The current political situation explained

Benjamin Timothy Blaine – Facebook post

“So, let me get this straight… the leader of the opposition campaigned to stay but secretly wanted to leave, so his party held a non-binding vote to shame him into resigning so someone else could lead the campaign to ignore the result of the non-binding referendum which many people now think was just angry people trying to shame politicians into seeing they’d all done nothing to help them.

Meanwhile, the man who campaigned to leave because he hoped losing would help him win the leadership of his party, accidentally won and ruined any chance of leading because the man who thought he couldn’t lose, did – but resigned before actually doing the thing the vote had been about. The man who’d always thought he’d lead next, campaigned so badly that everyone thought he was lying when he said the economy would crash – and he was, but it did, but he’s not resigned, but, like the man who lost and the man who won, also now can’t become leader. Which means the woman who quietly campaigned to stay but always said she wanted to leave is likely to become leader instead.

Which means she holds the same view as the leader of the opposition but for opposite reasons, but her party’s view of this view is the opposite of the opposition’s. And the opposition aren’t yet opposing anything because the leader isn’t listening to his party, who aren’t listening to the country, who aren’t listening to experts or possibly paying that much attention at all. However, none of their opponents actually want to be the one to do the thing that the vote was about, so there’s not yet anything actually on the table to oppose anyway. And if no one ever does do the thing that most people asked them to do, it will be undemocratic and if any one ever does do it, it will be awful.


Crime commissioner to go ahead with £400,000 office move

“Devon and Cornwall’s new police and crime commissioner is to go ahead with a £400,000 office move despite criticism.

Alison Hernandez says relocating her offices will save substantial sums of money within four years, which can be reinvested in front-line policing.

Devon and Cornwall Police’s Chief Constable, Shaun Sawyer has previously said the move “sends the wrong signal” financially.”

Put this in your diaries for 2020!

Hugo and Neil: between a rock and a hard place

Gove: Brexiter, the man who always said he didn’t want to be Prime Minister and wouldn’t be good at the job

Crabb: Remainer, the man who thinks homosexuality is a disease that can be cured and is married to a French woman

Liam Fox: Brexiter, the man who resigned because he took his flatmate “informal adviser” Adam Wherry on too many of his Ministry of Defence jaunts

Andrea Leadsom: Brexiter, a woman and someone who took advantage of offshore banking

Theresa May: Remainer, a woman who said there were no grounds for investigating widespread phone tapping by journalists

Tough one, boys!

Owl’s guess (note: Owl has no political nous or nose whatsoever) Hugo for Gove, Neil for Theresa. But not going to the bookies to put a bet on after the Boris Johnson shenanigans!

A Progressive Alliance?

Letter in Guardian from Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP:

“Is there any waking up from this nightmare, a glimmer of light,” asks Polly Toynbee, at the end of her searing examination of the pent-up “seething anti-Westminster wrath” which found its expression last week, and which helps to explain the victory of the leave campaign (Dismal, lifeless, spineless – Corbyn let us down again, 25 June).

If there is to be any hope for progressive politics, the answer has to be yes – and the solution lies in Toynbee’s own analysis. As she acknowledges, our electoral system is responsible for the fact that the concerns of vast numbers of people routinely go unheard, while parties fight for the swing voters of the centre ground. That’s precisely why we urgently need to build a progressive alliance for electoral reform.

Having lost control in Scotland, and with constituency boundary changes on the way, it must be increasingly clear to Labour that they cannot win an outright majority at the next election, no matter who their leader is. Instead of indulging in months of introspection and infighting, this is their opportunity to recognise that a more plural politics is in both their electoral and political interests. And with the growing likelihood of an early general election, the importance of progressive parties working together to prevent the formation of a Tory-Ukip-DUP government that would seek to enact an ultra-right Brexit scenario is ever more pressing.

It’s no surprise that leave’s message to “take back control” stuck. Many people do indeed feel powerless. Ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard in our political system is the first step towards healing the deep divisions that this referendum has revealed. I call on other progressive parties to join us in fighting to achieve that.

Caroline Lucas MP
Green, Brighton Pavilion

And/or an Independent Alliance?

The law of unintended consequences strikes yet again

“The fallout from last week’s vote to leave the European Union is rattling business and finance, far and wide. One aftershock is being felt at the European Investment Bank.

The EIB is owned by the 28 member states of the EU. The UK, alongside Germany, France and Italy, is among its largest shareholders, with about 16%.

