Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
But... how can a government that made a point of giving the NHS so much more money than the Tories, and won the first Blair election against sleaze in the then Tory government, get into such a mess. It's the arrogance of the buggers that's get me. Peter Hain is not going to admit anything. Alan Johnson is not going to make any significant change to the NHS.
What is the problem with this New Labour. I suspect it's just a dose of elitism. They do trust the common people. They trust people like themselves, people who can be highly paid administrators in the NHS, not sisters, nurses and cleaners. The elite know better. Peter Hain can be as crooked as he wants because he is part of this elite.
Everyone wants to be a cavalier, nobody wants to be a roundhead. They all believe in their divine right to rule. There are no Levellers left. I'm no longer a revolutionary, but sometimes I wonder if the second British revolution is long overdue. We need a dose of common sense and commonwealth.
Or maybe Gordon Brown is like Oliver Cromwell's son Richard, just there to hand over power over to the cavaliers after his father's death. Just had a quick peep on Wikipedia. Richard Cromwell reigned for just 8 months. His enemies called him Tumbledown Dick and Queen Dick. What is it they calling Gordon Brown, Mr. Benn!
Monday, January 21, 2008
Bangsue Junction, it's a couple of syllables short of being a really exotic name. Not quite up there with some of the Indian railway names where you would expect to see William Holden falling in love with a beautiful Eurasian girl, in black & white of course.
I had seen the massive railway yards from the elevated expressway a couple of weeks ago while getting to the Morechit northern bus terminal and figured it would make a future walk. Sometimes for the walk I don't mind the lack of interesting scenery as then I can get some thinking done. Other-times some interesting sights can be the impetus needed to get out walking. Yesterday I shed fifty years and became a boy again and got to play with the railways.
One of the good things about Thailand is that it can be fairly laid back on some of the official rules that are now accepted as gospel back home. I don't want to get too "Life on Mars" like, but things have changed, probably for the better, in the UK. Anyway, even with this laid back attitude I thought that a Sunday morning would be best for an exploration of yards as the security would be a little more lax. I drove over at 7 AM.
The yards are really massive and it makes sense that when the business press here talks about the State Railways of Thailand they talk about its property portfolio. The yards are split into cargo sidings, passenger carriages sidings and a large diesel engine workshop. I also found another area where the very upmarket Eastern & Oriental Express railway coaches were parked. These are part of an expensive tour taking in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
The railway security guys did catch up with me a couple of times just to see what I was up to. Exchanged pleasantries and all was well. Not the reaction if I did it in the UK I think. I did try and stay off the rails and we don't have electric rails here either. There were Sunday shifts both working in the goods yards and in the diesel shed, but everyone was friendly and it was a fine morning's walk. There is a community of railway workers that look fairly settled in a small hamlet made up of vintage railway carriages. Beautiful gardens and even a satellite dish.
Near the southern end of the yards near to where the old steam engine in yesterday's picture was on display was this police armoured rail car. Now this looked like pure Hollywood. It should have been full of Federales while Pancho Villa attacked the train. Did Anthony Quinn ever play Pancho?
Getting home I found that it was an ex-British railcar taken to Malaya during the Emergency. 47 were built in the UK by D. Wickham in 1953. In the 1960s two were lent to Thailand and this must be one of those. Anyone who needs this type of information should try and get hold of an out of print book called "The Railways of Thailand" by an Austrian called R. Ramaer.
One last photo for now. Strange items left on a warehouse loading dock.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Went for a drive to, and a walk in, the Bangsue railway yards this morning. More later, but here's a picture.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
I'm not sure whether this is a canal dug to drain the airport area before its construction or one of the much older canals draining the eastern suburbs into the Samut Prakan Chao Prya River estuary. I could only walk about 20 minutes in daylight to the south before turning back and apart from the new airport there wasn't a lot of interest. There were some boys fishing with large cast nets and I was surprised to see large frogs, about 6 inches nose to tail, being reared in net pens in the klong.
The western side of the airport is the cargo area and one of the runways. Planes were taking off over me every few minutes so it's certainly busy. One last photo below. I'm not sure if I will do the whole walk on this canal as I think I have a few more interesting walks still to do.
Instead he was on a plane to China along with Richard Branson. Today the BBC website says that Branson is confident he will get his hands on Northern Rock. Doesn't even need smoky rooms now, just a champagne junket to China.
Wouldn't it be good if instead of helping the likes of Branson it was the nurses who got the money. One of the boy Milibands says to the Fabian Society that Labour needs to show it's excited about a serving a fourth term in order to get elected. Well it might take a bit socialism to do that.
Monday, January 14, 2008
A great Scot and Labour Party leader, Keir Hardie, formed the Independent Labour party because he felt that the Liberal Party would not represent the working class although it relied on their votes.
Gordon Brown, also a Labour Party leader, calls for 'a government of all the talents' and invites strange people like Shirley Williams into it. Now we have more sleaze with Peter Hain's deputy leader campaign money. Now Peter calls himself a 'libertarian socialist', whatever that means. I'm sure he thinks he is, but all I remember is, he was the leader of the Young Liberals, not the Young Socialists. Must be something to do with him becoming Welsh.
There must be a base to the Labour Party's socialism. Sure we don't need another clause four, but we do need more than the wishy-washy liberalism the leadership gives us today. They are talking about nationalizing Northern Rock, but only because they know the public is watching and won't accept an old friends deal with likes of Richard Branson. There's just too much tax-payers money already in the kitty.
I do fail to understand how campaigning for the deputy leader's post can cost so much. It's an internal party election so a candidate just needs to get his views out to the party faithful in the branches, parliament and the unions. So you build a website, travel to branch meetings, produce a few thousand pamphlets, and spend £10,000. The money Peter Hain forgot to declare was £103,000 and that was just part of what he spent. What did he spend the money on? Were the candidates buying TV spots? I just don't see it.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
So JPMorgan starts to buy the assets of Northern Rock which is in debt to the government. No, surely not anything to do with Tony getting the bank clerk's job there?
I didn't really mind as I could afford it and these workers were on low wages. I had seen it all before in many third world countries. Now, as the country becomes wealthier, petty corruption at this level has almost disappeared. We even get number queuing tickets in government offices.
But corruption hasn't gone away. In fact there is probably more money involved than ever before but it is done mainly at the very top level of politicians and civil servants. It is done on payment for government contracts and people on both sides of the transactions become very wealthy. Word leaks out and we all know it is going on.
We will eventually reach the level where corruption becomes almost invisible; where all top government deals are done between friends, and friends of friends; where the old school tie rules; in fact we will become like the UK, but this will make the corruption even more costly to the country.
Shame, but at least Tony Blair can't legally start lobbying the government on behalf of JPMorgan for another six months, and he wouldn't break the law would he? And that Young Liberal, Peter Hain, wasn't promising any favours for that money he collected in the Labour deputy leader's election was he?
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Meanwhile I have just started Gordon Brown's biography of James Maxton, the Glasgow socialist and leader of the Independent Labour Party. I suspect Brown's move to Thatcherism must have been harder than Tony's because he at least must have believed a little bit in socialism as a young man. So what bank gets Gordon?