Tory ‘cabal’ lies to constituents, fights FOI to push through expensive deal

As a veteran of Norfolk County Council’s attempt to foist an unwanted incinerator on King’s Lynn (failed – we kicked up sufficiently much of a fuss about it that the dishonourable Mr Pickles, then the minister responsible for such things, felt obliged to intervene on our behalf) I offer both solidarity and encouragement – these scum can be beaten. We fought against the plan to build an incinerator on the edge of King’s Lynn not as NIMBYs (Not in My Back Yard), but as NOMPs (Not On My Planet)…

The SKWAWKBOX

Information has reached the SKWAWKBOX that had slipped beneath the radar until now. It’s of particular interest because everyone knows that Tories will screw over Labour areas without a second thought, but the usual assumption is that they will protect their ‘heartlands’, if only out of self-interest – for example, the ‘Surrey sweetheart deal‘.

But this case shows that they will screw over their own areas just as eagerly as soon as it suits them – as long as they think they can get away with it.

Even if it means lying to do so.

javelin park.pngIllustration of GCC’s planned Javelin Park incinerator

The case involves Tory-controlled Gloucestershire County Council (GCC), which has been involved for some years in negotiations for a planned waste incinerator – or rather, a cabal or subset of its Tory councillors have, as until a few weeks ago even most GCC councillors were unaware of…

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Super Sharing Saturday – Politics 3: Bits and Bobs

A selection of political stories from the last couple of days.

INTRODUCTION

This is the third and last politically themed post in this series that I have been putting up today (although I have held some stories that might be considered political back for the next post which will be the last – I will then create a page containing links to these specific posts for ease of reference).

TORY STEALS MOD SECRETS, USES THEM TO HELP ADAM SMITH INTERNATIONAL

This story, which shows Tories at their worst and most unprincipled was brought to my attention by David Hencke. To read the full story of how MOD secrets were stolen and used to load the dice in favour of Adam Smith International click the image below.

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ANOTHER ANGRY VOICE ON TORY ELECTOTRAL FRAUD

Thomas G Clark who blog as Another Angry Voice has more on the Tory electoral fraud story, in the form of whistleblowers who have admitted to unknowingly assisting the Tories to commit electoral fraud. Click the image below to read the full piece.

PIP PIP

I have two pieces on Personal Independence Payments (PIP for short) for your attention. Firstly, DPAC are asking for people who would be willing to be involved in a legal challenge to changes to PIP. If you are able to help DPAC, or would like to share their piece please click on the screenshot below.

DPACss

The second PIP comes from 38 Degrees, in the form of a petition calling for people with mental health issues to be treated fairly under PIP. Please click the image below for more.

PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION

A situation that allows a party who gained 37% of the votes cast (under 25% of the electorate given the turnout) to form a “majority” government is obviously unacceptable. If you agree with this and are a UK resident please click on the screenshot below to sign and/ or share the petition, which is currently on 93,217 signatures, meaning that another 6,783will trigger a debate in the house. Just before putting up the screenshot link one final point for those who bring uop the orevious referendum on this subject: AV IS NOT PR

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ROWSON SKEWERS HAMMOND

To end on a lighter note, below, with a link to the original, is Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson’s take on Philip Hammond’s budget:

Martin Rowson cartoon 09.03.17

 

 

Super Sharing Saturday – Politics 2: Monroe Wins Defamation Case

An account of Jack Monroe’s splendid victory in a defamation case that centred on twitter.

INTRODUCTION

This is the second politics themed post in this series. In this case it deals with a defamation case that has recently been settled after 21 months. The plaintiff was food blogger and political activist Jack Monroe, while the defendant was someone who cannot be described in broadcastable language and does not deserve to have her name further publicised (the usual adjective used of her is in this context deeply offensive to trolls). 

THE BARE BONES

Jack Monroe launched the case over two tweets posted a few hours apart. The defendant had the opportunity to settle out of court for a mere £5,000 but chose to fight on. This resulted in an award to Monroe of £24,000 and the defendant being ordered to pay costs totalling a further £83,000. 

