Abandoned by the Community Mental Health Team

Do you know how it feels to a vulnerable mental health patient when you tell them that they are on a “very long waiting list”?

by Matt Coot

The answer, at least for me, is that I am a burden or that maybe my problems aren’t thought of as important. It makes me feel worthless, more than I do already. It makes me feel like, maybe, just maybe, I should listen to the self-destructive voice in my head.

My self-destructive voice tells me that I want to cease to exist. It isn’t melodrama or exaggeration when I say that every second of every minute of every hour of every day is a struggle. I struggle to exist, I struggle to live, I struggle to belong.

Me: “Hi, I’m a risk to myself”

CMHT: “Excellent, excellent. Join the queue.”

*Looks around at the very long queue of people*

Me: “Uhh, that queue?”

CMHT: “That’s the one”

Me: “I can’t see where it ends”

CMHT: “Ah, yes, that is something we are working on. Just keep walking. Walk a bit further. Then just a tad bit more. Then you should be able to just about make out where the queue ends. Maybe. It might get bigger between now and then, we just don’t know. But do keep going until you reach the end of the queue. We will then see you as soon as we possibly can.”

Me: “I don’t think you understand, I am a risk to myself. I want to kill myself. I can’t function with day-to-day tasks. I need help.”

*Slight pause*

CMHT: “Excellent, excellent. Join the queue”

Suicidal Ideation

I’ve tried to take my own life. I was going to jump from a bridge into the River Avon in 2011. A different attempt, in 2017, saw me swallowing far too many ibuprofen pills. I’ve considered using knives from the kitchen to stab myself, or a Doctor Who sonic screwdriver, which is a real screwdriver, to slice open my skin. I’ve considered every possible way of using whatever is readily available to cause significant damage to end my life. This is called suicidal ideation.

“I don’t like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through. I like to stand right back and if possible get a pillar between me and the train. I don’t like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water. A second’s action would end everything. A few drops of desperation.”

Winston Churchill

Alcoholism

I used to drink. I used to use alcohol to block out the thoughts in my mind. I used to use alcohol to block out life itself. If I reached oblivion, then I didn’t have to be existing. Of course, I also enjoyed drinking. I enjoyed the taste of Guinness, I enjoyed the taste of White Zinfandel wine, I enjoyed the taste of Jack Daniels and coke. I enjoyed being able to lose my inhibitions and being able to be friendly and chatty with everyone I came into contact with. I enjoyed the atmosphere in the pubs and clubs, especially when the alcohol inside me encouraged me to dance along to the beat or to drink more, and more, and more. But, I didn’t love waking up in the morning (or afternoon) with a killer hangover and no memory of what had happened the night before. I didn’t love finding out that I had spent the majority of my student loan on alcohol. I didn’t love the craving for more.

“Sometimes you can only find Heaven by slowly backing away from Hell.”

Carrie Fisher

The Bipolar Rollercoaster

“When you get just a complete sense of blackness or void ahead of you, that somehow the future looks an impossible place to be, and the direction you are going seems to have no purpose, there is this word despair which is a very awful thing to feel”

Stephen Fry

I get highs and I get lows. These are not like any normal highs and lows. These are extreme and can hit me at random times with no apparent trigger. For a very long time now, I have been in a severe low. I have been struggling along through this low period with suicidal thoughts, self-harm compulsions, and self-hatred making my life hell. It has been like this for so long now, and I’m not even sure if I’ll be getting out of it. I don’t know how to get out of it. I’ve tried. I have tried every technique that I have ever been taught, but nothing is helping. I take my medication religiously, but it isn’t helping to break me out of this low. There is nothing that can help.

“It is an illness that ensures that those who have it will experience a frightening, chaotic and emotional ride. It is not a gentle or easy disease.”

Kay Redfield Jamison

When I get the highs, they are magnificent until they become dangerous. Over a couple of months in 2016, I spent thousands of pounds in several manic spending sprees. I obsess over facts and events that I find connections between – no matter how vague or imagined – and I can’t stop my obsession over the connections and coming up with conclusions as to why they are connected. I speak faster than normal and it is like the words in my head cannot come out fast enough, my lips just aren’t as fast as the words in my mind. Everything is brighter and faster. Everything. It goes so fast. I am creative, way more creative than normal. I write more. I make more. I plan more. I make rash decisions. I act on impulse. But, none of it seems unusual to me until I’m out of the high.

Anxiety

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”

Vincent Van Gogh

I struggle with anxiety. Sometimes, I cannot leave my bed. When the anxiety is at its worst, the simple act of throwing off the duvet and sliding out of bed is the most difficult thing in the world. Sometimes, I might be able to get out of bed but I might not be able to get to the living room, or the kitchen. Sometimes, moving around my house is okay, but the thought of going outside terrifies me. I’m stuck in that state quite often, especially lately. If I manage to leave the house, then it is often likely that I will be struggling with separation anxiety. This means that I cannot be without someone. I have to have that comfort of someone I trust being with me. They cannot leave my side. On the rare occasions when I can leave the house and not have someone with me, then it is quite normal for me to have a time limit to how long I can be out of the house before I start to panic. Not exactly ideal for a single, 29-year old, employed (part-time) and self-employed (the rest of the time) man.

“Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!”

Anne Frank

Community Mental Health Team

I have been in the care of the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) in Liskeard,

TrevillisHouseCMHT

Trevillis House (CMHT) in Liskeard

Cornwall, for a rather long time. I was referred by my GP when I realised that depression was striking again. This was in the late-Spring/early-Summer of 2016. A few days before my first assessment with an on-duty Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN), a sixth form student at the school I was working at committed suicide in the same manner that I was considering to take my own life. I had to manage holding my own feelings inside as I helped many of the students come to terms with what had happened. I sat with colleagues in silence, as we didn’t know what to say, occasionally trying to put our feelings into words. I couldn’t tell anyone what I was really feeling inside. I couldn’t tell them that it should have been me. It shouldn’t have been that young man. He should have been able to live and receive the help he needed. I should have been the one jumping from the bridge, not him. I couldn’t tell anyone that.

After the first assessment, I was put on a waiting list for a Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) to act as my care co-ordnator, and I was referred to a psychiatrist. I was also referred to some talking therapy with a service called BeMe, but this was cancelled when the service run by BeMe was no longer in partnership with the CMHT. I wasn’t given any other form of therapy.

Eventually, I was contacted by a Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) called Neil. Neil supported me through many turbulent months. He would be my advocate to make sure that things happened. For example, when I needed a re-assessment with the psychiatrist, Neil would make sure that this would happen. When he could tell that I was becoming more intent on self-destruction, he made sure that I was visited frequently by the crisis home treatment team. Unfortunately, Neil left his job in December 2017. I was told that I would be reassigned another CPN “very soon”. In March 2018, I am still waiting.

I have had a few appointments with my psychiatrist. However, I cannot remember when the last one was – before the cancelled appointment in December 2017. Yes, she cancelled an appointment after my CPN had abandoned me, but the reason was that my uncle had just passed away and she didn’t think it was the right time for an appointment. Surely, when someone very close to me dies – and when I feel abandoned by the mental health team already – then an appointment with my psychiatrist is a good idea? Anyway, that appointment was going to be rearranged ASAP. In March 2018, I am still waiting.

As I mentioned earlier, I tried to commit suicide in August 2017. I took too many pills in an attempt to die. When I went to the Accident and Emergency Department at Derriford Hospital, the consultant who was dealing with me explained that it was important that I get medical help before rather than after I make an attempt on my life. The consultant explained that he would rather see me there, in the A&E department declaring that I was a risk to myself, rather than dealing with the aftermath of an attempt.

On 2nd January 2018, I took the advice of the consultant and went to the A&E department at Derriford Hospital declaring that I was a risk to myself. Coincidentally, I was seen by the same consultant who reinforced what he said previously by saying that it was good that I attended before trying anything. I was in the department until around 3am when the on-duty psychiatrist assessed me. He was shocked and saddened to hear that I felt abandoned by the mental health team and felt it was important that I be given another care co-ordinator ASAP.

A week later, I was given an appointment with the on-duty CPN at the CMHT. The appointment was an assessment to find out what I needed to support me so that I wouldn’t be in a similar situation again. It was decided that I was a “high priority” to be assigned a CPN, that I was “high priority” to be assigned to the Emotional Coping Skills therapy group, and that it was important that the psychiatrist reschedule our cancelled appointment ASAP.

Two months later, nothing has happened. I do not have a care co-ordinator. I have not had a rescheduled appointment with the psychiatrist. I have not been given the therapy that was advised.

In January, and when I called them in February, I was told that I was a high priority patient. When I called on Monday 12th March, I was told that I was on a very long waiting list. I feel like I have been abandoned by the mental health team.

It seems that there is only one of two ways to receive any form of mental health treatment in the UK: you have to either threaten to harm yourself or you actually have to attempt to take your own life. I do not use my words lightly when I say that I am seriously considering doing one or the other.

Of course, I do not blame the members of staff who work hard in the Community Mental Health Team. They are trying their best. It is not the fault of those who work in the mental health services that they are faced with staff shortages, insufficient funding, and insufficient resources. I blame the politicians.

The Tories will try to tell you that their funding of the NHS is at “record levels”, but what they fail to explain to you is that when you account for inflation, 62% of mental health trusts have less funding than they did 10 years ago (according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists). Theresa May will try to tell you that her government is responsible for 13,900 more nurses on the wards, but what she fails to explain is that numbers of community, mental health, and specialist learning disability nurses have all dropped dramatically. What the Tories continue to neglect to mention is the 271 deaths of highly vulnerable mental health patients between 2012 and 2017.

The Conservative Party have blood on their hands. If I don’t get the sufficient care that I need soon, it will be my blood.

 

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Burden of Proof

The Importance of Evidence and How to Create a Believable Story

by Matt Coot

Proof has always been the burden of the prosecution. The prosecution must, without any reasonable doubt, prove the guilt of the accused. This must be done by supplying enough evidence to show that the accused had the means, opportunity, and motive to carry out the crime. It is also important to note that until proven guilty, the accused must be assumed to be innocent.They are innocent until proven guilty.

Now, we live in a society that seems to have forgotten this. Our national press publishes names of suspects to crimes that are being questioned in connection to crimes. These suspects then become ‘hated’ by the public. The right-wing press also seem to delight in promoting Islamophobia and xenophobia. They generate articles that develop ‘hatred’ amongst their readers. It reminds me of the ‘Two Minutes Hate’ from George Orwell’s 1984.

This week, we have seen what happens when the government presents the ‘outcome’ of an investigation that isn’t anywhere near concluding and doesn’t seem to have much evidence behind it. I am, of course, discussing the Salisbury attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, along with the unintended target of Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey. We have been told that the evidence, so far, makes it “highly likely” that Russia is behind the attack. This has been told by the Prime Minister at the dispatch box in the House of Commons. She announced that those investigating think that Russia are behind it. However, “highly likely” is not “without any reasonable doubt”.

I must admit, as you may have read in my previous article, I believed that the Prime Minister wouldn’t have announced such a thing if the government wasn’t in possession of clear evidence pointing to Vladimir Putin ordering the attempted assassination. However, the House of Commons wasn’t given this evidence. The UN Security Council wasn’t given this evidence. Nor does it seem that our allies have been given this evidence. When the Leader of the Opposition dared to ask about evidence, he was immediately ridiculed by those opposing his party, as well as those within his party.

Evidence is important. Evidence that can allow you to build up a clear picture of guilt is important. Evidence is what the prosecutors need to build a believable story of what happened.

So, using my degree in Creative Writing, I am going to write a believable story using evidence that has built up over the years. First, I will write the accusation. I will then follow that accusation with the evidence. Finally, I will write the concluding argument of what this all points to.

Accusation: The Conservative Party has questionable links to the Russian government.

