Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Is Chris Grayling going to reduce Market Harborough's train service for party advantage?

I fear the answer may well be yes.

Yesterday I blogged about the postponement of the access improvements at Market Harborough station.

In that post I went on to discuss the promise of better train services that Chris Grayling has made to Kettering and Corby,

When, earlier on yesterday, I asked on Twitter if this would mean poorer services for Market Harborough - and I suspect it will - someone replied that this was the price we pay for living in a safe seat.

I smiled at the time, but today it became clear that Grayling does make decisions on railway services based, not on the interests of passengers or the industry, but on what is good for the Conservative Party.

A letter he wrote to Boris Johnson, then the Mayor of London, explaining why he would not agree to Transport for London taking over suburban services said it was:
because I would like to keep suburban rail services out of the clutches of any future Labour Mayor. Obviously, similar concerns apply over a future Labour government as well...
All credit to the chairman of the transport select committee for his reaction:
Conservative MP Bob Neill ... said the views expressed in the letter - which was leaked to the Evening Standard - meant Mr Grayling was "unfit for office" and "acted for party political reasons". 
He also said the Transport Secretary had "compromised his position and should resign". 
Mr Neill added it was dishonest when Mr Grayling told MPs his decision was for financial reasons.
Kettering and Corby are seen as Conservative- Labour marginals. Labour gained both 1997, holding Kettering until 2005 and Corby until 2010.

Corby was even held briefly again by Labour after Louise Mensch walked out on the constituency in 2012.

Given that we now know that Grayling will used railway policy to boost the Conservative Party, it is no surprise to see those towns being given preferential treatment.

The answer in Harborough is for anti-Conservative voters to unite behind the Liberal Democrats and scare them as much as they are scared in Kettering and Corby.

It can be done. In 2005 we came within less than 4000 votes of winning Harborough.

No comments: