From the very start of The Porkbolter’s existence back in 1997 we have been concerned about the way our freedom is being rapidly eroded in this country.
While others were celebrating the end of 18 years of Tory rule and the arrival of a “left-wing” saviour in the shape of Tony Blair, we felt a chill wind of repression approaching.
In our very first issue we pointed out how the “anti-stalking” Protection from Harassment Act, brought in after a wave of media hysteria about “stalkers” (whatever happened to them?) was already being used by police to stop peaceful protests.
Issue 2 reported on the spread of CCTV cameras into the Sussex countryside and on the police crackdown on harmless Hallowe’en fun.
And so it has gone on. Every year, new laws are brought in to crush the human spirit a little more, to tighten the vice on our liberty and make it that much harder not just to protest against the myriad of injustices going on around us, but even to breathe, to exist, as free human beings.
We’ve gone blue in the face pointing out the rise in surveillance, and how every email you send, every phone call or text, is seen and monitored by the state (and not just our state, but the US state as well!). Some told us we were being paranoid, but now, thanks to whistleblower Edward Snowden, it’s all revealed to be just as true as we always knew it was.
When the Terrorism Act was being introduced in 2000 we were proud to be part of a campaign against it here in Worthing, which involved a squatted info centre, The Terrorist Tearooms, being set up in town.
We warned at the time that “the Prevention of Terrorism Act is basically aimed at stamping out protests and treats political activists as worthy of fewer rights than actual criminals like robbers or murderers”.
Thirteen years later one of the Worthing crew involved in the original protests was stopped by Special Branch at Dover after attending an anarchist festival in the Netherlands, detained and questioned for three hours under Schedules 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 – without being allowed a solicitor present or the usual right to silence - and presented with print-outs of the Act’s definition of “terrorism”, which the cops insisted could include protests. Last year, we publicised a Worthing campaign against controversial “dispersal orders” being slapped on the town.
Again, people thought we were exaggerating. Move along now, nothing to be concerned about here.
And yet, again this was just a foretaste of what was to come. As the excellent scriptonite daily website explained this summer: “The UK Government is about to pass legislation which will make any behaviour perceived to potentially ‘cause nuisance or annoyance’ a criminal offence. The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill also grants local authorities, police and even private security firms sweeping powers to bar citizens from assembling lawfully in public spaces. Those who refuse orders under the new rules will face arrest, fines and even prison time.”
Freedom to protest is a traditional right in this country – and one of which we have often been proud.
The legendary anarchist Emma Goldman, who came to England in 1895, wrote in her autobiography Living My Life: “Here the right to assemble constantly in the open is an institution. It has become a British habit, like bacon for breakfast. The most opposing ideas and creeds find expression in the parks and squares of English cities. There is nothing to cause undue excitement and there is no display of armed force. The lone bobby on the outskirts of the crowd is there as a matter of form; it is not his duty to disperse meetings or club the people.”
How times have changed. Now expressing an opinion is “terrorism” and cannot be tolerated. Anti-G8 protesters in London in June were snatched off the streets by thuggish Robocops for daring to hold flags.
Anti-fascists in London on September 7 were arrested in their hundreds for the “crime” of assembling in the open to oppose racist hatemongering.
Scores of people have been arrested, arrested in often violently, at Balcombe for nothing more than sitting passively in the road in a bid to stop the poisoning of our environment by the nature-hating, mammon-worshipping sociopaths behind fracking.
It’s not just the state’s war on democracy that is the problem, it’s the attitude that it encourages throughout society, the “chill” effect on our ability to express ourselves.
Take, for instance, the headteacher in London who called the police because a pupil had dared to criticise the school in a blog.
Jacques Szemalikowski told the Camden New Journal this month that he took action because he was worried Kinnan Zaloom, 19, could be “developing into an anarchist”.
He added: “I must do something. In the last year he has become more and more enchanted by anti-establishment ways of thinking and has even said that there is an inherent risk that every government is corrupt."
Combined with news that regional counter-terrorism officials are being recruited by the Home Office to gather information on the risk of “extremism” at universities, and that university staff have been “tracking extremists”, what kind of picture does this paint of the way this country is heading? We are witnessing a disturbing shift in public attitudes from the traditional contempt for “nosey-parkers”, “little Hitlers” and “jobsworths”.
Submission to authority and gullible acceptance of official platitudes seem to be the norm. Hardly anyone seems to care about freedom or privacy any more. It’s all been brought in so gradually, under the velvet cloak of “protecting” the public from so-called terrorism, of providing people with “safety” and “security” that the powers-that-be have apparently succeeded in hypnotising the public into compliance.
Henry Porter of The Observer, a rare voice defending our liberty, wrote recently: “All summer I have been puzzling over the lack of reaction in Britain to the Snowden revelations about US and UK communications surveillance, a lack that at some moments has seemed even more remarkable than the revelations themselves.
“Today, apparently, we are at ease with a system of near total intrusion that would have horrified every adult Briton 25 years ago.”
Some of us remain horrified. Horrified, angry and incredibly frustrated in a phoney plastic world in which to exist is to consume and to conform and in which any attempt to step outside their boundaries is met with the batons, pepper spray and tasers of an army of hired thugs.
Since the 1930s, it’s become something of a cliché to warn of a descent towards a fascist society, but that does not mean it’s not true. The fetishisation of the military (transformed from squaddies into “Heroes” within a few short years), the flag-waving jingoism of the Jubilympics and the fawning mass-worship of unelected symbols of the British state, born to rule over us, have heightened that sense of unease.
The British state is not anti-semitic, like Hitler’s, not does it want to invade Abyssinia, like Mussolini. But its attitudes towards Muslims (and the disabled, the poor, the jobless…) and its continuing designs on Syria, Iran and who-knows-where-else show clearly that the differences are merely of detail.
Britain in 2013 is not a happy place to live for any one with any degree of political awareness or conscience. Worryingly, it looks as if things can only get worse. But only up to a point.
The Tories, bankers, frackers, police chiefs and fat cats turning the screws on the British public would do well to remember the oft-cited words of JF Kennedy: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
Any suggestion that a government has launched a chemical attack on its own population is apparently cause for a bloody war. Except, that is, when the chemical attack on the population is called “fracking”. In that case, the UK political establishment is right behind it.
The morality is all the other way round as well. Whereas the UK (and US) governments find it acceptable to kill people as a response to the alleged chemical attack, those trying to save the water supplies, air and soil of Sussex from poisoning are treated as criminals for so much as peacefully sitting crossed-legged on the ground to try and stop it all happening. Direct action carried out by people against states is always “bad”. “Direct action” carried out by states against people is always “good”!
If you are someone whose information on the world is solely derived from the corporate media, you may be under the impression that Cuadrilla has stopped drilling at Balcombe because of public pressure. Or you may think the protest camp is over and everyone has gone away. Neither of these are true. Drilling with a view to fracking is still going on and the protesters are very much still there.
In fact, your Porkbolter correspondent can report that the size of the camp even seems to be expanding up the road towards Balcombe station and more banners and signs were being put up to give extra impact to the astonishing 24/7 protest, which is approaching its 40th day.
Every time a delivery truck approaches the site it is preceded by a phalanx of police in a spearhead formation. Protesters in the road, forming a human chain in front of the convoy, are constantly shouted at, prodded and shoved by the police as the bullies-in-blue physically act out the way public opinion is pushed aside to make way for the requirements of corporate greed.
Although the protest chain keeps moving in front of the lorries, to avoid constant arrests, the police keep threatening people for allegedly moving too slowly. Their “evidence gatherers” intimidate protesters by thrusting video cameras into their faces all the time. Anyone who raises a hand to hide their face or even holds their placard close to the spy cameras is also warned that they will be arrested.
The warnings are not empty, either. Too cowardly to take on the crowd, police have been hanging around the site toilets and snatching people paying early-morning visits, on the basis of video evidence from the previous day’s protests. Despite this, many of the protesters seem happy to cheerfully chat to the police when there is no truck approaching. This is not advisable – there is no such thing as a casual chat with a copper on duty and “intelligence” gained from your conversation could land you or somebody else in court.
Support from the people of West Sussex is obvious from the piles of provisions – although inevitably people tend to bring the same things and neglect others. Food that doesn’t go off in the heat is particularly needed. And anything that repels wasps!
The compost toilets are kept amazingly clean and the kitchen volunteers ensure the protesters are kept fed and healthy for the struggle, with tasty breakfasts, lunches and dinners all served.
Far from giving up, people are talking about how to remodel the camp for the colder and wetter months ahead. People from other areas are going home with plans for their own local campaigns and protest camps at future sites. There has also been a new call for a 28-day rolling blockade of the Balcombe site during September, with different groups urged to take turns for action.
A wide range of people, with a wide range of philosophies, has been attracted to Balcombe and you can feel that the anti-fracking movement is taking on an identity and a momentum of its own – urged on by the fact that this is a battle that can be, that must be, won.
* Important dates coming up are Sunday September 1, when there’s a mass musical protest at Balcombe from 2pm, then Friday September 6 when Worthing Against Fracking stages its big public meeting at the Sidney Walter Centre, Sussex Road, Worthing (a residential street roughly between Morrison’s and Waitrose) from 7pm.
Excellent news! After the emergency meeting on the threat of fracking to the Sussex countryside, a new group has emerged - Worthing Against Fracking. It has a blog at http://worthingagainstfracking.blogspot.co.uk and can also be found on Facebook.
An emergency meeting on the threat of fracking to the Sussex countryside is being hosted by the Worthing Downlanders on Thursday August 1. It's at the Sidney Walter Centre, Sussex Road, Worthing, BN11 1DS. All are welcome, it's free and starts at 7pm.
Today (Thursday July 25), people power managed to stop fracking firm Cuadrilla from moving equipment into its West Sussex drilling site.
The blockade of the access road at Balcombe took place at 7.30am when only a few protesters were there. Later numbers swelled to around 100 and police and security abandoned any hope of getting lorries through (under the full glare of media scrutiny).
However… it is more than possible that they will try again under cover of darkness, with no journalists around to record what’s happening. For this reason, there is call-out for as many people as possible to get to the site overnight – starting from tonight.
This may not be everyone’s ideal way to spend a night, but what is a bit of lost sleep compared to the nightmare that is fracking?
If the thousands of wells planned for Sussex go ahead, we will be left with a blighted, industrialised landscape, not to speak of poisoned water supplies, toxic air and extinct wildlife.
Future generations will never forgive us if we do not do all we can NOW to nip this in the bud and stop it becoming reality. The next day or two present us with a unique opportunity to do just that.
The momentum from the protests at Balcombe could spread all over England and make it impossible for the industry to get its way, despite the support it enjoys from a corrupt government and sections of the media.
Maybe you can get along for just a few hours overnight – or before work in the morning? Or maybe you know someone who can?
* There will be an update on today’s events at this evening (Thursday’s) special meeting at the Beechwood Hall Hotel, Wykeham Road, Worthing – plus info and discussion on roadbuilding, GM foods and airport expansion. 8pm. Free.
(including map – it is a ten-minute walk from Balcombe rail station)
BBC Independent Argus
CARTOON VIDEO ABOUT FRACKING
[****RESISTANCE CALL-OUT!**** Cuadrilla has moved a drill on to the Balcombe site and says it will start work on Saturday. Opponents are calling for people to get to the site from 7am on Thursday July 25 and again on Friday and Saturday. http://greatgasgala.org.uk/ ]
An array of threats is facing the people of Sussex, their health and their countryside.
And a special meeting on Thursday July 25 will focus on four of them - fracking, road-building, airport expansion and GM food.
Both GM food and rural road-building dropped off the agenda in the late 1990s and early 2000s, after people power saw off the worst excesses.
But now they're back again, as the government blitzes the population with a "shock and awe" attack of ruthless capitalist greed.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson revealed the pro-GM agenda when he recently said the EU was "putting British jobs at risk" by dragging its feet over GM crops.
He also made the absurd claim that millions of children in poor countries are "dying or going blind" because the GM has not been more widely adopted.
A piece of good news is that American GM giant Monsanto is "effectively" pulling out of Europe and dropping all of its requests to launch insect and pesticide-resistant forms of corn, sugar beet and soya beans, in the face of public opposition across the contintent.
But that doesn't necessarily tell the whole story. Local anti-GM campaigners will be at the meeting with latest information.
Meanwhile, the government's road and house-building plans have been described as the greatest threat to the English countryside in 60 years, by Sir Andrew Motion, president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England and former poet laureate.
Motion attacked the government's "needless smearing of concrete across our irreplaceable countryside in a misguided attempt to kick-start the economy".
Among the latest dodgy schemes is a plan to turn the Highways Agency into a publicly-owned corporation, like the BBC, to make it "further removed from the democratic process and elected politicians".
This would stop future governments from being able to stop the road-building schemes currently being launched.
Funding would still be provided by the Treasury though, so tax-payers would have to cough up for new roads and yet have no say as to whether they should be built or not. Democracy at its finest.
In Sussex, the government review mentions the Chichester bypass, with a commitment to take forward schemes to "improve" the six junctions in the 2015 to 2019 spending period.
Authorities will also investigate the situation at Arundel and from Worthing to Lancing corridor. Money-loving, nature-hating businesses and local Tory MPs want to build a bypass of the bypass across wetlands, woods and the River Arun at Arundel and dream of one day driving a motorway through the South Downs National Park north of Cissbury Ring.
This week it was announced that Gatwick Airport hopes to build a second runway within ten years. This scheme, backed by West Sussex County Council, would not only double noise and air pollution from planes, but also double traffic and all the rest of the infrastructure needed to support it. Goodbye to any remaining rural peace in Sussex.
Perhaps the biggest threat of all, though, comes from fracking. There is currently an enormous propaganda campaign going on to persuade the British public that there is a fuel "bonanza" to be had from shale gas and oil, with George Osborne denying the logic of so-called austerity by handing out 50% tax breaks to the businesses who want to profit from the destruction of our countryside.
The scale of the menace can hardly be exaggerated. 60% of England is suitable for fracking exploitation. Hundreds of thousands of wells could be built over the countryside, with new access roads everywhere and tankers constantly roaring through lanes.
Methane gas from the process will pollute the air, drinking water will be contaminated (as even the water companies have warned), wildlife murdered.
Is this the future we want to see for Sussex and England? Are we prepared to sit back and let this happen?
To talk to like-minded local people about what can be done, get along to the Beechwood Hall Hotel, Wykeham Road, Worthing, at 8pm on Thursday July 25.
It seems that the UK government is planning to ban non-terrorist groups that it says "promote extremism and hatred on the streets".
First target of this draconian initiative is said to be the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. After that? In the interests of cultural balance, maybe the English Defence League?
But any opponents of those groups who think this all sounds like a good idea, should think again.
Once the precedent is established, who will be next to be banned? Anarchists? Eco-activists? Trade unionists? Anyone protesting against GM foods, perhaps. Or road-building. Or fracking.
The real extremists will never be banned, of course, because they're the ones in power!
