“Constructive ambiguity” – a new Tory tactic

David Davis on the Today programme this morning on Brexit. He says Brexit negotiations are going incredibly well. Or, as he puts it:

“You’ll find it difficult sometimes to read what we intend, that’s deliberate, I’m afraid in negotiations you do have constructive ambiguity from time to time.”

So, that’s what our MPs have been doing with their silences on the NHS, education and the environment!

Perhaps Neil Parish should be spending less time on widening the A303 and more time on making the A35 safer

Many of us know the disaster that is the Hunter’s Lodge interchange near Axminster and its catalogue of accidents and deaths.

Now there have been three serious accidents on the same road, all near Kilmington.

http://www.devonlive.com/third-crash-in-three-days-on-a35-between-honiton-and-axminster-after-car-and-motorbike-collide/story-30480246-detail/story.html

Swire might also start thinking about his side of the A3052, which has seen two accidents (one fatal) at Four Elms in recent days:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/08/04/tory-councillor-agrees-with-comments-by-independent-councillor-a-first/

Of course, there is no money for road repairs or improvements in East Devon – all money in our area is being poured into roads to Hinkley C, widening the A303 and nationally into shaving off 20 minutes on journeys between London and Birmingham.

Priorities, dear boy, priorities.

Devon County Council councillor responsible for Highways – former Monster Raving Loony Party representative Stuart Hughes:

102 Temple Street
Sidmouth
Devon
EX10 9BJ
01395 578414
stuart.hughes@devon.gov.uk

The money is there – just not here!

More on Swire saving services at Royal Brompton Hospital, London

Owl says: hypocrisy isn’t a strong enough word!

” … Yesterday, 21 MPs [including Swire] issued a letter to Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt MP calling for him to block plans to decommission congenital heart disease (CHD) services at the Trust.

Eight of the MPs joined Dr Jan Till, consultant paediatric electrophysiologist and co-director of children’s services, and Hannah Gibson, mother of a child being treated for CHD at the Trust, in parliament yesterday with a giant reprint of the letter to help raise awareness of the issue.

The letter was sent as more than a thousand patients, staff and supporters prepare to join a demonstration against the plans on Saturday 18 March, organised by three charities that support the Trust and its patients.

The letter outlines how NHS England’s plans are not based on evidence, will destroy some of the world’s leading research teams, will cost the NHS millions of pounds, and will not just affect CHD services but a range of other heart and lung services too.

In the letter, MPs call on Jeremy Hunt to intervene to halt the proposals, as he did the last time Royal Brompton’s CHD services were under threat during the now notorious ‘Safe and Sustainable’ review in 2013.

The letter concludes by adding “Would you not agree that the closure could only be justified if it is clearly set out how this would lead to a better service for patients? To date NHS England has completely failed to demonstrate this”.

Victoria Borwick MP, who signed the letter, said: “MPs have come together from across the political divide to support Royal Brompton, showing that this is not a party political issue. This is a matter of simple common sense. Royal Brompton Hospital offers world leading services as one of the biggest and best heart disease hospitals and is also renowned for its cystic fibrosis care. It is entirely wrong to put this in jeopardy.”

http://www.rbht.nhs.uk/about/news-events/mps-call-on-jeremy-hunt-to-block-nhs-england-plans-for-royal-brompton-services/

Thanks, Mr Swire – at least we know what your priorities are.

As your second home is in mid-Devon, not East Devon, will you be fighting for community hospitals there? Though, of course, community hospitals ARE remaining in your bit of East Devon but now removed from Ottery St Mary, Honiton, Axminster and Seaton – so no worries for you on that score. That’s Parish’s problem. Though as he has HIS second home in Somerset – and successfully campaigned for HIS local district hospital to stay open there – maybe he’s not too worried either.

Swire on May

“… Theresa May. I’m not denying there are issues around her leadership. But her vilification is damaging our prospects as a nation. There is no knight-in-shining-armour statesman or woman waiting in the wings to replace her. For now, we need to reconcile ourselves to practical governing as the Brexit process grinds on. She may have her faults but she is also dutiful and she is diligent and she deserves our support during these difficult negotiations.”

https://www.hugoswire.org.uk/news/summer-recess

What a damning condemnation of current Tories: “we don’t have anyone better so put up and shut up”!

And “Dutiful and diligent” – sounds like an end of term report on a pupil who hasn’t achieved anything but her teacher is desperately trying to say something positive!

