It’s April Fool’s Day today and you all know what that means … that’s right, the British are taking us for fools yet again with the prescription charge in England going up 20p to £8.05 per item.
Whilst the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments have all abolished prescriptions charges in their own countries, the British continue to tax the sick in England to help pay for the subsidies that allow the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish to get their prescriptions for free.
Just one of the reasons why we need an English Parliament.
The British Minister for English Health has announced that prescription charges will go up again on April Fool’s Day this year from £7.85 to £8.05 per item and NHS dental costs will go up by up to £5.
But only in England.
Prescriptions are free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland thanks to the lavish subsidies the British government gives then out of English taxes. These same subsidies have allowed the rest of the UK to variously abolish hospital parking charges, abolish means testing for social care, freeze council tax, reduce or abolish university tuition fees and much more whilst we in England continue to pay more and more every year.
Just one of the reasons why we need an English Parliament.
French company ATOS has announced that it is seeking an early exit from its contract with the British government to carry out fitness for work assessments on disabled people.
ATOS have been given a slating over their handling of the contract for making decisions to send people back to work when they are clearly not fit for work but they don’t deserve all the blame. In fact, most of the blame should fall at the previous Labour-controlled government who contracted ATOS in the first place and the current ConDem government who allowed the injustice to continue unabated.
The problem with what ATOS have been doing is that they were contracted to get x number of disabled people working and they’ve done what they were paid to do. Nobody knew how many disabled people were fit for work because if they knew who was and wasn’t fit for work they wouldn’t have needed to pay ATOS to find out so telling them in advance how many people they had to rule were fit for work is just nonsense. ATOS have been driven by targets on the number of people they declare fit for work even if that means making bad decisions because that’s what they’re being paid to do.
If ATOS were targeted on the quality of their decisions and not the number of people they declare fit for work then there wouldn’t have been such injustice in the decision-making process. ATOS took on a contract that was flawed and immoral but if they hadn’t taken on the contract, someone else would have done and with the same result. The contract is flawed and the only way to fix it is to base the targets solely on quality of decision making and not on the volume of people ruled fit to work.
A 12 year old boy has been pulled out of class and interviewed by the police for organising a protest about the closure of his youth club outside David Cameron’s constituency office.
The police told the boy that anti-terrorism police were investigating him and that he would be held responsible and arrested if there was any trouble at the protest. They also told him that anti-terrorism police would be watching his posts on Facebook and tried to talk him out of holding the protest.
The protest went ahead on Friday with 13 people and six police officers.
A woman in Merseyside has been told she is losing some of her housing benefit because the sensory room for her severely disabled daughter is classed as a spare bedroom.
I absolutely agree with the removal of housing benefit for spare bedrooms – if someone else is paying your rent then the house you live in should be absolutely what you need, nothing more – and I won’t call it the bedroom tax because it’s not a tax, that’s just a phrase the Labour Party propaganda machine invented. The problem is that the changes have been poorly implemented as usual and that’s led to so much injustice that the majority of the population thinks that it’s a bad idea and would gladly see a return to the system where the taxpayer is subsidising a middle aged couple whose kids have left home to live in a 4 or 5 bedroom house that they don’t need and can’t afford. Of course, if you frame it in those terms most people would say it shouldn’t happen but this is why benefit reform needs to be done right first time, because if you get it wrong the heart overrules the head and people will agree to virtually anything to end the injustice caused by it being done wrong.
In the case of this woman in Merseyside, her 28 year old daughter is registered blind, mentally handicapped and uses a wheelchair. The spare bedroom in their bungalow has been converted into a sensory room with a ball pool, a TV and lights and is also used to store her wheelchairs. Because it’s still classed as a bedroom though, she loses part of her benefits which leaves her in a situation that there is no real way out of. She can’t move to a smaller place because she needs the extra space to store the wheelchairs and sensory equipment and if she finds a part time job to pay the rent shortfall she’ll need a carer for her daughter which the local authority will have to pay for.
