Follow by Email

Friday, 30 June 2017

A lesson in how NOT to handle it

Kensington council cancels meeting after High Court lets journalists attend

Image result for Kensington council cancels meeting after High Court lets journalists attend

If ever anyone should need a series of object lessons in how NOT to handle a given set of circumstances and events, they need look no further than the examples set by the leader of the Council, the Council members and officers of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Since the morning of 15th June, the morning after the Grenfell Tower fire, this collection of elected and unelected council officials have demonstrated ineptitude, bad judgement and a complete lack of organisational skills and have managed to produce a series of public relations catastrophies while at the same time leaving the people most effected by the disaster very much to their own devices.
Yesterdays aborted Council meeting is just the latest in a catalogue of errors and misjudgements by this collection of "members" led by someone who is clearly out of his depth.

Image result for Nicholas Paget-Brown
Nicholas Paget-Brown
The case for mass resignations of concil members is compelling. The first to go must be Leader of the Council Nicholas Paget-Brown. The Council requires leadership and organisation. Clearly the present administration is unable to provide either.

Conservative MP criticises DUP deal then votes with government

Conservative  MP voices fury in Parliament at her party's 'distasteful' DUP deal 

Image result for heidi allen criticises own party

Heidi Allen proving yet again how cheap words actually are.
This time, she berates the agreement her party has cobbled together with the DUP for the sole purpose of keeping Theresa May in office for a few more weeks,and then walks into the lobby side by side with the despised politicians from Ulster.
Her almost weekly outbursts of indignation with her governmemt and its actions, closely followed with her voting to support what ever the whips instruct, is indicative of someone seeking attention in controversy but acting in a completely different fashion.
Some might even argue that saying one thing and doing another, verges on hypocrisy and in Heidi Allen's case, not for the first time.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

No change on Public sector pay cap.

Confusion, discord and ineptitude.

Image result for Confusion after No 10 backtracks on end to public sector pay cap

The vote on last nights amendment to the Queen's Speech calling for the end to the Public sector pay cap, was defeated by by 323  votes to 309, a government majority of 14. A collection of disgruntled conservative MP's, who during the course of the last few days had publicly stated that the pay freeze on public sector pay, which had been in place for seven years, had reached the end of its shelf life and should be dropped, suddenly at around 7:00pm, lost their objections to the policy and joined forces with the 10 Democratic Unionist Party  Mountebank's and shuffled through the "No" lobby to defeat the amendment and consequently, keep Theresa May clinging to her office for a few more days.
The result may have come as a surprise to some, as during the course of the day contradictory and confusing messages had come out of various government departments and even more bizarrely from different cabinet ministers. Chris Grayling and Michael Fallon spoke earlier in the day about, "a possible re-examination of the public sector pay cap", with Oliver Letwin adding, "there is a case for easing up on austerity". 

Image result for oliver letwin call for end to austerity Dorset echo

Chancellor Philip Hammond however played down the speculation saying that, "There are recommendations from independent public sector pay review bodies and decisions will not be taken until the Autumn Statement". This followed a briefing from the Prime Minister's officials that she was "willing to consider changes".
Within hours of another less than private squabble between government ministers, and shortly before the vote on the amendment, Theresa May returned to the fracas with another of her now infamous U Turns, anouncing that nothing has changed and that there will be no modification of policy. An intervention which again left government ministers, Conservative Members and many others with open mouths, shaking their heads in stunned disbelief.
The media generally seem to take the view that this government is riven with dissent and factionalism on this and many other issues party direction, leadership and not least of all Brexit. Only the Mail and Express consider that defeating the amendment to remove the Public Sector pay cap ws somehow a great victory for Theresa May with the Express gloating that Jeremy Corbyn had actually been humiliated. How anyone, including the proprietors and editors of national newspapers, can consider that the pyrrhic victory which the government achieved in last nights vote, and only secured with the unscrupulous support of the 10 Democratic Unionist Party, bribed with £1.5 billion specifically for the purpose of keeping Theresa May in number 10, is anything other than a contemptible insult is beyond belief.

