Fury as education minister bets school heads a bottle of champagne he can find more to cut at their schools

From the Morning Star: Teachers have reacted furiously after a Tory education minister bet school chiefs a bottle of champagne that he could find more to cut in their schools.

Multimillionaire academies minister Lord Theodore Agnew told the School and Academies Show in Birmingham that he was like a “pig hunting for truffles” when it came to identifying “waste” in schools.

Cradling a copy of a book entitled The Future of Capitalism, the founder of the Inspiration Trust academy chain asked head teachers to take up his wager that he could identify potential cuts in their school and promised them a bottle of bubbly if he failed to do so.

National Education Union joint executive council member Gawain Little said Lord Agnew’s comments were “a bloody disgrace” at a time when schools with inadequate, overstretched budgets are doing their best to support children who come in hungry and malnourished, all because of the political choices made by this government.

“Incompetent ministers see fit to make light of the situation, flaunting their personal wealth and insulting head teachers,” Mr Little added.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

Boris Johnson’s unused water cannon sold for scrap at £300,000 loss

From The Guardian: Three unusable water cannon bought by Boris Johnson when he was mayor of London have been sold for scrap, at a net loss of more than £300,000.

Johnson bought the crowd-control vehicles from the German police in 2014, in anticipation of social unrest, without checking whether they could be used on London’s streets. In one of his most humiliating episodes as mayor the then home secretary Theresa May banned them from use anywhere in England and Wales. It left the capital’s taxpayers with three expensive white elephants.

The current mayor, Sadiq Khan, pledged to claw back as much money as possible on the redundant vehicles by selling them. But after almost two years the mayor’s office admitted defeat in its attempt to find a reputable buyer.

It announced on Monday that it has agreed to sell the vehicles for just £11,025. The fee recoups 3.4% of the £322,834.71 spent on the vehicles since 2014.

The 25-year-old vehicles cost £85,022 in 2014, but they were found to be riddled with faults and required expensive modification to make them road worthy. This included £32,000 to comply with the city’s low emission zone, and almost £1,000 on new stereos.

Brexit Minister Kwasi Kwarteng shrugs off UN poverty report and brags about deficit

From HuffPost UK: Tory Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng was branded “absolutely shocking” after dismissing a UN report which uncovered “staggering” levels of child poverty by talking about “good management of the economy”.

Kwarteng was confronted on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show with the plight of brain-damaged teenager Emily Lydon, who faces losing her home as part of her move to Universal Credit. The 19-year-old was asked to attend a work capability assessment but is deaf and cannot walk because her mother contracted the human form of mad cow disease (BSE) when she was pregnant with her.

Kwarteng called it “a sad story” and said “what [the government has] done is manage to reduce the deficit”.

It comes after professor Philip Alston, special rapporteur for the UN on extreme poverty, accused ministers of being in a “state of denial” about the levels of child poverty in Britain. Prof Alston found “a lot of misery, a lot of people who feel the system is failing them, a lot of people who feel the system is really just there to punish them” during his 12-day tour of UK cities.

But Kwarteng simply said “I don’t know who this UN man is” and claimed “it is a total distortion to suggest that the government has somehow mismanaged the economy”.

When faced with Emily Lydon’s story, he said: “I spent 18 months as the Chancellor’s PPS. I got to know the Treasury very well. I was involved in the last Budget. If you look to the last Budget, which was very, very well received, you could see the benefits of good and strong economic management. What we’ve done is manage to reduce the deficit, I know Polly doesn’t like going on about it, but the actual economic framework which this country is in is a very strong one.”

[Read full article on HuffPost UK…]

Theresa May lies on LBC about accusing police of “crying wolf”

From Momentum: Video evidence that Theresa May lied on LBC radio about her past “crying wolf” dismissal of the impact of Tory police cuts.

Liar Liar

Caught red-handed… 😢🐺?

Posted by Momentum on Friday, November 16, 2018

In one letter, Esther McVey misleads us seven times over the DWP’s impact on minorities

From the New Statesman: Esther McVey, the Work and Pensions Secretary who resigned over the Brexit deal, departed in true DWP style: disingenuously.

After her argument against Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement, the departing cabinet minister listed her “achievements” at the Department towards the end of her letter.

Let’s take a closer look at these boasts, shall we?

Employment did reach a record high this year. The unemployment rate is at its lowest since the Seventies. Sound good? These figures disguise the increasingly precarious nature of work for British people. Last November, the number of people who did not have enough work, who were on temporary or zero-hours contracts, or who were classed as “self-employed” but actually only working for one employer still remained higher than before the 2008 crash. The latest Office for National Statistics figures show that the number of people aged 16-64 who are not working, not seeking work and not available to work has actually increased, while the number of people in work hasn’t changed since March-May this year.

[Read full column on New Statesman website…]

Who are the 14 ministers that have quit under May since the 2017 general election?

From the Morning Star: Theresa May, barely clinging on to her job as it is, has now lost her second Brexit secretary since the role was created, after only being in the job a matter of months. Here are all the ministers who have left their posts since the 2017 general election:

  • Michael Fallon
  • Priti Patel 
  • Damian Green
  • Justine Greening
  • Amber Rudd
  • David Davis
  • Boris Johnson
  • Tracey Crouch
  • Jo Johnson
  • Shailesh Vara
  • Dominic Raab
  • Esther McVey
  • Suella Braverman
  • Anne-Marie Trevelyan

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

McVey and Raab quit over Brexit deal

From The Guardian: The work and pensions secretary, Esther McVey, has become the second senior minister to quit the Tory cabinet, following the Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, out of the door and throwing Theresa May’s government into turmoil.

