A Dangerous Amount Of Bull

A Creeping Form Of Tax ..
London authorities are accused of generating income via controlled parking zones, bus lanes, congestion charges, parking tickets and so on, in lieu of traditional business rates and council taxes, which are politically more unacceptable.. It is a creeping form of tax which is undemocratic, bears no relation to ability to pay and is one of the small things that is really undermining the quality of life in London.. Parking tickets and fines are intended to improve traffic flow, not to raise revenue or penalise people carrying out their legal business.

The Fewest Soldiers Since The 1700s ..
Almost 18,000 British soldiers are unfit for the frontline, figures reveal.
Many troops have been medically downgraded after suffering wounds and mental health issues such as PTSD from fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.. But thousands more have chronic knee and back problems, or conditions including obesity and diabetes linked to stodgy cookhouse food such as fry-ups, chips and puds.
MoD figures show 7,890 soldiers are classed as ‘medically non-deployable’, meaning they cannot go to war.. And 9,971 are ‘medically limited’ and unlikely to be sent on operations.. Freedom of Information statistics also show the RAF and Royal Navy have 10,000 personnel between them who are not fit for combat duties.
Britain now has just 60,000 soldiers fit enough to serve on frontline operations – the fewest since the 1700s.
( Sean Rayment, 12.11.2017 )

Tories Treat Children As ‘Guinea Pigs’ ..
A Cabinet minister who thinks allowing some pupils to fail is fine has been condemned for treating children as ‘guinea pigs’.. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss has admitted she believes experiments that go wrong at free schools are a price worth paying.. Former Education Minister Ms Truss said, “With freedom there does come risk. There are free schools that haven’t done as well, or there have been cases where pilots haven’t worked. I believe in trying those things and seeing what impact they can have, rather than being risk averse and not trying them.”
Dr Mary Bousted, joint chief of the National Education Union, said, “Liz Truss’s statement amounts to an admission the Government has put its pursuit of ideology above the interests of children’s education. This approach is both reckless and wasteful, and has resulted in real harm being done to communities where schools have had to close.”
( Nicola Bartlett, 28.10.2017 )

High Stake Gambling In UK ..
Gamblers in the UK can stake more on machines than anywhere else in the world, outside Las Vegas.. A new study says Britain is the only country to allow £100 punts on fixed-odds betting terminals.
It adds that one in three problem gamblers earn £10,400 a year or less.
The report by think-tank ResPublica says Belgium allows the second-highest stakes – £21 – but most European countries limit them to under £1.
( Keir Mudie, 22.10.2017 )

The Tories Secretly Blow £3million ..
The Tories have secretly blown £3million of taxpayers’ cash in a failed bid to privatise the NHS staffing agency.. Ministers spent the money on consultants in a desperate bid to sell the respected NHS Professionals Organisation which supplies doctors and nurses to hospitals.. But they were forced into a u-turn by angry MPs, medical chiefs and health unions.
( Andrew Gregory, 14.10.2017 )

Five Billionaires Own 80% Of UK Media ..
Rupert Murdoch, Fred Barclay, David Barclay, Jonathan Harmsworth, Richard Desmond.. The five billionaires who own 80% of the UK media.
Their influence on elections is huge, yet they and their companies are registered abroad.. They pay no UK tax, and that’s how they want it to stay.
Which is why they back the Conservative Party.

Tories Have Always Put Themselves First ..
If we truly lived in a country which works for everyone, the NHS would not be under-funded and parents would not be buying their children textbooks schools can no longer afford.. If we truly lived in a country which works for everyone, low-income families would not be paying for austerity while the better off get richer on low interest rates.
If we truly lived in a a country which works for everyone, workers would not be exploited by zero-hours contracts while bankers line their pockets with fat bonuses.
The Tories have always put themselves and their rich cronies first, and nothing Theresa May has done so far changes that view.
( Sunday Mirror, 23.04.2017 )

Failure Of ‘Big Society’ And ‘Shared Society’ ..
When over 100,000 children live in precarious housing such as other people’s living rooms, B&Bs or temporary shelters, where entire families kip on the floor, we have to admit that David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ and now Theresa May’s ‘Shared Society’ is more than a failure, it’s a social catastrophe.

Afternoon Tea ..
The concept of afternoon tea is attributed to Anna Maria, the Duchess of Bedford who in 1841 began to regularly partake of tea and a light snack during the late afternoon to sustain her during the long hours between breakfast and evening dinner.. It became a social occasion, with friends joining her at Woburn Abbey and also at her London residence.. The practise became widely copied and evolved into elaborate society affairs with crust-free sandwiches and slithers of cake and scones presented on delicate china.. Guests would receive formal invitations and were expected to conform to contemporary etiquette concerning everything from what to wear, to how to pour the tea.
( Best of British Magazine, January 2016 )

A Dangerous Amount Of Bull ..
The more we learn about Boris Johnson the more we discover the Foreign Secretary talks a dangerous amount of bull.. His backing of the Spanish bloodsport, in which animals are cut and wounded then slaughtered for fun, is totally obnoxious.. Johnson paid as little attention to detail to what really happens in bullfighting rings as he did before opening his big mouth and potentially doubling by five years the jail sentence of a British woman in Iran.. The Foreign Secretary never knows what he’s talking about.. Killing animals for kicks is uncivilised and Johnson appears ignorant of the opposition in much of Spain.. If Johnson really thinks opposing bullfighting is political correctness gone mad, let him argue his case for animal cruelty in public.
( Daily mirror, 11.11.2017 )

The Increase In The Number Of Motor Vehicles ..
In 1890, the average distance travelled by a UK citizen in a year was 13 miles.
A century later, many people would expect to cover the same distance every day.. The car had much to do with this.
By 1950, there were 2.26 million cars on British roads.. Some 20 years later, the number had increased five-fold, to 11.51 million.. By 2000, there were 26.5 million cars on our roads.. This equates to an increase in private motor vehicles of 1,200% within 50 years – in the same period road capacity rose by just 33%.
( Martin Handler, January 2016 )

Is Atheism A Religion ? ..
Atheism, of course, is a ‘religion’.. Once you form a group and give yourself a label, and then promote your beliefs and condemn all others, whether it be a creator or an idol or a massive stroke of luck, then that becomes a ‘religion’.
Something is a religion if it has a position on a creator and/or the afterlife.. Atheism certainly does.‬. ‪If they don’t have a position on the existence of a creator or the afterlife, they’re not religions.‬
‪You can believe in evolution without taking a position on a creator or the afterlife.. But evolution can take on a religious dimension if it is proposed as a reason to either reject or accept belief in a creator or the afterlife.‬
‪There is an Atheist ‘Church’ in London, and writer Alain De Botton unveiled a Manifesto for Atheists, listing ten virtues, or as the press dubbed them, ‘commandments’.

A Policy To Impoverish The Public Sector And Hurt The Poor ..
David Cameron sings for his roast poodle supper in South Korea, by telling businessmen that Britain can’t spend money today it may need tomorrow, when such a concept has never had to cross the mind of the banker’s son with a tax-haven trust fund who married into aristocracy.. He tells emergency service workers who lay down their lives every day that to ask for their first effective pay rise in nine years is “selfish”.. As Cameron told the South Koreans, the policy he introduced which caused untold misery and death is “so-called austerity”.. A deliberate policy to impoverish the public sector and hurt the poor, all in the name of bailing out and enriching the banking class.
Not all public sector workers have felt the pinch though.. Were I a paramedic who came home after scraping bodies off the M6 to hear Tory MPs cheering the vote that stopped me getting a pay rise I’d be raging.. Because this is the seventh year my pay would have been capped at 1% or frozen, meaning a real-term cut of 9% since 2010.. Meanwhile, an MP’s basic pay has gone up £11,000 in that time (to £76,011) with inflation-proof rises and a 10% hike in 2015.. A hike Cameron called the “going rate” for a highly demanding job.. Yes, so demanding that his co-austerity architect George Osborne recently managed to do it while holding down five outside jobs.
( Brian Reade, 08.07.2017 )

Injustice In The World

The Real Enemy Of My People Is Here ..
Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No, I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end.
The real enemy of my people is here.
My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father. Shoot them for what? How do I got to go shoot them, poor little black people, little babies, children, and women? How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.
( Muhammad Ali )