Related image

Public Sector workers, our emergency serivices, police, fire, ambulance and nurses and others, have had their salaries capped at 1% for the last seven years. Nurses have had their salaries cut by 14% in real terms and many are now reliant on Foodbanks and Payday loan companies to survive each month.Those MP's who last night voted against the Opposition amendment to end the pay freeze and those newspaper editors and proprietors who today jubilate that the government "defeated" the amendment, should this morning hang their heads in shame at their own hypocrisy and their callous disregard for justice and fairness.
Over recent months particularly, in Manchester or London whether through acts of terrorism or through man made tradgedies such as Grenfell Tower, our emergency services have been magnificent  regardless of cuts to their budgets or reductions in staff or restrictions on their resources. Yet we, though the actions of 323 MP's, deny these workers a decent living wage and conservative MP's cheer as the result of the vote is announced. 
Meanwhile the government lurches on from crisis to crisis, resolute to be irresolute, steadfast to be weak and determined to create confusion and alarm with each new policy, clarification from Minister or government department, or  U Turn from 10 Downing Street spokesperson or from Prime Minister. 
This Prime Minister and her government are an embarrassment to the country and its people, and a laughing stock within the European Union. Those duplicitous conservative MP's, boosted by the support of the ten hypocritical  Democratic Unionist Party members, will attempt to keep Theresa May in office for as long as possibile. Not for any reason of "stable leadership" for the country, or even for the benefit of the Conservative party, but for them, the prospect of another general election and the resultant change of government is a prospect far too dreadful to contemplate.
Thus, to satisfy the selfish motives of conservative MP's, the people of this country must endure the continuation of discredited policies from a discredited government and a discredited Prime Minister. The Public Sector workers and the people of this country will not forget the cynical way in which this government clings to power  or the contempt which politicians show towards the electorate. 

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

A government at war with itself.

The Conservative party at war.

Image result for hammond johnson davis

This rag bag collection of inept egoists, misfits and shameless conspirators make a laughing stock of themselves and of the "government". Theresa May should show the strength and character expected of a British Prime Minister and consign these miscreant ministers to the back benches this afternoon, but her position is too weak to react and in any case, her character is too feeble to hold the office. She lacks the backbone and the authority necessary to lead the country at this historic period of our history in our relationship with Europe and through the continuing domestic crises in healthcare, housing, welfare, employment and education. She should stand down and give the people the opportunity choose a leader to take us through these difficult times.
Hammond, Davis and Johnson have demonstrated on numerous occasions, that they are far too wrapped up in their own self advancement to be anything other than disaterous in the role of Prime Minister, and their open hostility towards each other, and anyone else who dares to disagree with them, should warn us all of their hubris.

Image result for hammond johnson davis tories at war

Until such time as Theresa May stands down or is deposed in some palace coup, the government will continue to lurch from crisis to crisis and sink deeper into the mire of confusion and ineptitude, while in the meatime the country pays the price.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Iain Duncan Smith. A shameless hypocrite.

Lying comes as second nature to this former conservative minister and party leader

Image result for iain duncan smith budget

It never ceases to amaze me how government ministers or MP's can appear before the public and lie and spin without any sign of shame or sincerity.
Image result for naga munchetty

This time it is Iain Duncan Smith who on BBC Nesa 24 has just told Naga Munchetty, that the £1.5 billion bribe to buy the DUP votes in this House of Commons is not a bribe nor is it the result of shaking the "magic money tree", because it is not "new money" and has always been in the accounts ready for use. More over as it is not new money, but funds allocated for specific uses elsewhere, the "Barnet Formula" does not apply for any adjustments for Scotland or Wales.
I always knew that Iain Duncan Smith was a nasty duplicitous piece of work, but this mornings performance exceeds anything that this former minister, former party leader, former student who lied about his qualifications has done before.
Image result for iain duncan smith budget

A disgraceful interview from a shameless hypocrite.

Monday, 26 June 2017

A sordid "deal" with a big price tag, to keep Theresa May in Downing Street

Conservatives agree pact with DUP to support May government.

