The Illustrated Northern Weekly Salvo

Incorporating  Slaithwaite Review of Books, BikkiRail, Weekly Notices, Tunnel Gazers’ Gazette. Descendant of Teddy Ashton’s Northern Weekly. Contains no Isinglass

No. 171   January 5th 2015 

Salveson’s weekly diatribe of railwayness, tripe and secessionist nonsense from Up North. Read by the highest officers of state, Brechtian punks, yes women, no men, Chartists, cat-spotters, discerning sybarites, pie-eaters, tripe dressers, truculent Northerners, grumpy Norwegians, members of the clergy and the toiling masses

Quote of the year – who said it, where, and when?

” The rise of UKIP and the associated transmutation of the Conservative party into an English national party that wants to make hating immigrants, Europeans and now Scots its core political proposition is…new political territory. There are Conservatives deeply uneasy about what is happening…but who seem incapable of keeping Conservatism anchored to its old cultural and social moorings.”

Looking forward – or backwards?

Let’s start by wishing a happy new year to all readers of The Salvo. This issue will focus mainly on ideas, with a few updates on events over the Christmas holidays. Let’s start with the rail fares issue, something that combines both railways and politics which is what The Salvo tries to achieve, albeit imperfectly. Across the network rail commuters will be greeted by Labour and trade union activists protesting about the increases and calling for a ‘return to BR’. I won’t be joining them but I’m sure many mates will be there. On one level, the campaign has right on its side. Rail fares are high compared to other European countries and the cost of a season ticket is generally a bigger proportion of your earnings than in equivalent nations across Europe. IMG-20140819-03050However, simply reducing fares across the board isn’t necessarily a good idea. Yes, it would increase the number of people travelling but trains are generally pretty full already and more passengers will equal huge overcrowding. As yet, we don’t seem to have a rolling stock strategy that can address the ongoing need for new trains, so having cheaper fares on massively overcrowded trains isn’t that good an idea, unless you look at the bigger picture. For some on the left, that means a backward step to ‘nationalisation’. For all the Marxist ideology that underpins some of this politics, the comrades ignore his teachings and imagine the clock can be turned back to 1948. Or, if you’re of the Leninist persuasion, 1917. If you’re an anarchist, 1936.  We should no more base our politics in 2015 on the needs of a war-torn austerity Britain than we should on the politics of revolutionary Petrograd in 1917 or Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War. The idea of going back to a mythical golden age of nationalised railways is wrong as well as unachievable – which isn’t to say we should be satisfied with what we have now. Critics of privatisation point to the profits made by the foreign state-owned companies, which go back to support their own domestic rail networks. The shrinking, but still substantial, number of private companies like Virgin, First, Stagecoach and Go-Ahead award their shareholders accordingly whilst lacking incentives to invest in their operations, beyond what’s in the franchise agreement. Meanwhile, the rolling stock companies and other industry players make good profits out of the system.

It would be as silly for anyone to say this system is perfect – just as it would for someone on the left to say the solution is ‘back to BR’. I worked for BR in the 1970s and believe me it was not a model of socialist enterprise. There were good things about it and it actually got better in its final years. But it remained over-centralised and bureaucratic with a production-led culture. There were hundreds, indeed thousands, of good people in BR at all levels but the fundamental shape of the business was wrong. We need to learn the lessons of the last 20 years and go forward with something better. As argued in my book Railpolitik, the best performing train operators have been the smaller ones (by and large).

East German protesters demand rail franchising and a market economy

East German protesters demand rail franchising and a market economy

We need to find ways of maximising the benefits of ‘small is beautiful’ in a UK-wide framework and the current shape of franchises is a starting point, not something you’d want to abolish and re-integrate into one big bureaucratic whole. I don’t think, the Scots, or the Welsh for that matter, would be too happy in ceding control of their railways back to London. We’ve got devolution already and the logical, ‘Marxist’ approach would be to proceed in due dialectical fashion towards a synthesis based on fit-for-purpose regional operations operating on a not-for-dividend basis and a co-ordinated InterCity network based on the existing components, retaining them as business units within InterCity UK. There’s a debate to be had about vertical integration, with the regional companies taking on more responsibility for infrastructure. Again, this goes with the grain of what is happening in the industry (e.g. South West, Scotland, Northern). Ironically, the really radical thinking is going on outside the traditional left and the labour movement, which is a shame. And Labour, with its new ‘proud to be a car driver’ shadow secretary of state, is nowhere in the debate at all.