The Conservative Party relies upon donations from rich donors who donate the money to influence policy or to gain access to influential people in government. This is legal, as long as the donations are recorded with the Electoral Commission and are recorded as donations that do not require payback of any kind. But, can we really sit here and pretend that someone will donate £30,000 to meet with the Defence Minister over dinner and not expect anything back?

A problem has occurred. It seems that the Conservative Party has been receiving donations from at least 9 Russian oligarchs with clear links between them and the Russian state. Shall we explore these donors?

Evidence 1: The Russian Donor List

Lubov and Vladimir Chernukhin

Vladimir Chernukhin is a former deputy finance minister who had been nicknamed “Putin’s Banker”. He was a director of Aeroflot and chairman of Russia’s state development bank. Vladimir Putin honoured Vladimir Chernukhin with the Order of Honour. Vladimir and his wife moved to the UK claiming that he and Putin had fallen out. Lubov, his wife, is described as a banker. Recently, Vladimir has been locked in a legal battle with a rival Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska. Interestingly, the former chief of MI6, John Scarlett, was helping Vladimir with this problem.

What is their link to the Conservative Party?

Lubov Chernukhin has donated at least £514,000 to the party since 2012.
This includes £160,000 to play tennis with David Cameron and Boris Johnson, as well as £30,000 to have dinner with Gavin Williamson, the defence minister.

MoscowKremlin

Lev Mikheev

Mikheev is a Russian financier who earns his money by investing approximately $1 billion on behalf of Vladimir Putin’s wealthy friends. The location of Mikheev’s office is rather telling, as it is right next door to the Kremlin.

What is his link to the Conservative Party?

Mikheev has donated £197,000 to the party since 2010.

Alexander Knaster

Alexander Knaster

Alexander Knaster

Knaster was born in Moscow, emigrated to the States when he was a teenager, and then returned to Russia in 1995. A few years later, in 1998, he became the CEO of Russia’s largest private commercial bank, Alfa Bank. Then, in 2004, he started his own company, Pamplona Capital Management.

What is his link to the Conservative Party?

He has donated £405,000 to the Conservative Party since 2010. This includes £50,000 that he donated to the Tory ‘No to AV’ campaign for the electoral reform referendum.

Alexander Temerko

Temerko is the former vice-president of oil company Yukos. Is is said that he “fled” Russia after being charged with fraud.

What is his link to the Conservative Party?

Temerko personally donated £259,230 to the party. His company, OGN, has donated £185,325.

George Piskov

George Piskov

George Piskov

Piskov is a wealthy banker who made his money in the early post-communism years in Russia. He formed a bank known as Uniastrum and co-founded Unibank.

What is his link to the Conservative Party?

Up until 2014, Piskov had donated at least £17,378 to the Tories. I cannot find any more up-to-date information.

Gérard Lopez

Lopez – through his company Genii Capital – was the owner of the Lotus F1 team. There is a picture of him with Vladimir Putin along with the Lotus F1 team. Lopez is the chairman and CEO of Nekton Global. He was founding partner of Mangrove Capital, which funded Skype, Wix, and Nimbuzz. He is also chairman of Rise Capital. Rise recently signed deals for a string of infrastructure projects across Russia. These projects are worth billions. Rise Capital is also linked to three Russian banks that had sanctions imposed on them during the Ukraine crisis.

Lopez’s managing partner in Rise Capital, Sergey Romashov, had been the head of departments in two of Russia’s leading financial groups, and managing director of one of Russia’s first major equity funds. It is understood that Romashov is close to Vladimir Putin.

What is his link to the Conservative Party?

Gérard Lopez donated £400,000 to the Tories in April 2016.

New Century Media

This PR company has been hired by the Kremlin to promote a “positive image” of Russia to the UK. Interestingly, the company’s Director of Financial Services is linked to the next donor too. Alex Nekrassov advised BP’s management on its investment in Russia and the sale of TNK-BP to Rosneft. This gives New Century Media a direct link to Vladimir Putin, as this sale was signed off at a meeting with Putin.

What is their link to the Conservative Party?

The company has donated more than £143,000 to the Tories. This includes more than £24,000 since Theresa May became Prime Minister.

access-industries

LenBlavatnik

Len Blavatnik

Access Industries

Access Industries is owned by Sir Leonard (Len) Blavatnik. Access Industries was one of a group of oligarchs in a consortium known as AAR. AAR partnered with BP to create TNK-BP. This became the largest oil company in Russia. Blavatnik was the director of TNK-BP. Blavatnik has faced allegations of involvement with a Russian state-sponsored campaign against BP that tried to get 100 BP managers to leave Russia. BP and AAR were bought of by state-backed Russian energy company Rosneft. Blavatnik ended up with $28billion. This deal was signed off at a meeting with Vladimir Putin. As mentioned above, this links to New Century Media too, with their Director of Financial Services being instrumental in advising that this deal happen.

What is Access Industries link to the Conservative Party?

Access Industries has donated at least £94,450 to the Tories.

Oleg Deripaska

He is a Russian oligarch who owns aluminium businesses. He is the founder and owner of one of the largest Russian industrial groups, Basic Element. It is also believed that he is a close ally of Vladimir Putin.

What is his link to the Conservative Party?

Nat Rothschild accused George Osboune of soliciting a £50,000 donation from Oleg Deripaska. However, this was proven to be untrue.

Lord Greg Barker, former energy minister in Cameron’s Cabinet, has been hired by Deripaska’s aluminium firm (EN+). This gives Deripaska a direct influence with a member of the House of Lords.

Greg_Barker_Face

Tory Lord Greg Barker, former minister in David Cameron’s Cabinet

Evidence 2: Suspicious People with Boris Johnson

boris-with-russian-spy

Sergey Nalobin with “good friend” Boris Johnson

Sergey Nalobin

Sergey Nalobin is the son of a former KGB general. General Nalobin then had a top role in the FSB. It has been said that Sergey’s father was Alexander Litvinenko’s boss in the 1990’s, when Litvinenko was in the FSB. Sergey’s brother also has worked for the FSB. Sergey is suspected of also being an intelligence agent. It is also highly likely that the Nalobin family worked with, or for, Vladimir Putin when Putin led the FSB prior to his ascendency to President.

What is Sergey Nalobin’s link to Boris Johnson?

There is a photo of Boris Johnson and Sergey Nalobin together. There is also a deleted tweet of Sergey calling Boris Johnson “our friend”. This was when Boris Johnson was the London mayor.

BorisJohnsonJosephMifsudJoseph Mifsud

Joseph Mifsud

This shadowy mysterious figure is described as an academic from Malta. He has high level links to the Putin regime.

What is Joseph Mifsud’s link to Boris Johnson?

Boris Johnson has been pictured with Mifsud.

Evidence 3: Actions of the Tory Government in relation to Russia

As revealed by a question by Liz Saville Roberts MP of Plaid Cymru in this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions, but which went unanswered, the UK has sold nuclear material to Russia. Russia, in fact, is the UK’s biggest customer of weapons grade uranium. This depleted uranium – which is produced from nuclear energy power stations – can be used in the manufacturing of fission bombs. In 2016, Russia bought 92% of the UK’s exports of depleted uranium. This was worth £1.2 million. Could the Prime Minister confirm that sanctions would include cancelling this arrangement? No, she avoided the question.

The UK has also sold arms to Russia. Between 2008 and 2013, Russia bought £406 million worth of military weapons. Again, there has been no confirmation of this ending.

The Conservative government has also ignored Russian money being laundered in the UK. £38 billion of ‘dirty money’ has flowed through the UK in recent years. The majority of this from Russia. In fact, in 2013, a Danish bank closed down 20 Russian accounts that had been using the bank to funnel cash through British companies. They reported that this was done by members of Vladimir Putin’s family and the FSB spy agency.

Furthermore, the Conservative government has ignored many suspicious Russian-linked deaths in the UK, including: Boris Berezovsky, Alexander Perephilchnyy, Gareth Williams, Alexander Litvinenko, Nikolai Glushkov, German Gorbuntsov, and Scot Young.

Concluding argument

Using the evidence presented in this article, it is highly likely that the Conservative Party has been compromised by the links it has with the Russian state. It is highly likely that the party has allowed itself to be compromised by accepting donations from donors who, it could be argued, has potential links to Vladimir Putin or others in the Russian government. There is also evidence to suggest that members of the Cabinet have been compromised by meetings with potential intelligence agents linked to Russia.

What needs to happen next?

If a political blogger can put this freely accessible information together and come up with a case against the Conservative Party, then it is obvious that something needs to be done.

1) Independent inquiry

There needs to be an independent inquiry launched to determine whether politicians and political groups have been compromised by dealings with individuals and organisations. The inquiry should also look into whether the Russian state has any undue influence over any politician or political group.

2) Suspension of any politician that it is proven has been compromised by any individual or organisation.

Anyone found to have been compromised should be suspended pending a full investigation.

3) Resignation and espionage criminal investigation

Anyone found to be compromised after a full investigation will be forced to resign. Furthermore, anyone found to be ‘controlled’ by the Russian state will face criminal investigation into espionage.

What about the ‘highly likely’ responsibility of Russia with regards to the Salisbury attack?

I’ve created a story about the Conservative Party using freely accessible information. It is a story that could be argued as being “highly likely” to be true. However, it could also be false. Or, it could be right in some areas and false in others. The thing is, I could stand up and back up my accusations with evidence.

Earlier this week, Theresa May stood up in Parliament and – without presenting evidence – stated that it was “highly likely” that Russia was behind an attack on this country. She presented a selection of sanctions and punitive measures against Russia.

When the Leader of the Opposition did his job, to oppose the government and give another point of view, to advise not to rush into action without the evidence to back it up, he was instead mocked and singled out as someone not supporting the government’s action. This isn’t true. He supported the action, but was stating that taking action without providing evidence would be negligent and dangerous. Which, if you think about it, is rather sensible.

During the UN Security Council meeting, later the same day, the UK representative to the UN stated that “the UK is not required to share samples” of the nerve agent used in the attack. In other words, the UK would not show the evidence.

The UN or NATO needs to request an independent analysis of the evidence found at Salisbury. This should be the next step taken in this investigation. Until the evidence is analysed by an independent body – or one made up of several nations – there should be no actions taken against any nation.

The burden of proof remains to be that of the prosecution. The defendant remains innocent until proven guilty. Without that, we do not have a civilised society.

There is still so much that is unknown with this situation and also so much unknown about how far the Conservative Party is compromised with regards to Russian influence. There needs to be a thorough investigation into both the Salisbury attack and the potential of politicians being compromised by a foreign nation.

 

Not In My Name

Callous Conservatives Continue Controversial Crippling Cuts

by Matt Coot

When in coalition with the Liberal Democrat Party, the Conservative Party agreed to introduce free school meals for primary school children. After reading Nick Clegg’s  Politics: Between the Extremes, it is clear that this was an agreement that was difficult to get through, especially with Tories, such as Michael Gove, putting stumbling blocks in the way, so much so that Clegg, Cameron, and Osbourne had to use a lot of stealth to get the free school meals proposals through without Gove – and many civil servants – knowing until the last minute. Yesterday, now alone in government but propped up by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the Tories pushed through reforms of the Universal Credit system that meant there would be a massive reduction of children being eligible to receive free meals at school.

Three hundred and fifteen MPs voted for these reforms to go through. No MPs from the Conservative Party rebelled. Each and every one of them voted with the party. The DUP also voted for the proposal. So did an ‘independent’ MP, who is a suspended member of the Tory party. All other MPs didn’t support the proposals. Among those who voted for these reforms, were the six MPs who represent the six constituencies of Cornwall.

In October 2017, Cornwall was described as the second-poorest region in Northern Europe. Cornwall also has more than a quarter of children living in poverty. The county also has the third-highest homelessness rate. The South West has also seen an increase of 55% of children with parents working in public services who are now living in poverty.

