Monthly Archives: June 2019

Are You Attracted To A “Theresa in Trousers” As Prime Minister?

Mansfield MP Ben Bradley

described Jeremy Hunt as ‘Theresa in Trousers’, adding “There is no such thing as a Brexit that works for people who do not want Brexit”. Mansfield voted to “Leave the EU” with 70.9%. This was while Labour held the seat. Bradley became Member of Parliament for Mansfield in the snap General Election in June 2017. He was the first Conservative to be elected in Mansfield since the constituency’s creation in 1858. He has almost always voted against more EU integration.

Jeremy Hunt was blasted today after appearing to brand Leave voters as ‘Little Englanders’ during his Tory leadership campaign. The Foreign Secretary made the remark during a #BoJoNoShow Twitter question and answer session designed to contrast with Boris Johnson quiet campaign.

But he was roasted by Tory MPs and Leavers after replying to a councillor who asked how he would unite the country after Brexit. He replied “Deliver a Brexit that works for the 48 per cent not just the 52 per cent, a positive, open and internationalist Brexit, Great Britain not Little England”.

Labour “leaver” Kate Hoey

was among those who laid into Hunt over his comment, saying “How dare Jeremy Hunt make such a snide comment about the millions of Leavers. Not a very sensible way of uniting the country”.

Hunt clearly hasn’t read “How to influence people and win friends” recently. He’s probably too late now!

A Question Of Trust, Fake News, And A Blatant Tory Lie

Jonathan Isaby is the Editor of Brexit Central

He wrote “Three years ago today, we were waking up to the news that the UK had voted to Leave the European Union, something that we marked on the BrexitCentral website yesterday, the third anniversary of the referendum itself, with this piece from former Labour MP Gisela Stuart, who was of course Chair of the Vote Leave campaign. It is, unsurprisingly, also the theme of Boris Johnson’s weekly Telegraph column this morning.

“And as I reminded the world in a tweet yesterday morning, more people voted for Brexit than have ever voted for anyone or anything in British electoral history. Which is why I was rather taken aback by the response I got from Phillip Lee

the Tory MP for Bracknell and anti-Brexit campaigner who wants another referendum. He tweeted: “Fact: More people voted for John Major’s Conservative Party in 1992 – in total and % turnout terms – than for Brexit in 2016”.

“Now, I’m usually pretty restrained about crying “fake news”, but his claim was an outright untruth. As I tweeted back at him, in 1992 the Tories received 14,093,007 of 33,614,074 votes cast, whereas at the 2016 referendum 17,410,742 of the 33,577,342 votes cast were for Leave. When an MP is claiming something to be “fact” when it is so demonstrably false, it’s little wonder public faith in our political class has sunk so low.

“Five hours after the original tweet, he admitted he made a mistake in a reply to me, saying he’d meant that more people voted in the 1992 election than the referendum in 2016 – and finally deleted his false claim, although not before it had been re-tweeted hundreds of times.

“Bracknell Forest, an area including the towns of Bracknell, Sandhurst and Crowthorne, voted to leave the EU in 2016, with 53.9% of voters in favour of exiting the bloc”.

There is now no local confidence in Lee, as the association chair, Gerry Barber, told the BBC “The result of the vote was that a majority of members present were in agreement with the motion, which was therefore passed, and the result has been communicated to Dr Lee and to the full membership”. Hardly surprising, an MP who can’t tell the difference between right and wrong should be booted out.

You can read the Gisela Stuart article here

The BBC Is An Embarrassment?

If you started paying the TV licence fee

in your student days and are now 75, you would, at today’s rates, have paid approximately £7,500 into the BBC’s coffers. After half-a-century of being forced to fund the likes of Gary Lineker’s multi-million pound+ fees, it seems not unreasonable that your retirement from working should coincide with getting him and all the other overpaid celebrities off your back. That is why the government exempted OAPs from facing jail for non-payment of the BBC’s regressive telly poll tax.

The BBC is lobbying hard for the government to pay the licence fees, claiming it is costing them hundreds of millions. This is not really a “cost”, it a loss of revenue. The BBC collects some £3.5 billion from the telly tax and £1.5 billion from commercial revenue. It greedily wants to get a few hundred million more from the over-75s. Here’s a suggestion, cut back on Lineker and the likes’ bloated pay packets and generate some more revenue from iPlayer worldwide.

If Netflix and Amazon can generate billions worldwide from online streaming, so can the BBC. There is no technological reason the BBC can’t do it. The reason they don’t do it is purely political. If iPlayer was a pay-as-you-go streaming service the rationale for the licence fee, such as it is, would be destroyed.

The BBC funding model is based on coercion, it is out of date. Netflix’s global success shows just how badly the BBC missed the opportunity to be a global streaming media company with the head-start it had with iPlayer. Now they want to make OAPs or younger taxpayers pay for their commercial mistakes…

Labour Leavers Letter To Jeremy Corbyn

Twenty-six Labour MPs, including Rosie Cooper

have written to Jeremy Corbyn to urge him to not commit to a second referendum,  a position he is expected to inch even closer to this week. The MPs insist that Labour must “back a deal before 31 October” despite twenty of these MPs voting against the Withdrawal Agreement when they had the chance. The number of signatures on the letter is a reminder that there are more Labour anti-referendum votes than Tory pro-referendum votes.

“We write to you and the Shadow Cabinet in the aftermath of the local elections, the European elections and the Peterborough by-election. In 2017, Labour MPs were elected representing both strongly Leave-voting and strongly Remain-voting constituencies. Our Party campaigned on a pledge to respect the outcome of the 2016 referendum and negotiate Brexit. We still believe only this stance gives us the credibility to speak for the whole nation, not the 48% or the 52%.

“Our Party was devastated in the local elections in longstanding Labour-held councils. The strength of the Brexit Party in Labour heartland areas in the European elections revealed a much more potent threat than either the Liberals or Greens present.

“The Peterborough by-election result, with Labours vote share down 17%, and the Brexit Party coming so close, gives a stark warning of what could happen in Tory-Labour marginals, the majority of which are Leave seats. Labour’s briefing note to Peterborough canvassers sought to assure voters that Brexit will not be stopped. In relation to the Brexit Party candidate it said: “Once Brexit has happened, he won’t have any of the answers…” We agree. But we also agree that Brexit must happen. The UK must leave, and do so without further undue delay.

“A commitment to a second referendum would be toxic to our bedrock Labour voters, driving a wedge between them and our Party, jeopardising our role as a party of the whole nation, and giving the populist right an even greater platform in our heartlands.

“Labour has a vital role to play fighting for a Brexit for the many, not the few. But this is a battle best fought in stage two, after the UK has left. Rejecting any Brexit in the hope of securing a perfect deal risks the worst outcome – a No Deal Brexit. This would further alienate many who backed Labour in 2017.

“We urge the Party to put the national interest first to back a deal before 31 October”.

Live BBC TV Shows With No Viewers?

You couldn’t make this up.

The BBC is “delighted with positive feedback of 0.1% of viewers” after spending £32million of licence fee income on a TV channel that “regularly has no viewers”. More than 20 broadcasts on BBC Scotland have received zero ratings on the official system used to measure audiences.

BBC Scotland budget is the equivalent of 207,119 licences. No viewers tuned in from households fitted with a British Audiences Research Board box. BBC Scotland is regularly watched by less than 1% of the Scottish population. Former BBC Editor Tom Luckhurst said “The figures are deplorable. But they simply confirm the central flaw in the project, there was never a shred of audience demand for it”.

On May 1st, the channel’s peak evening audience was an average of 7,200, or 0.1% of Scottish residents. But the BBC is “Delighted with the positive feedback…Measuring the performance of individual programmes will always be subject to a significant statistical error”.

The channel launched in February, hiring 80 journalists to bolster the BBC’s news offering in Scotland, as part of the BBC’s commitment to increasing its coverage in the home nations and English regions. They said that of the 21 instances when zero audiences were recorded over the period from 24 February to 2 June, seven of these were for one minute editions of The Seven just as the channel comes on air.

They added “The remaining 14 instances were all after 11pm when TV audiences to all channels are in sharp decline and our programmes in these slots are often aimed at the younger hard-to-reach audience”. Who clearly aren’t impressed enough to switch on!