Local authorities have been given £150m by the Department of Work & Pensions so they can clear up the mess the benefit reforms have left behind which is a tacit admission that the British government knows it got it wrong and knew in advance that the legislation was poorly written but this isn’t a secure funding source and it’s unlikely that £150m actually covers the costs. This woman in Merseyside has been given a discretionary award to cover the shortfall in her housing benefit for the start of the year but it still leaves her in limbo, knowing that at some point in the near future she’s going to have to go cap in hand to the local authority again and hope that there’s some money available to help her.
People who are using a spare bedroom as sensory rooms or as storage for medical equipment or for some other type of necessary facility for a disabled person shouldn’t have their housing benefit cut for that room. Nor should couples who have to sleep in separate rooms because of a disability or medical condition (such as one of them being too restless, kicking out, etc. in the night). Part time parents (such as weekend dads and mums) who have overnight contact with their children shouldn’t have their housing benefit reduced for a spare room for their children either because in a great many cases that means that the agreed contact with their children can’t happen. Nor should housing benefit be reduced for parents who are keeping a bedroom for their child who normally lives at home who is currently serving overseas in the armed forces and will return home after their tour.
These exclusions could easily have been written in to the legislation to prevent the injustice we’re seeing now and the abolition of the spare bedroom subsidy would have been better received and would be better perceived by the majority. Instead, it is seen as an attack on the sick and disabled and it will be years before the public are willing to support benefit reform again.
The British government is closing Portsmouth’s shipyard to protect jobs at the Clyde shipyards in Glasgow in a transparently political move to placate the Scots ahead of their independence referendum.
Just look at these comments from some of the English workers the Brits are sacrificing to protect Scottish jobs:
It’s definitely a political decision. All to do with Scotland and Scottish independence; it’s disgusting. They don’t care about us.
This is simply pandering to the Scottish government before the independence referendum next year.
Even the MP for Portsmouth is unhappy:
It’s a massive and grave error on the part of the government to put more shipbuilding in Scotland. It’s political. It always has been.
And then there’s the comments section in the Express …
Disgusted that our weak government is letting this happen – to shut Portsmouth and give new contracts to a Scottish port is despicable.
What a disgrace, blatant politically inspired bribery for the jocks…well what if they say YES to independence anyway…I do hope they do vote to leave and let the politicos explain why we are buying ships off a foreign country?
i hear that its portsmouth yard that will close rather than the scottish ones..i wonder why that is. is there a referendum coming up
Even some Guardian readers are having a pop …
Scottish jobs saved at the expense of English workers.
Portsmouth is being sacrificed for saving Scotland ahead of a referendum
A thousand workers in Portsmouth thrown on the scrapheap just so project fear can keep making a spurious point about the “benefits of the union”. Playing politics with peoples lives yet again.
Helps the campaign to keep Scotland in the UK I suppose…
Then there’s the Telegraph …
Why give it to the Scots? Are their unemployed more deserving. Sadly, they are never going to vote for independence so shafting the ENglish YET AGAIN is horrific.
This is little short of treason by Cameron to the English in a futile political sop to the Scottish. If he had any balls at all he would preserve the English yards, scrap the Scottish yards and state that the decision would be reviewed after the Scottish referendum on independence.
Why are they trying to buy Scottish votes, the Glasgow yards are hotbeds of socialism and militants, they should take the hits and not the English yard, kill two birds with one stone.
Short term daftness to rely on warship building in a country that is not committed to the UK. This has Cameron McFudge written all over it. The lads in Portsmouth should have been supported, not the would-be defectors in Govan. Salmond will be laughing yet again.
A disgusting sop to the Scots nationalists. What ought to have been brought home to them is that even the threat of independence costs Scots jobs. As if a separate UK government would ever build ships in a foreign Scotland . . . Should it ever happen Portsmouth will need rebuilding from scratch. I’m a Conservative Party member but if there was an election tomorrow I wouldn’t vote for them. They’ve just sold England down the river for short-term and disguided political reasons!
If this isn’t a political decision, I don’t know what is. But in the unlikely event of Scotland voting for independence next year, I trust that this decision will be reversed in double quick time.
The sacked workers in Portsmouth know they’re being sacrificed by the Brits to keep the Scots happy, politicians know the workers in Portsmouth are being sacrificed by the Brits to keep the Scots happy and the general public know the workers in Portsmouth are being sacrificed by the Brits to keep the Scots happy. There is no price the British won’t pay to keep the Scots in the union as long as it’s the English that are paying.
I used to think there was a place for England in a reformed British union but it’s pretty clear that England will never be important to the Brits. It’s time for English independence.
The British government is planning to give the Welsh government the same powers to vary income tax as the Scottish government and control over landfill tax and stamp duty.
David Cameron said:
Today we are announcing more power for the Welsh people and the Welsh government. Power that’s about building this country up, power that’s about making sure we have real accountable government here in Wales.
The English people still have no government and no power. There is no accountable government here in England, just an unaccountable British government full of politicians that can’t be held to account at the ballot box by a single person in England making decisions affecting the lives of English people.
He then went on to announce that the 2014 NATO summit will be held in Wales:
Scotland has got the Commonwealth Games, London had the Olympics, Northern Ireland the G8, now it’s Wales’ turn.
The Olympics were the British Olympics, nothing to do with England. The whole thing was about the British so when is it England’s turn?
The Welsh First Minister doesn’t want devolution of income tax until the Barnett Bribe is reformed to provide “fairer” funding for Wales (by which he means more English money being given to Wales):
Today is an important day for Wales. We are now being treated like equals in the UK.
We are not in favour of devolution of income tax until the Barnett formula is reformed to provide fairer funding for Wales.
Treated like equals in the UK? Being treated the same as the English is hardly something to aspire to: the only nation in Europe with no government of its own, northing more than a source of income for the British government to fund its spending addiction.
The British government is giving the police the power to apply for an order restricting the freedom of anyone they suspect of being a potential sex offender.
The new powers will allow magistrates to grant the police a sexual risk order to prevent someone from contacting children or vulnerable people, travelling abroad, using the internet, etc. based on nothing but a suspicion of their potential to be a sex offender. The subject of a sexual risk order doesn’t need to be convicted to have the order made against them and the criteria for granting the order are lower than existing sexual harm orders.
Sex offenders obviously need to be tracked down and dealt with but if there isn’t enough evidence to convict someone of sex offences then they shouldn’t have one of these orders made against them. Restricting someone’s freedoms because the police have a suspicion that they have the potential to commit sex offences is something that could have been lifted from Orwell’s 1984.
Cross-posted from English Commonwealth
It’s a well known fact that the British government distributes our taxes unfairly, subsidising Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at England’s expense but that sort of thing wouldn’t happen with charity would it? The answer, of course, is yes.
Figures released by the Big Lottery Fund show that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland receive significantly more funding than England – as much as three times more if you live in Northern Ireland.
The average lottery funding per head in England is just £9.46 compared to £13.49 in Wales, £25.27 in Scotland and £31.33 per head in Northern Ireland. There is a Big Lottery budget for the UK as a whole as well but no figures have been released for this fund so it’s not currently possible to tell whether this disparity is replicated in the UK-wide budget.
A spokesperson for the Big Lottery Fund has tried to justify spending so much more on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by saying that grants are given based on population and deprivation. England’s population is 5 times that of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined and parts of England are the most deprived in the whole UK but England received just a third of the funding Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland got. They also cite a one-off award for £49m to the Life Changes Trust as a reason for the disparity in funding this year but previous years’ figures show that England has always received less funding per head that the rest of the UK.
Some will no doubt point to the money the British government took from the lottery to pay for the London Olympics and claim that it was lottery money given to England but the Olympics weren’t English and the lottery money has to be paid back (eventually) by a corporation owned by the Mayor of London. It was an expropriation of Lottery funds by the British government, not a grant by the Big Lottery Fund.
The Big Lottery isn’t the only charity to unfairly allocate extra funding to the other member states of the UK. The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal diverts funding to Scotland whilst allowing Poppyscotland, who it merged with, to keep all the money it raises for itself, for example. There are many other charities that have Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and British arms but that’s a topic for future discussion.
Facebook have informed me this evening that I’m temporarily banned from posting for 12 hours because someone reported one of my comments as abusive.