The Suspicious Death Of Serena Shim ..
American journalist and mother of two Serena Shim, 29, was killed on October 19, 2014 in a suspicious car accident near the Turkey-Syria border.
The identity and whereabouts of the truck driver remain unknown.
It is also highly significant that Shim had very clearly expressed her concerns for her safety just prior to the ‘accident’.
Shim had described her harassment by security forces as particularly unusual, noting that she had dealt with police and intelligence services before in various different countries, but that the Turkish activity was a targeted response to something very specific.. She had said her own instinct was that Turkish security people were tracking her not because of her reporting in Kobani but on account of possible matters of far greater, more damaging information she might have exposed concerning a concerted geo-political conspiracy.. On October 17th, just two days before her death, Shim had told Press TV that the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) had accused her of “spying”.. She said it was “probably due to some of the stories she had covered” about Turkey’s role in the Islamic State terror group and particularly in regard to the militants in Kobani.. It was Shim who had reported on ISIL militants being smuggled across the Turkish border into Syria in trucks deceptively bearing the symbols of NGOs like the World Food Organisation.
Serena Shim died on the way back to her hotel.. She had been returning to Suruc with her cousin Judy Irish in a rental car which then collided with a heavy vehicle (a cement mixer, according to Turkish media).. Supposedly, Shim died in the crash while her cousin Judy Irish was injured and taken to Suruc State Hospital.. According to the Turkish Dogan News Agency, the driver of the heavy vehicle was subsequently arrested.. Shim’s employer at the time, Press TV, disputed  this, alleging that both driver and vehicle had “disappeared”.
There was also the curious report that Shim and Irish were for some reason taken to different hospitals after the crash.
Serena Shim’s sister, Fatmeh, appears to have been in no doubt that the journalist was murdered for various reasons.. She said, “She caught them bringing in ISIS high-ranked members into Syria from Turkey into camps, which are supposed to be Syrian refugee camps.. I think it was planned and plotted.. There’s no pictures of Serena in the car.. There is not one scratch on my sister’s body.. They took them to two different hospitals.. Why?.. Why were there Army men on the ground, why weren’t there police ?” .. No independent investigation has been conducted by the United States over her death, despite her US citizenship.

A Broken Election Pledge By Mrs May ..
Theresa May has been blasted for breaking an election pledge to her own voters over protecting cash for schools.. Thirty of 40 schools in her constituency face cuts totalling £614,000 over the first two years of a new Tory funding plan.
Yet the PM fiercely backed David Cameron’s manifesto pledge that “the amount of money following your child into school will not be cut”.
( Nicola Bartlett, 16.04.2017 )

Corruption In High Places ? ..
In 2013, documents show that the UK conducted deals with Saudi Arabia to ensure they were elected to the UN Human Rights Council.
In 2015, shortly after they posted a job advertisement for eight new executioners, Saudi Arabia were ‘chosen’ to head the key UN Human Rights Panel.
And earlier this year, in a ‘secret’ ballot, Saudi Arabia was voted onto the UN Women’s Rights Commission.

Case Dropped Against Yvonne Fletcher’s Murder Suspect ..
Murdered WPC Yvonne Fletcher’s colleagues are furious after a police probe into a suspect was halted.. Police say a prosecution has been blocked for ‘national security’ reasons.. Saleh Ibrahim Mabroukwas held 18 months ago over the death of Yvonne, 25, who was shot policing a protest outside Libya’s London embassy in 1984.. It has emerged Theresa May did nothing to stop the case being dropped.. Yvonne’s colleague John Murray, who cradled her as she died, called the decision “a slap in the face”.
Colonel Gaddafi aide Mr Mabrouk was expelled from Britain after the death but returned in 2000, won asylum and gained a PhD in the oil industry.
( Stephen Hayward, Sunday Mirror, 21.05.2017 )

They Died In Vain ..
Homelessness, Food-banks, Loan Sharks, Poverty, Crime, Millions waiting for medical treatment, Benefits cut for the disabled and the vulnerable.. The brave souls who gave their life in two world wars for a better life for those they left behind will be saddened and grieved how life is for so many today.