THE LINKS

I have three links for you about this case. First, by clicking the image below you can read Mike Sivier of Vox Political’s account (the picture is his as well):

Nathan Capone examines the implications of this verdict from a case-law point of view in this post.

Finally, for the completists among you, here is a link to the judgement in full.

PHOTOGRAPHS

As always, I finish by showing some of my own photographs.

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Lot 1556 in James and Sons’ March auction
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Lot 1557
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Lot 1558

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Lot 1559

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This will be the last item to go under the hammer in James and Sons’ March auction.

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Super Sharing Saturday – Politics 1: Skwawkbox Triple Header

Links to three pieces originally published on Skwawkbox.

INTRODUCTION

We are now into the politics section of my super-sharing Saturday, which will encompass this post, a post about the Monroe vs Hopkins case and will finish with a post containing the remaining political links.

1. SKWAWKBOX SWATS THE #MAYFLY

This post is merely the latest in very damning series of posts the skwawkbox has produced about Theresa May and the Surrey County Council sweetheart deal. It contains a very short video produced by Ealing Labour 4 Corbyn as well as the text. Link via the image as usual

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2. SKWAWKBOX EXPOSES DESPICABLE BEHAVIOUR BY BLAIRITES

Wimbledon CLP have been threatened with suspension over a leaflet that they intended to put out regarding a proposed new school. To read the full account on Skwawkbox click on the image of the “offending” leaflet below:

wimb leaflet p1.png

3. SKWAWKBOX ON AWFUL TORY BEHAVIOUR IN LANCASHIRE

This account features stories of intimidation up to an including death threats. To read about how the Tories are trying to take control of the town of Pendle by a combination of bullying, intimidation and gerrymandering click the image below.

tory threat

PHOTOGRAPHS

As usual I end with some pictures…

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These maps are going under the hammer at the end of our March auction.

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Autism, Work and Links

The launch of a new facebook page with NAS West Norfolk connections, a bit about yesterday at work and some very interesting links.

INTRODUCTION

For the benefit of new readers it is worth reminding people that I am both NAS West Norfolk branch secretary and #actuallyautistic. Although the the National Autistic Society (NAS) has some paid staff at its London HQ branches are run by volunteers and branch money comes exclusively from fund-raising. This post therefore starts with some news from NAS West Norfolk that I consider worth sharing before continuing with a bit about yesterday at work which will include pictures and ending with some interesting links.

THE LAUNCH OF A NEW FACEBOOK PAGE

NAS West Norfolk’s Sports Co-ordinator, Grant Cotton, creator of the Autism Awareness Cup, has created a new facebook page to link all his activities. It can be viewed by clicking the image below:

YESTERDAY AT JAMES AND SONS

Yesterday was devoted to imaging as many of those lots for the March auction that were not yet images as possible (a catalogue for this auction, taking place on the 27th, 28th and 29th of March, can be viewed here). Most of the imaging I was doing yesterday was of coin lots. Here some pictures…

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This is lot 248 – a seven image gallery for you to look at

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This is lot 249 – a four image gallery.

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From here until lot 124 we are looking at hi-res scans. Although I produced my usual three-image galleries for these coins with on exception I am sharing only the main image.

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The exception – this New Zealand florin from 1934, where I choose to show the close-ups as well.

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Lot 124 – the last of the scans
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Lot 108 – the packaging indicated that three of these coins were special, so I did close ups as well as the main images

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The close ups

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Lot 107 – this time the packaging suggested that two of the coins deserved special attention, so they got it.

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The close ups.

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Lot 222
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Lot 223. This horrible plastic tub did not have a lid, so I rehoused the lot in a nice wooden box with a fully functioning lid (I did a ‘meringue’ style test on it, turning it upside down with the coins inside, making sure that it was not too high above a flat, clear surface when I did so).
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Lot 224.

LINKS

Most of these links are science related, so to clear the decks I shall start with the exception. This comes courtesy of Skwawkbox, and is a devastating indictment of Theresa May and her ‘sweetheart deal’ with Surrey County Council. I agree with the Skwawkbox assessment that this should be considered as resignation matter. As another blogger, Mike Sivier, put it when commenting on this same issue: “a turd by any other name would smell as faecal and this one sgtinks of big fat lie”. To read the Skwawbox piece click here.

