The Grasshopper Mind

A modern curse by no means, with roots in times past and a rebirth in the austerity of modern times particularly, but not solely in politics. The Grasshopper Mind unable to concentrate on any single subject for long and is quick to leap from one place to another with very little thought process in between.

Naïve grasshopper and indecisive minds never knowing exactly when to stop chirping it suits politicians who never seem to tire of pontification without achieving something . . . . . anything other than a mess and of course a considerable salary and let’s not forget expenses.

The problem of course is the absence of common sense, not a strong suite at Oxford or Cambridge teaching it is decidedly poor. This together with lack of job experience or any real-world skills means that the Blue Bloods of yesteryear will have descendants in a safe job with minimal responsibility just like days of old.

The civil service meantime preserves lots of little personal empires with a plethora of knighthoods for doing so and advising politicians of all parties what not to say publicly and protect their parties manifesto making sure that the changing of the political guard at general election time is controlled and orderly.

2018, a year we need to focus our minds and dispose of Grasshopper Mind thinking by planning realistic aims and goals to achieve, how radical is that? Where and when was the last time that happened? Set a goal for real change to benefit the people and country call a spade a spade and succeed.

The Miner’s Strike 84/85



The Best Year and Worst Year of my life!
A year I learned so much about life and people, a year that changed me irrevocably.
I would like to write my story of that year, a miner’s wife with two small children, however, I cannot.
All that is left is the emotions, with small tableaux of memories attached, around them. Like an old,
abandoned jigsaw with many pieces missing.
I was totally behind the strike. My husband was a ‘face worker’ (at Park Mill, Clayton West).
He earned good money for a working class man, earned being the operative word. It was a dangerous
job and he often came home injured with cuts and bruises, stitches in his head or bandages on his
legs. However, he was always at work the next shift whatever his injuries! I used to have nightmares
about him being seriously injured or even killed at work.

The over whelming emotions throughout that year was mainly of hurt and anger. Up to March 1984
I had, had a very happy life, a loving family, no tragedies; I’d never had a lot, but had never been
without anything. Then all of a sudden I, WE my family, were being vilified by the media. Some of
the headlines in the newspapers were heart breaking, “Let Them Eat Grass”, is the one that has
stuck in my mind! I was deeply hurt and shocked, that these men who worked so hard and put their
lives on the line every day, were being made to look like greedy, grasping enemies of the state,
instead of men, fighting for their jobs and their communities.
I ‘hated’ Thatcher with a vengeance. I have never hated anyone before or since! It obviously ran
deep because I am ashamed to say that when she died a couple of years ago, I felt Joy! That worried
me! So yes that year I learned what it felt like to be an outcast of our society: Colored, Asian, Jew,
Queer, Prozzie, Miner!!! We need scapegoats don’t we!

There were only six mining families in our village. I always felt we were really lucky to not live in a
mining village at this time. Every second of every day, the strike overshadowed everything. Families
torn apart, the picket lines and the scabs. Brothers fighting brothers, Fathers and sons separated
by their desperate decisions.

One day every week, (Tuesday ?) I would go (to Skelmanthorpe ?) to pick up 6 food parcels and
deliver them to the other families in our village. Sometimes I would give a hand to pack some up but
I was rarely needed. Solidarity and togetherness are what I remember from those experiences.

Then was the time I needed winter coats for the kids. I was told I would be able to get some from
Kirklees all I had to do was apply. So I did! The children got a navy blue Parka each, for which I was
very grateful. But I felt ashamed, going cap in hand for handouts to the work house, was what it felt

One day about half way through the strike, someone knocked on our door. I went to answer it and
there stood a person who I knew, but not very well. He had a big box of groceries in his hands. He
just gave them to me and walked back up the drive. I wept and wept. The kindness he had shown
was over whelming. It was sorely needed and I will never forget them for that.

Other kindnesses occurred. I once found an envelope with my name on, at the back of the church I
went to most Sundays. Inside was a ten pound note. Not a small amount in those days! I never found
out who left it there for me, but again the thought behind it as much as the money was very

A pub in Halifax threw a Christmas party for Miner’s Children. My two loved it! Sandwiches, Jelly
and ice-cream, games and a present from Santa. But again it was the thought behind it that kept me

I haven’t mentioned my husband. He was very quiet, spent time with the children and kept himself
to himself. I knew it was extremely hard for him. He was a worker and it affected his confidence and
self-esteem. A week before the strike finished, my husband went back to work! I understood why,
however, that was the beginning of the end for us because I just could not forgive him for that!

