Monday, 20 September 2010

Good Government Intervention

It was Ronald Reagan, one of the few Presidents to die before his term ended without anyone noticing, who, in order to pick up some ignorant voters who lived in the square states who didn't like having to have driving licenses or tell the authorities they owned a gun, and some more informed voters who lived in the cities and sat on the boards of big companies and didn't like having to deal with the government (or pay taxes), told people that "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"

This summed up his anti-government philosophy perfectly, that government can't do everything (or shouldn't) and therefore it should do as little as possible. Keir was reminded of this (and all the pre-election warning that Cameron was, at heart, a small-government Tory) when he read that Southern Trains had decided that 'refreshed' trains put onto the 90 minute long Portsmouth to Brighton service wouldn't be refitted with toilets. Previously, toilet-less trains have existed (this ludicrous in its own right, disabled? Pensioners? People with bladder and urinary tract problems? (maybe they should take the bus? Oh, wait...)) but only on shorter routes.

Interestingly, in the initial news report (posted on a blog here) there is comment from the Department of Transport that is removed from the link above. Hmmmm.

The Department for Transport said there were no rules on whether or not toilets should be available on trains.
"We expect rail companies to provide a good service," he added.
"However, it is not for the Government to micromanage the industry."

No, Keir thinks it is regulating in cases like this that is exactly what the government should be doing. How far does the government step back? When does managing become micromanaging? This is letting Southern get one over, and more likely than not, save money while doing so. The Department should step in and force minimum standards on trains that will be travelling over a certain distance; just like they should be trying to talk sense into Michael O'Leary about Ryan Air and their ideas over charging for the toilet. Or maybe this is one for the Big Society?

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