The new Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Michael Dugher MP was appointed on the 5th of November 2014, since then he’s wasted no time in single-handedly destroying the good work of the Labour Transport team & the goodwill they’ve generated both in the media & amongst the transport industry.
Warning bells began to sound in December when Durgher announced the end of a non-existent ‘war’ on motorists & pronounced himself ‘pro car’
He also rubbished previous Labour Transport Ministers as ‘trainspotters’ . So, that would be Lord Adonis then, who finally broke down Labour’s previous resistance to modernising the railways through electrification. Under the Blair/Brown Govt the railways wired a laughable 9 miles from Crewe to Kidsgrove. In contrast, Adonis announced a program to electrify some of our main rail arteries, such as the Great Western main line and the line from Manchester to Liverpool:
Not content with grandstanding over the ‘war’ on motorists Dugher continued to demolish Labour Transports credibility at Xmas when he jumped in with both feet to attack another easy target, Network Rail boss Mark Carne. Admittedly, Network Rail had made his job easy through failing to complete engineering work at Kings Cross on time. However, did Dugher have anything positive to say or solutions to offer? No. Instead he launched an attack on Carne over his bonus then attempted a clumsy attack on Transport Minister Patrick McLoughlin MP, alleging that he’d allowed Network Rail to shut down much of the rail network. The problem is, NR hadn’t & the last thing anyone wants (including Labour) is a Transport Minister micromanaging the railways. Still, why let the facts get in the way of grandstanding eh?
Dugher conveniently ignored Labour Transports own August 2014 policy document which says “we know that ministers sitting in Whitehall do not know best how to run the nation’s trains” (until Dugher wants to try & score cheap political points, obviously!)
The fake apoplexy continued when Durgher announced on Twitter that his ‘blood boiled’ when Network Rail explained they carried out engineering work at Christmas because half as many passengers travelled during the holiday season. So, if NR shouldn’t carry out work when it inconveniences less folk when should they? Despite many people asking Dugher this question, no answer was forthcoming. In fact, Dugher is short of answers to anything. He’s happy to rubbish the coalition, Network Rail & the rail industry as a whole, but he’s nothing positive to offer in the way of alternatives. It’s all very well saying you’ll freeze fares, but if you can’t say how you’ll balance the books if you do…
As if this wasn’t enough, Dugher went into overdrive when the annual increases took effect, neatly ignoring the fact that the increases are due to Labour party policy! In 2007 Labour produced a White Paper in which they announced their intention to raise ticket prices so that passengers were paying more towards the cost of running the railways & taxpayers less. This policy was continued by the coalition after 2010. So, for Dugher to chastise the Coalition for continuing with a Labour policy is a bare faced cheek!
By now the alarm bells were going off with a number of rail industry observers, including myself and the Editor of RAIL magazine, Nigel Harris. Along with many rail workers disturbed by Dugher’s attacks on the rail industry, we engaged with him on Twitter. (see @MichaelDugherMP).His reaction was bizarre in the extreme. Rather than discuss with people he refused to answer most questions & lived up to his ‘attack dog’ reputation by labelling anyone who asked him awkward questions as ‘trolls’ & threatened to block them, then tried to shut Nigel Harris up by threatening him with a ‘yellow card’
His contempt for both rail industry insiders, commentators (and also the electorate) has been quite amazing. Dugher seems quite happy to dish it out, but won’t tolerate anyone who questions his nonsense. I can’t provide copies of his tweets to illustrate this because I’m one of the people he’s blocked. Needless to say, his tactics have backfired. The questions (and those asking them) aren’t going to go away (exactly the opposite). Concern at Dughers ‘bull in a china shop’ approach to his portfolio is widening & I doubt this will be my last post on the subject.
This article from the Telegraph illustrates that Dugher has a reputation for shooting himself in the foot:
What’s worrying is that he’s been entrusted with an important Shadow ministerial post. His political masters don’t seem to realise that his type of politics is why so many people are abandoning the mainstream parties. Many of us are sick of political dogfights. We want politicians with vision & answers. The question is, how much damage will this attack dog do before Labour realise their mistake & muzzle him?