Saturday 23rd August 2014
Assemble 12.15pm at Horseshoe Common – BH1 1HL – Ready to move off at 12.45pm.
Rail privatisation has failed to deliver for rail users and taxpayers; has brought in little private sector investment and private train companies are heavily dependent upon the public purse to enable them to run services, according to a new TUC- commissioned report, The Great Train Robbery – written by the Centre for Research on Social-Cultural Change (CRESC) at the University of Manchester.
And when train companies do make a profit, barely any of it is re-invested in the railways, says the study. It reveals that those firms receiving the largest state subsidies spend, on average, over 90 per cent of their profits on shareholder dividends.
This contrasts sharply with the East Coast Mainline, which is currently state run and which re-invests all of its profits into improving the service.
The Great Train Robbery looks at many of the key objectives behind the decision of John Major’s government to privatise the railways in 1994. The report questions whether any of these have been achieved:
Commenting on the report, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘This study explodes the myth that rail firms are bringing added value to our railways. In reality they rely upon taxpayers to turn a profit, virtually all of which ends up in shareholders’ pockets, rather than being used to improve services.
‘Rail privatisation has not brought the improvements its cheerleaders promised – the average age of trains has increased and most new investment is funded by the state.
‘The claim that private train operators are responsible for more people using the railways must also be taken with a huge pinch of salt. Passenger growth has mirrored changes in the wider economy and is not the result of creative marketing drives by companies.
‘The government must accept that the current model is broken. Its determination to impose franchising across the network – even on the East Coast Mainline which is performing well as a nationalised service – shows ministers are ignoring the evidence of 20 years of failure.’
CRESC Director Professor Karel Williams said: ‘The privately owned train operating companies have hijacked the government’s rail reform agenda which is all about ‘getting franchising back on track’.
‘Our research shows how the franchising system allows them to distribute profits at low cost from public subsidy.
‘It would make sense to abolish the train operating companies and it would cost the taxpayer nothing if it were done as the franchises expired.
”Train and track operation could then be integrated under a new publicly-owned National Rail, operating within defined budgets over sustained funding periods.’
The Great Train Robbery says that:
The declaration below represents the beginning of a democratic process leading towards a second People’s Assembly in early 2014. This declaration represents the views of all those who initially called for the People’s Assembly. We hope it will be endorsed by the People’s Assembly on 22nd June. It will then be open to the local People’s Assembly’s, union bodies and campaign groups who support the People’s Assembly to suggest amendments, additions, or deletions. These will then all be discussed and decided upon at the recall People’s Assembly in 2014.
The plans for action are simply the most obvious rallying points for a national anti-cuts movement for the remainder of 2013. They are not intended to supersede local or sectional action by existing campaigns or trade unions. They are intended to be focus national, collective action by the whole anti-austerity movement.
The People’s Assembly, meeting in Westminster Central Hall, declares:
We face a choice that will shape our society for decades to come. It is a choice faced by ordinary people in every part of the globe.
We can defend education, health and welfare provision funded from general taxation and available to all, or we can surrender the gains that have improved the lives of millions of people for over more than 50 years.
We do not accept that government’s austerity programme is necessary. The banks and the major corporations should be taxed at a rate which can provide the necessary resources. Austerity does not work: it is a failure in its own terms resulting in neither deficit reduction nor growth. It is not just: the government takes money from the pockets of those who did not cause the crisis and rewards those who did. It is immoral: our children face a bleaker future if our services and living standards are devastated. It is undemocratic: at the last election a majority voted against the return of a Tory government. The Con-Dem coalition has delivered us into the grip of the Tories’ whose political project is the destruction of a universal welfare state.
We therefore choose to resist. We refuse to be divided against ourselves by stories of those on ‘golden pensions’, or of ‘scroungers’, or the ‘undeserving poor’. We do not blame our neighbours, whatever race or religion they maybe. We are not joining the race to the bottom. We stand with the movement of resistance across Europe.
We are clear in our minds that our stand will require us to defend the people’s right to protest, and so we support the right of unions and campaigns to organise and take such action as their members democratically decide is necessary.
We stand with all those who have made the case against the government so far: in the student movement, in the unions, in the many campaigns to defend services, the NHS, and in the Coalition of Resistance, the People’s Charter, UK Uncut, the environmental movement and the Occupy movement.
We do not seek to replace any organisations fighting cuts. All are necessary. But we do believe that a single united national movement is required to challenge more effectively a nationally led government austerity programme.
We have a plain and simple goal: to make government abandon its austerity programme. If it will not it must be replaced with one that will.
We will concentrate on action not words. We aim to provide the maximum solidarity for unions and other organisations and others taking action. We support every and all effective forms action and aim to build a united national movement of resistance.
Our case is clear. The government’s austerity programme does not work; it is unjust, immoral and undemocratic. Alternatives exist. Debts can be dropped. Privatisation can be reversed and common ownership embraced. A living wage can begin to combat poverty. Strong trade unions can help redistribute profit. The vast wealth held by corporations and the trillions held by the super rich in tax havens can be tapped. Green technology, alternatives to the arms industries, a rebuilt infrastructure including growth in manufacturing are all desperately needed. We are fighting for an alternative future for this generation and for those that come after us.
The vicar of Littlemoor Church has issued a urgent appeal due to the Weymouth foodbank running short of supplies. People in Littlemoor, Westham, Portland are those who will be most affected by this shortage. The items that they are running short of are:
If you are able to donate any items or donations these will be gratefully received.
Food can be dropped at the Weymouth and Portland Food Bank at 18 The Esplanade, Weymouth, every Tuesday and Friday morning, from 10.30am to 12.30pm. Call 07531 167465 for more information.
Some thoughts from a local activist, Kim Elkin, Bournemouth Uncut, reproduced with kind permission
So I’ve been protesting for the last three days, and people have wanted to know how they can get involved and fight the cuts. So if you’re sat there quietly coming up to the boil, and want to do something, there are many ways you can help.
Some of them are: Write a blog, maybe you have a useful skill such as media? Maybe you understand twitter, many of us activists just can’t get our heads around it! Tweet and Facebook your discontent.
Maybe your good at writing press releases, or taking photo’s or video’s of local demos? Write to your MP. Write to David Cameron or any of his laccys. Paint a banner for a local action or make a sign if your arty.
Make up a protest song if you’re musical. Hand out some leaflets with some very friendly activists.
Talk to your friends. Join your local anti cuts coalition/group or UK Uncut action. Sign a petition. Come to the Peoples’ Assembly. Anything but keep calm and carry on!
No one likes being shafted by a bunch of parasitic toffs. If you’re feeling the rage too then get involved. Much as we need people on the streets, if that’s really not for you then we also have a multitude of ways you can help… and it’s very therapeutic!