Saturday, June 23, 2007

Referendum Now

Mr Blair's final days in office are marked by the decit which has become the hallmark of his premiership. He is conceding vast powers to the EU, an organisation which already has far too much power. He is pretending he is not doing so in an attempt to avoid giving us a democratic choice.

We need to push Mr Brown to give us the referendum we were promised on this constitution. The "concessions" Mr Blair has "secured" will be cut away by the EU bureaucrats and they are not as robust as they appear to be. We are far better off without this treaty than with it. It does nothing for our country or our people. We should have a vote on it and reject it. We need a new partnership with the EU, similar to those enjoyed by Norway and Switzerland - free to take the good ideas and reject the bad and merely average. Conceding yet more power to the EU threatens our already weak democracy. We must say yes to running our own affairs and no to this treaty.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Better Trains Campaign - Update

Those of you who use the Portsmouth to London line will know that South West Trains has downgraded the rolling stock used on the line from 444 trains (designed for long distance work) to 450 trains designed for suburban work with fiendishly uncomfortable seats five aside seats in second class and second class style seats in first class.

Siemens, the manufacturer recommend that 450 trains be used for journeys of no more than thirty minutes whereas the journey from London to Portsmouth takes over and hour and a half. South West Trains asserts that it is using these trains to provide more seats which is a little bit of a nonsense given that the average adult male cannot fit into the seats provided. I'm told that the seats provide 17 inches across at the shoulder whereas the average English male is 18.5 inches across at the shoulder. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that South West Trains has decided to provide us with an inferior service to save money and enhance profits, having safely secured a long term franchise from the Labour government.

I attended a meeting of the local rail users group on 5th June at Rowlands Castle. Unfortunately South West Trains is still resisting our demands that the rolling stock we had in 2006 be restored to the line. Nevertheless, they have now provided one high quality commuter train in the evening - the 1815 from Waterloo which will doubtless become hideously overcrowded as everyone decamps to it to escape the misery of the 1800 and 1830 trains.

The meeting was well attended with about thirty commuters making their continuing disgust and frustration with South West Trains' actions clear. The rail users group may now take up the matter with the Office of Rail Regulation. In the longer term, the number of people (myself included) finding that we have bad backs as a direct result of the long jurneys on the 450 trains may put pressure on South West Trains to provide better rolling stock as individuals try making claims in court against them on health grounds.

It should not be an issue of robbing another line to get good trains. The 442 class (good express trains with c. 15 years of working life left in them) were recently decommissioned by South West Trains after it failed to agree a contract with the train leasing company. I understand these trains are now rotting in a siding while we have to tolerate trains totally unsuited to our long distance route.

If you want to add your voice to our campaign please log onto and sign the petition.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Crime & Disorder

While we live in what is in many ways a very peaceful part of the country we have been troubled by various unpleasant incidents this year. We don't have a large local police presence and we have become reliant on the state to deal with minor incidents which, in a previous generation, would have been dealt with differently, if indeed they arose.

Dealing with the social problems which underly some incidents is something which will take many years of resolute Conservative government, unafraid to challenge the 1968 liberal (or anarchist) consensus. Right now, given the priorities and prejudices of our current government, we can probably, at best, hope to treat the symptoms.

Various public spirited people in Milland and Rogate want to help improve the situation but they and I would welcome your suggestions. Do write if you have particular ideas to deal with particular issues: