The view from a Midlands Town

Brexit is making cost of living crisis worse, new study claims

EU withdrawal fuelling higher import costs and costing British workers nearly £500 a year, says Resolution Foundation https://tinyurl.com/yc2byx8a

KTS writes from Derby
It’s hard to believe that half of the country didn’t believe this would happen - Vote Stay scaremongering?
The [slightly] greater half that didn’t really have a mortgage to worry about, or young children or student loans to pay off - so that’s ok then? … we will all be ‘British’ and tough it out [now that most over 50s who voted are sitting pretty mortgage-free - extra food costs due to record inflation? Nah, it’ll just mean one less holiday out of half a dozen taken each year].
Oh, and now the Tories are trying to get rid of EU Human Rights Laws so that they can literally do want they want by sending illegal immigrants to Rwanda [the modern equivalent of Botany Bay - except this time you don’t have to be a criminal - just someone looking for asylum and help for a better life and protection from harm].
So what else does Brexit offer? 🤔Apparently food banks are running out of food because people have less income to donate to the needy as people tighten their belts. So, what now? Self-perpetuating cycle of decline. Social immobility; and social unrest; strikes (already started) and a return to ‘them and us’ (the haves and have-nots)?
Each time I drive to work and see the long queue at the food bank, or the same man near to Ozzy Road church always wearing the same mid-blue skiing trousers - each time getting tattier and more shredded, obviously in need of a good haircut and shower too, I think of how deceitful the Vote Leave campaign was, and how super gullible half of the blinkered population became… and it just makes me feel sad. I can’t change it; I cant even move to live in the EU… they don’t really like us or want arrogant ‘Brits’… can’t say that I blame them either.
So, while the insidious comedy that is todays British politics plays out, please don’t forget that it’s it’s not just your future it’s everyone’s.
KTS.

Open Letter to Rutland and Melton MP

Dear  Ms Kearns, MP

At each General Election, I relish the opportunity to express my view on who will represent me in Parliament. Irrespective of whether my vote is cast for the winning candidate, the person who accepts the honour of becoming my MP is duty bound to represent my interests together with those of all others in this constituency. This is the contract we must accept in a first past the post parliamentary system.

It follows then that the present Prime Minister is not accountable to me, but he is accountable to you. As such, your role in facilitating his leadership of our country is of material importance to me and all of your other constituents, for we have no other official mechanism by which to seek representation of our interests on this matter.

The “nonsense” of party gate is exactly that – it is nonsense that our Prime Minister encouraged and participated in drunken social gatherings in his office and residence throughout the duration of multiple lockdowns. Gatherings which he personally prohibited, with the force of the law and enforcement by the Police. That he demonstrably lied to both parliament and the public about these events and his role in them reveals the true nature of his character.

Members of your constituency, like everyone else in the country, have waited patiently for The Gray Report. After a last minute delay for a Police investigation, the prime minister has finally received a fixed penalty for breaching his own rules and we can see in black and white the report’s scathing criticism of his leadership. So what?

In a recent statement you have said that your position has not changed for several months; the prime minister does not hold your confidence. Indeed, how could anyone have confidence in such a man? Throughout the pandemic, he has bragged about his government’s “world beating” COVID response, but the outcomes speak for themselves, and did so at the time. Despite undertaking the most expensive test and trace system in the world, Britain experienced one of the highest excess death rates of developed countries and the worst economic contraction in Europe. At least in part because of his “oven ready Brexit Deal” which has reduced business investment and constrained immigration which would otherwise support our labour market, we have also missed out the opportunity for the post-pandemic economic rebound enjoyed in many other places.

Britain needs a new leader. As the global economy transitions into a period of inflation, people in the UK will suffer a disproportionate burden from rising cost of living because our buildings, homes and other infrastructure are unprepared for a world of higher energy prices. The prime minister’s initial response was to pretend it isn’t a problem but now his solution is to give-away £400 of our own money to every household. The timing of this announcement on the day after the latest major development in party gate cannot be coincidental. Boris Johnson, and all those who continue to serve alongside him in parliament, are playing a political game with my future and that of my children.

Ms Kearns, what can the people of Rutland and Melton do about this man? We look to you to represent our interests and make a stand. If you have submitted a letter of no-confidence, please tell us. If Boris Johnson remains the leader of your party, will you continue to be a member and be complicit in his self-serving neglect of the interests of the British people?

Yours sincerely,

 

Hamish McAuley


The Green Party want us to leave NATO

The Green Party's official policy is for the UK to leave NATO.  

Putin's psychopathic behaviour in Ukraine and his plan to subjugate the former Soviet republics and satellites show how naive the Greens are.

