West Coast fiasco: Slog suspicion of Cameron intervention vindicated

Last week, I wrote about the West Coast contract farce as follows:

‘“There was always a suspicion on Branson’s part that the award was improper in some way,” an expert in the sector alleges, “which coming from him is somewhat amusing. He’s been on at Cameron to intervene for months now, and it looks like he got his way.”

Did Branson get to Cameron? It looks as though he didn’t physically do so, but in the sense of rattling his cage – yes, he did.’

From the Telegraph last night:

‘David Cameron personally intervened in the bidding process for the West Coast Main Line and asked the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, to investigate the matter after a private appeal from Sir Richard Branson.’

I will keep on saying this until someone pays attention: there is a cover-up of something very smelly going on here. But in the meantime, is this not just one more grubby example of how Dave works? Billionaire supporter gets on the dog and bone, and suddenly there’s a 180 degree U-turn.

I’m told by insiders that FirstGroup CEO Tim O’Toole has had lawyers crawling all over this since last Wednesday. This is also partly confirmed by the Torygraph piece, but Mr O’Toole is going to wind up pressing for a lot more than repayment of bid costs: perhaps because he too knows that the last thing the Prime Minister wants is any more evidence of naughtiness coming to light.

“There’ll be an enquiry [and] we’ll get to the bottom of it,” he told the Telegraph. Anyone who saw his performance on the Marr Show this morning will know precisely how seriously to take that promise.

17 thoughts on “West Coast fiasco: Slog suspicion of Cameron intervention vindicated

  1. I read that the ‘error’ was due to the amateur that produced the spreadsheet calculations. i.e. not a programmer from the IT department.
    I’m not surprised if this is true. Most business spreadsheets contain errors and some are very difficult to spot. Excel gives amateurs an unjustified sense of their own programming capabilities.


  2. Whatever spreadsheet was used whenever you see a project which requires you to pay up big bucks now with a promise to pay you back at some distant time in the future the ‘credibility-check antenna’ should go well and truly up.
    I understand that no reasonableness checks were done to ensure that the traffic numbers were credible either.
    So, I agree with JW that the whole thing smells fishy.
    I see that Sir Gus O’Donnell wants the public to lay-off bashing the Civil Service because the problems are not their fault. The fault is the Government’s which has seriously cut the pay of civil servants and drastically reduced their numbers resulting in the recruitment of sub-standard staff.
    Well, he would say that wouldn’t he!


  3. Several of the Rail Operating Companies have handed in their franchise, [East Coast Line,] for example. Also franchise are coming up for renewal. Maybe the time is coming for a British Part 2.
    All the Rail Operating Companies could come under one management. say 60% stake by the Government/Taxpayer. 40% other stakeholders, [maybe in the form of a bond that Joe Public could buy guarrantteeing RPI + 1%.] After all the tickets are set to rise by RPI + 3% and with only one management to pay instead of 57+, there must be cost savings.


  4. I’m intensely relaxed. Incompetence and possibly skullduggery has been exposed with more to follow. Branson has acted appropriately in this case. The civil service is simply not fit for purpose.We know ministers are also beyond the pale but at least they can be removed.

    Slightly OT, but the obsequious little poof from the Daily Mail on the Andrew Marr show said Jeremy H may have made his statement on abortion after getting a call from the old neocon Rupe.


  5. Richard Branson is essentially a brand figurehead. He has a certain charm, face to face and he’s quite savvy, but he’s a long way from being a business heavy weight. There are a lot of ‘interesting’ people behind him that somebody probably needs to take a closer look at.


  6. But he started up a record business and then did the same with an airline.

    Do you class these as little start ups then ?

    Could you set up an airline, even if you had the money to do it?

    No one in business knows how to do everything and certainly not when a company gets big, but you cannot say Branson is not a heavyweight businessman.


  7. He’s a lot of things but he’s not a heavyweight businessman. He’s just the front man as a rule. And the Economist expresses doubts on a regular basis as to whether he actually has any money.


  8. Why would Rupert have a view on this? Isn’t it at least equally likely that Cam set Hunt to make the “12-week splash” so his own dog-whistle to thr Right would look like triangulation?


  9. Pingback: John Ward – West Coast Fiasco : Slog Suspicion Of Cameron Intervention Vindicated – 7 October 2012 | Lucas 2012 Infos

  10. Andrew something or other, associate editor of the DM previously with the DT and a constant on skt review of the papers with that irritating Geordie with a speech impediment from the Mirror. No idea what his name is but you would recognise him.

    Rupe supports all the nut case evangelical issues of the american right including extreme opposition to abortion.


  11. Agreed, and it also gives an illusion of accuracy because it gives you four or five decimals places any time you want them.


  12. Opposing abortion is a “nut case” view? There I was thinking that it was serious moral issue about when life begins. Silly me.


  13. anyone remember when branson was bidding for the national lottery and his opponent tried to bribe him to raise his bid, it went to a libel case and branson won. Branson is honest.


  14. Pingback: Borisito Johnsonini & the Earls Court project: | A diary of deception and distortion

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