Image result for Conservatives agree pact with DUP to support May government

Theresa May and her discredited minority government, have finally cobbled together, their sordid back room "deal" with the 10 DUP Members of Parliament. The "price" of keeping May in 10 Downing Street for what little time she has left is only just beginning to emerge. However, what we do know already is that the British government will pay to Northern Ireland a sum of £1.5 billion over the next two years, for "expenditure on the health service and on education in Northern Ireland". This expenditure will be prioritised and managed by the appropriate Northern Ireland authorities.
In exchange for this massive transfer of funding, the conservatives have agreed to shelve the manifesto pledge to end the "triple lock" on State Pension payments and the pledge to "means test" the Winter Fuel payments benefit. Two manifesto commitments which, in view of the calamitous failure of the conservative election campaign and the resultant minority government, were never going to reach beyond the imagination of a few hardliners on the conservative benches in any case.
No mention is made of any kind of quid pro quo for the remainder of the United Kingdom. There is no commitment to any additional expenditure for schools and education in Cardiff or Swansea, or Chatham, or Warrington or Sunderland or anywhere else  on mainland United Kingdom. Clearly, pupils and students will still be sent home with begging letters from their school heads asking for parents to contribute to the purchase of books pencils and other necessities. At the same time of course those same head teachers will be writing letters to some of their own staff, advising them that their hours must be reduced or worse that they can no longer be employed at the school as there is insufficient funding from central government to continue to pay them and that class sizes would be increased to compensate for the teacher reductions.
There is no mention of any pay award for NHS staff or any redress for the 14% cut in nurses pay over the past few years. Nor is there any movement towards increasing NHS staff levels to ensure that waiting times are reduced, doctors are trained to meet the acute shortage and ancillary staff are recruited to alleviate the chronic staff shortages in our hospitals. Over the past few years and  particularly over the past 7, our N H S has been systematically deprived of adequate funding, proper staffing levels in A&E, mental health and everyday medical care provision. In addition, large sections of the service have been sold off to private companies , whilst at the same time N H S wards have been shut, waiting times have increased for operations and A&E treatment, hospitals closed and the land sold off to private companies for "development". The NHS is being dismantled in the name of "austerity", as we cannot afford to fund the service, or so we are told and the education budgets are being cut "into the bone" for the very same reason. The country cannot afford the levels of expenditure currently allocated to education.
It is therefore rather bizarre that in the midst of such austerity on mainland United Kingdom, a "magic money tree" has been discovered in the Rose Garden of 10 Downing Street, which has produced £1.5 billion to be put into brown paper bags and dispatched to DUP headquarters in Belfast for the purpose of improving NHS services and educational facilities.
Members of Parliament from all parties, should demonstrate righteous indignation at this squalid exercise in self preservation from a Prime Minister without credibility, without honour and without shame.
These MP's must face their electorates and convince them that the essential new hospital wing will not now be built, or the local school will close from next term, or the specialist ward at their local hospital will close and that they now face a 300 mile round trip for the same services at another hospital, or that a reduction in teacher numbers and the resultant increase in class sizes will not affect their children's education and all in the name of austerity and living within our means. 
The people of this country must be made to realise, that this payment to the DUP is nothing but a disgraceful bribe,  disbursed by a desperate government in order to secure Theresa May in office for just a few more days.
Some MP's are already demanding answers to the question "If you can find money for the DUP in Ireland, what about my constituency too?"
Theresa May and her government have no credible response.

New Agenda on Sunday. is out! Edition of 25 June 2017

Good morning everyone

Image result for grenfell tower

The fallout from the disaster at Grenfell Tower continues to fill the news. The death toll officially stands at 70 but is expected to rise. Unofficial reports put the figure at more than 200 which is probably nearer the truth. However many the final figure is, a figure which may not be finally established, if ever, until sometime in the new year, this disaster was man made. The police have already stated that they will consider manslaughter charges where the evidence indicates such charges to be appropriate and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has said that Grenfell Tower victims were murdered by political decisions. The full facts surrounding this tragedy can be revealed only through an inquest. An inquiry must be held of course, but an inquest is the only way to answer the questions and establish what happened on the 14th June and why. Attention is already focusing on the cladding and the insulation material.
Who specified it?
Who authorised the purchase?
Who supplied it?
Who passed the building as safe?
Who signed off the project at completion?
Where any "back handers" involved?
In the event that corruption and graft is established, those responsible and those who covered it up must be held to account.
For far too long the "authorities" in this and other areas around the country, have been getting away with it. They must be stopped and prosecuted now.

