Monday 22 November 2021

Migrants welcome here.

The lead story on tonight's news is that 25 000 migrants have crossed the Chanel this year to try to obtain residence in the UK.  This is more than double the number last year and three times the number two years ago.  Yet he government promised that via Brexit they would "control our borders". 

 Why doesn't the government keep its promises, demands the Labour Opposition spokesperson, Nick Thomas-Symons?  Priti Patel is not fit to be Home Secretary and the Home Office is not fit for purpose.

 There is talk of turning the boats back, or sending the potential mitigants off to Albania or far distant lands to discourage them.

We should be ashamed.  We, a country with welcoming heritage,  all should be ashamed..

Not only that, we are shooting ourselves in the foot, or, if you prefer, cutting off our noses  to spite our faces.

My  quality of life is greatly enriched, varied and sustained by migrants and the offspring of recent migrants.  These do their best to maintain what's left of my teeth (Portuguese); dispense my medical prescriptions (South  Asian); supply the vicar (Germany), organist (Caribbean) and about half the choir (also Caribbean) at  the church I attend; deliver my daily paper (South Asian); cut my hair (Kurds ); supply my small community (Birstall, population 16 000) with  a wide variety of take-away food and restaurant outlets (Indian, Italian, Bangladeshi,  Chinese and soon, Caribbean); clean my car (Eastern Europeans); and provide about two-thirds (approx) of my health care (assorted)   Given the chance they might also enhance the quality of the county's cricket team.

Frankly, when "boat people" are asked where they want to go eventually and they reply America, or Germany I feel indignant.  Why don't you want to come here?  

I'd like to see the UK top of the list of preferred destinations.

 No we wouldn't be swamped overrun, unable to cope. At the moment we are experiencing net emigration:  there are more people leaving the UK than coming.

 And the UK is not "a soft touch":  we have fewer migrants than Germany, France or Spain.

 Unfortunately, as with our membership of the European Union, we are victims of spin. In this area we are poisoned by negative reporting in the popular press, with the encouragement of the Brexiteers, the  craven support of Labour (remember Ed Milliband's ant-migrant mugs?) and sadly even the Liberal Democrats seem to be strangely quiet about the issue.

 What to do about it?

 I would set up booths with neon lights advertising "Come to Britain. - make your future here." 

I would welcome  these groups of largely young, enterprising, courageous people with decent, clean, specially-built hostel accommodation to begin with, reduce the bureaucratic process of their settlement; (yes we need to sift out criminals and those with  an unsavoury past who might pose a danger); promise citizenship in a defined time if they make a success of their lives (which most will); and sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labours as they establish businesses  (cf Marks of Marks and Spencer) invent things, write books and plays, drive our HGVs, pick our fruit, cure our ills, deliver our parcels,and  pay their taxes so as to sustain my pension.

A win-win situation.

Thursday 18 November 2021

HS rail rage (with modified rapture)

The plan for a High Speed rail line from London to Leeds and Manchester via Birmingham (and eventually to Scotland) was a daft idea from the start.  I'm getting forgetful of the details but I seem to remember that it was originally estimated to cost around £30bn, and has now escalated to  around £100bn.  It was sold  as absolutely essential for the prosperity of the northern economy (now re-branded as the Northern Powerhouse)

It was actually a prestige project in the gleaming eyes of politicians with happy childhood memories of playing with Hornby Model Railways who were determined to leave their mark.  Although as far as I know he wasn't involved in the original conception, our current prime minister Johnson is a sucker for such projects (hence the trip wire across the Thames, the London airport floating on a mud flat, bridge to Northern Ireland and a Garden Bridge across the Thames).

If we had to have a prestige high speed railway running up and down the country in order to promote Northern prosperity then it would have made more sense to start it in Scotland or, failing that, Leeds.

But no, it started in London, and the development of the London to Birmingham bit is already well under way.

Criticisms of the original scheme are outlined here

 A more sensible alternative is HSUK which was applauded on an earlier post, and integrates with the existing railway system rather than operating largely independently.  It provides greater connectivity to far more towns in the North and Midlands than does HS2, and at a fraction of the cost.

On the brighter side,  amazingly the voices that enthused about the original HS2 are now telling us how much better  the scrapping of the Birmingham-Leeds link and the diversion of  funds to the existing network  to building of a high speed line between Leeds and Manchester will be for us. 

 Our governments may be not much good at planning but the are masters and mistresses of PR

I hope it will pass through Dewsbury, which I further hope will be provided with a public toilet. (Tomorrow, 19th November is World Toilet Day - see last year's post).

Sadly Bradford, the Yorkshire city probably most in need of an uplift, misses out. So does the whole of Yorkshire.  In  government expenditure per head on  transport  London comes top with £903, Yorkshire bottom with £276.

No change yet there than.


Thursday 4 November 2021

Paterson's sleaze rubber-stamped: is this the tipping point?

To most on the left and centre of British politics it is clear that Mr Johnson cannot possibly last for long  as  prime minister: his "luck" is bound to run out eventually.  Personally I believed that by the autumn of this year the Tories would have ditched him. 

 But no, in spite of having mishandled the pandemic, trashed Britain's international reputation,  kept scant regard to truth and decency in his on personal behaviour, squandered billions of our money on irregularly arranged contracts for friends and Tory donors, his government remains ahead in the polls and the Tory MPs are happy to hang on to their "winner."

However, it is often the "small" things that bring autocrats down.  The system of scrutiny of MP's behaviour was set up after the "expenses scandal" of the 1990s.  It is possible that it needs some revision but has remained in place, and its recommendations and decisions honoured, for over 20 years.  Until now.

Troy former minister Owen Paterson, in addition to his normal "job" as an MP,lobbied on behalf of two private  firms, Randox and Lynn's Country Foods.  The Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, Kathryn Stone, found he had abused his position as an MP on 14 points.  The cross-party Standards Committee, which contained Tory MPs, confirmed her findings and recommended that Mr Paterson  be "punished" by suspension from the Commons for 30 days.  The Commons itself has the final say. Normally such recommendations go through" on the nod."

Not this time. A group of 59 Tory MPs signed a motion that the suspension be not upheld.  Six of them had themselves been reprimanded by the system in the past 12 months.  Some of them had  similar "second jobs" worth more than £1m a year in total.  That's in addition to their parliamentary salaries of £81 930 + expenses.  The government ordered Tory MPs to support them, and most did.

. Not only is Mr Paterson "off the hook," for the time being at any rate, but with government support the entire system is to be scrapped  and replaced by one designed  by the Tories.

The rules for "us" are  that, if we break them, we scrap them and devise some more. 

What I think could stick in the public's "craw" is that Paterson was paid £10 000 a year for his lobbying on behalf of  Randox.  A "normal person" on the average wage has to work 30 hours a week for over three years to earn that.  For his extra little job on behalf of Lynn's Country foods he received another £12 000, twelve times the value of the £20 a week cut in Universal Credit. 

To most of us "in the street" the proposed limitations on the right to judicial review are a bit  outside our normal experience. 

But we understand this.  It could be the "tipping point."  Let's hope so.


P.S. Posted 3.05pm.  According to the lunchtime news the government agrees with the above and has withdrawn the proposals.  Well done, them but I suspect the mud will still stick, as it deserves to do. 


P.P.S.  Posted 5.28,  According to the 5 O'clock news Mr Paterson has now thrown in the towel and resigned from parliament.  So we get a by-election in his constituency.  They cost the public funds about a quarter of a million. He should be made to pay for it.