Tag Archives: energy

Energy prices have quadrupled and Kwarteng is lying about the government response

Kwasi Kwarteng: you can’t trust a word he says.

This is refreshing! The BBC is actually doing its job and checking government ministers’ claims against the facts!

Here’s the evidence:

In fact, the rebuttal from the Treasury was far harsher than the BBC misled us to believe, if you take Sam Coates’s word for it (and I’m inclined to):

Still, let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth. The fact that the BBC has actually checked a minister’s claim is a huge step forward for the quality of journalism at the Corporation.

Maybe they have. This Writer went on the course before embarking on a career in professional journalism. But then, I’m not related to anybody at the BBC, which is allegedly how most of their staff are recruited these days.

It is entirely possible, though, that the BBC’s sudden zeal for facts is merely a bid to hide the extremity of the disaster that the Tories have created over the 40 years since Margaret Thatcher started privatising energy suppliers:

And Kwarteng? He’s not bothered. He went off to Sky (presumably avoiding Mr Coates) and had good fun chatting with Islamophobe Trevor Philips about how sick and old people can eliminate the choice between heating and eating by putting on a few extra layers of clothes…

… so they end up doing neither:

The whole situation is reminiscent of the early-1970s oil crisis that led to power cuts across the UK.

That was during a Conservative government, too – Edward Heath’s.

He introduced a three-day working week in order to conserve electricity – and it seems Boris Johnson’s government has brought us back to that.

This has been a long time coming – and some of us have been warning about it, every step of the way.

The Tories privatised the energy suppliers on the promise that prices would stay low and systems would improve, in order to stay competitive. Instead, prices quadrupled and control of the new companies was bought by foreign firms, many of them wholly-owned by the governments of EU nations.

And then the UK left the EU, annoying those governments.

And now we are facing the threat of being deprived of our power supply.

It would not be possible if the UK had retained control of its own energy supply. But that’s another truth you won’t hear from Kwasi Kwarteng.

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Also in the news: on the eve of the Tory conference, the product of their idiocy

Frustration: will the consequences of Boris Johnson’s many failures catch up with him at this year’s Tory conference?

The Conservative conference starts in Manchester on October 3 – just as we’re all seeing the consequences of their misbehaviour in government.

Let’s have a look at how some of those consequences have hit the headlines:

The government’s furlough scheme has ended

The scheme triggered a fall in wages when it was phased in, between April and June 2020 – and that’s why Boris Johnson was able to talk about a huge increase in the same months this year, as vaccinations meant people were going back to work.

Now it has ended, there is likely to be a huge mismatch between the skills people have and those employers need, meaning an expected fall in employment for an unknown length of time running into the future.

Energy prices are rising by 12 per cent in the UK while other countries subsidise the cost

That’s right – with the Universal Credit ‘uplift’ of £20 per week axed, plunging millions into poverty; with National Insurance rising; with the furlough scheme ending, meaning insecurity for millions more – a shortage of imported gas (from Russia, if I recall correctly) means much of the UK will be struggling to stay warm over the winter.

It’s the usual story of Tory government, with people again being forced to choose between heating and eating.

Meanwhile, what’s happening in other affected countries?

The UK’s Covid-19 infection rate is among the worst in the world

Tory policies mean the UK’s Covid-19 infection rate is the highest in western Europe – by far – and only exceeded by 13 other countries in the world.

The UK is also out-infecting the US, Canada, and former Covid hotspots like India and Brazil.

Between the week ending September 15 and that ending September 22, UK infections rose by 18 per cent, with 191,771 positive tests.

Weekday infection rates are around 35,000 per day, with around 150 deaths. This is more than the average at which we were told Boris Johnson was likely to re-implement restrictions or another lockdown (1,000 deaths per week).

Locktober, anybody?

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Labour conference votes to nationalise energy firms in defiance of Starmer

Keir Starmer: his own entitled arrogance led to this defeat.

More-Tory-than-Tories Labour leader Keir Starmer stood humiliated after his party conference rejected his refusal to re-nationalise energy firms.

Labour is now mandated to bring all the privatised franchises back into public ownership, in line with the wishes of the general public – and Starmer will just have to lump it.

