The battle for Clacton…

The latest polls indicate that Douglas Carswell will romp home for UKIP in the by-election that is now being called for Clacton. The Tory right wing have already warned their leaders that any attempt to attack Carswell will be strongly resisted, and to all accounts he has been a popular MP there

I am not concerned here to comment on whether he has been two faced, promising loyalty to Cameron, praising his stance on the EU and a referendum, and then attempting to scupper the party’s chances of re-election next May thus denying the electorate the possibility of a referendum on the EU, which he claimed he wanted, is enough!

Victory for him in Clacton will probably open the flood gates (perhaps I should say sewer sluice gates) for yet more Tory right wingers to defect to UKIP

Defeat next May will result in a huge lurch to the right for the Tories to try and halt the haemorrhaging of supporters to a now rampant UKIP. The probable shift in middle ground of British politics as a result will potentially force Labour to shift rightwards too

If in the meantime the Scots have decided to leave the Union then another election sans Scottish votes will follow within a year, and without their staunch support for Labour, there will be little prospect of a new Labour administration at Westminster. The nightmare prospect of a permanent far right wing government would then not be beyond the bounds of possibility

The rest of the UK need the Scots to save them from this fate! But for them, and Scotland has always been more supportive of the EU, the prospect of UKIP gaining currency in the land will appall them…it may be the golden bullet that Alex Salmond has been seeking

Clacton may prove to be the most significant by-election in years and have a profound impact on all our futures

Clacton ukip uk politics referendum eu

Funding for care reduced to protect pensions

Healthcare specialist LaingBuisson have published figures that show that local authority funding for long-term care fell by 5% in real terms between 2010 and 2013. Some authorities are capping rates at as low as £326 pw (e.g. Surrey) which is not enough to meet care home costs which are on average £500 pw. This forces Care home managers to charge private residents higher fees to subsidise the shortfall

This of course is not a new story - we have reported funding shortfalls by local authorities for well over a decade. The authorities will complain that it is caused by reductions in funding from central government…and there is some truth in that argument, yet the funding of local authorities extremely generous pension arrangements continue to rise unchecked.

Is it not time that local authorities addressed this? 

Care Funding UK Healhcare UK Carehomes long term care NHS England

Is raising the threat level really justified?

The UK threat level was raised to its second highest level this week - severe. This means that a terrorist attack is highly likely because of the growing danger from British jihadists returning home from Iraq and Syria. Yet the Home Secretary said yesterday that whilst it meant that an attack was highly likely there was no evidence to suggest an attack was imminent

The Prime Minister made a speech saying that the risk posed by IS/ISIS will last for decades, and he went on to promise a number of uncompromising measures to help tackle British jihadists and fill the gaps in our armoury

When admirals at sea seek to cover a blunder, or to disguise their real plans they “make smoke”, in other words a smoke screen. The Prime Minister has been severely criticised for his inaction over the IS/ISIS crisis in Iraq and the beheading of an American journalist by a British jihadi. It is perhaps a convenient time for the Prime Minister to focus the nation on a terrorist threat, real or fiction. Impotence over Putin abroad, his MP’s departing or threatening departure to UKIP and the Tory backwoodsmen baying for a more anti-EU stance, as well as the Scottish independence debate shifting support closer to a YES vote

Some of the measures being discussed make good sense, but the Lib/Dem coalition partners are right to want to scrutinise these in detail before they are passed into law. We are all conscious of the way that atrocities like 9/11, Madrid and 7/7 were used by governments here and abroad to bow to the wishes of the security forces to enact illiberal and even wholly impractical or inappropriate measures

It is vital that a sense of proportion is maintained. IS/ISIS have no real interest in the UK. As we have argued earlier their focus is upon establishing a caliphate in the Middle East. Yes, some returning jihadists may be inspired to carry out atrocities here. But in a country that endured the campaigns of IRA bombings is this really justification for raising the threat level to the highest in our history?

