National Grid prefers to invest profits in USA

Underinvestment in the UK was blamed for recent blackouts …

“National Grid has ploughed a record of almost £2bn into its booming US-based business this year as increasing political pressure raises questions over the multinational’s future in the UK.

The energy network provider spent nearly £1.6bn growing its regulated US business over the first six months of the year, and also invested £200m into its US-based renewables company Geronimo.

Over the same period, National Grid spent less than £650m running the gas and electricity networks in the UK, where policymakers are squeezing energy company profits and proposals to renationalise utilities have won public support.

The London-listed company has built its US presence in recent years amid growing calls for UK utilities to be renationalised. It distributes gas and electricity to businesses and homes in New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

John Pettigrew, National Grid’s chief executive, said the record spending was in response to strong demand from north-eastern US states to transform their energy system to run on renewables. There was also healthy investor appetite for infrastructure projects, he said.

The US business helped drive National Grid’s underlying operating profits to £1.3bn for the first half of the year. In the UK, profits from its electricity networks rose by 5% to £583m, while profits from its gas grid business fell by more than a quarter to £66m. In the US, underlying operating profits rose 16% from the year before to £525m. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/nov/14/national-grid-us-uk-business-renationalise-utilities?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

“School funding crisis blamed for ‘catastrophic’ rise in supersized classes”

“Almost 1 million school pupils are in classes of 31 or more, a surge of nearly 30% since 2010, according to a report.

Data from the National Education Union (NEU) also shows that nearly 20,000 more pupils were in supersized classes of more than 36 in 2018-19, compared with eight years ago.

Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the NEU, described the developments as “catastrophic” and blamed the figures on a “real-terms funding crisis” in education.

Most constituencies in England have experienced an increase in average class sizes since 2010, the report suggests. Class sizes increased on average in 474 out of 533 constituencies, and fell in just 59.

The Department for Education said last month that average class sizes had remained stable.

A total of 961,127 pupils in England were taught in classes of 31 or more in the academic year 2018-19, a 29% rise from 2010-11. The percentage of students in classes of 36 or more rose by 44% in the same time frame, to 63,566 pupils in 2018-19.

The most dramatic development has been faced by secondary pupils, of whom 21,843 were sitting in classes of 36 or more in 2018-19, a 258% increase since 2010.

The NEU said 34% of teachers had declared a reduction in class size as their “absolute top priority”, regardless of who enters No 10.

Bousted said pupils were experiencing “the inevitable result of several government policies which have conspired to put a squeeze on schools”.

“The real-terms funding crisis has had catastrophic effects, including a direct impact on class size,” she said.

“Today’s analysis will ring true for every parent who has witnessed their school cutting teaching assistant posts, reducing subject choice or organising fundraiser events and begging letters.

“Parents are no fools. They can see with their own eyes the impact of funding pressures on their children’s education and the reduction in individual contact time that their child has with their teachers.” …”

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/nov/14/school-funding-crisis-blamed-for-catastrophic-rise-in-supersized-classes?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Exmouth Community College is having a hairy time of it …

Letter sent to parents – Owl recalls a time when pupils were sent home for having hair too long!

Does hair length affect exam results?

Note to College – this is called a “fade cut” – do keep up!

“Dear Parents & Carers

We are noticing an increase in students who are choosing to have more extreme haircuts which involve very long hair on top but with very short hair around the sides. We would like to remind parents and carers that we do not allow students to have their hair cut below a grade 2 or to have very extreme differences in hair length. If students do get their hair cut extremely short then I am afraid we will have to keep them out of lessons until it has grown back to a suitable length.

Many thanks for your support with this issue.”

Exmouth Community College

Vote for Boris Johnson because he eats chips …

“Boris Johnson thinks you are an idiot.

Nowhere is his absolute contempt for your intelligence more on display than in his latest election broadcast.

The Conservatives have released a video suggests you should vote for Boris Johnson because he drinks tea, eats chips and makes strange shapes with his eyes.

Boris Johnson thinks you are an idiot.

Nowhere is his absolute contempt for your intelligence more on display than in his latest election broadcast.

In the past, when politicians have posted these sort of videos I have fact checked them. Within the last six months I have done it with both UKIP and Brexit Party politicians.

And yet I can’t do that with this video. Is this because his comments were so watertight and researched not a single hole could not be picked in them? No.

The reason we can not fact check it is because his nearly five minutes video contained literally no facts, no verifiable figures and no substance.

You may think this is strange. After all, these videos are basically a job interview. You, the electorate, are the boss and he is the prospective employee. The job is the role of Prime Minister and within this interview process he is trying to convince you he has the necessary policies and ideas to make you safer, more prosperous and healthier.

At normal job interview you put forward evidence that you are equipped for a role. In Boris Johnson’s defence he doesn’t have much experience with this.

Sonia Purnell pointed out is her book Just Boris: Boris Johnson: The Irresistible Rise of a Political Celebrity, that Mr Johnson hasn’t had to have that many interviews.

In late 1987 he began work as a graduate trainee at The Times thanks to family connections (though he was dismissed after making up a quote).

He also got a job at The Telegraph from knowing editor Max Hastings, through his Oxford University Union presidency.

So how do you fill a five minute election video with no facts. In turns out you seize on a pile of cliches and make out like you’re just one of us.

It seems that Mr Johnson (I refuse to board the cliché coach and call him Boris or Bojo) believes that simply making you believe he is like you is enough for you to give him the keys to our NHS, armed forces and children’s futures.

1. Vote Boris: He loves chips

In less than five minutes Johnson managed to talk about: fish and chips, steak and oven chips, takeaways and marminte.

You can almost hear his top advisor Dominic Cummings’ thought process.