The bank provides finance to a wide range of projects around Europe, with a particular focus on areas like infrastructure, social housing, renewable energy and education. It invested £5.6bn (6.7bn euros) in the UK last year and has ploughed £42bn (50bn euros) into the country over the last decade.
But after the Leave vote, there may already be a freeze descending on some new investment.

The good news is that the EIB says that its recent deals in the UK should proceed as planned. Those include funding to an automotive parts business in County Durham, to Swansea University, to housing associations in Northern Ireland and to an off-shore windfarm in Scotland.

But the EIB told Newsnight that the uncertainty created by the vote to leave the EU means that some UK projects, which previously would have stood a good chance, are now less likely to be approved.

There are reasons why the EIB might be cautious. It is unclear whether the UK could or would remain a shareholder after it leaves the EU. That might depend on the form of its relationship with the remaining 27 members. The situation is unprecedented and the EIB’s statue doesn’t contain any guidance or provisions for a shareholder leaving the EU.

Where does the money go? EIB lending to UK 2011-2015:

Energy – 28%
Transport – 25%
Water, sewerage, solid waste, urban development – 25%
Industry, services, agriculture – 7%
Education, health – 11%
Small and medium-scale projects – 4%

Source: EIB”

Brexit: The law of unintended consequences strikes again

“Brexit will be biggest ever task for Whitehall, even though staffing is at lowest level since 1940s after redundancies”

” … Huge swaths of policy and legislation will need to be reconsidered and decided upon by ministers, government and parliament. All of this is required whilst maintaining our public services and carrying out business as usual.

“Many of our members have serious concerns about how we will implement this at a time of political and economic uncertainty. Many of these questions cannot be answered right now.”

The civil service is now at its smallest size since the second world war, employing about 392,000 full-time staff, according to the latest figures. It represents an 18% drop since the coalition government came to power in 2010. The government’s spending review has meant that departments have drawn up further staff cuts.

Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, has called on the government to begin a rethink of government cuts to staffing levels because of Brexit.

“If they’re going to get through this mammoth negotiation, they are going to have to increase resources for a period of time – and they ought logically to put a stop on haemorrhaging people,” Lord Kerslake told the publication Civil Service World.

Senior officials believe the untangling of 40 years of EU legislation as the biggest task the civil service has ever faced. This will include deciding on what to keep, amend and reject from EU-related laws and around 13,000 regulations.

At the same time, the British government will be negotiating any new deals with the EU and the rest of the world.

Oliver Letwin, the prime minister’s close associate, is expected to coordinate the unit’s work across Whitehall.

However, former head of the civil service Lord Turnbull told the Treasury select committee on Tuesday that Letwin was “completely unsuitable to do that job in the longer term” because “he has been a kind of consigliere to the prime minister”.

Hannah Williams, the programme director from the Institute for Government, said that the government has failed to explain how the work will be completed. “The announcement today gives no further detail of how this new unit will be run, the expertise it will draw from, or how it will coordinate Whitehall’s Brexit efforts,” she said.

Olly Robbins, the civil servant who is currently responsible for policy on immigration, has been given the job of heading the new Brexit unit.

Robbins, 40, was the UK’s deputy national security adviser to the cabinet office. He told the high court in 2013 that the Guardian’s Edward Snowden revelations could lead to “widespread loss of life”. The government has not yet released proof to back up his claims. Robbins, who is second permanent secretary at the Home Office, was also accused of giving “extremely unsatisfactory” answers on the funding of the Border Force when he appeared before the Home Affairs select committee in April.

Keith Vaz, committee chairman, had asked him repeatedly whether Charles Montgomery, Border Force director-general, had been told what his budget was to be for the year ahead.”

“There’s more to life than the economy”

Speaking of an ” explosion” in best-selling books about the natural world, judge of a nature prize Fiona Reynolds (ex-National Trust) says:

“Even in these three years there has been an absolute flood of books in which writers are talking about nature and its meaning, and not just in a superficial sense. These are profound books, about a deep relationship and about the deeply spiritual questions which confront us in society.” “[They show us that] there’s more to life than the economy, or foreign policy – these writers are articulating beautifully the ways in which the human spirit needs to connect with the world around us, and to respect the world around us.”

Shame our district council hasn’t got the message.

Post-Brexit devolution: an end to the “gift from Whitehall” model?

“… Last week’s referendum was a turning point for the devolution agenda. Just as Scotland’s near miss on independence sparked the current round of devolution deals, so the decision to Brexit could spark a new wave of demands for change: and this time, the calls for more local and regional autonomy are likely to be sharper and angrier.

