Where EU referendum votes will be won and lost …read more
When the West Germans stayed in a small market town …read more
Some retired steelworkers could see their pensions “largely frozen” under possible changes to the scheme’s rules, a former pensions minister warns. …read more
A recruit who died from a gunshot wound to the head at Deepcut barracks was not unlawfully killed, a coroner rules, but the Army failed in its duty of care to young recruits. …read more
Usain Bolt could lose one of golds he won at the 2008 Olympics after reports that relay team-mate Nesta Carter submitted a test that contained a banned drug. …read more
A hard copy of the full Chilcot report looking into the Iraq War will cost £767 – but it will be available for free online. …read more
Former high-ranking Fifa officials Sepp Blatter, Jerome Valcke and Markus Kattner awarded themselves pay rises and bonuses of £55m, say lawyers. …read more
The BBC’s Springwatch is a real favourite with all of us and this week has brought the first week of three. Why it only hits the airwaves once summer has started is one of life’s mysteries, but the nightly show is a delight for anyone who loves wildlife. Of course some of the species drooled over by Chris Packham and co have their dark side – the rabbits eat our cabbage plants and only a Fort Knox-like construction prevents the foxes from doing the same to our Columbian Blacktails. Oh yes – the herons are not averse to a visit to our well-stocked ponds. But the show reminds us again and again that we are not the only creatures on this planet and we owe it to so many endangered animals to think first before we destroy hedgerows, spray insecticides and pave over our gardens which for many creatures are the last escape.
To us the most astonishing aspect of Springwatch is the evidence that animals are a great deal more intelligent than we sometimes assume. Only last night we listened agog to the outcome of a study which proved that many birds ‘talk’ to their eggs and respond, after hatching, only to those chicks that identify themselves with the taught pre-natal calls. Another humbling story is that of tiny birds who fly off to Africa and return to the exact barn from which they migrated – something we can only achieve via multi-million pounds aircraft navigation aids. It all prompts us to wonder why we humans believe ourselves to be the ultimate in the brain-box department.
As we settled in the hut for our daily defiance of the health promotion busybodies, we reflected that recent events suggest that not to be the case. Last night our dear leader came face to face with a real audience and was, to quote the Daily Torygraph headlines, “savaged” by angry people who let it be known that “we know waffle when we hear it”. Did he really believe that anyone would be taken in by scare stories of war, economic ruin and pillage in the event of a ‘Brexit’? To be fair he chose a bad day to make his debut for, despite what he obviously believes, most people can read.
And yesterday’s stories had included interviews with migrants who revealed that they had been smuggled in over the English channel from Dieppe which has become the latest launchpad to the UK. Another major report covered comments by the head of the German police who lamented the grave developments in Germany where large numbers of the young male ‘refugees’ welcomed by Chancellor Merkel are linking up with the hard core extremists already under surveillance. Suddenly, he warned, the control of potential terrorists has become “a whole lot more problematic”.
As if to compound David Cameron’s spin problems Aunty Merkel chose to interfere in the UK referendum campaign. Should we exit, she inferred, exporting to Germany will be endangered. Really? Perhaps no one explained to her that Germany’s exports to the UK are more than double those heading the other way. Are we seriously expected to believe that her countrymen will abandon their biggest and most lucrative market? And does she not realise that we know that almost half of her electorate now support a ‘Grexit’?
In our own small way we codgers yesterday experienced a taste of the growing public mood when our piece entitled “Suddenly Brexit sounds possible” attracted the highest number of ‘hits’ ever recorded in a single day. Clearly the shadow-boxing is over and the public is beginning to focus on the only real fact that troubles them. Our population per land mass is the densest in Europe and, to put it bluntly, the house is full to overflowing. Immigration is out of control and threatens to increase to the point where services are overwhelmed.
Many of the prospective ‘Remain’ voters that we know are suddenly beginning to ask what is supposed to be wrong with an Australian style points system. Yes immigration is rising down under but that is only because Australia needs population growth. But its government has the right to control who does or doesn’t enter. When our dear leader allowed Angela Merkel, during his ‘negotiations’, to persuade him to retreat from his demands on open borders he made his biggest ever misjudgement.
Like many others we are not yet convinced of the ‘Brexit’ case. But someone is going to have to convince us that these small islands are not going to be engulfed and overwhelmed by a sea of humanity with which they simply cannot cope.