“Everyone has to eat food right?” he thinks as he goes through the data from dozens of focus groups (while simultaneously catching up on Russia Today).

“If people see that Boris likes food then they will find him relatable and want him in charge.”

The amount Johnson mentions the food he likes is frankly ridiculous.

Trust me, I also eat food…
It is like he Googled “what do normal people cook” and just said he liked it.

“Fish and chips or a Sunday roast?” he was asked.

He replied: “I think fish and chips on a cold night on a beach, you can’t beat it.”

You hear that? He likes chips, you like chips. He likes the beach, you like the beach. Is there a plan to stop pollution of our beaches? Who cares! Beach, beach, beach, beach, beach.

If you are suspicious of Johnson’s culinary skills look no further than his comment on his Brexit deal which is “oven ready” so you just “slam it in the microwave and it is there”…

2. Vote Boris: He likes old music

“What is your favourite band?” asked the resident brown nose filming the video.

“It is either The Clash or the Rolling Stones. Mainly I listen to the Rolling Stones nowadays so make of that what you will.”

Everyone likes the Rolling Stones and The Clash so therefore everyone will like Johnson right?

Most people have a soft spot for the bands that were big during their university years but not Johnson.

The may be because he is a rock purist. Or it maybe because the UK number one during his freshers week at Oxford were the “tank-topped bumboys” Culture Club with Karma Chameleon.

Don’t think that pretending to like a universally popular band is this is cliched and opportunistic? Just ask Gordon Brown (if he doesn’t have his noise cancelling headphones on listening to the Arctic Monkeys).

To be fair, this cliché may not have come from focus groups but instead from the Madonna song Music which reads:

“Music makes the people come together.

“Music makes the bourgeoisie and the rebel.”

3. Vote Boris: He likes tea

If the love of Marmite, chips and Mick Jagger doesn’t make you think Johnson is ready to lead our country then guess what – the guy makes his own tea!

In the video he is filmed making his own brew. Not only that but he is such a man of the people he used one of those boiling water taps that people have in their offices. No expensive Russell Hobbs kettle for him.

‘I like tea, vote for me’

Of course it is entirely feasible that he always makes his own tea though he did make one absolutely rookie error. An error so dire it is likely to create more mistrust than his rampant history of sexual infidelity. The man left the tea bag in to walk around the office?

Perhaps he is such an alpha male leader that no tea is strong enough for him – or maybe he just never makes the tea himself and thinks the bag just dissolves.

As anyone who has made tea in work knows, it is all about trying to get the tea bag from the cup to the bin without dripping on the floor and annoying the cleaner.

4. Vote Boris: He has a dog

“Woof woof!”

What is that sound? No not Johnson when he sees a “lovely piece of tottie” but the sound of his dog.

“How do you typically start your day,” says a voice off camera (whose title is presumably head of relatable question asking).

The Tory leader replied: “I tend to get pretty early and take the job job down for a walk and the dog does his business.”

In the great spectrum of what people love, at one end we have politicians and at the other we have dogs. Clearly there was a hope that this “cute by association” would help, though it could lead to a fall in people’s trust in pooches.

Perhaps this was an entirely innocent chat about his pet and in no way an attempt to use this cliché to gain votes. To be fair, he has only had a dog for about six weeks so it may have been considered noteworthy.

5. Vote Boris: He eats takeaways

We all know that feeling when we get home from a hard day at work and can’t be bothered to cook. We know we should save money and be healthy but just can’t do it. So instead we order take out with the delicious flavours laced with guilt.

Turns out this feeling is EXACTLY the same whether you have worked all day is a hospital or spent and afternoon slowly eroding democratic conventions.

When asked what the most surprising thing about being PM is you might expect it to be “the weight of responsibility” or “pressure of affecting people’s”. Not Johnson. What really surprised Boris “one of us” Johnson was his “incredulity” when he couldn’t “actually get a Thai curry delivered to Number 10” because of security.

One of us! One of us!

6. Vote Boris: He’s nice to the nice young Asian man in the office

‘Who looks less comfortable here? As he makes his way round the office you will notice that almost no one (except him) is under the age of 40.

That is presumably because they are dynamic, forward thinking and down with the kids.

Think a Boris Johnson government will be wracked by accusations of Islamohpobia and questions about him using words like “piccannies” and “watermelon smiles” in his columns? Not a bit of it.

As Johnson makes his way through a corridor a guy, who appears to be of Asian descent, walks down the corridor towards him (totally unprompted obviously).

Johnson greets him (not by name) with a jovial “How are you? Nice to see you.” He solidified this with a hearty backslap.

Now before you hound me on Twitter I am not suggesting that this bloke was undeserving of his starring role in the cliché fest. I am simply suggesting that in a video which was clearly choreographed from start to finish it is no accident that it was a BAME person Johnson decided to be “mates” with.

Or was it an accident, he just happened to stand up and walk past while the Prime Minister was filming a party political broadcast?

7. Vote Boris: He does that thing with his eyes…

‘Could I be more down with the kids?’
The body language, facial expressions and wild gestures used in this video have been honed over years of appearing on Have I Got News For You.

Some of these were clearly supposed to be Churchillian and resemble a football fan celebrating a goal on the terraces.

It didn’t quite work.

At the very end of the video he gave a fist pump which would have made a new born baby look strong.

After saying that we need to “unleash the potential of this whole country” he offers perhaps the most half hearted fist pump since he voted Theresa May’s deal in March…

Beyond the clichés this video says one thing: Vote for me – I am like you.

The thing is I know me. I know I am not qualified to run a country. What I want is someone with a decent sense of right and wrong who has a clear idea of how they are going to make my life better.”

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/politics/boris-johnson-conservative-election-broadcast-17249815