Nationally, the Trade Union Congress – the federation of trade unions in England and Wales – released research in February stating that 550,000 children of parents who work in the public sector will be living in poverty by April. This is a 40% increase from 2010 with ‘real term’ wages falling by 13.3% (for health and education workers) and 14.3% (for public administration workers).

On the topic of the national issues, in January the Royal Society of Arts published a report in which they declared that 70% of the working population are “chronically broke”. This follows an increase in personal debt to £1.6 trillion and a massive rise of people declaring bankruptcy to the highest level since the 2008 financial crisis. Last year also saw a dramatic rise in unemployment resulting in 1.47 million people unemployed by the end of the year. Since 2010, the UK has seen an increase of five million more people living in poverty. Half of the people living in poverty actually live with someone in work, which just goes to show the Prime Minister’s theory, that work is the way out of poverty, is completely wrong.

Six MPs representing the people of Cornwall:

Steve Double, Sarah Newton, Sheryll Murray, Scott Mann, George Eustice, and Derek Thomas.

cornwall-tory

Returning to the local picture, I wrote to the six MPs who represent Cornwall, imploring them to stand up for the people that they represent. With Cornwall being the second-poorest region in Northern Europe, and with more than a quarter of children living in poverty, you would hope that the representatives of Cornish people would actually represent the needs of the people of Cornwall. I asked them to stand up for the thirteen thousand three hundred children who live in poverty in Cornwall. I asked them to make sure that these children wouldn’t have their free school meals be put at risk.

The six MPs that I wrote to, did not reply. They didn’t bother to converse with a member of the electorate who was raising a concern. Instead, the plea of supporting these children was not paid attention to. All six MPs voted for the reforms and, therefore, voted to reduce the number of free school meals. The six MPs should be ashamed of themselves.

Each time that Jeremy Corbyn tries to raise fair points over Tory links to Russian funding, the Tories call him a “traitor” and shout the word “shame”. Well, I think these words suit the 315 MPs who voted for these reforms. They are traitors. They are responsible for the rise in poverty and now they are responsible for leaving children without the chance of receiving free school meals. They are the shame of the nation.

The traitors who put this country to real shame are:

Conservative MPs (304):

  1. Adams, Nigel
  2. Afolami, Bim
  3. Afriyie, Adam
  4. Aldous, Peter
  5. Allan, Lucy
  6. Allen, Heidi
  7. Amess, Sir David
  8. Andrew, Stuart
  9. Argar, Edward
  10. Atkins, Victoria
  11. Bacon, Mr Richard
  12. Badenoch, Mrs Kemi
  13. Baker, Mr Steve
  14. Baldwin, Harriett
  15. Barclay, Stephen
  16. Baron, Mr John
  17. Bebb, Guto
  18. Bellingham, Sir Henry
  19. Benyon, rh Richard
  20. Beresford, Sir Paul
  21. Berry, Jake
  22. Blackman, Bob
  23. Blunt, Crispin
  24. Boles, Nick
  25. Bone, Mr Peter
  26. Bottomley, Sir Peter
  27. Bowie, Andrew
  28. Bradley, Ben
  29. Bradley, rh Karen
  30. Brady, Sir Graham
  31. Brereton, Jack
  32. Bridgen, Andrew
  33. Brine, Steve
  34. Brokenshire, rh James
  35. Bruce, Fiona
  36. Buckland, Robert
  37. Burghart, Alex
  38. Burns, Conor
  39. Burt, rh Alistair
  40. Cairns, rh Alun
  41. Cartlidge, James
  42. Cash, Sir William
  43. Caulfield, Maria
  44. Chalk, Alex
  45. Chishti, Rehman
  46. Chope, Sir Christopher
  47. Churchill, Jo
  48. Clark, Colin
  49. Clark, rh Greg
  50. Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth
  51. Clarke, Mr Simon
  52. Cleverly, James
  53. Clifton-Brown, Sir Geoffrey
  54. Coffey, Dr Thérèse
  55. Collins, Damian
  56. Costa, Alberto
  57. Courts, Robert
  58. Cox, Mr Geoffrey
  59. Crabb, rh Stephen
  60. Crouch, Tracey
  61. Davies, Chris
  62. Davies, David T. C.
  63. Davies, Glyn
  64. Davies, Mims
  65. Davis, rh Mr David
  66. Dinenage, Caroline
  67. Djanogly, Mr Jonathan
  68. Docherty, Leo
  69. Donelan, Michelle
  70. Double, Steve
  71. Dowden, Oliver
  72. Doyle-Price, Jackie
  73. Drax, Richard
  74. Duddridge, James
  75. Duguid, David
  76. Duncan, rh Sir Alan
  77. Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain
  78. Dunne, Mr Philip
  79. Ellis, Michael
  80. Ellwood, rh Mr Tobias
  81. Eustice, George
  82. Evans, Mr Nigel
  83. Evennett, rh David
  84. Fabricant, Michael
  85. Fallon, rh Sir Michael
  86. Fernandes, Suella
  87. Field, rh Mark
  88. Ford, Vicky
  89. Foster, Kevin
  90. Fox, rh Dr Liam
  91. Francois, rh Mr Mark
  92. Frazer, Lucy
  93. Freeman, George
  94. Fysh, Mr Marcus
  95. Garnier, Mark
  96. Gauke, rh Mr David
  97. Ghani, Ms Nusrat
  98. Gibb, rh Nick
  99. Gillan, rh Dame Cheryl
  100. Glen, John
  101. Goldsmith, Zac
  102. Goodwill, Mr Robert
  103. Gove, rh Michael
  104. Graham, Luke
  105. Graham, Richard
  106. Grant, Bill
  107. Grant, Mrs Helen
  108. Grayling, rh Chris
  109. Green, Chris
  110. Green, rh Damian
  111. Greening, rh Justine
  112. Grieve, rh Mr Dominic
  113. Griffiths, Andrew
  114. Gyimah, Mr Sam
  115. Hair, Kirstene
  116. Halfon, rh Robert
  117. Hall, Luke
  118. Hammond, rh Mr Philip
  119. Hammond, Stephen
  120. Hancock, rh Matt
  121. Hands, rh Greg
  122. Harper, rh Mr Mark
  123. Harrington, Richard
  124. Harris, Rebecca
  125. Harrison, Trudy
  126. Hart, Simon
  127. Hayes, rh Mr John
  128. Heald, rh Sir Oliver
  129. Heappey, James
  130. Heaton-Harris, Chris
  131. Heaton-Jones, Peter
  132. Henderson, Gordon
  133. Herbert, rh Nick
  134. Hinds, rh Damian
  135. Hoare, Simon
  136. Hollingbery, George
  137. Hollinrake, Kevin
  138. Hollobone, Mr Philip
  139. Holloway, Adam
  140. Howell, John
  141. Huddleston, Nigel
  142. Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy
  143. Hurd, rh Mr Nick
  144. Jack, Mr Alister
  145. James, Margot
  146. Javid, rh Sajid
  147. Jayawardena, Mr Ranil
  148. Jenkin, Mr Bernard
  149. Jenkyns, Andrea
  150. Jenrick, Robert
  151. Johnson, rh Boris
  152. Johnson, Dr Caroline
  153. Johnson, Gareth
  154. Johnson, Joseph
  155. Jones, Andrew
  156. Jones, rh Mr David
  157. Jones, Mr Marcus
  158. Kawczynski, Daniel
  159. Keegan, Gillian
  160. Kennedy, Seema
  161. Kerr, Stephen
  162. Knight, rh Sir Greg
  163. Knight, Julian
  164. Kwarteng, Kwasi
  165. Lamont, John
  166. Lancaster, rh Mark
  167. Leadsom, rh Andrea
  168. Lee, Dr Phillip
  169. Lefroy, Jeremy
  170. Leigh, Sir Edward
  171. Letwin, rh Sir Oliver
  172. Lewer, Andrew
  173. Lewis, rh Brandon
  174. Lewis, rh Dr Julian
  175. Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian
  176. Lidington, rh Mr David
  177. Lopez, Julia
  178. Lopresti, Jack
  179. Lord, Mr Jonathan
  180. Loughton, Tim
  181. Mackinlay, Craig
  182. Maclean, Rachel
  183. Main, Mrs Anne
  184. Mak, Alan
  185. Malthouse, Kit
  186. Mann, Scott
  187. Masterton, Paul
  188. May, rh Mrs Theresa
  189. Maynard, Paul
  190. McLoughlin, rh Sir Patrick
  191. McPartland, Stephen
  192. McVey, rh Ms Esther
  193. Menzies, Mark
  194. Mercer, Johnny
  195. Merriman, Huw
  196. Metcalfe, Stephen
  197. Milling, Amanda
  198. Mills, Nigel
  199. Milton, rh Anne
  200. Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew
  201. Moore, Damien
  202. Mordaunt, rh Penny
  203. Morgan, rh Nicky
  204. Morris, Anne Marie
  205. Morris, David
  206. Morris, James
  207. Murray, Mrs Sheryll
  208. Murrison, Dr Andrew
  209. Neill, Robert
  210. Newton, Sarah
  211. Nokes, rh Caroline
  212. Norman, Jesse
  213. O’Brien, Neil
  214. Offord, Dr Matthew
  215. Opperman, Guy
  216. Parish, Neil
  217. Patel, rh Priti
  218. Pawsey, Mark
  219. Penning, rh Sir Mike
  220. Penrose, John
  221. Percy, Andrew
  222. Perry, rh Claire
  223. Philp, Chris
  224. Pincher, Christopher
  225. Poulter, Dr Dan
  226. Pow, Rebecca
  227. Prentis, Victoria
  228. Prisk, Mr Mark
  229. Pritchard, Mark
  230. Pursglove, Tom
  231. Quin, Jeremy
  232. Quince, Will
  233. Raab, Dominic
  234. Redwood, rh John
  235. Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob
  236. Robertson, Mr Laurence
  237. Robinson, Mary
  238. Rosindell, Andrew
  239. Ross, Douglas
  240. Rowley, Lee
  241. Rudd, rh Amber
  242. Rutley, David
  243. Sandbach, Antoinette
  244. Scully, Paul
  245. Seely, Mr Bob
  246. Selous, Andrew
  247. Shapps, rh Grant
  248. Sharma, Alok
  249. Shelbrooke, Alec
  250. Simpson, rh Mr Keith
  251. Skidmore, Chris
  252. Smith, Chloe
  253. Smith, Henry
  254. Smith, rh Julian
  255. Smith, Royston
  256. Soames, rh Sir Nicholas
  257. Soubry, rh Anna
  258. Spelman, rh Dame Caroline
  259. Spencer, Mark
  260. Stephenson, Andrew
  261. Stevenson, John
  262. Stewart, Bob
  263. Stewart, Iain
  264. Stewart, Rory
  265. Streeter, Mr Gary
  266. Stride, rh Mel
  267. Stuart, Graham
  268. Sturdy, Julian
  269. Sunak, Rishi
  270. Swayne, rh Sir Desmond
  271. Swire, rh Sir Hugo
  272. Syms, Sir Robert
  273. Thomas, Derek
  274. Thomson, Ross
  275. Throup, Maggie
  276. Tolhurst, Kelly
  277. Tomlinson, Justin
  278. Tomlinson, Michael
  279. Tracey, Craig
  280. Tredinnick, David
  281. Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie
  282. Truss, rh Elizabeth
  283. Tugendhat, Tom
  284. Vaizey, rh Mr Edward
  285. Vara, Mr Shailesh
  286. Vickers, Martin
  287. Villiers, rh Theresa
  288. Walker, Mr Charles
  289. Walker, Mr Robin
  290. Wallace, rh Mr Ben
  291. Warburton, David
  292. Warman, Matt
  293. Watling, Giles
  294. Whately, Helen
  295. Wheeler, Mrs Heather
  296. Whittaker, Craig
  297. Whittingdale, rh Mr John
  298. Wiggin, Bill
  299. Williamson, rh Gavin
  300. Wollaston, Dr Sarah
  301. Wood, Mike
  302. Wragg, Mr William
  303. Wright, rh Jeremy
  304. Zahawi, Nadhim

Democratic Unionist Party MPs (10)

  1. Campbell, Mr Gregory
  2. Dodds, rh Nigel
  3. Donaldson, rh Sir Jeffrey M.
  4. Girvan, Paul
  5. Little Pengelly, Emma
  6. Paisley, Ian
  7. Robinson, Gavin
  8. Shannon, Jim
  9. Simpson, David
  10. Wilson, rh Sammy

Independent MP (1)

  1. Elphicke, Charlie (suspended Conservative MP)

What next after Novichok attack?