Ten years later we were divorced!
Gillian Davies 18/02/2018

Who Would Trust The EU?

The European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said and I quote “When it becomes serious, you have to lie” and “Of course there will be transfers of sovereignty. But would I be intelligent to draw the attention of public opinion to this fact?,”

This from one of the leaders of the EU begs the question are we or any other nation wasting our time negotiating at all a non negotiable position?  How on earth can you possibly trust this man or his associates of course there are 19 non contributing countries among the 27 remaining after BREXIT who are supported by the EU if supported is the right word here.

With the absence of the UK, second biggest contributor after Germany and the massive bad debts of the Central European Bank something has to give will it be the EU and or the Euro?


Magna Carta – UK Constitution – What?

Has the time come for a UK constitution or are going to continue kidding ourselves Magna Carta (“the Great Charter of the Liberties” 15th June 1215) solved our problems for all time.

Now recently reinforced by a high court ruling sovereignty is vested in parliament. In recent times parliament formed by all major parties has demonstrated their inability to be trusted because of manipulation of expenses, employment of family and other dishonest practices including being truthful in inquiries. Despite these failings they are encouraged by sanctions and threatened to be disciplined by party whips who have the power to destroy parliamentary careers.

The public who pay for everything that parliament succeeds or fails with are the true custodians of democracy and, yet they do not possess the tool of sovereignty. This is unacceptable in a modern democracy which the UK certainly aspires to be.

The UK monarchy would be affected moderately by these changes one effect may be to change the national anthem possibly to “Land Of hope and Glory”, more appropriate for a modern dynamic democracy more appropriate to peoples’ aspirations. A written constitution binds its parliament to act in a certain way, but as there is no such written constitution in the United Kingdom it does what it likes.

In such environments the elite element of society invests in their own interests irrespective of political party and democracy and the public loose out.

A written constitution could also remove archaic practices in lobbying, expense, salary, pensions

and introduce recall of MP’s and councillors and public office holders. It could also reform the House of Lords into a democratically accountable body with similar controls.

Is a girl a woman?

Just asking because I am very confused. Why? Let me explain. Looking at the news headlines in some newspapers and the posts on Facebook pages it would appear that F1 (Liberty Media) and The Professional Darts Corporation have been employing women as Walk on Girls to ‘promote’ their sports.

Now what I don’t understand is that since, according to most dictionaries (I’ve checked) a girl is a child, and Walk on Girls are most definitely women, why are they being called girls? And really is it really just sports they are promoting?

Or am I just being a silly 70 year old girlie, after all the Mail, Sun and Express point out that these activities do no harm and provide some women with a good income and actually isn’t it just the kind of role model ‘girl’ children need 100 years after ‘some’ women got the vote. And of course women being called girls and parading around looking sexy has nothing to do with them not being paid equally with men at the BBC, Birmingham Council or Tesco (allegedly) or being asked to pole dance and wear swim suits at the ICE Total Gambling conference

Jackie Stewart thinks the idea that Walk on girls puts girls off from becoming F1 drivers is ‘baloney’. He points out that ‘actually young women are not going to karting tracks…which is what all the boys do’ and that this is what gets boys into racing! (Well maybe if the karts were pink, Jackie) and that the Walk On Girls ‘…..of this generation are not overly provocative’, (so just ‘a bit’ provocative then)? Damon Hill however, whilst agreeing elsewhere with Jackie also raises a rather different point ‘… (the use of Walk on Girls) suggests victorious men can available themselves of the girls on display, which is a subliminal message which has always been difficult to avoid’. But not to worry, since the girls are ‘a bit’ provocative it will of course be their fault if anything happens .

