Justine Greening’s idea of going along to the Network Rail members meeting to cast her vote against the bosses’ bonuses exposes the ridiculous nature of the structure of the industry. Here is the person representing the interests of the government, which puts £4bn subsidy into the industry, casting her vote which has the same weight as Les from Dorking and Doris from Droitwich who happen to be members because they like the quarterly opportunity to mix with the hobnobs while quaffing cucumber sandwiches in a three star hotel.
In a way, I rather like Ms Greening’s gesture and it certainly is not her fault that she is placed in this ridiculous position. But it shows up her naivety because it is not good politics, nor does it make any sense. It is part of the wider phenomenon of started in the Thatcher era of trying to extract government out of any involvement in industry,and therefore there has to be a pretence that the railways are nothing to do with ministers. Hence, she is just one voice among all the others.
In truth, of course, this is patent nonsense. One would rather like the person responsible for the taxpayers’ input to throw their weight around rather more than just one vote out of a 100 or more. This is, I’m afraid, gesture politics at its worst. Hopefully, Ms Greening will reflect on that when she completes the long awaited paper on the future structure of Network Rail.
As has now been pointed out to me, and I mentioned on the News Channel, the government has the power to appoint a director to the renumeration committee and failed to do so. It is now, apparently, about to do so, but only because Labour opposition pointed out that this was possible. Perhaps the good Lord Adonis should have done it some time ago….