We support peace, we support NATO, the guarantor of that peace.

Link to Green Party's defence policy


The Tragedy of Ukraine

Our open letter on the illegal war and crimes against humanity in Ukraine

Read more

Rename Russian Embassy's street to Zelensky Avenue

Melton Sysonby campaigner, Jim Adcock, is supporting the call to rename Kensington Palace Gardens, the home to the Russian Embassy and Roman Abramovich, to Zelensky Avenue.
Lib Dem foreign affairs spokeswoman, Layla Moran, is asking the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to rename the London street as a gesture of solidarity with Ukraine following Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

See the full article in the Evening Standard Link


We stand with Ukraine


Melton Mowbray is thriving but where's the services

Read our Vice Chair's thoughts on developments in Melton link


Johnson. Is he fit to be Prime Minister?

I have taken an active interest in UK politics for more than 60 years. For most of that period I have respected the senior members of our government and have been confident in their democratic principles. You will not be surprised that I was horrified by the pathetic behaviour in the House of Commons on 31/01/22 by Boris Johnson, our Prime Minister.

He said "Sorry" but did not explain how he was going change his habits and become less selfish. Without any justification he suggested that Kier Starmer was responsible for Jimmy Savile not being prosecuted. He also implied that there would have to be personnel changes in Downing Street and in the Cabinet. Perhaps so that blame for his recent problems could be transferred to his staff and ministers as well as to the European Union?   In my experience, the most successful countries, businesses, schools and clubs are the result of great leadership. It is impossible to rescue a bad organisation without changing the leader. 

Johnson tried to convince MPs that his problems would not interfere with the great work which he believes his government is doing with major issues. However, on the same day, he cancelled his planned conversation with The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin and he seems to have overlooked a few self-inflicted problems such as:

Covid-19

Johnson appears to have ignored, or probably did not read, the internal government report about managing a pandemic which was leaked during September 2019 but never published.

He has regularly failed to respond promptly to scientific advice and has been rescued by the brilliant work of our scientists, NHS staff, pharmaceutical manufacturers and the UK people and businesses.

Despite claims that the government has recruited thousands of doctors and nurses, there appear to be 200,000 vacancies in the NHS and Social Care including approximately 20,000 NHS staff who have left the country after we left the EU.

Brexit

Johnson rushed into a Brexit deal without understanding it. Then he threatened to break the international legal agreement. The ONS has estimated that the agreement will cost the UK 2% of its GDP. Boris has infuriated the citizens of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, UK businesses and EU leaders. Import and Export trade has been damaged. Brexit has created a mass of documentation and government has had to employ more expensive staff in order to minimise delays and complications. Dominic Raab has said that benefits may take ten years to appear.

Local Councils and the Lib Dems

Councils have had to deal with increasing problems without corresponding increases in finance (NB "balanced and proportionate increases" in government parlance).

Liberal Democrats not only want to remove our Prime Minister in order to improve government at a national level. We are determined to provide better management at local Council level. Our councillors will protect green spaces, ensure that new housing will not harm local communities and the economy, work to address concerns over anti-social behaviour, and ensure that the voices of local residents and businesses are heard by councils.

Management of UK Government

Johnson's poor performance as mayor of London should have been a warning that he would be a dreadful PM. He is incapable of choosing quality staff or of retaining them. (eg Dominic Cummings, Lee Cain, Sajid Javid (when Chancellor of the Exchequer), Lord Agnew and civil servants). His Cabinet includes few ministers with business experience. He has consistently failed to provide UK citizens and businesses  with relevant guidance, advice, and active assistance.  

Johnson and his acolytes have a standard answer (with slight variations) for all problems: "We are taking it seriously and working very hard in Downing Street  to  produce  a balanced and proportionate approach."   Unfortunately it is not apparent. 

The UK has a leader without any leadership skills as confirmed by Sue Gray.

European Relationships with International Leaders

Johnson has had poor relationships with USA, Iran, India, Scotland and European Union leaders. He is not trusted to adhere to agreements. Can he be trusted to negotiate with Putin, support the leaders of the Ukraine or work with EU leaders for our mutual benefit? The UK will probably be distrusted and hated for many years to come long after he is gone. 

Economy

Many years ago I occasionally spoke on behalf of the Conservative Party. I, and other speakers, would be given a card with the Party's standard answers to frequent questions. Johnson and his ministers are so repetitive that I suspect that the old system is still in use. "The UK has the fastest growing economy in the G7 countries" is a regular response when the economy is being discussed. However, this is misleading as according to reliable sources, the UK could be the fifth or sixth fastest depending upon the dates used for the assessment. There seems to be more certainty that the UK suffered a fall in GDP of almost 20% in the first year of the pandemic because of a lack of preparation.

Another misleading answer they give is "The UK GDP has recovered to 0.9% above its pre-pandemic level ". However, if increases had continued at the pre-pandemic rate, the GDP would have been about 3% higher at the beginning of 2022.

Cost of Living and Inflation

Most economists agree that, during 2022, there will be a rapid increase in the UK cost of living. This is the result of several factors (Inflation in world energy costs, Brexit duties and administration cost increases, national insurance and other tax increases, etc.). There is no evidence that the government is taking effective action to minimise the potential problems and the damage to peoples lives due to this disproportionate increase in their expenditure. 

Security and International Relations

The magnificent co-operation of European nations in the post-war period was the result of fantastic efforts by the leaders and citizens of  countries to build back better. The citizens of the UK have enjoyed huge security and economic benefits created by these heroic people. Sadly, they have been severely damaged by Johnson in just a few years. 

Foreign Aid

The UK was the only G7 member to cut foreign aid last year, It reduced aid from 0.7% to 0.5% of GDP with the result that several groups of starving and/or threatened people lost essential aid and may not survive.

 

For all these reasons and more, Liberal Democrats in Loughborough Charnwood and Melton would say that Boris Johnson is a failure as a Prime Minister and a danger to our economy, our security and to our country's reputation. 


Breaking the law with impunity

If you have a bottomless pit of money, you can break the law with impunity by making it too expensive for people to go to Court, says Jo Maugham of the Good Law Project. We increasingly see conduct with that flavour from this Government - but nothing quite like this: Government has estimated it will spend a staggering £1.2 million defending a challenge from Good Law Project. We only expect the hearing to take one day and the facts are simple. When the case was stayed, the costs were about £30,000. They repeatedly refused to give us the estimates of their costs so we could apply for a cap. Then, they told us they had spent over £600,000 and were continuing to spend.

Our lawyers tell us it’s an unprecedented sum. The evidence is that costs incurred by the Government in judicial review proceedings rarely exceed £100,000. We are a small non-profit, funded by donations from members of the public. We cannot carry this kind of  risk, a fact the Government well knows. We can’t help but wonder whether killing us, or dissuading us from using the law, is the point of their spending. We have now applied for a cap but are on the hook for a vast sum if we don’t get one.

This particular case involves a former Conservative politician who runs for a lobbying company who was brought into the Department of Health and Social Care as an advisor, and pushed for one of his lobbying clients to win a huge PPE contract.

This latest example of the Government’s attempts to price us out of litigation shows just what we are up against in 2022. They are trying to make this year the year the Empire strikes back. 

(This is a statement from the Good Law Project)


Tory MP's Blackmailed by their own Government?

Reported from Politics Home, today: "Senior Conservative MP William Wragg has accused the government of "intimidation" in their efforts to stop MPs from criticising Boris Johnson.
The Hazel Grove MP made several serious allegations against the government at an influential parliamentary committee session, including attempts to encourage the publication of "embarrassing" stories in the press to "intimidate" MPs who might criticise the Prime Minister.
Wragg said such attempts could "constitute blackmail" and urged any MPs who felt they had been targeted to contact the police.
In a statement to the Public Affairs Committee which he chairs, Wragg accused government whips of having breached the ministerial code by threatening those who had spoken out against the Prime Minister of having funding removed from their constituency.
"In recent days, a number of members of parliament have faced pressures and intimidation from members of the government because of their declared or assumed desire for a vote of confidence in the party leadership of the Prime Minister.
"It is of course the duty of the government's whips office to secure the government's business in the House of Commons. However, it is not their function to breach the ministerial code in threatening to withdraw investments from members of parliaments constituencies which are funded from the public purse."
The senior Conservative backbencher also accused Downing Street staff, special advisers and government ministers of behaviour which could constitute "blackmail".
"Additionally, reports to me and others of members of staff at Number 10 Downing Street, special advisers, government ministers and others encouraging the publication of stories in the press seeking to embarrass those they suspect of lacking confidence in the Prime Minister is similarly unacceptable.
"The intimidation of an MP is a serious matter. Moreover the reports of which I am aware would seem to constitute blackmail. As such, it would be my general advice to colleagues to report these matters to the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police."
Wragg had previously called on Boris Johnson to resign over the Downing Street gatherings, saying MPs were "frankly worn out of defending what is invariably indefensible".
His comments come after reports that Christian Wakeford, the Bury South MP who defected to Labour on Wednesday, had made the decision to quit the party following threats from party whips to redraw his seat under proposed boundary changes."


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