Nationally, 53 per cent of the public want energy firms re-nationalised while only 15 per cent oppose the move.

But let us be clear that this is not just a backlash from the ‘Labour Left’; it is a decision by a majority of delegates from all sides of the party’s so-called ‘broad church’.

It is also a hilarious turnabout – and loss of face – for the Labour leader who was exposed as a liar only hours earlier, when he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that he did not believe in nationalisation, contradicting his own pledge to party members when he was seeking election as leader.

Labour delegates on the conference floor voted overwhelming in favour of a “socialist green new deal” motion – explicitly backing public ownership of energy companies. The motion also called for the creation of millions of green jobs and publicly-owned green investment banks.

Perhaps Starmer should have showed less entitled ignorance to a Green New Deal activist he brushed off on his way to the party conference, earlier:

It’s a performance that takes arrogance to a shocking level. This Writer would defy any Labour supporter not to be angry after watching it.

And that is Starmer’s problem: more and more Labour members are getting angry at his treatment of the rank-and-file, grassroots party as though they exist merely to serve him and his elite chums.

This vote is a wake-up call, and the message is clear.

It says: “No. You do what we tell you.”

Sadly, I don’t think he has the brains to recognise it.

Source: Labour delegates vote to nationalise energy firms in defeat for Keir Starmer | The Independent

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Why would Johnson apologise for ‘mine closure’ comments? He wanted to offend you

Great minds think alike: I was going to put together an image with the caption “Johnson is the pits” but someone got there before me – the Mirror, by the look of it.

The worst part of Boris Johnson’s comments on pit closures is not their crass insensitivity – it is the clearly-stated intention behind them.

Even the Tory-supporting BBC couldn’t hold back from commenting that “He is reported to have laughed and told reporters: ‘I thought that would get you going.'”

He had said:

“Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, who closed so many coal mines across the country, we had a big early start and we’re now moving rapidly away from coal altogether.”

He wanted to cause offence with his claim that Margaret Thatcher helped the environment by closing coal mines in the mid-1980s.

He knows perfectly well that she was no environmentalist; she wanted the mines closed in order to break the power of the unions. It was part of her plan to put millions of people out of work, because this would give employers the whip hand in wage negotiations (they would tell any applicant who wanted more that there were plenty of other people seeking a job).

Predictably, the Tory-supporting BBC has supported Johnson’s claim with a sidebar by “environment analyst” Roger Harrabin (who?) claiming that Thatcher had a point because she told the UN that greenhouse gases were “changing the environment of our planet in damaging and dangerous ways” – in 1989.

That was five years later – an eternity in which she and her advisers had enjoyed plenty of time to dream up an excuse for the pit closures that plunged so many lives into poverty, uncertainty and despair.

Harrabin’s comment, “Her pit closures were not part of a green policy, but they did fortuitously show the UK could prosper without coal,” was as insensitive as Johnson’s. Tell that to the families of the mine workers who lost their livelihoods, and who are still struggling, even today!

Who exactly does Harrabin mean by “the UK”? Bosses of our big-business energy firms? But, they’re all foreign executives, most of whom work for the governments of EU countries. Privatisation led to shares in the formerly-nationalised energy industry being bought by those EU-based concerns.

Johnson, of course, is still claiming that the UK has Brexited itself away from giving money to the EU but this is clearly untrue.

Representatives of opposition political parties have demanded a retraction from Johnson – whose government has supported the opening of the UK’s first new coal mine in decades, in Cumbria.

So he was lying about switching to green power.

And let’s face it – he doesn’t care about offending people. He thinks it will boost his reputation among… a certain section of the British public.

Remember the other shocking things he has said:

Remember his Brexit campaign, when he lied that the NHS would be given £350 million a week? That investment might have done us all some good, prior to the coronavirus crisis but it was never going to happen because the Tories have been running the NHS down to make it ripe for privatisation – which would have made the UK even less capable of handling Covid-19.

Remember when he tried to make a joke of the massive loss of lives in the Libyan city of Sirte during that nation’s civil war? Or when he had to be stopped from inappropriately quoting a colonial poem by Kipling in Myanmar?

