Monthly Archives: December 2019

The Brainless And Trivial Embuggerance Of Brexit

John Redwood MP

writes “A majority of the public wanted the UK to return to being an independent country, capable of self government with a confident outward looking view of herself in a global world. Happy to trade with the EU, keen to travel, to promote many exchanges in education, culture and tourism, the majority saw no need to lock us into a political union to allow these things to continue. They will continue anyway when we leave as they do for many other independent countries having dealings with the EU.

“The elite’s refusal to accept the decision of the people led to undue stresses and strains on most of the institutions of the UK state. The Central Bank, already brought low by its failure to stop excesses in credit prior to 2008 and by its clumsy and damaging over correction, entered the fray against the majority decision. The Courts took up cases against government and Parliament, and made decisions designed to slow down or prevent Brexit. Cartoon below from the Spectator.

“Parliament itself turned against Brexit, despite most MPs being elected in 2017 for Labour or Conservative on promises to see it through. Brexiteers were left with the irony that the very institution they wished to restore to full power did not want that power and spent its time trying to prevent the UK taking control of its own money, laws and borders.

“Some large companies turned out endless propaganda against Brexit as if the decision had not been made, repeating the often phoney claims of future economic damage that they had used to try to get people to vote their way in the first place.

“The EU itself refused to accept the verdict of the UK people, and worked with the Remain forces in the UK to seek delay or damaging terms for exit that might get the public to change their mind. Despite all of this the people voted again decisively as the decade ended to get Brexit done. That included many who voted just to leave, and others who voted for the Withdrawal Agreement on offer in anticipation of a Free Trade Agreement to follow”.

The affront to democracy is over. In a “End-of-year BBC quiz”, prizes were awarded for

“Which BBC Breakfast presenter, talking to an EU-sympathetic think-tanker, opined ‘I don’t understand, or lots of people don’t understand, why we spend so much time talking about Nigel Farage’?” and “Which senior BBC figure said we should stop using the phrase ‘mainstream media’ because it’s ‘a term of abuse’ and ‘an assault on freedom of expression’?”. There were many more examples, of which “During a phone-in, which BBC presenter said ‘Yawn’ to a member of the public when they raised the subject of BBC bias?” is one.

Keeping the best to last “Who, late on election night, got a bee in his bonnet over Boris Johnson talking of ‘the people’s government’, saying ‘We don’t like “the people’s” used in that context in this country. It’s a bit French or even possibly Russian. “The people’s” – it’s slightly odd . . . We have a parliamentary democracy and the people are represented by all sorts of other people’, then demanding, ‘Huw, could we just dwell a little bit more on that phrase “the people’s government?”’ and, after being allowed to do so, ending, ‘It rings slightly oddly in my ears’?”. Yes, it was Andrew Marr!

West Lancashire CCG Changing Its Management Model?

The forthcoming retirement of Mike Maguire

from the NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group has raised questions about its future management style. The Group has formally announced a “Shared Accountable Officer” model of management.

Colleagues from across the NHS, third sector and local government in the North West will soon bid a sad farewell to a highly respected NHS boss, Mike Maguire. Mike, who is currently chief officer for NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), will leave the organisation in early April 2020.

Mike boasts an impressive 38 years working within the NHS since his very first job in the 1980s, when he joined Southport General Infirmary as a clerical clerk in medical records. Mike went on to hold some significant roles across the North West and is known for some milestone moments such as introducing the Macmillan Cancer Unit to Blackpool, helping Bolton become one of the first four areas to reduce waiting times below 18 weeks, a full year ahead of the national target date and turning Central Lancashire Primary Care Trust into the most improved in the country.

More recently, Mike has led NHS West Lancashire CCG from its formation in 2013, and has brought about achievements such as establishing the Well Skelmersdale

programme which celebrates and enhances the skills and opportunities of this unique area, launching the Grow Your Own initiative which tackles the workforce issues the NHS is facing and championing the use of emerging technology which lead to the CCG winning two national digital awards.

Over the years, Mike has seen the NHS move through significant changes. He states “I always wanted to make a difference to people’s lives, so the NHS was the perfect fit for me. Over my working years, I have seen the NHS evolve again and again, and I have no doubt it will continue to do so. Patient expectations have risen tremendously which is an important step forward; we now recognise mental health as equal to physical; there is the introduction of choice, and the arrival of clinicians in management. Despite the challenges, the NHS holds huge promise and with a greater emphasis on self-care, prevention and an increased use of technology, we can transform the system to allow extra support for our changing needs and aging population”.

On his departure, Mike says: “There is no place quite like West Lancashire! It’s been a pleasure to serve an area I am so fond of. While in this role, I have been fortunate enough to work with some exceptionally talented individuals and a hard-working team at the CCG. I would like to thank everyone who has played a part in my long NHS career and wish them all the best for the future. I know our Governing Body members will continue to listen to our community and deliver what they can to meet their needs”.

