The end of week one saw the terrible events at Grenfell Tower unfold- a tragic symptom of Conservatives and their austerity politics in the housing sector.
May has said a full public enquiry will be happening on the incident, and people are shaking their heads because we already know exactly why it happened. As the solicitor for the Lakanal House victims calls for an inquest, not public inquiry. So have many of the public and I am sure, the survivors of Grenfell. And now (17/06/17) she has announced the head of the enquiry will report directly to her according to Sky News which I can’t imagine is going to go down well as she leads the party that is complicit in the fire.
Whereas Corbyn was more blunt. He and David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, during the emergency session of Parliament looking into the awful event, called for homes left vacant in Kensington and Chelsea by overseas investors to be perhaps even be “requisitioned” in order to rehouse those left homeless due to the Grenfell Tower fire. The Labour leader, who said he was left “very angry” after visiting the scene, added:
“Kensington is a tale of two cities. The south part of Kensington is incredibly wealthy, it’s the wealthiest part of the whole country. The ward where this fire took place is, I think, the poorest ward in the whole country and properties must be found – requisitioned if necessary – to make sure those residents do get rehoused locally.” [my italics]
This is a little radical, and I’m not sure how they could do it, (perhaps with an amendment to the 1965 Compulsory Purchase Act or even the Defence of the Realm Act in 1914 and the Emergency Powers Act in 1939. Of course, the MSM lost their minds over this and decided to lie to their readers, insisting that ‘requisition‘ meant ‘seize‘. 🙄
Their foam does not seem to have fooled some of ‘the public’ however. YouGov ran a survey on the issue and this is the result:
So at least for now, could not those with multiple domiciles come forward and temporarily donate usage of their unlived-in homes and luxury flats as a good will gesture?
This (see photo below) is what is left of their home.
Alok Sharma, Conservative Housing Minister said insisted at the meeting that “every single family from Grenfell House will be rehoused in the local area.” I guess we’ll see if that comes to pass, as I am equally unsure how they can make such a guarantee. If they renege on this promise too, they must be finally finished as a force of government. Today (17/06/17) it was revealed (as talked of in the Grenfell blog) that they have gone back on this already! FORTY EIGHT HOURS that ‘promise’ lasted!
And it is possible that as many as 200 people lost their lives (maybe even as high as 500, with so many people crammed into those flats) in the fire.
For 68 individuals and/or families, their housing crisis will soon be over. New builds in a Kensington High Street development have been bought by the Government for those who lost their homes in the fire. While private flats in the block start at £1.5million, the apartments that will rehouse the families are part of the 120 affordable homes being built alongside them. There was talk that they weren’t going to bother to build the latter, even though it was part of the stipulation of the contract with the Council, and that it was Labour that pushed for this measure. Now they have to, and good thing too. Even worse, many of the current residents of the luxury apartments don’t want the survivors near them as they fear it will cause the prices of their properties to drop! This is all part of the racism and classism that caused the deaths of many of the Grenfell residents in the first place!
May has offered £5million in a fund to those affected, and to pay for the funerals. Corbyn demanded the Government also cover any legal costs the survivors might accrue in Parliament yesterday (15/06/17). This ‘fund’ works out at about £8500 each. Yet she was prepared to offer the DUP £750 million for their allegiance, some have suggested. Others think it will be, if it happens, a long term, rolling deal.
We have also seen those poor residents are not the only casualties– with attacks in Manchester and London made worse by lack of police and other intelligence and emergency services due to Conservative cuts.
And still the Train of Dire Fate stumbles on.
- May has selected the most right wing Cabinet in my living memory,
- the Lib Dems have lost their leader, and today Vince Cable as expected throws his hat into that ring today (20/06/17). He has declared if he becomes leader he would not sanction any coalition with the Conservatives under any circumstances. Sir Ed Davey is also thinking of standing, and he agrees with Cable. However a ‘progressive coalition’, vetoed by Farron during the election campaign, would be void as soon as he steps down. Jo Swinson is already Deputy Leader but, despite popularity in the party, is currently unlikely to join the leadership race.