Remember when Eddie Mair, on BBC Radio 4, read out a litany of Johnson’s racist behaviour, to the dismay of Amber Rudd?

When Johnson refused to condemn widespread police violence against civilians in Catalonia?

When he spoke nonsense about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Parliament, and the Iranian government used it to threaten her with an extra five years in prison, beyond the five she was already serving on a trumped-up charge?

When he was reprimanded by then-Commons Speaker John Bercow for referring to Emily Thornberry in “frankly sexist” terms?

When he praised Viktor Orban on his election win in Hungary after an anti-Semitic campaign?

His sexist and Islamophobic comments about women who wear the burqa?

The racist poem he published, saying that Scottish people were a “verminous” race that should be placed in ghettos and exterminated?

His racist assessment of the French as “turds“?

His reference to gay men as “tank top-wearing bumboys“?

His question about Irish PM Leo Varadkar: “Why isn’t he called Murphy like the rest of them?”

His clueless claim that hard work can cure mental illness?

His relaxed attitude to his MPs abusing women?

His lie that the NHS would get 20 hospital upgrades, starting in his first week as prime minister – that he then edited out of a video?

His obscene description of then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn?

Let’s also add to it his apparent reluctance to go into Covid-19 lockdown last autumn, saying, “Let the bodies pile high in their thousands.”

Put all that together and you know Johnson won’t apologise for this latest outrage?

Why would he? He’s a serial offender.

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Labour lays down the green energy gauntlet with interest-free loan plan for electric cars

While the Tories – and other right-wingers around the globe – are still messing up the planet with fossil fuels, Labour has announced a game-changing plan to democratise ownership of electric cars.

A Labour government will offer loans of up to £33,000 to low- and middle-income households, people in rural areas, independent contractors and small-to-medium-sized businesses, to buy electric cars.

The intention is to provide clean transport for everyone, with 2.5 million interest-free loans; the government would cover the cost of interest.

And the scheme would boost the national grid, as everyone receiving a loan would be required to participate in a mass trial of “Vehicle-2-Grid” technology.

Electric cars will store energy when demand is low – during the night when the wind is blowing but people are asleep, for example – and discharge into the grid when energy use peaks -in the evening as people arrive home from work. This smooths out demand and reduces reliance on gas-driven power stations.

The plan was explained by shadow chancellor John McDonnell:

“This will stimulate the automotive industry. It will sustain jobs in the conversion from fossil fuels to electric but actually it will create new jobs as well.

“So this is beneficial in terms of the climate, [and] it is beneficial for those people who want to convert their carbon-fuel powered car into an electric vehicle that is sustainable.

“At the same time, it will help support the automotive industry and create jobs. Those jobs are in areas where we have had real issues, particularly with Brexit.”

The plan has been announced to contrast with the Conservative government, which has been slammed repeatedly, including by the Society of Motor Manufacturers, for scrapping support for electric cars.

Labour’s plan seems much better all round, it seems.

Source: John McDonnell announces interest free loans for electric cars  – The Labour Party

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New revelations about Tory libeller Claire Perry – while the BBC dithers over its defence

Claire Perry: Even in the Commons, it seems she’s a loudmouth.

Apparently Claire Perry is a bully, besides being libellous and misandrist.

The Tory Energy Minister, who habitually accuses men of “mansplaining” when they get the better of her on television, has now been accused of “shouting and swearing” at civil servants, it seems.

And of course she accused Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of anti-Semitism on the BBC’s Question Time on November 15.

The BBC failed to screen the offending words out of its broadcast of the debate, meaning it is also guilty of libelling Mr Corbyn. If the outburst had been cut, Ms Perry would still have been guilty of slander, as the many members of the studio audience would still have heard it.

And what excuse has the BBC given?

None that is any good. In fact, the BBC has dithered.

According to Skwawkbox, the BBC stated: “David Dimbleby ensured that Labour frontbencher spokesperson and close ally of Mr Corbyn, Barry Gardiner MP, was given the opportunity to challenge the comments made by Claire Perry MP, which he did.”

That’s neither here nor there because it is not a defence against a libel accusation.