Coal Put The Great In Britain ..
It powered the industrial revolution.. Our ships, trains, electricity generation, gas manufacture and chemicals.. The Government’s reckless abandonment of an industry that once employed a million men devastated communities yet to recover.
Under President Trump, who promised to bring back miners’ jobs, the USA is going back to coal.. The huge, fast-growing economies of China and India never left it.
But the UK now burns biomass at power stations like big-hitter Drax, wood pellets made in Mississippi, shipped to Liverpool and taken in special trains over the Pennines to Yorkshire.. How environmentally unsound is that ?.. Yet Kellingley, Britain’s last deep coal mine that closed 18 months ago was just a few miles away with a dedicated rail service.. And now we’re embarking, at vast cost, on an uncertain nuclear future reliant on foreign construction and know-how.
Going Green and nuclear has proved massively expensive for consumers, suppliers and homeowners.. Coal is cool again in America.. It’s too late to revive the industry here, but at least we could be spared the self-congratulations of the privatised power bosses.
( Paul Routledge, 22.04.2017 )

Russia Could Have Been Our Friend ..
The EU, urged on by the US, re-started the Cold War by encouraging Russia’s neighbours to join the EU as if the USSR still existed, and aggressively sought to detach Ukraine from Russia and draw her into the EU orbit, knowing very well that this would infuriate the Russians.
Russia could have been our friend if we had wanted that. We rightly viewed the old Soviet Union as a global menace to freedom. But Russia is no such thing.. Just a major regional power sick of being humiliated and pushed around by ignorant outsiders.

The Evil Empire ..
Saudi Arabia, the long-term sponsor of intolerant Islamicism, is the most deadly enemy.. European governments have kowtowed to the kingdom for too long.. If we don’t cut our ties with the evil empire, terrorism will destroy the civilised world.
( Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, 20.08.2017 )

A Memorial For Heroism In Every-Day Life ..
There’s a little known London garden called Postman’s Park.. In it is a memorial.. Not a grandiose public memorial to military or political leaders but to otherwise unknown, unsung heroes, ordinary people, who selflessly gave their lives for others.. Sheltered within a cloister are 53 tiled tablets, each depicting the name of the victim or victims and how they died, expressed in the simplest of words.. The idea was conceived by the famous Victorian artist and philanthropist George Frederic Watts and the first tiles were designed by William de Morgan.. It took 13 years of persistence for Watt’s idea to become reality and the first four tablets of the memorial were finally unveiled on the site of three decommissioned graveyards (including that of St Botolph’s-without-Aldersgate) by the Lord Mayor of London on 30 July 1900.. The park, part of which had been opened in 1880, was known as Postman’s Park as it was popular with employees of the nearby General Post Office headquarters, who used to go there to relax during breaks.. After the first tablets more followed and by 1908 there were 48.. The last tablets were unveiled in 1930, apart from one in 2009 dedicated to Leigh Pitt, who drowned in 2007 while saving a boy from the canal at Thamesmead.. That brought about a renewed interest in the addition of new tablets.. After much discussion, it was decided that as the memorial had been a personal initiative by Watts and underpinned by his Victorian values, it would be better to preserve its historical coherence by adding no more.
( An extract from an article by Patricia Stoughton, January 2016 )

A Disgraceful Political Swindle

UK MPs Accept Expensive Treats From Bookies ..
Bookies and sports organisations top the list of donors treating MPs to gifts and hospitality.. The revelation has fuelled claims that the gambling industry is trying to influence Parliament.. Ladbrokes Coral Group treated 15 MPs to trips to Ascot, Doncaster and Cheltenham races, football at Wembley and dinner at the Tory Party conference.
( Sunday Mirror, 03.09.2017 )

Poverty, Depression And Suicide ..
Margaret Thatcher was determined to break the miners and engineered their crippling defeat.. The Ridley plan detailed how they would fight, and defeat, a major strike in a nationalised industry.
In 1984, The National Union of Mine Workers went out on strike for a year over planned pit closures and their defeat marked the end of serious union might.
The coal industry was sold off and gradually shut down.
Communities had their hearts ripped out when the pits closed and many have still not recovered.. High unemployment still haunts many former pit villages along with poverty, depression and suicide.