Network Rail and the bonus culture

One last point on railways and politics (well, not really). Following the disastrous series of events over the Christmas holidays, Network Rail’s chief executive has agreed to forego his bonus. How very kind and self-sacrificing. Various press reports have suggested it was £30,000 and others with an extra £100,000 added on. It would make an interesting study to see what the total bonuses paid within the railway industry come to – and to whom they go. They don’t go to drivers, or station staff, or carriage cleaners. Conductors get a very modest proportion of their ticket income, which I’ve no problem with. It provides an incentive to collect revenue. But I fail to see how large bonuses give top managers any incentive to perform better and I’ve got some academic research to back me up. Bonuses are a means of making the already wealthy even more wealthy, in a system devised by the wealthy to enrich themselves and their pals.

The Dalai Lama - does he get a bonus if he achieves nirvana faster? I don't think so

The Dalai Lama – does he get a bonus if he achieves nirvana faster? I don’t think so

A. Kohn, writing in that scurrilous Trotskyist organ The Harvard Business Review (October 1993) said: “It is difficult to overstate the extent to which most managers and the people who advise them believe in the redemptive power of rewards. Certainly, the vast majority of U.S. corporations use some sort of program intended to motivate employees by tying compensation to one index of performance or another. But more striking is the rarely examined belief that people will do a better job if they have been promised some sort of incentive. This assumption and the practices associated with it are pervasive, but a growing collection of evidence supports an opposing view. According to numerous studies in laboratories, workplaces, classrooms, and other settings, rewards typically undermine the very processes they are intended to enhance. The findings suggest that the failure of any given incentive program is due less to a glitch in that program than to the inadequacy of the psychological assumptions that ground all such plans.”

And yet we persist with the flawed view that large individual bonuses will help create ‘world class companies’. They don’t. Bonuses are a good way to get conductors to collect fares or make factory works produce a greater number of widgets. I don’t believe they incentivise already highly-paid senior managers perform better, nor do I think they attract ‘the right kind of person’ to top jobs. You attract people who are just there for the money and they will quickly move on to the next, more highly-paid job, at the drop of a hat. As well as failing to improve performance excessive bonuses must surely have a huge demoralising effect on staff in the company who don’t have any sort of bonus system. Is their job, done well, not worth any additional reward whilst their bosses get large bonuses over things for which they are at best only partly responsible? Apart from a few months at Horwich Loco Works back in the 70s, when I was making widgets (for railway wagons) I’ve never had any sort of bonus scheme; and that particular scheme was a great incentive to take risky short-cuts and end up in hospital. The Spring Smithy was a dangerous place to work and it was just as well I got out quick and moved to a more sedentary position as a guard.  Like the vast majority of people in the UK, I’ve earned a wage, salary, or generated my own income when being self-employed. Having a bonus system wouldn’t have made me work any harder, or any better. Is it just me? I don’t think so.

The enterprising state (will it give us a Pacer replacement?)

A very welcome Christmas present was a copy of Mariana Mazzucato’s The Entrepreneurial State, sub-titled De-bunking Public vs Private Sector Myths (2014 Anthem Press). It was originally produced as a report for left-of-centre think-tank Demos and later expanded into book form. It made for an interesting read alongside David Osborne and Ted Gaebler’s Re-inventing Government – how the entrepreneurial spirit is transforming the public sector, published by Penguin back in 1993. The two books have a different focus, and Osborne and Gaebler’s focuses very much on the experience of local government in the USA. Both challenge the prejudice that the public sector is inefficient and lacking in enterprise. Reading them reminded me of the recent comment by Stagecoach MD Martin Griffith (who last year earned £2.2m according to The Guardian), when asked by Radio Leeds what his company would bring to the new East Coast franchise.

St Helens Town Hall - seat of entrprise and innovation?

St Helens Town Hall – seat of enterprise and innovation?

He replied something to the effect that it was ‘private sector flair and enterprise’. What a lot of tosh. Vide the discussion on bonuses above, you can get innovation and enterprise from public, private or not-for-dividend companies depending on the framework you have in place. So Mazzucato emphasises the role of the ‘state’ in encouraging innovation in a wide range of sectors, taking risks that the private sector , with its focus on short-term profits, would not be willing to do. Takes me back to the days of BR’s Railway Technical Centre in Derby (see, I’m getting nostalgic about BR – or one part of it!). The absence of an equivalent in the modern UK railway industry is a problem, and you can see why the big private sector players wouldn’t be that interested, given their business model is based on short-term franchises or quick profits from leasing worn-out trains.