The corporation claimed BBC Scotland was “bucking the trend when it comes to engaging younger audiences” and that the channel’s success would be “judged using a variety of measures”. A spokesperson said “We have always maintained the importance of looking at the overall performance of the channel rather than focusing on a few individual broadcasts.”

BBC Scotland also hosts The Nine, its flagship news and current affairs show. The broadcaster celebrated an “encouraging start” for The Nine at the end of February, despite the show seeing its audience drop 73 per cent across its first two programmes.

BBC director-general Tony Hall, clearly displaying remarkable  business acumen with public money, recently said “Every day our teams do an amazing job bringing independent, impartial news to audiences around the world, and today we can see just how much the BBC is valued”. In Scotland?

Shame On The Cruel Lamentable CC

For apparently costing a mere £880,000 annually out of a county net budget of £802million in 2019/20, the LCC handyman service for Lancashire’s elderly and disabled residents is to shut. Pick up a newspaper any day now and see how little care or concern there is for elderly and disabled people, some with long time care needs. As the Lancashire Post

reports, the odd job service and advice scheme designed to help keep people independent in their own homes will come to an end next year, all to save just £880,000. Scraping the barrel time!

While reading this, consider the £1,342,652,47p paid to the LCC Councillors in 2018/19. Aughton Cllr O’Toole, £21,314.29, LCC Leader Driver £41,138.47, Elderly Champion Joan Burrows, apparently the representative for the “Ageing Well Forum (West Lancs Ageing Well Partnership Board)”, £16,584.23.

Lancashire County Council’s home improvement service provides minor housing repairs for the disabled, anybody with a long-term health condition and residents at risk of being admitted to hospital or care. The labour for the jobs comes free of charge, with residents paying only for materials.

The service also arranges quotes for more significant work and offers guidance on applying for welfare entitlements and grants for upgrades in the home. A separate home adaptation service, which has recently been delivered under the same umbrella, will continue. The authority is statutorily required to provide assistance features such as additional banister rails and ramps, up to a maximum value of £1,000, a service which cost the authority more than £1m last year.

Cabinet members agreed to end the broader scheme, which will save County Hall £880,000 per year. Conservative council leader Driver said the service should be delivered differently. “One of our stated objectives is to help people live well in their own homes and this service undoubtedly helps along those lines, however, the way it is set up at the present time is not the most efficient, so we need to make sure we get the best service and the best value. There’s very little in the [public consultation responses] that persuade us that we’re wrong in our perception that it could be done more effectively,” Cllr Driver said. So get the best service and best value is to close it!

However, papers presented to cabinet revealed that the financial viability of home improvement agencies, which deliver the complete service, could be threatened by the move. That could put a question mark over whether there would be sufficient capacity to deliver the continuing minor adaptations scheme, which will now be advertised as a standalone contract.

The meeting heard that disabled facilities grants awarded to district councils for home adaptations could bridge some of the gap. But Labour opposition group leader Azhar Ali

described the change as a “savage cut”.

He said “There are a lot of districts that have got huge waits for disabled facilities grants, because of the complexities of people’s needs. In some areas getting a stairlift is difficult. The people who struggle, the sick and the elderly, will face the brunt of these cuts. It’s a shame on the government and a shame on this authority”.

Sixty percent of people responding to a public consultation on the issue said necessary work in their home would not be done if the home improvement service did not exist. Last year, the service carried out more than 6,600 handy person jobs, including nailing down carpet and securing doors. More than 2,600 people were helped with grant funding and welfare advice.

The county council will use part of a one-off £500,000 investment to investigate “new approaches” to delivering the service. Wouldn’t it be better to spend that £500,000 on the sick and the elderly? Not if you are a Tory councillor inflicting hardship on them, us, the easy targets!

We Honour Our Obligations?

But not to 17.4 million voters? Not to democracy?

Philip Hammond “We’ve always said that the UK is a country which honours its obligations”.

Britain’s finance minister Philip Hammond said he would not serve under a prime minister who was prepared to leave the European Union without a deal, as proposed by Boris Johnson and other contenders to become Britain’s next leader. [Welcome news?]

