UK Labour Party leader Ed Miliband’s steadfast move to rule out a referendum evoked concerns among many of his MPs. Last month, Prime Minister David Cameron committed his party to the re-negotiation of the UK membership in the EU for an in/out referendum, which Miliband opposed saying “I do not support a public vote. My position is NO – we don’t want an in/out referendum”, as reported.
Just nearly two weeks ago, Labour gained a 12-point lead over the Tories in the opinion polls survey conducted by The Guardian/ICM, the biggest lead the party attained since May 2003, amid tensions in the ranks of Labour Party.
Another survey by YouGov poll for The Sun gave Labour a lead of 11-point against the Tories, and likewise revealed that voters favor Labour on the economy issue, at 28 points against Tories’ 27 points.
Edward Michael “Ed” Balls, a 45-year-old Labour Party politician, MP for Morley and Outwood since 2010, and the current Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer since Jan. 20, 2011, in contradiction to Miliband’s comments made a remark recently in a Yorkshire Post interview that Labour would be “stupid” to fight the next election opposing a referendum on the European Union.
He said “As long as we don’t allow ourselves to be caricatured as an anti-referendum party which we’re not, we’ve absolutely not ruled-out a referendum. And if we permit ourselves to be the status quo or anti-referendum party in Europe, then we’ve got a problem”.
Douglas Garven Alexander, a 45-year-old British Labour Party politician, MP for the Paisley and Renfrewshire South constituency and current Shadow Foreign Secretary, said the Europe and Labour’s opposition on a referendum will not be the main issue at the next general election.
Alexander stated that the Conservatives’ failure to deliver economic growth in the country would be the dominant issue and he was not worried Labour’s referendum standing could affect the party in an electoral campaign, in an interview with the Guardian recently.
Labour Party settled on a compromise position, being opposed in a referendum but not ruling-out support for it in the future. Meanwhile, If Labour Party wins in the 2015 election and forms its own government, it would hold its own referendum, despite Miliband’s recent comments, as predicted by Labour MPs.
UK Sir Bruce Keogh, 58-year-old, is the Medical Director of the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK since 2007 and National Director of the NHS Commissioning Board since 2012.
Following Stafford scandal, Sir Keogh, on the first week of February, announced launching of investigations on five hospital trusts over mortality rates.
Further investigations on nine more hospital trusts were recently announced, and United Lincolnshire Hospital Trusts (ULHT), was among those 14 trusts currently investigated, BBC reported.
Gary Walker, former chief executive of ULHT, who was sacked for gross professional misconduct in 2010, defying legal gag orders, broke his silence in an interview and claimed he was forced to quit for refusing to meet Whitehall targets for non-emergency patients, which resulted to a gag order as part of a settlement deal allegedly for L500,000, as reported by Birmingham Mail on February 14th, Thursday.
Walker, the whistleblower, likewise alleged that Sir David Nicholson, the first chief executive of the NHS Commissioning Board since 2011, ignored him when he raised concerns relevant to patients’ safety in 2009, as reported on Mail online on February 21st, Thursday.
Unite the Union, the biggest British and Irish trade union formed on May 1, 2007, citing that Sir Nicholson presided over a “culture of fear and bullying” in the health service, repeatedly called for his resignation, to no avail, as reported online.
Following Walker’s interview, solicitors from ULHT wrote and demanded immediate repayment for breach of the settlement agreement of his unfair dismissal claim.
NLHT lawyers added “The agreement we reached with Mr. Walker was not about concerns raised relevant to patient services but related to his employment proceedings”.
MPs wanted NLHT to cease on pursuing legal action against Walker, to enable Walker to disclose evidence pertaining to his dismissal.
Stephen Dorrell, chairman of the House of Commons Health Committee, wrote to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, for his appropriate action. He also said that the culture of gagging whistleblowers in the NHS was “corrupt”.
The Health Secretary, for his part and in response to the letter, criticized the trust’s action.
Stephen Phillips, the Conservative MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham, said he would call on the Parliament to conduct investigation on the issue and pledged that all related- evidence would be made public.
Three men who planned to become suicide bombers and hoped to eclipse the 7th July and 9/11 Al Qaeda-inspired terror atrocities have been found guilty of terrorism charges.
Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27, from Birmingham in the UK Midlands, were found guilty at Woolwich Crown Court in London of being "central figures" in the plot.
Jurors were told they planned to set off up to eight bombs in rucksacks and probably detonate bombs on timers. The trio were arrested in 2011 amid fears their plans were accelerating. Detectives believe it was the most significant terror plot to be uncovered since the 2006 conspiracy to blow up transatlantic airliners using bombs disguised as soft drinks.
Karen Jones, a specialist counter-terrorism prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "These men had dangerous aspirations and whilst the precise targets remained unclear, the potential for damage and loss of life from their plans should not be underestimated.”
During interviews the three men who were arrested mentioned wanting to attack British soldiers and also a desire to wear explosive vests.
In court all three men who were charged acted in the same way as others who faced the same charges before them; having a hatred for western society and making excuses for their actions.
Detective Inspector Adam Gough of West Midlands Police led the investigation into the men.
