Thoughts on a depressing General Election

It had become apparent to those of us involved in politics that what came to pass was coming so in many ways the result was no surprise.

Contributory factors?

Corbyn – Yes I know and understand that his devotees couldn’t and still can’t see any faults in him but those outside of that bubble always could. The 2017 GE should have been a wake up call as a credible opposition would have won that election. But the cracks were papered over on the back of Labour winning some seats back from the Tories when that was in fact an indication of failure not success. The following two years only emphasised to the electorate that he was not a good political leader so when the electorate delivered Labour’s worst GE result in generations it was really no surprise.

Swinson – Too keen to focus on Brexit rather than wider political issues, too inexperienced as a political leader, not able to engage with ordinary voters who stopped listening to her.

Johnson – Reasonably well managed by a ruthless Tory high command who kept him almost on their message most of the time. And where they felt he would perform badly they kept him securely locked away, such as at the Ch4 climate change debate. Untrustworthy, someone who follows the political wind, terrible when questioned under pressure and a significant tendency to say things not borne out by the facts. At face value not a political leader whom the electorate would normally get behind, but they did. Why? Because the other options were worse in their eyes.

Brexit – Of course it has poisoned our political debate with all the lies, misrepresentations and bizarre made up stories. However, it has been brewing for at least 2 generations via quite ridiculous press stories which senior politicians have not had the courage to address. They knew the stories were lies and at best misrepresentations but it was always handy for the EU to get the blame for the UK’s political and financial ills. What they allowed to fester came to bite us all hard on the backside.

Apart from a very few I suspect that the vast majority of voters:-

* voted the way they always have but with little if any enthusiasm
* voted for their least worst option
* did not vote tactically because it’s an alien concept in our first past the post electoral system

Where did it all start to go wrong? I guess we can all point to significant political events but for me it started when Labour elected the wrong Miliband as their leader, as they became step by step more unelectable.

Where are we going? Very difficult to say. Fundamentally it probably depends how much power the Tory ERG has within their new Parliamentary Party. The more power they have the bigger the risks to the UK. Johnson will hate being unpopular and he will want to stay as PM as long as he can, remember from his perspective it is all about him. Will he address the desperate situation of our NHS and our connected social care system or will he let them continue to decline so his ERG-types can have the US style health system which only works for the wealthy? The answer to this question will probably define his premiership.

Has Johnson got Brexit done? No of course not, only a fool would think that. It will be 10 to 15 or even more years before Brexit is actually done or that we realise that we have all been done.

Civil Parish boundaries and what they mean

The other day I received a letter raising an issue that unless you have been close to how parish councils are allowed (by statute) to operate you may well not be aware of.

It concerned Maghull Town Council’s distribution of Christmas hampers but it could have been about other expenditure of that or indeed any other parish council. You see parish councils are limited in the main from expending money other than for the benefit of the civil parish residents of their own parish. So for example Melling Parish Council could not expend money in say Aintree Village Civil Parish unless doing so would create a benefit for Melling residents.

A pictorial representation of the ‘M’ Maghull logo by Keith Page of Lydiate.

In the case of the issue raised with me it was someone wishing to nominate a Lydiate Civil Parish beneficiary for a Maghull Christmas hamper. The answer from Maghull Council was no and the reason for the no was the legislation that made the rule that I mentioned above. To be fair I think a newspaper article had inadvertently contributed to the uncertainty as it had, I’m told (I didn’t actually see the article), not made it clear that nominations were limited to Maghull residents.

Of course there’s a wider issue here as to whether individual parish councils should or indeed should not do certain things. In the case of Christmas hampers for the elderly/needy some parish councils will distribute them and others will choose to spend the council tax they collect in different ways. I’m not taking sides here just trying to say that each individual parish council will spend its money in differing ways, sometimes very different ways but so long as the expenditure is within the law then that’s fine – it’s a policy decision.