So let’s be clear, a girl is a child, and a child can’t legally have sex, get married, vote, can’t do much without parental consent up to the age of 16 when they become a young adult. Women however if they want, can do all these things. So how very strange, that it has taken years of campaigning by hairy, bra less ugly wimmin to actually point this out so that finally men can point out to all of us, that actually women are not girls and the use of Walk on Girls is sexist and demeaning and the calling of women, girls is ‘at odds with modern day societal norms’
So congratulations to the F1 and Darts bosses, you are quite right, Walk on Girls- it’s all a bit passé in 2018 isn’t it.

After all, with FGM, grooming by gangs, sexual abuse by fathers, brothers, grandfathers, uncles and stepfathers, sexual abuse in the church, in sport etc. we probably don’t need to sexualise ‘girls’ any further than they already are, do we?

With Thanks to the following sources: Independent 27th January, Mailonline 31st January, 5th February, The Guardian 8th February

MPs launch two small business inquiries

Not one, but two powerful parliamentary committees have launched inquiries into protection for small businesses in the wake of Carillion’s collapse and the RBS’ GRG scandal. Advertisement The Treasury Committee’s inquiry will examine the lessons to be learned from RBS’ Global Restructuring Group (GRG) scandal, and more broadly at the state of the market for SME finance. The GRG was a unit within RBS which ostensibly aimed to help the taxpayer-owned bank’s struggling small business clients. But leaked internal memos exposed a cutthroat culture, enabled and encouraged by RBS’s leadership, where staff were encouraged to raise fees on struggling clients to "leverage an upside". Ultimately only one in every 10 businesses in GRG's care returned to normal banking relations. Adjacent to the Treasury inquiry, the Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee will pick apart the catastrophic Carillion collapse. One of the UK’s biggest government contractors, Carillion’s demise this January left 30,000 small firms unpaid. Creditors are only expected to recover 0.8 to 6.6 pence in the pound.


THE LAST POST – by Daniel Powell

As the clock strikes eight at the Menin Gate in Ypres every evening, its arch resonates to the familiar somber sound of the last post. Yet the most grave prospect that echoes from the bugler’s call is that just as its remembrance of the ‘war to end all wars’ at this iconic location is never the last, the conflicts will continue too.

This commemoration for the casualties of the First World War has been conducted at Ypres daily since 1928; the only interruption being the years of German occupation during the Second World War, when the service was relocated to Britain. Here, the armistice of 11th November and conflicts since are remembered annually with the traditional wearing of artificial red poppies produced and sold by the British Legion to raise funds for armed forces veterans and their dependents. The symbol was adopted from the USA where Moina Michael began wearing one of silk on her lapel in 1918 to remember the war dead, inspired by John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Fields.

Initially the British poppy’s centre bore the words ‘Haig Fund’, eponymous for the Field Marshall. In 1926 The Legion refused the No More War Movement’s proposal that the centre bear the words ‘No More War’, though it was replaced with ‘Poppy Appeal’ in 1994. The Co-Operative Women’s Guild began producing an alternative white peace poppy in 1933, with the idea of remembering casualties from all wars and a hope for their end. The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) has since continued this practice. The British Legion has no objection to white poppies, or any group expressing its views: “We see no conflict in wearing the red poppy alongside the white poppy. We do ask that the items are not offered alongside each other however as this would confuse the public.”
Last October, the Daily Telegraph reported that former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan Colonel Richard Kemp had expressed indignation at a decision made by the NUT (National Union of Teachers) who had endorsed the selling of white poppies alongside red ones in schools. Kemp opined that although it is permissible for schools to allow the discussion of different political perspectives, they should not be “indoctrinating children with a left wing political agenda.”

The story gives pause for consideration. The wearing of a white poppy is not explicitly a left-wing agenda; granted, perhaps a majority of wearers may tend towards left-wing views, but either way, the symbol itself is simply an acknowledgement that many people have died in wars, some of whom apparently did so defending the right for others to have the freedom of expression – something the Colonel now wishes to deny if he is adamant that children should not be given the option wear a white poppy. Given that these supposedly dangerous ideological symbols produced by the officially secular PPU are yet supported by Quakers and Anglicans, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the NUT decision endangers “indoctrinating” children with a Christian agenda – but presumably that would not sound quite menacing enough for the Colonel’s own agenda, which is to discredit the white poppy movement. Kemp evidently believes that characterising the white poppy as “left-wing” gives the sufficient air of peril to invoke the stern opposition of right-minded patriots across the nation.
The accusation that patriotism is absent from the politics of those who regard themselves as left-leaning is an old one.
George Orwell once wrote “England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings.” Whilst Orwell was wont to lend himself to a degree of hyperbole, his opinion is clear: too many on the left are hesitant to embrace the idea of nationhood. The reason is perhaps made clearer in his review of Hitler’s Mein Kampf: “The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won’t do.”

Other commentators have rebutted of the charge. Tony Benn, who surely fits into the mould of Orwell’s quintessential English leftist intellectual, was keen to make the point that on the contrary, the values of socialism are inherently patriotic. The emphasis on collectivism, unity, the historical struggle for fairer distribution of wealth plus better working and living conditions for all are natural patriotic aims; that socialists argue for such things but reject what they see as jingoistic foreign policy is no contradiction. Benn often provided a personal anecdote to reinforce the point, telling of a conversation he had with a fellow serviceman on a troop-ship during the Second World War. If all of these vast resources galvanised by Britain’s wartime planned economy could be created for the purpose of killing Germans, asked his comrade, why could they not be utilised for building more schools, homes, and hospitals?

Simple as the question may be, the question was answered in 1945 when Labour’s landslide was followed by mass investment in the sort of infrastructure Benn’s interlocutor spoke of. Many who lived through this period spoke of a new optimism for the “Spirit of ’45” as the Ken Loach documentary is titled. Today, in the midst of a resurgence of democratic socialist politics, some speak nostalgically of this era citing Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee as a premier whose legacy should be aspired to. However, if Attlee represents the sort of politics Colonel Kemp worries the N.U.T. seeks to “indoctrinate” children with, then let us consider. Attlee was a member of the wartime coalition cabinet; although his quiet, studious personality was far from the ‘bulldog’ caricature of Churchill, Attlee was also responsible for guiding a fully militarised Britain through that most costly war. Granted, it will be argued this conflict had to be fought – and its status as a paradigmatic ‘just war’ is reflected when it is cited as a reason why everyone must wear a red poppy on Remembrance Day, even if reservations about British involvements in other conflicts are warranted. Nevertheless, admiration for the achievements of his Labour government must not be tempered by amnesia. It was under Attlee that Britain entered NATO and the Malayan and Korean Wars. During a cabinet meeting in October 1946 Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin said of the atomic bomb: “We’ve got to have this thing over here whatever it costs.. We’ve got to have the bloody Union Jack on top of it.”

Democratic socialism’s history cannot be wholly separated from militarism. Nor should it be forgotten that trade unionists, socialists, and communists travelled to Spain to fight Franco’s fascism during the civil war there, under the banner of the International Brigades. Those Brigaders are emulated today by leftist British volunteers who have travelled to Syria to fight against Daesh (ISIL) for the International Freedom Battalion of the Kurdish YPG, who are the armed forces of Rojava, an autonomous zone carving itself out with progressive values of feminist equality, ecology and Democratic Confederalism which had its roots in Marxist-Leninism.

Leftist politics are not necessarily pacifistic; they contain a long tradition of protests and confrontations with the far-right, some of which have been immortalised in history such as the Battle of Cable Street in 1936. Indeed, the revolutionary aspect of Marxism is de facto linked to upheavals that necessitate violent overthrow of tyranny and subsequent redistribution of wealth. However – this is not to say that all left-wing politics are necessarily connected to violence, of course. A glance at movements such as the CND and Stop the War show a strong left-wing presence; though as with the white poppy movement itself, they are not explicitly left-wing and nor do all subscribers to such movements necessarily commit themselves to absolute pacifism. The PPU’s white poppy manifesto proposes that all casualties of war be remembered. When representative Symon Hill was invited onto Good Morning Britain to debate with Colonel Kemp, presenter Ben Shepard attempted to corner Hill by suggesting that remembrance of all casualties includes members of ISIS. Hill countered that the point of the white poppy was primarily to remember the vast numbers of civilian casualties of wars internationally, since the red poppy represents members of Britain’s Armed Forces only.

Given these considerations, we should question Colonel Kemp’s consternations. Avowedly right-wing, he writes for the Sun, Express, Mail plus the far-right website Breitbart. In his criticism of the NUT’s endorsement of the white poppy, a key target of his vitriol is likely the most prominent leftist figurehead of our time, Jeremy Corbyn, who appears in Kemp’s crosshairs as former vice-chair of CND and longtime critic of aggressive foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2016 Corbyn was forced to recant on a suggestion that he might wear a white poppy alongside a red one on Remembrance Day, and his visits to the Cenotaph have provoked ire from much of the right-wing leaning press (thus almost all of it.) Bizarre criticisms emerged that he had not bowed correctly at the Cenotaph or was dressed in the wrong suit, a groundhog day throwback to Michael Foot’s ‘donkey jacket’ moment in 1981. Cobyn’s opponents attempted to force into the national narrative that his leanings (no pun intended) were dangerously pacifistic. This was reflected during the BBC’s pre-election special during which several members of the public did their utmost to barrack him into pledging a 100% commitment to launching a nuclear strike; not so. On the other hand, Theresa May responded with a shameless “Yes” when asked in the Commons by the SNP’s George Kerevan “Are you prepared to authorise a nuclear strike that could kill hundreds of thousands of men, women and children?”

The Tabloid press has made much of Corbyn’s positions on politics and conflict; they wax and wane between false extremities: He is hard-left, a Communist! – (shock!) No wait, he is an anti-Semite, a Nazi – (horror!) Also he’s a terrorist – (gasp!) nay, even worse, a pacifist! – (even worse!) One of the most disgraceful attempts to smear Corbyn came on Remembrance Day 2016, when both the Sun and Mail ran online stories featuring a photograph purportedly showing the Labour leader ‘dancing a jig’ on his way to the Cenotaph. It soon emerged that the photographer had selected a frame that had simply captured him in the middle of making an emphatic gesture to a friend whilst walking. That friend was former constituent George Durack, who has remained close to Corbyn since successfully nominating him to run as a candidate for the seat of Islington North, which he has been MP for since 1983. Mr.Durack, who was then active with the Communication Workers Union, is also a 93 year-old Normandy veteran who partook in the liberation of Belsen concentration camp. The Sun and Mail had callously cropped Mr.Durack out of the photograph and reinvented it as a completely false story, attempting once more to defame Corbyn as behaving disrespectfully on his way to the Cenotaph; truly lower than gutter press.

The poppy as symbol of support for veterans of Britain’s long war in Afghanistan is somewhat ingloriously ironic given the factor the opium trade plays in that conflict. Prior to the invasion of 2001, the Taliban had outlawed the growing of poppies and cultivation had fallen to a record low of 8,000 hectares; following the US-led invasion it surged massively and stands at over 200,000 hectares, some of which is guarded by British troops. It is not only foreign policy executed in distant regions such as Helmand that has caused rejection of social pressure to wear a red poppy.

On Remembrance Sunday 2014, footballers across Britain wore red poppies in commemoration. One Wigan player’s refusal to wear the symbol caused a controversy that led him to pen an open letter of explanation. Countering claims that he was disgracing those who sacrificed themselves for Britain in its most perilous hours, James McClean said he had complete respect for those who fought and died in both world wars, yet: “the poppy is used to remember victims of other conflicts since 1945 and this is where the problem starts for me.” McClean continued: “For people from the North of Ireland such as myself, and specifically those in Derry, scene of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre, the poppy has come to mean something very different.. when you come from Creggan like myself or the Bogside, Brandywell, every person still lives in the shadow of one of the darkest days in Ireland’s history – even if, like me, you were born nearly 20 years after the event. For me to wear a poppy would be as much a gesture of disrespect for the innocent people who lost their lives in the Troubles – and Bloody Sunday especially – as I have in the past been accused of disrespecting the victims of WWI and WWII. It would be seen as an act of disrespect to those people; to my people.”

In 2016, the international football governing body FIFA fined all four UK home nation teams for wearing the red poppies, deeming them ‘political symbols.’ After much outcry, compromise has now been reached by which the symbol may be worn if both teams plus the organiser at a match agree. This year, England have permission to wear the symbol in their match against Germany the evening before Remembrance day.

