Monthly Archives: April 2019

Toxic Theresa?

Labour’s Denis Skinner MP

says “Some say May will go down in history as one of Britain’s worst PM’s. On the contrary if she achieves Brexit AND splits the Tory party down the middle she ought to go down as one of the best”.

Tory councillors are refusing to mention Theresa May’s name on doorsteps ahead of next month’s local elections because voters associate it with “betrayal”. Conservative Associations across the country are finding that Mrs May’s name is so toxic with voters that the mere mention of the Prime Minister gets in the way of campaigning.

It’s the same in the EU, where the betrayal of 17,410,742 leavers is likely to be punished. But not, it might seem, in West Lancashire, where devoted remainer Sajjad Karim MEP is nominated as “Northwest/Lancashire Lead Tory candidate”. West Lancashire votes are subsumed into the vast Northwest tribe!

Tory councillors fear that voter backlash against Mrs May’s handling of Brexit will cost them their seats, and are desperately trying to keep conversations focused on local issues to avoid being tainted by events in Westminster.

In one move, Theresa May betrayed the Conservatives and lost their biggest electoral asset. The fall-out from her overtures to Jeremy Corbyn gathered pace as the enormity of her actions finally sank in. The reaction among the grassroots Tory membership was one of horror and fury. How will they be able to campaign against Labour in the local elections next month when their own leader regards their principal opponents as part of the solution to the greatest policy conundrum facing the country?

With one statement from Downing Street, Mrs May wrecked her party’s obvious electoral pitch, that Corbyn and his neo-Marxist allies cannot be trusted with the governance of the nation. Grassroots Tories have said they will effectively go on strike during the European elections next month amid a mounting backlash against Theresa May.

Derbyshire Conservatives

led by Barry Lewis, above, have “overwhelmingly” backed a motion that means they will not support the Conservatives during the European elections next month. Councillor Barry Lewis, the leader of the group, has written to Brandon Lewis, the chairman of the Conservative Party, voicing the group’s frustration at the fact Britain has not left the European Union.

His is the first of a significant number of Conservative Associations which are expected to withdraw their support for the party if the European elections take place on May 23. Imagine the anger residents and supporters will feel when and if the polling card for the European elections hit the doormat just before the local elections of 2nd May? How might you feel that the Brexit you voted for and was promised wasn’t delivered? To me it’s astonishing that our Prime Minister is barely cognisant of this fact. From a local government perspective the Government is paralysed by delays in decision-making and the consequent uncertainty that filters back to us means we cannot even adequately plan our budget much beyond 12 months. 

And a Medway Conservative councillor says support for the party is evaporating among activists with Theresa May’s decision to open talks with Jeremy Corbyn about Brexit the final straw. 

Cllr Rupert Turpin

who is standing for election in the Rochester South and Horsted ward, said party members in the Medway Towns were either staying at home or simply posting leaflets ahead of next month’s poll.

His intervention is embarrassing for the party but reflects the unease among rank-and-file members about Theresa May’s leadership and particularly her decision to hold talks with Jeremy Corbyn. “The mood among the Conservative grassroots is now grim. Fighting local elections in just one month’s time, many members in our constituency in Kent are staying at home or just delivering leaflets rather than knocking on doors”.

He said Mrs May had confirmed “the sell-out many are saying is the final straw”. Months and years of Jeremy Corbyn being the traitor, the Marxist, the anti-Semite and incidentally our default best electoral asset when things didn’t go so well have turned to this, Corbyn holding the key to a softer Brexit, and invited to turn it with Mrs May hand in hand,” he said.

Quoting the words of George Orwell, he wrote: “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which”.

“Local members are flooding WhatsApp groups with their reactions, many of which are not pretty reading for the party leadership at a critical moment in the electoral cycle. Some members are resigning with immediate effect. I expect the emails are coming in all over the country”. The party had at a local level to distance itself from what he described as “the disastrous goings-ons at Westminster” and implore voters to consider local issues.

“Years of careful stewardship and steady progress for Conservative-run councils in difficult economic circumstances have been put at risk, perhaps not so much from Conservative voters switching to Labour but from Conservative voters who may well stay at home and not vote at all”.

 

Cllr O’Toole No Show In Halsall

The members of Halsall Parish Council (HPC)

and local residents who attended the Annual Meeting on Wednesday were disappointed not to be able to question LCC Cllr O’Toole about his meagre annual report. He was “not able to attend”.

He wrote “Report to Halsall Parish Council April 2019. Chairman, members of the Parish Council. Please accept my apologies for not being able to attend your annual meeting in person.

“I have pleasure in providing you with my annual report. The last twelve months have been extremely challenging at County Hall due in part to the tremendous deficit we inherited and the ever increasing demands on adult social care and children’s services. [Not to mention my own Tory Government’s austerity policy!]

“With regard to childrens services including looked after children and other children in care I am pleased to report that although this whole department faced being put into special measures we have seen a massive improvement in all sections and recently received a much improved ofsted report .

“Twelve months ago I was receiving up to 20 complaints a week regarding potholes. I have worked with my colleague County Councillor Iddon to both identify and repair hundreds of such road defects across my Division with the result that in the last three months I have only been told of two such problems both of which were dealt with very quickly. [We won’t mention the awful pavement at the Town Green Co-Op/Granville Park, also in my Division, reported in January, still not repaired]

“This in part is due to new work practices but largely due to the fact that we put several more millions into the highways budget, this action was acknowledged by the government who awarded us several more million earmarked for highway repairs.

“We have continued our pledge to reopen libraries closed by the previous administration with two more reopening this month alone thus making the total of 22 libraries previously closed now open once more. This action has been extremely well received by all affected communities.

“However it has not been possible in some cases as a number of the premises were sold off and the books destroyed, in such cases we are negotiating with local authorities and others to secure suitable premises unfortunately at a considerable and unnecessary cost.

“I would like to record my thanks to your diligent and hardworking clerk Dave Bond who regularly contacts me on behalf of the parish council”.

David O’Toole. County Councillor. West Lancashire West Division

Residents of Halsall

must be wondering what relevance this report has to Halsall? its roads are generally in a mess. Nothing in the report relates to Halsall, which has no library so no destroyed books. This report is what it is, a political statement by Halsall’s County Cllr probably trying to justify his existence and income from the council tax payers of LCC.

Cllr O’Toole received, from LCC 2017/18, £10,466 basic + £6,865 Special Responsibility Allowance +£150 ICT Allowance + £143 Subsistance + £2,535 Mileage, all = £20,159. For 2018/19 the basic has been increased to £10,675. Source LCC

Cllr O’Toole received, from Lancashire Combined Fire Authority for 2017/18, basic £2,612.93 + Special Responsibity £4,962.87 + Travel& Subsistence £304.65, Total = £7,880.84. For 2018/19, O’Toole basic £2,784.96 + Special Responsibility £5,289.60 + Travel & subsistence £785.25 Total = £8,859.81 He is “Majority Opposition Group Spokesperson”! Almost £1,000 increase year on year! Source LCFA. https://vault.ecloud.co.uk/lancsfire/2019/04/2018-2019_Member_Allowances_Paid_STMT.pdf

Cllr O’Toole received, from WLBC for which he claimed £4,842 + £107.96 Travel & Subsistence = £4,949. 96. Source WLBC.

Three official hats

=Total Income £33,968.77, a living example of why the number of elected members should be cut from whatever the authority council tax payers are increasingly funding, many from lower incomes. 

Serco Managed Park Pool Cockroach Infestation

The WLBC owned Park Pool that’s Serco managed 

is infested with cockroaches.

The Champion reports it, although it doesn’t admit to it being Serco. It uses the alias West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust, its funding partner. But Serco it is that “vows urgent action to deal with repeated infestation of pests…which begs the question, why are there repeated infestations, because cockroaches carry and spread various diseases, pathogens, bacteria, and germs”.

Wherever they travel they leave a path of urine, faeces, and regurgitated saliva and digestive fluids that contain harmful agents that can be transmitted to humans. These agents can cause E. coli, salmonella, typhoid, urinary tract infections, digestive problems, and sepsis. For anyone in who is very young, very old, or already has a compromised immune system or serious illness, these diseases can be life threatening.

WLBC states “Our Health Promotion Service aims to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of West Lancashire. We do this through the provision of education, training and workshops, and by supporting both local and national campaigns for health improvement within the borough. The service delivers health promotion initiatives on a wide range of topics including accident prevention, food safety, healthy eating and infection disease control. Our Health Promotion Officer, and members of the Commercial Safety Team work, in partnership with a range of individuals from the community, public, private and voluntary sector to promote and improve health”.

So when did Serco inform the WLBC Health Promotion Officer about cockroaches around the viewing area, vending machines, changing rooms, and toilet areas? Can we believe WLBC knew of these infestations and are now embarrassed because pool users have complained to the press? 14 week spray cycles might now be obsolete, every two weeks should become the norm!

And, considering Serco claimed “UK Pool & Spa Awards 2018”, “Water Leisure Operator of the Year”, “Category winner Serco Leisure”, will they return the trophy? 

Virgin Care’s Low Standards Slammed By Rosie Cooper

Rosie Cooper MP

has called on West Lancashire CCG To urgently improve Virgin Care standards.

She reacted angrily to the news that the Virgin Care operated Skelmersdale Walk-in Centre was rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Rosie said “This is very disappointing news that Skelmersdale Walk-in Centre run by Virgin Care was found to require improvement overall, as well as Requires Improvement in the areas of Safe, Effective and Well-led.

“Virgin Care wrote to me explaining that the CQC felt that clinical staff needed additional competency in the assessment and treatment of children, and asked Virgin to put additional appropriate clinical cover in place.

“I am astonished that the leadership and management at Virgin Care did not identify these failings in the two years they have been operating, nor could the CCG who commissioned Virgin notice these issues.

“Was it difficult for the Chair of West Lancashire CCG Dr John Caine and the CCG Board to truly hold Virgin Care to the highest standards given the similar situation at Parbold Surgery also recently found to require improvement in safety and leadership?

“With the Elms Surgery in Ormskirk and Burscough Family Practice also requiring improvement according to the CQC, West Lancashire CCG needs to urgently take action to raise the standards of its GP and walk-in provision across the borough”.

West Lancashire’s residents seem not to have the health services we need and expect. The staff of the Centres are amazing. As is so often the case, outsourced services are based on private company profits. It’s wrong! 

A CBI Conversation

Richard Patient

was the London Chairman of Business for Britain, and he imagines two people, called John and Carolyn, who happen to run the CBI, having this conversation.

“Carolyn, when you tell the PM that she can’t go for No Deal, say that you fear that it will hit small businesses hardest. She will have to listen then”.

“But John, the CBI doesn’t have many small businesses as members, not any that I know about anyway, so how can we say that small businesses will be affected?”

“Carolyn, don’t let little details like that get in the way of a good bit of PR. I know all about small businesses after all, many of the suppliers at the supermarket I run in my other job are small. If we tell a small porky about the concerns of small businesses, it will deflect attention away from our real concerns, which is the need to protect our members’ interests, and they want us to stay in the EU to prevent the rise of those pesky disruptor competitors.”

“You mean we actually want EU regulation?

Isn’t that crony capitalism?”

“Yes, of course we like regulation, the more the better. Our members have the resources, the time, the money and the compliance officers, whereas any smaller competitor companies will be smothered by the mass of paperwork.”

“But we’re the voice of business, aren’t we? Surely that means all businesses.”

“Er, no. For starters, we dropped that slogan after those two whipper-snappers said we were the voice of Brussels. And we don’t actually represent that many businesses in the grand scheme of things.”

“Oh.”

“Actually, don’t worry, I’m seeing the PM later today, as part of my Brexit advisory role at No. 10.”

“How on earth did you get that job?

I thought you told me there was nothing good that could come from Brexit?!”

“I know, it’s hilarious. Still Mark has done a good job, hasn’t he? 10% rise in food prices! She can’t go for No Deal after that bit of scaremongering, oh…I mean that bit of excellent considered analysis.”

“10% rise? But didn’t the British Retail Consortium tell us privately that food bills would actually go down, with things like cheaper veg?”

