Stop 1: Peanut Junction
As the gravy train leaves Peanut Junction, the view from a carriage window soon becomes one of desolation. The U.K. is dying from the cancer of greed, selfishness, corruption and the demise of free speech. In parliament, the various parties argue among each other, unable or unwilling to see the things that ordinary citizens are now taking for granted. ‘Official’ employment statistics mask the reality. Unemployment continues to rise due to the combination of poor leadership, a lack of investment in critical areas, and the demise of our manufacturing base. The distortion of employment figures is a grotesque and shameless pretence of labelling young people in jobs as full time when the reality is ‘Zero Hour’ contracts are ‘part-time‘. Schools, hospitals, G.P. surgeries, and housing services are stretched to breaking point; unable to cope with the rising demand that the policies of successive governments have created.
We send our military to fight wars; conflicts fought under false pretence. Our press is under threat from those on high whose real concern is to enable the shackling of information and to bring a curtain down on the window of transparency. Citizen’s rights are trampled under the guise of national security as increasingly trials and inquests are held in secret. Public organisations, such as the BBC and HMRC, continue to squander taxpayer’s money; the NHS and Social Services are under pressure and often fail due to structures that are top-heavy with managers whose apparent concerns are bloated salaries without responsibility. Quangos staffed with people whose only agenda (seemingly) is the continuation of their existence.
Other organisations; such as Health and Safety concoct bizarre rules to enable us to enrich our lives, but in reality, are only interested in trying to justify their position. Banks have been reckless in the pursuit of money. The taxpayer has bailed them out – to the tune of billions – under orders from those who control our nation, and yet they continue to demand assistance for failure. The police have (to a degree), become politicised; adhering to our present route, they will soon appear more of a private security firm than the ‘street bobby’ of yesteryear. Lawyers have milked the system as compensation has become endemic. They have allowed minorities to hold the majority to ransom all in the name of racism, interfaith and human rights.
A person in a position of power or responsibility who breaks the law should not be able to resign and get away without facing the consequences of their actions. Public figures should have their salaries, bonuses and expenses published while being made to declare any involvement in companies, such as directorships or shareholdings thus avoiding a conflict of interest. M.P.s should ask the electorate at local levels what they want, instead of blindly following party whips. Vital issues such as the Data Communications Bill (snooper’s charter) and the Justice Bill amendments (secret courts) need debating by the public at large. Instead, laws are drawn up by small groups of the self-interested politicians who never involve us in these issues which affect us, and critically never mention them during their electioneering.
Ruled by greed and selfishness, the U.K. has become a byword for corruption among the political and business class. Recent history leaves us in no doubt. From MPs fiddling expenses or M.P.s cash for questions to drugs cheats in sports, banks collaborating over lending rates and oil companies’ price-fixing; even royals offering access for money. The actions of this gang of brigands we call a government has become more vicious against the most vulnerable. Bob Dylan never wrote more valid words than: ‘Steal a little, and they put you in jail; steal a lot, and they make you a king.’ The City of London and the Houses of Parliament came out in force to celebrate the life of one of their own who helped make it possible for them to steal with impunity. Their actions speak volumes about the values they embrace. Greed, avarice, and profit above all else; values that Christ condemned so vociferously. Hypocrisy was oozing from them.
Meanwhile, there’s a multitude of the homeless and destitute that increase as the cuts they implement become more profound. Now our elected masters have decided that £65K is barely enough to scratch a living and want to vote themselves a pay rise in the region of £10-20K. Discontent with the extortionate expenses they claim, and the gold-plated pensions they are ‘entitled’ to after five years of hard labour in the bear pit of parliament. If they dislike the wage structure (and £65K sounds darned good to most of the electorate I’m sure) why stand for election? After all, nobody is forcing them. As the train rumbles on and heads through the wasteland the U.K. is fast becoming; someone quoted an M.P. as saying ‘If you pay peanuts you get monkeys.’ Perhaps it’s time to elect our primate cousins, I for one, am confident they couldn’t make a bigger asshole of the country if they tried.
