Coffee House

Class War: George Osborne caught in first class with the wrong train ticket

19 October 2012

ITV’s Rachel Townsend had a more exciting train journey into Euston than she might have expected this afternoon. She discovered George Osborne sitting in first class with a standard ticket.


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What a shame that this happened on a quiet and rainy Friday afternoon in Westminster when every hack and blogger was twiddling their thumbs and wondering what to do. Within minutes, they were starting to flood into Euston station to greet the Chancellor from his awkward train journey back from his constituency.

This is the end to a week where the political news has almost written itself. David Cameron fluffed a big energy policy announcement and Andrew Mitchell did his best to keep the row about his remarks to a policeman going for a little longer. Osborne has fallen prey to the classic mistake of a politician being so worried about receiving a drubbing for their expense claim for a first-class ticket that they end up in a great deal more bother by travelling in first class with the wrong ticket. ‘Chancellor sits in first class’ is not a story. ‘Chancellor sits in first class with invalid ticket’ is a story, especially when the Mitchell row is still alive. Perhaps Theresa May will jump a queue at Greggs next week, just to make the story a little more perfect.

PS This tweet, from May, suggests it’s not the first time that the Chancellor has – ahem – sought to save the taxpayer money in this way:-

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Show comments
  • alastair harris

    except is turns out this is nonsense, and running it under a picture of the chancellor and the pm on the tube demonstrates just how well you researched this.

  • Hornblower

    Thank you. This surely is a fuss about nothing at all, unlike when Cherie boarded a train a Watford bound train from London without a ticket of any description

  • Axstane

    Astonishing, a cub reporter gets the wrong end of a story, inflates it and creates a call for the Chancellor to go. Meanwhile he followed absolutely normal procedure.
    Should a Minister working on state papers travel in second class? No!
    If he had travelled second and some member of the public had photographed some part of the papers he was working on imagine the story then.

    • realfish

      But it doesn’t matter whether the story is true or not. Well not according to the BBC’s Norman Smith on Toady this morning.
      Which probably explains his lack of balance in things political and how he can justify his Tory bashing stories (that usually begin with, ‘Some people say….’).

      • Fergus Pickering

        Yes I was a bit surprised that the Beeb chap said that’ Letting the cat out of the bag rather.

    • JamesHaddock

      Oh so wealthy people in 1st class can be trusted to be in a carriage with state papers but not the paupers in 2nd class? Strange logic.
      I don’t mind if he travels first class, but he can pay out of his own pocket, like the rest of us have to…I don’t think anyone’s expecting the Chancellor to resign over this issue – it’s just irresistable comedy for the masses, given that Andrew Mitchell had just resigned

    • Worcester_apple

      He wasn’t working on state papers. There’s a photo that shows him watching a DVD, with his aide – one earpiece each. Witnesses say there was lots of chortling, and it appeared to be a comedy DVD.

  • Holby18

    You should know better than to write an article without confirming facts. Oh well what does one expect from journalists…..

    • JamesHaddock

      Usually a journalist on the ground is considered a reliable enough source to report from…

  • DavidDP

    Could someone explain why all reports of this say there was a dispute, before quietly noting Virgin said there was no problem and agreeing with the Chancellor? What kind of journalism is this?

  • TomTom

    Does he need a ticket at all ? I mean the taxpayer funds tickets so couldn;t he travel in a royal train or even his own personal carriage with a coat of arms on the side ?

  • terence patrick hewett

    Having travelled both 1st and 2nd class Virgin: 2nd class carriages are cramped and smell of sewage from the toilets, 1st has more leg room and smells of sewage from the toilets.

    • alexsandr

      fine. so pay the extra then… At the ticket office at the station. Not get on the train and hope to get away with it

  • Sardar

    Breaking news!! Man pays to upgrade to first class on train..

  • ChurwellOwl

    So was he forced to pay up the full price of a ticket(s) or just the difference? And was that all that happened? My daughter tried to go one stop further than the ticket she had, at a hefty difference of 10p, she had to buy a FULL new ticket, got a £65 fine and a letter stating that next time she would be taken to court. Did any of this happen Mr Osborne? No didn’t think so. Comments from Virgin please!!!!

  • Hornblower

    Why did he not purchase a first class ticket at the outset ?

    • itdoesntaddup

      Because he had reserved a seat on a different train. The one he travelled on was full.

      • alexsandr

        why didn’t he upgrade at Wilmslow ticket office?

        • Fergus Pickering

          Because he could upgrade on the train, you numpty. It is permitted to anybody to do this.

        • itdoesntaddup

          It only has ticket machines. They don’t handle upgrades I suspect.

        • realfish

          Because he doesn’t have to. He’s allowed to do so on the train.

  • realfish

    ‘…Chancellor sits in first class’ is not a story. ‘Chancellor sits in first class with invalid ticket’ is a story…’
    I do the same quite frequently. If standard looks likely to be full, or I decide I would like more space, I sit in First and pay the upgrade when the Train Manager comes around. It’s something that passengers do all the time…and are able to do.

