Sunday, 27 December 2015

No air strikes on Syria because:

Over the decades, NATO air strikes have always killed more innocents than fighters.  We end up doing more harm than good and making more enemies than friends.  Totally counter productive and thoroughly evil!

That should be the only argument (the killing of civilians) to stop the Western bombing (and now Russian air strikes, too) of even Iraq.

Aha, aha!  But UN has said to take “ 'all necessary measures'  to prevent and suppress its terrorist acts on territory under its control in Syria and Iraq."  That was the 15 members of the Security Council.  It was not the more than 190 members of the General Assembly of all the nations.

Bombing will not get rid of Islamic State.  They are bigger and stronger than ever after 18 months or so of such barbarity.

Military meddling in yet another Muslim majority country follows on from Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya - and, now Syria. 

We have given ourselves permission to bomb yet another country.  It continues our disastrous and aggressive foreign policy that has turned parts of the Meddle East into a bombing ground, a killing field and well over a million refugees fleeing from the Western fire and flames from the air.

Al Qaeda enraged the US/UK/French bull by 9/11.  Al Qaeda poked the snake and got just the reaction they wanted.  Bombing in far off countries is not effective.

Is this poetic justice?  We must be to blame for the mayhem, murder and mass migration to some of the countries striking the Muslims.  "12 million displaced people of Syria." (John Finnemore on the 'Now Show' 18 Dec 2015)  And, we magnificent, so magnanimous Brits take 20,000 fleeing from our bombing and over all of five years, too.  Never mind Germany taking one million in this year alone.
The opening of the debate over whether Britain should bomb Isis targets in Syria may have been uninspiring but it later picked up and the backbench contributions have generally been impressive. Here are 10 of the best.

Benn’s speech was hotly anticipated, as he would be speaking in opposition to his leader, Jeremy Corbyn. He did not disappoint, and it was an electric moment.

Benn began by saying that although he would vote differently from Corbyn, he was proud to be in the same party as him. He says Corbyn is not a terrorist sympathiser, referring to remarks made by David Cameron on Tuesday “He is an honest, a principled, a decent and a good man,” he said.

Here is the final section of the speech, which was greeted by (a very unusual) round of applause in the chamber.
Mr Speaker, I hope the House will bear with me if I direct my closing remarks to my Labour friends and colleagues on this side of the house. As a party, we have always been defined by our internationalism. We believe we have a responsibility, one to another. We never have and we never should walk by on the other side of the road.
And we are here faced by fascists. Not just their calculated brutality, but their belief that they are superior to every single one of us in this chamber tonight and all of the people we represent. They hold us in contempt. They hold our values in contempt. They hold our belief in tolerance and decency in contempt. They hold our democracy – the means by which we will make our decision tonight – in contempt.
And what we know about fascists is that they need to be defeated and it is why, as we have heard tonight, socialists and trade unionists were just one part of the international brigade in the 1930s to fight against Franco. It’s why this entire House stood up against Hitler and Mussolini. It’s why our party has always stood up against the denial of human rights and for justice and my view, Mr Speaker, is that we must now confront this evil. It is now time for us to do our bit in Syria and that is why I ask my colleagues to vote in favour of this motion tonight.
In a debate that has involved a lot of dry discussion about strategy and the composition of opposition forces in Syria, Farron’s speech stood out because it was unashamedly emotional and passionate.
“The spectre of the Iraq war in 2003 hangs over this house and hangs over the whole debate that we’re having in this country,” he said. The late former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy had called for intervention in Bosnia and opposed the “counterproductive and illegal” Iraq war – both principled stances, Farron said. “I am proud of Charles on both counts.”
He said his decision – the toughest he has ever made – was influenced by his experience of visiting the refugee camps on the Greek island of Lesbos.
I can give you anecdote after anecdote that would break your heart but one in particular is a seven-year-old lad being lifted from a dinghy on the beach at Lesbos and my Arabic interpreter said to me: ‘That lad has just said to his dad: “Daddy, are Isil here?”’
I cannot stand in this house and castigate the prime minister for not taking enough refugees and for Britain not standing tall as it should do in the world and opening its arms to the desperate like we have done so proudly for many, many decades and throughout our history, if we do not also do everything in our power to eradicate that which is the source of those people fleeing from that terror.

