Here are some more details that the “details guy” missed:
Having said he’s “a details guy”, @DominicRaab says a disorderly #Brexit would be fine, because and “we’d have £39bn to put the rocket boosters up the economy”. Challenged by #Marr he admits it might be more like £25bn.
“I’m a details guy, I’m a lawyer, I spent 6 years in the Foreign Office” – on #AndrewMarr But somehow he couldn’t find the time to read the 35 page Good Friday Agreement, and was unaware of the importance of Dover port. Yep, PM material alright.
Raab told the BBC he would go back to the EU27 for a fairer Brexit deal – especially concerning the Northern Ireland border – but if this was not possible, the UK would leave on World Trade Organisation terms in October.
On domestic and other foreign issues, he said – Oh!
It seems he had nothing to say about those issues.
Apparently being prime minister is about nothing other than Brexit, these days.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Chris Davies: Brecon and Radnorshire’s criminal cartoon MP.
This has come through from Powys County Council and should be of great interest to all voters in Brecon and Radnorshire (which is This Writer’s home constituency):
Public notice of petition to remove the MP for Brecon and Radnorshire Chris Davies
Recall of MPs Act 2015 (Recall Petition)
Notice of Petition
There will be a petition to decide whether Chris Davies, the MP for Brecon and Radnorshire should lose his seat as an MP and a by-election held to decide who would be the MP for that constituency.
The petition has been started because Chris Davies, MP has been convicted of an offence under section 10 of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 (an offence of providing false/misleading information for a parliamentary allowances claim and also of a second offence of attempting to provide such information), and ordered to pay a fine of £1,500 and has been given a community order requiring the completion of 50 hours of unpaid work within the next 12 months.
Petition signing period: 9am on Thursday, 9 May to 5pm Thursday, 20 June 2019.
Constituency: Brecon and Radnorshire
The designated petition signing places are located at:
Council Chamber, Broad Street, Hay-on-Wye, HR3 5BX
Clarence Hall House, Beaufort Street, Crickhowell, NP8 1BN
These locations will be open for signing:
Monday, 9am to 5pm (except spring bank holiday Monday)
Tuesday, 8am to 5pm
Wednesday, 9am to 8pm
Thursday, 9am to 5pm
Friday, 9am to 5pm
A person is eligible to sign the petition if they are a registered parliamentary elector for the constituency and aged 18 or over (or the date of their 18th birthday is before the end of the signing period).
All registered parliamentary electors will be written to individually advising them of the signing procedure and which signing place they have been allocated to. Parliamentary electors who are currently registered to vote by post will receive their signing sheet by post.
New applications to sign the petition by POST must be received by no later than 5pm on Wednesday, 5 June 2019.
New applications to sign the petition by PROXY must be received by no later than 5pm on Wednesday, 12 June 2019.
Publication of 10% threshold
After receiving the Speaker’s notice under section 5 of the Recall of MP’s Act 2015 the Petition Officer herewith gives public notice of:
(a) the number of persons who are entitled to sign the petition as 53,032
(b) the number of persons who would need to sign the petition for the petition to be successful in accordance with section 14 of the Recall of MP’s Act 2015(a) (determination of whether recall petition successful) as 5,303
Dr Caroline Turner, Petition Officer
So there you have it.
Obviously, I would advise every voter in Brecon and Radnorshire to sign the petition so we can get rid of this criminal and vote in somebody who might actually take the job seriously.
If you are not a voter in Brecon and Radnorshire – but know somebody who is – please advise them in the same manner.
I’ll try to keep you all updated on this latest erosion of the Conservative Party’s Parliamentary membership.
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Just when you thought the Conservative Party – the party currently running the UK’s government, let’s not forget – couldn’t get any more incompetent… this.
I’ll hand you over to Skwawkbox for the embarrassing details:
It was hard to imagine that the Tories could conceivably top last year’s conference disaster. Letters falling off their slogan behind Theresa May, her unstoppable coughing fit and the joke P45 – and of course, the fact that her keynote speech included lines lifted directly from the West Wing – made 2017’s event unforgettable in its incompetence.
But before this year’s drear-fest has even begun, they’ve already done ‘better’, potentially costing themselves £20 million.
A huge flaw has been discovered in the Tories’ conference app that reveals full contact details of each registered person if you simply enter their email address.
The death of Mark Duggan (inset) led to the riots of 2011 [Image: Daily Telegraph].
The Ministry of Justice has admitted that data from three semi-secret inquiries has gone missing on discs that were – get this – lost in the post.
According to the BBC, the missing material – which the Ministry of Justice says went missing after being sent in the post – relates to three investigations that examined the roles of police in the death of members of the public.
Two inquiries relate to fatal police shootings of crime suspects in London – Mark Duggan and Azelle Rodney. The third relates to the 1997 murder of Robert Hamill in Northern Ireland, which campaigners allege involved the collusion of police officers.
In each inquiry there were witnesses, including police officers, who were given anonymity because of possible threats to their safety – but officials have refused to confirm whether any of the missing documents include personal information relating to these witnesses.
This is yet another bungle by a failing Ministry of Justice under a failing Justice Minister – in fact, his nickname is an admission of this: Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling.
The Azelle Rodney case involved a mid-level career criminal who was shot dead by armed officers of the Metropolitan Police on April 30, 2005. In July 2013 a judicial inquiry found that the Authorised Firearms Officer who fired the fatal shots had “no lawful justification” for opening fire. The case was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service to determine whether a prosecution should be launched. On July 30, 2014, the CPS announced that they had made the decision to charge the officer with murder.
We should all remember the case of Mark Duggan. He was the young man whose death sparked the riots in London – and subsequently across the UK – in the summer of 2011. The official story of Duggan’s death has undergone numerous changes, drawing criticism and suspicion from Duggan’s family, residents of Tottenham, and other supporters. These critics accuse police of misconduct and of failing to cooperate with investigating Duggan’s death. Shortcomings in the police response have also been blamed for stoking the riots, and for fueling ongoing discontent, with Duggan’s supporters stating “there can be no peace without justice”.
(Information on both these cases is from Wikipedia).
If this writer was entrusted with the delivery of documents that may include material identifying key witnesses who had been given public anonymity, the last thing I’d consider is sending it via the recently-privatised Royal Mail!
There is huge potential for – let’s call it – mischief in this matter – and we cannot discount the possibility that the Tory-run Ministry of Justice is behind some of it.
We may await the ‘outing’ of some of these anonymous witnesses with a sense of inevitability.
One law for them…: This image appeared on Twitter, summarising how the law treats MPs in comparison with the rest of us.
How strange that John Bercow would want to make himself an accessory to MPs’ fraudulent expenses claims!
It seems the Speaker of the House of Commons has ordered that details of all MPs’ expenses, claimed before the system was reformed in 2010, should be shredded.
The decision will have come as good news for Members such as George Osborne, who made a cool £1 million off the taxpayer from expenses payments made to cover a mortgage on open land in his Cheshire constituency which he claimed he was using for Parliamentary business.
(The bad news for him is that Vox Political holds copies of relevant documents and will certainly launch another attempt to have Osborne prosecuted, if the opportunity presents itself. Oh, and the Daily Telegraph – which has a complete record of claims made under the former system and used it in a series of reports that shocked the nation and led to the system being reformed, a matter that has now become a two-edged sword.)
Bercow’s reasons for burning the books are a mystery. According to the Telegraph, weakling standards watchdog Kathryn Hudson has been dealing with multiple allegations raised by constituents. Now she is able to tell them that their concerns cannot be investigated due to lack of evidence.
This is not good enough.
In fact, it is worse than the original, scandalous system. At least, with that, it was possible to find out who had claimed money and why; that is no longer the case.
The Telegraph article tells us that the Commons’ ‘Authorised Records Disposal Practice’ lays down guidelines about the length of time for which records may be kept. Thousands are stored indefinitely in the Parliamentary Archive. The pay, discipline and sickness records of Commons staff are kept until their 100th birthday. Health and safety records are kept for up to 40 years.
How long are records of MPs’ expenses kept until they are destroyed? Three years.
Why such a short period? “Data protection”.