Stop 2 – Trough Halt
Driver Dan eases back on the throttle as the engine approaches Trough Halt. Those inside continue to behave irresponsibly, while occasionally one looks out, but remains unmoved. What they see is a smokescreen, showing little of the real world. With the announcement of the MPs pay rise, the mood becomes more irrational, and the speaker calls for more tax-funded champagne. Arrogance, becomes the order of the day, as they defend their pay rise by comparing themselves to other professions; lawyers, doctors, police chiefs, etc.
But the question remains: since when was being an MP a profession? Lest they have forgotten, let us remind them what the word entails. Professions require a substantial amount of relevant training and education. MPs need no such thing; to be an MP requires no qualifications at all. While some have degrees in philosophy, law, politics or economics, and these indicate a level of intelligence, most seem to lack basic common sense. Does having a degree teach anyone about the problems of the average Joe Blogg? They have no idea on how to legislate for the real world.
Successive governments have wasted billions on IT projects and illegal wars. The system has allowed incompetent managers within the NHS to continue, sold off the Post Office to their chums, and finance the school and hospital buildings through PPI, a system which ensures we will continue to pay until doomsday. Even now, they continue to promote throwing £100 billion (approximation) of the taxpayer’s money on a high-speed rail link, which will save 20 mins travel time and be out of date by completion. Banks have taken this country to the brink of destruction, yet not one person has been charged with the crimes committed.
Within these carriages are people whose levels of incompetence and stupidity are staggering, yet they continue to be blind to the long-term pitfalls their greed will bring about.
Meanwhile, as the train rumbles through Trough Halt, they throw slops from the dining car to the passing public as a sign of their benevolence.
Stop 3: Austerity Crossing
The train clears the station and builds up a head of steam as it heads for Austerity Crossing. In the countryside, the surviving trees are devoid of low hanging fruit; the peasants ragged and gaunt. No one inside the carriage notices, as their crazed behaviour continues. From the six-foot plasma screen, news has filtered through that the Conservatives have won a majority in Parliament.
“Crack open another magnum,” screams one swivel-eyed loon.
“Austerity! They have seen nothing yet,” yells another.
“What’s first George, old boy,” the MP for Wind in the Willows asks.
“Council cuts,” says a gleeful George, explaining the perfect way to deflect blame. “If we cut funding to the LGA’s, we can point the finger at them when those on benefits suffer.”
Another voice continues.
“But George, you didn’t tell the public all this.”
George, feeling the effects of champagne, reminds him that the manifesto mentioned twelve billion.
“Yes, I know,” mutters the voice, “but you didn’t mention where.”
Raising his voice by a few decibels, George croaks, “Haven’t you any brain cells? If we told them that, we wouldn’t have won the election.”
Lord Fauntleroy stammers.. “but, but that’s not playing cricket old boy.”
George, tiring of explanations to this buffoon, replies. “It’s called politics. Now be a good chap Fawlty, and refresh my glass.”
The honourable member, Jeremiah Chocolat, clears his throat. “I say, George, have you spared a thought for all the other services that will suffer?”
“Like what?” asks George in a mildly rebuking manner.
“Ermmm, the children’s services or the mentally ill, for instance,” replies Jeremiah.
Lord Fauntleroy, seeing an opportunity to impress the chancellor, interjects. “Don’t forget; care for the elderly, youth employment, libraries, road repairs, housing shortages, local hospitals, etc. and that’s just a few off the top of my head. Oh, and lest we forget, the refuse departments.”
“RUBBISH,” screams George, “Is that all you can spout? Don’t you understand that if they don’t endure the mistakes our banker chums made, then we will never increase our wealth? Is that what you want? You think all those skivers and scroungers don’t deserve the pain and misery inflicted upon them. Something for nothing! Not on my watch.” The chancellor’s tone softens. “Look Fawlty old chap, just so you can understand, I will spell it out. The plan is to privatise local government services (LGA’s) under the cloak of austerity. Got that old bean?”
Lord Fauntleroy hesitates. “But what about the rest of the twelve billion in cuts we have to find?”