Commentators are rushing to point out that an out-of-touch London elite has not listened to the cries of pain from suffering regional towns and cities. Any plan to address the underlying reasons for the Brexit vote must start by recognising that the British model of economic development is not working for most people. While the capital and wider south east have boomed, regional centres like Birmingham have fallen catastrophically behind. The idea that our economic model can be fixed by the national elite that broke it in the first place seems fanciful. Politically, it will be hard to ignore the need for economic reform.

The need to fix regional economies will be compounded by the deep social divisions that the referendum has painfully exposed. Look at the map of the Brexit vote and London sticks out like a sore thumb; an island of Remainers in a sea of Brexit. Some will say that the capital’s sense of anger and grievance is due payback for decades of ignoring the rest of the country. This attitude will hardly reduce the emotional shock that many Londoners currently feel, an experience that will be replicated in cities like Bristol, Cambridge, Liverpool and parts of Manchester. At the same time, the shires are clearly on manoeuvres to ensure that they translate their political power within the Conservative Party into a more generous approach to devolution to counties, ideally without the troublesome requirement for a mayor.

There are two ways to make devolution happen. For the past few years we have been following what might be termed the Whitehall gift model. Local leaders negotiate with George Osborne and, if he likes what he hears, he passes them down a package of new powers. It is a model that is unlikely to work very effectively in a post-referendum world. Mr Osborne is arguably already a lame duck chancellor. Parliament and the civil service face years of Brexit-related legislative congestion. Why would devolution deals be high on their agenda?

If we stick with the gift model, then devolution will stall. Greater Manchester might have enough momentum to carry on, but places like Merseyside and the West Midlands may find themselves struggling to win more powers. The counties may find it even harder to make progress, especially if they remain mired in complex debates about local government reorganisation.

But Scotland did not win its devolved settlement by waiting for Westminster’s beneficence. Its political class mobilised the voters and civil society to forge a consensus for change, before steadily campaigning to make it happen. The SNP went even further, demanding the right to declare independence unilaterally though their referendum last year. The decision to leave has unleashed a sense of grievance across the country that will be hard to put back in the bottle. Local leaders have an opportunity to channel that feeling in the direction of greater local autonomy. The difficult truth is that leaving the EU will not in itself do much to address grievances rooted in two generations of de-industrialisation, especially if the process of leaving brings a recession with it. Parliament may be preoccupied with Brexit, but the country as a whole will be worried about jobs.

The time for gifts may be over, but the moment for building a genuine movement for constitutional change might just be arriving.”

“Toothless Environment Agency is allowing the living world to be wrecked with impunity”

No chance for Sidford Fields then.

” … The Environment Agency no longer prosecutes even some of the most extreme pollution events. In 2013, a farmer in Somerset released what the agency called a “tsunami of slurry” into the Wellow Brook. One inspector said it was the worst pollution she had seen in 17 years. But the agency dithered for a year before striking a private agreement with the farmer, allowing him to avoid possible prosecution, criminal record, massive fine and court costs, by giving £5,000 to a local charity.

New rules imposed by the government means that such under-the-counter deals, which now have a name of their own – enforcement undertakings – are likely to become more common. They are a parody of justice: arbitrary, opaque and wide open to influence-peddling, special pleading and corruption.

I see the agency’s farcical investigation of the pollution incident I reported as strategic incompetence, designed to avoid conflict with powerful landowners. Were it to follow any other strategy, it would run into trouble with the government.

These problems are likely to become even more severe, when the new cuts the environment department has just agreed with the Treasury take effect. An analysis by the RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts reveals that, once the new reductions bite, the government’s spending on wildlife conservation, air quality and water pollution will have declined by nearly 80% in real terms since 2009-10.

It’s all up for grabs now: if you want to wreck the living world, the government is not going to stop you. Those who have power, agency, money or land can – metaphorically and literally – dump their crap on the rest of us.

Never mind that the government is now breaking European law left right and centre, spectacularly failing, for example, to ensure that all aquatic ecosystems are in good health by the end of this year, as it is supposed to do under the water framework directive. It no longer seems to care. It would rather use your tax money to pay fines to the European commission than enforce the law against polluters.

