Leylands, Daimlers and Guys… Ooh My!

The Colours of Greater Manchester: Michael Eyre and Peter Greaves (Capital Transport, £22.00)

Tram Sunday: I hate that day with a passion.  This is not so much for the lack of buses, but more so the stalls.  It is an absolute incitement for me to spend silly money on transport books and DVDs.  This year’s was no exception, returning home with three DVDs, two books and a handful of antiquarian bus tickets.

One of my two books is a recently published work by Michael Eyre and Peter Greaves entitled ‘The Colours of Greater Manchester’.  The book focuses on the many liveries used by municipal and private bus operators between 1955 and 1969 in what is now Greater Manchester.  Chapters are devoted to each of the constituents which made up SELNEC, Greater Manchester Transport and its forerunners.

Also covered is Lancashire United, the UK’s biggest independent bus operator before deregulation and its takeover by Greater Manchester Transport.  There is also reference to Hubert Allen’s famed Yelloway coaches and a short chapter devoted to A. Mayne and Son.

As well as displaying the liveries through the ages, photographs have been carefully chosen to give the reader a wide variety of buses used by each operator.  As well as Ralph Bennett’s Mancunian bodied Atlanteans (and his Bolton Transport ones before then), Manchester City Transport airport services and SHMD’s dual-door Daimler Fleetlines are also covered.

For your £22.00, you get an A4 hardback book with 100% full colour photos accompanied with details about the place and the route itself.  The book is an absolute must for any Greater Manchester bus enthusiast.  It’s a great book for the coffee table, suitable also for bogside/bedside reading.

I enthusiastically await a follow-up focusing on deregulation era liveries (which may well be as thick as an Argos Catalogue).  Nice work guys!

S.V., 24 July 2009

Turkeys voting for an early Christmas

A succession of hollow victories or The Great Leap Backwards?

Recent by-election results have seen the Tories gain ground over Labour in their former seats and wards.  The most recent one was Norwich North where the Conservative candidate got twice the number of votes of the second place Labour candidate.  Though third place, the Liberal Democrats saw a drop in their vote.  Is this a Labour problem, or a problem facing the parties on the centre-left to centre of politics?

Critics would state that the expenses scandal, courtesy of the Daily Torygraph, had a main influence on the vote.  This was the claim made after the European Elections where Britain warmed to the right-wing parties.  However, it was not just Britain, but most of the EU Member States’ electorate which swung to the right.  Instead of turning to the left-leaning parties, Little Englander style rhetoric has been exported to mainland Europe, small wonder why UKIP was the second most popular party in Britain at Strasbourg.

Are we voting Tory because we really want a change, or are we really mean spirited enough to vote for cutbacks?  Do we really give a stuff about the unemployed, or would we rather make them suffer?

Cutting jobs would see a reduction in High Street spending due to reduced income, thus reducing income tax and VAT receipts for the chancellor.  Result: reduced receipts leading to further cuts in public spending.  Alternatively, VAT could be extended to more pervasive avenues like transport fares, books and children’s clothing – which would be massively unpopular.

The recession would also see an increased need for public services.  By this I mean the local Jobcentre Plus, the NHS, municipal social services provision and the emergency services.  Cutting jobs in the public sector would be a false economy.  How do we know if private sector or third sector organisations would provide adequate replacements?  Personally I think not.

The third sector should have a complementary role to existing public sector provision rather than as a replacement role.  As for the private sector, well, they have to make a profit and answer to their shareholders.  Therefore, the latter may only cherry-pick the most profitable areas.

Does Tameside need a Tory Government by 2010?  Absolutely not.  With few major employers besides superstore chains, the public sector accounts for more than half the borough’s workforce.  This is not only Tameside MBC but also the NHS.  The borough has already lost jobs from private enterprise with one of its constituencies (Denton and Reddish) reporting a 111% increase in unemployment.  Tameside needs further cuts in employment like I need a hole in the head.

Cutting back the public sector could mean the end of Tameside’s ‘Tameside Works’ programme, designed to help local businesses weather the worst effects of the recession.  Fewer bus services may be subsidised with service cuts reducing employment opportunities (thus exacerbating the recession).  Events like ‘Party in the Park’ would also be a thing of the past.

It doesn’t take a genius to work where the cuts are going to go in Messrs Cameron and Osborne’s Utopia.  If recent reports are anything to go by, they are chomping at the chance to cut and privatise anything at free will.  To be totally honest, Britain needs a Tory Government like we all need holes in our heads.

For anyone wishing to see the reasons against, one should take a trip to South Elmsall, a place which has not recovered from the last Conservative government.  Houses dating from the 1950s are boarded up, examples of which likely to fetch respectable prices – even in this downturn – in more affluent areas.

A Cameron led government could see the gap between the rich and poor widen even further – even though social mobility under this Labour government, is worse than the Great Dole Age of 1980 – 1993.  The recession could mutate into a depression with the unemployed bullied even more.  The public sector could go the way of the dinosaurs. 

As for the North West, there will be several thousand Beasley Streets served by antiquarian trains and buses, taking tourists to the post-historic ruins of 1990s retail parks.  All this would be amid the background of champagne quaffing City bankers, still not taking responsibility for the recession.

Still want to vote Tory?  I take it you don’t remember Toxteth, the Miners’ Strike, the Falklands conflict, the abolition of GLC/GMC and other metropolitan counties, the castration of the trade unions, Poll Tax and privatisation…

I could go on, but that’s best left for another subject.

S.V., 27 July 2009.