The offending comment was in response to a question posed on the Politics UK page asking whether people on benefits who drink and smoke excessively should have their benefits cut. It said:
Give them non-transferable food vouchers. I don’t go to work to pay for other peoples’ fags and booze.
Someone has taken exception to this comment and reported it. At first I was just annoyed at the fact my account could be suspended automatically just because some whining lefty clicked the report button. Then I discovered that actually, all these abuse reports are vetted by a real person so it was actually a conscious decision by a whining lefty at Facebook instead and that’s pissed me off.
My comment was in context, it wasn’t rude, it wasn’t abusive, it wasn’t threatening and it wasn’t “hate speech”. Facebook seemingly does absolutely nothing about the spammers and fraudsters that infest the site despite the fact they can be spotted a mile off when you see them in group membership requests. I report every single one of the spammers that I find yet I often see requests from the fake friends of the fake profiles to the same group days later.
I’ve been on Facebook since the early days when it was first opened up to non academics but it’s lost most of its appeal these days. This has prompted me to do what I’ve been planning to do for a while – lock down my account and cull my friends list, I’m going to stick to Twitter and Google+ from now on.
Tory MP Michael Fabricant has called for a new Act of Union to establish the principal of institutional discrimination against England in constitutional law.
Fabricant wants a new Act of Union which will ban British MPs elected in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from voting on devolved matters in England, only allowing British MPs elected in England to vote on them. This would make an English Parliament unconstitutional, explicitly denying equal rights for the people of England.
Mark Wallace, the executive editor of Conservative Home, has written an article Michael Fabricant is right, we must give political equality to England in which he explains how England shouldn’t be given equality by refusing to create an English Parliament with the same powers as the Scottish Parliament but should instead settle for the unworkable fudge that is English Votes on English Laws (EVoEL).
Wallace (who claims to be an avowed libertarian) is typical of the British nationalist Tories – opinion polls show that a majority of people want an English Parliament but because that’s not the Tory way of thinking it has to be opposed. That’s certainly not libertarian thinking.
The Spanish government have caused mayhem by stopping every vehicle crossing the Spanish/Gibraltarian border. About 10,000 vehicles were stopped, causing 6 hour traffic jams in the town.
In recent weeks Spanish police have entered Gibraltarian waters and shot at a jetskier, Spanish fishermen have entered Gibraltar waters to try and disrupt work on an artificial reef which will stop them illegally fishing the Bay of Gibraltar and Spanish fighter planes have “buzzed” the Rock.
The British government have complained and told the Spanish not to do it again which means bugger all because the same thing happens every time they do it and they take no notice. The Royal Navy need to take a nonsense approach to incursions into Gibraltarian waters and fire on any ship that illegally enters the Bay, be it police, military or civilian. And if the Spanish government wants to cause trouble at the border then let’s block it from the Gibraltar side too but selectively so it only inconveniences the Spanish. Gibraltar buys more from Spain than Spain buys from Gibraltar and Spain is broke whereas Gibraltar isn’t.
The British Department for English Education still doesn’t seem to have a clue how compulsory post-16 education in England is going to work with Scottish and Welsh kids moving here or with English kids moving to Scotland and Wales so I’m having another go at getting some answers …
I’m wondering if you’ve made any decisions or solved any of the problems created by introducing mandatory post-16 education in England only that I have asked you about several times but you haven’t had answers for?
The last reference number for my enquiry was 2013/0011665.
I first asked you how this was going to work in 2007:
“Kids currently spend a minimum of 11 years at school, most spend 12. In 6 years time we’re going to see kids spending 14 years of their lives in compulsary education. Will boarding schools be required to provide married quarters for childhood sweathearts who decide to get married at 16 or will the minimum age for getting married be increased to make sure you don’t end up with married couples spending double Science arguing about who’s cooking the dinner when they get home from school and why they have to have the mother-in-law round for Sunday dinner that weekend? What about couples who decide to start a family at 16? It’s perfectly legal – will schools start providing crêche facilities? Who will pay for them? Will 16 year old girls be entitled to maternity leave from school? What about the benefits that will be paid out to these people who have a family at 16 but can’t work because they have to go to school until they’re 18? Ok, so most 16 year old parents would rather laze around on benefits rather than get a job but not all of them do. Upping the age you can get married to 18 won’t work either. You need your parents consent to get married at 16 or 17 in England now but there’s nothing to stop you going to Scotland and getting married at 16 without your parents permission because the law is different there.”
