“We do not have ordinary people’ in North East Somerset says Conservative MP Jacob Rees Mogg”

So THAT’S why they are building Hinkley C there!

“Conservative MP and unlikely heart-throb, Jacob Rees-Mogg says there are no “ordinary people” in his North East Somerset constituency.

Instead the 48-year-old claims the area is filled only with “exceptional, brilliant and talented individuals of the highest and finest calibre”.

Mr Rees-Mogg’s comment was made in the House of Commons during a discussion about whether to publish an easy-to-understand version of a document about retained EU legislation.

The North East Somerset MP said he agreed with the amendment, but was then challenged by neighbouring Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, Wera Hobhouse, who asked him if he ever “tried to put any legislation in front of an ordinary person” and asked them whether it was easy to understand.

Mr Rees-Mogg appeared to take offense to the use of the term “ordinary people” and delivered as terse riposte to Ms Hobhouse, which he also posted a video of on Instagram.

“In North East Somerset, we do not have ordinary people,” he said.

“We have only exceptional, brilliant and talented individuals of the highest and finest calibre.

I have a serious point to make in that: we, as politicians, should never use the term ‘ordinary people’, implying that we are some priestly caste who understand the mysteries of legislation, whereas ordinary people do not. …”


EDDC spends half a million pounds on temporary staff in last year

A Freedom of Information request has elicited the following information:

“What the total spend on Temporary/Interim staff has been in the last twelve months?

£517,550 – December 2016 – Nov 2017”


Toys ‘R Us alleged tax avoidance could fully fund Devon’s NHS cuts!

Devon has to find £560 million if it wants to avoid savage cuts to its NHS.

Owl has found the money! Now all it has to do is find a way of getting it back from the BRITISH Virgin Islands (note: does that mean they belong to Branson!) to Devon!

“Toys R Us was last night accused of funnelling £584million into an offshore tax haven as it teetered on the brink of collapse – putting 3,200 jobs at risk.

The ailing retailer, which could go into administration today, has been criticised for the write-off of a mystery £584.5million loan to a company in the British Virgin Islands, a territory commonly used by firms for tax avoidance purposes.

Tax experts have called for an investigation into the accounts, accusing Toys R Us of secrecy and tax dodging. …”


“Hinkley Point: the ‘dreadful deal’ behind the world’s most expensive power plant”

This is a VERY long article, but well worth reading.

Our LEP is throwing all OUR eggs into this disgraceful basket, decorated with white elephants by French and Chinese companies. But, at least those members of the LEP with nuclear, construction industry and recruitment and training of those servicing our nuclear warheads will be happy!

Just a flavour of the article:

“… But the irony of Hinkley Point C is that by the time it eventually starts working, it may have become obsolete. Nuclear power is facing existential problems around the world, as the cost of renewable energies fall and their popularity grows. “The maths doesn’t work,” says Tom Burke, former environmental policy adviser to BP and visiting professor at both Imperial and University Colleges. “Nuclear simply doesn’t make sense any more.”

The story of Hinkley Point C is that of a chain of decisions, taken by dozens of people over almost four decades, which might have made sense in isolation, but today result in an almost unfathomable scramble of policies and ambitions. Promises have been made and broken, policies have been adopted then dropped then adopted again. The one thing that has been consistent is the projected cost, which has rocketed ever upwards. But if so many people have come to believe that Hinkley Point C is fundamentally flawed, the question remains: how did we get to this point, where billions of pounds have been sunk into a project that seems less and less appealing with every year that passes? …”

…”Andrew Stirling believes that there was a crucial, largely unspoken, reason for the government’s rediscovered passion for nuclear: without a civil nuclear industry, a nation cannot sustain military nuclear capabilities. In other words, no new nuclear power plants would spell the end of Trident. “The only countries in the world that are currently looking at large-scale civil power newbuild programmes are countries that have nuclear submarines, or have an expressed aim of acquiring them,” Stirling told me.