Are The Ministry Of Defence Covering Up Rape ?..
A rape is reported by female soldiers once every fortnight in the Army.
Ministry of Defence figures show there were 130 sexual assault claims by women against male colleagues in the past five years, including 31 in 2016.
Out of 55 allegations of rape in the past two years, 32 soldiers were prosecuted but just three were found guilty.
A serving Army lawyer fears the number of rapes may be higher as victims do not press charges due to low conviction rates.. Women Against Rape said there was a “concerted cover-up” by the Ministry of Defence.
( Sunday Mirror, 24.09.2017 )

Bankers Plundered Our Country ..
Gordon Brown is not widely adored, but he is respected, admired and trusted.
When the world economy went into meltdown, our way of life was on its knees.
As the bankers plundered our country, capitalism itself seemed a spent force.
This country, and the developed world, were close to catastrophe.
That the banks stayed open and the cash machines kept working, and that salaries kept getting paid was down to Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling and Labour.
They brought a sinking ship into shore.
Everyone followed their example of part, nationalising the banks, even the Americans.. It was the only solution if we were going to survive.
Does anyone seriously think that the chinless Conservatives could have handled the collapse of our economy ?.. The Tory toffs continually opposed what Labour were doing but didn’t offer an alternative solution.
If left to them, the banks would have closed, the cash machines would be empty, millions of people would have lost their savings, their investments and their homes, and our country would have ground to a halt.
It was the greed of the bankers, needless to say mostly all Tories, who almost destroyed our economy, and our lives.

Lowest Number Of Public Sector Workers Since 1947 ..
Nearly a million public sector jobs have been axed since 2010, official figures show.
Seven years ago 6.4 million people worked in the public sector.. Under Tory PMs David Cameron and Theresa May that number has fallen to 5.44 million.
Among the losses are 164,000 posts in education, 44,000 in the police force and 41,000 in the Armed Forces.. The NHS workforce has grown by 4%, but 134,000 posts have gone in other health and social work, and 186,000 in public admin.
Office for National Statistics figures show public sector workers now make up just 16.9% of the labour force.. That’s the lowest proportion since 1947, the year before the NHS was founded.
( Nicola Small, 17.09.2017 )

Britain Changed Forever ..
The roots of the financial chaos can be traced directly back to October 27, 1986, when the biggest revolution in the financial markets took place.
Margaret Thatcher saw London being over-taken as the centre of world finance by New York and she decided that it’s problem was over-regulation.
The big bang saw an overhaul of the system with a ‘light touch’ approach to regulating banks and trading bonuses went through the roof as “greed is good” became the mantra and the markets became a casino.
Weak banking regulations led to the irresponsible lending that triggered the crisis.
On May 4, 1979, Margaret Thatcher strode into number 10 and Britain changed forever.. She will never be forgiven for crushing millions under her heels.
She set out to destroy entire industries in an appalling act of political and social vandalism.. Thatcher’s legacy is the drug abuse and crime in communities deliberately stripped of work and dignity.

East-West Economy Change ..
In 1411, Western Europe was a backward periphery far from the fabulous riches of East Asia, the world’s centre of economic and cultural gravity.
Now fast-forward 500 years to 1911:  Western Europe and its overseas colonies have humbled Asians and bestride the world like a Colossus.
Now go another 100 years or so: The West is staggering under a crushing burden of debt and is looking to the East to revive its flagging economy.
What has happened ?.. Is it because our leaders in business and in government have been greedy and selfish ?

A Disgraceful Political Swindle ..
On 10 July 1958 in Grosvenor Square, London, the first 625 parking meters in the the UK commenced operations.. Charges were 6d for an hour and 1s for two hours.. Overstaying by less than two hours incurred a 10s penalty, rising to £2 for a four hour transgression.. Parking there today costs a minimum of £4 per hour, with a penalty of up to £120 for outlasting the welcome.. The first person to appear in court for a parking meter offence was 19 year-old Elizabeth O’Dwyer on 25 October 1958.. She couldn’t drive and did not own a car.. She was the secretary to a local businessman who had parked his car at a meter.. Realising that he was likely to overstay, he asked Elizabeth to put some more money into the meter for him.. This was not permitted by the by-laws, which forbade replenishment.. You had to vacate the space for at least an hour before bringing your car back.. Elizabeth was spotted putting her pennies in the slot by a meter attendant – not then known as traffic wardens.. The Westminster Council meter attendant had no powers to directly issue a summons and called for the police.. Two constables arrived and Elizabeth was arrested and subsequently summoned to appear in court.. The presiding magistrate thought the whole issue a waste of time and discharged her, but not without ordering her to pay 2s court costs.. Traffic wardens first appeared in September 1960.. There were 40 of them and 344 tickets were issued on day one.. The then chairman of the RAC was the volatile Wilfred Andrews, who loudly decried the whole practise as, “A disgraceful political swindle”.. Residents’ parking zones first appeared in Kensington and Chelsea in 1966.. The 1984 Road Traffic Act determined that henceforth parking offences were to be treated as civil, rather than criminal, cases.
( An extract from an article by Martin Handley, January 2016 )

Truly Scandalous

Shameful Treatment Of Disabled Workers ..
For 70 years, since the end of World War Two, Britain has led the world in providing supported employment to disabled people, mainly through a company called Remploy.. But in July 2012, the Conservative Government announced that 27 Remploy factories will close by the end of the year, which will make around 1,700 disabled workers unemployed.

Fat-Cats Must Be Forced To Share The Cream ..
Everyone accepts those at the top will be paid more, but the gap is widening into an unacceptable chasm, all the more revolting as millions of workers are struggling to get by. We want an economy operating for the millions, not just the millionaires, and that means raising living standards at the bottom while curbing boardroom excesses. In any company every person on the payroll contributes to the success of that enterprise and their contributions cry out for a fairer link between earnings at the top and the bottom.. Fat-cats must be forced to share the cream rather than lapping most of it up themselves.
( Daily mirror, 26.08.2017 )

The Tories Are Trying To Con The North Again ..
The day Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced the cost and new route for HS2 from London, the Institute of Fiscal Studies reported the growing inequality between North and South.. Southerners now have average incomes 25% higher than northerners.. Talk about Mind The Gap !.. But like Thomas the Tank Engine, Failing Grayling chuffed away with gusto.. He thought HS2 was “good news for everyone” and was “proud that it would be built and operated by the private sector, at a cost of £55billion and in over two decades”.. I recall a previous Tory Transport Secretary in 1996 said the same about HS1 – the High Speed Channel Tunnel Rail Link from London to the tunnel in Kent.. They promised this Eurostar service would go to Scotland.. They even bought the sleeper train for it.. Yet within 12 months, the private company said it was going bust and demanded £2billion more of taxpayers’ support because it failed to estimate passenger growth and future costs.. It was my job as Transport Secretary in 1997 to sort out the mess.. I told them they could go whistle for the money and instead took HS1 into public ownership.. I reorganised its governance and finances without its extra demand for public subsidy.. We got it delivered on time and on budget without extra taxpayer money.. It became so profitable that Cameron’s Government privatised it.. But the route never extended to the North and we had to flog the unused sleeper trains to Canada !
Now the Tories are trying to con the North again.
( John Prescott, 23.07.2017 )

Brexit Is A Withdrawal From The World ..
To half the country, and most outsiders, Brexit is a withdrawal from the world, a retreat back to some mythical golden age.. A shrivelling into our shell which has shrunk the pound and economic growth and diminished our clout as a global power.
Since the Tories took power, big city councils have seen their budgets slashed by 50%, meaning fewer libraries and sports centres, dirtier streets, worse care for the elderly and more unfixed potholes, while citizens pay more council tax.
Talking of pay, it’s currently shrinking quicker than a man’s todger after a December dip in the sea off Blackpool.. Unless you’re the one doing the shrinking.. In the mid-1970s the average British CEO earned 20 times what his average employee did.. Today the average FTSE chief executive earns 386 times more than a worker on the National Living Wage, pocketing an average of £5.3million a year.
( Brian Reade, 29.07.2017 )

The Worst Education Secretary On Record ..
Just wondering if Michael Gove, lover of free schools, as well as the worst Education Secretary on record (just ask a teacher), has read about the fortunes of pupils attending Route 39 Academy, a free school based in Devon ?.. It’s just been placed in special measures after failing to enter ANY year 11 pupils for their GCSEs.
Truly scandalous.
( Fiona Phillips, 29.07.2017 )

Rape And Sexual Grooming In Care Homes ..
The most perverted individuals prey on the most vulnerable as yet another horrific story of abuse has confirmed.. According to confidential police documents, concerns were raised over the suspected rape of an autistic man as well as ‘sexual grooming’ of residents at three homes run by Hillgreen Care, which apparently specialises in the ‘care’ of young adults.. The documents also highlight incidents of staff having sex while on duty.. The deputy manager of one home was a convicted sex offender.. The Care Quality Commission, which has powers to prosecute, kept the information to themselves and has failed to act.. I, for once, am lost for words.
( Fiona Phillips, 29.07.2017 )

A Scam To Make City Investors Richer ..
The reaction from Tory politicians whenever British Gas massively hikes its tariffs is priceless.. They take to the airwaves to urge hard-hit customers to embrace capitalism by playing the markets, switching provider and hitting the exploiters where it hurts.. Funny how that kind of advice was never in the brochures when Thatcher privatised gas in 1986 by urging us : “If you see Sid, tell him.”.
There was no warning that flogging off a publicly-owned utility was just a scam to make City investors richer.
( Brian Reade, 05.08.2017 )

Taxpayers’ Money Used To Subsidise The Profits Of Fat-Cats ..
When Ted Heath was Prime Minister in 1973 he coined the phrase, “The unacceptable and ugly face of capitalism.”.. He used it to describe the UK mining company Lonrho, for trading with apartheid Rhodesia, which became Zimbabwe.. Prime Minister Thatcher’s response was to privatise energy, railways, buses, steelmaking, telecommunications and shipbuilding.. She encouraged private companies to run care homes, education and health.. Now, after two decades of privatisation, we see our services in crisis, the state subsidising the profits of these private companies and higher prices.. British Gas is to increase bills by 12.5% as the wholesale price of gas falls and parent company Centrica earns half year profits of £639million.. Its chief executive Ian Conn pulls in more than £4million a year.. We subsidise their greed.. The Government gave £6billion of tax breaks to BP and Shell to boost declining North Sea production.. Theresa May is happy to let capitalism get uglier by the day.. She scrapped her election pledge to cap energy prices as soon as she won and axed rail electrification across the North.. The market has failed Britain.. Housebuilding is down to its lowest rate in almost 100 years.. It’s time the Government got back to meeting the public interest by building the homes, supplying the energy and running the trains.. Instead of subsidising the profits of fat-cats with a licence to print money – OUR money.
( John Prescott, 06.08.2017 )

Nearly Four Million Children Are Living In Poverty In The UK ..
Buttle UK, an anti-poverty charity, published a report which stated : “The plight of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children is deteriorating – more are living in poverty than at any time in the last 10 years – 3.9million children across the UK living below the breadline.”.. The CEO, Gerry McAndrew estimates around 400,000 children have no beds.. No beds !.. The Institute of Fiscal Studies expects one million more kids to be living in poverty by 2020.
Nine out of the 10 most impoverished regions in northern Europe are in the UK.
How can anyone be proud of a nation that fails so many ?
( Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, 20.08.2017 )

It’s no coincidence that there are over 70 Tory MPs who are private landlords and the Conservative Party, including Mrs May, voted AGAINST a proposed Bill by Labour to force private landlords to make their properties ‘Fit for human habitation’.
( R.S. Hutchison, January 2016 )

Another Scandal By One Of Our So-Called Leaders ..
UK Chancellor Philip Hammond took a personal stake in a food technology company just months before it won a share of a £560,000 Government grant and he became Chancellor.. Mr Hammond, when he was Foreign Secretary, took the 15% stake in Cambridgeshire-based Hydramach in October 2015, according to records at Companies House.. Months later – in April 2016 – Hydramach was one of eight companies which won the grant to develop low fat and low sugar soups, ready meals and sauces from Innovate UK, a tech start up quango run by the Department for Business.. The fact that Mr Hammond took a direct stake in a company when he was a Cabinet minister with the possibility of receiving advance knowledge of Government plans for start-up companies is scandalous.
( Reported in The Telegraph, January 11, 2017 )