"There's no doubt whatsoever that they were the real deal," he said. "They are committed, passionate extremists. They had a real stated intention to kill and maim as many people as they possibly can. More than that, they not only had that intention, but they had the capacity and training to make that intention a reality.”
UK Paul Edward Winston White, Baron Hanningfield, 72-year-old, commonly known as Lord Hanningfield, was a British Conservative Party politician and member of the House of the Lords. He served as the leader of Essex County Council from 2001 to February 2010.
On February 5, 2010, he was charged with offenses under section 17 of the Theft Act of 1968 relevant to false accounting for claims of nearly L14,000 overnight accommodations, which he denied. He was found guilty on six counts of false accounting on May 26, 2011.
On July 1, 2011, he was sentences to nine months imprisonment, the shortest meted out for this kind of offense. On September 12, 2011, after serving just a quarter of his sentence, he was released from prison on home detention curfew term.
Following his release, he sued for compensation against police who conducted an alleged follow-up investigation over the incidents which led to his conviction.
The former Tory peer claimed that his arrest, detention and the search of his home, during a second investigation conducted by the police sans warrant which was discontinued without any charges, were unlawful, as reported.
Hanningfield, who was not present during London’s high court ruling on February 15th, Friday, claimed officers did not have reasonable grounds for believing the legitimacy of his arrest are within the terms of the Police and Criminal Act of 1984.
The police denied his accusations and argued that based on information known to the arresting officer, reasonable grounds exists, hence the arrest, as well as the detention and search of the premises are lawful and legal.
However, Justice Eady, who presided the hearing concluded that the police’s denial was unfounded and that the “necessity” for the arrest had not been met. The damage have been agreed for L3,500 payable by the Essex Police to Hanningfield, as Guardian reported.
Hanningfield who was delighted of the outcome said “The case was not about winning money but to prove a point”.
Mike Spragg, his solicitor from Keystone Law, said “Lord Hanningfield is not above the law but neither does he fall beneath it due to his conviction”.
Essex Police expressed their disappointment and are considering for an appeal on the decision.
Paul Mylrea, who is on a salary of £156,000 a year, will be removed from his post as director of public affairs at the BBC later this year as part of the corporation's plan to reduce the senior management number. This decision came after former Labour culture secretary James Purnell's appointment as director of strategy and digital was announced.
Though rumored not to be happy with the higher ups’ decision, in his e-mail to some colleagues Mylrea said: "I am delighted at James' appointment to the BBC, and in particular his appointment to the executive board," and added, "This is a clear signal of the importance that Tony Hall places on engaging with our audiences and external stakeholders. I have talked to James and look forward to working with him as he shapes his team."
He also stated that until the time he leaves, he will work diligently with incoming director of strategy and digital James Purnell and director general Tony Hall to help them adjust and settle in.
Paul Mylrea joined BBC in 2010 as head of press and media relations after working at the department for international development as head of its communications team. His title was then changed to director of public affairs in September when George Entwistle became BBC's director general.
In 2012 Mylrea headed BBC’s comms team in handling the Jimmy Savile crisis, which earned him criticism from many quarters and the eventual resignation of Entwistle.
Regarding the Savile crisis, Mylrea was quoted saying: "As public relations professionals, we will continue to do what is right – but first, what is right for the victims of these horrific allegations. If people want to call us slow, so be it. But I would rather be slow and right, than fast and loose."
UK the Food Safety Authority of Ireland found horse DNA in some cheap frozen beef burgers on November last year. One beef burger sample from Tesco turned out to be 29% horse.
Three factories were involved as the sources of contaminated and adulterated beef products, namely Silvercrest Foods in Ireland, Dalepak in Yorkshire and Liffey Meats in Ireland.
The first two factories are both subsidiaries of ABP Food Group, one of the largest beef processors in Europe. ABP blamed its continental suppliers.
Freeza Foods, a cold store in Northern Ireland with frozen meat found to contain horsemeat claimed the meat blocks were delivered by McAdams Foods, a meat broker, who claimed they were sold to them by Flexi Foods which imports from Poland and elsewhere.
The rest of Europe got involved as round of tests for “beefs” in frozen pasta were found 100% horse made by Comigel, a French manufacturer who said it was subcontracted to Spanghero, a factory in Luxembourg, Tavola.
And so, the merry-go-round goes. Thorough investigation to determine the culprit proved to be monumental.
In UK, product screening was launched after some products on sale were found to be 100% horsemeat.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson would discuss this issue with foreign ministers in Europe, as told to Sky News. “I understand court cases will begin in certain continental countries between processors and suppliers and I hope that this is resolved rapidly”, he said.
Paterson is primarily concerned if consumption of horsemeat would pose a threat to human health.
He admitted that the government is powerless to impose a ban on meat import unless the contaminated beef is found to be detrimental to people’s health. The Food Standard Agency (FSA) said no evidence was found to suggest any danger.
However, tests are conducted fort phenylbutazone, known as “bute”, as animals treated with the drug are banned in the food chain.
Kate-bashing has so far been pretty rare. Why would you after all? