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August 24, 2016



Like many I think that J Corbyn did not lie: for a while he could not find a seat. There may have been spare seats in some other carriage, but unreachable because of overcrowding.

But the whole story tells a bigger truth: an MP and leader of the opposition that instead of taking a limousine takes a train, and travels standard class instead of first class.

What the "conservatory-building classes" in the top 5% see a pathetic loser who does not take advantage of his status.

The people who take trains and travel standard class see someone who shares their experiences, and what he saw is what they usually see.


I have no issue with politicians lying to help a good cause. I do have an issue with a politician lying after having the colossal arrogance to do speeches up and down the country in front of a banner reading "Straight talking, honest politics"

Peter K.

What if Corbyn didn't lie? What if Richard Branson, tax exile, lied?


"Passengers back Jeremy Corbyn's claim that Virgin Train was ‘ram-packed’"

What if Owen Smith is trying to capitalize on the kerfuffle?


In my experience many "empty" seats are actually reserved, this is shown on the electronic displays over the seats which are hard to see in person never mind on film. CanVirgin tell us how many seats were reserved?


If you believe in democracy we want honesty in politics so we can make choices based on facts. Therefore we should punish people for lying even if it sometimes goes against our immediate political interests. If you believe in managerialism and elitism then you want to allow lying as the population will often need to be deceived for its own good.


"What if Owen Smith is trying to capitalize on the kerfuffle?"

Owen Smith said that Corbyn was trying to make a statement about the state of the railways and that was a legitimate point, so he's hardly going for the throat on this one.

Steve H

AH has it to a tee.
Present yourself as principled and the guardian of honest, spin free politics then you have to live up to those standards otherwise the accusations of hypocrisy are hard to refute.
It was amateur hour stuff from Corbyn. We all know that the railways are dreadful and that privatisation has been a sham. Frankly no one has to lie to make a case for a return to public owbnership


Obviously politicians lie, as do advertisers, salespersons, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends etc etc. But what counts is the competence. Many lies are not believed nor expected to be believed - just a social necessity. But poor Mr Corbyn seems to have made a right pigs ear of this one, not competent at any level.

Here is the difficulty, Corbyn may have a few reasonable ideas but more is needed from a political leader - low cunning and no truth (think Blair), smarmy smoothness and media savvy (think Cameron). Sadly I don't think Owen has the needful either. So we won't be seeing any sort of socialism anytime soon or long.

Warren Tarbiat

Problem is that the appeal of JC is that he's honest but he has done mostly the opposite. It just reinforces the idea of politicians and eliminates one of JC's appealing points; he's honest.


I look forward to the first non-lefty lying about, I don't know, their taxes say, and then we defend them to the limit.

Luis Enrique

Didn't we all just complain about a Bredit campaign packed with lies "for a bigger truth" as they might claim? Or is lying for a bigger truth something only our side gets a pass on?

Dave Timoney

Looked at in terms of consequentiality, there are three types of lies. There are lies whose net consequence is beneficial: avoiding hurting Aunt Jemima's feelings, or convincing the Germans D-Day would target the Pas de Calais etc. There are lies who net consequence is damaging: allowing your partner to be publicly ridiculed because you didn't warn her that her new dress made her look like Mrs Brown, or Iraqi WMD etc.

Corbyn's sit down protest falls into the third, intermediate catagory where it is not clear what the consequences are. That the railways are overcrowded and overpriced is hardly news, so this will not have raised much consciousness. Richard Branson's business interests won't be damaged because he enjoys a monopoly. The idea that Corbyn has single-handedly debased politics is absurd, while the charge of hypocrisy is like a charge of farting: we all do it - grow up.

In sum, this is silly season bollocks. The substantive point is that the policies discussed in the leadership contest are largely revivals (nationalise rail, recommit to the NHS, restore student grants etc). As these have all been proven to work, and as the intellectual case against social democracy collapsed in 2008, critics must of necessity resort to the ad hominem. What #traingate reinforces is the trivial and unserious nature of our media.


Sort of agree with that except one point: there's enough things that are shit to draw people's attention to without making stuff up and the fact that JC felt the need to do this makes him look even more of an other-worldly weirdo than he did already, which is no mean feat. I wish clever people like you would stop defending this obviously useless individual.

Igor Belanov

"I wish clever people like you would stop defending this obviously useless individual."