The argument has narrowed dramatically. Springwatch has shown just how the supposedly inferior animals of the air and undergrowth protect their territories to ensure adequate resources for the next generation. The supposedly more intelligent creatures that rule us should note their example. And we don’t mean acting like the Corbyn bird by agreeing with both sides and vaguely hoping that the whole problem will simply fade away.
QUOTE FOR TODAY: ” Sometimes this organisation (the EU) drives me crazy, but do I sit there and think would Britain be better off if we left? Are we quitters? Absolutely not”…David Cameron, yesterday.
Failure to deport the equivalent of a “small town” of foreign offenders will lead the public to “question the point” of the UK remaining in the EU, MPs say. …read more
University lecturers threaten a marking and work-setting boycott in the autumn term in their dispute over pay. …read more
How will people who voted in the 1975 referendum vote in June? …read more
The gap between the amount of pocket money parents gave boys and girls rose to 13% in the past year, a survey suggests …read more
A Parkrun near Bristol is permanently halted by organisers after councillors voted to charge for the site’s upkeep. …read more
A British father and his wife describe their heartbreak at being given the wrong baby by a hospital in El Salvador last year as they finally return home to the US. …read more
UK department store chain BHS is to be wound down, putting 11,000 jobs at risk, after attempts to find a buyer failed. …read more
Northern Ireland’s lifetime ban on gay men donating blood to be lifted. …read more
Summer is now officially with us. The time we yearned for through all those dark, wet winter days is here proving if nothing else that everything comes to he who waits. So what delights await us over the next few months? The pundits are talking of the best summer for years, but they have been wrong before. Some will judge by the quality of their holidays, we by the size of our runner beans and the egg-laying performance of our new Columbia Blacktails. Almost hidden from the view of both schools of thought lies another category for whom the weather is irrelevant. Our politicians are engaged in a battle royal and it is not our interests that preoccupy them. It is their own.
In Downing Street itself the stakes could scarcely be higher. Our dear leader probably now regrets committing himself to an EU referendum – his reaction at the election to the perceived threat from Ukip. He probably regrets even more his decision to align himself with ‘Remain’ rather than maintain a statesman-like neutrality. For the certainty of victory is now fading, and defeat almost certainly means an ignominious exit from the Number Ten front door as Boris enters via the back one.
Ministers will be edgy too. Most have clearly identified with one camp or the other, and reward or banishment awaits. And perhaps most anxious of all are the MEPs who enjoy a gravy train like no other.
So what has happened to even suggest the possibility of the Brexit camp emerging triumphant. It shouldn’t be the case, for an army of politicised civil servants supported by over 100 ‘spin doctors’ has produced a fearsome barrage of threats ranging from World War 3 through to total economic collapse. What has happened is the unveiling of the proposed immigration policy.
The truth is that no one really knows what will happen to the economy in the event of exit. Equally true is the fact that most people, whether they care to reveal it or not, are worried about the effect of rapidly escalating population growth on services and security. The standard reposte from the ‘Remainers’ has been along the lines that we need migrants to undertake vital work.
But yesterday those fighting a seemingly lost cause unveiled their plan. In essence it amounts to a carbon copy of the Australian points-system model which requires evidence of a job offer, a medical and the ability to speak English. Seemingly on the back foot the ‘Remain’ camp wheeled Theresa May on to centre stage to point out that the rate of immigration in Australia is climbing. Which rather missed the point that it wants it that way. The point being that the system allows the government of the day to control who comes in and to match inflow to economic need.
We codgers reflected on this turn of events as we sat in our hut and followed the example of our patron saint Eric Pickles by feeding the inner man. Could this be a game-changer as we head for arguably the biggest decision for many a year? Possibly not but it will take more than excitable talk of wars and genocide to stem the sudden trend detected by the latest IRM polls.
Most of us are still undecided. But at least we now have a real choice on which to focus. We are most certainly not anti-Europe but no one is talking of leaving Europe, merely leaving the EU which takes our money before handing some of it back with clear instructions as to how we spend it.
Where will we be in four weeks time? As with the weather the answer has to be God alone knows.
QUOTE FOR TODAY: ” I do not know which makes a man more conservative – to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past”….John Maynard Keynes.
Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran tops a list of the most-played pop acts in the UK in 2015. …read more
Powers that allow UK security services to collect large volumes of personal data are not “inherently incompatible” with privacy laws, say MPs and peers. …read more
MPs warn that continued soil degradation risks putting some of the UK’s most productive agricultural land beyond profitable use within a generation. …read more
Photographer Alison Baskerville’s portraits of women seeking social change …read more
A man born with severe disabilities after his mother was raped by her father wins the right to claim compensation. …read more
US presidential hopeful Donald Trump says he will attend the official opening of the revamped Trump Turnberry hotel and golf resort in Ayrshire. …read more
A league system for Test cricket could be introduced in 2019, says International Cricket Council chief executive Dave Richardson. …read more
Caven Vines reprimanded after falsely alleging Labour’s John Healey and Kevin Barron knew about child sexual exploitation scandal but had failed to act
The former leader of Ukip in Rotherham has been ordered to pay £80,000 in damages to two local Labour MPs for falsely alleging that they knew about the city’s child sexual exploitation scandal but failed to act.
Speaking to Sky News in January last year, Caven Vines, the former leader of Ukip on Rotherham council, claimed that the MP for Wentworth and Dearne, John Healey, and the MP for Rother Valley, Sir Kevin Barron, “knew what was going on”.Continue reading...
Inquests into the deaths of 21 people in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings – one of the worst terrorist attacks in British history – are to be reopened. …read more
The news of the death of Carla Lane has affected us all to such an extent that we felt it inappropriate to comment on anything else this morning. For so many years she enriched our lives with her simple, often hilarious and sometimes tear-jerking stories of everyday women who like the rest of us lived out their days in a real world where the machinations of the supposedly mighty merit little more than a shrug. She was probably unique in becoming a TV script writer who became a national star. She was dynamic and beautiful, and she taught us that life is never to be taken at face value, that beneath its supposedly serious nature lie pure farce and hearts of gold.
Carla (her birth name was Barrack) was born in Liverpool and two of her most popular series were set there – The Liver Birds and Bread. Much of her work focussed on women’s lives and featured frustrated housewives and working-class matriarchs. Her first hit was The Liver Birds which came to our screens in 1969 and continued for ten years. It was about young women sharing a flat together, starring Pauline Collins, Polly James and Nerys Hughes.
Bread, about the Boswell family tribulations when unemployment was at crippling levels, followed the lives of a Catholic family during Thatcher’s Britain in the district of Dingle and starred Jean Boht and Peter Howitt, and was equally popular, running from 1986 to 1991. And who will ever forget Butterflies which ran from 1978 to 1983? The plot centred on the trials and tribulations of the Parkinson family, in particular on the housewife Ria Parkinson (Wendy Craig) who begins to feel neglected by her dentist husband Ben (Geoffrey Palmer).
In 1985-1987 Carla screened The Mistress, a sitcom set in Somerset, centred on the love affair between a florist and a married man and how the illicit relationship made them feel. The series looked into the complexities of women’s lives and starred Felicity Kendall and Jane Asher.
In 1995 Carla was given a Royal Television Society award for her outstanding contribution to British television.
Of course all this you knew, but it seemed necessary to set it down. What we really wanted to place on record was our great debt of gratitude to a wonderful writer who brought Scouse humour into our lives and enriched them in the process. She wrote from the heart and she uplifted ours. Again and again she reminded us that as we travel though this vale of tears they can arise from both tragedy and unintended comedy. To quote the oldest cliche of them all they don’t make ’em like her any more.
Carla was 87 and today our thoughts are with her family. Last night they spoke proudly of her “quick wit, determination and passion”. The words sum up perfectly a talented lady and devoted animal rights activist.
QUOTE FOR TODAY: ” I was a woman, I was Liverpudlian, and I could write. I sailed through the Beeb like some kind of movie queen. I got lots of attention and everything I wrote they seemed to like”…Carla Lane, 2008.
Stars pay tribute to “dynamic, beautiful” TV writer Carla Lane, creator of 1980s Liverpool sitcoms Bread and Butterflies, who has died aged 87. …read more
There were almost 8,000 arrests last year for drug driving in England and Wales, figures obtained by BBC Radio 5 live suggest. …read more
One in five people with motor neurone disease waits more than a year to see a brain specialist for help with diagnosis, a snapshot survey by the MND Association suggests. …read more
A Brexit campaign plan to limit immigration with a points-based system and the guilty verdicts in a Fife murder trial attract headlines. …read more
Marcus Rashford and Daniel Sturridge are included in England’s squad for Euro 2016 but Andros Townsend and Danny Drinkwater miss out. …read more
Novak Djokovic fights back from a set down to lead to Roberto Bautista Agut before rain returns at the French Open. …read more
A Conservative activist claimed before he died that a cabinet-hopeful once told him he would “squash him like an ant”, an inquest hears. …read more
A former aide to Prime Minister David Cameron goes on trial accused of possessing and downloading indecent images of children. …read more
Another beautiful morning to start the day on the allotments but – and it is a big But – friends on the east coast have texted news of monsoons and the cheering comment that they are heading our way. On the assumption that there is a half-chance they are right we stepped up our work rate and dug our trenches with the enthusiasm of geezers preparing for Custer’s last stand.
