Tag Archives: Birmingham

HS2: isn’t this track-less railway now also pointless?

HS2: it has cost too much; it doesn’t do what the Tories said it would; and it doesn’t go where they said it would either. And this critical cartoon was published in the usually Tory-supporting Telegraph.

What better symbol of the last 13 years’ Tory government could there be?

HS2 – the long-planned high-speed rail line from London to the north, that was only ever intended to cut 20 minutes off travel times, has already cost three times as much as its original budget. And now we learn that it may not even reach either of its original destinations:

Simon Harris, below, makes the obvious points:

That’s right; the extra time it would take to travel from London to Old Oak Common would negate any time saving on the HS2 line itself, meaning the reason for spending around £100 billion on it (up from slightly less than £33bn in 2011) is also negated.

Some have taken the announcement humorously…

Some have taken it philosophically…

And, on the subject of failing and disconnected rail infrastructure in the north, some have simply done better:

Jamie Driscoll’s achievement demolishes arguments against voting for Independents and the so-called “smaller” UK political parties.

Admittedly, much of the work he did on this happened while he was with Labour, but he and Keir Starmer have parted ways due to a fundamental difference of political views (Starmer is a Conservative cuckoo in the once-Socialist party and Mr Driscoll is a left-winger), meaning that this is an achievement of an Independent.

The conclusion is clear: while Labour and the Tories just flap their tongues and spend your money on nothing, Independent politicians – given power – get things done.


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Tory MP and minister calls UK towns ‘godawful’. Why do they do it?

No need for a megaphone, Heather: we get the message loud and clear.

Why do – predominantly Conservative – MPs insist on putting both feet in their mouth by insulting particular groups or places?

The latest to do so is Heather Wheeler:

A government minister has been accused of showing “utter contempt for voters” after appearing to suggest Blackpool and Birmingham are “godawful”.

According to technology journalist Chris Middleton, the junior minister said: “I was just at a conference in Blackpool or Birmingham or somewhere godawful.”

The leader of Blackpool council criticised the “ignorant and ill-advised” comments:

Labour councillor Lynn Williams said … the government was supposed to be working alongside the Lancashire town to tackle social deprivation as part of its flagship levelling up programme.

“We know we’ve got a lot of social inequalities to deal with and we’re actually meant to be working with the government to deal with those as part of the levelling up programme so, yeah, it’s just frustrating.”

Asked about Wheeler’s apology, the council leader appeared unconvinced. “I mean, you said it, you thought it,” she said. She said that making Blackpool and Birmingham the butt of the joke was “more evidence of what the true thoughts are”.

That’s a sentiment echoed by the Labour Party in Westminster,

with Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner saying: “The disrespect is off the scale.”

“The mask has slipped,” she added.

“This minister has blurted out what Boris Johnson’s Conservatives really think about our communities behind closed doors. Heather Wheeler has put her utter contempt for voters on show.”

So why do Tories do it?

Why do they announce big policies to improve lives across the country and then insult its people in the most crass and insensitive of ways?

I reckon it’s because they think they can.

They believe they are better than the rest of us, so they can say what they like.

(And do whatever they want, as the Partygate scandal demonstrated amply.)

Do you want to know why they think that way?

Because they keep getting voted back into power by people who seem to enjoy being treated like dirt. Can you understand that?

Source: Tory MP and minister apologises after describing Blackpool and Birmingham as ‘godawful’

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Erdington by-election: voters reject Tory for might-as-well-be-Tory

All smiles: but now Paulette Hamilton will have to prove she deserved to win Birmingham Erdington – and, with Keir Starmer’s pale Tory policies in a hugely-deprived constituency, that won’t be easy.

Let’s discuss the elephant in the room first: socialist candidate Dave Nellist caused a tremor in UK politics by coming third in the Birmingham Erdington by-election.

He beat candidates from Reform UK, the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats.

But he only received 360 votes and the result is unlikely to disturb the plans of either the second-placed Conservatives (6,147 votes) or the winner, Paulette Hamilton of the Keir Starmer Party (currently still misnaming itself as Labour).