Why does this only apply to MPs’ expenses and not to the other matters? No answer.
We know why, though, don’t we? It’s in order to cover up the wrongdoings of the most corrupt Parliament in living memory.
We know that the government has been legislating to ensure that money is drained from the poor and needy into the hands of the rich and the powerful corporations they run, in return for generous donations to the Conservative Party (arrangements for the Liberal Democrats are not known to this blog).
Who knows what backbenchers have been doing in the meantime? They’ve certainly been living the life of Riley while some of us have had to struggle simply to secure the state benefits that we have spent our entire working lives subsidising – and many others, having been denied those benefits for spurious reasons, are no longer with us as a result.
Still, considering the limp punishment handed down to Maria Miller, who between 2005 and 2009 claimed £90,718 in Parliamentary expenses for the mortgage and upkeep of a south London house that was occupied, not by herself, but by her parents, there is no reason to believe any of them would have received a just and proper punishment.
(She was fined £5,800 and made a half-hearted apology – not to the taxpayer, but to Parliament, after a committee of, you guessed it, MPs overruled the standards commissioner’s recommendation that she be made to repay £45,000.)
If any other citizen (who did not have the right business- or class-based connections) embezzled that much money, they would be jailed for a lengthy period of time – in fact we have recently seen cases in which people who were reduced to stealing from supermarkets or food banks, after the DWP sanctioned their benefits, have been jailed for unduly lengthy periods. Yet MPs are, essentially, let off the hook.
The problem is: They’re above the law.
There won’t be any justice in this system until the whole mechanism for investigating allegations against MPs – of any kind – is handed over to the police, where it belongs.
And not just the Metropolitan Police, who are nearby and may end up facing their own corruption allegations. Perhaps it is best that the responsibility be handed between forces on a rota system, in order to minimise the opportunity for underhandedness.
No MP would ever vote for that, of course. In a perfect world they might but, in this one, all that is required to buy their silence is peer pressure. In a perfect world (again) the electorate would be able to hold MPs to account with the threat of being removed from their seat at the next election, but we know that this does not happen in practice. Some ex-MPs who were disgraced in the last expenses scandal will be standing for election again next May.
Who do you bank with? This piece of public opinion was picked up from Twitter [Author: Unknown].
Isn’t it a shame that on of our national Sunday newspapers has chosen to disrupt everybody’s enjoyment of our Easter eggs with a specious attempt to expose abuses of food banks and make operator the Trussell Trust look hypocritical?
Isn’t it also a shame that the Mail on Sunday didn’t make a few inquiries into the procedure for dealing with people who turn up at food banks without having been referred?
The paper’s reporters and editor could have, at least, opened a dictionary and looked up the meaning of the word “charity”.
Unfortunately for reporters Simon Murphy and Sanchez Manning, both situations are – in fact – allowed, because food banks must be flexible in the way they deal with individual cases. They would have known that if they had done their homework – as yr obdt srvt (who’s writing this) did at several meetings on the organisation of food banks here in Powys.
The paper’s investigation claims that there were “inadequate checks on who claims the vouchers, after a reporter obtained three days’ worth of food simply by telling staff at a Citizens Advice Bureau – without any proof – that he was unemployed”.
It turned out that this person had to fill out a form providing his name, address, date of birth, phone number and the reason for his visit before an assessor asked him why he needed food bank vouchers. In contradiction of the introduction to the story, he explained – not simply that he was unemployed, but that he had been out of work for several months and the harsh winter had left him strapped for cash and food. He said his wife had left her job and was not earning and that they had two children. These lies were sufficient to win food bank vouchers.
What the report didn’t say was how the details given by reporter Ross Slater would have been used afterwards. The CAB would have booked him in for a further interview with a debt advisor, to which he would have had to bring documentary evidence of his situation. When he didn’t turn up, he would have been identified as a fraud. The food bank would also have taken his details, to be fed back into the referral system. Job Centre Plus would have picked up on the fact that he isn’t unemployed. From this point on, he would have been identified as a fraud and refused further service.