As for any parting wisdom, Mike adds “Stay true to your values and remember you can make a difference. With passion, energy and determination, together you can make things happen”.

With Mike’s imminent departure, the CCG is moving to a different model by welcoming an interim Shared Accountable Officer, Dr Amanda Doyle on 1 January 2020. Amanda

is currently chief clinical officer at NHS Blackpool and Fylde and Wyre CCGs, and the Integrated Care System (ICS) lead for Lancashire and South Cumbria.

Amanda, who has been a GP for 20 years with a strong background in commissioning, comments “Mike and the team in West Lancashire have delivered some impressive initiatives since the CCG was formed, with the community at the forefront of their minds. Considering their size, they have achieved a great deal. My role is very different in that I will be acting as Shared Accountable Officer, while the existing senior leadership and Governing Body continue to strive for the local vision in West Lancashire. We wish Mike all the best in the future and hope I can continue to build on his excellent achievements to date”.

Dr John Caine, local GP and chair of NHS West Lancashire CCG, said “It is an exciting yet challenging time in commissioning. We look forward to fulfilling the needs set out within the NHS Long Term Plan, as well as realising our local vision of the West Lancashire Partnership, which will in time introduce significant benefits for the people of West Lancashire.

“Mike will be sorely missed by our team. He’s ploughed his expertise, dedication and passion into delivering the best for West Lancashire community and it has been a pleasure for me and the many colleagues that have worked with him during his career. On a personal note, I know Mike is planning to travel across Europe and have more time to indulge in his hobbies such as playing guitar and his new-found hobbies; playing the ukulele, photography and learning Portuguese! On behalf of the CCG team, I would like to extend our thanks and best wishes to Mike for the future”.

As of 1 January 2020, Mike will cease to hold his chief officer responsibilities and will instead work on dedicated projects for the CCG during his notice period. Mike will officially leave the CCG on 6 April 2020.

Meanwhile, we can only wonder what the “Shared Accountable Officer” job description and salary will be! Responsibility shared with a finance officer? 

Who Is Lying About The NHS?

NHS for sale? Yes, says Labour Mr Corbyn. No, says Tory Mr Cleverly

But a subtle change in the question of what’s for sale, ie NHS services, produces a resounding yes. Just ask anyone in Lancashire/West Lancashire about Virgincare!

A new procurement framework that provides the entire public sector with a simple and legally-compliant means of purchasing cloud solutions has been launched by NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS).

The innovative Cloud Solutions Framework helps the NHS, local authorities, police, educational establishments, and any other public sector organisation, to access the highest-quality cloud services at best value-for-money from 24 carefully selected suppliers.

The streamlined and OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union) compliant route to market enables any public body to simplify and quicken the procurement process via four different Lots, covering a wide range of cloud support that includes both bespoke and off-the-shelf solutions.

Established by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in a unique partnership with digital experts Sopra Steria, Headquarters Annecy-le-Vieux (France). “We deliver modern corporate services to the NHS, which improve efficiency and quality, save time and money, and support world-class patient care”.

Since being formed in 2005 we have grown to become one of the largest and most successful shared service providers in the world and are internationally renowned in our field.

Today we provide finance, procurement, ICT and employment services to around 40% of the NHS. Over 140 healthcare providers and arm’s length bodies and every single commissioning organisation in the country – trust us to manage at least one of their corporate functions. Our revenue “Between £2-£5 billion (GBP) per year”.

Paris, 25 October 2019 – Sopra Steria Group generated revenue of €1,039.0 million in the third quarter of 2019, representing growth of 9.2%. At constant scope and exchange rates, revenue grew 8.3%.
• Revenue for Q3 up 9.2% to €1,039.0m with organic growth of 8.3% at constant scope and exchange rates
• Revenue for France totalled €427.8 million, corresponding to organic growth of 9.0%
• Other Europe reporting unit posted organic growth of 6.3%, with revenue coming to €281.9 million
• Sopra Banking Software generated revenue of €104.5 million with organic growth came of 12.1%, thanks to some extent to a favourable comparison basis pertaining to progress adjustments made on certain projects in the third quarter of 2018 (for a negative amount of €10 million).

This size and scope means we are the leaders in our field, with unrivalled knowledge and experience that helps NHS organisations overcome many of the day-to-day challenges they face. We are continually investing in corporate services on behalf of the NHS. Our new digital solutions and automation programmes are delivering faster and more accurate ways of working, and an enhanced, more intuitive user experience.

Mr Cleverly states “The NHS buying services is literally the opposite of it “being sold”. With up to £5billion in its revenue for 40% of the NHS that isn’t for sale, Sopra Steria looks like a great investment? Basic earnings per share came to €3.0, up 58.3% compared with the first-half 2018 level of €1.9. 