- UKIP are defunct; Nuttall has resigned and Farage says he may run like an ‘anti-rat’ back to that sinking ship
- the UUP (Ireland) may well be no longer a force as a party
- and Labour are getting their house in order. Diane Abbott is back as Home Secretary (17/06/17) now she seems to have her blood sugars under control (she, in case you didn’t know is a type 2 diabetic and became seriously ill in the build up to the election- the Conservative number fudgers have no such ‘excuse’.)
- We have seen the Good Friday Agreement p*ssed on as May tries to shore up her tottering regime.
- And we have also seen the conflict in the Middle East break out afresh. What does Boris, ‘our’ Foreign Secretary do? Pretty much say “Oh come on lads, stop that right now!”
The month of June 2017 should go down in history as one of the biggest omnishambles of recent times.
And finally, some are waking up to this.
- The Head of the Conservative Policy Unit (which used to be Jo Johnson in 2013, then it was Sunday Times columnist Camilla Cavendish in 2015 and in 2016 George Freeman, and now John Godfrey says bye bye) has just quit. They don’t seem to stay in this post for long, do they? Chris Brannigan, Conservative head of government relations, is leaving to ‘pursue opportunities in the private sector’ too (20/06/17.)
- We saw in week one as while Boris Johnson is touted as the new leader, nobody is wanted by ‘the public’. And there are rumours that Rees-Mogg will be putting his hat in the ring. Analysis of the boundary changes on the table for 2018 suggest that Boris (and IBS) would lose their seats, however, and if you don’t have a seat, you can’t be a PM.
- Even YouGov respondents have deserted May and instead are behind Corbyn. (With the usual caveats on polls.)
Now at least (for now anyway) we have a date for the Queen’s Speech– the 21st June, after two delays. (And it could be delayed even further!) But what is it? Why is this happening before any DUP ‘deal’ is confirmed, so she actually has a mandate? And why are ‘we’ starting B*exit negotiations on the 19th without a viable government or mandate in place?
******Things are NOT going well******
- The EU sent its “positioning papers” to London four days ago and while similar documents were expected in return, nothing has arrived as Theresa May’s administration flounders. B*exit Secretary David Davis confirmed on Thursday that talks to pull Britain out of the EU will begin on Monday regardless, despite cabinet splits over how to approach them and of course May’s delay of the Queen’s Speech. On top of that, there are, apparently, no withdrawal plans even cemented in her Queen’s Speech.
- Prominent Conservative donor Jeremy Collier, it has come out, owns Coller Capital which in turn owned a fifth of Rydon Construction, via a partnership based offshore in Jersey. This as it says in the Grenfell blog, was the company responsible for the cladding on Grenfell Tower. And Conservative Chancellor Philip Hammond on Andrew Marr’s current affairs show on the BBC today (18/06/17) averred this type of cladding was illegal here just like it is in Germany, the USA etc! So complicity, illegality and possible tax avoidance bubbles to the surface once more, by people who have a vested interest in keeping the Conservatives in power, to nobody’s surprise.
- Ken Hawkins, Conservative councillor for Solihull Council, replied to an image of Grenfell protesters gathered outside the town hall chanting for justice, by Tweeting: “Lets get ourselves a hangin!” His subsequent apology rings just a little hollow. How on earth is this ok on any level?
- Amber Rudd, Conservative Home Secretary, has been accused of unlawfully setting limits to numbers of unaccompanied child refugees accepted into the UK, today (20/06/17).
- More and more MSM outlets are talking of a Cabinet coup that was only aborted by May capitulating on some issues and basically (re)awarding Cabinet posts to the most hardline Conservatives in the party.
- Sinn Féin after their meeting today (15/06/17 as talked of in week 1 of the post election blogs) with the ‘PM’, have accused May of not honouring the Good Friday agreement. The meeting with May was to discuss the resumption of power-sharing in Northern Ireland and his party’s concerns about the Conservatives’ proposed deal with the DUP. (For more on what the DUP‘s position might be, this is a good read.) Earlier, after his meeting with May, the SDLP leader Colum Eastwood also expressed doubts about the Con/DUP deal. He said:
The prime minister will have to do a lot more, however, to convince us that the DUP tail isn’t wagging the Tory dog. Their influence on the British government is a cause for deep concern that must be addressed to assure the public and political parties of the independence of the talks process [intended to lead to the restoration of power sharing]. The Irish government will be critical to that and they should reassert their role as co-guarantors of our agreements.
