So Andy Burnham the chap from Aintree, who was backed by Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson was soundly beaten in the Labour Leadership election.
Would it have been nice to have a national party political leader from Sefton? On one level I suppose it would but on many other levels it was for the best that Labour members rejected Mr Burnham. Why? Because he came over as a popularist to me who would bend what he stood for to fit what people who may vote for him would want to see and hear.
I am no Labour supporter but at least they now have a leader who is a socialist and is that not what Labour are supposed to be, socialists? Certainly their literature locally has been all anti-austerity whilst nationally their leaders have been bashing those unfortunate enough to need welfare. Maybe now we will see a consistent message. One can only hope.
By the way can I make a plea for Labour Party members to take notice of MP Esterson. His Sefton Councillors seem to vote the opposite way to which he has publicly called on them to vote (Green Belt, library closures and Formby Parking charges) and now the wider Labour membership has voted the opposite way to his pleas in his party’s leadership election. Come on Labour members give Bill a break.
Stop Press:- Bill is now backing Jeremy Corbyn who won the contest!
It’s time to welcome the Labour Party back to what it should be, a socialist party. For far too many years it has looked and felt like a Tory Party MK11 otherwise known as the Red Tories.
I am not a socialist and am certainly not in any way a supporter of the Labour Party yet I am strangely pleased that it has seemingly gone back to its roots. In recent years I have seen Labour at a local level opposing every measure of austerity yet at a national level doing the exact opposite as the likes of Rachel Reeves attacked the welfare system in ways I found appalling. So here is an opportunity to make Labour honest as opposed to off to the left locally and off to the right nationally.
The election was an odd affair where Labour seemed hell bent on doing itself as much damage as possible. 3 candidates from Labour’s right wing – all far to far to the right for me – and one of the socialist tradition.
Burnham was the worst of the lot for me as he seemed to put himself forward as a person who stood for whatever voters wanted of him. Would it be unkind to say he looked every inch a popularist? Oddly, I represented Aintree, where Burnham hails from, on Sefton Council for a dozen years.
For all Corbyn’s faults and I suspect there are many he came over as the best available candidate despite Labour’s big guns doing all they could to hole him below the waterline. But the more they attacked him from the right the stronger his support grew from the left.
Of course he is an unlikely Prime Minister but so was Miliband. Will Labour win in 2020? Very, very unlikely but that was always going to be the case no matter who became their Leader. Trouble is Labour’s right wing are seeking to blame Corbyn already for his not winning in 2020 in the hope they can destabelise his leadership sooner rather later.
The big challenge for Labour now though is electoral reform which they have in the many always resisted as it was not in their narrow political interests. Yes, Labour has to embrace PR but that’s a big ask for the old Labour war horses; yet even that old prize fighter John Prescot seems up for it.
We now have a obviously Liberal Lib Dem Party under Tim (a bit of a leftie) Farron as opposed to a party of the middle ground as it had become since Charles Kennedy stepped down as leader. And it seems we have what could turn out to be socialist party in Labour under Corbyn. Yet the Tories remain an odd conundrum. Cameron is firmly a prisoner of the right and UKIP and looks a poor leader these days constantly being blown by the wind. Will the Tories go further right under Osborne or popularist under Boris when Cameron hangs up his hat or is advised to sling his hook?
I have the feeling that Farron and Corbyn may well shape a new way forward for the left but of course we on the left will never agree – we never have – and that’s why the Tories do so well.
Aintree once had a huge steam shed, known as 8L to supply the local rail network with motive power in the form of steam engines.
Once a year it would be inundated with engines when the Grand National was on but it was a busy shed anyway right through until the 1960’s.
Not so long ago I received a card and on it was a black and white photo of a steam engine ‘on shed’ at Aintree so I thought I would share the photo which I have scanned from the card.
Loco 45529 Stephenson at Aintree Shed
Lick on the photo to enlarge it.
For those interested in learning more about Aintree Shed and the other steam sheds across Merseyside there is an excellent book by Kenn Pearce called Shed Side on Merseyside – The Last Days of Steam
The photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-
Aintree Station does not look much these days; it could be anywhere. Only the horse in the modern brickwork (see first photo) is a nod to what was once a grand station of great importance.
Now an old black and white shot of the station in its hey day, which I purchased not so long ago:-
Click on this photo to enlarge it
On to some more shots of the station as it is now. Be prepared to be disappointed:-
The questions that arise from these photos are:-
Why did Aintree lose its wonderful glass roof with its cast iron supporting columns?
How can a station like Maghull (two stops down the line to Ormskirk) be very much as it was back in Victorian days whilst being modernised in a sympathetic way but Aintree lost everything?
Aintree is no longer a ‘big’ junction station yet why was it not downsized whilst keeping its historic splendor?
I suspect that generations of owners – BR, Railtrack and Network Rail – have not been good guardians of the property and bit by bit it slipped into decay until it got to the point where it needed an almost complete rebuild in an unfortunate modern way.
My previous posting about the station of last month (May 2015) is available via the link below:-
The 4 photos above are also amongst my Flickr shots at:-
I have recently purchased copies of some really good old photo’s from the National Railway Museum’s collection in York. 3 of them relate to Aintree and here they are:-
Aintree Coal sidings – April 1911
Aintree Racecourse Station – 1912
Aintree Sefton Arms Station – April 1913
The photos are amongst my Flickr shots at:-
Over the past 20 years or so Merseytravel, see my previous posts, have oft spoken about reopening this branch which runs from Aintree Station on the Liverpool – Ormskirk Line to join the Liverpool – Southport Line just north of Bootle New Strand Station.
It was once a passenger and goods line which was 3rd rail electrified and there were stations at Ford and Linacre Road. Indeed, it served a wider purpose as at the Aintree end it originally went through to Fazakerley to join the Liverpool – Kirkby Line and there was an additional station called Aintree Racecourse. At the western end it served Gladstone Dock and connected with Seaforth Sands Station of the Liverpool Overhead Railway. This final connection enabled Overhead Railway trains to reach Aintree for the Grand National meeting.
The line originally opened in August 1866 with Ford & Linacre Road stations opening in 1906 and closing in April 1951
Below are a couple of recent photos of the line as it is now. Both were taken from the Hawthorne Road over-bridge looking west and east respectively.
The link below may be of interest to readers:-
But the reason I raise this matter now is that if there is to be a significant new rail connection with the enlarged docks at Seaforth (see my posting of 25th April 2014) then this mothballed railway is potentially a part of the solution.
The photos above are amongst my Flickr shots at:-