Not all opponents of the red poppy symbol are benign pacifists; as the clock struck 11.00 in Kensington on Remembrance Day 2010, the two-minute silence was broken by chants of “British soldiers burn in hell” from protestors belonging to a group named Muslims against Crusades, (MAC) who simultaneously set two large plastic red poppies ablaze. They were then challenged by members of the English Defence League (EDL) including its leader Tommy Robinson, who was subsequently arrested along with others from both sides of a clash which saw one policeman hospitalised for head injuries (received from the EDL leader.) The MAC was banned just prior to the following year’s Remembrance Day. Some months prior they had held a funeral prayer for Osama Bin Laden outside the US embassy upon the occasion of his death, and were reportedly planning a protest named ‘Hell for Heroes’, a spin on the Help for Heroes charity that raises funds for veterans. The EDL leader has since left the group, citing concerns that it was a vehicle for far-right extremism, though he has frequently espoused such views and believes that it is not just Salafist-type extremism that is problematic, but Islam per se. The EDL continues to organise rallies, which are often countered by Anti-Fascist protestors in physical confrontations. In the wake of the Westminster bridge terror attack in 2017, leftist and anti-fascist British volunteers for the Kurdish YPG’s International Freedom Battalion fighting Daesh (ISIL) in Syria released a statement that included the dry remark “For all the sound and fury, we don’t remember seeing anyone from Britain First, EDL, UKIP, or their like, by our side in battle,” and added “the only way to defeat the Islamic State, and groups like it, is with ordinary, moderate Muslims on side.”
The highest irony of Colonel Kemp’s charge that the NUT is attempting to “indoctrinate” children with the white poppy is that the British Army actively advertises in schools, including to under-16 year olds with a view to recruiting them as trained killers ready for deployment to war zones where they may be expected to take lives or sacrifice their own for whatever agenda Queen and Country asks of them – even if the war they find themselves embroiled in is one that not only may be viewed as immoral and faces mass domestic opposition here, but is ruled as illegal under international law. It is for similar reasons that some here hesitate to wear a red poppy – lest the gesture be interpreted as an implicit acceptance that all of Britain’s military exploits fit the conditions for jus ad bellum, the just war.

As the Peace Pledge Union has highlighted, the U.K. government has spent over £45m promoting militarism in schools, with Armed Forces visits targeting the poorest areas. Sixth form scholarships are offered in exchange for a commitment to join. In endorsing the presence of white poppies in schools, the NUT is simply offering children the chance to make their own decisions on how to remember the casualties of war, be that by wearing either poppy, neither, or both.

The white poppy as peace symbol is also remembrance that however ambitious such goals may be, a gradual de-escalation of aggressive foreign policy, nuclear disarmament and the halting of malignant arms trading should be the ethical standards to strive for. Taking some bold first steps can lead to wonderful things in the long run. Progress towards such a future may seem a distant utopia, but perhaps only as incomprehensible that the humble seed grows to become a beautiful flower, whatever the colour the petals.

The Left Must Oppose Gender Self-Identification

Just as we cannot deliver public services unless we control immigration, so we cannot meet the specific health and other public service needs of women and of men if we make gender a matter of self-identification. There is a reason why the Conservatives have done nothing about immigration in eight years, and there is a reason why they want to introduce the gender self-identification that even New Labour never quite did. This is the Left’s ground. Do not concede it.

With all the furore about whether men should be allowed on all-women shortlists, Labour needs to ditch this Blairiest of ideas once and for all. No one has ever liked it, it has always struck most people as self-evidently illegal, and it has delivered many candidates and MPs who would have been classified as far too young or inexperienced if they had been (biological) men, or indeed if they had been women in open competition. The result has been the easily manipulated lobby fodder that the Blairite machine has wanted. Meanwhile, what with this and the general exclusion of the Left, a generation of talent has been lost.

It is no surprise, then, that in the battle to save all-women shortlists by conforming them to the spirit of this age of gender fluidity, the key player is Wes Streeting. Ask him and his courtiers what the Blair Government ever did, and see what their answer would be. Under no circumstances must politics become a matter of economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends. Oh, no. It has to be about genitals, and preferably male genitals. But if Streeting had been growing up today, then, thanks to the way of thinking that he himself now espouses, he would have been told to change his name, his clothes and his pronouns, and to submit to powerful hormonal treatment leading to drastic, irreversible surgery.