SCIENCE 1: FROM LIVESCIENCE

Two very different pieces from the same source here. The first deals with small things (specifically spiders), the second with something very large (a nebula).

  1. Wolf spiders having threesomes (yes, you read that right). Female wolf spiders are noted for eating their mates after copulation, and it may be that if two males tackle the same female there is more chance of one of them not being cannibalised. For the full story please click on the image below:
  2. This piece is about the discovery of a huge new nebula and the attendant mystery of what its light source might be. For the full story click on the image below:

SCIENCE 2: WEIT (WITH AN ASSIST FROM YOU TUBE)

It is no great secret that I am a huge fan both of Jerry Coyne’s books (Why Evolution is True and Faith Versus Fact) and of the associated blog, whyevolutionistrueThus I am delighted to share with you the fact that a video series on  chapter one of Why Evolution Is True is now being created. Episodes 1-3 are available to watch (and highly recommended by this blogger!), and according to WEIT’s own piece about the series there are two more episodes to come (yay!). I have embedded the videos below (they run in sequence) – enjoy!

Dream Cabinet

INTRODUCTION

This post is my response to Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK’s challenge to come up with a dream cabinet. I do not quite have a full  cabinet here but I do have names, positions and explanations and/ or justifications for all my choices. I will start by listing the names and positions, and will then go into a little more detail in the next section about my reasons.

THE SELECTIONS

These are the positions I have managed to fill:

Prime Minister – Debbie Abrahams

Deputy Prime Minister – Angela Rayner

Chancellor of the Exchequer – Richard Murphy

Home Secretary – Kerry-Anne Mendoza

Foreign Secretary – Clive Lewis

Business Secretary – Rebecca Long-Bailey

Health Secretary – Jo Rust

Environment – Caroline Lucas

Transport – Thomas Sutcliffe

Neurodiversity Minister – Paddy-Joe Moran (askpergers.wordpress.com)

Education Secretary – Michael Rosen

Arts – Anna Bohlin

Sports – Elizabeth Ammon (@legsidelizzy)

Scottish Secretary – Mhairi Black

Disabilities – Paula Peters (DPAC)

Science – Patricia Fara

Work and Pensions – Mike Sivier

Women and Equality – Kate Osamor

Welsh Secretary – Leanne Wood

Defence – Emily Thornberry

Housing and Planning – Sian Berry

We now move on to the the….

EXPLANATIONS/ JUSTIFICATIONS

I will take each position in the order in which they appear above:

Prime Minister – Debbie Abrahams

Debbie Abrahams has impressed me ever since she entered the shadow cabinet to the extent that I was determined to put her in a top position, and in the end I opted for the top position for her.

Deputy Prime Minister – Angela Rayner

Another who has been consistently impressive since her promotion to the front bench. From what I read of her performance on Question time when she had to contend with three very right wing fellow panelists, a Liberal Democrat and the mloderator, Mr Arch-Establishment Dimbleby (I was not able to watch for myself as I refuse to let the BBC have any of my money) she seems to have done a fine job of further underlining her credentials.

Chancellor of the Exchequer – Richard Murphy

We need his kind of economic vision as a matter of urgency, and how better to get it and than have the man himself as chancellor of the exchequer.

Home Secretary – Kerry-Anne Mendoza

Editor of The Canary and author of many splendid articles. I am sufficiently impressed by what I have seen of her that I have no doubts about putting her straight into one of the four so-called “great offices of state”.

Foreign Secretary – Clive Lewis

He was always going to feature somewhere in my dream cabinet, and I have decided that this is the right role for him.

Business Secretary – Rebecca Long-Bailey

Someone else who has said a lot of the right things since joining the front bench.

Health Secretary – Jo Rust

The Labour Party candidate for Northwest Norfolk (my constituency) at the last general election, active in many roles and a passionate supporter of the NHS. Exactly the right kind of person to take on the formidable task of repairing the ruin caused by the likes of Lansley and Hunt.

Environment – Caroline Lucas

I want environmental policy in the hands of someone who is committed to protecting the environment, and to me no one ticks that box more definitively than Ms Lucas.