And the available defences aren’t applicable here. They include:

Truth – obviously, as the claim is not true, this defence is not available.

Honest opinion – this needs to be based on fact so, again, this defence is not available.

Public interest – this covers situations in which the information is false but may not seem so at the time to the person accused of defamation, and that they had a duty to report it before going into the process of verifying the information. It can be used by someone who finds themselves in a position in which it seems a necessity, either moral, legal, or social, to impart certain information to another who has an interest. But it is public knowledge that all the accusations of anti-Semitism raised against Mr Corbyn so far have been proved false, and there is no public interest in repeating false claims, nor is there any moral, legal or social necessity to do so.

Absolute privilege – this would allow complete freedom of speech but is only available in certain situations and a TV show is not one of them.

Innocent dissemination – this is not available to the author of a defamatory statement but is for innocent parties such as Internet Service Providers who act as a medium through which potentially libellous material may be published but had no knowledge that what they published was defamatory, had no reason to believe that the material would contain libel, and had not been negligent in this lack of knowledge.

It seems Ms Perry may soon face punishment by Parliamentary authorities for breaching the ministerial code, which says relationship with civil servants should be “proper and appropriate”.

But she could be joined in court by the producer(s) of BBC Question Time.

Visit our JustGiving page to help Vox Political’s Mike Sivier fight anti-Semitism libels in court


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Welsh petitioners lead the way with plan for a low-pollution, NON-NUCLEAR energy policy

Artist’s impression of a six-mile sea-wall with turbines to generate low-carbon electricity at Swansea Bay, south Wales. The Conservative Government wants to ring Wales with nuclear waste instead. [Image: Tidal Lagoon Power].

Why does a certain kind of politician have to try to destroy our natural resources? What is this fascination they have with trashing our homes? And what can we do about it?

While the first two of those questions remain subjects for debate, an organisation in Wales may have the answer to the third.

Much of Wales remains startlingly unspoiled after nearly three centuries of industrialisation across the United Kingdom, but current plans by the Conservative Government would ring that country of the UK with the worst kind of polluters.

The Tories are keen to flood the UK with the nuclear waste generated by no less than 13 nuclear power plant rebuilds, including eight which will impact on the western coast of Britain: two at Hinkley in Somerset, two at Oldbury in the Severn estuary, two on Anglesey, three planned at Moorside, Cumbria, plus a recently-announced plan to build a Small Medium Reactor inland at Trawsfynydd.

There is also the issue of radioactive mud from the Hinkley A and B reactors being dumped in the sea just off Cardiff, and the rejection by Westminster of the Swansea Tidal lagoon – a renewable energy scheme that could have powered the equivalent of 155,000 Welsh homes.

And let’s not forget the attempt to bribe communities anywhere in Wales to host radioactive waste burial sites – literally sitting on some of the most toxic substances known to humanity.

The plan, it seems, is to cut back on renewable energy and increase nuclear pollution – at huge expense to the taxpayer.

So not only do they want to poison us – they want to make us pay for them to do it. Charming!

The Westminster government’s policy conflicts (deliberately?) with that of the Labour-run Welsh Government, which has three objectives:

  • Reduce the amount of energy used in Wales.
  • Reduce Welsh reliance on energy generated from fossil fuels.
  • Actively manage the transition to a low-carbon economy.

This plan means nuclear energy should be cut as it is neither low-carbon nor renewable. Considerable amounts of carbon are released in the mining, milling and separation of the Uranium which powers nuclear plants from the ore in which it is found – and then it has to be transported. So in the case of Hinkley C, for example, 50g of carbon dioxide are likely to be released for every unit of electricity generated – breaching the Climate Change Committee’s recommended limit for new sources of power generation beyond 2030.

And, of course, supplies of Uranium are limited. This means poorer ores would be processed as supplies run out, increasing the amount of CO2 generated by the process and, once the supply is depleted, we will have prevented future generations from using it in new – and maybe less harmful – ways in the future.

So the Welsh Government should be utterly opposed to the Westminster government’s plan – right?

Of course it isn’t as easy as that. Energy is not a devolved issue, meaning Westminster still has full control over the policy – across the UK.