Worthing's Paul Cudenec has published a new book, called The Anarchist Revelation.
According to publisher Winter Oak Press, he "turns his back on contemporary trends of anarchism in a bid to reconnect with the primal force of its root ideology".
Cudenec notes the significance of its refusal of the state and its judicial system, of land ownership and of the need to work for wages in order to live.
But he goes further in suggesting that anarchism represents a whole way of thinking that stands in direct opposition to the blinkered materialism of contemporary society and its soul-stifling positivist dogma.
He writes: “The anarchist does not merely stray outside the framework of acceptable thinking as carefully assembled by the prevalent system – she smashes it to pieces and dances on the wreckage.”
Cudenec explores the fluidity and depth of thinking found in anarchism, in stark contrast to Marxism, and identifies, in particular, a love of apparent paradox that seems to appeal to the anarchist psyche.
He also sees a connection between and anarchism and esoteric forms of religion – such as Sufism, Taoism and hermeticism - whose inner light defies the crushing patriarchal conservatism and hierarchy of the exoteric institutions.
Cudenec provides evidence that anarchism’s roots lie partly in this life-embracing source of inspiration, the bringer of art and poetry as well as of resistance and revolt.
While, he argues, anarchism is incompatible with existing religions, it has the potential to harness its powerful ideology to this universal esoteric current and thus become the religion of the future, the spiritual and political revelation that will save humankind from a grim future of slavery, corruption and destruction.
In making his case, Cudenec draws on the work of anarchists such as Gustav Landauer, Michael Bakunin and Herbert Read. But he also widens the field of enquiry to include the philosophy of René Guénon, Herbert Marcuse and Jean Baudrillard; the existentialism of Karl Jaspers and Colin Wilson; the vision of Carl Jung, Oswald Spengler and Idries Shah, and the environmental insight of Derrick Jensen and Paul Shepard.
With a fusion of scholarly research and inspiring polemic, Cudenec succeeds in forging a coherent and profound 21st century world-view with an appeal that will reach out far beyond those who currently term themselves anarchists.
David Cameron visited Worthing on Saturday May 4 to promote the G8 summit, but was captured and guillotined by local anti-capitalists. Some of them were even kicking his head around like it was a… errmmm… plastic football. Fred “the Shred” Goodwin of RBS fame also lost his head in the face of the righteous revolutionary fervour of the Worthing mob. Vive la Révolution!
As J11 approaches in London, keep up to date with the build-up at http://network23.org/stopg8
On Sunday April 21, extreme right-wing racist thugs from all over the country are descending on Brighton with the avowed intent of “smashing” anyone whose views they don’t agree with.
History tells us that it is important that we, the people of Sussex, are there to voice our opposition to their toxic message of hatred.
Opponents of fascism will be meeting near the entrance to Brighton Pier at 11am, to line the route of the so-called “March for England”. The racist march itself is supposed to be starting at 12 from the Big Wheel on Madeira Drive, going west along the A259 seafront road a short distance and then going back again. It must not go unchallenged!
See you there!
After that, we just have to kill Thatcherism too.
Here’s some music for those in a party mood:
After 18 months of demands from local campaigners for a public meeting to update people on the changes to the NHS, the local health bosses have refused to hold a “question time” type meeting with actual medics answering the public directly. Instead they are having a “face the public” meeting next Wednesday, April 10, at St. Paul’s in Chapel Road, Worthing. The find-out-more session is 3pm to 5.30pm and the CCG governing body meeting is from 7pm to 9pm.
People are urged to get along and ask pertinent questions, such as what financial interests do the commissioners have in any private provider, even if via a pension fund.
One campaigner told the Porkbolter: “We need as much support as possible to ensure that the people of Worthing and those yet to be born are assured that Nye Bevan’s dream remains available to them all, Labour have stated that they will repeal the health and social care bill IF elected in 2015 but by then too much damage may have been done.”
This is capitalism in action - it's not just an abstract theory but a very real practice of the rich robbing the poor. And they won't stop doing so unless we stand up to them, in numbers, and let them know we are not taking it any more! With the G8 summit approaching fast, and the J11 Carnival Against Capitalism being planned for Tuesday June 11 in the swanky West End of London, where many of these dodgy financial organisations are based, join the local Stop G8 group in spreading the word to the people of Sussex!
People will be gathering on Saturday May 4 at 12 noon at the clock outside the Guildbourne Centre, South Street, Worthing BN11 1LZ. This is very handy for the Worthing branches of HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds TSB and NatWest/RBS.
NatWest is part of the infamous RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) group, which cashed in on the taxpayers’ bailout of the banks in 2008 and is now 84% owned by the government. But this has not stopped it continuing to pay millions of pounds in bonuses to its fat cat boss Stephen Hester and his cronies - nothing short of robbery!
Lloyds is another bank that was generously bailed out by the government on behalf of the public. It is now 41% owned by the taxpayer, but boss Antonio Horta-Osorio is still apparently in line for a £2.3 million payout. Lloyds TSB is also notorious for profiting from war - it is the only high street bank whose corporate “social responsibility” policy does not even mention the arms industry.
Although HSBC turns in a whopping £16 billion a year profit, it is too greedy to pay a fair wage to staff in the UK. Instead, it is outsourcing work to India, China, Malaysia, Brazil, Sri Lanka and the Philippines – where workers have few rights and are forced by desperate poverty to work for peanuts. This is the capitalist ideal – slave labour makes for even bigger profit margins!
Barclays Bank hit the headlines earlier this year when it was reported that five of its top bosses will share a jackpot worth up to £17 million despite a string of scandals. These fat cats include Rich Ricci, the controversial investment bank boss. Once again, different laws apply to bankers. If we get greedy and break the rules we are hauled up before a judge and sent to jail. If they do so, they are rewarded with another few million quid. Why do we let them get away with this?
The bankers are robbing us! We all know this is true after the enormous tax-payers’ bail-out of at least £1 trillion and the millions of pounds in bonuses paid out to the fat cat bosses since then. But the High Street banks are just the tip of the iceberg – there is a whole array of corporations, banks, hedge funds, and billionaires looting our world and living the high life at our expense.
The banking system is behind wars – “investing” in the arms trade and thus profiting directly from death. It is also the driving force behind all the damage being done to our global environment – oil extraction, mining, fracking and so on. This is what capitalism is all about – unrestrained selfish greed and callous contempt for any notions of right or wrong.
Under capitalism, the government will always put the profits of the rich before the welfare of the population, no matter which party happens to be in control. That’s why it could somehow afford to bail out the banks, but hasn’t got the money to properly fund hospitals, schools or day centres for vulnerable people.
Come along on Saturday to protest against the bankers and help spread the word about events coming up in June, when the leaders of the G8 countries will be meeting in the north of Ireland. They will be plotting how to carry on imposing capitalism on the world. Opponents of their system are coming together to voice their anger and a big day of protest is being organised in London on Tuesday June 11. Why not book the day off work now so you can make sure of being there?
NatWest is part of the infamous RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) group, which cashed in on the taxpayers’ bailout of the banks in 2008 and is now 84% owned by the government. But this has not stopped it continuing to pay millions of pounds in bonuses to its fat cat boss Stephen Hester and his cronies - nothing short of robbery!
Lloyds is another bank that was generously bailed out by the government on behalf of the public. It is now 41% owned by the taxpayer, but boss Antonio Horta-Osorio is still apparently in line for a £2.3 million payout. Lloyds TSB is also notorious for profiting from war - it is the only high street bank whose corporate “social responsibility” policy does not even mention the arms industry.
Although HSBC turns in a whopping £16 billion a year profit, it is too greedy to pay a fair wage to staff in the UK. Instead, it is outsourcing work to India, China, Malaysia, Brazil, Sri Lanka and the Philippines – where workers have few rights and are forced by desperate poverty to work for peanuts. This is the capitalist ideal – slave labour makes for even bigger profit margins!
Barclays Bank hit the headlines this week when it was reported that five of its top bosses will share a jackpot worth up to £17 million despite a string of scandals. These fat cats include Rich Ricci, the controversial investment bank boss. Once again, different laws apply to bankers. If we get greedy and break the rules we are hauled up before a judge and sent to jail. If they do so, they are rewarded with another few million quid. Why do we let them get away with this?
So here we have it, the sickening extent to which the secret pro-business agenda at the school - as exposed by The Porkbolter, has undermined the education and futures of a generation of Worthing children. As the Tory-run West Sussex County Council continues to conspire with the political clique running Worthing High to cover up the truth about what has been going on there, the public has a right to some immediate answers - and action.
The Argus reports that inspectors rated Worthing High as inadequate, the lowest level possible, in three out of four categories while the fourth was rated as “requires improvement” – the second lowest level. It adds that West Sussex county councillor Bob Smytherman has called for the governors of the school to resign and said they should “hang their heads in shame”.
As we reported last year, the capitalist extremists who have taken control of these school are not interested in education except as a way for extracting profit. Both Tony Cohen, chairman of the governors, and Alison Beer, the former headteacher who resigned under mysterious circumstances just after our report was published, have been actively involved in a little-known organisation called Education and Employers, which says it is "committed to deepening relationships between schools and colleges and employers". Its Taskforce Trustees, chaired by David Cruickshank, chairman of Deloitte LLP, include Don Robert, chief executive of Experian plc; John Griffith-Jones, chairman of KPMG; Sir Richard Lambert, former director general of the CBI; Terry Duddy, chief executive of the Home Retail Group; Sir William Castell, chairman of the Wellcome Trust; Rod Bristow, chairman of Pearson UK and Peter Dart, director of WPP plc. Former trustees include bosses of Rolls-Royce, Rothschild and HSBC – all the sort of people who have made Britain the marvellously egalitarian place it is today.
Education and Employers also has an Expert Group of Governance, which declares on the website: "Enhancing the partnership between education and employers in the governing of our schools – and indeed through the governing of our schools – is clearly an important and substantial matter." The whole organisation seems geared up to facilitate a business takeover of our children's education and the Expert Group of Governance is blatant about its insidious political agenda – openly admitting that it aims to use the governing of our schools to open the doors to private companies and their requirements. With Cohen and Beer both sitting on this group, and putting so much energy into steering Worthing High on this capitalist path, it is hardly surprising that children's education has been neglected, as the inspectors have well and truly exposed.
If you don’t know what Attila is all about, have a look at this video
He has a website at http://www.attilathestockbroker.com/
There will also be an update on the latest news from the Stop the G8 campaign at the Worthing Alliance meeting on Thursday January 31, 8pm at the Beechwood Hall Hotel.
The national campaign website explains:
The UK Government is hosting the G8 2013 summit in Lough Erne, County Fermanagh, in the north of Ireland, on 17-18 June. 8 world bosses, and their entourages, will be meeting in a remote golf resort far from any urban centres. We are holding a week of action before their meeting, in London. The dates (provisionally) are 10-18 June. This is what we’re looking at:
* at least one major day of action in London organised by Stop G8 Network
* there may be other action days organised by other groups (one proposed so far: a “No Borders No Prisons” day)
* autonomous actions and events are encouraged
* meeting and convergence spaces, including accommodation for people coming from afar
* other logistical support including legal, medical, kitchens,
* an anti-capitalist cultural and “educational” programme of discussions, workshops, films, games, and more
We are not currently planning to organise a mobilisation at the summit in Lough Erne. This is because none of us in the network so far are based in this area, and we believe that any mobilisation there should be started locally. However, we will remain flexible: if people in Fermanagh start to organise something and want our support, and we can get along in terms of our principles, we will be delighted to work together.
So let’s get moving. If you want to get involved, please contact your local group, or come along to the next network meeting in London on 26-27 January (full details coming soon). Also, we’d love to hear from people who want to organise internationally to come to our week of action, or to work in solidarity from where you are.
A massive new building, up to four storeys high, is being proposed, with the mini-roundabout being wiped out and disabled people being deprived of badly-needed town centre parking spaces.
The new Monster of Montague Place would boast 448 square metres of retail floorspace on the ground floor, with 14 flats above. More shops? With so many of the ones we've got already standing empty, what is the point of that? (It's probably something to do with money). The current open vista down to the sea would be ruined by this intrusion into the Worthing urban scene.
The applicant is Keith Johnson of Gracemount Developments (Worthing) Ltd, of Stream House, 10 The Hummicks, Beaulieu, Hampshire, SO42 7YU. His view certainly won't be affected by his proposal!
Long-term readers may recall that a similar plan was proposed some 13 years ago and we were proud to be part of a campaign that eventually saw it off - see http://www.eco-action.org/porkbolter/yul99.html Now the monstrosity has been wheeled out again, presumably in the hope that it will slip through unnoticed. But residents are fighting it all the way and have been sending their objections to the authorities.
They point out:
* There is no commercial need for more retail outlets. There are over 15 empty shops in Worthing.
* There is no provision for a replacement garden and benches. A removal of greenery does not enhance Montague Place. Social and leisure needs will not be met.
* No mention of a pedestrian link in this application as outlined in council planning policy BE29.
* The plans do not show where the rubbish from 14 flats and retail outlets will be stored before collection.
* The new development significantly alters the openness of space that currently exists to the rear of 41 Marine Parade. The new building will effectively create a box of walls for residents whose flats face north.
Want to object? The planning reference is AWDM/1037/12
The Squatters Network of Brighton is calling for a Mass Squatting Action on Saturday October 13th to resist the new anti-squatting laws. This act is draconian, unworkable, an attack on our way of living and some of the most vulnerable in our society. We will not take it lying down.
Around the UK, while increasing numbers are forced to sleep on the streets, hundreds of thousands of properties are lying empty, decaying and derelict. We watch property tycoons, speculators and corrupt landlords get richer, whilst housing benefit is cut and rent goes up.
The UK is facing a massive housing crisis only made worse by the Tory government, and we – the homeless and insecurely housed – will not stand for it any more.
As both the birthplace of the bill, and as one of the places where affordable houses are most difficult to come by, Brighton and Hove has a special significance in the national and international struggles for the right to home.
They take our houses, so we’ll take their city!
Everyone to the streets!
Saturday Oct 13th, 2pm
Victoria Square Gardens, Brighton
After overwhelming opposition from teachers and parents, the school had already announced a delay to the conversion until 1st December.
Say the union representatives: "Following a wave of teacher resignations in the summer, it is now time for the school to focus on teaching and learning and give up these unwanted distractions that can only serve to destabilise staff and pupils at the school.
"The outgoing head teacher voted with the governing body for the school to convert in May. Since then, a number of governors have resigned, which taken together with this latest resignation, leaves the school without a democratic mandate for academy conversion.
"For months we have been saying that the basis for this school’s conversion is weak and it remains so. The central claim, that the school would be better off financially, just doesn’t stack up. Academies up and down the country are finding that the money they thought they would get does not materialise as local authorities change the way that these funds are allocated.
"Furthermore, the recent Government announcement that academies will be able to employ unqualified teachers adds to the concerns. As academies feel the pinch, they may save money by employing cheaper, unqualified staff and, if that happens, the standard of teaching will drop."