“Luckily, the BRC are not saying that publicly yet. And who needs to look at the detail of the No Deal tariffs when it’s so much easier just to tell Mark to include a nice round number like 10% in his report. Meat prices will definitely be higher.”

“Yes, but only by a few pence.”

“The great thing is that there will be massive reductions on all that wine we import.

Hopefully the population will be too sozzled to notice the price cuts.”

“I’ll drink to that, John. And I think you’ve done a great job giving her the line that it’s Brexiteers that should be blamed for stopping Brexit, when we all know the choice we face now is between Mrs May and Brexit.”

“Thank you. The great thing is that the voters’ memories are so poor that they forget that nearly everyone voted for the two things that make Brexit legal, Article 50 and the Withdrawal Act. A bit of conjuring and the PM has been able to blame Brexiteers for everything, by not backing the indicative votes, when we all know the PM didn’t have to take a blind bit of notice of those votes. If we keep her in power for a bit longer, she’ll probably go the whole way and revoke Article 50. We can blame the Brexiteers for that as well. Mind you, our friend Corbyn has helped us.”

“Maybe we need to take a crate of that cheap booze to Corbyn?”

“Yes, let’s Carolyn. Unlike our united view on staying in the EU, our members are divided on Corbyn, with many being firm Corbyn fans.”

“John, I know. Our next trick will be to make the PM love Corbyn.”

“She’s ahead of you there. She already does!”

Is Nigel Farage Back As A Serious Force In Politics?

Lucy Harris, director of Leavers of Britain, says YES.


Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party has come out with an upbeat message and a fresh look, and that’s what many Leave voters are desperately searching for in this relentless artificial atmosphere of Brexit doom. Farage is assembling a range of well-known candidates, and the party has a decent chance of achieving its first goal of winning the most seats in the European Parliament elections next month.

Farage’s challenge, and the long-term challenge for Brexiteers more generally, is to ensure that euro-scepticism is cemented as a mainstream movement, not just a protest vote. A polished mainstream alternative that actively defends the democratic mandate of the referendum will be highly appealing to a Brexiteer base, ostracised both by Theresa May’s softening and delaying of Brexit, and Jeremy Corbyn’s flirtation with a second referendum.

There is a clear gap opening up in the political market for disillusioned Brexiteers, and Farage is placing himself smack bang in the middle of it.

But the European Parliament’s outspoken Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt

has taken a swipe at the self-styled “Bad Boy of Brexit” Nigel Farage, comparing him to field marshal Douglas Haig from the final episode of sitcom Blackadder. Sneering Verhofstadt said that like Haig in Blackadder, Farage was “sitting safely in his office, while his people are walking in the cold and the rain. I thought you were marching 200 miles for the leave campaign? How many did you do? Two miles!”

Farage hit back

by invoking the real-life Field Marshal Haig, who he said “saved the Belgian town of Ypres from German domination” during the First World War. “Far from mocking Haig in Belgium, he should be a great hero to you” he added.

Redwood LetterTo The Attorney General

About the legal impact of signing the wrongly named Withdrawal Treaty

By John Redwood

Dear Geoffrey

Let me have another go at getting a reply from you concerning the way the Withdrawal Agreement stops us leaving the EU. Would you kindly confirm

1. If we sign this Treaty we will be locked into the EU and have to obey all its rules and pay all the bills it sends us for a period of at least 21 months, and probably for 45 months if we have not surrendered further to reach an exit agreement at the 21 month stage. This would mean remaining in the EU for at least 5 years from the decision to leave and probably for 7 years. The EU would be able to legislate and spend against UK interests during this period, whilst we would have no vote or voice in the matter.

2. In order to “leave” in your terms at the 5 to 7 year stage the UK will need to stay in the customs union and accept all single market rules and laws, unless the EU relented over the alleged Irish border issue. 3 years on and the EU has given no ground on the made up border issue, so why would they over the next two years? Isn’t the most likely outcome we would remain in the single market and customs union contrary to the government promise leaving meant leaving them in its referendum literature ?

3. After the 45 month period fully in the EU, the UK still would face financial obligations under the Withdrawal Treaty. The bills will be decided by the EU and we will have to pay them. Any attempt to query them would be adjudicated by the EU’s own court! The longer we stay in the more the future bills are likely to be. The £39bn figure is likely to be a considerable underestimate.

