Tom Peck writes in the Independent: “Boris Johnson’s position on Brexit is still meaningless garbage. He still wants to ‘disaggregate bits of the withdrawal agreement’. He still wants to deal with the Irish border question ‘during the implementation period’, all the while continuing to have ‘frictionless trade’ with the European Union.”
From The Guardian: “The civil service’s technical work relies on facts and evidence – not force of personality. If, for example, there’s no quantity or quality of analysis that could convince a new prime minister to avoid disaster, then collectively we’ll have normalised fanaticism or – even worse – the cynical appeasement or cultivation of it. Either way, having withstood Theresa May’s hostile environment for years, it’s a rotten and destructive place for officials to be at the start of yet another new premiership, with the hardest bit of Brexit still to go and countless other neglected policy areas needing attention. Things can get worse – just look across the Atlantic.
“Wasn’t it ever thus for civil servants? Not really. While the recent hardening of the Brexiteers’ macho resolve to secure a no-deal Brexit is frightening, it’s not that surprising. What’s new is the sheer destructive glee with which so many public figures have embraced magical thinking. We now know, thanks to YouGov’s poll of Tory party members, the full horrifying scale of the ruling class’s suspension of disbelief. Brexit must happen even at the cost of significant economic damage, the breakup of the UK or the destruction of the Conservative Party itself.”
From the Independent: Bruised and still shaken, Janet Barker is incredulous at the violent reaction of the Foreign Office minister Mark Field to her peaceful protest with fellow Greenpeace activists at the chancellor’s Mansion House speech.
Pensioners take to Britain’s streets demanding the government funds free TV licences for the over-75s
From The Guardian Letters section: “It seems that these characters are more concerned with demonstrating good spirit, a stiff upper lip and carry-on attitude than creating jobs, security and wellbeing for the citizens of the UK. They have never truly grown up. Life is a game and the person who dies with the most wealth and power has won. It is going to be a long and difficult journey for the UK out of this mess. There is a need for a fundamental change of culture in UK politics.” – TheDanishVIking
Mr Hunt was Health Secretary for nearly six years and oversaw a number of Junior Doctors strikes.
Naomi, a GP from Hendon, labelled him the “most hated Health Secretary” she could remember and insisted he would never get the support of medical workers.
From the Morning Star: Michael Gove has been labelled a “stuck-up, lying, money-grubbing, privileged git” by Chumbawamba’s former guitarist after the Tory leadership hopeful aligned himself with the anti-authoritarian pop group’s 1998 hit Tubthumping.
The Environment Secretary, with eyes for the top job, has branded himself “the Chumbawamba kid.”
In an interview with the Sunday Times, Mr Gove said: “Someone said the other day: Michael, you are the comeback kid. You are the Chumbawamba candidate: You get knocked down, but you get up again. That’s been true throughout my career.”
The previous week Mr Gove had been forced to out himself as a former coke sniffer prior to publication of a biography that referred to his drug-hoovering past.
His comments sparked ridicule from former Chumbawamba guitarist Boff Whalley, who helped pen Tubthumping. Mr Whalley said: “Gove doesn’t understand that in order to declare yourself a ‘Chumbawamba kid’ you have to commit to a lifelong hatred of divisive, bigoted, self-obsessed Tory public-schoolboy politics. Gove’s naive and clumsy attempt to give himself some popular cultural credibility by remembering one line from a 20-year-old pop song is ridiculous considering Chumbawamba’s reputation for attacking self-serving politicians, physically and otherwise. What a stuck-up, lying, money-grubbing, privileged git.”
From The Observer: More than 130,000 deaths in the UK since 2012 could have been prevented if improvements in public health policy had not stalled as a direct result of austerity cuts, according to a hard-hitting analysis to be published this week.
The study by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) thinktank finds that, after two decades in which preventable diseases were reduced as a result of spending on better education and prevention, there has been a seven-year “perfect storm” in which state provision has been pared back because of budget cuts, while harmful behaviours among people of all ages have increased.
Had progress been maintained at pre-2013 rates, around 131,000 lives could have been saved, the IPPR concludes. Despite promises made during the NHS’s 70th birthday celebrations last year to prioritise prevention, the UK is now only halfway up a table of OECD countries on its record for tackling preventable diseases.