But the Welsh Anti-Nuclear Alliance has devised a way of getting around that problem:

The organisation has launched a petition, on the National Assembly for Wales website. It does not call for opposition to the Westminster government’s policy because this would be pointless.

It calls for the Welsh Government to take action that will make nuclear power proliferation unnecessary.

The petition asks the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to invest in green renewable energy sources, thus reducing the need for fossil fuels and nuclear energy in Wales. Specifically, this means:

• Supporting emerging low carbon technologies that could put Wales at the forefront of renewable energies and help to slow climate change; and
• Investing in energy sources that do not leave a legacy of radioactive waste, spoil heaps and damage to health and the environment.

If the Welsh Government was able to show Westminster that it was actively engaging in such activity, it may be possible to persuade the political polluters to put away their plans. Remember, these are long-term schemes and it is possible to demonstrate that one course of action may make another unnecessary.

Here’s what you can do:

Sign the petition.

You don’t have to live in Wales; anyone can sign and the numbers will count towards those needed for a debate in the Welsh Assembly.

Get in touch with your friends and relatives, and get them to sign the petition.

And share the petition – or at least share this article – and urge anybody who may read it to sign.

This is a major opportunity – not just to oppose a hugely dangerous plan to pollute one of the UK’s great natural landscapes but also to become a world-leader in the development and exercise of non-polluting, renewable energy supplies.

Let’s take it.


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Another Theresa May manifesto promise evaporates in a puff of hot air

It’s all about gas. While Theresa May is full of it, she has failed to fulfil a promise to cap energy prices – and now an energy company is hiking its bills.

According to The Independent: “British Gas will hike its prices by an average of 5.5 per cent next month, taking the price of its standard tariff to £1,161 for a typical dual fuel customer.

“The energy firm said the increase was due to rising wholesale and policy costs, and blamed government policy for putting more pressure on customers’ bills.”

The minister for energy and clean growth, Claire Perry, was quoted as saying: “We are disappointed by British Gas’s announcement of an unjustified price rise in its default tariff when customers are already paying more than they need to.

“This is why government is introducing a new price cap by this winter to guarantee that consumers are protected from poor value tariffs and further bring down the £1.4bn a year consumers have been overpaying the Big Six.”

Too little, too late!

If Mrs May had been serious about this, she would have imposed the cap immediately – before energy companies had a chance to give themselves pay rises which even the Tory government has said are “unjustified”.

Therefore, she isn’t.

And we all know it:

We all know what to do about it, too:

Right?


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Fracking blamed for record-breaking Oklahoma earthquake – and it’s coming to the UK

The effects of fracking make themselves visible in Oklahoma [Image: Lenzy Krehiel-Burton/Reuters].

The effects of fracking make themselves visible in Oklahoma [Image: Lenzy Krehiel-Burton/Reuters].

Here in the UK, we can look forward to all of this.

Fracking is on its way, with the first contracts already signed – thanks to the Conservative Government’s short-sighted, backward-facing environmental and energy policies.

We don’t need to tie ourselves down to fossil fuels in order to power our world any more.

We already have electric cars, and vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

For power generation, we can have micro power generation. Small wind turbines, solar power and gas capture, run by ordinary people rather than huge corporations – and benefiting us immediately as well.

It isn’t pie-in-the-sky. It’s here.

But it won’t make money for Tories so they would rather ruin our environment instead.

Residents of the small Oklahoma town of Pawnee have filed a class-action lawsuit demanding 27 fracking companies pay for the effects of a 5.8-magnitude earthquake. They claim the companies exercised “reckless disregard for public or private safety.”

Property damage, reduced property values and emotional distress resulting from a record-breaking September earthquake are all claimed in the lawsuit, which does not specify any sum total that the 27 fracking companies would pay if found liable, according to the Associated Press.

The class-action suit filed Thursday in district court points to the natural gas extraction method of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, which consists of injecting wastewater into the earth, as the cause for not only the major quake, but also 52 subsequent tremblors.

Source: Dozens of fracking companies sued over record-breaking Oklahoma earthquake — RT America

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A simple plan to get Labour back on track

Harriet Harman: Will the acting leader of the Labour Party listen to pleas from the grassroots to get Labour back on track?