I’ve heard the same description of Liz Truss, the secretary of state for environment, who oversees the work of the Environment Agency, from several people over the past few months: “Worse than Owen Paterson”. At first, I refused to take it seriously. It’s the kind of statement that is usually employed as hyperbole, such as “somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan”, or “more deluded than Tony Blair”. But in this case, they aren’t joking. Preposterous as the notion of any environment secretary being worse than Paterson might seem, they mean it. …”

OK Hugo, who is your choice for PM? And Neil, what about you?

Will it be an old Etonian (Boris), a woman (May) a bloke from the working class (Crabbe) or Hunt – that chap you say you talked to a lot about our NHS but who doesn’t seem to have helped much?

How long will you sit on the fence? Or might you stand yourself? Or will you be campaigning to see which one will give you another ministerial post? Or the one offering you a peerage, perhaps?

Oh, the irony if you end up as just another common or garden constituency MP – who doesn’t have even a second home in it.

Owl feels your pain.

And Neil – now presumably so disliked by your Minister George Eustace for batting for the wrong side. And no hope of going back to the European Parliament!

Will the A303 now ever be completed … Will animal welfare continue to be protected by Brexiters? And forever destined to live with the fact that you were one of the 79 MPs who defied your party whip to force this Referendum.

But at least you do live in YOUR constituency.

Sidford: Environment Agency “not using new flooding figures to save developer money”

The Sid Vale Association is to take legal advice on the Environment Agency’s “incomprehensible” decision to support a planning application for a business park on a Sidford floodplain.

Here’s an extract from the Sidmouth Herald’s report :

” … The Environment Agency (EA) has defended its ‘incomprehensible’ support of plans for a 9.3-acre business park in Sidford – because using its new flood risk figures could cost the developer money.

A climate change report by the government body states that the region’s peak river flow is expected to increase by 85 per cent – four times more than anticipated – while surface water is likely to increase 40 per cent by around 2070, which is double the previous forecast.

In light of the increased risk to the flood-prone valley, representatives are calling for the agency to rethink its support of an outline planning application for the business park between Sidford and Sidbury, submitted by Fords of Sidmouth.

But the EA states it has not taken the new figures published earlier this year into account because the site is already allocated in the adopted East Devon Local Plan – a development blueprint to cover the next 15 years.

The EA’s policy states: “The advice will come into immediate effect. However, where local plans or development proposals and associated flood risk assessments are well advanced, the application of the updated allowances could significantly slow down completion or add to costs.”

An EA spokesman said: “We considered the plan and application to be well advanced and therefore reasonable to base advice on the existing allowances.”

The Sid Vale Association (SVA) has threatened legal action if the agency does not review its ‘short-sighted and potentially dangerous’ position on the matter.

SVA conservation and planning committee chair Richard Thurlow said: “Our letter [to the EA] reflects the comments of many Sidmouth and Sidford residents. We find it absolutely incomprehensible that the Environment Agency is not using its own regulations which came into operation in February. … “

Increased flood risk: SVA calls for Environment Agency rethink on the Sidford planning application.

Telegraph journalist on how to survive Brexit: longer working hours and plenty of immigrants!

Be careful what you wish for but be even more careful to check what you think you are voting for.

In an article in today’s Telegraph entitled “Now the vote is over, let’s move on with six steps to a bright future” here are a couple of the proposed steps journalist Matthew Lynn suggests:

… “We should scrap EU-mandated labour market regulations and social protections as fast as possible. There is no reason why we should accept European limits on how many hours people do in the office – so long as we have a minimum wage in place, which we do, then it is up to every individual how long a shift he or she wants to put in. Issues such as parental leave can be freely agreed between companies and staff. Employers who want to hire lots of young women, the best educated, most skilled part of the workforce, will be generous; others less so. But business can decide for itself.

… Finally, keep immigration at high levels. Many people who voted for Brexit wanted it to come down, but that is a debate for another day. Right now business is structured around a constant flow of new workers and although it can change that by improving productivity and using more robots, it can’t be done quickly.

For the first five years, the Government should aim to keep net migration around the 300,000 mark every year, even if it wants to change the mix to allow in more Canadians and Indians and fewer East Europeans.”

Matthew Lynn is a financial columnist and author. He writes for WSJ Marketwatch, The Spectator and Money Week as well as The Telegraph, and has worked as a columnist for The Sunday Tines and Bloomberg.

Oliver Letwin (2) – privatise, privatise, privatise – including the NHS

The man David Cameron just put in charge of the government’s Brexit policy (see post directly below)

Oliver Letwin books andpamphlet:

Oliver Letwin and John Redwood. (1988)

Britain’s Biggest Enterprise – ideas for radical reform of the NHS

“… four out of five main recommendations made in the 20-page pamphlet are already being put into place.