The problem I have with Mazzucatto is her assumption that ‘the state’ can only mean the central state. She quotes the example of Germany approvingly, but a lot of investment in R&D is driven by the regional (land) governments, working with the higher education sector and big companies. I suspect the same is true to a degree in the USA where some of the states are particularly proactive in supporting economic development through R&D as well as investment grants and loans. None of that is to say the role of the central state isn’t important. Some sectors (including railways) need a national focus, with some of the developmental work delivered regionally. One of the things that the railway industry desperately needs is a new design of regional train for the mid-21st century. To come up with something that meets everyone’s needs (including passengers, please) needs a partnership approach but it has to be delivered by a clear lead body. The proposed High-Speed Rail Academy could offer a possible option, but why confine it to ‘High-Speed’? We need a rail academy (can’t we call it ‘university’?) which is led and funded by ‘the state’ with active participation of all the industry players and academics, delivered in key regional centres – including Doncaster and Birmingham but why not other centres with great railway traditions including Glasgow, Darlington (handy for Hitachi in Newton Aycliffe) Cardiff, Derby, Crewe and – yes – Horwich! And add to that Huddersfield, with its growing Institute of Railway Research.

Towards a Federal Britain?

2014 was the year of devolution, when people – at least south of the border – finally woke up to the fact that the ‘UK’ had changed and was going to change even more, whatever the outcome of the Scottish referendum. The results after September 18th confounded everyone, thanks in part to David Cameron’s asinine speech hours after the referendum result was announced. The ‘English votes for English laws’ was crassly intended to mollify his right wing, which perhaps it did to a degree It also infuriated the Scots who saw it, rightly, as a deliberate kick in the teeth. Result? Membership of the SNP, and other pro-independence parties, has more than tripled since September 18th. Here in the North of England, we’ve seen the beginning of a debate about what form real devolution should take.

Desperate Dan - says yes for a Federal Britain and cow pies all round

Desperate Dan – says yes for a Federal Britain and cow pies all round

I say ‘real’ in distinction to ‘combined authorities’ or ‘elected city mayors’. Neither is a satisfactory solution, being more based on short-term convenience and keeping existing city elites (mostly in Manchester and other big cities outside London) happy. Going back to the old boundaries of the metropolitan counties (with some additions on the margins) doesn’t seem a sensible way forward. And the former met counties were at least directly-elected, whilst I’ve seen nobody saying the combined authorities should evolve into elected bodies. The world is different from the 70s when the met counties were formed. The arguments for regions, as opposed to extended sub-regional bodies, is very strong. We travel further to work and for leisure, we use our regional hinterland for leisure and recreation. Regions make sense, technically, economically and also culturally.

Whilst pretty much every European country of a similar size to ours sees ‘the region’ as a natural unit, most English politicians are terrified of it. The two standard responses to regionalism are; a) it was rejected in the North-east, in 2004 and b) the great British public “don’t want another tier of politicians and bureaucrats”. I don’t think either argument stands up. The NE referendum was offering very little and was seen as a top-down imposition of a glorified county council, populated by the old guard Labour hacks. 10 years ago is a long time and devolution has been shown to work in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London. The second argument ahs more substance and regionalists need to show that real power will be taken out of the centre, with fewer MPs and fewer civil servants. But it’s also about the kind of politicians people are fed up with –typically the careerist establishment politician which more and more people are sick of. The enthusiasm for the Scottish Referendum showed that people weren’t apathetic or sick of ‘politics’ – it was the sort of politics which they didn’t like.

There is no simple solution to English devolution. Using the standard planning regions which evolved since the Second World War is a good starting point. But should ‘the North’ as a whole have its own government? I’ve a lot of sympathy with that but I’ve been won over by the arguments for going smaller. Yorkshire, with just over five million people, is a good size for a cohesive region and has a strong identity. Same goes for the North-east. The North-West is less obviously a cohesive unit but there are some good arguments for treating it as one region. Would Manchester dominate? Maybe it would but you can compensate for one city’s dominant position by ensuring counter-balancing powers across the region. I’m certainly attracted to the idea of a ‘Northern Alliance’ which could include Yorkshire, the North-east and the North-West in a joint body which addresses shared issues. Rail is something that needs managing on a pan-Northern basis. The point is, we’ve hardly started talking about all this seriously. There’s a need to involve a much wider cross-section of opinion, including all parts of civil society (unions, business, voluntary sector, faith groups). That’s why the Hannah Mitchell Foundation and Unlock Democracy are calling for regional ‘citizens’ conventions’ with one up ‘ere covering the whole of the North.