1 in 5 MPs still employ family members – including both our MPs

Swire employs his wife as his researcher on about £35,000 a year, Parish employs his wife at a lower salary as a junior secretary on about £15,000 (but we don’t know how many hours that is for):

“One in five MPs are still using taxpayer-funded expenses to employ members of their family – despite the practice being banned for new Members of Parliament.

Official data shows that, of the 589 MPs who returned to Parliament after the June election, 122 have declared the employment of a relative in the latest Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

Yet under new rules, none of the 61 new MPs elected for the first time on 8 June are allowed to do so.

Alexandra Runswick, the director of campaign group Unlock Democracy, said: “The ban on new MPs employing family members reflects the public’s concerns about nepotism and the potential abuse of public money.

“If MPs employing family members is wrong in principle, then when the MP was first elected is irrelevant.”

Among the MPs who have continued to employ spouses following the June election are several members of the Cabinet, including Tory chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.

Several of Jeremy Corbyn ’s top team also employ spouses, including Labour chairman Ian Lavery and shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner.

There is no suggestion any of the existing MPs who continue to employ family members have done anything wrong.

Ms Runswick said it was ‘reasonable’ to give MPs’ families time to prepare for a new clampdown – but said a ‘time limit’ was needed on how long the current situation could continue.

“A transitional period is reasonable, particularly as the snap election means that these rules have come into force three years earlier than expected,” she said. …

… Darren Hughes, acting chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said it was fair to phase out the practice over the coming years.

“Given the high rate of turnover of both MPs and staff, it is clear that within the next few electoral cycles it will apply to the vast majority of Parliamentary staff,” he said.

“Voters must be able to have confidence that our democracy is resourced in an open and transparent way, so it’s welcome that Parliamentary authorities have taken steps to reform the system.”

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/one-five-mps-still-using-10907964

Claire Wright has grave reservations on Tory Party and Swire’s commitment to environment

“I have submitted a question for the next Devon County Council full meeting prompted by the government’s lack of action and any assurance on moving current EU environmental protections into UK law.

The subject has concerned environmental charities enough for them to establish a coalition of 30 and a pledge for MPs to sign up to to prove their commitment to retaining such protections through the so called Great Repeal Bill, which is when EU law becomes domestic law.

Over 200 MPs have signed this pledge. When I asked Hugo Swire to sign the pledge he refused and wrote this disappointing blog post in response:

https://www.hugoswire.org.uk/news/blog-birds-and-bees-and-brexit

The Great Repeal Bill (coming very soon) gives an option for the government to strip out or amend any laws they don’t like look of.

Very concerned at some of the messages seeping out from senior Conservative ministers on this subject I lodged a motion at the April Devon County Council, as East Devon has some of the most spectacular and precious landscapes and wildlife currently protected under EU legislation and those protections absolutely must be retained.

My motion, which was supported by every DCC councillor bar one, can be found here – http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/devon_county_council_signs_up_to_my_motion_on_protecting_devons_nature_afte

But when I checked up on the response from ministers to my motion I was deeply disappointed.

It contains absolutely no commitment whatsoever on retaining vital environmental protections nor does it even hint at it.

It rather takes the wind out of Hugo Swire’s claims on his blog post!

Ministers need to be urgently pursued on this and Hugo Swire is the route to do it.

I think we need to maintain a healthy scepticism here and if you are reading this blog PLEASE email Hugo Swire and ask him to work HARD and urgently on this issue.

He needs urgent meetings with his ministerial colleagues and he needs to make it clear PUBLICLY where he stands on any such vote. Residents should reasonably require him to speak against and vote against ANY attempt to water down or scrap this legislation.

Mr Swire needs to stop labelling any concerned voices as scaremongerers and actually take some action.

Here is my question scheduled for the full council meeting on Thursday 25 July – and the response from government to my motion that was backed by full council in April:

“Is the leader content with the reply from Kevin Woodhouse of DEFRA, dated 5 June, to my notice of motion approved almost unanimously by this council on 27 April, which called on government ministers to retain the same environmental protections as we leave the EU, as currently exist under EU legislation.

“The reply from Mr Woodhouse states: “The environment is a natural asset that provides us with numerous benefits such as clear water, clean air, food and timber, flood protection and recreation.

““Regarding future policy, until exit negotiations are concluded, the UK remains a full member of the EU and all right and obligations of EU membership remain in force.””

Here is more information about the so-called Great Repeal Bill – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-39266723

Email Hugo Swire at hugo.swire.mp@parliament.uk

If you care about this, fight for it. Please. Before it is lost forever.

http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/government_lack_of_commitment_on_environmental_motion_prompts_further_quest