“Oh stop chattering Fawlty,” George says with a sneer, “I’ll take care of that further down the line.”
The train slows as it reaches Austerity Crossing. Driver Dan reverses into a siding where he brings the engine to a halt. Fireman Fred jumps from the cab and wanders back to couple up the waiting wagon. Everything checked, he returns to the cab and climbs aboard. Driver Dan pushes the throttle, and the engine eases forward.
Stop 4: Britannia’s Crack
Chuff, chuff, chuff, goes the little engine, as the train hauls the carriages out of the Crossing. “That looks a heavy load,” says Barry, one of the two Carrilion trackside labourers still in a job.
“Yes, it’s taking the government ministers to Brexit via Britannia’s Crack,” replies the other.
“Why have they put that wagon in the rear,” asks Barry.
“It’s doing a little detour; taking Sir Richard and his annual dividend payments to his tax haven; Soddoff.”
Barry sighs before continuing. “Clever bloke that Dick, knows how to make a few quid.” At which point, the train passes the two remaining Carrilion workers, who doff their caps as they waive their pension rights away.
Inside the carriages, the level of contempt is rising. George has just heard they have removed him as Chancellor. Prime Minister, ‘Porky pie’ Dave has resigned, replaced by the inept Home Secretary. Fawlty, (who had put the refreshments on expenses), returns with a large bucket containing two magnums surrounded by ice.
“Let’s celebrate George old chap,” he cries, unaware of the latest news.
“You’re a proper idiot,” screams George, “as imbecilic as those plebs that voted for Brexit.”
In the engine cab, a heated conversation surrounding the economy and Brexit ensues. Driver Dan studies Fred’s face before speaking. “Let me tell you, from one of your thick leave voters. Before the EU, life was shit; with the EU, life is shit. After the EU, life will be shit. So stop banging on about the fucking economy. There’s no difference between wages and the dole (unemployment benefit), so what the fuck do I care about the economy? I’m on a zero-hours contract working for an agency, what do I care about EU workers’ rights? I have no worker’s rights. How can it be worse for me? How can it be worse? I’ll tell you how it can be better though; stop letting in millions of workers to compete with me for jobs. My kids are in their mid-20s, and they’re living at home. They’re working, but they can’t afford to buy a place of their own because the bank won’t lend them the money. And they can’t afford to rent, because due to housing benefit cuts, renting costs even more than buying. I blame free movement of labour for all this because if 500 migrants hadn’t arrived in my village of 8000 people there wouldn’t be a housing shortage, would there? And then there’s the overcrowded schools. Did I mention the doctors surgeries? They wouldn’t have such big queues, would they?”
Fireman Fred wipes the sweat from his brow. “Look, Dan, employers will have to compete for staff, so, wages will rise. At least, that’s what my local MP says.”
Driver Dan shakes his head from side to side before replying. “Employers have always competed for staff. Have wages kept pace with inflation? No. The NHS is short of staff. Have wages gone up? No. Farmers are short of crop-pickers. Have wages risen? No. Prisons are short of staff. Have wages gone up? Go on, have a fucking guess; you’ve got a 50/50 chance of getting this right, Fred.”
Fireman Fred doesn’t want to chance his luck, so shovels another load of coal into the furnace. Driver Dan shakes his head and continues to speak. “Run by Directly Operated Railways (nationalised), the East Coast Rail was the most efficient rail operator in the country, paying millions back to the treasury in profits. The Transport Minister re-privatises the line after being bunged by Virgin, then tells us it makes sense. Any sense he had was shafted out of him long ago. These twats are the only ones benefiting from this deal. I could go on and on. When are you going to wake up? You’re on shit wages because employers are paying shit wages. They’re paying shit wages because trillions of pounds have been squirrelled out of the economy by finance capitalists. Unleashed on your life by Reagan and Thatcher, and continued today by other assholes; including that bearded smart-arse from Virgin who climbed aboard. Shovel another load of coal Fred we’re approaching Britannia’s Crack. It’s a steep climb, but once we’re over the hump, it’s downhill all the way.”