Confessions of a Political Animal

February 25, 2009

Snowday appreciation: TfL responds

Filed under: Greenwich,London Politics,Transport — Political Animal @ 11:11 pm
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london-snowA confession: when the Animal wrote to the Mayor a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t really expect to get £3.11 back as a mark of appreciation for getting into work on ‘snowday’. I also didn’t really expect a letter from the Mayor: I’ve worked in the Mayor’s office and I doubt this administration gets significantly less correspondence than its predecessor. But I did think I might get a response to the political point I was trying to make about Johnson’s decisions on that day. No such luck.

A response arrived today from a TfL customer relations officer: a perfectly nice reply, but I would have expected that the points I was raising would have been better responded to by City Hall, not TfL. Interestingly, according to TfL, my letter (which should have been received in City Hall on 5th February) wasn’t passed on to the non-politicians at TfL until the 19th. (more…)

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February 12, 2009

The seven silly sins of the anti-PC crusaders

Carol Thatcher

Carol Thatcher

I’m well aware that the fuss over Carol Thatcher’s apparent vocabulary malfunction has pretty much blown over now, at least until some media organisation decides to re-hire her. So no-one’s really going to care about the Animal’s two-pennyworth, especially as others have said what I would have said far better. And its a bit late for me to work up an outrage over the Mayor’s defence of the woman, though given his apparently…er…gritty vocabulary, perhaps he was just as well to take the stance he did.

However, a long series of links followed in an idle moment brought me back to the story, as reported on Tory über-blogger Iain Dale. Nothing particularly remarkable about his take on it: the usual rent-an-outrage anti-BBC meanderings that we expect from the right-wing blogosphere. For some reason, though, I continued below the fold into the comments section and found myself dragged into the happy world of the apologist-for-mild-racism at play. And what struck me was just how formulaic it all was. I’d read the self-same comments in defence of Prince Harry, Prince Phillip, Jeremy Clarkson, Prince Harry again, Patrick Mercer, James McGrath (yes, you’d forgotten who that was too), Chris Moyles and Prince Harry. So, with examples liberally culled from the pearls of wisdom dropped below Dale’s article, the (more…)

February 11, 2009

It’s a (guinea) pig’s life

Filed under: Media,Russia — Political Animal @ 3:54 pm
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Essay deadlines are keeping me away from the ‘publish’ button at the moment, but I couldn’t resist this wonderful story in The Times (and yesterday’s Metro) demonstrating that guinea pigs do indeed have an essential part to play in politics.

Cavies of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your bath time (which we don’t like at all)!

February 4, 2009

A letter to the Mayor

boris-letter2

For all the Animal’s claims to socialistic purity, at heart I remain a money-grabbing little so-and-so and will happily jump at the chance to obtain some free cash. Even if it is only £3.11. But particularly if it’s from Boris Johnson. Below is the text of a letter dispatched to the Mayor this afternoon.

Dear Boris,

As you are well aware, London was subject to very heavy snowfall on the night of Sunday 1st February, which led to severe disruption of public transport across all modes on the following day. This included the withdrawal of almost all buses and severe disruption to rail, Underground and DLR services.

My journey from East Greenwich to xxxxxxx normally uses a combination of rail and DLR, with a bus alternative as a backup in case of disruption. On 2nd February, neither of these routes was available to me. Fortunately, I was able to reach my place of work via functioning sections of the Underground, with lengthy walks in difficult conditions at either end. My return journey used a combination of one of the bus routes re-instated later in the day, the Underground, a boat and another lengthy walk. However, I have no particular complaint about this. I fully understand that Monday’s weather conditions were exceptional and that is not financially or politically sensible to proof the city’s infrastructure against such a rare occurrence. I should also add that all members (more…)

February 2, 2009

The wrong sort of information

Filed under: Environment,Greenwich,Market failures,Transport — Political Animal @ 11:24 am
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setrains

Above: The front page of the Animal’s local train operator’s website, as of 11am this morning. I’m awfullygrateful for advance warning of what looks like rather severe disruption to some unspecified services on an as yet undecided Thursday in May, but I was hoping for some information on whether I’d be able to get home from work this evening. Southeastern’s website has somehow managed to be even less useful than the information on the electronic displays at Westcombe Park station, which simply read ‘Due to severe weather conditions, we are unable to provide you with any information at this time’.

Now, I realise that this is once-in-a-decade weather down here in the balmy south east and the trains and buses are going to cease up. It just isn’t worth paying for the infrastructure resilience that will stand up to the severe conditions experience on one day in about 4,000. But I can’t quite understand how snow prevents electronic information systems from functioning correctly.

Anyway, the short answer is that South Eastern weren’t managing to run any trains into London today, but finding that out was a process of guess work from the undisturbed snow on the railway lines themselves. Still, the walk through the ecology park to North Greenwich station for the skeletal Jubilee line service was very scenic.

Keep warm, readers.

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