How small do you go? The Kernow Question

I quite often get slightly tetchy emails from Cornish activists accusing me of ‘ignoring’ Cornwall’s claims to self-government. Quite honestly it’s up to the Cornish to determine what they want, e.g. a Cornish Assembly or be part of a wider South-West region, which is anathema to quite a few of the Cornish devolutionaries. But is it anathema to Cornish people as a whole? I don’t know. Cornwall already has a single local government unit, which personally I think is absolutely crazy. What happened to local government? Penzance is a long way from Liskeard, however, delightful the train journey. I’d say it was self-evident that ‘Cornwall’ should have an identity, but – like other parts of Britain – we’ve gone much too far in centralising local government to the extent it has become meaningless. The Bodmins, Falmouths, Truros and Penzances are sizeable towns which should have some political voice. That could be strengthened ‘town councils’ or something else.

Small was beautiful: Farnworth Town Hall - shades of former glory

Small was beautiful: Farnworth Town Hall – shades of former glory

Having one single unit of governance for all Cornwall doesn’t strike me as very democratic and would horrify any German, Norwegian, French or Italian. So, coming back to the original proposition: how small can you go for ‘regional’ government (accepting Kernow’s claim to nationality, you know what I mean – were not talking independence). The population is just over half a million (and growing quite rapidly). That puts it on a par with the smallest German land – Bremen, with 661,000. So yes it’s small and you could – within a very un-British co-ordinated approach to regional devolution – include a devolved Cornwall within a larger ‘South-West’ but it gets a bit messy, doesn’t it? So if the Cornish want their own assembly, let them have it. It might not have quite the same powers as a bigger multi-million region but it shouldn’t be about one size fitting all.

What we did on our holidays

I’ll say a bit more about my travels to Skye in the next issue. Suffice to say it was a long but pleasant journey in both directions, interspersed with sociable breaks in Glasgow, Perth and Carlisle. There were minor variations on the route, travelling out via Shap and back via the S&C, though using the Highland main line in both directions, and the scenic (in daylight) Inverness to Kyle line. The return, on the first train after the Christmas holiday (06.15), was slightly fraught.

The very obvious remains of the Skye Marble Railway - a line to the crushing plant went off to the right

The very obvious remains of the Skye Marble Railway – a line to the crushing plant went off to the left of the picture

The 158 stabled at Kyle refused to start on both engines and it was touch and go whether the driver would be allowed to take the train. In the end, it was decided to take the risk and we got to Inverness about 25 late. The service from the guard (Val) was excellent. To compound the problems the front coach (minus engine and thus not charging batteries) had no light and the only serviceable toilet was, yes you’ve guessed, in the front coach. Val valiantly (sorry) helped out with loans of a torch and arranged a special ‘comfort stop’ at Achnasheen. My stay on Skye included a walk along the remains of the Skye Marble Railway. This was a 3’ gauge line operating between 1907 and 1912 using a Hunslet industrial saddletank called, amusingly, Skylark. It’s a superb stroll out from Broadford and there’s plenty to see in the former quarry. If steam has long since disappeared after its brief spell on the island, it’s very much alive and well on the Strathspey Railway. Our very full class 170 stopped long enough at Aviemore for those interested to spot Ivatt ‘Mickey Mouse’ 46512 steaming away in fine style. A visit was also made to the splendid volunteer-run Pitlochry Station Bookshop.

46512 displays a bit of steam whilst a Yellowlees Train Barrel rests in the foreground at Aviemore

46512 displays a bit of steam whilst a Yellowlees Train Barrel rests in the foreground at Aviemore

The recent snow fall made the small town, a sort of inland Grange-over-Sands, look delightful. An added bonus was the purchase of a wee haggis from the famous MacDonald’s butcher’s. Pitlochry station is a credit to ScotRail and to its station staff. As well as the bookshop there is art work including murals and sculpture adorning the station, and the restored water fountain is the icing on the cake.