Hammond, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of EU finance ministers in Luxembourg on Friday, also warned whoever succeeds Theresa May not to withhold Britain’s dues to the bloc. “Before I could serve in any government, I would want to look at the policies that the prime minister was setting out. I would not be able to serve in a government which had as its policy leaving the European Union without a deal” he said.

Hammond owns a controlling interest in Wrexham-based Castlemead Property, the housebuilder and care homes developer, in which he has shares reportedly worth £4.9m. Hammond set up Castlemead in 1984 with business partner Terry Gregson. Since becoming a government minister, his stake has been controlled by an onshore discretionary trust. While the business is not run on a day-to-day basis by Hammond, he is still the main beneficiary.

The Times reported “A housebuilding business founded by Philip Hammond has been accused of sitting on an undeveloped plot of land which has been granted planning permission for four new homes. Castlemead Limited, which was co-founded by the Chancellor in 1984, builds new homes and doctor’s surgeries. It has been reported that Castlemead Group, which is majority-owned by the company, was granted permission to build four homes in north Wales in June 2010 on the condition work on the site would begin within five years.

“Hammond resigned as a director of the company in 2010, but his sole entry in the most recent House of Commons’ MPs’ register makes reference to the fact that he is “a beneficiary of a trust which owns a controlling interest in Castlemead Ltd, a company engaged in construction, house building and property development”. The revelation comes after Hammond gave an interview with The Sunday Times in 2017. in which he hit out at house builders who are sitting on hundreds of thousands of undeveloped plots of land which have planning permission for new homes.

“He said “We are generating planning permissions at a record rate. It’s builders banking land, it’s speculators hoarding land, it’s local authorities blocking development”. 

He would say that wouldn’t he?

‘Gravy Train?’ A First Taste Of Life As An MEP

Clare Fox

Brexit Party MEP for the North West, writes about the EU gravy train

“At last, I’ve had my first taste of being an MEP: over in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday signing up with the administration and being briefed on and by the bureaucracy. Quite an experience. It was even more absurd than I expected.

“When a rather obsessive pseudonymous troll published a series of photos of me eating on the Eurostar, I realised just how much my life had changed. “Brexit Party MEP has nose in trough of gravy train,” the shock-horror exposé was to show me travelling business class.

“But if critics think business class travel is the extent of the gravy train, they haven’t been looking very hard. The EU’s financial excesses are grotesque. It’s creepy enough that just by being elected seems to have given the green light for a stranger to intrude on my privacy to take secret photos, but it’s also bemusing that my secret paparazzi was travelling in the same carriage, at the same costs; presumably a fellow elected official or a EU bureaucrat?

“I’ve never really focused on the financial costs of belonging to the EU: my main objection is its undemocratic nature. But I must confess, I’m shocked by the wanton waste lavished on MEPs. The above-mentioned voyeuristic troll tweeted, “my spy tells me she spent much of the journey looking mournfully out of the window as the French and Belgian countryside fled by.” Factually accurate.

“I was reflecting on just how grubby I felt being embroiled in an organisation awash with money, perks, chauffeurs, bulging with endless incentives designed to suck you in. It felt potentially corrupting and you don’t have to be a supporter of Brexit to feel queasy about the EU’s obscene opulence.

“Don’t get me wrong. On arrival, I was excited, if nervous, about being formally registered in my new role. As a democratically-elected MEP, I feel an enormous responsibility to the over half a million voters in the North West of England who chose three of us from the region to represent them.

“Our mandate is to get us out of the EU, but it is also a broader task of popularising the importance of national and popular sovereignty and ensuring that the democratic vote is delivered.

“And what an amazing setting to pursue such noble aims. The buildings are imposing: a vast campus with hairdressers, shops, tens of thousands of staff, researchers, endless committee rooms and auditoriums, top of the range technology, smoking booths (phew), bars, every conceivable amenity. A real city on the hill. As someone new to this official politics game, I confess I was wowed, impressed, a little thrilled to be so close to power. But then I checked myself…Listening to briefings detailing descriptions of how the parliament works was sobering and I realized just how powerless MEPs really are. Any plans to make trouble ran into the practical reality of the way time is stitched up via the arcane Group system, allowing little possibility of speaking.