Those who know me well will realise that I’m a big fan of parish councils as they are the closet form of democracy we have to the people. I love the quirkiness of parish councils and the fact that they each can move in very different ways to address the perceived needs of their own community. This is so different from District, Borough and County councils which can be so similar in what they do or don’t do, no matter which political party is running them.

I’ll of course bring the letter I received to the attention of Lydiate Parish Council.

Maghull – Town Council’s Parks Survey

Maghull’s Moss Park photoed a few years back

Maghull has quite a lot of parks and gardens and they’re all under the control of Maghull Town Council – none are run by Sefton Borough Council. They are:-

King George V Park,
Glenn Park
Whinneybrook Field
Moss Park
Mersey Avenue Park
South Mead Park
Round Meade Park
Bobby’s Wood
Ball’s Wood
Dodds Park
Old Hall Park
Old Hall Field
Moorhey Park

Some years ago, during the Blair Government when I both lived in Maghull and was a Town Councillor*, the Town Council had a ‘Best Value’ report done by an independent person to assess the quality of its park and gardens and whether the maintenance of them should be put out to tender. The end result was that the report showed they were best run in house and that the parks were a positive factor in people coming to live in the Town as they were so well presented.

Now some years on the present Town Council is conducting a survey of what Maghull residents feel about their parks in 2019 and here’s a link to that survey:-

www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MTCparks2019

Any user of Maghull’s parks can take part so why not have your say.

Maghull’s KGV Park

Note – Click on the two photos to enlarge them

Thanks to John Harrison for the lead to this posting

* I now live in Lydiate and am a Lydiate Parish Councillor

York and its ‘real time’ buses

A recent visit to that lovely city of York and I was riding on its network of park and ride buses, which I’ve done many times before. But this time was rather odd as ‘real time’ notifications at bus stops can clearly be a little bizarre.

It was around 6.30pm and the First Bus back to Designer Outlet (No.7) from Tower Street was said by the real time bus stop screen to be 20 minutes away, with the following one only a minute behind it. I thought that was odd and that’s what it turned out to be.

The screen jumped to only a 13 minute wait in no time at all; the bus must have been flying so to speak. From there it counted down to a 6 minute wait but then shot back up to a 13 minute wait. Had the driver left someone behind and about turned to pick them up?

A brief conversation with a fellow and obviously local passenger awaiting the same bus and I’m told the screens and the buses aren’t necessarily in harmony with each other. Mm, that’s just what I had been wondering.

The screen kept changing and eventually it signalled an 8 minute wait. However, the bus then appeared!

Well yes, it was Cyber Monday and the traffic was very heavy but we were supposed to be looking at real time information so was it not real or indeed timely information?

York and/or it’s bus company must have invested significantly in the technology to provide passengers/customers with reliable real time information but what we were looking at was random information purporting to be helpful and even accurate.

Cyber Monday is supposedly about good value online deals, I wonder where York went for its real time technology deal?

Special charter train on Merseyrail’s Northern Lines

Branch Line Society charter train at the new Maghull North Station 08 12 19

To follow up my posting of yesterday (linked below)

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/12/08/maghull-north-branch-line-society-charter-train-on-ormskirk-line/

here are two videos which have been published on You Tube of the special train on the Ormskirk and Southport lines:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZdtJOZZ1o8

www.youtube.com/watch?v=VB9wn8pel8Q

Maghull North – Branch Line Society Charter Train on Ormskirk Line

At lunchtime today a Branch Line Society charter train came through Maghull on the Liverpool – Ormskirk Merseyrail Line and I was there to see it at the new(ish) Maghull North Station.

Unexpectedly it stopped at Maghull North for 15 minutes allowing photographers both on and off the train to take photos. Here are my shots of the unique event. It is very rare to see anything other than Merseyrail’s own Class 507/508 EMU’s on the line. Indeed, this could well be the first charter train to visit and stop at Maghull’s new station. Please correct me if I am wrong here:-

The 4 coach train was topped and tailed by two West Coast Railways Class 47’s – 47 245 & 47 826.

The 2nd photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/