Sunday afternoon in Hebden Bridge

Sunday January 4th was a cold, crisp winter’s day. What better than to head over the moors to bonny Hebden Bridge for the Morning Star fund-raising concert? It was held in the Trades Club, a great venue run on as a social enterprise. It’s an older sister to the Red and Green Club and has hosted some big name bands including The Fall and Fairport Convention (not at the same time, I hasten to add). We brought over a fraternal delegation from the Red and Green Club, if sisters Nell, Ros, Hester and Jo don’t mind being referred to in this blatantly sexist manner. ‘Sororial’ doesn’t really do it somehow. We were entertained by an excellent ‘socialist mummers’ play’ which featured the downfall of capitalism at the hands of a bold working class knight who bore a strong resemblance to TSSA branch chair and Leeds train crew  roster clerk Steve Wiltshire.

The Red Shed Players performing their Socialist Panto

The Red Shed Players performing their Socialist Panto

But maybe I imagined it. The performers were emissaries of the Wakefield Red Shed, who later performed a socialist Christmas pantomime which included a suitably Thatcheresque villain and a politically virtuous Snow White with her seven pickets. After some nice singing by Amy, a talented 12 year-old making her first public performance, we enjoyed some nice home-made curry and replenished our glasses. The final act was the remarkable Sentimentalists, who have previously appeared at the Red and Green Club to an admiring, nay enthusiastic, audience. Sentimentalists (no definite articles allowed) are a Northern phenomenon, combining elements of the Fall, not Fairport Convention but maybe something vaguely ‘country’, and an aggressive Bonzo Dog Band. They are impeccably dressed, with the chaps opting for fine worsted suits.

Sentimentalists. Not the BR tie

Sentimentalists. Note the BR tie. Mr Shepherd is on the right of the pciture sporting his beret

The drummer, Mr John Shepherd, is particularly dapper, with the sartotial effect enhanced if anything by the wearing of a black beret. The lead singer, Mr. Philip Fowler, was smartly turned out in a three piece dark suit. The one woman player, the rather lovely Ms Wendy Ross on violin, is perhaps more conventionally attired. The keyboard player was sporting a BR tie which suitably ingratiated himself with some members of the audience. It was a stunning performance, with a strong sense of underlying rage and anxiety, coupled with mild incomprehension – but never over-indulged, always bringing you just back from the edge. ‘Ledston Luck’, a place that will be known by some Salvo readers at least, featured as the title of one of the songs. It was one of the seven former pits which encircled Castleford before the wicked witch of the south shut them down. If you get chance to see this band, don’t miss out. They should be sponsored by the Tripe Marketing Board, their mix of subtle irony, wit and potential violence would go well with the TMB ethos.

Crank Quiz on train delays…..is now arriving

Thanks to readers for their contributions on this topic. Here is a selection of delay announcements.

“Real delay announcement: I was waiting for a train to Reading at Birmingham New Street. The automated system came to life. (/)= pregnant pause. The (/) eighteen o six (/) Cross Country train to (/) Bournemouth is delayed due to (/) wild (/) sheep (/) on the line at (/) (/) Burton on Trent.” (Steve Salmon)

“I can confirm Allan’s tale about the wallaby as I saw one hopping down the road to Cromford station early one morning. The Derbyshire wallaby colony was long established – we saw some when students in 1971.” (Ian Ambrose)

“Re strange excuses for train delays, I was once on a local train from Swansea to Carmarthen which was held up and the guard announced that this was due to an elephant on the line. This turned out to be true – a circus was camped next to the line and an elephant had escaped and made its way onto the track. It took some time to recapture it – we were about an hour late by the time we got going again”. (Stephen Joseph)

“Your story about a wallaby on the line reminded me of one of my favourite announcements. Waiting for a train in Leeds in the days when I was a wage slave, we eventually boarded one that arrived 20 minutes late.  About 5 minutes after setting off the announcement came through in a deadpan voice, with no sign of humour or irony, with an apology for lateness due to a shed on the line near Garforth. The people around me loved that and it prompted many jokes about men and sheds”. (Gordon Wood)