Britain’s Biggest Enterprise :

– calls the NHS “a bureaucratic monster that cannot be tamed”.
– says the NHS needs “radical reform” and “revolutionary ideas”.
– claims waiting lists were caused by the “system itself” rather than a lack of funds, and that spending more money would simply increase waiting lists.

It makes these five recommendations:
1) Establishment of the NHS as an independent trust.
2) Increased use of joint ventures between the NHS and private sector
3) Extending the principle of charging



Oliver Letwin (1988)

Privatising the World: A Study of International Privatisation in Theory and Practice

Amazon Books 1 star Review:

This is the well spring of what they are doing to our country. The owners of the snouts in the trough that cannot bear to think of any money, any transaction happening without a profit being made for a shareholder or a bank, or Letwin’s friends like Cameron, Osborne and Hunt. An appalling treatise on how greed is right and the public interest is wrong. How to dismantle the stuff that glues us together and sell it off to corporate cartels – the failure of the fuel market, the chaos of our “privatised” railways, the reluctance of bus companies to run unprofitable routes, zero hours contracts – all of these should be warnings of where this sort of poisoned, anti social thinking can lead. Read this book and be afraid.


Oh Lord No: Letwin to head Brexit unit in Whitehall!




Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin is to lead a cross-Whitehall unit to prepare for Brexit ahead of the election of David Cameron’s replacement as prime minister.

Cameron told MPs yesterday that the EU unit would bring together officials and policy expertise from across the Cabinet Office, the Treasury, the Foreign Office and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

He said the Brexit negotiations would be the “most complex and most important task that the British civil service has undertaken in decades”, so the unit would report to the whole Cabinet on delivering the outcome of the referendum. This will include objectively exploring options for the UK’s future relationship with Europe and the rest of the world from outside the EU.

This will ensure the new prime minister, who is set to be chosen by 2 September, would have the best possible advice from the moment of their arrival, he told MPs.”


“According to official government documents from 1985, released in December 2014 under the 30 years rule, Letwin recommended the Prime Minister to “use Scotland as a trail-blazer for the pure residence charge”, i.e. the controversial Community Charge or ‘Poll tax’, having trialled it there first, and to implement it nationwide should “the exemplifications prove… it is feasible.”

Another 1985 internal memo released in December 2015 showed Letwin’s response to the Broadwater Farm riot, which blamed the violence on the “bad moral attitudes” of the predominantly Afro-Caribbean rioters, claiming that “lower-class, unemployed white people lived for years without a breakdown of public order on anything like the present scale”. It also criticised some of the schemes proposed to address inner-city problems, suggesting David Young’s proposed scheme to support black entrepreneurs would founder because the money would be spent on the “disco and drug trade”. Letwin later apologised, saying that parts of the memo had been “both badly worded and wrong.”

Letwin coauthored Britain’s biggest enterprise: ideas for radical reform of the NHS, a 1988 Centre for Policy Studies pamphlet written with John Redwood which advocated a closer relationship between the National Health Service and the private sector. This is regarded as providing a theoretical justification for NHS reforms carried out by subsequent governments, particularly the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

Letwin unsuccessfully stood against Diane Abbott at the 1987 election for Hackney North and Stoke Newington and against Glenda Jackson for the Hampstead and Highgate seat in the 1992 election.

He went on to win the historically safe Conservative seat of West Dorset at the 1997 general election, although he only achieved a majority of 1,840 votes over the next candidate. …

… May 2005, Letwin was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The Times reported that he had requested a role less onerous than his former treasury brief so that he would have time to pursue his career in the City. Until December 2009, he was a non-executive director of the merchant bank NM Rothschild Corporate Finance Ltd.

Following the decision by Michael Howard to stand down as Conservative Party leader after the 2005 election, Letwin publicly backed the youngest candidate and eventual winner David Cameron.


The Daily Telegraph reported in 2009 that Letwin agreed to repay a bill for £2,145 for replacing a leaking pipe under the tennis court at his constituency home in Dorset, which he had claimed on his parliamentary expenses.

Public Sector Reform
Speaking to consultancy firm KPMG on 27 July 2011, Letwin caused controversy after stating that you cannot have “innovation and excellence” without “real discipline and some fear on the part of the providers” in the public sector. This was widely reported, with The Guardian headline stating Letwin says ‘public sector workers need “discipline and fear”‘.