Eric Skyte, NASUWT National Executive member, added: "As yet there is no evidence that changing to academy status improves the quality of education. The school must call an emergency meeting of the full governing body and put a stop to this damaging conversion. The students and their parents deserve better." The statement was signed by John Apsey (Branch Secretary, ATL), Christa McKee-Lerbs (County Sec NASUWT, Dave Thomas (County Sec, NUT) and Dan Sartin (Branch Sec, UNISON.)
Now campaigners are turning their sights on Tony Cohen, the businessman who, with Mrs Beer, is among the 20 members of the national Expert Group of Governance set up by “Education and Employers” with the sinister aim of “enhancing the partnership between education and employers in the governing of our schools – and indeed through the governing of our schools.”
The education of our children must not be allowed to fall into the hands of organisations devoted to the twisted cult of money and we wish Worthing High Academy Action Group (worthinghighacademyactiongroup(at)hotmail.com) all the best in its continuing efforts. Don’t forget to sign the petition at: http://epetition.westsussex.public-i.tv/epetition_core/community/petition/1952
It’s not been a good month for the pro-Academy forces, with Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton, a vocal backer of the bid, losing his cabinet post as Minister for Children in Cameron’s latest reshuffle.
To the tune of ‘My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean….’
PRINCE HARRY’S KNOB
Give Hester and Diamond their bonus
They deserve it, they do a good job
I want workhouses for the dole scroungers
And a picture of Prince Harry’s knob!
His knob, his knob, a picture of Prince Harry’s knob, HIS KNOB!
His knob, his knob, a picture of Prince Harry’s knob.....
I work for my gaffer for nothing
I’m grateful he gives me a job
I’d swap all your bloody trade unions
For a picture of Prince Harry’s knob!
The country it just can’t afford it
Those strikers they’re all rent-a-mob
They should just doff their caps and be happy
With a picture of Prince Harry’s knob!
Don’t give me your bleeding heart lecture
You middle class Guardian snob
It’s time that you lived in the real world
With a picture of Prince Harry’s knob!
You lefties and loonies and liberals
It’s time you shut your bloody gob
Cos all that the likes of me ask for
Is a picture of Prince Harry’s knob…
Parents and staff at Worthing High – where there has been a one-day protest strike – have been enraged by the way headteacher Alison Beer and chairman of governors Tony Cohen have dismissed their opposition and refused meaningful dialogue. Such has been the duo's anxiety to avoid their critics that they even switched a governors’ meeting away from the school in South Farm Road because there was a protest outside, fleeing to the safe refuge of Mr Cohen’s Nsure business premises.
The pro-Academy clique have been quick to dismiss opposition to their plans as “political”. Worthing Herald columnist Ian Hart, for instance, admitted publicly he was a Worthing High governor in the May 31 edition of the paper. A couple of weeks later, on June 14, he felt emboldened to weigh in on the controversy, declaring: “I do get the feeling some people are opposed to it for merely political reasons and nothing to do with the future education of our youngsters.”
Mr Hart, a commentator whose views, as The Porkbolter has previously pointed out, could kindly be described as very right-wing, obviously hopes readers will fail to spot that he may have his very own “political reasons” for supporting the bid. And, indeed, the whole policy of transferring our schools out of public control and into the hands of unaccountable business-style organisations is nothing if not political in origin.
There are even a number of organisations in existence whose sole purpose seems to be to promote the gradual conversion of public education into state-funded training for the future workforces of those wealth-creating heroes of “the business community”. One of these is “Education and Employers”, which explains on its website (www.educationandemployers.org) that it is “committed to deepening relationships between schools and colleges and employers”.
Its Taskforce Trustees, chaired by David Cruickshank, chairman of Deloitte LLP, include Don Robert, chief executive of Experian plc; John Griffith-Jones, chairman of KPMG; Sir Richard Lambert, former director general of the CBI; Terry Duddy, chief executive of the Home Retail Group; Sir William Castell, chairman of the Wellcome Trust; Rod Bristow, chairman of Pearson UK and Peter Dart, director of WPP plc. Former trustees include bosses of Rolls-Royce, Rothschild and HSBC – all the sort of people who have made Britain the marvellously egalitarian place it is today.
Education and Employers has also set up an Expert Group of Governance, which declares: “Enhancing the partnership between education and employers in the governing of our schools – and indeed through the governing of our schools – is clearly an important and substantial matter.”
Since the whole organisation seems geared up to facilitate a business takeover of our children’s education, it perhaps comes as no surprise that the Expert Group of Governance is so blatant about its agenda – openly admitting that it aims to use the governing of our schools to open the doors to private companies and their requirements. But more startling for Worthing people is that our little town seems to be somewhat overrepresented on the Expert Group – it only has 20 members and two of them are from here.
And who are they? None other than Tony Cohen of Nsure, chairman of the governors at Worthing High, and Alison Beer, headteacher at the very same Worthing High!
The Porkbolter asks the Worthing public to consider which side in this controversy is the one with the real hidden political agenda.
* Opponents of the Worthing High academy bid are urged to sign a new petition on the county council’s website: http://epetition.westsussex.public-i.tv/epetition_core/community/petition/1952
Worthing High Academy Action Group can be contacted at worthinghighacademyactiongroup(at)hotmail.com
From the outset of our campaign, Worthing High Academy Action Group (WHAAG), has fully backed the teachers at the school. We are parents who value our teachers and are appalled that they have not been permitted the opportunity to fully explain their objections to their governors. Like the teachers, our own objections have been dismissed and ignored by the school. That's why the focus of our campaign continues to be to force a meaningful and democratic consultation, allowing parents and all stakeholders the chance hear all sides of the debate.
Everyone should support the staff and parents at Worthing High School. Please come to our public meeting on Tuesday 10th July, 7.30 pm, at Cricket Club, Manor Sports Ground, Broadwater (enter via Georgia Avenue by car), where they will share ideas for the campaign ahead and discuss our ongoing concerns. Also, get down to the picket line on Weds from 7.45am to 9.15am (Worthing High, South Farm Rd BN14 7AR) - bring home-made posters/placards - use WHAAG campaign colour purple if you can! Then attend the strikers' rally on Weds from 9.30am at St.Marys's Church in Broadwater where there will be speakers from the teaching unions explaining why they feel they must strike and Alasdair Smith, from the Anti-Academies Alliance.
Thanks to all of you who attended our fourth public meeting last night. We were pleased to see Councillors Bob Smytherman and Alan Rice in attendance, as well as reporter from Worthing Herald, Alex Therrien. As usual, we had positive and lively discussion and kicked off by summarising some key information relevant to our campaign:
- Despite repeated requests to the school's Head and governors, we have not been permitted to engage in a full, meaningful and democratic debate on their academy conversion proposal. As parents and potential future parents at the school, we are stakeholders. We feel frustrated that the school has failed to listen to our concerns and objections and are now focussed on overturning the governors' decision to press ahead with their application to DforE to convert to an academy. On 21 June, WHAAG (Worthing High Academy Action Group) delivered stamped letters to each of the governors summarising our concerns, highlighting our petition, with some 500 signatures, calling for a proper consultation, and detailing all the press coverage we have gained over the last two months. Also in this letter was an open invitation to the governors to join with us, at a time of their choosing, to discuss both sides of the argument and engage democratically on this significant decision about our school. To date, we have not received a response to this letter or indeed to our invitation.
- We have distributed and dropped door-to-door almost 3,000 leaflets in the last fortnight in an effort to raise awareness amongst parents and in the community about our campaign. The people we have spoken to whilst canvassing have been positive and we feel that a growing number of people in the community share our objections to the manner in which the school's 'consultation' has been conducted and are sceptical about the value of WHS changing is status to an academy.
- We have seen a great deal of positive press coverage around our campaign, notably in The Argus, and several very well argued letters in Worthing Herald.
Other important information was presented at the meeting by union representatives:
- Two of the main teaching unions at WHS, the NUT (which represents the largest number of teachers at the school) and NASUWT have both now done their formal ballots on strike action: NUT 85% in favour and NASUWT 66% in favour. ATL result to follow imminently (this is the smallest group of teachers). These results are a clear indication of the teachers' feelings and represent the 'fair majority' that is required to proceed with strike action. Date of strike would be 11th July 2012.
If the strike does indeed go ahead, which now seems very likely, then WHAAG will be showing our full support to the teachers. We value them and share their concerns.
- We understand that the next full governors' meeting is tomorrow, Thursday 28th June AT 6pm. The teaching and staff representatives at the school have been refused the opportunity to join and speak at this meeting. It is completely undemocratic and very worrying that the governors won't listen to the teachers.
- Please join us TOMORROW (Thursday 28th June) for a demonstration outside the school's main entrance. We believe the governors' meeting starts at 6pm and so we will be meeting at 5.30pm with DIY banners and posters with some clear messages: 'RSVP to our invitation', 'No Academy at WHS' and 'Please don't ignore us / Please talk with us'. We need as many of you to come along - all welcome - children, balloons the lot! We want this to be another friendly, good natured demonstration but with a very strong message.
- Write to the local press to express your support for the teachers' proposed strike action. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will need to provide your name and address for authenticity.
- Write to your local MP. For most of us, that's Tim Loughton. Tell him (again) why you object to the academy conversion and why you support the teachers in the proposed strike action. You can email him on email@example.com. Again, you need to submit your name and address to him.
- Write to Alison Beer (Headteacher) and Tony Cohen (Chair of Governors). If they haven't replied to you, write again. And please let us know if you get any responses.
- Keep talking about the campaign to your friends, colleagues, at the school gates etc. Direct them to our facebook page and blog, where there's masses of reading material on academies, downloadable posters for your cars and discussion.
Our next public meeting will be held on the eve of the teachers' strike, Tuesday 10th July, 7.30 pm at Cricket Club, Manor Sports Ground, Broadwater.
A campaign group meeting is being held on Tuesday evening June 26 at the Cricket Club on Manor Ground, off Broadwater Road, Worthing. 7.30pm. And the issue will be up for discussion at this Thursday’s Worthing Alliance meeting (8pm, Beechwood Hall Hotel, Wykeham Road), along with other pressing concerns of the day.
In spite of all this, the head teacher and chair of governors have refused to allow staff representatives to speak directly to the governors at their next meeting. Governors have repeatedly been invited to public meetings to hear the views of members of the community, but have not attended. The Chair of Governors has been invited to discuss matters with the secretary of West Sussex NUT, the union representing the largest group of teachers at the school, but has not responded.
Equally worrying is the difficulty in obtaining minutes of governing body meetings. These are public documents that should have been released months ago so that the public can gain insight into the deliberations of the governors. It should not have been necessary to have to resort to Freedom of Information legislation to get them released. In one case even that approach has been ignored.
All this is profoundly undemocratic and particularly worrying at a time when the governors are trying to remove the school from the support of the local authority. It is understandable that the staff feel they need the continued support of the local authority. It is hardly surprising that the unions representing teaching staff are now moving towards industrial action, their last resort.
We ask the governors to pause to reflect on the damage this process is doing to the school and its reputation. Why not allow more time for a balanced debate? There is no rush – the so-called ‘freedoms’ of academies, claimed in the consultation document, will not disappear overnight. We call on the governors to delay the application process to allow more time for reflection and to engage more fully with staff representatives and the wider community.
John Apsey (Branch Secretary, ATL(West Sussex))
Christa McKee-Lerbs (County Sec NASUWT)
Dave Thomas (County Sec, NUT)
Chris Earwaker (County Sec, UNISON)
The Worthing site is listed as having: “Potential for a built waste facility, this could include, waste transfer, recycling (eg. MRF) or treatment (eg. Energy from waste, anaerobic digestion).” For those unfamiliar with the jargon, “energy from waste” is the same thing as an incinerator. As The Guardian has reported: “Dioxins, the highly toxic chemicals produced by waste incineration and industrial processes which tests have shown to be lingering in the bodies of people all over the planet, have been identified as the cause of many cancers.” The thought of cancer-causing fumes drifting over Worthing is not a pleasant one for those of us who live here and one would hope that our elected representatives would do their best to prevent it happening.
Alarmingly, though, it seems that the council – let alone the public! – will have no control over what goes on at the selected sites. The council report states: “It should be noted, however, that private sector businesses (and, therefore, commercial considerations) will determine whether facilities will actually be built and what types of technology will be used.”
Campaigners have been enraged by head Alison Beer's communication to parents, declaring: “This woman's arrogance beggars belief!” Beer stated that governors “were very mindful of the concerns expressed by some parents, wider community and staff but felt that the vast majority of these will be alleviated as the school moves towards becoming an Academy just as concerns were addressed when we converted to becoming a Trust school.” She added: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those parents who contributed to the consultation process and would like to reassure you that Governors would only ever consider a move of this nature if it benefited our students.”
Beer was so thankful for parents' contribitions that she suspended their forum because she didn't like their stance!
Reports The Argus: “A parents’ group claims members have been denied their freedom of speech after a school suspended its forum. Bosses at Worthing High School made the decision after the contents of one of the forum’s meetings was leaked to the local press. The school in South Farm Road, Worthing, is in the process of a controversial move to academy status. Forum chairwoman Debbie Woudman said: 'I feel like we’ve been chopped off at the knees. We were asked to form this group because the school wanted people to engage and we have tried every which way to do that. It feels like we have hit a brick wall at every turn. They have been extremely unhelpful.’ Fellow forum member Corianda Sweetman added: ‘The move is being rushed through and we don’t feel as if consultation has taken place, except maybe between the headteacher and school governors.’ The group first met to discuss academy proposals in early May. After their second meeting details of the discussion was shared with union representatives and then the local press. Incensed by the ‘leak’ the headteacher, Alison Beer, along with governors, suspended the group with immediate effect.
East Worthing’s Tory MP Tim Loughton - who is also Children and Families Minister - has lined himself up alongside Beer and chairman of governors/businessman Tony Cohen of Nsure in Worthing. He claimed to the press: “I gather that very few objections were received by the school during the consultation period.” However, parents have pointed out that Loughton could not have been further from the truth, as they have already collected a 500-signature petition against the plans! Once again, it seems the Tories’ definition of democracy is that they do whatever they want in the interests of their own smug little clique and the rest of us can go to hell.
Picket/protest at Worthing police station
12 noon, Saturday 9th June 2012
Chatsworth Road, Worthing town centre
AN OUTRAGEOUS attack on our freedom has been launched by Sussex Police in collaboration with Worthing Borough Council.
They have imposed on us the type of draconian legislation that would normally be deployed by a dictatorship trying to put down a revolution!
The sinister Section 30 Dispersal Order came into place on Friday June 1 and will last the whole summer, until August 31. It means police have the power to “disperse” groups of two or more people - even if you have done nothing wrong! The cops just have to claim it is “likely” your presence may upset someone - this gives free rein to the worst kind of police bullying and intimidation.
And the order includes a 9pm curfew for anyone under 16, whom the police can take home if they find them out without their parents. If you ignore the order - no matter how unfair it is - you can be jailed for three months or fined £2,500.
No justification for this nazi-style approach to policing has been produced.
The police have said it is about protecting businesses and the council say it is about ‘the Jubilee and Olympic festivities’. This is not good enough!
We don’t need this fascist law in Worthing. This is a town not a prison camp!
We are all innocent unless proven guilty - if someone commits a crime, then the police can prosecute them.
Join us in our call for this disgraceful and unnecessary police-state order to be withdrawn immediately!
We all know that there are plenty of laws out there already that make it a crime to cause a public nuisance, threaten people, be drunk in public etc etc – presumably the kind of thing they ostensibly have in mind. If someone has committed such an offence then it is up to the police to arrest them and have them prosecuted in court where the case can be proven or not.
But the Section 30 order is clearly designed to do away with the troublesome need for someone to have committed any offence before they are punished by the authorities. The only proviso is that “a constable in uniform has reasonable grounds for believing that the presence or behaviour of a group of two or more persons in any public place in the relevant locality has resulted, or is likely to result, in any members of the public being intimidated, harassed, alarmed or distressed.”
There are some big get-out clauses here. “Reasonable grounds” for a start. What does that mean? How can that be clearly proven one way or the other? The reference to “presence or behaviour of a group” is also worrying. How can the mere ‘presence’ of people at a certain place constitute anti-social behaviour, unless they are behaving in such a way as to justify that accusation? This is akin to saying that certain types of people are simply not allowed to be in certain parts of town – a dangerous precdent!
Another key phrase is “has resulted, or is likely to result”. This sets out quite plainly that the cops are entitled to victimise people who haven’t actually done anything wrong “yet” – as long as they claim they have “reasonable grounds” for thinking they are probably going to do so! So if you and a friend are sitting on a park bench having a quiet chat but, for reasons of his own (and who can guess at the impenetrable workings of a cop’s brain?), a passing plod decides your mere presence in the park is likely to result in others being alarmed, you can be “directed” to go home or leave town. There is no right to appeal against this or defend yourself. The policeman’s opinion is effectively law.
If you decide to ignore the direction then you have breached the order and can be sent to prison or fined a huge amount of money. For what? For standing up against arbitrary interference in your life imposed without the due process of law as we have come to know it in this country.
Sussex Police are also being less than wholly truthful when they claim in their press release that the order “is not designed to create an exclusion zone or a curfew area”.
The legislation states: “If, between the hours of 9pm and 6am, a constable in uniform finds a person in any public place in the relevant locality who he has reasonable grounds for believing— (a)is under the age of 16, and (b)is not under the effective control of a parent or a responsible person aged 18 or over, he may remove the person to the person’s place of residence unless he has reasonable grounds for believing that the person would, if removed to that place, be likely to suffer significant harm.”
So that’s effectively a sort of 9pm curfew – at the discretion of the cops - for anyone under 16 in Worthing. Is that right and fair?
Why does Worthing need this particular law imposed on us?
Sussex Police did briefly engage with critics on Twitter this week, referring to an “interesting debate already”. It claimed it sought S30 zones “in response to local needs & only disperse if anti-social”. Under questioning, it added: “Local need to address ASB is identifed through partners & public meetings. S30 is just one tactic...” And: “Use is recorded (dispersal or enforcement). Success would be no ASB in area, then can remove S30.”
But, despite being directly asked, it has failed to answer why Worthing in particular needs this draconian order, which gives carte blance to its officers to harass those who have committed no offence, particularly young people. There were no riots in Worthing last summer. There is no Olympic games to protect from pesky protesters.
This looks like a sinister and unprovoked fascistic attack on the liberties of the people of Worthing – and some of us are not prepared to let it go ahead unopposed!
And we can all surely appreciate that some individuals, or communities such as a particular church group, might be opposed to abortion out of principle and wish to have nothing to do with it. However, it is a different matter when people such as that try to impose their personal standpoint on other people, as is the case of Worthing’s Jubilee Church. Intimidating women attending an abortion clinic in Brighton, including some who are victims of rape, is not a useful way of engaging in a cultural debate about the whole deeper issues involved.
Making abortions illegal, as the Jubileee Church suggests, would also inevitably make things worse. As we know from experience, the rich would get the abortion done on the sly, at a certain cost, while the poor would be forced into the hands of back-street abortionists armed with coat hangers and the like.
On Thursday night this week (May 31), members of the Brighton Pro-Choice group who have been campaigning against the Jubilee Church’s methods of intimidation, will be coming to a meeting hosted by Worthing Alliance. They will be talking about what they’ve been doing and inviting ideas as to how to take the campaign forward, particularly here in Worthing.
As this is an issue that affects a wide number of people, please do send this information to anyone you know who might be interested – the meeting is open to everyone. It’s at 8pm on Thursday May 31 at the Beechwood Hall Hotel, Wykeham Road, Worthing, West Sussex BN11 4JD.
Hope to see you there.
* Also on the agenda at the meeting will be the busy weekend ahead on the streets of Brighton. Find out why it is particularly important that as many right-minded people as possible can make it over there both on Saturday and Monday! Plus discussion on dispersal orders and other issues.
The three month "dispersal order", known as a section 30 order, has been agreed for parts of Worthing running from June 1 to August 31. The Argus reports: "The order will allow police to move on groups of people causing antisocial behaviour in Worthing town centre, Victoria Park and Homefield Park.
"Under the order police officers and police community support officers can tell any problem groups of two or more people to leave the area and not return for up to 24 hours. Anyone who refuses or breaches the notice can be arrested and could face three months in jail or a fine of up to £2,500."
How could someone be jailed or fined huge amounts of money without having been found guilty of any offence? It only takes one pig-headed prejudiced copper (and there are plenty of them around, in our experience!) to take a dislike to you and you are effectively banned from your own home town without any right to defend yourself!
This is simply outrageous and yet another instance of what a deeply unpleasant country this has become, run for the benefit of a smug wealthy elite who want to enjoy an affluent lifestyle at the expense of a population kept in their place by gangs of hired thugs in uniform. We suspect the law is specifically aimed at young people - whose energy and lust for life is seen as a threat by the dead-eyed politicians, businessmen and cops who run the show.
Accounts vary as to what the official purpose behind the law is. PC Marv Lucas, of Sussex Police, said: “This dispersal zone will help us to combat antisocial behaviour at the same time as looking at longer-term solutions with our partners. [Solutions to what?? What 'partners'??] We are introducing this zone on behalf of the residents and businesses and it is part of the proactive approach to local issues that the police and council take.”
Tom Wye, the council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “I welcome and support this action as it will ensure the residents of Worthing will be able to enjoy the Jubilee and Olympic festivities without having to worry about antisocial behaviour.”
But whether it is in the interests of business, as the police admit, or 'the jubilee and the Olympics' as the Tories claim, it is clearly not there for the benefit of the general population who might want to enjoy the town they live in accompanied by as many friends and family as they fancy - whatever race, creed or age they happen to be.
Whose Worthing? Our Worthing!
And the group have organised a public meeting, to be held at 7.30pm on Thursday 3rd May at St Mary’s Church in Broadwater, Worthing. Any concerned parents of existing or prospective pupils at Worthing High are particularly urged to attend.
The bid to turn our schools into corporate-run 'academies' is part of the ongoing 'shock doctrine' of privatisation begun by new Labour and accelerated by the Tory/LibDem coalition.
The West Sussex Anti-Academies group is composed of teachers and support staff, West Sussex Teachers Association (NUT) and other teaching unions, UNISON West Sussex and local parents groups and individuals. This follows a unanimous vote by staff on 17th April to reject the proposals (see Worthing Herald 19/04).
A spokesperson for the group, James Ellis from UNISON said “the basis for conversion made in the school’s proposals is both weak and misleading. By offering new staff different terms and conditions, a two-tier workforce will be created in Worthing High raising the prospect of strike action, instability, and long-term decline.”
Warning – contains obscenities!
The article in The Ecologist can be seen online here.
As the well-researched piece reveals, the group is planning a summer of resistance, with anti-militarists encouraged to come to the factory and express ‘outrage as creatively as you like’. A rolling programme of actions is planned starting with a MayDay protest and culminating in a Bank Holiday, June 4 mass demonstration.
The Worthing talk is part of the 'No to war! No to fascism!' special meeting of Worthing Alliance on Thursday March 29.
As well as the guest speakers from Smash EDO! campaign there will be an anti-fascist speaker calling for people to come out on the streets of Brighton and stop a fascist march on April 22. The event is at the Beechwood Hall, Wykeham Road, Worthing, at 8pm. All welcome. A poster can be found here or here
But living there, it seems, is one of the architects of the extreme right capitalist regime currently being imposed on this country.
The cat was let out of the bag this week by an article in the West Sussex County Times which revealed how Tory councillor Andrew Dunlop had been cheating on his car parking, parking his Jag at the official Horsham council car park, while nipping off on the train to work for David Cameron on a hush-hush basis.
Says the article: "He has always had a broad range of interests - but not all of them without controversy. Mr Dunlop’s declaration in Horsham District Council’s Members’ Register of Interests, dated May 10 2011, states that he was a trustee of the Atlantic Bridge education and research charity.
"Atlantic Bridge was subsequently dissolved by its trustees, on September 30 2011, following criticism from the Charity Commission.
"The commission had demanded that its 'current activities must cease immediately' because 'the activities of the charity have not furthered any of its other charitable purposes in any way'.
"Atlantic Bridge described its own aim as 'to provide a forum for the generation of debate and ideas on effective ways to strengthen the "special relationship" by promoting a close and strong relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States'.
"It attracted scrutiny from the media last year because it was set up by former Secretary of State Liam Fox and run by his friend Adam Werritty."
The national media have picked up on the story, with the Express revealing Dunlop was involved with the Thatcher government's introduction of the hated poll tax.
Dunlop's links with Atlantic Bridge are particularly telling for a party that likes to present itself as 'patriotic'. The USA link, which was so obvious during Cameron's cringe-making visit this week, is so strong as to suggest the Tories are nothing but puppets of US interests.
Atlantic Bridge was also linked in to the Zionist lobby group the British Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM), which may help explain the British government's lack of interest in the war crimes committed by Israel against Palestinian civilians...
If members of the ruling political party in any country are found to be working for an agenda set by foreign powers, where does that leave democracy?
That was the helpful warning from Microsoft that popped up when one of our readers tried to open our latest email.
Have you experienced anything like that? Or, if you're not already on our email list and would you like to dice with danger and join it, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Massive bombardment overnight by tanks, plane and drones resulted in damage to infrastructure, injuries and at least 13 fatalities. Further 3 deaths occurred when very cynically a mass funeral was targeted by drones. On top of all this, Gaza currently has an acute shortage of electricity and cooking fuel. And now an urgent appeal has gone out for emergency medicines.
This is an appalling case of the most belligerent army in the world, financed by the most powerful state in the world attacking an impoverished, broken people already enduring one of the longest sieges on one the most densely populated places on the face of the earth. And our Con-Dem government and the EU are simply turning their faces away from the carnage.
Bill Bonner, publisher of the magazine, writes: "Hillary Clinton calls up Egypt, Syria, Libya, and China to 'democratise'. But democracy, as practised by the US and other developed countries, is a fraud. It is just a way for the insiders to scam money and power from the outsiders, by pretending that the voters are in charge."
The interesting thing, of course, is that Bonner is not one of the 'leftists' that Cameron et al keep claiming are the sole critics of their corrupt regime, but a self-professed 'capitalist', who somehow failed to spot that if you weld power to money this is how it all inevitably ends up.
The important thing is that he, and others like him, can see what is going on and are prepared to spell it out.
There is definitely a mood for revolt in the air, which can only be encouraging.
If you want to comment on stuff that we say, you can email us at email@example.com
"Virginia Bottomley also happens to be a director of the private hospital, health insurance and care group BUPA."
And an anagram of 'I'm an evil tory bigot'!
Not only does workfare demolish the minimum wage, but it deprives other workers of hours of work, denies jobless people paid jobs and makes the taxpayer subsidise Big Business’s wage bill so they can get even richer at our expense. As firms started to pull out under the spotlight of bad publicity, a propaganda counter-offensive was launched, with ministers and their chums in the likes of the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph descending to McCarthyite-style smear-mongering of dangerous “hard left” activists daring to scrutinise their activities.
Then on Wednesday this week there seemed to be a U-turn from the Government, presumably designed to halt the bad publicity.
But Boycott Workfare has released this statement: “It is reported that sanctions have been removed from the DWP’s ‘Work Experience’ scheme, which is one of five workfare schemes which compel people to work without pay on threat of welfare sanctions. But surely this is another example of the DWP’s willingness to mislead the public? “There is no sign that sanctions have been lifted in the DWP’s press release which states: ‘The sanction regime remains in place.’
“Chris Grayling seems to be painting a murkier picture in TV interviews. Speaking to Sky, he first claimed ‘If somebody sits down with [the employer] after a couple of weeks and says “‘This really isn’t working out, I don’t want to carry on”, they wouldn’t be sanctioned. I was happy to agree to that.’ But by the end of the interview, he offers an example which suggests that it will be in exceptional cases only that sanctions won’t be applied.
“With workfare, the devil is in the detail, and until the DWP publishes some we’re inclined not to trust a department which this week has edited official documents to remove references to workfare being mandatory.
“If DWP Work Experience were no longer compulsory on threat of benefit sanction, then this would be a big step in the right direction. But it does not seem that this is the case and either way we should beware that George Osborne said of the scheme: ‘Young people who don’t engage with this offer will be considered for mandatory work activity’.
“Thousands of people of all ages are still forced to take part in workfare schemes that compel people to work unpaid. 850,000 people are expected to be referred to the Work Programme, which can include six months of workfare, by the end of this year alone. Another 24,000 people have already been placed on Mandatory Work Activity, and the Community Action Programme criminalises the unemployed by sentencing them to six months of unpaid community service. It is not at all clear whether today’s news affects the Work Experience component of the Sector Based Work Academies, a fifth mandatory scheme.
“Importantly, today DWP also reported that they would expect people on ESA – a benefit for sick and disabled people – to begin on the Work Programme within 3 months. People placed in the “Work Related Assessment Group” by ATOS can face unlimited workfare placements.
“Most people have two problems with workfare: that it is forced and that it is unpaid. There is evidence that workfare replaces paid work and no evidence that workfare schemes have created a single new job. The companies who continue involvement with the government’s schemes can afford to pay the people doing the work but they choose not to.
“In fact, businesses should beware that legally they may owe jobseekers working in their stores the minimum wage. Until the last week’s cover-up, the government advice for Work Programme providers stated: “Where you are providing support for JSA participants, which is work experience you must mandate participants to this activity. This is to avoid the National Minimum Wage Regulations, which will apply if JSA participants are not mandated.” (See the chapter 3, point 14 of the guidance before and after.)
“The government is clearly under pressure: in the last two weeks, thousands of people have taken action to end forced unpaid work in the UK and the campaign continues to gather momentum. Workfare affects all of us: it is replacing paid work and undermining the minimum wage. That is why this issue will not go away.