Margaret Beckett, former Labour cabinet minister
Beckett’s speech was impressive for opposite reasons; while Farron appealed to the heart, she calmly and rationally challenged the arguments against airstrikes, speaking with the authority her experience gives her.
A former Labour deputy leader, she was briefly foreign secretary at the end of Tony Blair’s time in office. Until the debate, it was not known how she was going to vote.
She insisted it was wrong to do nothing.
Some say simply that innocent people are more likely to be killed. Military action does create casualties, however much we try to minimise them. So should we on those grounds abandon action in Iraq, even though undertaken at the request of Iraq’s government and it does seem to be making a difference? Should we take no further action against Daesh, who are themselves, killing innocent people and striving to kill more every day of the week? Or should we simply leave it to others?
She said bombing could make an impact.
There are those not opposed in principle to action who doubt the efficacy of what is proposed. A coalition action that rests wholly on bombing, they say, will have little effect. Well, tell that to the Kosovans. Don’t forget, if there had been no bombing in Kosovo perhaps a million Albanian Muslim refugees would have been seeking refuge in Europe.
She also said the UN had urged states to combat Isis “by all means”.
And she said it was important to back the French.
Moreover, our French allies have asked us for such support, and I invite the house to consider how we would feel, and what we would say, if what took place in Paris had happened in London, if we had explicitly asked France for support and France had refused.

Sir Gerald Kaufmann, Labour MP

Another Labour veteran, Kaufman struck a note of moral certainty as he explained why he was voting against expanding airstrikes into Syria.

He said Isis did not represent Islam and people were right to loathe it, but that was not the issue. Instead, the issue was what could be done to get rid of it, and he said he was not convinced by the government’s case. He said bombing would lead to the killing of innocent civilians.
The issue today is about what practical action can result in some way in damaging Daesh, in stopping their atrocities. If what the government were proposing today would in any way, not even get rid of Daesh but weaken them in a significant way ... I wouldn’t have any difficulty in voting for this motion. 
But there is absolutely no evidence of any kind that bombing Daesh, bombing Raqqa, will result in an upsurge of other people in the region to get rid of them. What it would do, it might cause some damage – it won’t undermine them. What it will undoubtedly do, despite the assurances of the prime minister, is it will kill innocent civilians.
I am not going to be a party to killing innocent civilians for what will simply be a gesture.

Alan Johnson, former Labour home secretary

Johnson was straightforward and unpretentious as he set out his reasons for voting with the government. His speech also included a sharp dig at Labour’s anti-war MPs.

The former home secretary said he backed airstrikes because he thought they would allow Britain to attack the Isis unit organising attacks abroad.
I believe Isis/Daesh poses a real and present danger to British citizens and that its dedicated external operations unit is based not in Iraq, where the RAF is already fully engaged, but in Syria. This external operations unit is responsible for killing 30 British holidaymakers on a beach in Sousse and a British rock fan who perished along with 129 others in the Paris atrocity a few weeks ago.
It is true that this unit could have moved out of Raqqa, but that is not what the intelligence services believe. In fact, just as al-Qaida needed the safe haven they created for themselves in Afghanistan to plan 9/11 and other atrocities, so [Isis] need their self-declared caliphate to finance, train, organise and recruit to their wicked cause.
He admitted it was a difficult decision and took a swipe at the Corbyn followers who have been attacking Labour MPs over this issue.
Is it a just cause, is the proposed action a last resort, is it proportionate, does it have a reasonable prospect of success, does it have broad regional support, does it have a clear legal base? I think it meets all of those criteria.
I find this decision as difficult as anyone to make, I wish I had frankly the self-righteous certitude of the finger-jabbing representatives of our new and kinder type of politics, who will no doubt soon be contacting those of us who support this motion tonight, but I believe that Isil/ Daesh has to be confronted and destroyed if we are to properly defend our country and our way of life and I believe that this motion provides the best way to achieve this objective.

Alex Salmond, former SNP leader

Salmond spoke against airstrikes with his customary force and clarity, and was more effective than Jeremy Corbyn at setting out alternatives.
He said the UK makes up 10% of the current flights in Iraq and will not make any conceivable difference in Syria, where there are “too many planes already chasing too many targets”. He said we spent 13 times as much bombing Libya as was spent on reconstruction.
He called on the government to instead focus on “interrupting and dislocating the internet strategy which they pursue”.
For one of our fast, smart bombs, we could have a whole squadron of people taking down [Isis’s] websites and stopping the communication and contaminating the minds of young people across Europe and the world. And here I very much agree with the leader of the Labour party about the interruption of the financial resources without which this evil cult could not function... Finally I would say this: we are being asked to intervene in a bloody civil war of huge complexity, we are being asked to do it without an exit strategy and no reasonable means of saying we are going to make a difference. We should not give the prime minister that permission.

John Woodcock, Labour MP

One of the most hawkish MPs on the Labour benches, Woodcock’s speech was notable for the bravery/recklessness/disloyalty (choose according to your preferences) with which he attacked his own party.
I will do everything I can to stop my party becoming essentially the cheerleader, the vanguard for a sort of angry, intolerant pacificism which sets a myriad of conditions which they know will never be met, and will ultimately say no to any military intervention. I think that some of the people on the front bench now, and the people heckling behind me, need to think very carefully about the way in which they have conducted themselves over recent weeks. And we need to do better than this to be a credible official opposition.

