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Bring on the glasnost

There used to be a story told in the latter days of the old Soviet Union about how the state dealt with poor performance. If, for example in Stalin’s day, a train carrying the First Secretary and politburo was late, the driver would’ve been shot and the timetable confiscated. Under Khrushchev, the driver could expect a spell in Siberia and the timetable ‘revised’. But when Gorbachev came along, things changed so that everyone could bravely admit the shortcoming and then auction off the timetable for hard currency. I never said it was a particularly funny story. Similarly, I’m guessing that chuckles were pretty thin on the ground among officials about the glasnost (openness) displayed by

Why aren’t we making tracks?

I was sat among a bunch of cronies (sorry, associates) the other day sharing various travel horror stories. It suddenly occurred to me that I couldn’t recall the last time I’d taken a train journey to the smoke. It’s not too long that I was making an almost weekly 14-hour trek to Paddington and back again; and feeling none the better for it spiritually or financially. There’s not enough space on this page for me to go into detail as to what I think is wrong with the UK rail system; but I’d argue that the systemic problems are unlikely to fixed by piecemeal solutions. That’s why I’m unconvinced about the idea of a £25 million parkway station at Felindre. Partly because it takes away the optio

Driving car-making into the ground

I’ve been reluctant to comment on the recent bad news at Ford Bridgend but the claptrap spouted to me yesterday by a third-rate (nameless) politico has changed that. As someone with nearly 40 years spent in the auto-industry, I’ve had a belly-full of the simplistic arguments back and forth as to whether Brexit is behind the job losses. In my opinion, the factors involved go deeper and are longer term. The whirlwind we’re reaping today was sewn decades ago by successive British governments and financial institutions who opted to abandon the premise shared by other European partners that a well-supported, nationally-owned manufacturing base is a good idea. Instead, they flogged off crucial int

Watching how the wind blows

‘Volatile’ is a word used a lot these days in association with politics, and with good reason too. A colleague of mine used to swear over a jovial pint that he could win a handful of seats just by forming the “Panto Party”. Neither of us are laughing now as events overtake flippancy. There’s a view among pollster anoraks that a single Swallow doesn’t constitute a summer. In other words, you can’t use a by-election result to predict the outcome of an all-out contest. Nonetheless, a lot of pundits are wondering whether events in Peterborough today – and where the Brexit Party are odds-on with the bookies to win the seat - could rattle that particular theory. It seems unlikely though. Our curre

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