And the Conservatives aren’t too happy either. May’s hopes of securing the support of the DUP for her minority government even before the meeting with Sinn Féin were faltering as the Treasury dug in against the costs of this potential deal. The main issue they have is the Barnett formula. For every £1 spent in NI, an additional £35 must be found for the other nations.Now the DUP have asked for £2 billion, much of which to sort of the crumbling NI NHS, which would mean the other devolved government would have to be paid £70billion each. That will not happen– in fact Scotland had their budget CUT but £5 billion since 2010; and are facing more over the next three years of at least another billion.
Although there are sometimes exceptions to the application of the Formula, propping up a shaky regime is not one of them; and senior officials and Conservative politicians warn that this could create imbalances and cause resentment in Scotland and England. Even worse for the Conservatives, but not for Ireland, is the fact that the DUP have still not agreed to a deal– and may never agree to one, something which the Northern Irish political parties know very well that the DUP are very much capable of doing, as they have done this for decades– citing ‘lack of negotiating experience’ (ouch!) and being taken for granted as reasons- and May will be doing the Queen’s Speech procedure with only minority government support. She could delay again of course, but I can’t see anyone ‘letting’ her now. If the DUP abstain on the Queen’s Speech vote (28/29/30th June), the Prime Minister will rely on all her MPs voting in order for it to scrape through with a majority of just two. And this vote cannot be whipped– throughout the speech the government whip is ‘held’ at Buckingham Palace, traditionally to avoid a coup against the monarchy. If this vote, the coup will not be against the Royal Family…
- Bet they wish they could
- bury this speech of Cameron’s from 2012 too. He cited that his new year’s resolution was to “kill off the health and safety culture for good“. Health and safety legislation has become an “albatross around the neck of British businesses”, costing them billions of pounds a year and leaving entrepreneurs in fear of speculative claims, he added.
- pretend this serial foamer, Michael Gove, now back in the Cabinet, had never written this, decrying the peace process in Ireland as it gave people™ too many democratic rights and could set dangerous precedents.
- May was booed and jeered as she did finally talk to people in Kensington after the fire today (16/06/17) but she went to a church. As we know, she’s a fan of going to church- especially homophobic ones. And here she is, running down the path to her car to get away from the people- not that they were anywhere near her, but they were shouting. No wonder her office were giving ‘security concerns’ for the reason why she didn’t talk to ‘real people’ before that. The Queen showed her up rather neatly today, going to see people there, without a police cordon, with Prince William. He promised to return, in response to distraught questions as they left, to talk to anyone who wanted to talk to him. Now the Queen can’t ‘be political’ but this is a subtle way of doing and being just that.
It is May, as ‘PM’, people have a problem with, not Corbyn, not the monarchy, not the new local MP…
- Yesterday (16/06/17) it came out that Central London Hospital is being sold off by the Conservatives. This is the worst possible timing on all levels. And it is just one of many to be sold off or closed (like Conservative constituency Weston-Super-Mare’s A&E department, which will be closing at NIGHT from 4th July due to staff shortages.)
- Also yesterday (17/06/17) Jeremy Hunt’s new health minister has backed the closing of her own local hospital! Jackie Doyle-Price was appointed by May to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s ministerial team on Wednesday (14/06/17), and in hustings for the election in Thurrock she said (woop woop Naylor Report alert!) “NHS trusts should be free to sell that land if they want. That’s exactly what’s going to happen with regard to Orsett Hospital.”
- This week also sees Conservative MEP Julie Girling attempt to block the full ban on bee killing pesticides (Neonicotinoids) will be voted on by the European parliament’s environment committee; they have been banned since 2013 by the EU, and as we get most of our environmental protections from the EU (and as has been said in other blogs, the Conservatives have been taken to court for their Clean Air Bill (which is illegally below standard) it seems that the Great Repeal Bill will throw out any EU law that slows profit, even if it means it kills urban and poorer citizens, and even the planet.
- Talking of court, the Conservatives’ ‘flagship austerity policy’, the benefit cap has been ruled as unlawful and as causing ‘real misery for no good purpose’; especially to single parents and directly ‘exacerbates poverty’. Tell us something all but the Conservatives know (or care about) all too well… So the cap and the rape clause will have to go else the Conservatives will find themselves in court again.