Transport – Thomas Sutcliffe

I am aware that it is always risky for selectors to pick themselves, but I believe I can justify this one. I have a lifetime’s knowledge of and commitment to public transport. Although I am creator of a London transport themed website, London would actually be at the back of the queue for attention from me is at it is less badly off transport-wise than the rest of the country. 

Neurodiversity Minister – Paddy-Joe Moran

Paddy-Joe is autistic, the author of several books about autism and also writes the askpergers blog. Having decided to revive the idea of this post (see here for more details) it was a question of who to select for it. I wanted my Neurodiversity Minister to be neurodiverse themselves and in the end I went for Paddy-Joe.

Education Secretary – Michael Rosen

He would bring a lifetime’s knowledge and passionate commitment to the post. Education in this country would improve massively with Michael Rosen in this role.

Arts – Anna Bohlin

I do not know whether we could persuade her to come over from Sweden, but I am sure that she would be excellent in this role and would work well with her cabinet colleagues. For more details about her consult her blog

Sports – Elizabeth Ammon

Also known by hew twitter handle – legsidelizzy. In addition to her cricket writing and commentaries she has made some very sound political points. 

Scottish Secretary – Mhairi Black

Always assuming Scotland have not yet declared indepence, I would want Mhairi Black, who is the youngest but also one of the most impressive MPs currently in the house, in my cabinet, and this would seem the ideal role for her.

Disabilities – Paula Peters

I have gone for someone who is disabled and heavily involved in DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) for this important role.

Science – Patricia Fara

Author of a book on the history of science, a scientist herself and an impressive speaker (I have heard her give a talk here in King’s Lynn). She got the nod ahead of Brian Cox because I decided that I wanted a woman in charge of science policy.

Work and Pensions – Mike Sivier

Author of the Vox Political blog, carer and very knowledgeable about the misdeeds of the DWP under the Tories he would be an excellent person to undertake the task of putting this area back on track.

Women and Equality – Kate Osamor

Like several of my other choices she has impressed ever since taking her place on the front bench, and she would be well suited to this role.

Welsh Secretary – Leanne Wood

Occasionally sounds too excitable for her own good, but says a lot of good things, and I believe would do them in this role.

Defence – Emily Thornberry

As shadow defence secretary (before being moved to shadow foreign secretary) she was quite impressive.

Housing and Planning – Sian Berry

She ran an excellent campaign for Mayor of London which deserved better reward than third place (in particular, it was a travesty that she ended up behind Goldsmith after he ran such a disgraceful campaign, but also for my money Khan could have had no complaints had she won outright). This is a position I would definitely want in the hands of someone thoroughly committed to protecting the environment. To reuse a remark I originally made as a comment in response to one of Anna’s posts

Preservation of nature needs to be at the heart of planning decisions, not an optional (and often despised) extra. Your battle in Trosa is a battle for all of us everywhere.

PHOTOGRAPHS

After all that text here are some photographs for a bit of light relief…

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The first seven pictures are from yesterday – this is the East Rudham (my parents’ village) egg shop

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Starting with this one my remaining pictures are from today.

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Exclusive: Southern Railway contract to be investigated by National Audit Office

The real answer, as the organisation We Own It have pointed is a fully publicly owned and controlled railway system, but this is an interesting development regarding the worst rail operator in the country…

David Hencke

southern-railway-train-pic-credit-bbc A Southern Railway train: often overcrowded even if it runs. Pic Credit:BBC

CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM

The badly managed and strike prone Southern Railway contract is to be investigated by Parliament’s financial watchdog, the National Audit Office.

After months if not a years of misery for commuters caused by failing services and strike action over safety  the NAO has quietly decided to investigate the Department of Transport’s  handling of the contract alongside another investigation into the modernisation of Thameslink services. Both are major commuter services  into the capital and both are owner by Govia, the country’s biggest privatised train operator.

The decision by the NAO has been quietly slipped out on its website as an update to the Thameslink investigation without an official announcement. Such a move is bound to cause some consternation for transport secretary, Chris Grayling, and his officials.

Publication of the report due this summer will trigger…

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