Government Document Disposal
In October 2011 the Daily Mirror reported a story that Letwin had thrown away more than 100 secret government documents in public bins in St. James’s Park, with no real care to dispose of them properly.[31][32] Enquiries made by the Information Commissioner’s Office found that Letwin did not dispose of any government documents; they were in fact his constituents’ personal and confidential letters to him and did breach data protection rules.[33] Letwin later apologised for his actions.

In 2003, The Independent reported comments Letwin had made saying that he would “go out on the streets and beg” rather than send his children to the state schools in Lambeth where he and his family lived.

After two strangers on his London street had asked if they could use his lavatory in 2002, and he agreed to let them do so, they then stole his credit cards and other belongings. He retrieved his credit cards after chasing the accomplices in his dressing gown and pyjamas.

“Progressive Alliance”

“… the best or only prospect for victory in the onrushing general election could be a broad progressive alliance or national unity platform of citizens and parties from the centre to the left. Such an idea has been floated before, and usually founders on the rocks of party tribalism. But the stakes have never been this high, and the Achilles heels of the status quo parties have never been so spotlit.

Such an alliance could only succeed if it embraces the lessons of new politics and establishes itself on open principles. A coalition of sore losers from Westminster is unlikely to appeal. But if an open primary was held in every constituency to select the best progressive candidate, that would provide unprecedented democratic legitimacy and channel a wave of bottom-up energy into this new alliance as well as its constituent parties.

In England, such an alliance could gather together many of those who have campaigned together for Remain in this referendum and opposed Tory policies, from Labour to Greens and Liberal Democrats. It might even appeal to Conservative voters or politicians who are disenchanted with the Leave movement. In Scotland and Wales too, some form of engagement with the SNP or Plaid Cymru might be possible.

An electoral alliance built on open and democratic foundations would provide a new entry point to politics for the millions of young people who voted to stay in the EU and today feel despairing and unheard. Vitally, it could also make a fresh offer to Labour heartland voters, enabling them to elect candidates who are free to speak to their concerns on immigration as well as economic insecurity. I believe it could win a thumping majority.”

Claire Wright: even more important that MPs represent their constituency

“Brexit: It is now more important than ever that this country has MPs who will represent the people

Tuesday, 28 June 2016 1 Comment by Claire

Since Friday events have moved so fast I haven’t even written a blog as each time I think of an angle it gets superseded by another major news story!

The only clear thing among all the chaos and confusion, is that this country has probably never been more divided – politically and socially – and in my view, more in peril than at any other time in living memory.

The party system seems to have totally fractured. Not only has the Conservative parliamentary party become bitterly broken, the Labour party is also at war.

Last Friday morning I felt shellshocked and upset that we had left an institution I believed worked for the greater good, despite its many faults. Since then I have watched fascinated as the subsequent dramatic events unfolded.

The economic fallout came swiftly and is very worrying. The value of the pound has plummeted to a 31 year low, we are told that the UK’s credit rating has been downgraded from a triple A to a double A rating, we have dropped from being the fifth largest economy in the world to the fourth and the Bank of England is on standby to pump £250bn of public money into the markets to reduce the jitters currently reverberating across the globe from our EU exit.

More than £200bn has been wiped from the value of the UK stock market – equivalent to 24 years worth of EU contributions.

A general election is now looking possible in October, to tie in with the selection of a new prime minister.

Lies and exaggeration were undoubtedly the order of the day for both the Leave and Remain campaigns, but what is really galling to me is that the Leave movement won people over on false pretences. On the NHS and immigration in particular – two major planks of their operation, their claims have been found to be resoundingly untrue.

The Remain campaign focused too much on scaremongering and too little on how the EU helps us, which only riled people and forced them into entrenched positions , setting family member and friend against one another.

The conservative IN bandwagon, seemed to be blinkered on issues mainly linked to the economy and immigration, discounting all the positive things that the EU does for us, for example on employment, the environment and human rights for example. I believe that this was because these are the issues that are not valued by the right wing political elite that we currently have governing this country.

David Cameron’s supposedly one nation conservative cabinet, which campaigned WITH big business against a ban on bee killing pesticides, has already scrapped or weakened as many environmental protections as it can get away with. Planning regulations are now as relaxed and in favour of developers as they have been since the introduction of the Town and Country Planning Act in 1947.

With a future hardline right wing government on the cards, possibly led by the current favourite Boris Johnson, the likelihood of the current protections remaining for our seas, clean air, recycling, waste and for rare species, landscapes and plants – the Habitats Regulations – is remote.