- Again, the possibility of court looms even over the DUP deal.
- The Queen’s Speech for 2018 has already been cancelled before we get to hear 2017’s. They are supposed to happen yearly, and this is supposed to be indicative of the A50 talks taking two years. While not unheard of (the coalition did it too) it’s not really confidence inspiring that the 2018 one is cancelled before we even hear what the Conservatives‘ ‘new manifesto’ is for 2017. So it instills little faith that they know what they’re doing while showing clearly they are trying to crush any opposition. This was announced today (17/06/17) while, in my view, many are too preoccupied with the Grenfell fire to notice- and the same goes for the NHS ‘measures’.
- Despite having no mandate, the Conservatives are going ahead with their draconian plans to regulate and censor the internet.
- There have been widespread protests against both Conservative rule and against what happened at Grenfell Tower over the past day or two. The only people that seem to have a problem with this is the MSM, most residents of London, in affluent and poorer areas, where the marches have passed through are completely on-side. This level of sustained protest is something I have never seen before. As said above, the Council did nothing to co-ordinate a relief effort but are blaming closure of their Council offices on ‘damage’ done by the protestors. I’ve seen VT of the protestors inside the offices and there was no damage done that I could see.
It seems the Conservative vultures are striking and the MSM is full of it (ha!) ‘Ten days left’ seems to be the narrative now, and it’s still about B*exit!
- Her decision to call a snap election is now called ‘fateful’ (oh what a difference eight weeks makes!) and as we know saw the Conservatives lose their narrow majority.
- Conservative eurosceptics warned any “backsliding” on hard B*exit would result in a leadership challenge, but the DUP have a soft B*exit mandate– I am sure this is on the table as part of the ‘allegiance conditions’. Yet 30 MPs have told May outright that her ‘no deal is better than a good deal’ rhetoric has to go!
- Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and David Davis, the B*exit Secretary, are ‘hard B*exiters’ while Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, appears to be the champion of a softer approach- and all are more likely as the days go on to put their hats in the ring as new leader candidates. But Rudd’s seat is now ultra marginal. And none of them came out well in the weeks leading up to the election, (as shown in the pre-election blogs, which start here).
- The critical moment is June 28th and 29th, it would seem, when the votes on the Queen’s speech takes place. So watch this space…
The Daily Mail’s front page tomorrow is stark (19/06/17). And the Mail on Sunday pulls no punches either. Bit of a turnaround from 15 pages of analysis as to why she needs to ‘crush the saboteurs’ a few weeks ago! I imagine they think their readers want to see all the gory detail on the Grenfell fire and that, after the Sunday front page, could show the wind is turning. Or that they’re trying to get May the sympathy vote. Sky News are definitely going for the ‘sympathy angle’ as they talk of her meeting 16 survivors at Downing Street and ‘welling up’ when she went to the church in the area a few days ago.
- The Telegraph goes one step further (18/06/17) and outright calls out David Davis as the frontrunner to become the new Conservative party leader, describing him as the ‘Unity candidate’ as Davis is preparing to travel to Brussels to start the EU talks. Most of the comments on their article seem to show that followers of the paper think this is a bad idea, and would prefer Boris.
- And the EU have hit the ground running, getting Davis to cave at the very first exchange. The UK now have no say over the timing of the discussions and the promise of the issue of free trade being confirmed before
- any ‘divorce bill’ is talked of,
- or before the UK ratify the rights of EU citizens living here
- or before the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic has been looked at in great depth
has (IMO rightly) been kicked into the long grass by the EU Council. And this is the guy the Conservatives seem to want as their new leader? Well, one option for leader anyway, and he may well have shot himself in the foot with his wrestling language beforehand- calling these negotiations ‘the row of the summer‘! This country (well, its government) is basically seen as a laughing stock by much of Europe and I can see why. British officials admit they did not even have, let alone bring any prepared negotiating papers to share with their counterparts! We already knew back in March that the UK are likely going to have to stop sharing intelligence with EU through Europol according to Conservative Home Secretary Amber Rudd, because of B*exit, and the first day of ‘negotiations’ are beyond an omnishambles already.