McVey, an arch Brexiter who was known to be unhappy with the prime minister’s Brexit plans, said they had failed to “honour the result” of the referendum and had crossed her own red lines for leaving the EU.

During a tense five-hour cabinet meeting on Wednesday, McVey twice called for a vote to be taken on the deal. In her resignation letter to May, she wrote: “We have gone from no deal is better than a bad deal, to any deal is better than no deal.”

Her departure came after Raab resigned as Brexit secretary saying he “cannot in good conscience” support the deal agreed by the cabinet, kicking off what was expected to be a day of turmoil for the prime minister as she struggles to retain control of her party.

One of Raab’s junior ministers, Suella Braverman, a former chair of the hardline Brexit ERG group of Tory backbenchers, also quit, saying that the public would see the plans as “a betrayal”.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Squirming Tory minister Damian Hinds cornered on TV over his claims about school funding

From the Daily Mirror: Squirming Tory Cabinet minister Damian Hinds was cornered on live TV today over his claims about the “extra money” going into schools… BBC interviewer Andrew Marr pointed out that “real terms” funding per pupil since 2010 has in fact been cut.

[Read article on Mirror website…]

All at sea: Raab’s ignorance of Dover-Calais stuns critics

From the Guardian: Opposition parties and pro-remain groups have criticised the Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, after he admitted that until recently he did not fully appreciate the importance of the Dover-Calais crossing for UK trade.

Speaking at an event on Brexit and the tech industry, Raab said that consumers would lose out if new rules create delays at the border.

In comments reported by the Politico website, he said: “I hadn’t quite understood the full extent of this, but if you look at the UK and look at how we trade in goods, we are particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing.

“And that is one of the reasons why we have wanted to make sure we have a specific and very proximate relationship with the EU, to ensure frictionless trade at the border … I don’t think it is a question so much of the risk of major shortages, but I think probably the average consumer might not be aware of the full extent to which the choice of goods that we have in the stores are dependent on one or two very specific trade routes.”

Politicians and campaigners, including the scientist and broadcaster Brian Cox, reacted to his words with surprise and alarm: “How could it possibly come as a suprise to Dominic Raab that our most important trade gateway is that which is closest geographically to our most important market?”

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Andrea Leadsom lavishes praise on Sure Start centres – and is reminded austerity destroyed them

From HuffPost UK: Tory Commons leader Andrea Leadsom was reminded “appalling” Government cuts have closed more than 1,000 Sure Start centres after lavishing praise on them in parliament.

The leader of the Commons was speaking at an event on women’s rights when she said the late Dame Tessa Jowell, the politician credited with creating Sure Start, had been an inspiration to her. Leadsom went on to say Sure Start centres had been Jowell’s “proudest achievement” and they had“helped to support millions of families in the UK”.

Figures released by Labour and the Sutton Trust show that cutbacks to local government budgets have closed around 1,240 Sure Start centres – a third of the total – across the country since the coalition came to power in 2010.

[Read full article on HuffPost UK…]

29 Tory MPs have accepted lavish free trips from the murderous Saudi Arabia regime since 2015

From Evolve Politics: A list has emerged detailing a staggering number of MPs who have accepted lavish all expenses paid trips to the head-chopping state of Saudi Arabia.

Since 2015, the government of Saudi Arabia has spent at least £222,000 jetting UK MPs out to the oil rich middle eastern country.

Details of these trips are listed on the website of the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. The purpose of the register is to provide information of any financial interests or benefits an MP receives which could be seen as influential on their work as a Member of Parliament.

33 MPs have taken all expenses paid trips to Saudi Arabia since March 2015 – 29 of them Conservative.

Tory MP Leo Docherty seems to be a frequent flyer. He visited in 2015, 2017 and 2018. He is now a member of the Committees on Arms Export Controls.

For Docherty to even be appointed to that Committee is worrying in itself considering the high number of arms the UK licences for export to Saudi Arabia.

[Read full article (with list of the 29 MPs) on Evolve Politics…]

MPs’ interests in betting industry are the reason for Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals regulation delays, says former Tory minister

From the Morning Star: Tory ministers’ links with the betting industry are the reason for the delays in new restrictions being placed on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), says former sports minister Tracey Crouch.

The Chatham MP resigned from her post after Chancellor Philip Hammond said the cut in maximum stakes to £2 would not come into force until October 2019. Users can currently bet up to £100 every 20 seconds on the high-speed and high-stake electronic casino games.

She told BBC Radio 5 Live that it was a fact that some ministers are “very interested in the bookmaking industry.”

Ms Crouch said she had been working under the assumption that the new £2 maximum stake would be introduced in April 2019.

“There have been conversations that have taken place with many members of Parliament with different interests and, on this occasion, clearly I wasn’t as persuasive as some of my other colleagues,” she said.

Campaigners say FOBTs allow users to lose money too quickly, leading to addiction and social, mental and financial problems. Every day, two people will take their lives because of gambling-related problems, Ms Crouch noted in her resignation letter to Prime Minister Theresa May.

The machines generate £1.8 billion in revenue a year for the betting industry, according to the Gambling Commission.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

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