Sunday Satire

Tony Blair was bidding for contracts with the European Union for his “Institute for Global Change” as he publicly campaigned to overturn Brexit,

the Telegraph has disclosed. It will no doubt be obvious to all that many contracts with the EU are funded in large part by the UK?

Documents obtained by the newspaper show that the former prime -minister held talks with officials about striking a funding agreement between the European Commission and the “not-for-profit” Tony Blair Institute for Global Change which “Aims to help make globalisation work for the many, not the few. We do this by helping countries, their people and their governments address some of the most difficult challenges in the world today”.

The officials included Ana Gallo-Alvarez, who was previously seconded to Blair’s Middle East envoy office as deputy head of mission. She chaired a meeting between Blair’s staff and Commission officials last year after Blair held talks with her then boss, Neven Mimica, an EU commissioner. [Wheels within wheels!]

I recently read about Blair’s “legacy” of “A middle east in crisis; Immigration levels that seem to piss a lot of people off; A Tory carbon copy Leader who turned out to be a lightweight, short termist crisis manager; A divided Britain, the world’s oldest political union under threat; A rise in nasty type nationalism; An unelectable Labour leader who’s election was a reaction to Blair; A withdrawal from his precious EU superstate because he and his successor failed to take the people with him”. He’s deluded with a belief in his own self-importance.

Meanwhile, Labour risks becoming a “third party” in the Commons if it fails to drop Jeremy Corbyn’s brand of politics before the next election, two former ministers have warned.

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester and former health secretary, said Labour was on course to become a “shrunken political party” or “a red version of the Liberal Democrats” unless it returned to “credible” policies that appeal to working class voters.

And Frank Field

the former welfare minister, separately claimed that if Mr Corbyn is succeeded by another hard-left leader “Labour’s representation in Parliament will collapse”. Both centrist former Labour ministers were speaking in interviews on LBC.

Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Spy?

What is “intelligence” and how does it relate to the image of the spy in popular culture? How does the process of gathering and applying intelligence actually work? Ask John le Carré (David John Moore Cornwell), who knows best!

Intelligence and espionage are keys to the controversial aspect of ensuring national security. Separating fact from fiction, the use and misuse of intelligence, counterintelligence and the use of covert action, to influence foreign countries and individuals is vital for our safety.

Now, we read about Labour MP Stan Orme

code named Manchester, who passed on information to foreign agents. Orme was one of a number of Labour MPs targeted by undercover operatives. His handler, František Hrůza, came to UK in 1968, and pretended to be diplomat. Orme, who went on to serve under James Callaghan, would meet with undercover agents every month, and was one of a number of Labour MPs targeted by foreign agents.

Hrůza also met with another Labour MP, Alf Lomas, later Labour’s leader in the European parliament, and Barnett Stross, the Labour MP code-named Gustav. Hrůza would wine and dine Orme and ply him with gifts of cigars to give information on the Western European Union, a military alliance. Lomas was useful because he would discuss politics with him and also get information on other possible Labour collaborators.

Orme later became disillusioned with the Czech communist party in September 1969. He was listed in the confidential files as a high level collaborator, along with Raymond Mawby, a Tory cabinet minister, spy codename “Laval”.

Mawby is understood to have given spies information about the treasury committee and also some plans of specific rooms at Parliament. Do you suppose it was the location of the HoC toilets?

Other meetings reported back to Prague spymasters were also understood to have taken place with Sir Edward Brown, Tory MP for Bath, and Geraint Morgan, the Welsh Conservative MP.

Why is it news? Because according to the Times, Soviet leader Vladimir Putin is recreating the world that shaped him, cold-war spying. Putin can manipulate us because he has learnt that in espionage, it’s not generally the secrets that matter, it’s the reaction of the public, media and politicians whenever spies are exposed to the light. The attack on the superannuated minor double agent Skripal is chiefly a public statement. Russia is telling Britons we can kill with impunity in your country, and it’s telling powerful Russians in Britain, we can kill you.

Meanwhile, John le Carré  has written yet another excellent spook novel, “Agent Running in the Field”

which found its way into my Christmas stocking. It’s “A chilling portrait of our time, now heart breaking, now darkly humorous”, involving a Brexit hater and a ragtag band of spies! It’s superb, with unflagging tension if you are like me a “spy buff”! My codename?

PhoenixIndigo, of course!

No Gongs For West Lancashire?

It’s being reported that West Lancashire

is gong-less, despite the New Years honours profligacy of 15 awards in Lancashire including a Sir Preston MP, a Prison Director (CBE), an executive principal of Hambleton Primary School and deputy chief executive officer of Fylde Coast Academy Trust (OBE), and Nine MBEs and Two BEMs in recognition for work in the community.