Russia: What will happen next? Probably nothing.

by Matt Coot

Novichok001

On 4th March 2018, Novichok (a nerve agent) was used in an attempted assassination attempt on a former Russian spy and his daughter. Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skirpal were both exposed to the nerve agent in Salisbury, Wiltshire. The investigation into the attack has been happening since the two were found slumped on a bench.

Sergei Skripal KGB

Colonel Sergei Skripal was a Russian intelligence agent, who was believed to be a double agent for the UK. He was accused of passing Russian secrets to MI6, including the identities of Russian intelligence agents working undercover in Europe. In 2016, he was convicted and jailed for 13 years by Russia. Four years later, he was one of four prisoners who was used in a trade in exchange for 10 Russian spies that the FBI had arrested. Skripal has been living in Salisbury ever since his release.

Yulia Skripal – the Colonel’s daughter – lives in Moscow but regularly travels to Salisbury to visit her father. This was one of those visits.

Sergei and Yulia Skripal

Sergei and Yulia Skripal

Use of nerve agents is strictly forbidden under the Geneva Convention and other international laws.

Today, Prime Minister Theresa Mayrussian-spy-highly-likely-moscow-behind-attack-says-theresa-may announced to Parliament that it was “highly likely” that the “military-grade nerve agent” originated in Russia. That it was a Russian manufactured nerve agent. She suggested two scenarios: either Russia was behind the attack or they were negligent in securing the nerve agent so that it was stolen and used by a third party.

I’m pretty certain this news came as no surprise to anybody who had been following these events. Also, Vladimir Putin isn’t exactly a stranger to state-sponsored assassinations. Even before he was the leader of the country, when he was the leader of the Russian intelligence agency, FSB (between 1998 and 1999), he boasted of operations done on foreign soil as punishment against wrongdoers. So, this attack, perpetrated on foreign soil – against someone who Putin may have wanted to punish – wouldn’t exactly be unusual for Putin. In fact, it sounds right up his street.

PutinKGB

KGB photo of Vladimir Putin

So now, the question begs to be asked, if it was a state-sponsored assassination attempt sanctioned by Vladimir Putin, then where will this lead? What will happen next? What will the Conservative Government do now?

Honestly, it is my opinion that they will probably do nothing.

At least, nothing of significance on the same level as the use of a deadly weapon in a city of a foreign nation.

Why will nothing happen? Well, let me explore some facts with you and see if we can analyse why this is a difficult position for Theresa May to find herself in.

Evidence of Tory Links with Russia

During all that time that the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party, has been accused of being a former Soviet spy and being “friendly” and “collaborating” with Russia (despite there being no evidence), there has been strong evidence of a link between the Russian government and the Conservative Party. You see, the political party leading the country where this deadly attack has taken place, has had donations from individuals and organisations who have very strong links to the Kremlin. These donations are on record with the electoral commission.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, has confirmed that none of the money, from donors who have these strong links to the Kremlin, will be returned. This is despite Theresa May promising, when she became Prime Minister, that the party would be distancing themselves from Russian donors. Except, this hasn’t happened, and it seems this won’t be happening now despite the unprecedented international crisis that is unravelling.

Between January and September 2017, Lubov Chernukhin, wife of a former Russian deputy finance minister, Vladimir Chernukhin, who had been nicknamed “Putin’s Banker”, had given the Conservative Party £253,950. This included a donation of £30,000 to dine with Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson. She has also donated £20,000 to dine with the Scottish Conservative Leader, Ruth Davidson. When David Cameron was the prime minister, Lubov Chernukhin paid £160,000 for the privilege of playing tennis with Cameron and Boris Johnson.

NewCenturyMedia

New Century Media, hired by the Russian government. Just so happens to be a Tory party donor.

A British PR company, New Century Media, is contracted by the Russian government. Their task is to manage a campaign to present a “positive image” of Russia to the UK. This company, with very obvious and very strong links to the Russian government, have donated more than £143,000 to the Conservative Party. This figure included more than £24,000 since Theresa May has been the prime minister. In April 2016, they also donated another £400,000. So, in total, £543,000 has been donated to the political party running the government of the country from a company representing the Russian government.

Theresa May promised to distance her party from Russian donors. She broke that promise. She lied.

NickBailey

Victim of attack, Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey

It would be bad enough if Colonel Skripal and his daughter were the only victims, but there’s a police detective sergeant in a serious condition after helping the father and daughter. We also have FIVE HUNDRED people warned to thoroughly wash their belongings to ensure they are not at risk of succumbing to the nerve agent. If the nerve agent is found to have been an attack sanctioned by the Russian government, then is there any other way to view this other than as an act of war?

If the Russian government is found to be behind this, then they have just launched an illegal chemical weapon attack on a foreign nation. Even at the most tense of times during the Cold War, the use of such deadly weapons were never used. If they had been, the Cold War would have very quickly turned hot. Such an act would be a first strike attack. In other words, an act of war.

So what could and should happen next?

  • Expulsion of Russian diplomats (including the Russian ambassador);
  • Increase NATO presence on the Russian border;
  • Designation of Russia as being a state sponsor of terrorism;
  • Seize all Russian assets in the UK;
  • A non-lethal military cyber attack on Russia.

What is most likely to happen now?

  • Expulsion of a few diplomats;
  • England national football team not taking part in the Russia World Cup;
  • Asking Ofcom to decide to revoke the UK broadcasting licence for Russia Today.

Why will the reaction be this mild?

  • Money
  • Fear.

Money cannot dictate foreign policy. Money cannot dictate the defence of this country. Money cannot dictate our democracy.

Fear can also not dictate the response. We must stand up against bullies. If Vladimir Putin is behind this, then he believes that he can reach anywhere at anytime without anyone standing up to him.

Since the Brexit referendum, this country has been a laughing stock to all other countries. We were once a power to be reckoned with. Now, we are the ‘little guy’ who Russia believes they can push around. They can’t. We are Great Britain. We will never allow anyone to attack our cities and our citizens. We will always defend these shores from all attacks. We will forever fight for freedom from aggressive foreign powers. We are Great Britain and we are not afraid.

But it seems that maybe the Conservative Party don’t represent what makes this country great. They represent money and greed. I believe that their interest of securing Russian money will dictate their next move. On Wednesday, when they announce what they will be doing in response to this attack, we will be told of a mild response. We might even be told that Russia has explained everything, and that they’ve arrested those responsible, and they will be flown to the UK immediately to stand trial. Those responsible might just turn out to be rivals of Putin, or who he believes would be acceptable collateral damage, so that he can appear strong to his nation just in time for the election.

We should expect more for Sergei Skripal, Yulia Skripal, and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey. We should expect more for the city of Salisbury. We should expect more for this country. If the Tories fail to act in the way that represents what this great nation has always stood for, and instead reacts in a weak and feeble manner, then they will have failed everyone in Great Britain. This situation requires strength, not weakness. This crime requires justice, not weakness. This country requires greatness, not weakness.

 

 

 

 

Tory Policy Chief Declares Labour as “Party of Hope”

Tories are the Party of No Hope

by Matt Coot

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“Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope”

The Conservative Party’s very own Vice-Chairman for Policy, Chris Skidmore, has called the Labour Party, the “party of hope”. So that must make the Conservative Party ‘the party of no hope’.

According to Chris Skidmore, the Tories need policies that “resonate with the electorate demonstrating that we are on their side”. I have a few ideas on how they could have been achieving that:

  1. Fund the NHS and social care, so that the healthcare system in the UK can be working effectively. Also, stop lying about the “record levels” of funding the you’re not supplying.

  2. Extend free school meals to ALL children in primary schools and all those children in secondary schools who are living in poverty. Oh, and maybe, just maybe, don’t do sneaky, unethical, and discriminatory deals with the DUP as bribery to get their votes.

  3. Do not propose unnecessary and undemocratic policies that disenfranchise 1/4 of the electorate.

  4. Do not be responsible for forcing FIVE MILLION MORE PEOPLE to live in poverty.

  5. Do no freeze the pay of public sector workers. Here’s a hint: forcing one in seven public sector worker’s children into poverty, and forcing many of them to rely on food banks, is not the way you show that you’re on their side.

  6. You know that £670 MILLION that your Secretary of State for Housing had to return because it hadn’t been spent over the last two years? Spend it to build sufficient, sustainable, and affordable homes for the 169% more people that you were responsible for forcing onto the streets because they have no home.

  7. Reverse all changes you made to Corporation Tax, Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax, and the bank levy, so that £70 BILLION could be made available for such things as the NHS and social care.

  8. Lower ALL MPs wages to the National Living Wage and reduce expenses to the bare minimum (London flat and living costs; transport from constituency to London; and constituency office costs) so that £5 MILLION can be available to spend on public services that benefit everyone. After all, we are all in this together.

  9. You know how you love stealing policies and pretending their your own? Well, steal the Lib Dem policy of putting a penny extra on Income Tax to raise £6 BILLION per year to be used on public services that benefit everyone.

  10. Another theft of policy by raising the tax on wealthy earners with 45% tax for those earning more than £80,000 and 50% on those earning more than £123,000. The IMF agree that this kind of tax is good for a country, especially as it lessens economic inequality. Also, it will mean that around £4.5 BILLION would be available to be used on public services that benefit everyone.

By adopting the ten policies mentioned above, the Conservative Party might just be able to con the public into believing that they’ve been on their side all along. Then again, maybe some of us won’t be able to forget what they’ve been responsible for. Maybe there will be some of us who will never forget the blood that they have on their hands. We won’t be able to forget that they made the poor even poorer and the rich even richer. We won’t be able to forget the devastation that the Tories forced upon the nation.

So, a message to the Tory Party and, in particular, Chris Skidmore…

If you want the public to believe that you are a party who are on our side, maybe you should have been behaving that way from the beginning. Your statement stinks of spin and conning the public. It sounds like you will do almost anything to make people believe you are on the public’s side… but, if you truly were, you would never have needed to say this in the first place. You wouldn’t say you need policies to make people believe it, because you would already have those policies in place.

I’m not like most in politics. I don’t believe in just one party being the way forward. I believe in a combination of ideals and policies, with a combination of experiences and leadership, to make this country a better and stronger place. However, I do believe that there is one party that will NEVER speak for the good of this nation, and that is the Conservative Party.

So maybe you’re right. Maybe Labour is the Party of Hope. Or, maybe, there are parties of hope. But you, the Conservative Party? No. You’re just hopeless.

 

Truth must prevail about our NHS

A lie cannot live, nor can it save lives

by Matt Coot

Martin Luther King Jr once said that “a lie cannot live”. In other words, lies that are told cannot continue to be told. The Coot family motto is vincit veritas, which is Latin for ‘truth prevails’. I feel very strongly that when a public figure, or a public body, perpetrates a fraud upon the public – when they lie – then that lie should be held up and the truth shone upon it. When a politician, or political group, lies to the electorate, then the truth should be revealed and those who lied should be held to account.

