MP Philp’s no strike rail plan reaches the bellend of the line

Chris Philp, the Tory MP for Croydon South, has been slapped down by No10 Downing Street today over what a spokesman for his own Conservative Prime Minister described as an “unhelpful” intervention in the Southern Railways industrial dispute, just as the parties have agreed to seek arbitration from ACAS.

southern-railPhilp piped up yesterday with one of his wacky far-right notions (and he subscribes to several) to remove the right to strike from railway staff. Because that’s exactly the sort of thing he reckons will go down well with the Torygraph-reading commuters of Coulsdon.

Once upon a time, when he thought it would win him favour among his new constituents, Philp tried to claim that he was on their side over the terrible service provided by Southern Railways, and he was boasting that he was intervening personally with the transport minister and demanding that Govia Thameslink, the rail operators, should lose their franchise.

Philp’s gone a bit quiet on that lately, possibly because such a move might put the commuter lines from Surrey, Kent and south London into the hands of Transport for London, and Philp’s Tory colleague, Chris Grayling, has made it abundantly clear that he wouldn’t want to see a competent transport operator put in charge of rail services from Coulsdon, Purley and Croydon while his Department for Transport is pursuing its politically motivated attempt to “break the unions”.

It is a position which loyal party hacks, such as Philp and his similarly obsequious Conservative colleague in Croydon Central, Gavin Barwell, have happily supported in the past week, however much of a disservice it does for their commuter constituents. Meanwhile, Bob Neill, the Bromley MP, has said that Grayling is “not fit to hold office” and has misled the House of Commons, because his politically motivated stance ill-serves south London’s commuters.

Bob Neill: called out Grayling for the devious toad that he is

Bob Neill: called out transport minister Grayling for the devious toe rag that he is

Neill was at pains to remind the public that barely six months ago he, together with Barwell and Philp, were campaigning on London Tory policy for the rail franchise to be handed over to the London Mayor.

Having been thoroughly busted on that say-one-thing-do-another position, Philp yesterday chanced his arm for more broadcast airtime by blaming the unions for the current industrial dispute and calling for a ban on strikes.

“The Government should introduce emergency legislation to prevent unreasonable strike action by a small number of people…” Philp wrote yesterday, somewhat misleadingly.

The facts are that, before yesterday’s start of a 48-hour strike, rail union ASLEF held a ballot, as is required by law. There was a 77 per cent turnout for the vote, with a 87 per cent majority in favour of strike action. It would only be “unreasonable” for Philp to try to portray that as “a small number of people”. Philp himself was elected to parliament in 2015 on a lower voter turnout (70 per cent) and with a smaller majority (54 per cent) of his electorate.

In his posting yesterday, Phil advocated “preserving the right of workers to strike when faced with genuine injustice”. He seems to overlook the fact that the High Court of England has ruled that the rail workers do have a legitimate right to strike. Three senior judges ruled that their strike action is indeed legal. But then, Philp and other far-right Tories have started to have a bit of difficulty with lawyers and the rule of law lately…

Philp’s masterplan is to have rail, Tube, fire service and NHS and ambulance workers categorised as “Critical Public Infrastructure”, and as such required to ensure that at least a 50 per cent service is provided during strike action. As any Southern commuter would tell you, a 50 per cent reliable service would be an improvement on what the rail operator has been providing for the past 18 months.

Philp also wants mandatory mediation – something which Govia Thameslink and the people funding them, DafT, denied the rail unions before yesterday’s strike action.

“The Government should introduce these measures as emergency legislation to end the misery on Southern,” Philp grandstanded, before the disapproving intervention of No10.

Philp might be in for more disappointment today if he looks at the comments he has attracted on his Facebook page.

“Legislation should be brought in to stop ill-informed politicians and megalomaniac civil servants destroying the lives of the people they are supposed to be serving,” said one.

Chris Philp: r'unhelpful' according to his Tory bosses in No10

Chris Philp: ‘unhelpful’ according to his Tory bosses in No10

Another wrote: “I planned to vote for you at next election, as your points about the local area here in Purley are usually quite good, however with this statement, you have completely lost me.”

There was this: “I’m sorry Chris, you can’t fix the problem with Southernfail by punishing those who are striking. This is their last resort because your government has failed them.”

