Friday, May 23, 2008

Irish Rail - let's sack everyone!

I've been personally of the view for many years now that Irish Rail is simply unrecoverable as a company. This from someone who is a big believer in trains and public transport in general. The only sensible solution is to sack everyone from the CEO down and do a complete rehire, with all of them sign up to a clearly stated policy that it is the mission of the company to transport people and goods, safely and reliably within a predictable timetable to and from the destinations of their choice.

Too many people have had too many poor experiences with Irish Rail in terms of how it does business as a company and sadly how many of its customer facing (hate the expression but it seems apt here) employees treat people. Bear in mind that most people when asking for assistance from Irish Rail employees are away from home, and if stranded will have to go to considerable personal expense and suffer a great deal of inconvenience to make it to their destination by other means. Frankly for many of them it is a stressful enough experience and if they had another choice they would have made. The company and many of its employees continue to behave as if the company exists to provide them with a living and not to provide a service to the travelling public. This attitude perpetuates itself by infecting new employees as they learn from the existing staff what it is you can get away with. Hence my idea for the need for a mass clear out.

Sure, some of the trains are nicer now, but remember we the travelling public and taxpayers paid for that nice new shininess by means of Transport 90210 and other PR efforts such as "We're not there yet, and frankly we're not sure where there is". It isn't like the employees built the new trains as a favour to us crafted out of the goodness of their hearts on their own time while taking breaks from feeding orphans and widows.

Every little change in their work situation they want to be paid for. The time table changes, pay me more, time table changes back to what it was, pay me more again. New trains, pay me to learn how to drive them, and then pay me more to actually drive them. And if you hire someone to drive them but I don't drive them, pay me more to let them drive them instead.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cowen and the real problem with his f$%ckers

Naturally, the superficial emphasis has been on the use of the word itself. Those with a tradition at this stage for missing the point by a distance greater than the human mind can encompass have praised him for showing that he is cool and down with the kids. The Evening Herald ran with a headline saying as much.

In point of fact, the issue for Cowen is not actually his swearing at all - which the finest of us do (and with some aplomb I meant add) , but the fact that he appears to be so easily rattled. Enda Kenny wasn't placing him under any especially harsh pressure, some might even say it was all fairly humdrum stuff. Until Cowen found himself unable to answer a pretty straightforward question and lacking the armoury of evasion natural to his predecessor he went lock, stock and sinker for the "attack is the best form of defense" approach. All of which meant his temperament wasn't the mae west when he turned to Mary Coughlan to make his now famous remark about" those f$%ckers". Some of the more ill informed, including as a writer for the Sunday Mirror and a letter writer elsewhere, were more appalled that he should say such things to a delicate flower such as Mary, poor innocent Mary Coughlan. Just as well for all our sakes that he doesn't carry around a nuclear button.

Fionnan Sheahan catches it perfectly with his piece on "The Touchy and Tetchy Show", indeed it is hard to see how this works to the advantage of Cowen either Coughlan.

"They don't like it up 'em, Mr. Mannering"- as a noted political commentator once said.

Crewe and Nantwich

As is my wont from time to time, I poke my nose in the politics of other countries. I don't spend any money on influencing the outcome but I do like to watch. So the by-election in Crewe and Nantwich looks to be quite interesting given the national scene in the UK. Basically, Gordon Brown seems to have been caught completely unpreparedby the British public in bed with a naked recession and he had no protection at all. Meanwhile, Nick Clegg is still learning to lead without his stabilisers on the bicycle of the Lib Dems and David Cameron has suddenly found himself faced with the prospect of being behaving like the leader of a major political party with a decent chance of being in government somewhat ahead of schedule. You can peruse the full line up if you wish but the three main parties are where the real action is as per usual.

Last time out in 2005 the final % results were
Labour 48.8
Conserveratives 32.6
Lib Dems 18.6

A shift or swing as they like to call it over there of 9% from Labour to Tory would mean Labour on 39.8% and Conservative 41.6%. However, many people - core Labour people - are likely to find voting for the Tories a bridge too far, and might either stay home or seek out a temporary safe haven in the Lib Dems. Indeed, with the Labour vote nationally appearing to be in free fall, it is just possible that some Labour voters might even decide that the only way to stop the Tories romping home is to vote LibDems. It is alternately possible that if the battle is seen as a straight choice between supporting the government or giving it a bloody nose then the Lib Dems might be squeezed out completely. With that in mind, I've got two outcomes that might result from each of the above scenarios

Scenario (A)

Labour suffer a collapse but as it is a collapse in the core vote many can't bring themselves to vote Tory so they temporarily jump to the LibDems, in fact the Labour campaign doesn't get people to vote Labour but it is effective in stopping people from voting Tory

Labour 34.8
Conserveratives 38.6
Lib Dems 26.6

Scenario (B)

Labour suffer a significant drop but the core vote holds and many including some who previously voted Lib Dems see the risk nationally of a Tory win (especially if it means an overall majority for the Conservatives) so they vote Labour. The Labour campaign gets people to vote Labour but it is still not effective in stopping middle ground people from voting Tory.

Labour 39.8
Conservatives 44.6
Lib Dems 15.6

We'll know tonight. And there is always scenario (C), (D) and so on and so forth.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Voting on Lisbon

I'm going to give the feelings in my water expression over the next few weeks as we close in judgement day for the Treaty of Lisboa - June 12th.

As of now I would suggest the support levels of

Yes 60% No 38% Spoilt 2%

Monday, May 19, 2008

And the final cylon is...

Admiral Cain!

Seriously, wouldn't that just kick that part of the body that is in most contact with the couch. It is only a guess mind. My guess, all my guess. And entirely consistent with my view that the final cylon is someone already died who would have to be resurrected. And guess what? We're off to a resurrection hub!