Read also:

Chaos and confusion as 5 London Tower blocks are evacuated


Image result for hinkley point expensive and risky

Spending watchdog condemns 'risky and expensive' Hinkley Point.
Why do we have to wait for a report from the National Audit Office, to tell us something that we have known for years?
Many of us have been arguing for some time that the project is risky and expensive and would provide “uncertain strategic and economic benefits”, for Great Britain.
The British tax payer and the consumers who will eventually pay the price for this economic and social lunacy, have been sold down the river to RDF and the French government, who will make £ billions in profits from the artificially inflated prices for the electricity produced at the plant.
It is still not too late to cancel the whole project which has always been a scheme created for the economic benefit of the French and for the prestige and kudos of the British government. In the long run, it will be infinitely less expensive for the United Kingdom, than this economic, social and environmental monstrosity, sitting on the coastline of Somerset.

Image result for hinkley point expensive and risky

After almost 10 years since the banking crisis, the United Kingdom finally gets around to charging a few of those bankers at the centre of the scandal with alleged criminal activity. These four former Barclays executives could face imprisonment if found guilty, but ironically Barclays was perhaps the only Bank which did not receive tax payers money at the time of the crisis. The bank raised billions of pounds from Qatar to avoid taking a taxpayer bailout and it is those transactions which have been under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, investigations which have now resulted in charges being brought.
These are the only charges so far against any British bankers arising from the financial crisis of 2008. This however should be compared with the fact that some other countries particularly Iceland, have charged bankers with criminal acts and have actually sent some to prison.
Perhaps the British Banks and the bankers involved in the scandal, RBS, Lloyds TSB, Nationwide and others only acted, in the best interests of their shareholders and did not indulge in any dubious activities. Or perhaps there is another reason why none except the "Barclays Four" have been charged.

Image result for The Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice in the Northern hemisphere anyway arrived at 05:25 BST on Wednesday 21st June.
From then, the days get shorter and consequently the nights become longer as we move towards the awful day in October when that scoundrel creeps around in the middle of the night and vandalises all the clocks in the country (especially mine) causing disruption, inconvenience and body disturbance for the next six months. However, in what days may remain before the trauma of "clock change", let us enjoy the sunshine, the warmth and the occasional cooling drink. June promises to be the hottest for more than 40 years and there is every prospect that the heatwave will continue.
Happy days.

Image result for andrea leadsom emily maitlis

I am no fan of this government or of Andrea Leadsom. By the same token, I am no fan of the media and television "news" reporters and presenters either, as they are on the whole, biased and partisan in their coverage. However, this is the second occasion within the last 2 weeks, that Emily Maitlis has managed to draw senior politicians into the open and expose either dangerous ineptitude and incompetence or the dangerous and sinister insinuation that the press and media should somehow report only that which the government finds "acceptable".

Read the full account at:
Government minister clashes with Newsnight presenter.

Related image

I watched Alex Deane, (former Chief of Staff to David Cameron) on Sky Television News, morning papers preview section the other night.
Clearly the man is unwell. Missing the point of the conversation with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Anna Jones on so many occasions, he frequently lapsed into an hysterical outburst of verbal outrage, particularly at any mention, no matter how tenuous, of the Labour party or Jeremy Corbyn.
His co presenters seemed uneasy and embarrased at Deane's outburst and quickly tried to change the subject, but he always managed to find some link back to his prejudiced position. All rather sad really, but I do wish him a slow recovery with lots of meditation in some quiet surroundings

Related image

Wimbledon starts on the 3rd July. It may, or may not rain. Cliff Richard may or may not entertain the crowds on Centre Court, but Wimbledon without Sir Cliff is rather like Laurel without Hardy.
There may or may not be tantrums from some of the players regarding whether the ball was in or out or on the line.(More likely than not because there always is)

Image result for cliff richard wimbledon

What we do know is that the strawberries will be extortionately expensive, some women will wear very silly hats, some men will parade around in very silly fancy dress and that there will be wall to wall coverage on our televisions from 11:00 am until 10:00 pm That is eleven hours coverage, plus "highlights" every day!
Perhaps we need "Sir Cliff" after all.

The weather for the coming week is forecast to be wet, cold and windy. What ever happened to summer? Now when I as a boy.......................