“ I was once on a GNER HST heading speedily down the East Coast Main Line bound for Newcastle when it ground to a halt a couple of miles South of York.  The guard informed us over the PA system “I have some good news and some bad news – this train has two engines and both have failed.  However, it could be worse – you could be travelling in a Boeing 757.  We’re trying to sort it all out and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible”.  A few minutes later he announced that one engine had been coaxed back into life whereupon we limped into York to be transferred into a replacement train.  Full marks to the guard for taking the sting out of the situation. How much better to hear something like that than the more usual insincere gobbledegook”. (John Chapman)

Tony Molloy sends an extensive list of excuses from The Daily Telegraph of March 21st 2011:

  • Announcing the cancellation of the 8.16 to Bedford. “This is due to slippery rain.”
  • Heard on an April morning. The train is delayed because of “dew on the tracks”.
  • On the train from St Pancras to Derby. “We apologise for the late running of this service. This was due to excessive heat on the tracks between Bedford and Luton.” (It was the first sunny day of the year.)
  • In the first commuter magazine of The Southend Rail Travellers’ Association, dated 1948, excuses were being made that locomotives were failing at Fenchurch Street because of “the wrong kind of coal”.
  • Announcement at Bournemouth station: “The train now arriving on platform one is on fire. Passengers are advised not to board this train.”
  • On the line from Cardiff to London. Delays have been caused by “a giant clown on the line”. (This related to an inflatable Ronald McDonald which had blown from the roof of a restaurant onto the South Wales main line.)
  • At Wembley Central, a delay was announced due to “illegal immigrants on the line”. (The police were chasing them up the track and requested all power be turned off.)
  • To a platform of passengers waiting for the train from Woking to Waterloo. Delays were caused because somebody had climbed on to the signals near Weybridge and was taking pot shots at passing trains.
  • On a packed train, with many standing for the full journey from Newcastle to London, the conductor apologised that the overcrowding was caused by “too many passengers”.  Heard at a London Underground station: “We apologise for the delay to customers on platform one. This is due to a delay in the actual service.”

What’s your favourite? I quite like the ‘giant clown on the line’ (not any old clown, mind).

This week’s crank questions (New Year Quiz held over yet again owing to ongoing technical difficulties) is with grateful thanks to the former deputy MD of the Office of Rail passenger Franchising (OPRAF). Here you go:

Name……

  1. A regular hourly service which reverses twice en route
  2. Two stations with 12 hourly off peak trains to the same London terminus, via three different routes
  3. Two routes for which all stations have two or more words in the station name, one short, the other with fifteen
  4. Two pairs of stations which regularly have three trains an hour, stopping at both stations, each operated by a different franchise

 

Special Traffic Notices 

Tuesday January 6th: Eric Ayott’s Film Festival, Red and Green Club 7.00

Thursday January 8th: ‘How do we challenge prejudice?’ Compass discuss at The Red and Green Club, Milnsbridge, starting at 7.30. Led by Chris Wiper. All welcome.

Thursday January 15th: Film Night at The Red and Green Club: Nebraska. Starts 7.30. Admission £4

Friday February 6th: Prospects for Northern Railways. Salvo speaks to RCTS in Carnforth.

Quote of the week:

Will Hutton writing in The Observer January 4th in ‘How my trip to the cinema reminded me of the English distaste of hatred’. Maybe he over-romanticises the cultured, non-hating ‘English gentleman’ He starts by saying “Hating comes hard to the English. We do intolerance, prejudice, self-interest and jingoism as well as anyone if not better, but English culture is not kind to outright hating. It is difficult to build a hating political movement in a culture where understatement, self-effacement, good manners, fair play and humour, the essence of the notion of Englishness, are rated so highly.”

Well, discuss…..it could be argued that ‘hating’ is often a response to being in a subservient role, at its extreme a nation defeated militarily (e.g. Germany post-1918), an occupied or colonised nation, etc. England, or at least its ruling class, has been in the fortunate position of being ‘in power’ for centuries and hasn’t really had any need to ‘hate’ anyone. That’s a good thing, to be sure, ‘hatred’ is a very bad emotion in any political context, even when there are good reasons to hate (e.g. apartheid, British colonialism in India and Africa, etc.). Hatred can inspire revenge and an endless cycle of tit-for-tat violence which spirals out of control (Northern Ireland? Syria?). Gandhi (and Buddha, Jesus and one or two others) pretty much had it right, on reflection. But let’s not ignore the social roots of hatred and not have some cosy nostalgic idea of non-hating upper-class Englishness.