Jeremy Corbyn is getting a bit hammered, particularly by Richard Branson, for a video of him sitting on the floor of a Virgin Train.
You can read the ins and outs of “Traingate” elsewhere.
Since he was elected Labour leader there have been umpteen examples of Jeremy Corbyn being absolutely useless in dealing with the “media” in all its forms.
At long last, he has done something, from the floor of a train corridor, which could loosely be described as reasonably good media handling. He highlighted, with great visual panache, an issue (lack of seating on trains) and explained his plan to deal with it (bring back British Rail).
In that narrow sense, I applaud Jeremy Corbyn for his train floor video.
Beyond that, I have some questions/concerns.
The train was not “ram packed” as Corbyn said. The CCTV footage shows there were lots of empty seats. The issue was that most of them had “reserved” labels flapping about in the breeze at the top of them.
So perhaps the real issue is not actually lack of seats in this particular Virgin service, but reserved seat management? Staff subsequently reviewed some of the reserved labels and invited other passengers to sit in them. So perhaps there should be a system whereby, if you do not claim your reserved seat within x minutes of the station you have reserved it for, the reserved label is removed so that other passengers may avail themselves of the seat?
As others have said, would it not have been fairly simple for Jeremy Corbyn’s office to have ticked the box for reserved seating on this train? Most of us do it automatically. It seems crazy for the Leader of the Opposition and his entourage not to reserve seats on a long journey.
By the way, I give JC full marks for not accepting the offer of a complementary first class seat.
Overall, there is a huge issue of lack of seating on UK trains. I have often stood on trains to/from London. This is extremely dangerous indeed. However, I am not entirely sure that Virgin Trains are a particular culprit here and, as I say, the management of reserved seats seems to be the key issue on the Traingate service in question.