Have a nice week

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Government minister clashes with Newsnight presenter

Andrea Leadsom sparks backlash

Related image

I am no fan of this government or of Andrea Leadsom. By the same token, I am no fan of the media and television "news" reporters and presenters either, as they are on the whole, biased and partisan in their coverage.However, this is the second occasion within the last 2 weeks, that Emily Maitlis has managed to draw senior politicians into the open and expose either dangerous ineptitude and incompetence, as in the interview with Theresa May on the 16th June, following the disasterous fire at Grenfell Tower, or the dangerous and sinister insinuation from Leadsom, that the press and media should somehow report only that which the government finds "acceptable". In this respect, the media have over the past few years needed little encouragement to follow the government lead and have filled their political coverage pages with some of the most scurrilous and biased slanting of facts and personal attacks that I have ever seen in all my experience of political activity. However, this is the first time that a senior conservative government minister has hinted so directly and publicly, that brodcasters should slant their reporting and be "willing to be a bit patriotic" in their reporting.
Leadsom would clearly prefer, along with I suspect many conservative MP's and supporters, a totally controlled press and television,reporting only that which the government "Minister of Information" passes as suitable for public consumption, with broadcasters asking questions and presenting programmes using a prepared and approved script. It is the model used in many other countries as a "thought control" device to influence people and prevent dissent.
I recall a comment made by a resident of another country, to the effect that when the press, radio (and television today), periodicals, advertising, in fact everything that a person can see or read or hear all carry exactly the same message, it is inevtiable that the message is accepted as truth.
As much as I loathe and despise many of the "newspapers" currently available on the news stands (or the "on line" versions), together with television stations broadcasing, with one or two notable exceptions within the ranks of their presenters, a warped version of truth veiled as news, I have no wish to see the same situation occuring here.
Andrea Leadsom is floating an idea which is the thin edge of the wedge.We must never allow broadcasters, television stations or the media to become mere conduits for government propaganda.
The freedom of the press is a right which has been hard won and must not be allowed to be restricted or removed by Leadsom or any of those with similar thoughts.
We may not like what we see, read or hear in the media, we may not agree with much of the nonsense which they churn out almost daily, but it is the only media we have and for the most part it protects us from the excesses of government.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Chaos and confusion as 5 London Tower blocks are evacuated

Five London tower blocks evacuated over cladding safety fears

Related image

Anger, frustration, confusion and fear amongst the residents of 5 London Tower blocks, evacuated almost without any notice or warning yesterday (Friday) afternoon and evening. Many of the evacuated people complained that the first that they had heard of the necessity to leave their homes, was when they saw the news reports on their televisions. The residents from the five high-rise blocks on the Chalcots estate in Swiss Cottage in Camden, were sent to leisure centres where blow up beds had been provided (but without the necessary numbers and withoit the necessary room to inflate them), while others were sent to emergeny hotel accommodation in other areas.
The "evacuation" became even more chaotic as council staff tried to assist the displaced resididents, but without clear guidance or any visible form of organisation.Many of the evacuated families complained bitterly that the situation was "shambolic" while others used stronger words to describe the events. Things seem to be little better this morning (Saturday) as council staff are organising and hiring London taxis to transport the effected families to "other areas".
Related image

Clearly, if these Tower blocks have been found to be unsafe and a fire risk exists, there is no question that the effected families must be moved to safer accommodation while remedial work is carried out. The duration of this remedial work could be weeks or even months, which suggests to me at least that, some degree of planning would be essential in order to minimise as far as may be possible, any disruption and worry for the residents, particularly pensioners and any who may be sick or disabled.

Related image

However, once again, a London council has been found wanting when it comes to the organisation of an undertaking, which by its very nature demands care and attention to detail. Residents, instructed to leave their homes with little if any warning but told to "pack everything for two to three weeks". One resident said, "I packed enough for a week. I didn't have a lot of space left, with my medication and everything. I've got to have it." adding "It's an absolute nightmare. The first I heard about it was live on Sky News. It's absolutely a shambles. They've got a massive team of people in place but nobody by the time we left had knocked on our door, I cried and cried and cried. I love my flat".
Image result for Five London tower blocks evacuated over cladding safety fears

There is something very wrong with the way in which the councils in the area have organised themselves since the disaster of Wednesday 14th June. Lack of planning, lack of leadership and lack of understanding of the issues involved or of the people caught up in the tragedy and its aftermath have all played a large part in the chaotic scenes which we have seen over reent days. The evacuation was clearly necessary but was "organised" in the most shambolic fashion imaginable.