Of course the Prime Minister may have intelligence that could justify these measures but we are right to be suspicious. Cameron’s role model, Tony Blair ignored the need to balance the perceived threats with maintaining civil liberties in similar circumstances

via https://dayone.me/JQczgD

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Cameron’s empty rhetoric about IS/ISIS
Last week David Cameron warned us that Britain faces a “generational struggle” against a “poisonous ideology”. He argued that Britain’s very security depended on the country using all its resources, aid, diplomacy and “military prowess” to vanquish IS/ISIS. With that he went on vacation for the second time this summer. His ministers rushed to explain that he did not mean that we would put “boots on the ground” in Iraq, or that our jets would do more than have reconnaissance duties. Then we had the beheading of an American journalist by a British jihadi and the PM rushed back again to London to wring his hands in front of the press but offer nothing new
At least the American president can argue that he has done something meaningful by authorising over sixty air strikes so far against IS/ISIS…and the success of this initiative is clear… the Yazidis have been saved, the Kurdish Peshmerga have reversed their defeats of a few weeks ago, and the Iraqi army is confronting IS/ISIS with more confidence. Their diplomatic efforts have also been successful with Nuri al-Maliki replaced in Baghdad by Haider al-Abadi, to lead a more inclusive Iraqi government
All of this makes Cameron’s stance look weak. The UK has a defence budget of £164 billion to be spent on equipment and equipment support over the next ten years, the second largest budget in NATO. We are spending above the NATO target of 2% of GDP on defence, yet we are unable to stand alongside our American allies against a foe that we both created when we destabilised the region by declaring an illegal war on Iraq in 2003. Perhaps this is the curse of lightweight inexperienced leaders so beloved of political parties and the electorate here in Britain
Interestingly the press have picked up on Cameron’s claim that Britain itself is in grave danger from IS/ISIS. Every day now there are stories about what atrocities jihadists may carry out when they return here. Of course there is a risk of isolated action but this is unlikely to be a part of an IS/ISIS strategy for domination of Britain. Their attempt to create a caliphate across the Middle East will absorb their full attention for years to come, and only if that were successful, which is highly improbable, would the southern shores of Europe be at any risk…Cameron must ensure that we do our part to ensure that it remains highly improbable, and very importantly help the million Iraqis displaced by the conflict
via https://dayone.me/I4Uzji

Cameron’s empty rhetoric about IS/ISIS

Last week David Cameron warned us that Britain faces a “generational struggle” against a “poisonous ideology”. He argued that Britain’s very security depended on the country using all its resources, aid, diplomacy and “military prowess” to vanquish IS/ISIS. With that he went on vacation for the second time this summer. His ministers rushed to explain that he did not mean that we would put “boots on the ground” in Iraq, or that our jets would do more than have reconnaissance duties. Then we had the beheading of an American journalist by a British jihadi and the PM rushed back again to London to wring his hands in front of the press but offer nothing new

At least the American president can argue that he has done something meaningful by authorising over sixty air strikes so far against IS/ISIS…and the success of this initiative is clear… the Yazidis have been saved, the Kurdish Peshmerga have reversed their defeats of a few weeks ago, and the Iraqi army is confronting IS/ISIS with more confidence. Their diplomatic efforts have also been successful with Nuri al-Maliki replaced in Baghdad by Haider al-Abadi, to lead a more inclusive Iraqi government

All of this makes Cameron’s stance look weak. The UK has a defence budget of £164 billion to be spent on equipment and equipment support over the next ten years, the second largest budget in NATO. We are spending above the NATO target of 2% of GDP on defence, yet we are unable to stand alongside our American allies against a foe that we both created when we destabilised the region by declaring an illegal war on Iraq in 2003. Perhaps this is the curse of lightweight inexperienced leaders so beloved of political parties and the electorate here in Britain

Interestingly the press have picked up on Cameron’s claim that Britain itself is in grave danger from IS/ISIS. Every day now there are stories about what atrocities jihadists may carry out when they return here. Of course there is a risk of isolated action but this is unlikely to be a part of an IS/ISIS strategy for domination of Britain. Their attempt to create a caliphate across the Middle East will absorb their full attention for years to come, and only if that were successful, which is highly improbable, would the southern shores of Europe be at any risk…Cameron must ensure that we do our part to ensure that it remains highly improbable, and very importantly help the million Iraqis displaced by the conflict

via https://dayone.me/I4Uzji

Politics isis UK cameron yazidis iraq kurds

Patients dying because of lack of nursing…

A comprehensive study carried out by King’s College London looking at data on 57,000 patients admitted to stroke units in more than 100 hospitals over the course of 18 months has concluded that hundreds of stroke patients are dying because hospitals do not have enough nurses working at weekends