Here is a translation (by P. Kirby) of what a prominent Swiss newspaper, Der Bund, is also saying about the UK.
“If it weren’t so serious, the situation in Great Britain would almost be comical. The country is being governed by a talking robot, nicknamed the Maybot, that somehow managed to visit the burned-out tower block in the west of London without speaking to a single survivor or voluntary helper. Negotiations for the country’s exit from the EU are due to begin on Monday, but no one has even a hint of a plan. The government is dependent on a small party that provides a cozy home for climate change deniers and creationists. Boris Johnson is Foreign Secretary. What in the world has happened to this country?
Two years ago David Cameron emerged from the parliamentary election as the shining victor. He had secured an absolute majority, and as a result it looked as if the career of this cheerful lightweight was headed for surprisingly dizzy heights. The economy was growing faster than in any other industrialised country in the world. Scottish independence and, with it, the break-up of the United Kingdom had been averted. For the first time since 1992, there was a Conservative majority in the House of Commons. Great Britain saw itself as a universally respected actor on the international stage. This was the starting point.
In order to get from this comfortable position to the chaos of the present in the shortest possible time, two things were necessary: first, the Conservative right wingers’ obsessive hatred of the EU, and second, Cameron’s irresponsibility in putting the whole future of the country on the line with his referendum, just to satisfy a few fanatics in his party. It is becoming ever clearer just how extraordinarily bad a decision that was. The fact that Great Britain has become the laughing stock of Europe is directly linked to its vote for Brexit.
The ones who will suffer most will be the British people, who were lied to by the Brexit campaign during the referendum and betrayed and treated like idiots by elements of their press. The shamelessness still knows no bounds: the Daily Express has asked in all seriousness whether the inferno in the tower block was due to the cladding having been designed to meet EU standards. It is a simple matter to discover that the answer to this question is No, but by failing to check it, the newspaper has planted the suspicion that the EU might be to blame for this too. As an aside: a country in which parts of the press are so demonstrably uninterested in truth and exploit a disaster like the fire in Grenfell Tower for their own tasteless ends has a very serious problem.
Already prices are rising in the shops, already inflation is on the up. Investors are holding back. Economic growth has slowed. And that’s before the Brexit negotiations have even begun. With her unnecessary general election, Prime Minister Theresa May has already squandered an eighth of the time available for them. How on earth an undertaking as complex as Brexit is supposed to be agreed in the time remaining is a mystery.
Great Britain will end up leaving its most important trading partner and will be left weaker in every respect. It would make economic sense to stay in the single market and the customs union, but that would mean being subject to regulations over which Britain no longer had any say. It would be better to have stayed in the EU in the first place. So the government now needs to develop a plan that is both politically acceptable and brings the fewest possible economic disadvantages. It’s a question of damage limitation, nothing more; yet even now there are still politicians strutting around Westminster smugly trumpeting that it will be the EU that comes off worst if it doesn’t toe the line.
The EU is going to be dealing with a government that has no idea what kind of Brexit it wants, led by an unrealistic politician whose days are numbered; and a party in which old trenches are being opened up again: moderate Tories are currently hoping to be able to bring about a softer exit after all, but the hardliners in the party – among them more than a few pigheadedly obstinate ideologues – are already threatening rebellion. An epic battle lies ahead, and it will paralyse the government.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said that he now expects the Brits to finally set out their position clearly, since he cannot negotiate with himself. The irony of this statement is that it would actually be in Britain’s best interests if he did just that. At least that way they’d have one representative on their side who grasps the scale of the task and is actually capable of securing a deal that will be fair to both sides. The Brits do not have a single negotiator of this stature in their ranks. And quite apart from the Brexit terms, both the debate and the referendum have proven to be toxic in ways that are now making themselves felt.
British society is now more divided than at any time since the English civil war in the 17th century, a fact that was demonstrated anew in the general election, in which a good 80% of the votes were cast for the two largest parties. Neither of these parties was offering a centrist programme: the election was a choice between the hard right and the hard left. The political centre has been abandoned, and that is never a good sign. In a country like Great Britain, that for so long had a reputation for pragmatism and rationality, it is grounds for real concern. The situation is getting decidedly out of hand.