Call yourself what you like. Wear what you like. Use whatever pronouns you like, I suppose, since that does vary over time, so that a 1980s paper entitled France and Her Institutions would read oddly now. Have, as an adult, whatever drugs or surgery the psychiatrist prescribed for your mental illness. But recognise that that is what it is. Keep it the hell away from children.

Is Capita Group Next?

Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, has urged the government to put Capita under close review.

Capita Group has not been received well by the public and in the media. It has gained the nickname “Crapita”, particularly from the coverage in the satirical and current affairs magazine Private Eye, which routinely documents the company’s many failures and setbacks in the public sector.

Pindar himself has attracted criticism for complaining about being called a ‘fat cat’, receiving a £770,000 per annum salary and driving around in an Aston Martin DB9. “It really takes the biscuit—especially when you consider his workers are fighting for a rise equivalent to just four pints of milk a week”, said a workers’ representative. The average Capita employee salary at the time was £28,000 per year

It was revealed in January 2013 that Capita was embroiled in a scandal over misinforming people that they had to leave the U.K. as they had no valid visa. One such person was in fact the holder of a U.K. passport.

In 2014, a leak to The Guardian revealed that the DWP had to send civil servants in to help the company process personal independence payments for the seriously ill and the disabled. “Waiting times for assessment,” the newspaper noted, “have been so long that in some cases people with terminal conditions have died before receiving a penny.”

The 2015 sale of a government research operation charged with overlooking food safety to Capita has been criticized by Tim Lang, an advisor to the U.K. government and the WHO on food safety issues. Arguing that a for-profit operation will be under pressure to ignore low-paying projects vital to public safety and the environment, he indicates that there is no profit in public research concerning food and biodiversity or food and pesticide residues, and predicts “commercial concerns will skew Fera’s priorities”

Former Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron questioned how Atos and Capita could have been paid over £500m from tax payers money for assessing fitness to work as 61% who appealed won their appeals. Farron stated, “This adds to the suspicion that these companies are just driven by a profit motive, and the incentive is to get the assessments done, but not necessarily to get the assessments right. They are the ugly face of business.”

Tameside, the costs add up as receivers take-over

A source close to the levers of power at Tameside Council has told Northern Voices that ‘it’s a right mess’ in Tameside, since Carillion, a partner to Tameside MBC, suffered the indignity of falling into the hands of the receivers.

This contrasts with the official line put out by the Labour council that it’s ‘Business as usual’ and the crazy claim that Carillion are ‘carrying on as normal’ after the company imploded.

‘Normal business’ at Carillion with the company in receivership? This takes some believing in the present climate.

Up to last week there were 16 sub-contractors working on ‘Vision Tameside’ services employed by Carillion.

Northern Voices has had its spies watching the Carillion site in Ashton-under-Lyne town centre, and there’s very little movement to be seen. When NV tried to talk to a security guard he turned tail and ran.

If Tameside council or any of its ‘servants’ have occasion to want some advice from the receivers, Price Waterhouse Cooper, or make contact in any way, the council must pay a considerable fee for this privilege..

Last week, when the Tory Councillor John Bell asked ‘Did Carillion give value for money?’, he answered his own question by saying: ‘Well we’ll never know, because there has been no oversight or proper scrutiny’.

Yet in September 2011, Councillor David Sweeton, executive member for business and community, said: If we transfer workers and services to Carillion,’ this will ” protect jobs, services, and cut costs’ ..

Tameside MBC has made similar promises before. In the 1990s Tameside Council outsourced all their old peoples’ homes to Tameside Enterprises Ltd (TEL) originally formed in 1985 to provide local housing. In 1993 the company running the homes (TEL) went bust due to financial mismanagement owing £2.2m in debts. TMBC renegued on its promises to the care workers that they would be redeployed by TMBC if TEL went bust.

Tameside Council’s Mantra is ‘Vision Tameside’, but if this is ‘vision’ then perhaps, we should humbly suggest, they should go to ‘Spec Savers’.

In all this mess the one thing is clear, Councillor Kieran Quinn’s sense of timing in popping his cloggs last Christmas, was perfect.

Reproduced with kind permission of Northern Voices