“Thirty actions against workfare are taking place across the UK on Saturday 3rd March. Asda, Barnardos, British Heart Foundation, Holiday Inn, Pizza Hut, Savers and Wilkinsons are companies using workfare through the Work Programme. There are hundreds of others. Take action with us!”
And for all the crowded development along our South Coast conurbation, at least they can’t build on the water.
Or can they?
Plans are now well underway for a massive 195-turbine wind farm off the coast, stretching all the way from here to Seaford in East Sussex.
The public consultation which starts this month is pretty much a box-ticking exercise before the rubber stamp is briskly applied to the E.On scheme.
It may be unlikely that environmentalists will be up in arms against the Rampion project (Ahhh… how sweet! They even named it over Sussex’s county flower!).
It’s obviously preferable to another coal-fuelled power station or, heaven forbid, a nuclear plant and seems a relatively benign way to generate energy.
Bt there will be environmental impacts – not least on the sea bed, sealife and the birds that fall foul (or fowl?) of hundreds of massive rotating blades.
And it does raise again the question of what exactly we need all this increasing amount of electricty for.
For powering factories that make things nobody really needs? For shops that sell people things they don’t really want? For trains to take people to work in places like that so they can earn enough money to buy the useless stuff that’s produced? For all the infrastructure and service industry that keeps the insane clockwork turning as we tick towards the inevitable hour of environmental oblivion?
When are we, collectively, going to have the courage to declare that enough is enough?
*The Worthing ‘consultation’ exercise is on Saturday February 25, 10am to 6pm at the St Paul’s centre in Chapel Road.
Prime Minister announces new initiative to mend broken Britain!
by Tim Hart 2nd February 2012
At a packed Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQ’s) yesterday (Wednesday) Mr Cameron announced that he was dispensing with: “political correctness to launch a wake-up call to those anti-social elements in our society.”
Mr Cameron paused at this point and said with a wry smile: “it is not often that I get the opportunity to thank a member of the Labour Opposition for being the inspiration behind a new aspect of government policy.”
He went on to pay tribute to the Rt. Hon. David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, whose constituency was one of the focal points for last summer’s riots in London.
He praised Mr Lammy for his courage when, in a speech last week, he blamed the street riots on the inability of parents to legally smack their children. To cheers from the Tory benches, the Prime Minister invited Mr Lammy to stand up and acknowledge the gratitude of the House. Instead Mr Lammy glanced down at his papers and shuffled awkwardly in his seat.
Tory MPs continued to jibe and heckle Mr Lammy, urging him to: ‘to get up and take a bow.’
Noting Mr Lammy’s reticence, Mr Cameron went on to explain the details of the government’s initiative. He said that there would be an emergency Bill introduced into parliament next week entitled: ‘The Smacking and Social Regeneration Bill.’ He explained that the Bill will have a number of key provisions which are intended to: “mend broken Britain” starting with the reintroduction of the right of parents to smack their children.
Mr Cameron exuberantly proclaimed that: “this will not only sweep away the fear of further riots on our streets, it will also encourage a lot more of those lazy little blighters to get out of bed in the morning and go and find a job.”
In addition to re-establishing the rights of parents to smack their children, Mr Cameron unveiled additional new smacking measures including: the right of teachers to smack their students and the right of employers to smack their workers.
As Mr Cameron unfolded these controversial proposals the noise in the House of Commons built into a crescendo, with cheers and shouts of: ‘hear hear!’ from the Tory benches and jeers from the Labour side. The Liberal Democrats sat in stunned silence, caught by surprise at the Prime Minister’s announcement; the initiative apparently having been hatched over the weekend at an impromptu meeting of COBRA, the Cabinet’s Emergency Planning Committee.
Mr Cameron, egged on by his colleagues, and sensing that he had the Labour opposition on the ropes, waded in with jibes at Mr Miliband, who by this time was sitting with his head in his hands being consoled by his Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls. To raucous laughter Mr Cameron invited Mr Miliband and his colleagues to: “come and join the government and we can make it a threesome!” and then with a contemptuous sneer: “after all, there is hardly a cigarette paper between the Labour Party’s policies and good old Conservative values.”
The roar from the Tory backbenchers was by this time deafening and the Speaker of the House, John Bercow, rose to his feet, in an effort to be heard; threatening to abandon the sitting unless: “Honorary Members calmed themselves.”
As the noise subsided a little, Mr Cameron took a further swipe at Mr Miliband, suggesting that: “we could form a Government of National Unity.” Adding: “I’m sure our Liberal Democrat colleagues will make room for you on this side of the House;” gesturing with his hand for the Liberal Democrat MPs to move over.
Mr Cameron then handed over to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, who outlined specific measures in relation to the police which will be contained in the Smacking Bill. These will include specially trained officers in the Met. Police’s Territorial Support Group (TSG) - and equivalent units in other police forces around the country – who will be permitted to smack demonstrators and, as Theresa May put it: “any other errant members of the public who might benefit from a little corporal punishment.”
In response to a question from Ann Clywed, Labour MP and veteran human rights campaigner, about the circumstances in which the police will administer such smacks, Theresa May said that it would be at the discretion of the individual police officer to: “use his or her common sense and, in normal circumstances, it will entail several slaps with the palm of the hand.”
She went on to explain an exception, in that when the police are deployed to deal with public disturbances, a special device will be issued to each of the Met’s. 700 TSG officers - and to similar riot control units in other police forces - which the police have dubbed; ‘The Slap-happy-Stick.’ This will comprise a yellow flexible plastic moulded arm with over-sized hand.
Theresa May disclosed that this was the idea of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, who thought that this rather comic item would help diffuse the tensions between the police and the demonstrators and give the events – demonstrations, rallies, and riots etc. - a more carnival atmosphere.
Then, adopting a rather more sombre tone, the Home Secretary said that in special circumstances, where there is a serious risk of public disorder, the TSG Commander is authorised to issue an electric Slap-happy-Stick to his officers, which will be battery operated and able to deliver a charge of 50,000 volts, similar to a high powered taser gun.
Theresa May revealed that 4,000 taser style Slap-happy Sticks have been ordered, adding to the existing 10,000 taser guns currently stocked by police forces; which were issued in 2009 under the authority of Jacquie Smith, the then Labour Home Secretary.
At this point a backbench Labour MP intervened, stating that a friend of his in the Metropolitan Police had told him that a chart had already been stapled to the wall of the TSG staff room at Scotland Yard, depicting a graph measuring height in feet and inches, with small flags stuck at various positions on it.
The flags are apparently bets placed by TSG officers predicting how high a demonstrator will jump when the taser style Slap-happy Sticks become operational. Theresa May dismissed this story as: “highly implausible” stating that: “I have every confidence in the professionalism of the Metropolitan Police to deploy the taser style Slap-happy Sticks with appropriate restraint and with due regard to public safety.”
To support her assertion of the care to be exercised, she explained that police officers will be instructed not to use the taser style Slap-happy Sticks when demonstrators are standing within ten feet of the public highway in order to avoid ‘collisions’ with moving traffic.
Mr Cameron then stood up and implored Honourable Members to be patient, following a number of attempted interventions from the Labour Benches. The Prime Minister indicated that: “there is just one final part of the smacking policy to convey to the House, which affects the conduct of Members of Parliament.”
Mr Cameron explained, citing by way of example the MPs rowdy behaviour of the day, that the public’s respect for parliament was being eroded by the unruly conduct of some MPs: “therefore, following discussions with the Speaker, from next Monday it has been decided that the Speaker will have the authority to smack unruly MPs, if they persistently refuse to conform to expected standards of behaviour.”
Adding that: “it is only fair and right that MPs are subject to the same smacking regime as that which is applied to ordinary members of the public.” At this juncture John Bercow, Speaker of the House, reached under his chair, pulled out a Slap-happy Stick and enthusiastically waved it in the air; making the rather impudent remark: “I don’t think it is one of the taser style sticks, but I’ll leave Honourable Members guessing on that one!”
At this point the veteran Labour MP, Dennis Skinner, chirped up expressing his view that smacking, contrary to acting as a deterrent, would prove to be an enjoyable experience for some MPs on the government benches and thus encourage unruly behaviour.
Mr Skinner was presumably referring to the penchant for sado-masochism of Tory MPs in the past. Notorious cases have occurred under previous Conservative Governments, include that of Tory MP Harvey Proctor - when he was accused of spanking under-age male prostitutes and later pleaded guilty to gross indecency - and the former Tory MP for Eastleigh, Stephen Milligan - who was found dead in his flat in a state of autoerotic asphyxiation, his body bound and dressed in women’s clothes with an orange in his mouth.
Mr Cameron was overheard muttering into the ear of the Chancellor, George Osborne: “I wouldn’t mind subjecting Skinner to a bit of S & M one of these days.” Mr Skinner delivered a final broadside by yelling: “I bet all you old Etonians will love it!” as he provocatively turned around and slapped himself on the backside.
Mr Miliband belatedly joined in the fray by denouncing the proposals as “barbaric” and “and contrary to European Law.” Mr Cameron responded: “if you are referring to that wayward institution, the European Court of Human Rights, (ECtHR) let me assure you there is no need to worry. We have that little matter covered.”
Mr Cameron went on to confirm the Coalition Government’s intention, during the UK’s current chairmanship of the Council of Europe (the body overseeing the ECtHR) to drastically reform the Court so that it stops operating: “like a small claims court, wasting its time on trivial cases like corporal punishment and torture.” Adding indignantly: “if we jolly well want to re-introduce corporal punishment, who are those Namby Pamby busy bodies in Europe to tell us any different!”
The Speaker of the House, John Bercow, drew the session to a close by saying: “I look forward to conducting proceedings, under the new regime, in a much more orderly and disciplined House than has hitherto been the case.” Adding: “I may well find it advantageous to introduce smacking to the Bercow household to deter my spouse from engaging in any more of her embarrassing publicity antics.”
by Tim Hart 26th January 2012
This afternoon (Thursday) the employment minister, Chris Grayling called a press conference to announce that the Work Programme was, in his words: “on track” and: “going like an express train.”
Also in attendance was Nick Buckles, CEO of G4S, the global security company with 625,000 staff around the world. G4S is one of the contractors for the Work Programme in several regions of the UK; including Sussex, Surrey and Kent. Completing the panel was Tony Collins, CEO of Virgin Trains.
The meeting was held in the conference hall of the corporate head office of G4S in Crawley, West Sussex. From the ceiling were draped large twirling yellow banners with the corporate slogan: ‘SECURING YOUR WORLD’ printed in red on them. The banners were encouraged to spin by huge electric fans mounted on the back wall of the room.
Before the meeting got underway one reporter asked that the fans be switched off because the banners were spinning at such a rate he was worried that they might trigger an epileptic fit.
Mr Buckles, of G4S, begrudgingly gestured to one of his staff, standing at the back of the room, to switch off the power to the fans. A novel part of the proceedings was the deployment of some 200 G4S security guards who stood encircling the room with their backs pressed against the wall.
The guards were dressed in yellow florescent jackets and wore helmets with visors snapped down over their faces and large pink badges pinned to their lapels with the words: ‘HERE TO HELP’ written across them.
Mr Buckles opened the meeting by welcoming those in attendance. He took the opportunity to explain that the guards were not in attendance in a security role, but instead were on hand to direct guests to the toilet facilities and to serve the tea and coffee.
Despite Mr Buckles’ assurances the presence of the security guards had an unsettling effect on the assembled press and media and led one reporter to remark that it felt like they were being ‘kettled.’ Mr Buckles, after completing the formalities of introductions, handed over to the employment minister, Chris Grayling.
Mr Grayling began by outlining the extent of the problem of unemployment. He said that the UK currently has five million people of working age receiving out-of work benefits: “this is far too many and we intend to use the Work Programme (which will involve compulsory unpaid work experience for unemployed people under the threat of loss of benefits ) to drastically reduce the numbers by getting these people into jobs.”
When a young reporter, sitting in the front row, pointed out that research into similar schemes in Canada, the United States and Australia had found no evidence that unpaid work experience leads to paid employment, Mr Grayling dismissed the research as being: “flimsy and insubstantial”.
When the reporter commented that the research had been commissioned by Mr Grayling’s own department, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), he retorted rather perversely: ”that proves my point!”
The young reporter, exasperated by Mr Grayling’s dismissive response, waded in with another gratuitous remark: “the Work Programme is merely providing free labour for employers and displacing paid jobs and paid overtime.”
Mr Grayling snapped defiantly at the reporter: “Exactly! Improving profitability of our companies makes perfect economic sense; except, that is, to economic illiterates like you!”
The reporter became even more animated following this insult and demanded that the DWP release the statistics on the Work Programme so that people could judge for themselves.
This was a reference to the refusal of the DWP to respond to a recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request; citing section 22 of the FOI Act which exempts from disclosure ‘information intended for future publication’.
Mr Grayling said that the statistics will be made available to the public: “when the time is right.” The young reporter continued to bait Mr Grayling, quoting a National Audit Report (NAO) which said that there was a: ‘significant risk that ministers’ assumptions about the numbers who can be found jobs may be over-optimistic.’
Mr Grayling replied that: “the NAO were simply plucking figures out of thin air.” The reporter responded mockingly by asking: “how is that different from what the government is doing?”
Before Mr Grayling could come up with a reply, the reporter delivered another broadside shouting: “the Work Programme is nothing more than forced labour!” Mr Grayling, clearly having had enough of this provocative line of questioning, snapped back: “a bit of forced labour never hurt anyone!”
He then glanced nervously over to Mr Buckles of G4S who quickly came to the rescue and suggested to the young reporter that he was in need of some fresh air, at which point two security guards, one on each arm, led the young man from the room whilst he continued to yell out: “what about the Soviet Gulags? What about the Nazi Concentration camps? What about Mao’s Cultural Revolution? what about Pol Pot’s Killing Fields in Cambodia?
The reporter’s voice drifted into the distance, as he was wrestled down the stairs and out of the building. The Employment Minister quickly resumed his composure and handed over to Mr Buckles.
Mr Buckles explained that his company’s involvement in the Work Programme is that of a ‘primary contractor.’ G4S does not undertake any of the work itself, but rather sub-contracts it to what Mr Buckles rather pompously termed: ‘Job Brokers,’ Knowledge Bank Providers, and In-Work Partners.’
Mr Buckles explained that their Work Programme contract was separate to the slice of the £200 million government money that his company has received to help the ‘most troubled families’ in Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Warrington.
When he was asked what relevant experience G4S had in this aspect of social provision, Mr Buckles replied rather immodestly: “our company has been proud to deliver services in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel providing security and combating terrorism. In the process we have dealt with many violent and disabled people (disabled as a consequence of the fighting and bombing.) This experience equips us perfectly to deal with ‘troubled families’ in Manchester and disabled people in Sussex.”
