The U.S. election campaign for 2008 is characterised by videos and spoof videos. Sometimes it is difficult to spot the difference. I can’t be bothered to make links, it’s too tedious. To be quite honest the front runners for me, Obama and Clinton, I wouldn’t want either after watching this crap.
Meanwhile back home the local press is obsessed with the elected mayor issue. They brought Robocop to Birmingham, Ray Mallon from Middlebrough. Dick (Sir Richard) Knowles, former leader of Birmingham City Council was mightily unimpressed. However the Mail presses on with its campaign to get enough signatories for a referendum. Meanwhile we have a new appointee to oversee the Wst Midland region in the form of Liam Byrne, Labour MP for Hodge Hill. He’s planning to bang a few heads together to get the New Street Station rebuild. We can’t even get the proposed Metro system in place!
Well is that it? We are talking about a region which should be promoting itself as “heart of the nation”, a hub around which everything revolves. Considering the huge amounts consigned to London: St Pancras, the Olympics, Wembley along with the transport systems spawned in their wake, to ask for a little more than a station rebuild seems not too much to ask.
The problem if New Street is rebuilt, and it certainly needs it, but the tunnels that feed it are winding and constrict traffic flow, as do the two tracks between Coventry and Wolverhampton. These cater for the new fast Virgin service, local trains and freight traffic. If anything happens then the whole thing comes to a grinding halt. Rebuilding New Street might help for 10 to 15 years, but we need alternatives to flying to Europe across the U.K. not just from the South East.
Gordon Brown got round to visiting flooded trouble spots and announced help by offering relief funding. At the same time cuts are on the horizon for more cuts in flood defences, following those Gordon oversaw a few years back. With climate change predictions for seas rising and the unseasonal rainfall we have just experienced this seems strange to say the least. It’s Trident missiles what will save us according to this ( and any other foreseeable) government.
Brown’s performance in parliament looked on the face of it different to Blair. War, he said, could no longer be declared without parliament and our rights and responsibilities will be subject to debate before legislation. Well, er, not exactly, there are provisos like allowing the P.M. to act if he thinks the country is in exceptional danger. Didn’t Blair make just that case backed by the dodgy dossier? More spin. More of the same, but I didn’t really expect any difference. There may have been personal differences but Brown was up to his neck with New Labour and is continuing with more of the same adherence to privatisation of everything in sight. Cuts to key public services, including flood defence, continues apace. Anyway Mr Brown also seems to work on the basis of celebrity by bringing (or trying to) the great and the good, non elected for purpose, into his government
Me, I’m content. Don’t need New Street to get around. Park and ride at the Hawthornes (the station behind the Baggies’ stadium at West Brom) gets me a train to London Marylebone. Yes it takes just over two hours instead of the ninety minutes on Virgin, but it is affordable and the Chiltern Line trains are quiet and comfortable. Chiltern Trains remodelled Moor Street Station on its former GWR style and it was opened by Sir Digby Jones. Problem is it’s still not fully operational. As is evident as you pass Solihull there was once four tracks on this route which also feed Virgin cross country trains into New Street. I won’t shout too loud in case every one else wants to use it.