The Conservative government has told the electorate “we have increased health funding to a record level”. They say that they have done this “so people get the care they need”. They have also said that “we are investing more in mental health than ever before – transforming mental health services”. But is this the truth? Is the National Health Service (NHS) effectively treating patients? Is funding at levels that are record breaking and is this funding the amount it should be?

Before I present statistics to you, let me tell you a couple of stories from my very recent personal experiences with the NHS.

GP services

My father has a heart condition. We don’t know for certain what the condition is. The suggestion is that he has a “leaky valve”. He has been told that he also has something neurological wrong. This ‘something’ might link to a potential ‘mini-stroke’ or more than one. He saw his employer’s occupational health advisor on Wednesday. He was told to make an appointment with his GP to follow up on all these issues. So, he got home and went onto the GP practice’s website to make an appointment. None were available until mid-April. He tried again yesterday, same thing. This morning, he drove up to the practice and managed to make an appointment with a GP. The GP isn’t his assigned GP, and is someone who doesn’t know his entire history. But, if he was to wait for his assigned GP, he wouldn’t see her until mid-to-late-April. My father is 68 years old, with a heart condition, and potential history of ‘mini-strokes’, but he has been denied an appointment with his own GP because the practice is “over-whelmed”.

As regular readers would be aware, I’m someone who prides himself in research. I’ve delved into everything I could find on a “leaky valve” and have a basic knowledge of it. The British Heart Foundation says that “the valve does not close properly, it will allow blood to leak backwards” and “this can put extra strain on your heart and may mean that your heart has to do extra work to pump the required volume of blood”. If the problem develops into a serious problem, it could cause congestive heart failure. Pretty serious to make sure it is under control then, right?

leaking-heart-valve

A ‘mini-stroke’, or transient ischaemic attack (TIA), is caused by a temporary disruption to the blood supply to part of the brain. Sometimes, TIAs can lead to a major stroke. Think of strokes like earthquakes. Small earthquakes, known as foreshocks, can help seismologists to predict when a big earthquake is going to hit. The same can be said about TIAs and major strokes. Neurologists believe that TIAs can signal that a major stroke is on the way. So, you’d think, that the suggestion, from both my father’s optician and his occupational health advisor, that it is highly likely that he has suffered a TIA, that seeing his GP, or a specialist, would be of a high priority.

TIAStroke

Specialists have been bouncing his referral between each other, the optician, and the GP, with no progress being made whatsoever. The GP practice, as I said, is overwhelmed with patient numbers and he cannot be seen by his own GP and will, instead, be seen by a GP who – at best – will be able to read over his notes in the thirty seconds it will take my dad to walk from the waiting area to the GP’s room. This isn’t good enough.

Mental health care

As for my own situation, I have been waiting for three months to hear from my psychiatrist since she cancelled our last appointment in December. Before that, I had last seen my psychiatrist in August (post-suicide attempt). The week before this cancellation, I was informed that my Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN), who was my care co-ordinator, would be leaving his job. This means that since early-December, I haven’t had anyone co-ordinating the care of my mental health. I have felt like I have been abandoned.

As regular readers will be aware, I went into the A&E department in early January because I was a risk to my own safety. During my last suicide attempt, I had been informed by the A&E consultant that they would rather I turn up in the department before I did myself damage than after. So, that was why I went into A&E. After this visit, I had an assessment with the on-duty CPN at the Community Mental Health Team for my local area. I was promised three things would happen:

  1. I was a ‘high priority’ to be assigned a new CPN as my care co-ordinator;
  2. I was a ‘high priority’ patient to be added to the wait list for Emotional Coping Skills workshops;
  3. The postponed appointment with the psychiatrist would be rearranged for as soon as possible.

After a month of waiting, in early February, I called up the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) and spoke to the on-duty CPN again. He said that there had been no progress on any of the matters discussed. He said to call back “in a month” if I don’t hear anything before then.

It is now 9th March. I have waited over a month and I still haven’t heard anything. This means that it has been:

  • 57 days since my assessment at the CMHT;
  • 64 days since my admission to A&E (due to being a risk to myself);
  • 92 days since the cancelled psychiatric appointment;
  • 99 days since my assigned CPN informed me that he was leaving his job.

This is the mental health care given to someone perceived as a high risk and a high priority patient. I have also been on long-term sick leave since 14th January. Within that time, I have had long periods of time when I haven’t been able to leave the house. Before this week, it had been over a fortnight since I had even taken one step outside of the house. This week, I have managed to leave the house twice, but I required company.

Throughout the entire time that I’ve been requiring the services of the mental health team, I have been struggling with:

  • Managing my mental health condition (Bipolar Disorder Type II);
  • Coping with Excoriation Disorder (scratching, digging, and picking at my own skin causing bleeding and other damage);
  • Self-destructive and self-criticising thoughts that are difficult to manage;
  • Agoraphobic symptoms;
  • Self-harm;
  • Suicidal ideation;
  • Severe depression;
  • Severe anxiety.

What about everyone else?

Mental health

A recent Guardian investigation unveiled that there have been 271 deaths of highly vulnerable mental health patients between 2012 and 2017. These deaths were due to failings in the NHS care. The Guardian reported that there had been 706 failings by NHS bodies throughout the same period of time.

According to the same report, from the Guardian, coroners have issued 136 legal warnings, throughout the same time period, to NHS bodies that have failed their patients. Some of these failings were found to be:

  • Assessment of patient’s risk factors was inadequate and failed to notice suicidal ideation;
  • Poor supervision of patients who were a suicide risk;
  • Family members warning about their own fears of their loved ones taking their own lives was ignored;
  • NHS staff making mistakes with medication;
  • Patients being discharged too soon or without support;
  • Poor or inappropriate care;
  • Delayed treatment;
  • Poor record keeping;
  • Staff shortages;
  • Insufficient funding;
  • Insufficient resources.

Take a look at those last three points. Staff shortages, insufficient funding, and insufficient resources. These three reasons seem to be the key points here. Due to these issues, the members of staff in mental health care are forced into providing inadequate care, are overworked, and are more likely to make mistakes due to the pressure.

We’ve been told by the Conservative government that they have given more funding to mental health. In fact, they have gone as far as to say the funding is at ‘record levels’. Well, that would be a surprise to the Royal College of Psychiatrists. They published their findings in February 2018, which showed that 62% of mental health trusts have less funding than they did ten years ago. This was accounting for inflation, which the Tories seem to have neglected to tell the public.

The Conservative Party have been in government since 2010. Almost eight years of underfunding mental health care. Eight years of lying to the public. Eight years of staff shortages, insufficient funding, and insufficient resources. The Conservative government has blood on their hands. The Conservative government are the shame of the nation.

NHS staffing crisis

The Conservative Party are also responsible for cancelling the nursing bursaries for trainee nurses, midwives and allied health professionals. This has lessened the amount of people going into nursing training at universities by 23%.

Another problem regarding the number of nurses in the NHS is that the number of nurses coming in from the EU has already started to drop. Why? The referendum result and the instability of the Brexit process. The NHS in England employ 62,000 nurses from other EU nations. Add to that the 80,000 that work in adult social care, and that is approximately 142,000 nurses that could potentially leave the NHS. The Brexit process is continuing to lead to more and more uncertainty. These 142,000 nurses are not certain what their rights will be once Brexit is carried out. Who can blame them if they decide to jump ship before certainty is found?

There is yet another problem with NHS staffing. It has an ageing demographic with nearly half of its workforce being eligible for retirement in 2020. The Royal College of Midwives has said that there will be a 3,500 shortfall. That’s 3,500 fewer midwives. How is the Conservative government going to replace that huge number? I can tell you with certainty that it won’t be easy.

Staffing in the NHS is a huge problem. You see, NHS staff – specialist staff – are slower to be replaced than staff for other industries. If the NHS loses large numbers of staff, with lower numbers of staff training or immigrating, then the staffing crisis just increases to unsafe and unstable levels.

As I’ve said in another article, Theresa May has said that there are 13,900 more nurses on the wards of our hospitals than there were under Labour. She neglected to mention the community, mental health, and specialist learning disability nurses. Why? Because the numbers of these nurses has dropped. Analysis that was carried out in late 2017 shows that the NHS has at least 36,000 full-time nursing vacancies. At least. It is probably as high as 42,000. The BBC requested data in January 2018, and it showed that 10.5% of the profession, which is over 33,000 nurses and health visitors, left between January and September 2017. That is more than the number of nurses and health visitors joining the NHS. 3,000 more, to be precise. So, Theresa May might not exactly be lying with her cherry-picked data, but she certainly was misleading the public.

You might be wondering what the reason is as to why are so many leaving. It isn’t just retirement, it isn’t just the instability that Brexit brings, it isn’t just a general willingness to leave and do something different. No, it is because there is a growing number who are dissatisfied with their working conditions. They hate that they have an inability to deliver the right standard of care. They don’t have enough resources. They don’t have enough staff. Pressures are rising and they can’t do a good enough job. And when people in the NHS can’t do a good enough job, people die. Who has caused this? The Conservative Party.

NHS funding crisis

By 2020, it has been said that the NHS will be facing a £30 billion funding gap. This means that they will be facing an extraordinary funding crisis that will put patients’ lives at risk.

The NHS is also facing rising costs of services, energy, and supplies. Rising costs should mean more funding, right? Record levels of funding, right? If you listened to what Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt keep saying, you might be fooled into believing that the NHS is fine, and that funding is higher than it has ever been. But the NHS is not fine. The NHS is struggling.

In 2016/2017, the NHS spent £2.9 billion on agency staff. This was £700 million more than in 2009/2010. With high numbers of staff leaving the NHS and less people joining, they are being forced to spend out on temporary staff when funding is already being squeezed.

Between 2009/10 and 2020/21, the Department of Health budget will grow by 1.2% in real terms. Spending, in real terms, will be increasing 4% each year. That’s an increase in budget of 1.2% across eleven years and an increase in spending of 4% across each year. In other words, in ‘real terms’, the Tory government is underfunding the NHS.

NHS employees are heroes betrayed by the government

People who work for the NHS are heroes. They chose careers which mean that their daily lives are spent saving total strangers from death. They care for people they don’t know, and they support them at their most vulnerable states. People working in the NHS are, without a doubt, true heroes. How does this country repay them?

The government continues to absolutely destroy morale in the NHS. They hammer away at these heroes with ‘real terms’ pay cuts, with ‘real terms’ cuts to resources, and with ‘real terms’ not giving a damn about them.

I know what you’re going to say, ‘the government has announced a pay rise!’. You’re right, they have. The Conservative government has announce the first proper pay rise for NHS staff since 2010. A pay rise of 6.5% over three years. Wow. That is quite a rise. But, hang on a moment, the government are insisting that the NHS staff sacrifice a day of their already ridiculous amount of holiday in exchange for his pay rise. That isn’t a pay rise. In ‘real terms’ (a phrase that I’m starting to hate), this is another cut.

Why are the Conservative government announcing this? Because we are closing in on local elections and the opinion polls show that if there was a general election today, they would be losing votes. Also, MPs are receiving another astronomical pay rise to their already high salaries and expense accounts. Probably best to keep the electorate happy with a fake pay rise for the heroes in the NHS.

But here’s the thing… one in seven children of public service workers are living in poverty. So, not only are the government treating these heroes with absolute disrespect and killing their morale with pay cuts, funding cuts, and increased pressure, but they are also making a large majority of them to be living in poverty.

The Royal College of Nursing has confirmed that “growing numbers of nursing staff [are] using food banks, taking on additional jobs, and accruing personal debt”. They had also released a press release in 2016 saying that they had given 500 financial hardship grants and that one in four of these went to full time nurses (the others going to part-time, trainee, retired, or unemployed nurses).

The government is failing the NHS and the heroes working within it.

My conclusion, in ‘real terms’

The Conservative Party is lying. They are giving less money to the organisation that keeps us all healthy and aims at saving people’s lives. They punish the heroes who work within the NHS whilst lying about giving them better pay. In real terms, the Conservative Party is lying.

