Category Archives: uncategorized

Will XR’s actions focus politicians’ minds?

Extinction Rebellion‘s spring rally in Bristol

Simon Pawley responds to a letter in the Financial Times, in which Helen Jackson describes the Extinction Rebellion movement as having ‘extra-democratic tendencies’, which deserve to be challenged.

He points out that one of Extinction Rebellion’s three central demands is for the creation of a deliberative citizens’ assembly to formulate recommendations that can inform debate about policy and enables ordinary citizens to get involved – a fundamentally democratic and constructive proposal.

The power exercised by industry’s lobbying of government – a recurring theme on this website – is highlighted by Pawley

Stressing that any realistic assessment of the battle for political influence must acknowledge industry’s “extra-democratic” force, he makes three points:

  • In private, some energy companies continue to resist regulations designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, notwithstanding their public commitment to renewable energy (BP is a recent example).
  • The energy industry has also distorted public debate by secretly funding climate change denial organisations.
  • Environmentalists cannot fund lobbying efforts on such a scale.

He ends, “Instead, their protests are attracting media attention and promoting discussion of how to address the crisis. This has rapidly begun to highlight the strength of public opinion on this issue; we may hope that this will focus the minds of politicians”.

 

 

 

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FT editorial board and Corbyn agree: the Scunthorpe steel plant should not be abandoned

 

Together with the Port Talbot plant in south Wales, Scunthorpe is one of only two integrated steel producers in the UK. A third large steelworks in Redcar, in north-east England, closed in 2015.

If both of the remaining large blast furnaces close, the country’s workforce will lose essential skills as Britain’s construction and defence industry become dependent on foreign producers or smaller companies that import raw steel.

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Britain is shifting to low-carbon energy and should not have to import steel from less green sources or outsource production to China.

The FT’s editorial believes that the state should not abandon the plant. While recognising that employment cannot always be preserved at all costs, it describes losing 5,000 jobs at the steelworks and another 20,000 supported by it as ‘a hammer blow to the working-class community of Scunthorpe and the broader North Lincolnshire region’.

The Labour Party has called on the government to take a public stake in British Steel if necessary, to protect jobs and support the UK’s infrastructure and renewable energy systems.

Former Scunthorpe steelworker Charlotte Childs said that the impact could be “immeasurable . . . Unemployment in North Lincolnshire at the minute is 4.8 per cent. If the steelworks goes that rises that to 8.4 per cent, which is double the national average. It’s not just the 4,000 workers that work on the steelworks or even the 20,000 people within the supply chain. It’s the ancillary businesses that rely on the steelworkers having a decent income and being able to spend that money within the leisure economy in the area.”

In another report she was quoted as adding: “Why is so little being done to help people? If a bailout is good enough for bankers, why isn’t it good enough for steelworkers?”

 

 

 

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MMR: Why not allow the single vaccine option, in use elsewhere and widely accepted in ‘60s & ‘70s Britain?

Reblogged from Chemical Concern.

 

 

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Press as agent provocateur? Journalist maligns XR demonstrators

Any sane person and organisation should now listen to the ‘wakeup call’ being made by protestors – after thirty years of warnings using ‘civilised’ methods by people like Mayer Hillman have gone largely unheeded by decision-makers.

Not so the Times which – in a (hopefully) unwitting challenge to police which could provoke violent action and reaction – has published articles alleging a triumphalist ‘boast’ by climate activists who ’bragged’ that police do not have the resources to stop them and that “The hollowed-out British state is overwhelmed”

But its link – given above – leads only to an article by its environment editor and HIS headline that ‘Police (are) overwhelmed by Extinction Rebellion protesters plotting to clog up justice system’.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid (firmly allied with the status quo after a career as a senior banker) has said: “Let me be clear — I totally condemn any protesters who are stepping outside the boundaries of the law. They have no right to cause misery for the millions of people who are trying to lead their daily lives. Unlawful behaviour will not be tolerated.”

Does he really view impeding a holiday flight (targeting Heathrow airport) as being more serious than floods, drought, storms and wildfires, intensified by climate change, killing and displacing people and other life forms?

Protesters want the government to take climate change seriously, enact legislation to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and set up a citizens’ assembly to ensure action is taken.

Climate change deniers please note Joel Pett’s message: the actions proposed are in themselves socially, environmentally and – in the long term – economically beneficial.

 

If heeded, the activists will – at most – avert climate change and at least, as Pett points out, create a better world.

 

 

 

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Media 96: Corbyn slurs, “a farrago of falsehood and insinuation” – principled Conservative trounces author, journalists and publisher

Richard House draws attention to an article by Peter Oborne reviewing a book, surprisingly. published by William Collins, a respectable publishing house. Oborne writes about this ‘ugly hatchet job’:

Dangerous Hero: Corbyn’s Ruthless Plot For Power, contains numerous falsehoods. It systematically omits relevant facts in order to portray Corbyn as a ruthless Marxist and anti-semite hell-bent on destroying Western liberal values”.