Adding: “as a global security company our involvement in the Work Programme is a natural extension of our corporate mission of: caring for the community.” Asked to comment on rumours that G4S was in talks with the American based bank, Goldman Sachs, about packaging the details of groups of disabled people, that had been placed into work, into a financial derivative which could then be traded to hedge against the risk of the individuals losing their jobs in the future (G4S are paid a ‘sustainment bonus’ of up to £13,700 for each person that maintains a job for 2 years) Mr Buckles said that the rumours were: “ludicrous.” He then paused briefly to scribble a note on the pad in front of him before handing over to Mr Collins, CEO of Virgin Trains.
Mr Collins said that Virgin Trains had successfully launched their Work Programme earlier this morning (Thursday) on Euston station. He described it as a modest scheme involving 50 young disabled people.
Mr Collins said that: “not only would the young people be provided with free work experience and free training they would also be providing a vital contribution to improving the punctuality of Virgin trains.”
Although Mr Collins did not refer to it, he presumably had in mind a report out this week - produced by Network Rail - showing that Virgin Trains were the worst performing train operator over the Christmas period, with only 80.6% of trains running on time; although this was an improvement on the same period last year, when only 65.1% of Virgin trains ran on time. Mr Collins, for the benefit of those who had not attended the launch at Euston earlier in the day, went on to give details of the event saying that: “if the trial is successful it will be rolled out at station stops along all Virgin Train routes, under the title: ‘Employing disabled people – a step towards better train punctuality.”
Mr Collins went on to explain the details of the scheme, beginning with the rather cryptic comment that: “busy commuters, arriving at Euston this morning on Virgin trains, will have been surprised to find a rather softer dismount from their train than normal.” The scheme has involved selecting 50 disabled youngsters, many wheelchair-bound.
Following induction and training, the young people were made ready for their first operational trial today at Euston. This involved positioning the young people along the platform at intervals, adjacent to where the doors of the train would open on arrival.
The logistics of the operation had apparently been particularly challenging due to the variability of the gap between the platform and the train. This meant that the gap at each stage along the platform had to be calculated and a disabled person carefully selected with the correct waist and chest measurements, so that each one fitted snugly into the gap between the train and the platform.
As the train pulled into the station the disabled people were helped from their wheelchairs as necessary and, lying prostrate on the ground, were rolled into position by specially trained platform staff; so that they were wedged between the platform edge and the base of the train.
In tests the provision of this ‘additional step’ had been found to improve the speed of disembarkation of passengers by up to 20%; the rate of disembarkation being a major factor in the determination of train punctuality; especially during busy commuter periods.
Conscious of some of the rather bemused expressions on the faces of the people in the room, Mr Collins assured the audience that: “the safety of the young disabled people was of utmost importance.”
Adding that: “specially adapted body armour, similar to that developed by the MOD for use by troops in Afghanistan, was provided and full training given to the young people to help avoid the risk of injury; plus a member of St John’s Ambulance will be on duty at every station in the event of first aid needing to be administered.”
A comment from a reporter that this was just exploitation, drew a quick rebuff from Mr Collins: “on the contrary this is an innovative scheme to equip young people with the skills and experience they need for the workplace. It gives them a reason to get up in the morning, it provides self-discipline and a ‘feel-good factor’ knowing that they are contributing to society and there is a high likelihood that they will get permanent jobs at the end of it. It also increases their pain tolerance; a useful attribute in any job.”
Mr Collins denied that the young people would be working for no reward. He explained that they are permitted to accept tips from grateful passengers and, if under £10 per week, the DWP has agreed that this will not affect their incapacity benefit; although the HMRC have said that such gratuities are taxable and warned that teams of tax inspectors will carry out random inspections at train stations to ensure that there is no abuse of the tax rules.
Mr Collins then handed back to Mr Grayling to round off proceedings. He began by reading a very long list of well known companies involved in the Work Programme, as their names rolled by on a large screen behind him, accompanied by what some felt was a rather bizarre choice of music, the Beatles classic: ‘We all live in a yellow submarine.’
One reporter thought the music might be intended to complement the conditions in the conference hall. With the sunlight streaming into the room - bouncing off the yellow jackets of the security guards and the twirling yellow banners - the reporter said that it felt like tripping out on LSD.
Mr Grayling went on to cite a few examples of the smaller schemes to: “encourage more small businesses to get involved.” He mentioned that the Prince’s Trust was taking on ten young people under the scheme.
The young reporter, who had earlier disrupted the meeting and who had crept back into the room unnoticed, shouted: “to brush the Prince Charles’ teeth presumably!”
Mr Grayling replied dismissively: “not that old wife’s tale!” Mr Grayling went on to explain that the majority of the Prince’s Trust placements will be for gardening experience at Clarence House and at the Highgrove Estate, but two individuals are to be attached to the personal valet team of the Prince to assist with his morning ablutions, including running his bath.
The young reporter, who by this time had once again been grabbed by a couple of burly security guards and was being wrestled towards the exit, shouted: “what sort of skills training is that?”
Mr Grayling, seeing that the reporter was being wrestled down the stairs, resumed a more composed and confident demeanour, explaining that there was a considerable amount of training required to attend to the Prince during his morning bath, including being a proficient swimmer and a qualified life saver, adding: “the Prince has a rather large bath.”
Finally Mr Grayling described enthusiastically a small scheme that is being run by the House of Commons, at the behest of the President of the Liberal Democrats, Mr Tim Farron.
This involves five young people, who are interested in going on to become speech therapists, gathering together Liberal Democrat MPs into a corner of the House of Commons tea room on Friday mornings to help them to practice repeating the words: ‘We are all Liberal Democrats!’ We are all Liberal Democrats! We are all Liberal Democrats!’
Mr Farron explained, via a written statement issued later in the day, the rationale for the scheme: “not only will this provide useful experience for the budding speech therapists, but it will help to improve the elocution of the MPs concerned and, hopefully, it will also re-establish their sense of identity, which they seem to have lost since joining the Coalition Government.
Mr Grayling ended the meeting by thanking everyone for attending and apologised for the disruption caused by what he described as: “the rogue reporter.”
But what it is, exactly? What were its origins? What sets it apart from other ideas? How does it manifest itself in current society? What is its future? Why should we pay attention to it?
There will be a chance to hear some answers, and ask questions of your own when a local anarchist speaks at Worthing Alliance’s meeting this Thursday January 26, 8pm at the Beechwood Hall Hotel in Wykeham Road, Worthing (the continuation of Richmond Road and Mill Road). Plus the usual announcements and updates from various campaigns.
A public meeting has been arranged for Thursday February 2, to which Tory Tim and local health representatives have been invited.
Say the campaigners: “We still feel that the Harness Block should be continued for use as community beds and services and not let to rot away until they decide to demolish and sell off.
“Let us put our ideas and tell them what we think of the present system of care in the community is like......NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE.
“Not everyone can be nursed in their own homes under the present system and we need good community beds also respite care and Southlands Harness block should be used.
“Patients do not want to be sent the other side of the county or put into nursing homes at huge expense to the families.
“Once the inpatient beds have gone from Southlands we will never get them back !!!!”
Public Meeting to Stop the Closure of Inpatients’ Beds at Southlands Thursday 2nd Feb. 2012
Shoreham Community Centre
Shoreham by Sea
WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT!
WE NEED TO KEEP THE BEDS!
The damning contents of a members-only bulletin were this week leaked to local paper the West Sussex County Times.
What starts off as a factual account of a November 30 public sector unions protest outside the party’s Horsham offices suddenly veers off into a fascistic flight of fantasy worthy of the great Jeremy Clarkson himself.
Says the Tory newsletter: “Gough House was besieged by angry demonstrators from the public service unions back in November.
“About 200 people stood in the car park at Gough House and made a great deal of noise for about fifteen minutes.
“The Agent accepted a series of questions from the demonstrators to pass to The Rt Hon Francis Maude MP.
“Luckily Gough House staff managed to fight ’em off with tasers, water cannon and baseball bats.”
A Tory spokesman said it was ‘nonsense’ to take offence at the comments which were an example of ‘ironic humour’.
Ha porkin’ ha.
Save Our Sussex Alliance, which brings together a raft of local action groups from across the county, is staging the latest in a series of protests outside Conservative Party offices.
Green MEP KeithTaylor will be guest speaker outside Brighton & Hove Conservative Party HQ,
109 Church Road, Hove, BN3 2AF. Gather 1.30pm for 2pm.
The event, from 7.30pm at the Subud Centre, 26a Station Street, is described as “a film, talk and opportunity to discuss the proposed fracking in Balcombe, West Sussex and why we should all be concerned with seeing it stopped”.
The proposed drilling presents huge environmental risks in both the immediate area and potentially further afield and carries implications of further drilling across the region if it goes unchallenged.
Say campaigners: “The process has caused widespread pollution and even earthquakes in areas where it has already been deployed. Please join us to help discuss the situation and how we might choose to respond.”
by Tim Hart 20th January 2012
AFTER earlier denials from Downing Street, Mr Cameron was forced to admit, during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQ’s) on Wednesday that the intelligence quotient (IQ) test scores of Cabinet members, posted to a number of Wikileaks websites late on Tuesday night, were genuine.
The Prime Minister described the publication of the IQ test scores as a: “highly provocative” and “an irresponsible act of spite,” adding: “if that Antipodean albino Pygmy thinks that this is going to help prevent his extradition he has got another think coming!”
Later in the day, following a complaint from the High Commissioner of Papua New Guinea that the comments were an unwarranted racist slur, Downing Street issued an apology, stating that the Prime Minister had not intended to denigrate Pygmies for whom he had the greatest respect and affection; adding that some of his best friends were Pygmies.
At one point, when the Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband, suggested that the test results revealed that: “the average intelligence of members of the Coalition Cabinet is similar to that of a chimpanzee,” Mr Cameron flew into an uncharacteristic rage.
His face went bright red as he reacted angrily, demanding that the Shadow Cabinet undertake the test and taunting Mr Miliband with the gibe that: “your Motley crew would be lucky to reach a score anywhere near that of a chimpanzee!” adding: “come on, let’s have your lot take the IQ test and see how they do.!”
Mr Miliband declined to respond to the bait. Repeated attempts by a number of reporters to interview Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, about the disclosures failed, although later his representative issued a statement which condemned the Prime Minister for bandying around personal insults and asserted that the public had a right to know the extent to which members of their elected government were ‘intellectually challenged.’
In the statement Mr Assange drew attention to Mr Cameron’s reference to the extradition proceedings - the appeal against which is due to be heard in the Supreme Court on the 1st and 2nd February 2012 – stating that: ‘It is clear that, as far as the Prime Minister is concerned, his mind has already been made up.’
Following a severe reprimand from the Speaker of the House - for his remark about Cabinet members having the IQ of Chimpanzees - Mr Miliband issued a statement in defence of his comment which explained that it was not simply a gratuitous remark, but was a statement of fact.
The remainder of the statement went on to quote, in some detail, various academic research which demonstrated that the IQ of chimpanzees was between 75 and 80, a score that would be considered retarded for the average human being at some 20 points lower than the average of 100.
The average IQ of the Cabinet, as revealed by the Wikileaks disclosures, was 78. The statement made special mention of Koko; a female gorilla which has lived at the Gorilla Foundation in San Francisco for the past 26 years and who has learnt 2000 English words, has exhibited its own art work, has its own personal computer - specially adapted and donated by the Apple Corporation - and regularly participates in on line chat rooms using a combination of sign language (translated by her trainer) and keyboard impressions. Koko has an IQ of 95 which, as Mr Miliband’s pointed out in his statement, was higher than any of the test scores of the Cabinet members and only 3 points lower than that of the Prime Minister, whose score was 98.
In a day when Government press statements were appearing like confetti, the Cabinet Office issued its own briefing to explain the origin and context of the IQ tests. The Cabinet Office confirmed that the IQ tests scores were genuine, but claimed that they were inaccurate having been severely deflated by cultural bias due to the administrator of the tests being from Manchester.
Apparently the idea for the IQ tests had come from the then Head of the Civil Service, Sir Gus O’Donnell, in May 2010 on the eve of the formation of the Coalition Government. Sir Gus proposed that, rather than appoint the Cabinet on the usual ‘grace and favour’ basis it might be better to use a more objective selection criteria. Mr Cameron agreed and commissioned SHL, the leading psychometric testing agency in the UK, to undertake the work. Mr Cameron sat the tests himself in order to encourage his colleagues to willingly participate. When Sir Gus received the results he realised that they were a ‘hot potato’ and immediately ordered all copies of the data to be destroyed. SHL complied with the instruction, but apparently overlooked the fact that an encrypted copy of the test scores was held on their Central Administration Department’s computer server.
A 16 year schoolgirl from Hackney Community College, on work experience in the administration department of SHL, had apparently managed to hack into the server, discovered the test scores, and decrypted them using software she had downloaded from the internet. Exactly how the scores made their way on to the Wikileaks websites is still unknown. When Sir Gus was asked to comment on the furore created by the publication of the test results he quickly came to the defence of the government saying that: “in my 40 years in the Civil Service I have served under much worse governments;” adding, rather mischievously: “in my view the present Coalition Cabinet are carrying on a long tradition in British politics by engaging half-wits, dim-wits and nincompoops in senior positions of government.”
Gus O’Donnell’s uncharacteristically flippant remark was put down to the fact that he is ‘demob happy’ after his recent retirement from the Head of the Civil Service and his elevation to the House of Lords.
The Director of Public Prosecutions is considering whether to bring charges against the schoolgirl; who has not been named for legal reasons. An added legal complication is the fact that the software, which the schoolgirl used to decrypt the test scores, was pirated from a US based website and the copyright owner has asked the US authorities to request that the girl be extradited to the United States to stand trial for breach of copyright where, if convicted, she could face up to 10 years in prison.
In an effort to head off the extradition request the Foreign Office issued a statement saying that: ‘the UK Government hoped that the United States would not invoke the provisions of the extradition treaty in this case.’ The treaty allows for any UK citizen to be extradited to face trial in the United States on suspicion of having committing an offence; without the need to be charged or for evidence of the suspected offence to be produced.
Coincidentally a debate in parliament is to be held this evening (Friday) about the controversial extradition treaty, following the recent case of a student from Sheffield Hallam University, who is to be extradited to the US to face trial for copyright breach for posting links to copyrighted material on a website that he operated when he was a teenager.
In an article by the US ambassador, Louis Susman – published in the Daily Telegraph this morning and presumably designed to head off any criticism of the extradition arrangements in the parliamentary debate - the US ambassador described the treaty as: ‘fair and balanced.’
It appears however that the pleas from the Foreign Office will go unheeded. The United States seems in no mood to compromise over the schoolgirl’s case. When asked about the extradition request, a US State Department spokesman said of the 16 year old girl: “if she is old enough to have sex, she is old enough to do time for industrial espionage and terrorism.” When challenged to justify the term ‘terrorism’ to describe the actions of the girl, the spokesman said that: “publishing the IQ tests of members of government was a grave breach of national security and a perfect recruiting tool for terrorists.”
Adding: “God knows what would have happened if these IQ scores had been published on our Senators here in the States!”
