Censure of Transport Secretary
On a Labour Opposition Day debate, Labour put down a motion of censure on the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling. If the Government lost the vote, it would mean in theory the Secretary of State losing a portion of his salary. The reality is though is that it was a vote of no confidence in the Secretary. Not surprisingly, it caused the Government to vote once again and defeat the motion.
I spoke in favour of the motion which while it related to his handling of the East Coast Franchise, I listed other issues and failings. Interestingly, the Tory Rail Minister, Jo Johnson argued it was a vindictive motion and should not have been put forward. I understand him defending his secretary of state, but he clearly chose to ignore the fact that Chris Grayling and Teresa May herself had used such a motion in the past against a Labour Minister. I assume that when they did this, it wasn’t vindictive but completely justified! Also, David Davis the Brexit Secretary was telling me it was a ploy the Tories used all the time in 1979 against the Labour Government Ministers. What goes round comes round apparently.
Bailout or Not?
A key argument about the East Coast Mainline is that the Virgin/Stagecoach consortia, VTECH, are having the franchise terminated and the Government will operate it instead. Had VTECH continued in place they would have had to pay £2bn in track rental fees. Now of course they are allowed to walk away and so this has been labelled a £2bn bailout. The Tories were all arguing that it wasn’t a bailout as the UK Government were not handing over that amount of money. I eventually had to argue with one, that if the term “bailout” wasn’t technically true, would he agree that by allowing someone to walk away when they owe you £2bn, then at best it is a write off of that money. They don’t agree and yet claim to be the party of business and money! It is obvious to all, that VTECH have been let off with a £2bn sum they were contractually obliged to pay.
I seldom have time to read books, but I have just completed “Red Notice” by Bill Browder. It is an excellent insight into the corruption of Russia all the way to the top, with Vladimir Putin, and covers the corrupt sell off of state owned gas and oil companies for pennies to those able to abuse their use of power. It covers the stealing of $230m from the Russian State and all the corrupt police, judges and officials involved and latterly the murder of a lawyer who had exposed this. It also covers how the US changed laws to clamp down on Russian crooks, and the UK is only just getting there now, with a “Magintsky Law” years later.
These thoughts were first published in the Kilmarnock Standard