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Will the representatives represent or toe the party line?

Free School Meals – Email to Cornwall’s six MPs

The below email was sent to MPs: Steve Double, Sarah Newton, Sheryll Murray, Scott Mann, George Eustice, and Derek Thomas. These MPs are all Conservative. Together, they all represent the entirety of Cornwall.

9 March 2018

Dear Members of Parliament representing constituencies of Cornwall,

As you are already no doubt aware, on Tuesday there will be a debate in the House of Commons discussing whether to reduce the numbers of children who will be entitled to free school meals. I am reaching out to you as a concerned citizen to implore each of you to fight for what is right for the people of Cornwall: to fight against these plans.

At the moment, it is believed that at least 13,300 children are living in poverty in Cornwall. The number of children receiving a free school meal is approximately 4,400. This means that there are approximately 8,900 children in Cornwall, living in poverty, who are missing out on free school meals. And these plans want to see even more children missing out.

As someone who used to work in the education sector, I have first hand knowledge of the importance of free school meals. When parents are struggling to survive, struggling to secure some sustenance, struggling to simply supply a sandwich, then the guarantee of one nutritious meal per day, for the child, is something that can really make a difference to the child’s life. Not only does it help with supplying the child with nutrients, and not only does it help with combatting starvation, but it also helps the child to be able to focus and achieve more. There are many studies to support this, many studies carried out throughout time, and I am sure that you have read these. But studies are one thing, and real life, the reality of the situation, is much more serious.

Now, those numbers that I have mentioned above, that is just for Cornwall. As Members of Parliament for the constituencies in Cornwall, I felt that these statistics would be most suited to your mandate. Combining the constituencies for the entirety of Cornwall, there are 13,300 children living in poverty. You represent them. You represent their families. You represent us all.

However, as Members of Parliament, you also have a responsibility to the entire country – as we all do, in society – and so, maybe we should also raise the national issues surrounding this matter. Under the new proposed rules, only 700,000 children will be able to receive that free nutritious hot meal each day. This leaves 1,000,000 children, who are living in poverty, who will be excluded from receiving free school meals. One million children. Isn’t that far too many?

On the topic of the national issues, in January the Royal Society of Arts published a report in which they declared that 70% of the working population are “chronically broke”. This follows an increase in personal debt to £1.6 trillion and a massive rise of people declaring bankruptcy to the highest level since the 2008 financial crisis. Last year also saw a dramatic rise in unemployment resulting in 1.47 million people unemployed by the end of the year. Since 2010, the UK has seen an increase of five million more people living in poverty. Half of the people living in poverty actually live with someone in work, and one in seven children of public sector workers are living in poverty. The issues are not getting better, but are in fact getting worse. When will enough be enough?

I implore you to stand up for the people that you represent. I implore you to represent the 13,300 children living in poverty in Cornwall. I implore you to represent the families who are struggling just to get by. Do not allow one million children to starve. Do not allow one more day to go by without these people having a voice in parliament. Do not allow these proposals to go through.

Many thanks,

Matt Coot
Creative Director & Political Blogger,
Rallidae Productions

People are losing their jobs.

No clever headline, no pun, no alliteration. Enough is enough.

by Matt Coot

If my sums are correct, which they are, I estimate that at least 10,500 jobs throughout the UK have been announced as being ‘at risk’ since the start of 2018. We are only seven days into the third month.

Carillion, Toys R Us, Maplin, Prezzo, Jamie’s Italian, Strada, Carluccio’s, Byron, Carpetright, Mothercare, Debenhams, New Look, House of Fraser, Airbus, Thomas Cook, and Devonport dockyard (Babcock). These are the names of businesses and organisations that have announced difficulties, closures, and job cuts so far in 2018. Add to that warnings from the UK car industry that thousands of jobs would be at risk if there’s a failure at getting a trade deal during the Brexit negotiations, and we are just at the beginning of a major crisis for UK industries.

Today, New Look, Babcock at Devonport dockyard, and Airbus have all announced that jobs are at risk. New Look announced that they would be cutting 980 jobs from their nationwide workforce. Babcock, at one of the country’s most important naval dockyards, has announced that a tenth of its staff will need to be lost, putting 500 jobs at risk. Airbus has warned that 3,700 jobs throughout its four “home” countries are at risk, which would be 250 for the UK. That’s 1,730 jobs at risk announced just today.

This follows the high profile crises of: Carillion, which has made 1,450 people redundant so far; Toys R Us, which has put 3,000 jobs at risk; and Maplin, which has put 2,300 jobs at risk.

We have also seen multiple chain restaurants facing difficulties. Peter Kubrik from accountants UHY Hacker Young, has said that with “Brexit hanging over consumers like a dark cloud” that people are becoming more reluctant to be spending more of their ‘leisure budget’ on eating out. But that isn’t the only problem that Brexit has caused with restaurants, as since the referendum result, sterling has fallen and the cost of imported ingredients has rocketed up.

Of course, I’m not naïve enough to blame it all on Brexit. Other issues include the rise in costs of paying staff with a series of above inflation rises with the National Living Wage, but also with consumer spending power reduced by low wage growth and higher inflation. In other words, customers can’t afford to eat out at these restaurants, and the restaurants can’t afford to pay their staff.

Big high street casual dining chain restaurants such as Prezzo, Jamie’s Italian, Strada, Carluccio’s and Byron are all announcing difficulties. Prezzo will be closing 94 outlets, putting 1,000 jobs at risk; Jamie’s Italian will be closing 12 branches, putting 450 jobs at risk; Byron will be closing 20 of its 67 branches, putting an estimated 500 jobs at risk; Strada will be closing 11 branches, and Carluccio’s has called in the accountants to advise on possible strategies.

Other high street names House of Fraser and Thomas Cook are both facing problems. House of Fraser are seeking refinancing of their debt package, whilst asking landlords for rent reductions, and their Chinese owner plans to sell their majority stake. I hope that the House of Fraser can find a way through their difficulties. These is a name that is respected throughout the UK and one that if it falls, will show that nobody is ever truly safe and secure in the retail market. Another respected name, but in the tourism industry, is Thomas Cook, who is closing 27 stores with 210 jobs at risk.

Sticking with the tourism and travel side of things, as I mentioned already, Airbus has announced that 3,700 jobs are at risk across four countries. In the UK, Airbus employ 250 people. It has been said that it is “likely” to be reassigned to other projects. However, that “likely” isn’t a certainty.

Another announcement made today, and as I already mentioned, is one that is close to home. Many people I know either work at, or knows someone who works at, the Devonport Dockyard. The dockyard’s operator, Babcock, employ 5,000 people. The announcement that a tenth of its staff are facing redundancy has spread uncertainty and fear throughout the local area. Five hundred people will be losing their jobs. This is 500 too many.

Although the government has said that the job cuts are down to Babcock’s “internal restructuring”, there is also debate over whether these job losses are due to defence cuts by the government. The deputy general secretary of the trade union Prospect, which represents a large proportion of the workforce at Devonport, has said that the “government needs to show greater commitment to speeding up the process and committing to UK procurement for naval support ships to invest in defence jobs and skills”.

The government continues to make cuts to vital sectors. The defence of this country seems to be weakening under the Tory government’s cuts. With five hundred jobs being cut from Devonport Dockyard, can Babcock guarantee that the work that is carried out there will continue to be done effectively? Or will the loss of five hundred people from the workforce mean that the quality of the work will suffer? I’ll be honest, I have no idea either way, but logic would suggest that any reduction in workforce when the work involved isn’t reduced can only mean that the quality will drop. If this government cared about the defence of this nation, or in fact cared about the citizens it is responsible for, then they would not have allowed this to happen.

The Conservatives face a political dilemma

Talking about what the government reacts to, I wonder what they will do in response to warnings about the UK car industry. You see, they face a dilemma. TMayBrexitTheresa May has been quite clear (sort of) that any Brexit deal will see the UK leaving the single market, but that we will be trying to get trade deals to allow some access (or something like that – ask her, there wasn’t many details on what she meant). The EU has been quite clear that no deal will allow the UK to cherry-pick access to the single market.

Now, the dilemma will soon become clear: a report by the Commons business, energy and industrial strategy select committee into the impact of Brexit on the UK’s car industry has advised that “retaining good access to the single market is more important than securing the freedom to secure new trade deals with third countries” and that “leaving the EU without a deal would undoubtedly be hugely damaging to the UK automotive sector, more so than to other European countries”. How damaging? Well, the UK car industry directly employ 170,000 people. They indirectly, through the supply chain, are responsible for employing a further 800,000 people. The warning was clear: thousands of jobs would be at risk.

What was that dilemma? Ah yes, that. Well, if Theresa May sticks to that whole having her cake and eating it too strategy, then the EU will continue to laugh in her face, and the entire UK car industry will collapse resulting in 970,000 jobs being put at risk. However, if Theresa May reverses her decision, then she will be accused of a U-turn so large that she will be a laughing stock to the entire country. Also, no U-turn would be large enough to keep us in the single market other than cancelling Brexit altogether. Either way, whatever decision she makes, her political career as Prime Minister of the country will be so unstable that she would need to resign. That is the dilemma that she now has to face.

People are losing their jobs. Why?

What does business need to survive and thrive? Well the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is quite clear that “stability and clarity” about the future is always a good start. The “dark cloud” of Brexit does not promote a stable or clear future. The Brexit process certainly has a lot to answer for. The process is causing many issues for businesses throughout the UK. Who is blame for this? The Tories.

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We’ve already faced difficulties with our economy. The uncertainty after the referendum result led to sterling dropping in value. “Hard Brexit”, which is where we will be heading if the Tories have their own way, will mean relying on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, which the PwC and CBI both predict will mean more massive drops in the value of sterling. The tariffs that the EU will legally have to enforce for the UK trading with the single market, will mean even higher prices. British businesses are already struggling with the high cost of their imported goods, but, if this is the way we are heading, then even more businesses will struggle, especially when competing against other companies who are in the single market. What does this mean? Absolute devastation for businesses across the UK. What happens to our economy? I dread to think.

Of course, as I’ve mentioned before, Brexit doesn’t just cause issues for the businesses themselves, but also with consumers. Uncertainty of Brexit means that consumers have become more reluctant to spend. It isn’t just Brexit, but also inflation above wage increases, meaning none of us really have the money to buy, buy, buy.

The Conservative government has led this country into crisis. I’ve said it before in other articles, and I will continue to say it. The United Kingdom is in crisis caused by the Conservative government. Not only are businesses facing increasing business rates, but they have also been forced to face a series of increases in salaries with the National Living Wage. The government failed to give the support to the business sector to make this happen, and this has seriously damaged businesses. The Living Wage is important, and I am fully behind people being paid what they need to live, but not offering any kind of support when businesses are already facing pressure has meant that instead of making the life of these workers more secure, the government has meant that workers are facing unemployment.

What will happen next?

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The dominoes are falling and I fear what it means for the future. Do we face another economic crisis such as the one we faced in 2008? I think it is inevitable.

In 2017, the UK’s personal debt rose to £1.6 trillion. 99,196 people were declared insolvent. This massive rise of people declaring bankruptcy is the highest level since the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. 59,220 people turned to individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs), rescue packages where they agree to much lower payments. This was a record high and was up nearly 20% from 2016. In January, the Royal Society of Arts released a study that said that 70% of the working population are “chronically broke”.

There has also been a worrying trend of people relying on credit cards and finance deals. Every day spending, for example at the supermarket or petrol station, now seem to be done on credit cards, increasing personal debt. When we are buying high-price items, we are entering into credit arrangements to pay over time. What does this mean? More and more debt.