In a thinly veiled threat, the spokesman ended by indicating that if the UK did not honour its commitments under the extradition treaty, the US military would: “come in and take her.”
This last comment being a reference to the National Defense Authorisation Act, passed into law by President Obama before Christmas, which allows the rendition of any person in any country in the world into US military custody for an indefinite period if suspected of terrorism, without the need for charge, evidence, or a trial.
Not only did the publication of the IQ test results create significant political and diplomatic fall-out, but it has also had repercussions in the personal life of at least two Cabinet members.
The wife of Mr Gove, the Education Secretary, has announced that she intends to commence divorce proceedings for breach of trust. Apparently in a pre-nuptial agreement Mr Gove stated that he had been a long-standing member of MENSA. To gain membership of MENSA a person has to achieve an IQ score in the top 2% of the UK population – around 145 or above. The test results indicate that Mr Gove scored 83.
Mrs Gove responded angrily to the suggestion that she had been rather gullible to have believed Mr Gove’s MENSA credentials given his track record – citing by way of a recent example his proposal - in a letter sent to the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt this week - that the hard-pressed British public should gift a new Royal Yacht to the Queen at a price tag of £60 million for her Diamond Jubilee later this year.
A reporter asked about rumours circulating of another letter that Mr Gove had drafted to Vince Cable, the Business Secretary - suggesting that the public gift a new yacht to Fred Goodwin, the former CEO of Royal Bank Scotland (his yacht is still in service but is apparently several years old) as a gesture to make amends for the brow-bashing the bankers have suffered in recent years and in view of the announcement that the Honours Forfeiture Committee are considering removing his Knighthood. Mrs Gove said that she knew nothing about such a letter.
The Prime Minister has acted swiftly to dismiss Mr Gove’s suggestion of a new yacht for the Queen. However, the Culture Secretary was understood to be more sympathetic to the proposal.
A source close to Mr Hunt claimed that when he read the letter he had remarked that: “if the public are gullible enough to buy lottery tickets to fund the Olympics to the tune of over £2 billion it seems to me that they would not even notice if we skimmed off another £60 million or so for a new Royal Yacht.” Another Cabinet member in the firing line from his spouse was the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne. Mrs Osborne, in a provocative move, posed for press photographers with a photo, which she said was hung in the hall of No. 11 Downing Street, which showed Mr Osborne receiving a certificate from the chairman of MENSA with a caption at the bottom saying: “congratulations upon having an IQ of 148.”
The leaked documents show that Mr Osborne has an IQ of 89. The chairman of MENSA has denied ever meeting Mr Osborne and said that the organisation has no record of Mr Osborne having been a member.
During a news conference held to discuss the Euro crisis one reporter from the back of the room yelled out to Mr Osborne: “have you taken any numeracy tests lately.” The reporter was quickly escorted away by two security men and the news conference ended soon afterwards.
Well, the bad news is that we have got some of these nutters right here in Worthing!
Pro-Choice activists in Brighton, where the fundamentalists have been staging protests, are already on the case and organising to oppose the bible-bashing reactionaries.
Obviously it would be good if people here in Worthing also wanted to get involved!
The Jubilee Community Church is actually based at The Gateway Centre, Unit S, Dominion Way, East Worthing Industrial Estate, Worthing BN14 8NW.
But for some reason it is allowed to hold its weekly Sunday services and other meetings at Worthing High School in South Farm Road. http://www.jubilee-church.co.uk/
The protests at a Brighton abortion clinic have involved intimdating women visiting the premises.
Brighton Pro Choice is holding an open meeting to discuss the situation with regard to the Jubilee Church and there will be a wider discussion about reproductive freedoms as they stand in the UK.
This is from 6pm to 9pm on Monday January 30 at The Cowley Club at 12 London Road, Brighton.
If anyone in Worthing wants to help organise locally, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
Save Our Sussex Alliance, which brings together a raft of local action groups from across the county, is staging the latest in a series of protests outside Conservative Party offices later this month.
This one is just a short train or bus trip down the road from Worthing, in Hove, and we urge you to get along there and support it –and spread the word to other people in the area.
Saturday 28 January 2012 @ 2pm outside Brighton & Hove Conservative Party HQ, 109 Church Road, Hove, BN3 2AF with guest speaker Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South East England. http://www.saveoursussex.com/Save_Our_Sussex_Alliance/Get_Involved.html
300 people – including 100 standing – packed Balcombe’s Victory hall to hear the Cuadrilla CEO expound on the company’s controversial Hydraulic Fracturing technique, scheduled to take place a mile from the village.
Miller, a US citizen, struggled to finish his presentation amid catcalls of ‘get out’ and ‘stay away from here’ broke out through the audience.
Chairman Charles Metcalfe repeatedly asked for calm, but an increasingly angry crowd continually interrupted in an emotional meeting unheard of in the quiet Sussex village. Mr Miller – attempting to explain the company’s track record of causing earthquakes in Lancashire – struggled to make himself heard as questions and derision were thrown thick and fast.
Balcombe is scheduled to be Cuadrilla’s first fracking site outside Lancashire. The company received planning permission in June 2010, and planning documents reveal the company intends to frack at this test borehole. The fracking depth is 2660 feet – 6000 feet shallower than in Lancashire.
The breadth of Balcombe’s interests was also revealed – a risk insurer asked why Cuadrilla had not performed risk assessment prior to drilling. A geologist pointed out that Cuadrilla’s own documents show potential leaks of fracking fluid coming within 400 feet of the surface at the Balcombe site.
Also present for Cuadrilla was Nick Sutcliffe, representing Cuadrilla’s lobbying firm, PPS Group. Sutcliffe is a Guildford District Councillor, and has facilitated Cuadrilla’s planning applications – much to the disgust of the audience present.
West Sussex County Council and Balcombe Parish Council were not spared the meeting’s wrath. A WSCC councillor braved the audience to explain that procedures had been followed, while a Balcombe parish councillor explained: ‘we were asked about this two years ago. Who knew about hydraulic fracturing then?’.
It is being shown from 7pm to 9pm at the Quaker Meeting House, -rear building, 34 Mill Road, Worthing.
The film describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions. On the one hand, government and big business continue to promote globalisation and the consolidation of corporate power.
At the same time, all around the world people are resisting those policies, demanding a re-regulation of trade and finance—and, far from the old institutions of power, they’re starting to forge a very different future. Communities are coming together to re-build more human scale, ecological economies based on a new paradigm – an economics of localisation.
Suggested donation £3.
Also don't forget Green Drinks this Sunday, 15th January 2012, 7-10pm, at the Charles Dickens pub on Heene Road.
Come along for an informal get-together in warm, comfortable surroundings, to debate some of Worthing's most significant, engaging and controversial environmental and political topics...!
NOTE: If you are attending the screening of 'Economics of Happiness' on this evening, then feel free to pop along for a drink afterwards and share your thoughts on the film!
Now compare and contrast with the fate of celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson.
He was also caught stealing from a supermarket, Tesco, - but it was not just a one-off like Nicolas’ offence.
Staff at the store had reportedly spotted him taking stuff on five occasions in just over two weeks and set up a camera just to catch him at it.
Punishment? Let off with a caution and an apology via the media.
One law for them…
Meanwhile, American writer Derrick Jensen explains why industrial civilization must be dismantled: “This culture must be undone completely. That’s an absolute necessity. Humanity lived without industrialism for most of its existence. And industrialism is killing the planet. Humans cannot exist without the planet. The planet (and sustainable human existence) is more important than industrialism.”
Olympic Opening Ceremony to be revamped
by Tim Hart 13th January 2012
On Monday (8th January) the Prime Minister held the first Cabinet meeting of the New Year at the Olympic Park to mark the countdown of 200 days to the Opening Ceremony of the Games.
The meeting was held in the main swimming pool of the Aquatic Park. Members of the British Olympic Diving Team had kindly agreed to act as lifeguards for the day.
There was a short delay whilst Cabinet members got changed into their swimwear. They wore bright blue briefs embroidered with the purple Olympic motif (the logo designed by the advertising agency, Wollf Olins, at a price tag of £400,000) across the front and rear and, in the case of Theresa May the Home Secretary, a smaller discrete motif on each of the cups of her bikini top. Eric Pickles the Local Government and Communities Secretary was heard to remark that: “Theresa looks ravishing!” She did not return the compliment.
The Cabinet Members slipped into their rubber rings (which acted as a substitute for the standard life vest) and rather tentatively climbed into the swimming pool.
Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, was the last to enter the pool; pleading with the Prime Minister that he had always been afraid of the water since he was a child. Mr Cameron impatiently gestured to one of the Olympic Diving Team standing close by who then crept up behind Mr Gove and pushed him in. After surfacing Mr Gove scowled at the Prime Minister, before taking his place with the others around the inflatable Cabinet table which had been specially made for the occasion.
By means of harness straps each of the Cabinet members clipped themselves on to the metal rings built into the table. Despite being tied-in the Cabinet members tended to float around in their own limited volume of water; prompting one reporter to remark that it was like watching astronauts on a space walk.
In place of the usual meeting papers, laptops were suspended on wires so that Cabinet members could follow the agenda. On the back wall a huge television screen played a continual loop of the Olympic advert, with the sound muted. In a break with tradition, and in recognition of the special occasion, invited guests and selected members of the media were allowed to attend the meeting, but were not permitted to swim in the pool for security and hygiene reasons.
Instead members of the media stood at the deep end and the various dignitaries congregated at the shallow end. These included Lord Coe, chairman of the private limited company, LOCOG, the (London Organising Committee of the Olympic – and Paralympic – Games) and his Chief Executive Officer Paul Deighton. Also amongst the guests was General Sir David Richards, Chief of the Defence Staff.
Mr Cameron opened the meeting by saying that it had been decided to take a fresh look at plans for the Opening Ceremony in order to boost its revenue generating potential: “given that the British people are having to tighten their belts in the face of austerity in the coming years it is only right and proper that the Olympics pay its way like everybody else.” Adding his now familiar refrain: “We are all in this together.”
Mr Cameron said that he had discussed the new ideas with Danny Boyle; the film director tasked with designing the Opening Ceremony. Mr Boyle has directed such movies as ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and the TV films: ‘Strumpet’ and ‘Vacuuming completely nude in Paradise’; the latter rumoured to have been adapted as an artistic feature for the Opening Ceremony.
Mr Cameron then handed over to the Olympics minister, Mr Hugh Robertson, who began by defending the decision to increase the Opening Ceremony budget from £41 million to £80 million; the whole of the increase to come out of public funds. He said that it would generate an additional £5 billion in advertising revenue. When questioned about how this revenue estimate had been arrived at, he admitted that he had done the calculations on the back of a cigarette packet whilst travelling in a taxi from Victoria Railway Station to Westminster.
With regard to the £271 million increase in the security budget to over £1000 million, (£1 billion) he confirmed that: “the increase is not in response to any new or specific security threat.” By way of excusing the fluctuating budget Mr Robertson said sardonically: “when I started being Olympics minister there was no Arab Spring. No one really knows whether that's going to have a beneficial or adverse effect on our security.” Adding “you may as well pluck a figure out of thin air and so that’s what I have done.”
Mr Robertson confirmed that the current cost, out of public funds, of staging the Olympic Games was estimated to be £9.3 billion (up from its original budget of £2.37 billion).
He explained that the commercial arm of the Olympics, in the form of the private limited company LOCOG, is planning to recoup its £2 billion costs from sponsorship - from companies such as British Airways, McDonalds and Coca-cola - and from TV and merchandising deals. Mr Robertson glanced over to Lord Coe for confirmation of this. Lord Coe returned a rather nervous smile and remained silent.
However Mr Deighton, CEO of LOCOG, was more forthcoming and exuberantly intervened in defence of the benefits of private sponsorship: “Sponsors use it (the Olympic Games) as a huge motivational tool for their workforces. People literally skip to work when they find out their employer has signed up to sponsor the games. The excitement would stagger you and it really translates itself into productivity improvements and people staying longer in the companies.” (Yes, apparently he really did say this!)
Mr Robertson confirmed that of the £9.3 billion, £6 billion had been provided by the general taxpayer, £1 billion from the Council Taxpayers of London and £2 billion from the National Lottery. He thanked everyone for their contribution in such difficult times; singling out for praise what he described as: “the millions of ordinary working people who loyally queue at lottery outlets throughout the land on a Wednesday and Saturday to generously hand over their hard earned cash to ensure the Olympics are a success.”
Mr Robertson then handed proceedings back to the Prime Minister. Mr Cameron began by thanking Danny Boyle for his work to date but said that: “we need to think out of the box in these challenging times to ensure that the country gains a lasting legacy from the Games.”
Mr Cameron went on to say that: “rather than being shy about the involvement of our armed forces in the Olympic Games we should use it to demonstrate that Britain is still a force to be reckoned with in the world and to show our enemies –such as North Korea, Iran, France and Germany - that Britain will not be pushed around. We should use the Olympics to showcase the best of our armed services!”
The Prime Minister went on to cite the provision of banking and financial services as the second area in which Britain excels and which is intended to feature prominently in the revised Opening Ceremony.
At this point Mr Cameron took the opportunity to introduce Mr Paul Deighton, CEO of LOCOG, and acknowledged Lord Coe’s ability to see ‘the bigger picture’ in his inspirational choice in appointing Mr Deighton in the face of considerable criticism.
One of the critics to whom the Prime Minister was presumably referring was the recruitment agency which was given the task of head-hunting for the position. When Mr Deighton, a senior partner in Goldman Sachs, put himself forward for the job, the head-hunter, charged with short-listing the candidates, allegedly told Mr Deighton that: ‘the last thing we need is some testosterone-crazed investment banker.’ Lord Coe immediately appointed Mr Deighton.
Mr Cameron said that he had already met with Mr Deighton, who had come up with a number of new and innovative derivative and hedge fund products - in conjunction with his former employers Goldman Sachs and Bank of America - for launch at the Games.
It was understood that our own Royal Bank of Scotland is also keen to become involved. Mr Cameron exclaimed: “the Olympic Games will be the backdrop for the biggest investment banking conference ever held!”
Mr Deighton said that he wanted to keep the details of the specific choreographed events for the Opening Ceremony under wraps, but did disclose that one artistic slot would involve a contingent of girl guides, drawn from groups in the Home Counties, covered in nothing but £50 notes and dancing to the tune: Money! Money! Money!
The Prime Minister went on to explain the benefits of the revised arrangements for the new Opening Ceremony: “by showcasing our two most important export generating industries, armaments and banking, we expect to gross an additional £300 billion in export earnings over the next 10 years which will easily justify the £10 billion - or perhaps £20 billion - cost of staging the Olympic Games.” Asked by a reporter for a breakdown of the revenue projections, Mr Cameron said that these were in the process of being prepared by the independent Office of Budget Responsibility and would be available in due course. It is understood that the procurement teams and high value investors from the 205 countries attending the Games will each be allocated one of the 4,000 brand-new BMW 3 and 5 series vehicles being shipped in from Germany for use by the attending dignitaries.