Shabana Mahmood, Labour MP

She said she knows how hard it is to vote in favour and against military action, and that it is impossible to say in hindsight that a decision was 100% right or 100% wrong.Mahmood, MP for Birmingham Ladywood and former shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said she will vote against the government. But her speech included a subtle rebuke to some of her anti-war colleagues, including perhaps Corbyn himself, who have suggested that they can avoid blame by voting against airstrikes.
She said she is a Sunni Muslim and that Isis is not representative of her faith. “In Isil, I am well aware that a Muslim like myself would be killed. So please believe me when I say that I do not simply want to see Isil defeated, I want them eradicated ... But I believe that the action proposed will not work.”
But, she said, that her instinct tells her that military action will not make the UK more of a threat. She concludes:
There has been some suggestion in the last day or so that when the time for apportioning blame comes, those who have voted in favour will have to step forward and there will be nowhere to hide. If you vote against, as I will, the implication is that you can avoid the blame. To those who think this way, let me say this: if only the world were that simple. There are consequences and innocent people will die through action and in-action. Whatever we do tonight we will all bear a measure of responsibility.

Jim Dowd, Labour MP

Dowd gave a pro-airstrikes speech striking for what it said about his own side but, unlike Woodcock and Johnson , he managed to berate his anti-war colleagues with jokes and good humour.
I will certainly not be voting for the amendment for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the weasel words and the sophistry it employs in saying ‘the case has not been made’. That’s the kind of thing the Liberals used to say before 2010 when they had to face up to responsibility.
He also criticised those opposing airstrikes for thinking they were morally superior.
It is almost the impression that those who say the case has not been made have a higher moral standard, a transcendent judgment superior to those who disagree with them.

Andrew Tyrie, Conservative MP

Calmly, forensically and without rancour, Tyrie gave a speech explaining why he could not support the government which contained one of the most comprehensive critique’s of Cameron’s case heard all day.
Tyrie said that the west has been intervening in the Middle East for more than a decade, and it has brought down odious dictators. He said, however, that acting as a reflex is not enough. Military action can be effective, but military action without an effective strategy is “folly”, he said, and that is why he will not be supporting the government .
The ruling out of western ground forces is very significant. It tells us that, after Iraq and Afghanistan, the west appears to lack the will, and perhaps the military strength, to commit the resources that might be needed to construct a new order from the shaken kaleidoscope of Syria. As in Libya, it would be relatively easy to remove a brutal dictator from the air, and perhaps also to suppress Isil, but it would be extremely difficult to construct a regime more favourable to our long-term interests.
We do not need to look into a crystal ball to see that; we can read the book. The result of over a decade of intervention in the Middle East has been not the creation of a regional order more attuned to western values and interests, but the destruction of an existing order of dictatorships that, however odious, was at least effective in supressing the sectarian conflicts and resulting terrorism that have taken root in the middle east. Regime change in Iraq brought anarchy and terrible suffering. It has also made us less safe.
Above all, it has created the conditions for the growth of militant extremism. We should be under no illusions: today’s vote is not a small step. Once we have deployed military forces in Syria, we will be militarily, politically and morally deeply engaged in that country, and probably for many years to come. That is why the government’s description of the extension of bombing to Syria as merely an extension of what we were already doing in Iraq is misplaced. We simply have not heard enough from the government about exactly what the reconstruction will mean.
The timing of this vote has everything to do with the opportunity to secure a majority provided by the shocking attacks in Paris. Everybody feels a bond with the French, but an emotional reflex is not enough. Military action might be effective at some point, but military action without a political strategy is folly. We have yet to hear that strategy, so I cannot support the government’s motion tonight.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

How dare you say we are hypocrites!

Thoughts on the Syrian bombing debate in the Commons

Why are democratic countries so insistent that they must oust some countries' governments undemocratically- by military force?

Bombing Syria to get rid of IS is so convenient to help get rid of the Syrian government at the same time.  Kill two birds with one stone and never mind the innocent civilians injured and killed, who just want to be left in peace and quiet and with their bodies and minds intact.

We must do something about this evil lot of fascists by our right wing, meddling and 'we know best for you' governments when it comes to the Meddle East.  Our side has also been fascists and evil in the past (twice in the last century) - and the other side would say we are not any better in our wars against them, now.

We are all evil, all warriors, all lovers of conflict.  So why do we call a few thousand Muslims in Syria/Iraq an evil, fascist, scum, a death cult?

