Tuesday, December 19, 2006

One Butt, Two Hands, No Joy

Reporting of little local difficulties (as the Foreign and Colonial Office might once have had it) is not really within the remit of this blog. However, as it’s Christmas and my creativity is taking a hit, my next three entries will ostensibly be reports of goings on at the local level. I should be excused however, as they serve as excellent case studies of a more general problem.

Our first voyage of discovery takes us to Saltash, which for those with slightly lower standards of cartographical knowledge is the first town on the Cornish side of the Tamar, which thanks to its location at the end of the road and rail bridges serves as a suburb of Greater Plymouth. Indeed, the western side of Plymouth is somewhat blessed in transportation terms, retaining as it does one of the few suburban rail services outside the major conurbations. Perhaps the most important site served by that service is the naval dockyard at HMNB Devonport, one of the area’s major employers.

With its own station perched at the end of the Royal Albert Bridge, Saltash was thus an ideal location for many of Devonport’s employees, who for many years enjoyed an early service that delivered them to work nicely on time. Until the latest timetable revision, however, when that service was retimed so it now delivers everyone to work late. While commuters on the Devon side of the Hamoaze can still use the train (as a separate service runs up the Tamar Valley instead), the Kernovians are left high and dry, in this case literally as they are forced onto the road bridge.

The economically enlightened amongst you might speculate that the demand for the service at that time was not actually high enough to justify its running and that it was removed on that basis, reducing the economic suicide that such a decision might ostensibly appear to be. My response to that would be to point out that the local rail franchisee in Devon and Cornwall is First Group, and the bus franchisee in Plymouth is… First Group!

Integrated (n.) any system in which alternative service providers are owned by the same company, allowing the anti-competitive destruction of one provider for the benefit of the other.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Activity: The Politician's Substitute For Accomplishment

Blog etiquette is clearly a still-evolving concept, but I suppose it’s only fair to my readers (theoretical though you all are) to give some apology for my recent sabbatical; unfortunately I’ve been discovering that the old adage about moving house and stress is all too accurate. That’s not to say that I’ve been completely inactive party-wise, and it seems a fitting time (both from my current state of creativity-sapping exhaustion and from the progress of things) to fill you all in on what I’m doing on the LDYS side of things.

But first, let us be frank and admit that, on policy matters, LDYS have in recent years dropped the ball. That’s not to say that this is anyone’s fault; turnover of activists has not helped, neither has the institutional single-mindedness generated by what I shall call, in order to protect those who should be shouted at/sacked/shot (delete as applicable), the Royal Festival Hall Incident and the Black Hole Plot.

Equally, solving those issues is not exactly within the remit of a Policy Officer; I can’t exactly be held responsible for the fact that ***** ******* is a complete ******* ****** who should be ****** *** ** *** ****, after all! What I can do is ensure that the process is right, which for fear of sounding unbearably grandiose is a massively important role in a youth politics organisation simply because the vast majority of its members will consider such things to be fundamentally boring.

The plan, then, is to completely revamp LDYS’s policy management systems. Instead of the current mass of policy motions, Policy Committee will maintain a constantly evolving policy book, building into what will essentially be a complete manifesto for the organisation from which the committee can build motions to Federal Conference. Moreover, shorn of the onerous nature of the current management system and empowered by a new, bolder development remit, LDYS Policy Committee should become a commissioning body in the role of FPC.

My point in mentioning all this is to remind the rest of the party that LDYS’ days of lying down and taking it are over; we are, to coin the delightful West Wingian phrase, Roberto Mendoza, and we’re coming to rob your house…