Peter Oborne – who describes himself as a frequent critic of Jeremy Corbyn states that Tom Bower’s book is not just intellectually dishonest, it is a farrago of falsehood and insinuation:

“The ugly truth is that Bower is not straight with his readers, let alone Corbyn. Again and again he withholds relevant information, with the result that the Labour leader and his colleagues come over in the worst possible light.” He adds:

“British journalists need to ask themselves a question. Is there something rotten in British media discourse which allows someone like Bower to get away with this?”

“Bower has made an astonishing number of factual errors – more than I have ever come across in a book from a mainstream publisher. While something has clearly gone horribly wrong with the editing process at William Collins, Bower is the author and must take full responsibility.

“This consistent inaccuracy is made worse by the fact that there are no references nor citations. Quotes are frequently provided without naming the source. Bower says that he does not provide references because he does not want to compromise those who have given him information. He also cites “legal reasons”, though he tantalisingly does not explain what they are.

“Time after time, Bower makes assertions that are not backed by any evidence. The problem is so bad that I resolved to carry out my own investigation into the truth of some of the assertions made in Bower’s book. This article is the result of my research. Again and again, I have been able to prove that his account of events is false, misleading and, in some cases, pure fabrication.” 

After giving at least twenty examples of Bowers’ falsehoods and fabricated or misleading charges, Oborne asks:

“Are British journalists allowing hostility to Corbyn to get in the way of telling the truth? Has there been a balanced discussion of the anti-semitism claims against Corbyn’s Labour? The warm reception for Tom Bower’s ugly hatchet job on the leader of the opposition suggests that something has gone badly wrong with British public life.

“We need to pause and reflect”.

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Peter Oborne won best commentary/blogging in 2017 and was named freelancer of the year in 2016 at the Online Media Awards for articles he wrote for Middle East Eye. He also was British Press Awards Columnist of the Year 2013. He resigned as chief political columnist of the Daily Telegraph in 2015. His books include The Triumph of the Political Class, The Rise of Political Lying, and Why the West is Wrong about Nuclear Iran.

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Ed: then put the whole sad game in perspective by reading some social media reactions and Martin Odoni’s added revelations – from: http://guerillawire.org/politics/a-few-more-dangerous-hero-revelations/ – but this link does not work now though accessed recently, see:media corbyn link

Odoni graphics include:

1 odoni

 

 

 

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Disloyal, nakedly ambitious, Watson further assists the media campaign against his decent, honest leader

 


Francis Elliott and Kate Devlin report, in the Times, that Tom Watson declared “I am not Jeremy’s deputy” as he sought to distance himself further from the Labour leader.

The ‘badge of shame’ misleading/mischief making headline – not the first spotted in this newspaper – is belied by the text. Watson actually described the departure of Luciana Berger (MP for Liverpool Wavertree) as a “badge of shame”.

Watson as compassionate hero

He told the Emma Barnett programme on BBC Radio 5 Live: “It is a badge of shame that Luciana Berger, a bright young female pregnant MP, was bullied out of her own constituency by racist thugs. I’m not putting up with it. I owe it to the 500,000 members of the party to defend their integrity against claims that we are a racist party or we are not dealing with racism.”

He repeated similar charges in Sky News – close to crocodile tears as he ‘feared’ that more MPs would leave the Labour Party.

And confirms another subversive move:  his plans to arrange a group of MPs away from the shadow cabinet to create their own policies.

 

 

 

 

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If the economy ‘tanks’ post-Brexit, will shopping mall and carpark revenues be enough to compensate for government cuts?

 “Years of chronic underfunding have left local government ‘on life support’ “

123 of England’s 353 councils sent information to the 2019 State of Local Government Finance survey, conducted by the Local Government Information Unit and Municipal Journal. Chris Tighe (possible paywall) reports that Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of the LGIU, has warned of a future in which care for the elderly and for vulnerable children could be funded from shopping centre investments and car parks – “a significant risk if the economy ‘tanks’ “.

Survey findings include:

  • More than half of English councils will eat into their reserves.
  • Four out of five are investing in commercial developments to supplement their revenue this year to compensate for central government funding cuts.
  • Nearly half of the local authorities are planning to cut services.
  • Most will raise council tax this year and increase charges to stay afloat.
  • A quarter said planned cuts to services in the coming year would be noticed by the public.
  • 10 local authorities said they were concerned they would be unable to deliver the legal minimum service for residents.
  • Last year, Northamptonshire county council was given special permission to sell its head office and rent it back after running out of money.
  • Several other authorities have warned they are close to collapse.
  • 8 in 10 senior council decision makers believed the current system for council funding was unsustainable.
  • 82% were considering commercialising council services to raise extra money
  • and 57% wanted to sell council assets.
  • Children’s services and education were the top immediate financial pressures, for the second year running.
  • Adult social care is still under severe strain

Four out of five English councils are investing in commercial developments to supplement their revenue this year to compensate for central government funding cuts.