David Mitchell on bombing Syria (extract)

Hilary Benn has quite a robust interpretation of the parable of the Good Samaritan. In his version, the Samaritan doesn’t just help the traveller who’s been mugged, he volunteers to seek out and blow the living crap out of the poor chap’s assailants, despite the obvious practical difficulties of knowing who they are and tracking them down. This is the Good Samaritan as played by Charles Bronson. But to do anything less, the shadow foreign secretary apparently believes – as revealed when he quoted the parable while urging his fellow MPs to bomb Syria last week — would be to “walk by on the other side of the road”.
Benn’s claim that only by releasing explosives over another large section of the Middle East are we truly respecting Jesus’s exhortation to love our neighbour as ourselves was the most ingenious piece of rhetoric in what has been quite the rhetorical purple patch for British politics.
Benn’s speech was full of gems, calling Isis (or IS or Isil or Daesh – there are almost as many words for it as there are for shagging) “fascists”. “They hold us in contempt. They hold our values in contempt… They hold our democracy… in contempt… And my view, Mr Speaker, is that we must now confront this evil.” Close your eyes and feel those Churchillian rhythms.
But Hilary didn’t have the monopoly on portentous utterances. Alan Johnson said there was “a real and present danger”. Another Labour MP, Dan Jarvis declared “there is still a dignity in uniting with our allies in common cause against a common enemy in defence of our common humanity”, a phrase he might have saved for when the House of Commons votes on a motion to fight back against the Martians.
David Cameron started the week saying that “the decision to take military action is one of the most serious a prime minister can make” – you could just sense how much he was looking forward to it – and the burden of seriousness seemed to lift pretty quickly as, by Tuesday, he was referring to those who opposed military action as “terrorist sympathisers”. And, after the Commons debate had gone the government’s way, Philip Hammond, like an ageing and kindly gunslinger, declared “Britain is safer tonight”.
It’s like they’re jostling to make soundbites worthy of the trailer for a Jack Ryan movie. It’s all serious and stirring, but also inappropriately slightly fun. Frankie Boyle summed up my misgivings when he tweeted about Wednesday’s Commons debate: “Kind of disturbed by the palpable excitement in parliament. The truth is our politicians like wars because they make them feel important".
I know that’s not true of all our politicians – and even when it is, it doesn’t mean they’d start a war for that reason alone. But the parliamentary atmosphere slightly reminded me of an occasion when I was helping install the set and lighting for a theatre show and someone started playing the soundtrack to Crimson Tide through the speakers. Suddenly everyone’s behaviour changed: it now felt like we were heroically erecting the set “against the odds”. Everything felt cheesily dramatic. In a similar way, I think some MPs were seduced by the dramatic beat of a war debate, and it’s ironic that Frankie Boyle was the one to point out that that’s in rather bad taste.
This isn’t to say that I think bombing Syria is the wrong course of action to take. I honestly have no idea. We’re already bombing Iraq (as usual), which I’d actually sort of forgotten but it does make bombing Syria as well seem like less of a big deal. The question, I suppose, is whether we can kill people who hate us at a faster rate than we make other people hate us by killing so many people. And I don’t know the answer to that.
By the way, I realise that the MPs who spoke against military action were probably only less melodramatic in their language because, when advocating appeasement or diplomacy, you have a much less rich rhetorical heritage to draw on. There’s no “Let’s stay out of the breach for now and really commit to the peace process” speech in Henry V.
The truth is that it may be impossible to know the best thing to do. There are situations when military action is disastrously counterproductive and situations when failing to intervene stores up trouble for later. It’ll be a long time before we know for sure which type this one is. Which is why the tone with which our deliberations are conducted might be quite important.

It’s an over-expressed, but often fair, criticism of modern politics that it’s all about style over substance – it’s all spin and we don’t focus on what should actually be done. Well, this issue is an exception: we are focusing on what should be done, but the spin has been rather neglected. And that’s a problem. The politicians need to be worrying less about whether bombing Syria will do any good (which nobody knows) and more on how they’re coming across. Because currently they’re coming across as people enjoying, and buoyed up by, the trappings and exercise of power. And that won’t do.

Tim Farron:
Said he would vote for air strikes on Syria.  But he also said, If we were being asked to bomb Syria, I would vote 'No'.  But this is not a case of just bombing but of standing with UN and international community to do what is right.  Quoted UN reso 2249.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Why it must always be trams and never trains

Why Centro has always wanted a network of tram lines rather than the more obvious, simpler, cheaper, easier to achieve Beeching reversals!

  1. Originally, only a network of tram lines throughout the W Midlands was thought to be able to reduce road congestion in Birmingham.
  2. Now SPRINT buses - the tram that thinks its a bus - is thought to entice car commuters out of their cars.
  3. Hence, we are still going to get Metro trams along Broad Street and part of Hagley Road, along with limited stop, super-smart SPRINT buses also to run the full length of Hagley Road as far as Quinton, only.  These two along with the usual buses and vehicles of all kinds.  Yet more congestion!
  4. The ITA/Centro have always considered the 200 Km of 15 Metro lines by 2000 was always their pet project from 1981.  For 34 years our local councillors have been trying to empire build with trams but are now in their fourth decade of failure.
  5. First Railtrack, then its predecessor Network Fail (whoops, I mean Negligent Rail), have been uninterested in making more work for themselves by reversing the Beeching urban closures (only rural Beeching closures, as in southern Scotland this year).  They can't even do electrification without having to be stopped (suspended) by the Sec of State, from June to September, as happened this year.
  6. Once you get the Establishment moving in the tram rut of road and rail running trams as the answer for congestion, instead of trains being returned, it is quite impossible to get them out of that rut.  It needs a strong minded, free thinking political Master in power, as we have and have had in London.
  7. The people have not been sufficiently interested to question this conventional transport wisdom.  Everyone expects the transport planners and councillors to get on with it - but, they don't get on with it.  Hence, wrong decisions are made and never reversed or even achieved - apart from Metro One, only and, on a rail line too!