4 The Treaty creates a category of super citizen in the UK. EU nationals living in the UK when we “leave” the EU will have their access to benefits guaranteed in a way the rest of us do not for their entire lifetimes. So we will not be taking back control of our benefit system.

There is much more I could object to. This is no Treaty to take back control, no Treaty for a newly independent nation. It does not quantify the financial liabilities, which are open ended and could be much larger than the low field £39bn Treasury estimate. We have little power to abate the bills and no power to abort the bills. It would probably result even in failure to take back control of our fishing grounds.

Mrs May needs to go back to the EU and explain why the UK people and Parliament have opposed this Treaty, and ask them to think again if they want an agreement before we leave. She needs to make it clear we now intend to leave without signing the Withdrawal Agreement prior to the European Parliamentary elections.

Yours
John Redwood

May’s Conduct Of Brexit Has Humiliated A Once Proud Nation

Lord Salisbury, 7th Marquess of Salisbury

served as leader of the House of Lords from 1994 to 1997. Before that he was MP for South Dorset from 1979 to 1987. He and his family have a deep connection with the Conservative party. In this letter sent last week to the Prime Minister he says her conduct of the Brexit negotiations has humiliated the British nation. Until things change, he says, with great sadness, that he will not make his ancestral family home, Hatfield House, available for Conservative party fundraising events. Lord Salisbury is chairman of Reaction.

Dear Prime Minister,

We have not met often, but when we have you have always been engaging and friendly and I have of late admired your astonishing powers of endurance. I particularly enjoyed sitting next to you when you kindly visited Hatfield to attend a dinner to raise funds for our Party. It therefore gives me no pleasure to say that I feel that I have to write this letter. My only consolation is that, amidst all your troubles, its contents will barely add to them.

Nevertheless, I think it would be courteous to write, especially after you somehow managed to find the time to congratulate me on being honoured with the Garter.

I have always believed in the nation state as the polity best equipped to govern a population, to provide a focus for its peoples’ loyalty and, if governed by the rule of law and powerful representative institutions, to adapt to the demands of a changing world. It is for that reason that I have never been a supporter of our membership of the Common Market or its successor, the EU. You only have to read the works of Jean Monnet to realise that from the beginning the European project aimed to create a United States of Europe based on a Napoleonic, top down administration wholly unsuited to our modern world which, if we use the technological revolution as our servant, will give more power to the individual.

It can therefore be no surprise that the EU has evolved into an ancien regime incapable of adapting to the demands of today’s world. Innovation and economic growth, leading universities and their high tech spin-offs, and the constitutional reform now necessary to satisfy the electorate that they are being properly represented, are being rapidly killed off by the disaster that is the Euro and a European administrative class too frightened for its own future to allow change.

I was therefore delighted when we voted to leave.

I am not naive enough to believe that leaving would not be painful. It clearly would be and I thought the Leave campaign was most unwise not to say so. Neither do I think that the mere act of leaving would lead us to the sunlit uplands. It would merely allow British politics and Parliament not to be infantilised by delegating so many decisions to the paternalists in Europe and force us to grow up and ask ourselves what sort of country we wanted to be and decide how to get there.

I am now not at all sure we will leave at all and, if we do, I am not sure we will do so on terms which enable us to negotiate as a sovereign power with either our European allies or other nations. We have reached this position as a result of the way you have conducted the negotiations. We are no longer a proud nation, but a postulant and humiliated one. This embarrassment has been brought about by a government provided by members of the Conservative Party.

When I first addressed my prospective constituents in 1977, I was asked what I thought our Party stood for. My answer was that I believed it stood for the Nation. I am sorry to find that today it no longer does.

I fear therefore that I can no longer send the modest financial support I have given up to now and, sadly, cannot, until things change offer Hatfield for future Party events. I hope you can appreciate, in view of the friendships I have forged in our Party over the last fifty years and the long association my family has had with it, this is one of the saddest letters I have ever had to write.

I am copying this letter to the Party Chairman and to Iain Martin, Editor of Reaction of which I am Chairman.