From Another Angry Voice: “It’s surely no coincidence that the two regions with by far the highest levels of public investment in infrastructure and public transport also have the biggest per capita surpluses, while the three most austerity-blighted regions with the lowest levels of investment are the ones with the worst per capita deficits.”
From the Daily Mirror: Over-stretched health visitors have warned that children will die unless cuts to their service are reversed.
Dr Mona Kamal writes on Keep Our NHS Public: “Despite all the rhetoric by this government on prioritising resources for mental health and commitment to parity of esteem, the reality is that time and again they have been very willing to use mental health as an easy target for funding cuts with very little regard to the human cost this has on arguably one of the most vulnerable patient groups.
“We’ve come to expect the periodic announcements of ‘record funding’ from this government, but mental health trusts in England have in fact suffered budget cuts in real terms of just over 8% year on year since 2011. They have lost almost a third of all NHS mental health beds over the past decade and 6800 (15%) mental health nurse posts have gone.
“This means a frequent struggle for staff to find beds to admit patients into and has extremely serious consequences for those in crisis and whose illness carries a risk to themselves or others. It means patients, including young children having to be moved hundreds of miles away from their homes and families to get to the nearest empty bed and it forces unacceptable practices where acutely unwell patients who are detained on section are having to wait for days or even weeks in busy A&E departments while a mental health bed becomes available.
“Nowhere is this crisis more evident than in Child and Adolescent Mental Health where there have been years of negligent underfunding – most notably during the early years of the coalition government. By 2017 one third of children’s mental health services faced either downsizing or closure. This is causing completely needless suffering for young people who are not able to access care when they need it. Figures from the NSPCC indicate that an average of 150 children a day are denied access to mental health treatment.”
From the Morning Star: Thousands of schools are struggling financially because the government has failed to live up to funding promises that were already “woefully inadequate,” a teachers’ union claimed yesterday.
Education ministers have not even matched past promises on funding that were already not good enough, new analysis by the National Education Union (NEU) shows.
Prime Minister Theresa May and Education Minister Damian Hinds promised last year that “every school” would receive a cash increase in their funding as part of a “new national funding formula” that would protect the funds of additional needs schools but would also be conscious of the financial pressures “regular” schools are facing.
However, government statistics released on December 17 show that this promise has been broken for 25 per cent of all primary schools and 17 per cent of all secondary schools. Overall, 4,819 schools received either no cash increase or suffered a direct cut to their funding, despite the fact that the costs of maintenance and equipment at schools have shot up dramatically.
On May 23 during Prime Minister’s Questions, Ms May claimed that “the new national funding formula is providing for a cash increase for every school in every region, as well as protected funding for those with additional needs.”
From The National: 2018 has been, hands down, the most juvenile period of time I have ever witnessed in politics. Granted, I’ve only been heading to Westminster for a few years at this point, but even my colleagues who have been there much longer than myself will tell you that this year was one for the books.
From the Daily Mirror: Tory austerity has caused “social murder”, an academic paper claims.
Bed-bound MS sufferer has disability benefits halved ‘because he could touch his nose with his finger’
From iNews: After an assessor came to visit Paul, who has MS, over his claim for Personal Independence Payments (PIP), his mobility car was taken off him – which left him virtually housebound in a remote village with no public transport links.
From The Guardian: A future Labour government would oversee an economic revolution to tackle the climate crisis, using the full power of the state to decarbonise the economy and create hundreds of thousands of green jobs in struggling towns and cities.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary who is driving the party’s climate agenda, said the UK’s “entire society and entire economy” needed to be refocused to meet the looming challenge of ecological breakdown.
“It could not be made clearer to us and people are starting to realise how incredibly dangerous this situation is,” said Long-Bailey. “There is no option but to radically transform our economy.”
But, in an interview with the Guardian, she said the crisis was also an opportunity to bring well-paid, highly skilled jobs and economic regeneration to some of the most marginalised communities in the country.
“We have to tackle climate change in a really radical way, the evidence is crystal clear,” said Long-Bailey. “But this is also a wonderful opportunity to invest in those towns and cities that have felt neglected for a very long time … this has to be – and will be – a genuine transformation of the economy.”
From The Labour Party: Jeremy Corbyn takes to social media the day after the “stupid people/woman” row, to say: “Yes, I did call them stupid people”.
From the Daily Mirror: The reality of life on Universal Credit has been laid bare by struggling families who say it “simply does not work”.