege.
  5. Resources for Education
    The Oxford University should donate resources to, and support, the University and educational infrastructure that have been bombed in Gaza.
  6. Right to Peaceful Protest
    Oxford University has a proud history of student activism. Students united to campaign against apartheid, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All students have a democratic right to peaceful protest and students should not be prevented from expressing their opinions by fear of reprisals.

Occupation blogs

Essex » www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=45143838671

Kings » kcloccupation.blogspot.com

LSE » lseoccupation.blogspot.com

Oxford » occupiedoxford.wordpress.com

Soas » soassolidarity4gaza.blogspot.com

Sussex » sussexoccupation.blogspot.com

Warwick » warwicksolidaritysitin.wordpress.com

The following should be read alongside this article:
» Eyewitness report: Israel is guilty of war crimes
» Gordon Brown gives Israel a licence to kill
» Israel’s bloody war fails to achieve aims
» Beirut conference calls for solidarity with Palestine
» A revival of student militancy over Gaza
» Activists take to the streets against the slaughter in Gaza
» Councillors condemn Israeli terror
» London demo targets Israeli embassy
» Mass march in Middlesbrough
» Gaza protests continue around Britain
» Pictures of Gaza protests around Britain (1)
» Pictures of Gaza protests around Britain (2)
» Pictures of Gaza protests around Britain (3)

Myners strike – words of wisdom from City insider turned govt advisor

Yet another reject from the square mile has made it into government, take note!

Says Paul, who joined Labour because it was more “left wing” than the Liberals:

The capacity for soundly managed banks and markets to support the generation of wealth in the economy could never be matched by the public sector. That is why the government has a policy of supporting a return to an effective commercial banking sector, rather than nationalisation.

Ah, no comrade. The reason is that New Labour is committed to securing the power and wealth of the super-rich, as opposed to using the country’s wealth to re-invest in productive activities…

If Gordon Brown had really wanted to abolish the boom and bust of the capitalist economic cycle, he would have expropriated the banks years ago – not merely part-nationalise them by buying worthless shares.

As it stands, turbo-capitalism of the sort backed by New Labour has destroyed the manufacturing base of this country and damaged the social fabric of the country with mass unemployment. Many were bought off with the promise of a “housing ladder” to climb out of the working class, but now this bubble has burst along with the dream of a “popular capitalism”

The relentless pursuit of profit for the few has brought misery for the many. Now it has brought chaos for those who benefit the most – and they’ve called in the government, which has stepped in with wads of borrowed money which we will have to pay back in years to come (with interest!).

But never fear, we have utopians like Paul Myners in government. Men who can imagine a time when capitalism serves the many not the few. How fortunate he is to have such dreams – the rest of us must bear the reality of the recession: indebtedness, mass unemployment, and a rise in homelessness and crime.