I followed this up in February 2013, naively expecting that you might have figured out how you were going to make it all work in the intervening 6 years:
“Some time ago I wrote to you asking how the change to school leaving ages in England was going work.
In particular I’m interested to know what a Welsh or Scottish person who leaves school at 16 and moves to England is going to do about the fact that they’ve finished their secondary education but would be required to complete a further year or two of secondary education in England because they’re only 16. A Welsh or Scottish person of 16 or 17 years of age will effectively be barred from taking a job in England when the change comes into force.
There is also the reverse situation where a 16 year old moves from England to Wales or Scotland and there is nowhere to complete their secondary education.
The response I got from you didn’t offer any explanation as to how these situations would be handled but merely expressed a hope that Wales and Scotland would follow the British government’s lead and raise the age for mandatory secondary education to match that in England. Clearly this isn’t going to happen otherwise it would have been announced by now so please can you explain how these scenarios will be handled in future?”
Your most recent response (March) basically said you didn’t know how it was going to work and you were clinging to the hope that Scotland and Wales would follow suit and fix your problem for you. They haven’t and they probably aren’t going to so how is the British Department for English Education going to solve the problems caused by enforcing mandatory post-16 education in England?
Also published at:
Left wing think tank, IPPR, has produced a follow-up to the one released in January 2012 which documented the rise in English identity and warned that ignoring the disadvantages that England faces as a result of asymmetric devolution would threaten the union.
This time, though, they have included questions on the EU and the correlation between euroscepticism and the English identity and made a surprising (for them) discovery: the party that most people believe will stand up for England’s interests is UKIP.
The latest report finds that the rise in English identity at the expense of British has held up against the onslaught of state-sponsored British nationalism during the Olympics and the royal wedding. English remains the dominant national identity in England.
The correlation between euroscepticism and national identity is very interesting – over half of people who identify as English more than British are in favour of leaving the EU but only a third of those who identify as more British than English are similarly minded.
There is also a direct link between euroscepticism and dissatisfaction with England’s treatment in the British union post-devolution. A massive 91% of people who think we should leave the EU think that MPs elected in Scotland shouldn’t be allowed to vote on English matters and 71% think that the British government can’t be trusted to look after England’s interests. 21% of English people think that UKIP is the party that can be most trusted to stand up for England’s interests – the first time none of the above hasn’t topped the poll.
Only 1 in 5 English people support the current form of government and 78% of English people (eurosceptic or not) think that Scotland should pay for services out of their own taxes.
More UKIP supporters identify themselves as English more than British than any other party – 55% of those polled. They are also the most dissatisfied with the status quo with 49% supporting English independence. Surprisingly, only 90% of UKIP supporters want to leave the EU.
Given the choice of local government, Westminster and the EU, 31% of English people think the EU has the most influence over the way England is run. This is by far the highest percentage anywhere in the EU – Brittany, Upper Austria and Galicia are joint second with only 9%. England , as opposed to the UK, is without doubt the most eurosceptic country in the EU.
It’s time for UKIP to accept that the majority – in fact, almost all – of the party’s support is in England. Almost every elected representative the party has was elected in England. The Scots aren’t eurosceptic -only a third of all Scots are in favour of leaving the EU and some of those are pro-independence so would never vote UKIP. We are the party most trusted by the English to represent English interests.
You don’t have to be a genius to realise that UKIP’s future is in England and leading the call for fairness and equality for the English. The first step should be to finally draw a line under the ridiculous anti-devolution policy that has been losing us votes for years and start promoting an English Parliament.
The British Chancellor’s spending review is nothing short of a disgrace and yet more evidence that the Brits have no idea how to solve the problems the country faces and no qualms about shafting England to pay for bribes in Scotland.