Hint of jealousy perhaps that this 'useless individual' has managed to gain the allegiance of hundreds of thousands of people? Still, if only he was as effective and efficient as the majority of the PLP eh? Maybe he should have made up an allegation that he'd been bullied by a Blairite mob instead.

Dave Hansell

Given that other of our fellow citizens who were on that train on that day have come forward to back Corbyn's version of the issue, along with the footage which clearly shows rows of seats containing what most reasonable people would identify as reserved tickets attached to them, the charges of lying and hypocrisy being thrown at Corbyn by certain posters here have no validity.

If those levelling such false charges, either directly or by implication, had anything about them they would recognise this and hold their hands up to acknowledge this relaity lest others amongst their fellow citizens conclude they have some kind of agenda they wish to push and to serve.

Those commentayors here dismissing the issue of crowded trains and the need to address the rip off this represents need also to acknowledge that doing so is dismissing the concerns and bad experiences of hundreds of thousands of paying through the nose travellers who are also registered voters.

Perhaps you too have an agenda to push? If so at least have the decency to make it expicit rather than beating around the bush with school playground level ad homs.

Ralph Musgrave

If the Labour Party have not worked out it's possible to book a seat on a train, are they fit to run the country?


«not worked out it's possible to book a seat on a train»

Perhaps it would be useful at this point a reminder that booking seats *does not* grow the number of available seats by magical thinking.

If 500 people want to board a train and there are 300 seats, booking seats does not solve the problem of overcrowding, and 200 travellers will have to stand or sit on the floor; all that booking does, amazingly, is to allocate existing seats.

Also apparently J Corbyn was offered a free upgrade to first-class on account of his being a celebrity but he refused, I guess because it looked like a "gift" or even a trap.

Obviously J Corbyn could have also booked a taxi/limousine service or bought first class tickets; but that still has nothing to do with overcrowding in standard class.

Ralph Musgrave


You clam that "booking seats *does not* grow the number of available seats..". My answer is: yes it does.

If (taking your figures)a train is due to run with 300 seats, and 500 bookings are receive, then the train operator will clearly do their best to supply extra carriages and seats. It's in their interests to do so. Or if they can't, they'll tell would-be bookers that the train is full.

a random eman

If Corbyn had just come clean and admitted he told a small half-untruth for a greater purpose, he wouldn't have been pilloried nearly as much. Instead, he went and 'Corbyned' it and his spokesmen have come up with multiple explanations for what happened.

Aside from anything else, it takes some going to find a train out of London that wasn't overcrowded.

Luis Enrique

how many lies expressing a deeper truth can you count here?



"Hint of jealousy perhaps that this 'useless individual' has managed to gain the allegiance of hundreds of thousands of people? Still, if only he was as effective and efficient as the majority of the PLP eh? "

Plenty of useless people have managed to become popular. Donald Trump's base of support is in the tens of millions. And between them, the PLP had significantly more votes in the last general election than Corbyn had in the last leadership contest. The lesson is that popularity is not a guide to effectiveness, nor is it possible to compare apples to apples; the various popularity contests we use to elect politicians cannot be directly compared to each other. Is the mayoral election a vindication of Corbyn, or of Sadiq Khan's brand of soft leftism?

Ralph Musgrave

The problem with complaints about over-crowded trains is that the cheapest way to run a train system does involve some over-crowding particularly during rush hours. I.e. if you want trains with plenty of spare seats during rush hours, then you’ll have to pay for near empty carriages for the rest of the day.

Yours, the Fat Controller.


«due to run with 300 seats, and 500 bookings are receive, then the train operator will clearly do their best to supply extra carriages and seats»

That beautiful fantasy does not actually happen, trains are not airplanes. Air travel regulators do not allow usually plane passengers to stand or sit on the floor, so airlines can only sell more tickets by adding seats.

Because when 500 people want to travel and only 300 can book seats, a profit maximizing train operator knows that they will sell nearly 500 tickets, say 450, not just 300, because many people don't get to choose when they have to travel, and you can sell tickets for travelling standing up or sitting on the floor at the same price as seating tickets.

The result is that most peak trains run overcrowded and many off-peak trains run underutilized.

As another commenter says:

«the cheapest way»

Actually that's "the most profitable way".

«to run a train system does involve some over-crowding particularly during rush hours»

Because it is the same trains, that do back-and-forth during the day or across days. Because it takes a lot of time and effort to take carriages on and off trains. Note: I have been extremely familiar with the Paddington-Newcastle Virgin service, as a passenger. The same trains, easily recognizable by the same malfunctioning doors and toilets etc., were obviously run over and over, across many days.

