After my week of enjoyable work experience in the constituency it was back to business as normal at Westminster. And it really was business as usual, in terms of yet another Monday Statement from the Transport Secretary. This time it was about new rail timetables introduced in two rail franchises, Northern and GWR. Turns out neither company had enough train drivers overall and of those drivers they have, not enough are trained on the routes. This has led to massive cancellations and general chaos.
I spoke to a Labour MP for whom it took three hours to travel to Luton. I appreciate some of my constituents have had issues with Scotrail and the whole skip stopping issue previously. And I realise this will be of little comfort to them, but there is no doubt by comparison that the overall performance of Scotrail is way better than what is going on south of the border. Their rail system is in meltdown and the backbenchers are certainly not putting up any defence regards the train company performances.
Part of the problem was also Network Rail over running on construction projects. Many were quick to point that out. But of course who has ultimate responsibility for Network Rail? Yes, the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. So when he blames them he is actually admitting his own oversight failures. It really is incredible he is still in a job.
I am aware that many of my columns are critiques of the Tory UK Government and/or Government Ministers. I do try to have different topics but sometimes it is so difficult. This is illustrated by the comments by Boris Johnson that the Brexit talks may well “go into meltdown”. And that he favoured a Trump style wrecking ball tactic to the negotiations. It is no wonder he has made so many gaffes in his position as Foreign Secretary with an attitude like that.
Another indication of a normal week at Westminster was David Davis the Brexit Secretary threatening to resign his post and then not actually doing it. Talk about the man who cried wolf! Again however, it shows the chaos within the UK Government cabinet. His support was given by backbench Tory MP, Nadine Dorries as follows: “David Davis is ex SAS…He’s also trained to take people out”. Inferring someone is trained to kill is hardly the language of a parliamentarian, and what was speculated was whether this was a threat to the PM not to mess with him. Charming right enough!
Bill Grant PMQ
To round off my observations…my Ayrshire colleague Bill Grant MP had a PMQ. He opted to go on about the SNP and referendums/independence (again). However, he clearly couldn’t read his own writing when he stated we should not have another “decisive referendum”. Having heard the script so many times we know he was supposed to say “divisive”! You never want to get the set piece question wrong but to be fair I have been there myself.
These thoughts were first published in the Kilmarnock Standard.