How out of touch is the House of Commons transport select committee that it can look at the future of Britain's railways and yet fail to notice a whacking great elephant sitting in the corner.
Louise Ellman, who chairs the committee, was eloquent in criticising the current situation, but it baffles belief that neither she nor any of its four other Labour members thought to mention public ownership.
The committee unites in support of the McNulty Report's general approach to achieving substantial savings.
However, it is concerned that pursuing cost savings of £3.5bn by 2018-19 by cutting station, track and on-train staff numbers might affect passenger safety and service quality.
Committee members cannot have it both ways - backing McNulty's general approach while voicing fears of its certain consequences.
Slashing staff is not an unfortunate by-product of McNulty's proposals. It goes to the heart of the job he was chosen to do.
That was to provide a justification for slashing employment levels on our railways as a means to reduce or eliminate government financial subsidies to the industry while allowing the privateers to continue their plunder of this great national asset.
Transport unions all understand the intent and foreseeable consequences of McNulty, which is why they are united in opposition to it.
It speaks volumes for the contempt for organised labour that persists within parliamentary Labour that MPs can be aware of this shared attitude of the organisations that represent rail workers and yet they ignore it as unimportant.
Transport unions and their members ought to be able to perceive a qualitative difference between MPs of various parties.
However, transport select committee Labour MPs have united with their conservative colleagues to nitpick round the edges while conceding the key issue of ownership.
They propose an even less democratic method than the current one by flying the kite of "an arm's length body with more commercial expertise than the department has at its own disposal" to take over the bestowal and supervision of rail franchises.
Just as the committee stands full square with McNulty without accepting responsibility for the fallout on safety and service quality, so it wants to combine delegation of franchise awards to an arm's length body while insisting that "ministers must remain fully accountable to Parliament for the railway."
We have already seen ministers in consecutive governments wash their hands of the profiteering antics of privatised utility companies on the grounds that "independent" regulators supervise them.
Does anyone expect transport ministers to put themselves in the firing line when they can pass the buck to equally "independent" arm's length outfits?
Ellman suggests that public confidence in the Department for Transport has been shaken by the West Coast Main Line franchise fiasco, but this is a narrow Westminster village assessment.
Public opinion is way ahead of the parliamentary neoliberals of all parties.
The public understands that privatisation of the railways was a Tory Party scheme to hand public funds to its mates in the City.
The West Coast Main Line franchise, like the shambles over failing to award the Thameslink train contract to Bombardier in Derby, simply reinforce popular perceptions about privatisation and parliamentary indifference to Britain's manufacturing sector.
Nothing short of renationalisation with democratic accountability can effectively tackle a problem caused by a political elite's obsession with a faddish model that is already past its sell-by date.
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