Letter to Cllr Gail Sleigh

Do you agree that Bob and you should be arguing to stop wasting the millions of pounds of our European and UK taxes trying to get the network of fifteen tramlines of 200 Km by 2000 across the Black Country and Birmingham?  It was never delivered in 34 years, since 1981, of being very trying to get them.  Yet, the work continues at huge expense.

Do you agree that, INSTEAD, you could simply get Network Rail, the Combined Authority, Centro and the ITA on side to put back the trains and stations on the 78 miles of unused/underused, double track freight lines?  They all had successful passenger trains and stations for 100 years until fifty years ago.  Your colleagues in Network Rail and in Scotland have done it in rural, depopulated, southern Scotland for £300 million for 30 miles, this very year!  Reverse the urban Beeching cuts to improve our 'connectivity', too.

Now, please do it in the heavily congested and the growing population in the Black Country and Brum.  I suggest, the 74 Km Western Bypass rail line, re-opened first to also reduce the train congestion at Grand Central Shopping Centre and basement station.

Why do you all persist in putting up with struggling along congested roads, some literally alongside underused or even empty, double track rail lines?

Remember, Gail, countless business cases and transport plans to improve 'connectivity', over the decades, have been written to justify this long-running, sad, state of affairs.

With every good wish

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Just put the trains and stations back!

Business cases that tell you what you want to justify the worst value for money rail projects but never trains and stations reinstated alongside congested roads!


£500 million per Km (estimate) for HS2 that has to have a spur to bring it to Birmingham city centre edge.

£62 million per Km (actual cost) for Birmingham road running tram extension - very late opening in 2016

£27 million per Km (today's price) for Dudley rail and road running trams - Wednesbury to Brierley Hill.  Never delivered since Midland Metro project began in 1981.  Network of 15 lines and 200 Km by 2000 never delivered.

£6 million per Km (actual cost) for first (professional) Beeching rail reversal but in rural, depopulated, southern Scotland - opened on time in 2015.  49 Km for £294 million for single and double track to the middle of nowhere.

Therefore, £6 to £8 million per Km for my proposed 74 Km Western Bypass Rail Line to help deal with train congestion at Grand Central Shopping Centre (the station is in the basement of John Lewis!) and rising passenger demand for trains.  This is an existing, double track rail alignment (part freight) that is fully safeguarded for the last fifty years.  It goes through the heart of the industrial West Midlands, through the Black Country, from Stourbridge Junction to Derby.

£500 million for 74 Km Western Bypass Rail Line (estimate based on this year's first Beeching reversal opened).
£390 million (official ITA figure) for 15 Km trams from Sandwell Wednesbury to Dudley Brierley Hill.  Geoff Inskip, at the 18 Nov ITA mtg, was confident that the money was in the bag, after the previous week's signatures for the new Combined Authority.


SOURCES: Figures from Patrick McLoughlin Sec of State for Transport
                            from Geoff Inskip, CEO at Centro
                            from Laura Shoaf, Chief Officer, W Midlands Integrated Transport Authority

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Transport blunders in the Black Country and Brum

Rubbish railway policy in the Black Country and Brum

Bullring Shopping Centre was opened in 2003.  With rising rail passenger numbers throughout the 1990s and continuing to this day, your colleagues should have realised that additional tunnels were needed at the eastern approach to Grand Central basement station, then.  The new rail tunnels could have gone in after the demolition of the old Bull Ring and before the shops and stores were built for the new Bullring Shopping Centre.

£750 million of railway money for what is, mainly, yet another brand new shopping centre is a misappropriation of public money.  In other words, corruption.  From the BBC, I heard that Grand Central is likely to be sold to the owners of the Bullring and, Birmingham City Council will profit, as a result.  It will profit from the misappropriation of railway money when, like yourselves, they were also partly responsible for the blunder of failing to build the new rail tunnels in the 1990s.  This, when for years there had been much talk (but never any action, of course) of building an underground railway in Brum!

Both the railway industry, the DfT and Brum City Council are responsible for destroying our original tram network in the 1950s, for destroying about 100 miles of our urban rail network in the 1960s and building roads, offices, houses and trading estates on about 50 miles of former railway line.  There remains 78 Km that the transport authorities refuse to re-open for passenger trains.