After the loss of its empire, the United Kingdom sought a new place in the world. It finally found it, as a strong, awkward and influential part of a larger union: the EU. Now it has given up this place quite needlessly. The consequence, as is now becoming clear, is a veritable identity crisis from which it will take the country a very long time to recover.”
Apart from the fact they call Corbyn’s Labour ‘hard left’, I find it hard to pick any holes in their argument. Most commentators would agree that the Greens are much further left than any incarnation of Labour has ever been.
- Also why aren’t Fox and Johnson there with him? That is supposed to be the Conservative B*exit team. Perhaps it’s for the best- Fox appears to trying to break his 15 trade deal duck with a trip to the US instead. If Fox fails here (and under what conditions would or could he succeed? What are ‘we’ giving to the US? The NHS? Perpetual and unconditional alliance in the Middle East and Israel conflicts?) he will officially be the UK’s worst International Trade Minister ever. I do predict some selling off of what few assets we have left. Just last month, for example, a contract for the command and control centre of Britain’s heavily armed nuclear police is being outsourced to the private company Capita. This would be ‘support’ for firearms commanders of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, a heavily-armed special police service that protects nuclear power plants, waste dumps, and nuclear material in transit. In what way was this a good idea?
- Hammond today (20/06/17) who also seems to have put himself on the list for leader, has been brutal about the chances of B*exit working with the negotiating ‘team’ currently in Brussels. While he voted for the Withdrawal of the EU Bill last year, he also voted remain in the first place in the referendum. So the cracks that were visible in the Conservative party last week seem chasmic now.
In the early hours of the 19th June, there’s been another attack in London- in Finsbury Park. It’s horrible to have to clarify this, but the man was white, and mowed down Muslims as they were leaving their mosque. I wonder how many thought it would be a brown skinned Muslim? There is so much hate bubbling in this country right now, and the MSM and the Conservatives have not helped it one bit. For commentary on this, please check out the Finsbury Park blog.
******Queen’s Speech and the state opening of Parliament******
What a mess. One has to wonder if the Queen was quietly laughing to herself about it, as it was definitely full of sound, if not fury, and signified nothing. It was brief, even perfunctory; she wore ordinary clothing and it resembled little more than a press conference. And what was with the ‘EU hat’? Don’t want to read to much into it but the blue with yellow motif does look a little like the EU flag…
I detected nothing in it that resembled the Conservative manifesto– only
- hard B*exit (including the Great Repeal Bill)
- ‘living within ‘our’ means’ (i.e. austerity)
- and ToryNet (clamping down on the internet)
- the ‘Dementia Tax’,
- removing the winter fuel allowance
- energy price cap (after a U turn, anyway)
- removing free school lunches for infant school children
- and of grammar schools (for example)
are gone. Plenty more were not mentioned as well. (Like taxes! Who are they staying low for? I’m guessing capital gains, inheritance, corporations, those earning over £150,000 etc.) Of course this doesn’t mean the backtracked policies won’t happen as the Conservatives broke their 2010 and 2015 manifestos more than once. (Like on reducing the deficit.)
There were allusions to 27 Bills across all areas including B*exit, and the Mirror has taken a look at them. I have little faith that even 50% it will resemble their declaration in the Speech so am not going waste time on them here; especially as Corbyn has already made it known he will provide an alternate Queen’s Speech as May does not have the majority and thus no mandate. This is shown by the climb down on what are major policy foundations of the party and their plans for government for the next 2+ years. as Barry Gardiner (Shadow Minister for International Trade and Climate) change says, her manifesto was ‘deeply unpopular’ and that’s why she’s basically ditched it, but then we have the issue of a government ‘ruling’ on a mandate that many of the 42% of their voters must have actually wanted.
It looks like the Protractor Protocol Police are out in force again,
as Corbyn did not ‘bow’ to the Queen, when in fact, the correct protocol is that the Speaker and Black Rod bow on behalf of the whole of the House; which Corbyn observed. May’s bow was actually against appropriate protocol and etiquette. Surely May has seen the ceremony often enough to know what to do! So people™ trying to manufacture another ‘Corbyn didn’t bow at the Cenotaph row’ need to actually read up on the rules.
Now we are at the end of week two, so this blog will stop today (22/06/17). Please check out part 3 of the post election rolling blogs for subsequent coverage.