Building nuclear submarines is a ferociously complicated business. It requires the kind of institutional memory and technical expertise that can easily disappear without practice. This, in theory, is where the civil nuclear industry comes in. If new nuclear power plants are being built, then the skills and capacity required by the military will be maintained. “It looks to be the case that the government is knowingly engineering an environment in which electricity consumers cross-subsidise this branch of military security,” Stirling told me. …”

“… Given its commitment to building Hinkley Point C, the government had no choice but to make EDF an offer that was too good to resist. It offered to guarantee EDF a fixed price for each unit of energy produced at Hinkley for its first 35 years of operation. In 2012, the guaranteed price – known as the “strike price” – was set at £92.50 per megawatt hour (Mwh), which would then rise with inflation. (One Mwh is roughly equivalent to the electricity used by around 330 homes in one hour.)

This means that if the wholesale price of electricity across the country falls below £92.50, EDF will receive an extra payment from the consumer as a “top-up” to fill the gap. This will be added to electricity bills around the country – even if you aren’t receiving electricity from Hinkley Point C, you will still be making a payment to EDF. The current wholesale price is around £40 per Mwh. If there had been no inflation since 2012, the consumer would be paying an EDF tax of around £52.50 per Mwh produced at Hinkley. However, because it is linked to inflation, the strike price has already risen since 2012. (The price will be reduced by £3 if EDF develops another new reactor in Sizewell in Suffolk, as it is planning to do.) …”


The price of Tory policies: tax and VAT rises and privatising NHS says IMF

Interesting that the IMF says that another £20 billion of spending cuts will be needed. That’s roughly how much Hunt wants to cut spending on the NHS.

The long game of 100% privatising the NHS – bringing with it rationing, post code lotteries and American-style health care approaches, appears to be nearing its conclusion.

As regards harmonising VAT at its higher rate – currently 20% – this would mean a 15% VAT increase on heating costs, all food and drink, charitable fundraising, equipment for disabled people, water, materials to insulate homes, boilers, children’s clothes …. the full list is here:


“Taxes will have to rise if the government is to balance the books by the middle of the next decade and the NHS may have to be privatised, the International Monetary Fund has warned.

Property taxes, the removal of preferential VAT rates for goods such as pasties, and higher national insurance contributions by the self-employed need to be considered if Britain is to have any chance of eliminating its budget deficit by 2025 because spending cuts have gone about as far as they can, the global economic watchdog said in its annual review of the UK.

Weak productivity and the increasing care demands of an ageing population will make deficit reduction harder. Public services such as the NHS may have to be scaled back or privatised, it added.

The warnings are a reminder of the persistent problem of Britain’s public finances almost a decade after the financial crisis caused borrowing to soar. National debt is 87 per cent of GDP and spending on public services exceeds revenue from taxes by more than 2 per cent of GDP.

“Continued deficit reduction is critical to create further room to respond to future shocks,” Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, said. “There is not much space for additional spending cuts and the revenue side of the equation has to be looked at.”

Britain is already forecast to be paying 34.3 per cent of GDP in tax by 2022, more than at any time since the 1950s, but economists estimate that at least £20 billion of extra austerity will be needed to hit the government’s target of balancing the books.

Ms Lagarde said population changes were adding to the problem. “Population ageing is expected to lead to material increases in spending on healthcare, pensions and long-term care, while productivity growth has been slow. And a slowly growing economy means fewer resources will be available to meet increased spending,” she said.

The public spending burden will soon make Britain face some hard choices, the IMF added. “The UK may face difficult decisions about the desired size of its public sector, as well as the mode of delivery and financing of public services. Brexit-related effects may exacerbate the challenge.”

To address the problem, Britain needs to boost productivity. Ms Lagarde welcomed the chancellor’s £31 billion fund for infrastructure investment and focus on technical qualifications because “the UK underinvests in infrastructure and falls short in human capital development”. But she said that more needed to be done “such as easing planning restrictions and reforming property taxes to boost housing supply”.

As well as introducing a land tax, the government should harmonise VAT for goods that get preferential rates and better “align the tax treatment of employees and the self-employed”. Both proposals have proved a poisoned chalice for chancellors. George Osborne tried to harmonise VAT rates for hot food in his “omnishambles budget” and Philip Hammond had to backtrack this year on raising national insurance for the self-employed. The IMF also recommended “reducing the tax code’s bias towards debt” and scrapping the triple lock on state pensions.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said: “The IMF has played the role of the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future to remind the chancellor that seven years of Tory failure is undermining our economy.”