It is perverse that so many people in England are forced to turn to food banks – perhaps as many as half a million according to some estimates – but the British government is still desperate to ring fence the £11bn international aid budget. We spend almost as much on international aid as we do subsidising Scotland!
David Cameron says we have a moral obligation to spend obscene amounts of money on international aid but your moral compass would have to be pointing in a strange direction to think that £11bn wouldn’t be better spent feeding people at home rather than subsidising the Indian space and nuclear weapons programmes, for example.
The Scots are getting more money to bribe them in the run-up to the independence referendum as well. The capital and resource budgets for Scotland are being increased and extra spending cuts being inflicted on the rest of the UK aren’t being applied to Scotland.
Meanwhile, the British are still spending £9m an hour net on EU membership that nobody wants.
Following revelations that GCHQ has been obtaining covert intelligence data from the US National Security Agency (NSA) to circumvent legal restrictions on their activities, William Hague has moved to reassure us that law abiding citizens have “nothing to fear”.
A welcome reassurance from Comrade Hague. I can’t help but think that he’s not the first politician to use that phrase though. Which other prolific collectors and keepers of intelligence about their citizens said much the same thing?
If you have nothing to hide then you haven’t been living your life properly. The state needs to know the bare minimum about its citizens to be able to provide essential services and anything else they want to know they can ask for so you can tell them to bugger off.
If you trust the current government not to abuse its ability to spy on its citizens (although god knows why you would) then how do you know you will trust the next government? Or the one after that? It wasn’t that long ago that the British government tried to give itself the power to lock up any citizen for three months without charge on suspicion of terrorism, the legal definition of which is so loose as to allow a lawful protest to be classed as an act of terrorism.
Wee Willy Vague can say what he like but we all have something to hide and we all have something to fear.
The Queensland government is considering higher charges and subsidy cuts for solar panels saying that it is unfair that the majority subsidise the minority.
Solar subsidies have been cut by the British government in recent years too with further cuts to come. Solar panels just don’t produce enough electricity in this country to cover the cost of their installation, maintenance and eventual disposal. And if they don’t produce enough electricity to be economically viable in Queensland which has unbroken sunshine for as much as a third of the year then there is no hope in England where we have sunshine for about one sixth of the year.
Solar panels are a false economy just like windmills. They don’t produce enough electricity to power your home and they are only economically viable if you’re subsidising yourself through your taxes. It won’t be long before the subsidy on solar panels drops below the payback level for the companies that own them and who pays then? I can’t imagine the contracts leaving the solar panel companies out of pocket.
The only way solar power is going to pay is by building them in right from the outset with photovoltaic roof tiles on new builds and some more thought at the design stage to align houses north south to make them sun traps. These winding, “organic” looking road layouts might look great on an artist’s impression and break up the monotony of the built environment but they’re no good for solar power and if the industry is serious about making solar pay then they have to start supporting it by design.
Australia is miles further down the road of environmentalist lunacy and solar power as it is now won’t survive the subsidy cuts. In a few years’ time we’ll point at houses with these big shiny bits of plastic on their roof and mock them like we did with BSB’s squarials and Ionica’s octagonal microwave dishes.
The Co-operative Bank has been closed to new business while its Co-op parent group decides whether it can be saved from bankruptcy.
The Co-op bought the Britannia Building Society a couple of years ago for stupid money and has made big losses ever since. Its business model of shunning profitable business to invest in left wing political projects and the global warming scam have done nothing to improve their profitability. Nor has laundering a quarter of their profits through the Co-operative Party to prop up the Labour Party with MP sponsorships and party funding.
Labour owes £3.8m to the Co-operative Bank whilst receiving 47 donations last year from the Co-operative Bank totalling nearly £111k. Co-operative Bank also has another bank which it uses to fund Labour – Unity Trust Bank. Labour owes Unity Trust Bank nearly £1.9m. The Co-op also donated over £1m to the Co-operative Party via various subsidiaries last year which the Co-operative Party uses to sponsor Labour MPs.
If the Co-op reined in its spending on political activities and concentrated on running its bank as a business it might not have found it being downgraded 6 points to junk status by Moody’s and be facing the prospect of winding the bank up or selling it off.