And this: “In return could we have a parliament that is honest, truthful, devoid of spin, treats constituents with respect and doesn’t hide behind the ridiculous rhetoric which has been on display throughout this dispute?”

And then there was this: “There are a lot of erudite and informed people who have skillfully dismantled the unthinking assumptions of your position. So I am merely going to add that you’re a fucking bellend.”

To see the full set of comments, and perhaps add your own, click here.

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7 Responses to MP Philp’s no strike rail plan reaches the bellend of the line

  1. Peter Bell says:

    Speaking as a member of the honourable Clan Bell (well known reavers & cattle thieves extraordinaire – but with their own tartan) and having met C. Philp in person (not an edifying experience at the time) may i point out that the said honourable clan object to our name being attached to this person, with or without suffix. While admittedly we are not up there witrh say, the Maclouds, or even the Campbells, I am quite sure the Laird would look unfavourably on his application to join us. (Well i would)

  2. The Minister for London, Gavin Barwell, deserves a prominent position in this tale of ideology taking precedence over practicality, pragmatism and the broad public interest.

    Last week we had the highly embarrassing revelation that the Transport Minister, Chris Grayling (who took time out to canvass for his mate Gavin Barwell at the last election), had in 2013 objected to Boris’s request to hand London rail lines over to TfL. This was, Grayling wrote at the time, “because I would like to keep suburban rail services out of the clutches of any future Labour mayor”.

    When confronted with this very damaging information, Barwell, the Minister for London and Croydon Central MP simply said: “This is obviously a letter that was written a long time ago. I think the decision that was taken is about what’s best for passengers in London which is to bring responsibility for running the track and the services together. ”

    So, something signed three years ago is a long time in Gavin’s book. Perhaps we should ask his wife if Gavin “dating Arab girls” Barwell takes his marriage certificate as seriously, too, since that was signed off a long time ago. But that’s his private affair.

    What concerns commuters is what barmy Barwell thinks is “best for passengers”. It appears that this need is best met by letting the holders of a bungled franchise deal continue to mess up people’s lives, and to have responsibility for track maintenance and safety passed to them. Only the discipline of a privatised market can bring about what a nationalised industry cannot, is the Tory ideology. And they’re right – except the outcome is chaos and failure.

    Gaffe-prone Gav added that Grayling’s decision was “democratic”, as the people who live in Kent did not get a say in who the Mayor of London was. Readers will remember that Sadiq Khan was appointed to his position following a democratic election in which millions of Londoners voted.

    The Minister of London, by contrast, was appointed to this revived post on a political whim in July 2016 by a Conservative Prime Minister who never had to face an election for that post, even within her own parliamentary party.

    It’s a funny old world.

    • davidjl2014 says:

      It certainly is with people like you in it!
      Reminder: Chris Grayling was elected MP by a democratic vote.
      Gavin Barwell was elected MP by a democratic vote.
      However, neither Mick Cash or Mick Whelan were elected by ANYBODY affected by this disgraceful political strike, inspired obviously by Momentum, that is disrupting thousands of peoples lives far more than Grayling or Barwell ever have.
      Sadiq Kahn wasn’t my choice for London Mayor either, but at least I got a chance to vote against him.

  3. sed30 says:

    Reblogged this on sed30's Blog and commented:
    The mans an idiot. Perhaps he should work on the railway for a day. Another example of a Tory who wants to eradicate democracy and let Govia profit out of people’s misery.

  4. They should sack every one of the train drivers and make them reapply for their jobs, with a no union policy agreement.
    These people are a ruddy disgrace. They care not one jot about safety, all they care about is getting way over paid, having ridiculous amounts of holidays and as much sick leave as they can muster. The sooner driverless trains are fully implemented the better.

    • Nick Davies says:

      You should stop reading the Daily Express Glossary Of Anti Trade Union Rhetoric, it clearly makes you very unhappy.

      In any case, driverless trains may well happen one day but the chances of unstaffed trains ever existing* are exactly zero, and the people who crew them will still strike if their employers alienate them as much as Godire has succeeded in alienating its staff.

      * Outside very limited applications like terminal shuttles at airports where human intervention in case of problems is a few seconds away.

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