You see, it is true that food banks run on a voucher system, but that is only a part of the scheme. The questions asked of people who need vouchers are used to ensure that they get the help they need to avoid having to come back – that’s why they’re asked. They also weed out abusers like Mr Slater.
If the paper’s editor had looked in a dictionary, he might have seen charity defined as “voluntary provision of help to people in need, or the help provided” in the first instance. However, reading further, he would have seen “sympathy or tolerance in judging” listed as well. It seems the Mail on Sunday would have no such sympathy and would have deserving cases turned away to starve.
It is telling, also, that the paper had to go to Citizens Advice to get its evidence. Far more food bank vouchers are handed out in the Job Centre Plus, where all a citizen’s circumstances are available to advisors. But not one word is said about the fact that the vast majority of food bank referrals are for people in real need and not newspaper reporters.
The paper also stated: “Staff at one centre gave food parcels to a woman who had visited nine times in just four months, despite that particular centre’s own rules stipulating that individuals should claim no more than three parcels a year.”
It continued: “Individuals experiencing severe financial hardship are able to claim food vouchers but there are no clear criteria on who should be eligible. Once received, the vouchers can be exchanged for three days’ worth of food at an allotted centre.
“The Trussell Trust has a policy that an individual can claim no more than nine handouts in a year, but undercover reporters found this limit varied in different branches.”
No – it is far more likely that it varied according to the circumstances of the person who needed the help. Rigid rules, such as one that limits people to only three visits, mean those who need the most help would be cut off while they still needed assistance. People working in food banks would be aware of who these were, and would be more likely to be tolerant towards them.
Meanwhile, the other support services – Job Centre Plus, Citizens Advice, Social Services and so on – would be working to help them. With some people, it simply takes longer. It should be easy for anyone to think of reasons why this may be the case.
This may also explain the situation in which a worker at a Trussell Trust food bank said people “bounce around” locations to receive more vouchers. The assessment system is a way of monitoring these people and determining whether they need extra help.
It is not true that the criteria are not clear – the paper is misleading with this claim. Food banks, the charities running them, and referring organisations all have to agree on the circumstances in which they permit people to receive parcels. You really can’t just walk in the door and expect to get a free handout. That’s why the questions are asked and forms filled out – they will check up on everybody.
Another claim – that “volunteers revealed that increased awareness of food banks is driving a rise in their use” is unsubstantiated, and is clearly an attempt to support the government’s claim that this is the case. But it is silly. Of course starving people will go to a food bank after they have been told it exists; that doesn’t mean they aren’t starving.
And the paper wrongly said the Trussell Trust had claimed that more than 913,000 people received three days’ emergency food from its banks in 2013-14, compared with 347,000 in the previous financial year. This is a misreading of the way the charity records its work, as the Trussell Trust records visits, not visitors. It would be hard to work out exactly how many people attended because some will have visited just once, others twice, a few for the full three times, and some would have required extra help.
The claim that many visitors were asylum-seekers is silly because food banks were originally set up for foreign people who were seeking asylum in the UK and had no money or means of support.
Of course it would be wrong to say that nobody is trying to abuse the system. There are good people and bad people all over the country, and bad people will try to cheat. Look at Maria Miller, Iain Duncan Smith (Betsygate), George Osborne (and his former paddock), Andrea Leadsom’s tax avoidance, Philip Hammond’s tax avoidance, Charlotte Leslie who took cash to ask Parliamentary questions – to name but a few.
The Trussell Trust has agreed to investigate the newspaper’s allegations – but it is important to remember that these were just a few instances of abuse, and only claimed – by a newspaper that is infamous for the poor quality of its reporting.
Nothing said in the article should be used to undermine the vital work of food banks in helping people to survive, after the Conservative-led Coalition government stole the safety net of social security away from them.
UPDATE: Already the Mail on Sunday is facing a public backlash against its ill-advised piece. A petition on the Change.org website is calling for the reporter who claimed food bank vouchers under false pretences in order to make a political point to be sacked. Vox Political has mixed feelings about this – it targets a person who was sent out to do a job by others who are more directly to blame for the piece, but then he did it of his own free will and this action brings all newspaper reporters into disrepute. Consider carefully.
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