Over the past few years the Conservative government has lobbied to scrap the EU Habitats Regulations – tough laws which protect some of our most precious landscapes here in East Devon, such as Woodbury Common, Aylesbeare Common, the Exe Estuary, as well as large swathes of Dartmoor.

However, despite the Habitats Regulations protecting our most rare and precious species such as the dartford warbler and the nightjar, our government announced the laws were “gold plated,” and lobbied the EU hard to get them scrapped.

The EU has so far held firm to these regulations, which also mean strong planning rules in these areas , as well as the surrounding countryside.

But I now can see on the horizon an inevitable and horrible ‘bonfire of red tape’ as a new right wing conservative leadership sets about dismantling anything that it views as in the way of “growth.”

So what is the future of East Devon now most of the country has voted to leave?

In my own council ward of Ottery, there must now be question marks for a controversial quarry proposed at Straitgate Farm, which was quietly looking less likely, due in part to the strict Habitats Regulations Protecting Woodbury Common, where Blackhill Quarry is based and where stone and gravel processing currently takes place. It was due to cease as of the end of this year because of these laws.

What will Brexit mean for East Devon’s two biggest industries? Agriculture and tourism? And what will it mean for education? What does it mean for our cash strapped NHS and our local very much at risk
community hospitals?

What will it mean for the most vulnerable people in the constituency and those on low incomes?

Certainly, both agriculture and education are forced to rely on EU subsidies and grants.

Prolonged economic hardship will surely mean even deeper public spending cuts, yet deeper cuts to public services, which as always, will have the biggest effect on those people who have the least.

If a general election does take place in October, the future of our district – and the rest of the country – rests with those politicians examining thousands of pages of EU law and policy with a view to changing, scrapping or tightening it.

The future of our vulnerable residents also rests with MPs who have a duty to stand up for people who need help and support.

East Devon’s MP needs speak and vote in favour or against new laws and policies based on how they affect local people. That’s voting FOR the people of East Devon, not his party.

Each MP has a duty, in my view, to be a diligent scrutineer of this process.

What laws or policies do we want in East Devon that will benefit us, our communities, our wildlife and our businesses? Now is the time to consider this very carefully.

If democracy is working effectively people in East Devon should have the opportunity to influence such discussions through our MP.

And our MP has a responsibility to stand up for the people of East Devon and what they see as their priorities, especially at this very turbulent time.

The question has to be as ever. Is Mr Swire up to the job?”

Hunt says EU must change its rules to suit us so we can stay!

“… Mr Hunt says: “The people have spoken – and Parliament must listen. Britain must and will leave the EU. But we did not vote on the terms of our departure.” He says that the referendum shows that “that the country has rejected the free movement of people as it currently operates”.

“So our plan must be to encourage them to reform those rules, thereby opening up a space for a ‘Norway plus’ option for us – full access to the single market with a sensible compromise on free movement rules,” Mr Hunt adds. “As their biggest non-EU trading partner, it is in the European interest to do this deal with them as much as it is in our interests to secure it.”

He says by negotiating an exit deal and putting it to the British people in a vote, it will “concentrate minds across the Channel: if they want to conclude this amicably and quickly, which is in their interests as much as ours, they need to put a ‘Norway plus’ deal on the table”. …

Did he learn nothing from his handling of NHS doctors’ contracts? Silly question – slapped talons, Owl!

Minutes of the meeting which discussed the future of the Police and Crime Commissioner

…The Chair reminded members of the Panel at this stage that they will not be discussing the allegations against the Commissioner. They are both beyond the remit of this Panel and any discussion of specific allegations could prejudice ongoing investigations.

The Chair will interrupt and close down debate if he considers that members are creeping beyond the Panel’s remit.

He reminded members that this meeting is being webcast. The discussion will be available for up to a year following this meeting.

… Regarding alleged matters of conduct, the Panel has delegated the handling of complaints to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC). [So the office of the officer being investigated investigates] …


Discharge of the functions of the Police and Crime Commissioner

The Panel will be asked to consider the discharge of the function of the Police and Crime Commissioner under Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel Rules of Procedure 2.1(7). …

… Minutes:

The Chair gave the four members of the Panel who requested this meeting the opportunity to ask their questions –

‘The code of conduct under which we all operate is based on the Nolan Principles of Public Life. It stresses the fact that public perception of our behaviour is all important. Do you therefore think it would have been better for you to have waited until you had been cleared by the investigation before taking up office?’