78 Km of double track rail lines, some literally alongside roads with bumper to bumper traffic is complete idiocy.  But, this stupid transport policy has gone on for 50 years!

These sincere and well-meaning politicians and officers also demolished not one but two of our magnificent Victorian rail stations.  A third remains standing.  This is Moor Street Station, the closest to Grand Central but it was overlooked for connection to Grand Central in favour of the further away, Snow Hill Station.  Every train that stops at Snow Hill also stops at Moor Street.  Yet, another blunder, Snow Hill was chosen and Moor Street will never get its £100 million per mile (for construction costs) tram!

After 34 years of wasted endeavour to get Midland Metro, some rail lines remain unused and waiting for electric trams that never arrive.  The network of 15 tramlines and 200 Km by the year 2000, never arrived.  They were never delivered in that year or, even fifteen years on!

Grand Central Shopping Centre and station - the station tagged along as an afterthought and shoved in the basement of the John Lewis store - remains one of the UK's worst rail and road congestion bottlenecks.  So much for £750 million of railway money that is mostly wasted!

Please correct me, if I am wrong in any detail, above.  If no-one puts me right, I will assume that my information, here remains accurate.


Dear James and team

Congratulations for winning the vote last night.  When will you win our wars in the Meddle East?

After four years of war, when will your side overthrow Assad to install our democratically elected, Western sympathetic leader?

Your side overthrew the Russian sympathetic President Yanukovych in Ukraine to replace him with our man, Petro Poronshenko.  War in eastern Ukraine ever since.  When will you win that war, James?

Your side has now lost four wars against 'weak', 'powerless' Afghanistan since the first 1839-42 war.

Your side overthrew Saddam but lost everything else; certainly, lost the peace in Iraq.

Your side overthrew Gaddafi (the friend of Tony Blair for a time) but gained anarchy in Libya.

You allowed terrorists to drive us brave Brits out of Palestine in 1947 to install our Judeo-Christian State in the Muslim Meddle East in 1948.  Many wars, over 67 years, ever since.  A failed state in successfully turning its neighbours into enemies. 

Your side overthrew democratically elected Mosadeq in Iran to install our man, the Shah.  Success for a time but little love and respect for the West for doing so, ever since.

Your side overthrew democratically and fairly elected Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to put in our Western sympathetic military government in Cairo.

After this 100 year record of Western and Christian misbehaviour, no wonder a very small minority of Muslims are radicalised and are raging against us!

When will your side make it safe, once more for white faces to move freely in the Meddle East and Tunisia without fear of kidnap and death?

The 'Today' programme this morning said that, in the second year of bombing there have, so far, been 7,500 air strikes to wipe Islamic State off the face of the earth.  Yet, the mightiest military force the world has ever seen, is nowhere near winning.  What is so inept about our armed forces, please James?

Winning votes for war to take place far from our shores, is so easy in safe and secure UK.  Victory in wars to bring tolerance and peace throughout the Near East and Meddle East is never delivered by your side.  Not even in our own powerful and WMD armed Israel!

Best wishes for the start of some true success for your side in 2016.  You certainly need it.


Sunday, 29 November 2015

Some simple solar solutions for Parliament's and my, James

Dear James and team - and copied to Owen Paterson MP

Your letter was about solar.  It was nice of you to write.

It is not clear from your letter that you understand that for those of us who have solar panels on our roofs (micro generation), each of us is reducing, a little, the necessity for macro generation from large fossil fueled and nuclear power stations.  We are generating our own electricity and exporting what we don't use for others to use.  In other words, each of our homes is a mini power station when the sun shines!  Do you understand that, I wonder?

Therefore, is it not right, and only fair and reasonable after all, that we should be paid for the electricity we are generating for the nation?  We are the true patriots, after all!  Or, do you not get it?

Every single building could be generating some electricity for its own use and, what cannot be used, can be exported for others to benefit from.  Of course, we still need macro generation for when the sun does not shine.  But solar is, at least a help, do you not think?

Do any of you have solar power for your own use and that of the nation?

£8,000 for my 24 east and west facing panels on my mid terrace, three bedroom town house and fitted two years ago this month.  I love my rather complacent, smug satisfaction of reducing my greenhouse gas emissions that we can very well do without!  Enhancing the natural greenhouse effect is most definitely not a very good idea, at all!

Please write back to tell me if you understand how important it is economically and ecologically to use the sun to make electricity, when it does shine!

Please set your own brilliant example to your own colleague and friend, Owen Paterson who has never understood.  And he was Secretary of State for the Environment for a time, too!  But, is there any hope for you, James?  Of course, you understand.

Best wishes


from Clare Klocke: Inter-faith insights are wise

But me ,Susan and Rosanne has a good evening on the 28th  in the interfaith walk and talk on climate change.