Turnout was extremely low, with just 27 per cent of the 67,598-strong electorate bothering to vote. So the real winner was “none of the above” – and it seems the worst enemy of democracy in the UK is still a bit of rain.

And the fact that the turnout was low means news reports of vote shares are skewed (being based on the shares parties received of votes cast, rather than shares of the electorate.

The Starmer Party didn’t increase its vote share from 50 to 55 per cent, as is being claimed in the press.

The late Jack Dromey’s 17,720 votes in 2019 netted him just 26.8 per cent of the possible vote, ahead of Tory Robert Alden, whose 14,119 votes totalled 21.3 per cent of the electorate.

The two main parties’ shares of the possible votes were reduced to 14 per cent for the Starmer Party’s Paulette Hamilton (9,413 votes) and just 9.1 per cent for the Tories’ Robert Alden (6,147 votes).

Starmer has made much of his representative’s win, saying she has “made history”. He meant this was because she was the first black person, and the first woman, to take the constituency’s seat.

But it would be more accurate to say she made history by winning the seat with the lowest number of voters supporting her in the entire history of the constituency.

Undoubtedly some readers will want to suggest that pointing this out is just sour grapes on This Writer’s part, as I supported Mr Nellist and he won fewer than one per cent of the available votes. I’d say that was a fair comment. This was a missed opportunity, in my view.

But everybody has to start somewhere and this shows that left-wing politics in the UK is not dead.

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If you’re in Erdington are you letting the Westminster rot continue – or voting Nellist?

Dave Nellist: a genuine alternative to the right-wing political coalition that is strangling the UK.

It’s a filthy day out – exactly the kind of weather that puts socialists off going out to vote.

It would be a bitter shame if that happens in Bimingham’s Erdington constituency today.

Voters have a choice between the usual right-wingers in the Tory and Liberal Democrat parties, along with a new right-winger being pushed by Keir Starmer’s turncoat Labour Party that (apparently) takes orders from the Tories – or they could support an exciting alternative who offers the political representation that we all need.

That alternative is Dave Nellist – as he demonstrates himself in two video clips released today:

It’s a simple choice: more of the same corruption – which is exactly what you’ll get if you stay at home and don’t bother to vote – or a chance for something different with Dave.

Erdington voters: what are you going to do?

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#Erdington: campaign turnout for #DaveNellist shows real people want real CHANGE

Dave Nellist: a genuine alternative to the right-wing political coalition that is strangling the UK?

This illustrates perfectly what This Site is saying about the lack of choice in mainstream UK politics.

Apologists for Keir Starmer’s blue Labour say anyone taking their vote elsewhere is “splitting the left-wing vote” or “helping the Tories” when in fact they are doing nothing of the kind.

This is because Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are all right-wing parties that have nothing to offer working and working-class people apart from empty promises.

I recently tweeted a suggested formula to make Labour electable again:

Support for Dave Nellist’s campaign in Erdington suggests that I’m right. As Skwawkbox states,

Nellist’s wife Jane tweeted on Sunday evening about the level of support Nellist had received over the weekend in spite of horrendous weather… At least ten times more people [than the Labour candidate].

The reason is obvious: he’s offering something that real people really want.

And it’s good that the Trade Union/Socialist Coalition (part of the People’s Alliance of the Left) candidate has so many campaigners.

They’re needed, to explain that Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems are currently just three cheeks of the same right-wing backside that’s blowing hot air in all their faces.

Source: Nellist turns out 10x more campaigners in Erdington than right-wing Labour despite foul weather – SKWAWKBOX

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People of Erdington: if this makes sense, vote yourselves a new MP on March 3

Dave Nellist: a genuine alternative to the right-wing political coalition that is strangling the UK?

Remember Dave Nellist, the socialist candidate for Birmingham Erdington standing on the TUSC ticket, as part of the People’s Alliance of the Left?

Here’s a short message from his campaign on Twitter:

If you’re a voter in Erdington and this makes good sense to you, then consider helping the campaign via the instructions in tweets six and seven – and vote for Dave on March 3.

You could be helping to start a major change for the better in UK politics.

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NHS medical records handed to O2 to predict mental breakdowns – isn’t this against the law?

How many NHS record files have been handed over to a private firm by the Tories, in breach of Data Protection laws and the General Data Protection Regulations?

This looks like a huge data protection breach.

The Tory government, which runs the NHS in England, should have sought permission from patients before handing over their records to a commercial organisation – anonymised or not.

The fact that this information only became public knowledge via a Freedom of Information request makes it even worse because the Tories have been hiding what they have done.

Are you a patient of Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust?

If so, I strongly suggest that you get together with other patients, find out if your information was handed over, and take legal action. Get in touch with Citizens Advice to find out how.

The telecoms giant O2 has been given access to a cache of NHS medical records to develop an algorithm aimed at predicting when mental health crises might occur.

Patients’ consent was not sought before Telefonica, the Spanish group that trades as O2 in the UK, was given free access to the trove of records from Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, according to documents, published last month under freedom of information laws.

The data includes five years’ of anonymised records belonging to current and former patients. In the document, the NHS trust said that “25,000 people experience a mental health crisis every year” in Birmingham and Solihull, suggesting that data on tens of thousands of patients could have been shared.

Source: NHS medical records given to telecoms group to predict mental breakdowns | News | The Sunday Times

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Trigger ballots to decide if Phillips has to fight to remain an MP

Jess Phillips: It’s time for her to go.

Labour Party members in the Birmingham Yardley constituency are to vote on the future of MP Jess Phillips.

She is facing a ‘trigger’ vote to decide whether she should face a challenge to her right to be their Parliamentary candidate in the next general election.

According to Skwawkbox, “Yardley reportedly only has some five hundred Labour members… Ms Phillips is said to have been working hard trying to cultivate their favour.

“Phillips’ neighbour, Roger Godsiff, was ‘triggered‘ earlier this week, with Barking MP Margaret Hodge suffering the same result the week before.”

Ms Phillips is highly controversial. This Site published an article earlier this week, sympathetic with staff at her office after they were targeted by a man banging on the windows and shouting “fascist”.

He seemed unhappy that she had made a speech about the un-Parliamentary language used by Boris Johnson regarding his aborted prorogation.

But I have little sympathy for Ms Phillips as a person and neither do readers of This Site, as evidenced by comments on that previous article.

“Jess Phillips is a fine one to bemoan the violent language currently being used in Parliament,” stated ‘TimFrom’. “She made an early contribution to the trend in 2015 when, in response to talk of Labour MPs back-stabbing Jeremy Corbyn, she proudly proclaimed she’d oh-so-bravely knife him ‘in the front’.”

Mark C added: “I really have very little time for Jess Phillips and her ‘I’m just a working class woman made good bab’ persona. I found myself in an unimpressed minority in regards to her recent impassioned speech at the fate of those expelled from the Tory party – why so het up about the Tories when many within the Labour party have been expelled on trumped up charges that she has often supported?

“And I feel her ‘I don’t understand parliamentary process’ comment is, at worst a wilful and calculated part of that ‘ordinary woman’ act and, at best, pure unadulterated ignorance at the job she is elected to perform.”

Others have criticised her for supporting Ruth Smeeth at the hearing of Labour’s National Constitutional Committee that led to the entirely inappropriate expulsion of anti-racism campaign Marc Wadsworth on a charge relating to anti-Semitic racism. Ms Smeeth had lied about him.

And This Writer came under fire for calling her “mouthy” – with critics claiming I was using sexist language, even though I and others apply that term freely to men, women and groups.

So, while Ms Phillips’s place as a candidate may now be in doubt, This Writer certainly hopes that members of Yardley CLP remove her from the list in the very near future.

There should be no place in the Parliamentary Labour Party for her.

Source: Phillips facing trigger ballots on Monday | The SKWAWKBOX

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Is G4S really the right choice to run sexual assault referral centres?

G4S Forensic and Medical Services already provides similar services in Essex, Worcester and Telford [Image: David Jones/PA].

Let’s get one thing straight – G4S promises us that Theresa May’s husband Phillip has nothing to do with the company.

Fine – so why does this inept and dangerous organisation keep winning plum contracts from the Conservative Government?