“Incredibly, the EP isn’t even a talking shop: it actually blocks people from talking! Facing the stark reality of joining a body that cannot initiate change, restricted to amending proposals, it feels more like a rubber stamp of legislation handed down from the unelected EU Commission on high. Enough to make a democrat’s heart sink. We do get to elect the next Commission president, but this seems small fry compared to having real democratic, mandated power.

“Facing the stark reality of joining a body that cannot initiate change, restricted to amending proposals, it feels more like a rubber stamp of legislation handed down from the unelected EU Commission on high. Enough to make a democrat’s heart sink. We do get to elect the next Commission president, but this seems small fry compared to having real democratic, mandated power.

“I kept wondering how all the pro-EU MEPs could justify being mere insignificant cogs in a toothless technocratic wheel. Yet the paraphernalia and trappings, the payments and pay-offs are obviously an important prop in the grand illusion that your job matters. Surely no-one would throw such extravagant rewards at you unless you are crucial, right?

For example, according to recent Treasury figures

“the annual cost of an MEP is three times the cost of an MP in the House of Commons. Indeed, most Remainer MEPs are easily flattered into believing they deserve every penny. But this is delusional. Wherever you stand on the Brexit divide, I think voters deserve a more honest critique of the ludicrous excesses on offer to MEPs. Never mind the business-class travel, surely even Remain-and-Reform advocates might be keen to challenge whether every new MEP needs a free iPad, two offices in Brussels, one in Strasbourg, an office and staff budget for the UK.

“It was jaw-dropping to hear administrative staff – who made us all feel incredibly welcome (despite the irony of us being a group committed to leaving the very institution they were initiating us into) – spell out what benefits are on offer.

We were issued with a mind-boggling 110-page booklet

“on Members’ financial and social entitlements”.

The EU does this via a Directorate! I had to get the finance staff to repeat exactly what the “daily subsistence” meant. Apparently, on top of a hefty salary, you are paid just to turn up to work. Actually, you automatically collect £300 plus if you sign in to the building, which MEPs do regardless of the fact that the Parliament is infrequently in session.

“Then there is a general expenditure allowance paid as a lump sum into MEPs’ personal bank accounts on top of our salary, without having to provide any receipts or proof of expenditure. It’s a lavish anti-transparency measure only recently upheld by Eurocrats. The allowances – i.e. extras, bits and bobs – costs £35 million-a-year for 751 MEPs. Do the maths.

“Unsurprisingly, the website for UK MEPs seldom mentions these perks. Rather, we read grandiose claims for the importance of the number of committees they sit on, the foreign delegations they join and boasts that “MEPs, as individuals and working in their political groups” are having “a real impact on the drafting and amendment of European legislation.” I suspect that the financial rewards reinforce the sense of one’s own inflated importance.

“I officially start as an MEP when the parliament meets in Strasbourg on 2 July. I am still gob-smacked that every month the Brussels machine moves its 751 members and its (our!) 7,500 staff to France at a monthly cost of €114 million. This is an obscene, modern-day Versailles. While I’m going to try and enjoy every moment of what I hope will be a short stay, I will be documenting its real inner workings.

“If the EU insist on business class Eurostar, the very least I can do is repay them by writing a regular exposé of its excesses as I travel home. Watch this space”.

By Claire Fox, Brexit Party MEP-elect for the North West Region.

Now, here’s a question. When did we ever hear from our previous MEPs, Jacqueline Foster and Sajjad Karim? Never? Meanwhile, today, the useless West Lancashire Conservative Association website stlll lists them as our MEPs!

Rosie Cooper MP Voted To Support Control Motion

Rosie Cooper MP supported the “Control Motion”

The House of Commons yesterday voted by 309 votes to 298 – a majority of 11 – to defeat the latest attempt by MPs to seize control of the parliamentary agenda as part of a ploy to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

The motion, debated during time allocated for a Labour Opposition Day debate, proposed handing control of the Order Paper to MPs on Tuesday 25th June and, if passed, would have given MPs the chance to introduce legislation aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit at the end of October and/or stopping a future Prime Minister proroguing Parliament as a way of ensuring the delivery of a no-deal Brexit.

The motion was tabled by Jeremy Corbyn and formally backed by the other opposition parties in Parliament, the SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, the Greens and the now diminished Change UK.