(Councillor Watson)

‘In hindsight would it have been prudent to discuss this issue with the Police and Crime Panel prior to the public referral to enable us to best support you in your role?’

(Councillor Brown)

‘Does this mean that any member of the Devon and Cornwall Force and your office, any of them who may be the subject of future investigations, will be allowed the same leniency as you have exhibited here, and not be required to be removed from duty or suspended during their period of investigation, and also what your comments might be in relation to recent comments made by the Police Federation on behalf of the Police?’

(Councillor Batters)

‘Your predecessor in the role of Police and Crime Commissioner, Tony Hogg, I think it’s fair to say took up the role at a time when there was very little public appetite for the role – election turnout in the order of 15% I seem to remember – and certainly very little knowledge of it. During the course of his term of office he worked very hard and in his own words he says he believes that he built up the trust and confidence of the public in the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and I would add to that he did that largely in a non-political way. He has recently said in an interview that he believes that your recent action have pretty much destroyed in 24 hours all that good work over the previous 4 years. Would you agree with his statement?’

(Councillor Sutton)

Alison Hernandez (Police and Crime Commissioner) and Andrew White (OPCC Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer) were available to answer the Panel’s questions and address their concerns.

Members were advised that –


the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) –

· was aware of, and followed, the Nolan Principles of Public Life;

· was not aware of any negative feedback from members of the public;

· had gained a lot of public support since being elected;

· had met with the previous PCC, Tony Hogg, and had his full support;


the OPCC Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer had made the referral to the IPCC. It was standard practice to refer any allegations against a PCC to the IPCC and this decision had been taken after consultation with the Chair. (members were reminded that responsibility for non-criminal complaints had been delegated to the OPPC Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer). Arrangements had been made for an investigation to be conducted by another police force;



The Panel re-convened at 12 noon.

The Chair’s proposal that –


the Panel noted that whilst the Commissioner is subject to allegations she has not been charged with a criminal offence;


it is the opinion of the Panel that the functions of the Police and Crime Commissioner as laid out in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, are able to be discharged by the elected Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner;


Panel members and the public have concerns that the Police and Crime Commissioner has made public comments which could be deemed political in nature. It is the opinion of the Panel that this is not commensurate with the independent role of a Police and Crime Commissioner and the Commissioner should refrain from making any such statements in the future;


the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, as delegated by the Police and Crime Panel has referred a complaint regarding conduct to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. As such the Panel has fulfilled its statutory obligations;


the Panel will continue to scrutinise the decisions made by the Police and Crime Commissioner in connection with the discharge of the functions of that role, until such time that the outcomes of ongoing investigations are known.

seconded by Councillor Wright, was agreed unanimously (16 members present out of 20).

“Cranbrook Farm” – a pub!

“Cranbrook’s first pub is on the horizon.

Pub chain Hall & Woodhouse, who operate Topsham’s The Lighter Inn, has handed a licensing request for it to East Devon District Council.

The upcoming pub, currently named Cranbrook Farm, will be situated at the heart of the new community – opposite the Taylor Wimpy site.

Well, that’s just about the only farm you will be seeing in Cranbrook! And it will be very handy for the Taylor Wimpey builders.

And it DOES sound good “Delayed a bit, dear, still down at the farm …”.

Back to work you over 65’s – Work (free?) for Brexit!

“Devon business leaders have urged Brexit-supporting pensioners to cancel their retirement and help Britain’s post EU economy.

The Devon and Cornwall Business Council (DCBC) has called on the over 65s – 60% of whom are thought to have voted to leave the EU – to “bear responsibility” for the outcome.

Retired Brexiters in the region have reacted with anger to suggestions that they should go back to work, insisting many have contributed since they were teenagers.

However, Steve Crowther, the Devon-based chairman of UKIP, said the age group had much to offer the “bright economic future” many hope will arrive.

Steve Crowther said the wisdom and experience of the older generation was required. …

… Mr Jones [DCBC chair, LEP member, nuclear-involved nd multi-company director] said elderly “contributions could be big or small” and suggested the elderly might start a new business.

“Huge benefits could come from just half a day a week helping with a local school or community project,” he added.

“Greater responsibility for personal health and wellbeing could make massive differences to our over stretched health service. Using the accumulated wisdom gathered over many years could be valuable in mentoring local start-up businesses.

“The challenge has been made and is it now up to everyone to respond.”

Owl is thinking that its parents should get off their fluffy bottoms and start a business counselling elderly people forced to go back to work for England!