Therefore J Corbyn's point is exactly that «the train operator will clearly do their best to supply extra carriages and seats» *only* if they are run in the interests of the public, not to optimize profits.

Now the question is whether a state-owned railway would run the services in the interests of the public or of the staff, and past experience is not encouraging. J Corbyn may be optimistic, and a large majority of UK voters share his optimism, so at least it is a vote winner.


«Is the mayoral election a vindication of Corbyn, or of Sadiq Khan's brand of soft leftism?»

But they are nearly indinstinguishable! J Corbyn has compromised much on his policies (though obviously not his principles) for the sake of party unity.

The vicious campaign against J Corbyn are certainly not "because electability" or "because policies"; the mandelsonians attacked G Brown as they are attacking J Corbyn now on electability and policies.

But the attacks on J Corbyn are far more vicious; so it must be something else, which may be Likud or the second Brexit campaign or both.


Let me remind readers of the general story about standard class seats:

* There is (nearly) never overcrowding in first class.

* "Standard" class train passengers are considered worthless pathetic losers by the "conservatory-building classes", and thus why worry about seats for them?

"Nice people" travel by car or first class, and "awesome people" travel by private plane like T Blair or by billionaire's "boat" like P Mandelson. :-)

Ralph Musgrave

I'm much amused by Blissex's claim that train operators don't vary the number of carriages according to what they think the likely number of passengers will be (25th Aug, 9.01pm). Perhaps he can explain why, that being the case, some trains have two carriages, and some have fifteen or more.

Re Blissex's convoluted explanation as to why trains are over-crowded during rush hours and relatively empty at other times I suggest the explanation is very simple: more people want to travel during rush hours.

Kick Ass Pacifist

I sat on a train all the way from London to Sheffield! Given the prices I do not think this is acceptable.

I was on a bus once where there were as many stood up as sat down 9a regular sight), such was the overcrowding and one girl hit her head on a window as she was buffeted by the bus. Why is this acceptable?

The job of a politician is to raise issues on behalf of the public. Wasn't he just doing his job?

We have a failed transport system unfit for the modern world. In an era of climate change we are reducing bus services and car use increases! A vote for Corbyn is a vote for the future!


"in a world where there are barriers to truth, lying might be a justifiable way of shifting us towards the truth."

In any conceivable human world, there will be 'barriers' to truth. But that would never justify lying, which is (and only is!) the telling of an untruth with the intention to deceive. Fiction is not lying, except metaphorically.

"It might be better for pro-immigration candidates to lie and then enact reasonable policies and show that these have worked than to try to change voters’ beliefs beforehand. As the old saying goes, it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission. Whether this strategy works is a matter of tactics, not morality."

Yet that is grotesquely deceitful and as such immoral - to deceive voters for some greater good. And, given the recent history of immigration into western europe, the greater good hasn't appeared.

No, it is far better for right and left, leave and remain, to speak the truth as they see it, to eschew propaganda and to offer the electorate checkable assertions.

Meanwhile, Chris, by taking an instrumental (and broadly Marxist) view of what constitutes truth, you are undermining your credibility as a professional commentator.

Kick Ass Pacifist

I want to be told the truth and do not want to be lied to, in this case I think Corbyn has told me the truth about the state of our railways and transport system in general.

Didn't someone once die for our sins?


I wonder if Ralph Musgrave has ever actually used a train in the last few decades.

He should try the Barnstaple to Exeter line. The rolling stock are ancient glorified cattle trucks Little account is paid of the number of passengers when it comes to the allocation of coaches. It's one or two come hell or high water.

Oh, and a bonus for Ralph, the line's named after an otter in a book written by a fascist.


Too true Doug..
Maybe Ralph is a train spotter? Some of his other posts suggest so.
If he got onto the trains he would find out that those with 2 carriages are absolutely jam packed. They arrive at fairly short intervals during rush hours.
The "long" trains run almost empty the rest of the day, except on long distance routes, where again there is insufficient seating and insufficient luggage space.

Deviation From The Mean

Being the fascist that he is it wouldn't surprise me if Ralph's idea of a train is one crammed full of Jews going East.


"...a train is one crammed full of Jews going East."

Nah, that's the Corbynistas' wet dream.

derrida derider

Deviation and Theophrastus, your comments say a lot more about you than about Ralph Musgrave. Grow up.

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