The government’s annual funding settlement for local authorities, outlined in December, assumed that every council in England would implement the maximum 4.99% council tax increase, including 2% ringfenced for adult social care, in 2019-20. Analysts say that would add around £80 to the annual average bill for a Band D, mid-market, home — currently £1,671. An additional £24 can be added to the charge to fund the local police force.

But the Local Government Association said the tax rise would not be enough to prevent service and job cuts after eight years of austerity. It said councils would have lost almost 60% of their central government funding between 2010 and 2020 and face an overall funding gap of £3.2bn in 2019/20.

Jonathan Carr-West warned: “In the future, care for the elderly and vulnerable children could be funded from shopping centre investments and car parks, which carries significant risk if the economy tanks.” This year’s government spending review would, the survey warned, be “make or break” for vital local services.

 

 

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Farm Group calls for a referendum on our future relationship with the EU

 

Farmers For Action’s NI Steering Committee claims that the time has come for a referendum on our future relationship with the EU.  

William Taylor FFA NI co-ordinator states that “UK political failure is now causing hardship and stress for many businesses and people across the UK, Ireland and across the channel.

FFA understands that the EU will possibly only extend the Article 50 deadline of 29th March if it is combined with a UK referendum.

This time FFA claims there should be two questions only –

1) Do you wish to remain in the EU with present and future UK Governments tied to pushing for reform of it? and

2) Do you wish to leave the EU and remain only in the single market, customs union and EU security zone with no seat at the EU table?

The much-hyped third option of completely severing ties with the EU cannot be an option. Two years plus of debate has failed to validate this route

  • It would clearly devastate not only the farming and food industry alike as well as thousands of other businesses.
  • It would make life difficult for many UK citizens who have European family and friends.
  • It would increase costs for those who wish to remain and those who wish to leave with no ties.

The leavers need to consider what make of tractor, what make of car they drive and what make of household appliances they use as those goods would rise in price substantially and particularly the spare parts – to give but one example.

Lastly, we must never forget why close ties with mainland Europe were forged after the Second World War and respect the wishes of those who fought for freedom – a hard won freedom. A complete severance from the EU, automatically re-erecting borders and strife yet again, would make no sense.

Any borders that could be created as a result of Brexit would denote complete political failure, and the politicians responsible should never again receive votes for achieving such a disaster.  

Time to vote for commonsense and progress!  

 

 

Farmers For Action

56  Cashel Road, Macosquin, Coleraine, N Ireland, BT51 4NU

Tel. 07909744624  Email : taylor.w@btconnect.com

PRESS RELEASE: 21st January 2019

 

 

 

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Rail passengers need – above all – reliable train services

. . . which are not delayed, cancelled or prematurely terminated

Rail union leaders, politicians and passengers are demonstrating today outside stations including London King’s Cross, Cardiff, Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, Norwich and Birmingham as rail fares for the country’s unreliable rail service increase. It is reported that rail fares will increase by an average of 3.1% today, despite punctuality falling to a 13-year low.

The Labour Party is calling for prices to be frozen on the worst-performing routes

Widely quoted Labour research findings are that fares have risen nearly three times faster than wages. Examples of changes to annual season ticket prices include:

:: Brighton → London increasing £148 to £4,844
:: Gloucester → Birmingham increasing £130 to £4,238
:: Manchester → Liverpool increasing £100 to £3,252

Analysis by the Press Association – source not given – has shown that one in seven trains was delayed by at least five minutes in 2018 – the worst performance since September 2005. As Wolmar wrote in August, “Barely a day goes by without another nightmare rail tale . . .” – many relating to scheduled services cancelled by Northern Rail because of disruptions to the ‘new’ timetable introduced in May.

New Year cheer: new carriages and wifi – but no reference to reliability & affordability,

On Radio 4’s Today programme, transport minister Chris Grayling cheerfully promised passengers new trains with more seats, improved accessibility, mobile phone charging points, wifi and air conditioning. The Rail Delivery Group is calling this the “biggest introduction of new trains in decades”. Between now and 2021, 7,000 new vehicles will be introduced by train companies.