Life Behind Bars

The New, Purpose-Built House Of Correction ..
Bodmin Jail was built by prisoners of war and remains notorious for the many tales of woe and dramatic executions both inside and beyond its imposing granite walls.. Despite the dreadful conditions, the purpose-built house of correction, completed in the Cornish town of Bodmin in 1779, was a state of the art prison and was designed on principles propagated by the great prison reformer John Howard.. In keeping with his views, it housed 100 inmates in individual, light and airy cells.. Males and females were segregated, different areas were established for felons, misdemeanants and debtors, and the building boasted a chapel, an infirmary and even hot water.. In subsequent decades it required rebuilding and expansion to cope with peaks in demand, such as the increased level of committals after the end of the Napoleonic Wars.. Work began on a new 220-cell jail in 1856 after the original building, struggling to meet the demands for confinement set out by new prison legislation, was inspected and declared unfit for purpose.
When the Debtor’s Act of 1869 abolished imprisonment for debt, the buildings housing the Debtor’s Prison and the under-populated Women’s Prison were given to the Admiralty and in 1887 an HM Naval Prison was established.
Before the doors of Bodmin’s civil and naval prisons were closed for the last time and the jail’s buildings were sold off in 1929, one of Britain’s finest treasures was temporarily housed within its walls.. The Domesday Book was among more than 19,000 items relocated from the Public Record Office to Bodmin Jail for safekeeping during the First World War.
Some areas of the former prison would eventually enjoy new leases of life after the closure of the prison, including the former Administration block which witnessed happier times as a club and casino in later decades.. In 2004 the building was bought for development and is now managed as a tourist attraction.
( Extract from an article by Claire Saul, October 2015 )

Life Behind Bars Inside Bodmin Jail ..
Early prisoners worked inside Bodmin Jail, men occupied with activities such as shoemaking or cutting and polishing stone and slate, while women would knit, weave and spin, all producing goods that would be sold for profit.. The early 19th century philosophy that unproductive labour would be more of a deterrent against reoffending, saw the arrival of two treadwheel and other hard-labour machines at Bodmin.. In later decades picking oakum was also introduced, requiring prisoners to spend hours unraveling the strands of old pieces of rope down to their individual fibres, which would then be sold to ship builders for use in the caulking of wooden craft.. A return to earlier prison labour philosophy came in 1898 when the Prisons Act decreed that work should have a constructive purpose.
Daily rations of bread were handed out to Bodmin’s early inmates, with those attending divine service on a Saturday being allocated an additional half pound of meat made into broth for their Sunday dinner.. The Gaol Act of 1823 aimed to improve prison diets with the addition of items such as cheese and suet although this initiative was ignored for most of the next decade, as it was in many prisons.
From the mid 1870s, food was allocated according to the length of sentence.
Those incarcerated for less than two weeks had a daily ration of bread and gruel while men and women committed to hard labour for over six months were given additional portions of meat, soup and potatoes.. More variety would not be added to the diet for almost another 40 years.
( Claire Saul, October 2015 )

Lowry, The Matchstick Man ..
Lowry was a highly trained artist, and well-informed about art and artists.
Born in 1887, he was a goose at school but by the age of 15 he was at art school, and by 18 he took evening classes. He studied in the Manchester Academy of Fine Art and at Salford Royal Technical College right through until 1925. Lowry worked hard at Life Drawing classes well in to the 1920s. “Long years of drawing the figure is the only thing that matters’ he said. While studying at night he was influenced by many painters but he wanted to develop his own style and work in his own settings – paintings places like Station Road in Pendlebury where he was brought up after leaving the plusher Manchester suburbs.
He saw the beauty in the mills and chimneys.
From 1910 he worked as a rent collector for the Pall Mall Property Company (he stayed there until he was 65 in 1952) walking all over Manchester and always observing (and often sketching) the everyday scenes that adorn his paintings.
Lowry’s first exhibition was in 1919 when he had two paintings at the Annual Manchester Academy of Fine Arts exhibition. In 1934 he was elected as a member of the Academy (he became a Royal Academician in 1962). After that he exhibited regularly despite poor critical acclaim and after two years sold his first artwork, a pastel called The Lodging House. When people think of Lowry they often have his Coming From the Mill in mind. He painted this in the early 1930s.
During the war he was a fire-watcher and official war artist. Afterwards he moved to Mottram in Cheshire and he began to paint land and seascapes. He painted some of these at Berwick on Tweed, others at Seaburn near Sunderland. By the 1960s Lowry’s time had come. He was an acknowledged and successful artist.
Lowry died of pneumonia in 1976. He’s buried in Manchester, next to his parents.
( An extract from an article by Steve Windsor, February 2016 )