It seems that nobody in West Lancashire did any valuable or recognisable work in the community, not a single lollipop person, school teacher or cleaner, hospital nurse, doctor, technician, cleaner. No carers, no volunteers. They are not worthy!

Meanwhile, your average highly paid “celebrities” or “legends” were queuing up to be “recognized” for playing cricket, acting, singing, and arse-licking. Need it be said that politicians were amply rewarded for party “loyalty”!

Makes you proud to be normal?

But at least Oakland Golf & Leisure Ltd wasn’t awarded a gong for golf course design, and Serco Leisure Operating Ltd didn’t receive one for golf course landfill operations!

Lancashire Police Tactical Operations Division Report

“Our drones

were purchased thru the Proceeds of Crime Act – cash we’ve taken from criminals. Today our drone has assisted in providing aerial containment for multiple drug warrants in Preston where more drugs and more cash has been seized. Great job all round”.

Comments include “What a fabulous use of the funds! It’s poetic justice, love it. Thank you for all you do” and “Now buy a squadron of them”.

Why not? A squadron of visible police drones is modern crime fighting?


A Love Letter To Britain

Family ties can never really be severed

Writes Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president of the European Commission

“Since I went to a British school, you have always been part of me. Now you are leaving, and it breaks my heart. I recently read a delightful book of love letters to Europe. A Love Letter to Europe”

Is “An outpouring of sadness and hope. Great writers, artists, musicians and thinkers in British life say what Europe means to them”. [These are the remainer bleeding hearts brigade whose offerings are included, Mary Beard, Shami Chakrabati, William Dalrymple, Sebastian Faulks, Neil Gaiman, Ruth Jones, J.K. Rowling, Sandi Toksvig and others].

“And it made me contemplate my love for Britain. It has just occurred to me that when you joined the European Economic Community I was in one of your schools. Not on your soil, mind you, but in Italy. Saint George’s British International School in Rome, to be precise. I was 12 years old and still learning English. That year I also dressed up in a kimono, as one of the “gentlemen from Japan” in the Mikado, the school play. Mrs Alcock encouraged me not to sing too loudly, so that my false notes would be less audible. But she kept me on stage. I loved it. Like I loved being part of the chorus in My Fair Lady the next year and the Mock Turtle in Alice in Wonderland the year after.

“More than 40 years have passed since then. So much has happened. My family went back to the Netherlands, I studied there and in France. I got married and became a father, did my military service, worked as a diplomat, divorced and married again, got elected to parliament, served in government and am now in the European Commission [Gravy train!] Britain was always there. As part of me. Being in one of your schools made me more Dutch than before. Because there is no better way to be made aware of your own culture than by being immersed in another. And at the same time, that immersion leaves traces. What you inhale and absorb remains: as an extra layer, a sediment that partly merged with what was already there and partly remains distinguishable and unique.

“I know you now. And I love you. For who you are and what you gave me. I’m like an old lover. I know your strengths and weaknesses. I know you can be generous but also miserly. I know you believe yourself to be unique and different. And of course you are in many ways, but perhaps less than you think. You will never stop referring to the rest of us as “the continent”. It helps you to create the distance you think you need. But it also prevents you from seeing that we all need a bit of distance between us. All European nations are unique. Our differences are a source of admiration, surprise, discomfort, misunderstanding, ridicule, caricature and, yes, love.

“In the best of times these differences make us the most creative, productive, peaceful and prosperous of families. In the worst of times our differences are manipulated to instil fear, to propagate superiority, to set one family member against the other. Things then quickly get out of hand. We all are also very, very good at that. That is our legacy. That too is who we are. And as a family we have a duty to promote the best of times and keep the worst of times at bay. So far, for all its faults, the EU has been the most successful tool to achieve that goal.

“You have decided to leave. It breaks my heart, but I respect that decision. You were in two minds about it, like you have always been in two minds about the EU. I wish you had stuck to that attitude, it served you well and it kept all of us in better shape. Was it necessary to force the issue? Not at all. But you did. And the sad thing is, I see it is hurting you. Because the two minds will still be there, even after you have left. In the process so much unnecessary damage has been done to you, and all of us. And I fear more will follow.

“Truth be told, I felt deeply hurt when you decided to leave. Three years later I am just sad that a member of our family wants to sever our ties. But at the same time I find comfort in the thought that family ties can never really be severed. We’re not going away and you will always be welcome to come back”.

Timmermans also recently wrote “The EU has begun new infringement proceedings under article 7 against Poland for restructuring its supreme court by lowing the retirement age to 65 and so removing a group of judges. The Commission has asked the European court of justice to make an interim ruling to postpone the removal of judges, including the president of the supreme court”. He said that cases such as Brexit raised fundamental issues about the survival of the EU.

We in the UK are still facing another year of lessening subjugation by the EU, but the shackles will loosen and then we will have our own fully independent and sovereign country back again.