Critics of nationalisation should be reminded that Britain’s railways are already state owned

  • Germany’s Deutsche Bahn owns Arriva, operates Chiltern, Cross Country, Wales & Borders, London Overground and Grand Central.
  • Italy’s Trenitalianow runs Essex Thameside
  • French state firm SNCF owns Keolis, which runs numerous franchises in joint ventures. As part of Govia, with Go-Ahead, it operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern, Southeastern and London Midland; with Amey it runs the Docklands Light Railway.
  • Dutch state rail owns Abellio, wruns ScotRail and Greater Anglia, and Merseyrail.
  • China Hong Kong state owns MTR, which holds the South West Trains franchise with First. MTR will also run Crossrail.
  • Eurostar is owned by France’s SCNF.
  • Heathrow Express is owned by Spain’s Ferrovial, with some investment from ADI Finance 2 Ltd – directors from Spain, Qatar, USA & UK.k

And even right-wing newspapers who had supported the privatisation of rail now regularly report the dramatic failures of the current system.

 

 

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2400 deaths: Britain’s collective public, corporate, medical and political failure

Britain’s political-corporate circles deliberately failed to give fair compensation to thousands of NHS patients who received contaminated blood. But France, Japan, Italy and other countries put those responsible for their contaminated blood supplies on trial.

Medics and politicians knew by the mid1970s that commercially manufactured blood products from the USA were suspect. See: Risk, science and the politics of the blood scandals in Ireland, Scotland, England and Finland  (page 4) which cited:

  • the Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada’, (Ottawa, 1997),
  • National Academy of Science 1975 (WHO partner)
  • and the World Health Assembly, Resolution 28.72. (Geneva, 1975).

The World Health Organisation had warned the UK not to import blood from countries that paid donors and had a high incidence of hepatitis, such as the US. By the mid-1980s there were warnings of a similar situation in respect of HIV. Nevertheless, these products continued to be imported and used. Successive governments refused to hold a public inquiry into what went wrong.

Lord Archer held a privately-funded, independent inquiry it took months for this government to reply to its findings.

The Haemophilia Society: https://slideplayer.com/slide/4794472/,slide 5

 The blood industry proved to be a powerful lobby and nothing was done 

Many manufacturers supplied clotting factor products to the UK during the mid-1970s and 1980s which infected haemophiliacs with life-threatening viruses. Armour’s Factorate was the most used product, with Baxter’s Hemofil, Immuno’s Kryobulin and Bayer-owned Cutter’s Koate following, see paragraph 21.332: “Final Report: Chapter 19 – Production of Blood Products – Facilities”.

The Penrose Inquiry (Chapter 5) recorded that in the 70s, Dr J Garrott Allen found that the incidence of Hepatitis among haemophilia patients was related to the increase in the use of prison plasma and “Skid Row” inhabitants, “whose use of alcohol, drugs and unsterilised needles made them prime hepatitis carriers”.  His findings, published in the journal “California Medicine”, provoked a national debate but “the blood industry constituted a powerful lobby, and nothing was done” – or as the Haemophilia Society (page 19) put it: “Although a great deal of evidence was clearly documented in the report, no useful recommendations were made.” 

Over 2400 of the people who were given contaminated blood have now died and MP Diana Johnson (left) asked for an urgent Commons debate in 2017 – recorded here. She had to get six leaders of opposition parties — including the DUP — to sign a letter to Ms May asking for an inquiry before Theresa May finally announced a public inquiry into how thousands of people became infected with HIV and hepatitis.

The MP for Stratford on Avon said: “Many victims—this is certainly true of my constituent, Clare Walton—initially did not want an inquiry; they wanted a settlement”.

The BBC reported that Eleanor Grey QC, speaking on behalf of the Department for Health and Social Care in England (and its predecessor which covered the whole of the UK), apologised for the infected blood scandal.

”At worst, a cover up or, at best, a lack of candour about past events”: Eleanor Grey QC

Many of the relevant records had disappeared. Former Health Secretary Patrick Jenkin and former Health Minister David Owen both searched the departmental archives, but were told that the documents had been accidentally destroyed. The British Medical Journal records that the public inquiry, which opened in September, was told in a preliminary hearing that the UK government engaged in a cover-up and in some cases the NHS altered or destroyed the medical records of patients who received blood products infected with HIV and hepatitis C in the 1970s and 1980s.

A Private Eye journalist, after giving a detailed account of the tragedy, ended: “If the government wants to demonstrate just how sincere its apology really is, it might take a leaf out of the Irish government’s book and pay survivors proper compensation and ensure priority healthcare, in recognition that their injuries were caused by the NHS. And do this before the inquiry resumes in earnest next spring.” 

But ultimately, as Sunita Narain points out re the Union Carbide tragedy in Bhopal, it is a collective failure: as in other cases, the British public have not expressed the level of outrage needed to shame the government into action.

 

 

 

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