Today is the Queen’s Speech. Quite possibly the most newsworthy item of the day but I sincerely doubt it.
Many tomes will be written today and in the future about the cynical content of the speech and how it is in effect a pre-manifesto manifesto so I don’t for one minute propose to add to that weight of words.
Instead, I propose to discuss something I feel is far more newsworthy today as I believe it ‘slipped’ under the radar yesterday in the furore of an investment announcement.
Yesterday, Lord Adonis announced that the 10 worst railway stations in England would each get to share £50m. That much we already know.
Fair enough, in the past I have been ‘quietly impressed’ with Lord Adonis and his apparent concern for doing the right thing by the railways but somehow, this just doesn’t sit comfortably with Parlez~me~’n~Tory.
How does Lord Adonis suddenly (1 day prior to a huge swathe of announcements within the Queen’s Speech) decide which stations are to be in his remit for this investment proposal?
What criteria was used for determining the worst stations in the country? Was this a consultative process? If so, with whom and when?
Personally, I believe that the only consultation (external to rail management) was between members of the Cabinet and only very senior members at that.
It is the belief of Parlez~me~’n~Tory that the criteria used was based purely on the best possible chance of a positive return at the General Election. Shall I put that statement into perspective?
Let’s take a look at the stations that are set to benefit and who controls the community. The 2nd line of each entry indicates: MP (Constituency/Benefitting area, Party) Majority (Year entered Parliament):
Margaret Hodge (Barking, Lab) 8,883 (1994)
Station: Clapham Junction
Martin Linton (Battersea, Lab) 163 (1997)
Edward Timpson (Crewe & Nantwich, Con) 7,860 (2008)
Station: Liverpool Central
Maria Eagle (Liverpool, Garston, Lab) 7,193 (1997)
Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside, Lab) 10,214 (1997)
Peter Kilfoyle (Liverpool, Walton, Lab) 15,957 (1991)
Jane Kennedy (Liverpool, Wavertree, Lab) 5,173 (1992)
Robert Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby, Ind) 15,225 (1983)
Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North, Lab) 6,487 (1997)
Margaret Moran (Luton South, Lab) 5,650 (1997)
Station: Manchester Victoria
Tony Lloyd (Manchester Central, Lab) 9,776 (1983)
Graham Stringer (Manchester, Blackley, Lab) 12,027
Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton, Lab) 5,808 (1970)
John Leech (Manchester, Withington, Ldem) 667 votes (2005)
Mark Hendrick (Preston, Lab) 9,407 (2000)
Ann Coffey (Stockport, Lab) 9,163 (1992)
Station: Warrington Bank Quay
Helen Jones (Warrington North, Lab) 12,204 (1997)
Helen Southworth (Warrington South, Lab) 3,515 (1997)
Station: Wigan North Weston
Neil Turner (Wigan, Lab) 11,767 (1999)
Do you notice a pattern developing?
It is rather obvious that apart from a token Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Independent the rest are Labour; not exactly with the strongest majorities either.
So, we have many Government ministers that were already set to enter the General Election campaign on very shaky ground who can now point to a huge cash investment in their region as evidence of what the Labour Government can and will do for their community. [It would be very interesting to do some analysis on what the breakdown of each local council is for these regions]…anyone wish to do that work?
Expect countless cries of ‘you wouldn’t get this under a Tory Government’ most notably in the voice of John Prescott to ram home hard the ‘working class’ Labour perception.
With the strategic position of the vast majority of these seats, [don't think for one minute they weren't chosen without that in mind] this investment turns out to be not quite what you thought it was yesterday and with the Queen’s speech today this will be all but lost in the noise. This cannot be allowed to happen.
MP’s from all sides, lobbyists and the blogosphere must leap on this and challenge Lord Adonis for the truth behind his rationale.
This post was first published on the Parlez~me~’n~Tory blog.