Returning to the original discussion on businesses, during 2017 corporate failures rose to a total of approximately 17,243 companies entering insolvency. This was the highest number of insolvencies since 2013. As I’ve already mentioned in a different article, we also witnessed a rise of 46 thousand unemployed people, resulting in a grand total of 1.47 million unemployed by the end of the year. This year has so far seen the continuation of these problems with more businesses facing insolvency and more workers facing redundancies.

Poverty in the UK is also on a rise. One million children are living in poverty. Since 2010, when the Tories entered government, the UK has seen an increase of five million people living in poverty. One in seven children of public sector workers are in poverty. Half of those living in poverty live with someone in work. This is absolutely disgusting for the sixth largest economy in the world. What has the Tory government given us? Increased wealth inequality with millions living in poverty whilst the rich continue to get richer.

In January, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, a warning was given by a group of experts and leaders in the financial world that banks do not have a plan to deal with another financial crisis.

I don’t like scaremongering. In fact, I hate it. However, it is my opinion that we are on the edge of economic crisis and I fear that warnings are going unheard. I hope I’m wrong. But, no matter what, people are losing their jobs and others are living in debt. This country is suffering and the government continues to fail the people. Something needs to change.

Would the country be doomed under Labour?

Assessing a party that I used to hate

By Matt Coot

Responses on my Facebook Page seem to suggest that I am pro-Labour. Until now, I haven’t actually thought about it. I was, until recently, a Liberal Democrat town councillor. I also, until very recently, paid for membership of the Liberal Democrat party. My dislike of the Conservative Party’s policies and actions have led many to argue that the country would be worse under the Labour Party.

There was also many mentions of the Labour Party leaving the country without any money the last time that they were in government, as well as blaming most of the problems on the previous Labour government.

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People commenting also seemed to distrust and dislike Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of the Labour Party.

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So, I decided to embark upon an investigation into the last Labour government – along with their achievements and their failures – and consider, again, Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party and potentially as Prime Minister.

I do, however, expect many more comments with rude, ignorant, and insulting statements from those who disagree with my assessment. If you agree or disagree, I would love to receive some polite comments and I would love to engage in a polite discussion with you on your political beliefs.

What happened in the UK prior to the ‘New Labour’ government?

In 1997, Tony Blair won a landslide victory against the Tories, who had been in power for eighteen years. I was only nine years old at the time, but I remember snippets of the time, but mainly I remember my cartoons being cancelled one morning because of a princess being killed in a car crash in Paris. I remember the sadness that this incident caused to those around me who were old enough to understand what was going on. But, I don’t remember what the country was like pre-Blair. I was too young.

Despite being too young, I have done some in-depth research to find out just what eighteen years of Conservatism had done to the UK. I’ve always been intrigued by people’s anger at Thatcher and the overlooking of Sir John Major. What did Thatcher do that was so wrong in the eyes of these people? Why would Major’s term of prime minister be mainly ignored? I wanted to find out, so I asked people and I studied the era.

Thatcher

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It seems that one of the major issues that people have when they talk about Thatcherism is that it saw social infrastructure of the nation be degraded by her policies and stubbornness. There was a return to unemployment on a massive scale; a growth of the north-south divide; a growth of regional inequality; and two recessions. You could argue that there was a rise in home ownership, and that this was a good thing, but this was only amongst those who could buy and it actually increased the wealth inequality throughout the nation. There was also a severe reduction in council homes, the supply of them was at a record low, and this was because many of them had been sold off. Thatcher’s policies also saw a rise in poverty, with numbers of pensioners living in poverty increased and the number of children in poverty doubled from 1.7 million to 3.3 million.

Of course, when people talk about Thatcher, there’s always the mention of the Miners’ strikeStrike between 1984 and 1985 (a few years before I was born). The BBC described it as “the most bitter industrial dispute in British history”. The defeat of the strike meant a diminished power of trade unions and alienation of many in the working class. However, this wasn’t the only reason for the hatred of Margaret Thatcher. Before she was prime minister, Thatcher was education minister and was responsible for the withdrawal of free milk from school children. This earned her the nickname “the Milk Snatcher” with rhyming chants across playgrounds sounding out “Maggie Thatcher, Milk Snatcher”.

Thatcher was also hated for the very controversial Poll Tax. The Poll Tax, or Community Charge, was responsible for deep distrust and wounded the political psyche of millions of voters. It changed the way tax was calculated from the valuation of a property to the number of people living within it. It disproportionately affected the poor and affected mainly the ordinary working people. The wounded distrust is still felt today.

It should also be made clear that the financial deregulation during the 1980s created greater financial instability in the long term, which actually laid the groundwork for the credit bubble of the 2000s, and the subsequent credit crisis.

Major

Britain's Prime Minister John Major waves to the c

John Major was criticised for not having a clear strategy for governing and his era as prime minister was polluted with scandal and sleaze in the media. Despite having successes with the Maastricht Treaty and bringing about an IRA ceasefire, Major had many divisions in his party due to disagreements over Europe and the accusations of sleaze. He was deeply unpopular and his party never truly united behind him. Major was also responsible for the heavily criticised Railways Act 1993, under which the British Rail was sold off and privatised.

What did eighteen years of Conservatism lead to?

Distrust of politicians; mass unemployment; growth of north-south divide; growth of regional inequality; two recessions; wealth inequality; rise in poverty; diminished power of trade unions; alienation of working class; long term financial instability laying the groundwork for the credit bubble of the 2000s and the subsequent credit crisis.

What did New Labour actually do?

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During 1997 to 2010, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown led New Labour with very mixed results. Many consider this period of time as disastrous with the party leading the country into an illegal war, economic crisis, and increasing the nation’s security risks.

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The war in Iraq was wrong. Tony Blair and President of the United States George W Bush led the campaign to take our forces into Iraq due to Saddam Hussain possessing weapons of mass destruction. This wasn’t true. The intelligence that led to this war taking place wasn’t real, and this country went to war for no good reason. Yes, Hussain was an evil dictator and yes, it is good that he is gone, but not at the expense of what the war cost: lives of British military and lives of innocent citizens of Iraq.Britain-Iraq-Inquiry_Horo1 The stability of the Middle East has not been improved, rather it has worsened with the rise of ISIS and with the Iraq war triggering a sectarian bloodbath between Sunni and Shia across the region and beyond. The war also added to the reasons behind the Syrian Civil War. All of this has also been responsible for the surge of refugees escaping into Europe. Not to mention that the war in Iraq has meant that this country is under a much higher risk of terrorist attack than at any other time. So yes, the Iraq War was definitely a negative part of Tony Blair’s New Labour government.

The war in Iraq could also be seen as responsible for perception problems with regards to the electorate’s perception of politicians. In fact, it could also be partly responsible for Brexit. The New Statesmen wrote that the Iraq War was responsible for the “loathing of mainstream politicians, the distrust of the elite, the desire for the United Kingdom to disengage from the world”. So, yeah, Tony Blair certainly screwed up.

Financially, the New Labour government has been blamed for the country being in economic crisis. The party has been accused of overspending before the credit crunch and not providing any protection for the country before the crisis.credit_crunch Gordon Brown, prime minister after Tony Blair resigned, sold off a large amount of the nation’s gold reserves. Brown sold this at the wrong time, costing the tax payer almost £7 billion. So, yeah, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown certainly screwed up the economy, right? Although, actually, if you think about it, the Tories did introduce policies that systematically damaged society and put the nation in economic instability. The roots of the credit crunch and economic crisis lead back to the financial deregulation of the 1980s. So, maybe New Labour aren’t entirely to blame.

However, it is also this failure by Labour to entirely reverse the two decades of Thatcherism that led this country to crisis. The policies that led to the degraded social infrastructure and economic instability, also led to the 2008 financial crisis. Blair and Brown’s failures to stop this and to reverse policies of Thatcher and Major, meant that this country suffered.

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Of course, Labour wasn’t all bad. In fact, I can think of approximately eighty five good policies and actions that Labour took during the thirteen years in government. In 1997, Labour had five key pledges: tackle crime, improve public services, maintain top rate of tax, and reduce youth unemployment. These five pledges were achieved.

New Labour tackled crime with 48,000 more police officers and oversaw the reduction of crime by 48%.

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They certainly improved the National Health Service with tripling spending on the NHS, establishment of four new medical schools, 44,000 doctors, 89,000 nurses, a reduction of waiting times to lowest ever levels of a maximum of eighteen weeks, record low A&E waiting times, extending the opening hours of three quarters of GP services, free prescriptions to cancer patients, reduction of cancer deaths by 50,000, free breast cancer screenings, heart disease deaths down by 150,000, access to life saving drugs for HIV and AIDS, reintroduction of matrons, and the introduction of NHS Direct.

As for education, Labour saw that schools had 43,400 extra teachers and 212,000 extra support staff; they made sure that ever 3 to 4 year old had a free part-time nursery place; they doubled the overall education spending; increased university places; introduced EMA; put a ban on grammar schools; doubled the amount of childcare spaces; reintroduced free school milk and fruit; introduced healthier school meals; scrapped the homophobic section 28; reduced class sizes; and oversaw the number of school leavers with five good GCSEs rising from 45% to 76%. They also made sure that 93,000 more 11 year olds achieved numeracy skills each year.

As for tax, Labour introduced tax credits; Winter fuel allowance; an increase on the value of child benefits by over 26%; removed the minimum donations limit from gift aid; and introduced pension credit. Not only that, but the pledge to “not raise the basic or top rates of income tax throughout the next Parliament” was met with the top rate remaining at 40% between 1997 and 2012. The basic rate was reduced from 23% to 22% in 2000. The “long-term objective” of a starting rate of income tax of ten pence in the pound was introduced in 1999.

The pledge to reduce youth unemployment was indeed met with long-term youth unemployment cut by 75%. To make this happen, Labour introduced the Young Persons’ Job Guarantee and more than doubled apprenticeships.

But it wasn’t just keeping to their pledges that Labour achieved during their time in government. They improved workers lives by introducing the National Minimum Wage, alongside the Low Pay Commission; increased paid annual leave up to 28 days per year; and introduced paternity leave. Labour also improved human rights and equality by introducing the Human Rights Act, civil partnerships, Sure Start, the formation of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the rural development programme, and ensured that 900,000 pensioners were lifted out of poverty. They also equalised the age of consent, introduced the Disability Rights Commission, and passed the Autism Act 2009. Labour also decreased homelessness by 73%; Raised legal age of buying cigarettes to 18; and removed the majority of hereditary peers. To improve public health, they introduced the smoking ban and also banned advertising of tobacco in magazines, newspapers, and billboards. Labour cared about the older generations by introducing free eye tests for the over 60s, free bus passes for the over 60s, and free TV licences for the over 75s. They improved the rights and welfare of animals by banning the testing of cosmetics on them and Labour also introduced the Hunting Act, to ban cruel and unnecessary hunting. Labour introduced the Crossrail Act 2008, with hopes of reducing congestion on the underground, and this project will come to fruition when it opens in December 2018.

Culturally, the Labour government established free entry to galleries and museums. They also doubled cultural funding between 1997 and 2010. Labour also won the bid for London 2012.

Environmentally, Labour oversaw the country beating Kyoto targets on greenhouse gas emissions. Labour also introduced the Climate Change Act.

Relevant in the news this week is the housing crisis. During Labour’s terms in government they oversaw a £20 billion improvement on social housing conditions. They also introduced a new deal for communities programme worth £2 billion. Unfortunately, they also built fewer council houses, altogether, than Thatcher did in a single year.

Labour made sure that there was more accountability and transparency with the introduction of the Freedom of Information Act and the Electoral Commission. They also introduced the Food Standards Agency.

Labour oversaw the finalisation of the Good Friday Agreement, helped to end civil war in Sierra Leone, and supported NATO intervention to stop ethnic cleansing by Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade. They banned cluster bombs and halved the UK’s nuclear weapons. Although, it should be noted that the UK still maintains enough nuclear might to destroy even the largest of countries.