Only today (December 16), the Prison Service had to take over Birmingham Prison because of what appears to be a riot – that this security-based company cannot control.

If G4S can’t control rioting prisoners, why is it running a prison?

This is the latest in a series of cock-ups that go back through the years.

Can anybody forget the fact that G4S completely messed up its contract to run security at the 2012 London Olympics, forcing the Tories to bring in the Army at extremely short notice?

Now this mob has won a contract providing medical exams and counselling for rape and sexual assault victims – who deserve far better.

Considering the way the benefits system has been perverted to put people off claiming, one has to wonder whether this choice is to put people off reporting these serious offences.

G4S, the controversial private security company, is to run services providing medical examinations and counselling for victims of rape and sexual assault in the West Midlands.

The company has been awarded a three-year contract to take over two sexual assault referral centres (Sarcs) in Birmingham and Walsall. The national network of 33 centres across England which have developed over the past decade also allow rape and sexual assault victims to report attacks without going to the police first.

The decision to award the contract for such sensitive services to the company, despite widespread criticism over its failings in the Olympics security contract, was made by local NHS commissioners who have recently taken over responsibility for the network of Sarcs from the police.

Union leaders and violence against women campaigners sharply criticised the “sell-off” of such sensitive services to a private company with such a chequered record.

Source: G4S contract to run sexual assault referral centres damned | Business | The Guardian

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Fox News announces Birmingham is a ‘no-go zone’ for non-Muslims

The man on the right stated, on Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, that Birmingham is a 'no-go' zone for non-Muslims.

The man on the right stated, on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, that Birmingham is a ‘no-go’ zone for non-Muslims.

If anybody on Twitter hasn’t been alerted to #foxnewsfacts, type it in and improve your life.

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News TV channel kicked off the trend with the following sensational revelation:

For clarity, the man said: “And in Britain, it’s not just no-go zones, there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in. And parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to Muslim, religious Muslim attire.”

Inevitably, the presentation of this information as fact led to the proliferation of more #foxnewsfacts, some of which follow:

Fans of Birmingham City Football Club worship at the Blues Mosque. (Clive Peedell)

English real ale is bottled upside down so crowncork top can be banged on workhouse floor to check seal and create some bubbles. (Julian Bray UK)

The English City of Ba’ath is dedicated to the overthrow of the state of Israel. (Bernie Banter)

150111foxnewsfacts1

Fox News reports people taking to the streets of Birmingham, holding signs reading JE SUIS BENNY. (Neil Mossey)

150111foxnewsfacts2

The south west is the only place white people live now. (Goddessdeeva)

150111foxnewsfacts3

Mullah Jasper El Carrot. He has ruled Birmingham for decades. (Craig Chez)

Jules R pointed out: “Just you lot wait until Fox News find out there’s a place called The Black Country.”

A particular favourite of this writer was the claim that Bristol is entirely submerged, which led Yr Obdt Srvt to tweet that his own parents are turning into dolphins.

There is already a petition asking the Mayor of Birmingham to let non-Muslims back into the city. It reads:

“Today international ‘terrorism’ expert Steven Emerson astoundingly revealed to Fox News the literally incredible information that, ‘in Britain, it’s not just no-go zones – there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally muslim, where non-muslims just simply don’t go in’.

“Most people in Britain had no idea that non-muslims no longer ‘just simply go in’ to Birmingham and other cities in the UK (Emerson did not yet state which other cities he is referring to). Birmingham had loads of non-muslims in the last time I was there, so this is a real shock.

“We call upon the city of Birmingham and other non-specified British cities to once again allow non-muslims to roam their streets.

“[edit: it’s a shame to have to add this bit, because it spoils the joke a bit – but for the avoidance of doubt, this is a satirical petition. I know that Birmingham is a diverse city and that everyone is welcome there as in all other cities in the UK. Fox News’ so-called ‘expert’ apparently does not.]”

There is a more sinister aspect to this. It could be suggested that, by making these claims on a major news channel, the Murdoch media is trying to stir up internecine unrest in the United Kingdom. This is, of course, illegal.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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