Patients were significantly less likely to die in stroke units that had more nurses on duty at the weekend

The medical director of NHS England, Sir Bruce Keogh, wants more senior staff on duty seven days a week after previous research had already suggested that patients were 16% more likely to die if admitted at weekends

This is of course no more than yet another example of the failure of successive governments to properly fund the NHS. In league tables of comparable western health services our outcomes are significantly worse. Promising to spend tens of billions of pounds on projects such as replacing our nuclear deterrent and HS2 demonstrate that our government is out of step with public opinion. We need to ensure that such choices are put in front of voters before the general election next May

via https://dayone.me/HFaz6d

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Chilcot - a nation grows weary for the truth

The Chilcot enquiry must publish its report before mid February else it will clash with the build up to the next general election. Whilst there are concerns that it has been significantly watered down, it would be unacceptable to kick it into the post election long grass risking yet more prevarication and delay

That a recent prime minister is branded a war criminal and a liar by a very significant number of people here in Britain as well as the rest of the world is justification enough to finally put the evidence in front of the people

We have waited too long for answers to questions such as:

What was Blair told by our security service before and after he visited Bush?

Did Blair promise Bush that Britain would enter a war in Iraq?

Did he lie to parliament and the British people, before, during and after the war (being economical with the truth amounts to lying too)?

Are others, including ministers, implicated in any wrongdoing?

Is there a case for criminal proceedings against Blair and others?

Did the system work as intended and were the proper rules followed? Bluntly, was it an illegal war?

What changes are needed now to ensure that entering another war is only possible if international laws are respected and a meaningful democratic process is followed?

At its launch Sir John Chilcot, Chairman of the Inquiry, explained:

"This is an Inquiry by a committee of Privy Counsellors. It will consider the period from the summer of 2001 to the end of July 2009, embracing the run-up to the conflict in Iraq, the military action and its aftermath. We will therefore be considering the UK’s involvement in Iraq, including the way decisions were made and actions taken, to establish, as accurately as possible, what happened and to identify the lessons that can be learned. Those lessons will help ensure that, if we face similar situations in future, the government of the day is best equipped to respond to those situations in the most effective manner in the best interests of the country."

Let us hope and trust that his report proves to be as good as his promise and that it is published soon

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Current affairs Politics chilcot blair UK

Gaza - platitudinous regret was not enough

That the Israelis should find it intolerable to put up with Hamas rockets raining down on them day after day is a statement of the blindingly obvious. But, when their solution is wholly disproportionate with a callous disregard for the lives of women and children in Gaza, then Britain should not simply utter platitudinous regret

Baroness Warsi has acted where others in government have not. The mystery is only why she waited until the end of the Israelis campaign to do so

Where have the voices of the LibDem coalition partners been? Given their honourable record over the illegal Iraq war, why has it taken an unelected Tory minister to say publicly that this country’s stance over the Israeli action in Gaza was wrong. Perhaps being in government has blunted their principles, anyway they have certainly missed an opportunity to grab back the student vote

via https://dayone.me/DQ2z6b

Current affairs Politics gaza UK

The Euro crisis may have scuppered the prospect of a YES vote in Scotland …

The independence for Scotland movement was holed below the waterline by the Euro crisis, and the economic case for independence has been decidedly shaky ever since. The coup de gras was Osborne’s announcement, backed by all the Westminster party leaders, that Scotland would not be allowed into a currency union with Britain

The YES side have tried to bravely soldier on producing reports that demonstrate that Scotland can probably hold its own financially. But the elephant in the room has always been the currency. Had the Euro not suffered such a collapse in confidence, then Scotland would have happily joined it. But after 2010 this was not going to be something Salmond could sell to his electorate, so he pinned his colours to the mast of a currency union with Britain, only to find that denied to him

There are of course other reasons for a YES vote in Scotland - bringing democracy closer to the people - a parliament that better reflects the wishes of the Scottish voters (more pandas in Scotland than Tory MPs…) - decision making for Scotland by Scotland - etc. But, without a satisfactory solution to the currency question they are unlikely to result in a vote for independence…the Scots are much too canny for taking that sort of risk

via https://dayone.me/Dfyzkt

Current affairs scotland Politics UK referendum yes vote no vote currency union