The result was that we were sitting down in the hut somewhat earlier than of late. Our addiction to doughnuts having been satisfied, we turned to the daily comics littering the dusty benches. One story above all others caught our attention. On Saturday night 18 Albanians had to be rescued when their inflatable boat sank off the Kent coast, and two men are in custody. It prompted naval chiefs and immigration officers to reveal that large parts of Britain’s coastline are vulnerable to people smugglers bringing migrants over in small boats and dinghies.
It turns out that, as a result of cuts, we have just three Border Force vessels to patrol more than 7,700 miles of coastline. According to Lucy Moreton, general secretary of the Immigration Services Union, emphasis has been placed almost entirely on airports and rail-trafficking routes out of Dunkirk and Calais, and our coasts are facing the biggest ever threat of people-smuggling. The former head of the Navy, Lord West, has told the Daily Mail that: “It is a complete mess. Traffickers are using smaller ports and remote coastline and I’m sure terrorists are aware of the routes too. We need to get a grip”.
Frankly the whole issue of immigration and illegal entry is spiralling out of control, and it is no surprise that the latest referendum poll, published in today’s Daily Torygraph, shows that the voting intentions gap is narrowing dramatically and that immigration is emerging as the prospect worrying most people. As Lord West infers there is a major security implication, but the issue goes beyond that. Even those who argue that population growth is acceptable are beginning to wonder just how our already overcrowded hospitals, schools and infrastructure are going to cope.
The Remain camp is reluctant to even discuss what begins to look like a major threat other than to bring to centre stage employers who contend that without Eastern European labour they couldn’t function. Since no one is suggesting that anyone with promised employment would be barred this a red herring of gigantic proportions.
Yesterday Migration Watch issued a report entitled ‘The Refugee and Migrant Crisis in the UK’. It predicts that, over and above EU citizens exercising their right to enter the UK, around 10 per cent of those granted asylum by the EU will use their new status to arrive in the UK. That amounts to around 480,000, each of which is “likely to be followed by between four and eight family members”.
Sadly the referendum has damaged the credibility of the Prime Minister’s credibility, and that of the leader of the opposition. Their prime responsibilities lie in the nation’s security and public services. To deny the implications of immigration – be it legal or illegal – amounts to dereliction of duty. They choose to demand that we instead consider the economic implications of ‘Leave’. And here we come to another dereliction.
Sir John Chilcot’s report into the Iraq invasion is expected to highlight the novel structure of government created by New Labour following its landslide victory of 1997. As Tony Blair started to make the case for war, he began to distort the shape and nature of British government – the most notable being the deliberate debasement of the traditional idea of a neutral, disinterested civil service. Under Blair, civil servants were told to concern themselves less with the substance than the presentation of policy. We all know what happened next.
Sadly the present government has continued in this vein. The alarming result is that Whitehall integrity is in collapse again. It is troubling that the Office for Budget Responsibility has not come anywhere near the two Treasury civil servants ‘dossiers’ that make the case for the EU. Had it done so it would have pointed out that the Chancellor has engaged his staff in fabrication. Had a company director presented a prospectus on the same basis as the Treasury case against Brexit he and his advisers would risk prosecution for fraud. Civil servants, once the guardian of rectitude, are now being used as propagandists.
Lying disempowers and therefore debases those who are lied to. Politicians who, free of the restraining factuality of the civil service, lie to voters and deprive them of the ability to reach a well-informed decision. In doing so they convert them into dupes. But as has proved to be the case for Blair, those who achieve a ‘Remain’ majority on false premises will one day share his fate in the history books.
QUOTE FOR TODAY: ” The PM and Chancellor are using every dirty trick in the Blairite book to win a Remain vote”….Peter Oborne, The Spectator.
Almost 75% of older children in England and Wales with diabetes are not getting key health checks, a study suggests. …read more
An inquiry into historical child sex abuse in Northern Ireland is due to begin examining allegations relating to the former Kincora Boys’ Home. …read more
Unusual laws you might unknowingly break …read more
A look back at one of the world’s busiest airports …read more