Buddist chanting ,wise words out of the mouths of young sikh and a jewish  young adult 
and a great speech from a muslim woman .......Not to mention christian voices .
...Insights in how most religions view us as the custodians of "Mother Earth "
not as those who "will use   her until we lose her ".
.The link between the sin greed and materalism .
....HOPE is essential ( but not naivity .)
That coming together to fight climate change requires those of all nations and all beliefs and may actually by a way of promoting peace .
All in all an uplifting experience .
I only wish all religious(and non religious ) people were so open minded and full of sense .

Sunday, 22 November 2015

West is best at overthrowing governments it calls regimes

Why should a government NOT be ruthless in putting down a rebellion?  Any UK government would be.  Even the good people of Scotland in 2014 had the fear of God put up them, if they dared to be so stroppy as to vote for independence from big brother England.  Our problem, in our so well meaning, we know what is best for you fortress, is supporting the rebels to overthrow their governments in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Syria.  And look where it gets us.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Andrew Neil's condemn more; understand less

This was from the heart, of great passion that our side is always right, good and wonderful but what the enemy has done is the epitomy of evil and blame.  Yet, it failed to remind viewers that our Western, European ancestors have done it all first, over the centuries.  And the last century was the most destructive and violent in the history of humanity that was in no way the responsibility of Muslims!

Galloway called it "peerless thunder".  "You would never confuse me with a liberal."   "You have to be iron and steel hard."  "A murder gang; a death cult"  I would shoot them with my own hand.  I want to see them all dead in the street.  Sunni fighting Sunni, said George.  A shoot to kill policy is a bad idea.  I have absolute admiration for Liz Kendall, a person of principle and bravery."

With this war on Islamic State, both our side and IS have killed many more Muslim non-combatants than IS fighters have died at our hands.  Our side must have killed more non-combatants than IS fighters, and even greater numbers this week with the huge increase in French air strikes.

Friday, 20 November 2015

​Switzerland's values v UK/France/US values

Corbyn is NOT a warrior, NOT a warmonger.  He does NOT believe in upping the violence to turn friends into enemies and, then, with more retaliation from our side, making even more ferocious enemies.  Make the UK like Switzerland - famous for non aggression, for being revenge free and, with a first class rail network.  What a fine example for us to follow, James, my friend!  (James Morris, my MP)

Switzerland never attacked Egypt in what the UK, France and Israel called the 'Suez Crisis'.
Switzerland never ousted democratic Prime Minister Mosadeq in Iran.
Switzerland never ousted democratic Allende in Chile on another 9/11.  This time, 1973.
Switzerland never ousted Saddam from Iraq in 2003 or the Taliban in 2001, only to find that the Taliban popped up again, al Qaeda was reinvigorated and Islamic State also rose like a phoenix out of the ashes of our own making in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
Switzerland did not remove Gaddafi from Libya to make things worse for the people there.
Switzerland is not part of the crusader ("if you are not for us you are against us" GW Bush) coalition of the willing to oust Bashar al Assad from Syria.
Non-aligned Switzerland does not get attacked, bombed and hated for killing our fellow humans 3,000 miles away.
Switzerland is morally strong on the world stage.
UK/France/US is militarily strong on the world stage.

Humanity v Life support systems

“So we are left with a stark choice: allow climate disruption to change everything about our world, or change pretty much everything about our economy to avoid that fate.”  “But what if it’s all a hoax and we create a better world for nothing?”  Naomi KleinThis Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (2014)

Monday, 16 November 2015

Love empty but available rail lines; hate their waste, their disuse, their lying idle!

Reflections after my first Railfuture conference
This was an excellent and well organised conference with a range of interesting speakers who all held my attention.  This was easily good enough for the professionals to attend, of whom we did have James Freeman of FirstBus and Matthew Golton of GWR who spoke and, stayed for the whole day.  They are a credit to their profession and I give both 10 out of 10!  More of their colleagues from around the UK should have attended and could have learnt so much from what they are doing, in my opinion.  Now for something different.

To make it less tedious to read, these are my jaundiced and bolshy views about the English rail industry and their transport planners - and, put in bullet points because my stuff and nonsense, I am convinced, never ever gets read, because nothing ever changes!  The professionals, on very good salaries, are making far too many mistakes, from what I can gather.  Here goes:-