    Did I read somewhere that Coffee House got some sort of award recently? If it wishes to hang on to it, you need to do better than this Isabel

    • realfish

      I didn’t mean to be too critical, Isabel. It could be much worse. You could be the hopeless Allegra Stratton.

    • maurice12brady

      ‘Train Manager comes around’ — You must be a close friend of Gideon — I only get a ticket-collector!

  • 2trueblue

    Journalism a its best……….

  • philip sayers

    well done isabel. great story. journalism at its finest.

  • Paddy

    And this is a story!

    Isabel, I saw you on a programme in the week and couldn’t believe how young you were.

    I suppose this is why you are fussing over these trivial matters instead of focusing on the serious issues affecting people in this country. Grow-up.

    • ButcombeMan

      Is she young? That explains everything. She really worries me.

      She should be writing for a sixth form magazine. so trivial is much of what she writes. She is just not upto it, yet anyway.

      Am I interested in an Osborne train journey?

      People are dying in Syria.

      Is this place for serious comment, debate and thinking aloud , or is it a gossip column?

      • Dimoto

        It’s a gossip column (and a playground for an ever increasing army of sponsored trolls).

        • alexsandr

          I’m not a troll, I’m a meerkat

      • TomTom

        yes and Russia has stationed air defence systems on the Turkish frontier to protect civilian airliners from Turkish air piracy and Hezbollah has relocated rockets northwards……. and Hollande wants to dabble so we can cause chaos in areas other than Libya – which has a news blackout in Western media

    • daniel livingstone

      Osborne did not want to stump up for the upgrade premium so he used his aides, hired a tpublic expense to plead for him. A member of the general public would not get away with that and nor should he.

      You just do not like the political implications of this story which are that one of your own is damaged in the eyes of the public and that the age of deference is dead.


    And were Osborne’s SpAds also without the correct tickets?


      Thanks for the update.

  • Bluesman

    And the winner of the Andrew Mitchell Memorial Trophy is…

  • Vulture

    Oiky shows his unerring skill at scoring own goals yet again. And he won’t even have his mate mad Mitch around to take the flak. Cameron clique certainly having a bad week. Tee hee!

    • dalai guevara

      Worst week ever – I cannot recall anything like it. Nice letters for Europe from Noway, whist all we get is FOI letter rejection and PM emails need to be asked for…thrice?

      • dalai guevara

        what? not true?

  • Daniel Maris

    Plebomania! TicketGate!!

  • Mirtha Tidville

    What a Pleb!!!!

  • triquet

    Perfect. How much is Milliband paying him?

    • George_Arseborne

      This has nothing to do with Milliband. Just a chancellor not doing the right thing. He should have been booked for anti social behaviour.

      • realfish

        …He should have been booked for anti social behaviour. WHY? Where you there?

  • toco10

    Isabel we know you struggle with your job at times but at least get your facts right before getting overexcited about trivia.The policeman travelling with Osborne told Virgin in advance that due to diary changes they were on a different train and did not have the correct ticket.

    • jason green

      That doesn’t explain why he sat in First class when his ticket was for Standard class.

      • Paddy

        No, but explain why Miliband and his cronies removed first class covers from their seats last year.

      • pilsden

        Not unusual to sit in first class and wait to pay for an upgrade which according to Virgin is what happened.

        • jason green

          According to eyewitness’ his aides wanted a free upgrade. Apparently not the first time he has tried this. Note date of tweet.

          • pilsden

            If the eyewitness is the ITV reporter she was not in the same carriage.
            Virgin Trains version is;
            The Chancellor, who was travelling in first class accommodation, held a standard class ticket. As soon as the train left Wilmslow, an aide went to find the train manager to explain the situation and arrange to pay for an upgrade.It was agreed that the Chancellor would remain in first class and an amount of £189.50 was paid by the aide to cover the upgrade for Mr Osborne and his PA.The situation was dealt with amicably between the train manager and George Osborne’s aide. At no time was there a disagreement or a refusal to pay for the upgrade. Nor was there any discussion between the train manager and Mr Osborne.

            • jason green

              So the ITV reporter lied? Did you check the link?

              • pilsden

                I checked the link and agree he has form for using a standard ticket which is all he can claim for and then trying to pay for the upgrade ,The ITV reporter’sTweet in response to dreamstream the “action”
                @edsaunt I am a carriage away from the action but have asked ticket inspector if he was going to let him stay “no chance”.

            • TomTom

              Virgin Trains…….? Funny that….

    • toco10

      Isabel, Virgin have now confirmed my facts rather than your error strewn piece!

    • Dimoto

      Journos eh ? What a bunch of bottom-feeding low-lifes.

    • telemachus

      Why try to justify the unjustifyable
      I and I suspect you cannot afford first class
      The Government are showing themselves progressively out of touch

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