Finally it was left to Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, to outline the role of the armed forces in the opening ceremony. He was similarly coy about the detail, but robustly defended the recent criticism from the United States which had expressed concern that security for the Games was inadequate: “We will deploy our two largest navy ships, the HMS Ocean and HMS Bulwark, on the Thames; fully armed and battle ready. In addition Lynx and Puma helicopters will constantly patrol the venues from the air; armed with air-to-air missiles and high velocity machine guns and carrying army snipers (fresh from their campaign in Iraq) equipped with Barrett ‘Light Fifty’ rifles, which are able to ‘take out a target’ at more than a mile.
“There will be 13,500 British soldiers on the ground. There will be 10,000 private security guards from G4S, 12,000 police officers, 1000 US FBI agents, 300 MI5 agents and several hundred troops from the SAS regiment, plus many 1000’s of intelligence agents and security personnel from each of the 205 participating countries, plus the private security guards contracted directly by McDonalds, Coca-cola and others to ‘look after their corporate interests.’ In all there will be around 40,000 security personnel for the 10,500 athletes competing in the Games; all of which, I believe, demonstrates that we are taking the security of the Games very seriously indeed!”
Mr Hammond went on to explain that, in order to get the disparate security factions working as a team, selected groups will compete in an ‘It’s a knockout competition’ as part of the Opening Ceremony. Stuart Hall has agreed to come out of retirement to host the event. Guns and other weapons will be surrendered for the duration of the competition.
Mr Hammond explained that the role of the armed forces will not only be to provide security at the Games, but will also play a key role in the Opening Ceremony itself. He said that he was reluctant to give the game away and spoil the surprise, but added: “you can be sure that the guns of HMS Ocean and HMS Bulwark will be in action, together with a display by Apache Attack Helicopters. A formation display of Cruise Missiles (with the nuclear warheads disarmed) was also being considered.
He confirmed that fireworks would definitely not be part of the ceremony saying that: “fireworks are old hat and we do not intend to repeat the same tired formula used by the Chinese in Beijing.” He said for the night display the use of phosphorous munitions was being considered, but admitted that safety issues were proving problematic.
Then, relenting from his previous tight-lipped approach, Mr Hammond, provided details of one part of the Opening Ceremony in which the armed forces will participate.
This will involve 200 army snipers who will form a circle inside the main stadium, rifles pointed skywards, to provide a demonstration of precision marksmanship; shooting as many pigeons as possible in the 3 minute timeslot allocated.
The gunshots will be synchronised and amplified over the stadium’s loud speakers in a coordinated symphony to the music of Swan lake by Tchaikovsky, culminating in a 30 second burst from the weapon of choice for the British Army, the L1A1 12.7 mm Heavy Machine Gun firing up to 650 rounds a minute, mounted on a fleet of army Land Rovers circling the arena.
Mr Hammond explained that: “not only will this provide a spectacular display for the assembled audience but it is estimated that it will ‘down’ around 5,000 pigeons which will considerably reduce the prevalence of this pest in the stadium.”
Boris Johnson’s Mayoral Office has arranged for local primary school children to be on hand in the stadium to collect the dead pigeons; after which they will be placed in cardboard boxes, with a selection of fresh organic vegetables and a recipe for Pigeon Pie – courtesy of the celebrity Chef, Antony Worrall-Thompson – to be distributed to the poor of the London Boroughs in the surrounding area. When asked by a reporter whether the choice of celebrity chef would be reviewed following last week’s arrest of Mr Worrall Thompson for repetitively shoplifting from Tesco’s, Mr Cameron quickly stepped in and responded curtly: “Mr Worrall-Thompson has apologised and accepted a caution and said that he will seek the treatment necessary to rid him of his dishonesty.” Adding: “I believe in giving a person a second chance!”
Questioned about the safety of using live rounds in a stadium packed with 80,000 people, the Defence Secretary explained that the snipers were under strict instructions not to allow their guns to deviate more than 20 degrees from vertical; a requirement made possible by the sophisticated gun sights utilising GPS positioning. Mr Hammond stressed that it would be essential that all mobile phones are switched off during the shooting display to avoid interference with the GPS gun sight technology.
The Prime Minister closed the proceedings by thanking everyone for their attendance and for their efforts to ensure that the Olympic Games will be a success. The Cabinet members were then helped out of the pool by members of the Olympic diving team and wrapped in aluminium foil to guard against the risk of hypothermia.
Major breakthrough in mental health diagnosis and treatment!
by Tim Hart 7th January 2012
AT A PACKED news conference yesterday (Friday) the President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Professor Sue Bailey announced, what she described as: one of the most important breakthroughs in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health for a generation.
Professor Bailey was flanked by: the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg; the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Mr Bernard Hogan-Howe; the CEO of Glaxo Smithkline, Mr Andrew Witty and, completing the line up, Prince Charles, in his capacity as President of the National Trust. The high profile panel sat behind a long trestle table, bedecked with white linen table cloth, against a backdrop of a banner with the Royal College of Psychiatrist’s motto: Let Wisdom Guide, emblazoned across it in large red lettering.
The media representatives packed the room, the numbers being swelled, no doubt, by the event being flagged earlier in the morning on BBC Breakfast TV and Radio Four.
Professor Bailey thanked the panel members for attending, singling out the Deputy Prime Minister for particular praise for what she described as his: personal support and assistance with the research project.
Nick Clegg smiled modestly and, with his index finger, gestured at his face, which was covered in some 20-30 small round medical plasters; mimicking the words: all will be revealed! Professor Bailey went on to explain the origins and context of the research, the catalyst for which had been an early initiative by the Coalition Government in commissioning the Office of National Statistics [ONS] to develop a ‘happiness index’ by including self rating questions on the annual population census.
The new questionnaire will not be in census forms until April 2012, but a large pilot was undertaken by the ONS during 2011, in conjunction with laboratory work at Surrey University on a group of volunteers from the general public, together with an undisclosed number of last summer’s rioters, who were apparently promised early parole in return for participating in the study. Professor Bailey announced that: the results of the research had led to the spectacular discovery of a new mental illness called Chronic Despair Syndrome [CDS]
Professor Bailey went on to talk about the details of the project. The research found that a significant percentage of the pilot group scored ‘extremely low’ on the ‘happiness index’ and were in a generally depressed state, yet failed to respond to any of the standard drug or counselling therapies used to remedy the condition. (The class of drugs normally used to treat depression are Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors.[SSRIs]
These include citalapran and fluoxetine; the latter more commonly known under the brand name, Prozac. ) However the researchers found that administering the drugs to the study group of CDS sufferers over a continuous period of six months had no beneficial effect.
With the aid of sophisticated brain scanning and imaging technology researchers at Surrey University, working alongside a team from the Royal College of Psychiatrists led by Professor Bailey, discovered a hitherto unidentified part of the central nervous system which is adjacent to the area of the brain cortex responsible for the production of serotonin, but completely independent of it.
The visual texture of this newly discovered part of the brain was found to vary significantly between those scoring high on the happiness index and those scoring extremely low.
Professor Bailey explained that the project had been kept secret until estimates of the extent of the disease amongst the general populace had been determined and, importantly, so that an effective treatment could be developed.
Predictions of the prevalence and severity of CDS amongst the wider UK population were calculated using a formula, which comprised allocating a score, between 1 and 10, to each of the CDS sufferers in the sample, multiplying this number by the correlation coefficient of the relationship between the average of a man’s shoe size and his height (whilst the actual data for women was different the resultant correlation coefficient was the same) and finally dividing the resultant number by the square root of the radius of the moon.
The data was then standardised and the results extrapolated to produce the alarming result that between seventy and eighty percent of the adult UK population has Chronic Despair Syndrome [CDS], to a moderate or severe extent, and that the incidence is probably even higher in children.
Professor Bailey stated that: whilst anecdotal evidence of CDS has been evident for some time – as exhibited by increasing public unrest, strikes demonstrations etc. and in the behaviour of certain prominent individuals - it is has not been until now that we have obtained conclusive evidence of Chronic Despair Syndrome [CDS] as a discrete clinical condition.
When asked to give examples of the ‘prominent individuals’ to whom she was referring, Professor Bailey said that she felt that a number of leading journalists were CDS sufferers; particularly singling out for mention the editor of the Guardian Newspaper, Alan Rusbridger and its leading correspondents, Simon Jenkins, George Monbiot and Will Hutton.
Professor Bailey also said that the repeated outbursts by Mr Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, when wittering on about the Country being in the worst economic state it has ever been and the rant by Mr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, when likening bankers to rioters were other examples which sprung to mind: I hope that Mr King, Mr Williams and journalists from the Guardian Newspaper will set an example and come forward voluntarily to seek treatment so that they and the many other sufferers can regain a normal, balanced and healthy mental outlook.
When asked about the specific symptoms of CDS, Professor Bailey said that: anyone who has thoughts that are enduringly negative about their work, their employer, family life, politicians, the economy, or the state of the natural environment are advised to seek an early appointment with their GP.
Pressed by a reporter in the audience to explain the rationale behind the formula giving rise to the predictions of the high prevalence of CDS, Professor Bailey said that to divulge more detail might risk breaching the intellectual property rights of Surrey University who have applied to patent the formula; adding that: this breakthrough has come at the most opportune time.
After the razzmatazz of Christmas and the prospects of an austere New Year the symptoms of CDS are at their most acute and debilitating. She quipped; whilst we can’t sort out the problems of the European Union (casting a sly glance and a wink at Nick Clegg) we believe we can help people feel better about themselves and their circumstances.
Professor Bailey stated that the discovery of CDS was: a massive leap forward in the field of psychiatry, adding modestly that: any talk of my being awarded the Nobel Prize for Science is premature.
Professor Bailey then handed out a fact sheet on CDS produced by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and explained that the factsheet compliments others already in circulation on Hyperkinetic Disorder (more commonly referred to by its American name, ‘Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder’ [ADHD] – where children find it difficult to pay attention at school - and the more recently discovered condition of ‘Social Anxiety Syndrome’ – where a person is shy and finds it difficult to socialise with other people – the main treatment for the latter being the drug Paxil produced by Glaxo Smithkline.
Professor Bailey then went on to explain what she described as: the ground-breaking therapy which is to be used to treat Chronic Despair Syndrome; [CDS] the development of which involved bringing further partners to the project in the form of the National Trust and Glaxo Smithkline; nodding politely to Prince Charles and Mr Witty in acknowledgement of their presence on the panel.
Professor Bailey premised her explanation of the treatment by saying that it was: unconventional but proven to be highly effective in the alleviation of the symptoms of CDS.
The germ of the idea had come from the early results of a three year research study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, conducted jointly by the National Trust and Surrey Wildlife Trust which has shown that birdsong can have a beneficial effect on mental well-being.
Professor Bailey then handed the floor to Prince Charles who remarked, with a rather self-deprecating quip, that: first I was caught talking to plants and now I admit to listening to birdsong in my bath. This confirms what most people have always thought. That I must be mad! Prince Charles went on to say that for many years he had enjoyed listening to birdsong, but until now he had not fully appreciated the clinical benefits of doing so.
He disclosed that each morning his human resources director gathers the employees together in a large barn on his Highgrove Estate to listen to sparrows chirping in the rafters for 15 minutes before starting work. Prince Charles concluded by saying that: he was honoured, as President of the National Trust, to be associated with the project.
Mr Witty, CEO of Glaxo Smithkline, then took the floor to explain that his company had become involved in the project in order to provide specialist research and development skills and to provide the finance and marketing expertise to ensure that the birdsong treatment was brought to market quickly and effectively.
Mr Witty said that, following clinical trials using different kinds of birdsong - in some cases synthesised with other sounds - it had been found that a combination of the live birdsong of the robin (recorded birdsong was found not to have the same beneficial effect) played simultaneously with a recording of the Frank Sinatra song, I did it my way, provided the optimum combination to treat Chronic Despair Syndrome [CDS]. Importantly, to be effective, the robin’s song had to be during free flight (at first caged birds had been used) and the Frank Sinatra track must be played on a vinyl record on a Wurlitzer jukebox. In addition the birdsong must be listened to in an enclosed space which is sound and light proof to avoid contamination from extraneous sources.
Glaxo Smithkline is in the process of constructing aviaries at its main manufacturing sites in order to breed the robins, on what is likely to be an industrial scale to fulfil demand.
The birdsong treatment has been submitted to the National Institute of Clinical Excellence [NICE] for it to become an accepted clinical intervention provided on the NHS. The government has indicated that it would like to see the approval fast-tracked. In anticipation of this, Hospitals and GP Practices have been given special funding to purchase free-standing birdsong therapy units, which can be positioned, either in car parks - as self-contained structures, or by the adaptation of a consulting room for the purpose.
Glaxo Smithkline shares ended 12% higher at the close of trading today (Friday) following disclosure that they had secured patent rights to the birdsong treatment for a period of 30 years.
When a reporter in the audience suggested that an additional reason for Glaxo Smithkline’s eagerness to be involved in the project might be as a means of redeeming its reputation after it was revealed last year that one of its SSRI drugs - marketed under the brand name Paxil - was found to have no discernible benefit in alleviating depression and in fact increased, by a factor of 500%, the suicidal tendencies of the patients taking it. Mr Witty dismissed this proposition and added that: the studies linking Paxil to increased suicide rates were unconvincing. When the questioner pointed out that the studies were undertaken by Glaxo Smithkline’s own researchers Mr Witty refused to comment further.
It was then the turn of Mr Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. The Commissioner said that the Metropolitan Police has been provided with funding to trial the use of mobile birdsong therapy units, which are to be run by a specialist team set up from within the Territorial Support Group [TSG].
The mobile units will attend at demonstrations and rallies where there is risk of public disorder and where many of the participants may be CDS sufferers. CDS patients will be ‘guided’ to the mobile units by ‘specially trained’ TSG officers where they will receive brief periods - 10-20 minutes - of birdsong therapy before being given a tetanus injection and a course of antibiotics to guard against infection from the inevitable pecks on the face by the robins.
By way of illustration of the benefits that these therapy units will provide, the Commissioner referred to last summer’s riots in London: if the police had been equipped with the mobile birdsong therapy units then I believe it would have been a very different story and we would never have lost control of the streets.
In a separate gesture of goodwill the TSG Commander is to arrange for mobile units to be positioned at the encampments of Occupy Groups around London on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons in order that CDS sufferers can conveniently access the treatment facilities.
It was left to the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, to round off proceedings. He thanked Professor Bailey and the other members of the panel for the vital contribution they had made to the discovery of Chronic Despair Syndrome [CDS] and in the development of the treatment therapy. He cited the project as a superb illustration of public-private partnership and an example of the unique and worthwhile contribution that the Liberal Democrats are making to the Coalition Government.
Then, by way of explanation of his face being peppered with plasters, he said that he had been pleased to personally participate in the trials of the birdsong therapy, but denied being a CDS sufferer himself; adding that his medical records would be made available on request as proof that he had never had the illness.