Labour was also responsible for devolution of power to Scottish and Welsh governments.

Labour doubled overseas aid budget, helping other nations to become self-sufficient, and wrote off up to 100% of debt owed by the poorest countries.

Returning to the economy, Labour oversaw the longest period of sustained low inflation since the 1960s and ten years of continuous economic growth.

So was Britain better or worse under the Labour government between 1997 and 2010?

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The Verdict: Did Labour Change Britain? by Polly Toynbee and David Walker performed an audit upon the Labour government’s successes and failures. They cover big social triumphs and the much better resourced public services, all of which I have also summarised above. They also covered the rise of public paranoia fuelled by the tabloid press, and how their policies that recovered poverty, fought for inequality, and successfully funded public services were all lacking sustainability and failed to provide any lasting change. However, all in all, their analysis seemed to suggest that Britons were better off under the Labour government.

And this is where I must give my own opinion. I hated Labour. I blamed the party for the Iraq War and for lying to the public about the reasons why our forces fought over there. I blamed them for causing more problems in the Middle East and for those problems triggering terror attacks here, in the UK. I also blamed them for leading the country into an economic mess that then led to the Tories having the motive it required to launch an austerity policy that has systematically broken apart the soul of this nation. I blamed Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and their team. To me, it is their fault.

However, I can also see that this country got better under Tony Blair’s government. Public services were improved, unemployment reduced, crime reduced. There was respect for the arts and culture, there was an improved National Health Service, and inequality was fiercely fought against. So maybe, just maybe, I can see both the good and the bad that the Labour government did between 1997 and 2010.

What about Jeremy Corbyn?

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Jeremy Corbyn didn’t agree with some of what his party stood for during the Blair years. Corbyn is a man of principle and he stood by his during, what he would think of, as the dark days of New Labour. I can respect that.

I have written before how Corbyn is a man of peace. He has been criticised many times by those who misunderstand. or have been mis-led by the anti-Corbyn media, as being far too friendly with terrorists and other enemies of the state. Yet, Corbyn is a man of peace who knows that process to peace means that “you have to talk to people with whom you may profoundly disagree”. Records show that Corbyn has been consistent in his voting against the use of UK military forces in overseas combat operations. He voted against the Iraq War and voted for there being an inquiry into the Iraq War by an independent committee of Privy counsellors. Corbyn also stood by his principles and voted against military action in Syria, including air strikes against IS targets.

Corbyn has also worked his entire life fighting for disarmament of nuclear weapons. As covered in a previous article, Corbyn has been an active member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND),cnd1 who work “non-violently to rid the world of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and to create genuine security for future generations”. Alongside this work, Corbyn has consistently voted against replacing Trident with a new nuclear deterrent and against renewing Trident.

As a leader who stands by his principles, Jeremy Corbyn’s voting record shows consistency and strength in his convictions. He has consistently voted against the ‘bedroom tax’ and against the reduction in spending on welfare benefits, but he has consistently voted for raising welfare benefits in line with costs, for higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability, and for public money to be spent on guaranteeing jobs for young people who have been unemployed for a long time. He has consistently voted for equal gay rights, for smoking bans, for the hunting ban, for gay marriage, and for laws to promote equality and human rights. Corbyn has also a consistent voting record for voting against raising the tax on low- to medium-income workers, but for raising tax on high-earners. He has also voted against lowering the rate of corporation tax.

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The Labour Manifesto promises “a fully costed programme to upgrade our economy”. I’ve read the Manifesto, and I have to say that what I read is something that I can put my support behind. Not because I believe everything I read – else, I am sure that I would find parts of every political Manifesto that I would agree with. No, I can put my support behind this Manifesto because the leader of the party behind it is a man of principle who stands by his beliefs no matter what. He has consistently proven this, and so when I read of a fairer taxation system, I actually believe in it. When I read of a National Transformation Fund, I actually believe in it. When I read about the National Education Service, I actually believe in it.

I used to hate everything that Labour was. I couldn’t believe a word they said, and I felt betrayed by a government that led us into war but who also led us to economic crisis. However, that is not the Labour that Jeremy Corbyn is leading today. The Labour led by Corbyn is one that I find myself increasingly believing in. With the country in chaos due to the Conservative Party, I believe that Corbyn is the leader this country needs.

But, no, before you rush to conclusions, I am not ‘defecting’ to Labour. Nor am I going to give up assessing, analysing, and producing articles about political matters independent of affiliation with a political party. I just believe in the current political climate, that Jeremy Corbyn is the Prime Minister that the country needs and the country would thrive under his leadership.

 

This is the first assessment of the political parties of the UK. I shall soon be writing articles about the other political parties, starting with the Liberal Democrats.

 

 

 

Who is really to blame for the Housing Crisis?

We have a “right to be angry”, but who should be the true focus of our discontent?

by Matt Coot

Before you start reading this article, I just want to tell you that I am sincerely trying to find positive things to write about the Conservative Party. I know my blog seems to be full of articles that are clearly anti-Tory. The reason of this is a simple one: I keep being angered or disgusted by Tory policy and actions. I will, one day, write a pro-Tory article. Today is not that day.

So here’s my story… I am twenty-nine years old. When I was sixteen, I started a part-time job alongside my sixth form studies. When I moved to Bath for university, I continued working part-time. When I left university, I moved home to live with my parents. I also started a full-time position in a school. After one year and three months, I was promoted. I started to rent a one bed house in my hometown. After a year, I gave in to the financial pressures and moved back in with my parents. I left the job at the school and started my own business. After six months, I decided that I would need part-time employment whilst I was building up the business to make sure I was financially stable. I started working part-time in a higher than National Living Wage job. I am still living with my parents because I cannot afford to rent, let alone afford to own a property.

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Anyone else feel like hitting their head against a brick wall? Theresa May with an over-the-top bricked wall backdrop.

Theresa May has said that the young have a “right to be angry” about the lack of homes. Throughout her speech, which was about new reforms to planning rules, the prime minister focused the blame upon developers, builders, and councils. She has also called the rise in rough sleeping a “source of national shame”. But who can we blame for all this? Who can we be angry at? Is she right to focus her blame elsewhere?

Recently I wrote two articles about the United Kingdom being a Country in Crisis. Within these articles, I wrote about the housing crisis and the rise of people sleeping rough.

The “source of national shame”

As I argued in those articles, the data clearly shows a correlation between the Conservatives being in government and the rise of people sleeping rough. There has also been a substantial rise of people living in poverty in the UK, again with a strong correlation between the rise and the Conservatives being in government. So who is to blame for this “source of national shame”?

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The Prime Minister’s speech, when discussing the rise of rough sleepers, seemed to focus on mental health, alcoholism, and drug use. To me, this seems like May is using subtle mentions of these issues as subconscious psychological manipulations to reinforce the stigma that surrounds rough sleepers. In other words, suggesting that the blame of these people sleeping rough was their own. This distracts from the real reason we have higher numbers of rough sleepers. Then again, perhaps I am being too cynical and seeing the bad side to everything. Maybe the in-depth study of speechwriting during my university studies as made me far too cynical. Or, perhaps I’m seeing through the despicable tactics of the Tories.

May said that the Tories were “spending record levels on mental health support”, but the truth is, we have seen massive losses of mental health nurses. There are people who need mental health support, who have to wait months – sometimes years – for sufficient support. I should know, I’m one of them. But don’t just take my word for it, The Guardian have released a result of one of their investigations today, showing that 271 most vulnerable mental health patients have died after 706 failings by health bodies during 2012 and 2017. As The Guardian states, “Bodies such as the Commons health select committee, NHS Providers, mental health staff organisations and charities have warned that NHS services have too few staff. There are 6,000 fewer mental health nurses in England than in 2010 and the number psychiatrists for children and adolescents is also falling”. Also, analysis by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, experts in the field, show that the income of mental health trusts is lower than six years ago. This is because of inflation. In this analysis, it is suggested that funding is, in real terms, £105 million lower than five years ago.

To state that the Conservative government is improving mental health support is a lie. I do not say this lightly, but the facts speak for themselves: mental health support is not being funded sufficiently. Therefore, the fault of the rise of people sleeping rough who have mental health issues, the “47% of rough sleepers” in London (how very London-centric of the PM), well, that rise is the fault of this government failing the people of this country.

As for alcoholism and drug use, I would first of all like to disagree with how these issues have been separated from mental health issues. Addiction is a mental health illness. The separation of these issues from mental health in this speech is something that I fear is strategic in nature. You see, the use of mentioning these issues is blatantly to stir up stigmatism and ignorance amongst those listening. They are used to blame the rough sleeper, which is disgusting. The speech states that the Tories are trying to help these matters, but, to me, the only reason they brought these topics up is because they are aware of the stigmatism that surrounds some people’s perception of rough sleepers, and this stigmatism distracts people from blaming the government. Well, it doesn’t distract me.

I’m going to use a phrase that Prime Minister Theresa May seems to like to use. This country has “record levels” of rough sleepers on the streets of the UK and this has been a rise that has occurred since the Tories got into government in 2010. Coincidence? No. The poorer are getting poorer. Poverty is on the rise, as is homelessness. Who is to blame for this “source of national shame”? Perhaps Mrs May would like to look in a mirror. Perhaps the blame is clearly that of the Conservative government.

“Incredible work in tackling failings”

Going back to the housing crisis, how can the Prime Minister think that anyone is going to agree that the Secretary of State for Housing, Sajid Javid,

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Secretary of State for Housing, Sajid Javid MP.

and the ministerial team “are doing incredible work in tackling failings at every level of the housing sector” when reports show that Javid returned £72 million of unspent funds that had been allocated for affordable housing? This massive sum was returned because it was “no longer required”. Along with this, £329 million, which was allocated for the Starter Homes project (to help first time buyers), was returned because the entire project was scrapped. That’s just over £400 million unspent by Sajid Javid and his team, which could have been spent on improving the situation for the people that Theresa May highlighted in her speech. This isn’t the first time though, as in 2016/2017, Javid was responsible for returning £220 million, which had been allocated for the “Affordable Homes Programme”, and £50 million, which had been allocated for Starter Homes. So that’s £400 million in 2017/2018, and £270 million in 2016/2017. A total of £670,000,000 that could have been spent on providing housing for the millions of people who are unable to buy their own home. Instead, it was wasted by the government. Is the Secretary of State for Housing doing an “incredible job”? The facts speak for themselves. Sajid Javid is failing this country and is exacerbating the housing crisis.

It is also interesting that the Prime Minister’s speech discussed how the stream-lined planning process under these new reforms will mean that “much-needed homes aren’t held up by endless appeals and bureaucracy”. In January, Sajid Javid spoke upon a similar theme of developments being held up by “NIMBY” (Not In My BackYard) councils, “if you are NIMBY, the government is not going to be your friend”. Except Javid, the Secretary of State for Housing, is a consistent NIMBY campaigner, in his home constituency, in 2012, 2015, and 2016. Altogether, he protested against 3,275 new homes. The hypocrisy of those in government would be astounding, if it wasn’t expected from this government.

Theresa May said in her speech that “we cannot fulfil that dream, we cannot bring about the kind of society I want to see, unless we tackle one of the biggest barriers to social mobility we face today”. She said that the “biggest barrier” was the housing crisis, but isn’t it time we face facts and accept that the “biggest barrier” to this country being a “fairer place for all”, is in fact the Conservative Party? When will we open our eyes and say ‘no more’ to the biggest barrier of them all?

To sum up this article, and the last few articles written about UK political and social issues, I would like to show precisely what the Conservative Party have been responsible for:

There is much more than just these issues. There is much more out there that we can uncover, if we only choose to look.

It is my heartfelt belief that the Tories are betraying this nation. The Tories have failed so many people in this country and forced them into dreadful circumstances. Now should be the time when we say ‘no more’.