Harriet Harman: Will the acting leader of the Labour Party listen to pleas from the grassroots to get Labour back on track?

If the Labour Party is to regain the confidence it has lost, it needs to re-state its identity with a core message of purpose – one that not only encapsulates what Labour is about, but also what it opposes.

That is what was missing from Labour’s general election campaign, and is as much a reason for Ed Miliband’s defeat as the Conservative campaign, which was not based on objective facts but on political spin.

In a nutshell, it is time to remind the voters and the public that Labour is the enabling party. This creates a clear contrast with the Conservatives – the party of restriction.

So, for example, with the National Health Service, Labour should support a service available to everyonefree. That means no private involvement. With the Tory privatisation in full swing, funds are being restricted and so are services. The NHS is now a postcode lottery, with care allocated on the basis of profitability. That’s not good enough; the privateers must be told to jog on.

Education must also be available to everybody, up to the level each person can achieve (or wants to). Again, this means there should be no charge for state-provided services. A state school system has no place for privately-owned ‘academies’ or ‘free schools’. These are Tory devices; the private sector will, by its nature, restrict access in order to extract a profit. It also means no tuition fees for students in further/higher education.

Labour should be helping anyone who wants to start a business, by ensuring there are as few obstacles in the way as possible; it must be the enabling party. That means, for example, a graded taxation system, with lower business rates and taxes for start-ups, progressing to a higher rate for medium-sized enterprises, and a highest rate for multinationals – who should be taxed on all takings made in the UK; no excuses.

Another part of the enabling agenda must be ensuring that people can pay a minimum price for things we cannot live without: Accommodation, services, utilities.

There is now an appalling shortage of appropriate housing for many people – mostly because the Tories sold off so many council houses and did not replace them. This is why the Tories were able to impose the Bedroom Tax on so many innocent people – a restrictive idea, intended to push people out of some areas and into others; shifting Labour voters out of places the Tories didn’t think they should have to share with the riff-raff, you see – a gerrymandering tactic to make those constituencies easier to win in elections. The solution is simple: Build council houses again.

When the utility companies – gas, water and electricity suppliers – were privatised, we were all promised that household bills would be kept down by more efficient private-sector business models and private investment. That has not happened. Instead, consumers have been held to ransom by a small cabal of corporations who have been able to charge rip-off prices. Remember the electricity price scandal of 2013? Who told those firms to quit their restrictive practices and cut bills? Labour. The enabling party. The fear of a Labour government imposing new rules in the consumer’s favour helped hold the greedy private bosses in check for a while, but now we have a Conservative government. How long do you think it will be before prices soar? This Writer reckons they’ll take the first opportunity. Even now, after Labour managed to secure price cuts, the poorest families still have to choose between heating and eating during the winter (the phrase has been used so often it is now a modern cliché). This must not be allowed to continue and the solution is clear: Re-nationalise. There are even two bonus factors in such a plan: Firstly, as many of these utilities are owned – or part-owned – by firms or governments based abroad, it will ensure that our bills pay people in the UK rather than boosting foreign economies at the expense of our own and, secondly, takings will help the UK Treasury balance the books.

There is at least one other privatised service that could also be re-nationalised: The railway system. Prices have rocketed while government subsidies have also soared, since the system was turned over to private hands in the early 1990s. This is madness; it is a huge drain on resources and must not be allowed to continue. We should re-nationalise and follow the example of Northern Ireland, where the service was never privatised and where any profit is ploughed into improvements, not profit.

Then there is our grocery bill, which keeps escalating. This is a particularly thorny subject as, for example, farmers are being ripped off by supermarkets over the price of milk, but the same corporations will happily send apples to the other side of the world and back, just to have them polished. It’s time to straighten out that system as well – although it will take a while.

So this is how Labour should frame its arguments from now on: Labour enables; the Tories restrict.

It should be stressed that the themes raised above are just starting-points which occurred to This Writer while considering the issue last night. The above is not an exhaustive list. Undoubtedly there are many more.

Your comments are invited.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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