  • 15 tram lines, covering 200 miles by the year 2000 as the professionals predicted were never delivered.  After 34 years, only the one line has still to be completed to Birmingham Grand Central!
  • 38 Km unused, strategic and nationally important double track rail line, called the Black Country Line, for 50 years without passenger trains - only some freight for 6 Km!
  • Next door, 57 Km in Birmingham of double track rail lines with their stations demolished and no passenger service - for 50 years!
  • Yet, 160 Km to Birmingham of HS2 at £50 billion of brand new, greenfield, super fast rail lines are essential said Toby top man Rackliff of the (gone)West Midlands (dis)Integrated Transport Authority.  Essential in order to release capacity on the rail network.  But 38 plus 57 Kms are already released and available now to take passenger trains in the Black Country and Brum!
  • Today, in Bristol, some of the nation’s most enthusiastic railway campaigners were not at all put out by being told this.  It seemed to be a thoroughly normal state of affairs for every single one!  Neither Toby top professional Rackliff (when I saw him on the 15 October in Centro House) nor the 130 Railfuture rail enthusiasts, today were at all impressed with unused or underused rail lines in a heavily road and rail congested, urban conurbation.
  • No-one was bothered that, on the 38 Km, a fully operational rail line of freight or trams must be done FIRST before stations are rebuilt and the re-introduction of possibly only a shuttle passenger service can be achieved (so says very top Transport Officer, Laura Shoaf in September 2015 and Passenger Services Director, Tom Magrath in 2000)
  • Both the professional and amateur rail enthusiasts seem to want new trains on new lines but not new (or old) trains on existing urban (partly used) rail lines literally alongside or very near to commuter congested roads in the heart of the densely populated Black Country.
  • They think that HS2 and HS3 should have been built 20 or 30 years ago (GWR Commercial Development Director, Matthew Golton) but are not at all bothered that today urban rail lines are used for freight but not for passenger trains - as was the case for 100 years!
  • Should not electrification have been completed first, 20 or 30 years ago?
  • The professional and amateurs think it is lovely for the Swiss to have electrified their rail network in only two decades, 70 years ago but believe it is quite normal for the hopeless but so brave, battling around the Middle East, Brits to be still at it after five decades and, still, nowhere near being completed!
  • Goodness me!  You can’t have one rail project completed before you go on to the next.
  • Never allow the successful 100 year old passenger service to return to the freight lines but let them stew and steam in their cars in bumper to bumper traffic alongside the lines!
  • President of Railfuture, Christian Wolmar said that there is a rocky road ahead for rail in the coming years but failed to say that this will never be the case for HS2 or HS3 and, certainly, never the case for Crossrail 2 because that is in London!
  • The 40 mins service on the short Walsall to Wolverhampton rail service was a dismal failure last decade but a 20 mins turn up and go will attract the punters, says (no)Railfuture (their top rail re-opening)!
  • Is this, Railfuture being over ambitious in wanting a turn up and go on the 8 Km line or lacking in ambition in not wanting the really useful, SW to NE cross country trains and commuter service between the 38 Km of Stourbridge and Lichfield?
  • Smart Motorways and, now, high speed and underground rail lines must be built before returning the trains and stations to the most important and easily available rail line that could be opened in all the UK.
  • This is the strategic, 38 Km Black Country Rail Line that goes through the heart of a densely populated urban conurbation.
  • New housing estates are going up next to the line but the proud owners must jump in their motors but never walk/cycle or bus to the train station because it will never be re-built!
  • Ah!  But that is where you are wrong, Tim.  Laura says it will be in the 2040s, at the earliest!
  • How very strange that neither the professionals nor the amateurs have it as their top priority.
  • Cross Country Trains should be clamouring for this rail line to be re-opened, double quick.  It would give them a new rail path to bypass Birmingham Grand Central and the competition  between the tocs for the paths there.
  • It would grow their business and boost their profits when the passengers are there for the taking.
  • It would help them to be given the next franchise.
  • How very peculiar that having spent £¾ billion on Grand Central Shopping Centre and basement station to improve the passenger (shopping) experience but never the train congestion there, the professionals and the amateurs still don’t get how the Black Country Line could help reduce the very grandest rail and road congestion bottlenecks in the UK - the ever so shiny and mirror-like Grand Central!
  • How very strange that for all of them, their tops for a Beeching reversal was the £10 million per mile, partly single track rail line through the heart of beautiful, rural, depopulated southern Scotland to the middle of nowhere.  Well, had you heard of Tweedbank?
  • The actual top priority for the West Midlands professional and amateurs is the £100 million per mile tram extension through pedestrianised shopping streets in Birmingham city centre, when bio or electric buses would be more sensible.
  • How very strange that both the professional and the amateur experts want Light Rail, or Very Light Rail or the tram-train or the Parry People Mover on the nation’s most important and strategic, national rail line.  Never good ol’, ordinary diesel or electric trains for passengers to use instead of their cars.  Ghost trains, perhaps!
  • Never, ever learn from what our forebears did with rail lines.  They used them for trains.  Today, we confuse ourselves, love to complicate matters and most definitely waste our taxes on not using them for passenger trains.  Sometimes for freight and, in the past, for roads and, as an interesting innovation, even for offices, hotels and homes to run down them!
  • All your eggs in one basket transport policy of always cars and buildings on urban rail lines and, now in the case of the Black Country Line, carbon capturing trees and shrubs but never trains.  So what?  Whatever next?  Climate catastrophe in a fast warming world?  We better get more trees on urban rail lines.  Double quick.
  • Love empty but available rail lines; hate their waste, their disuse, their lying idle!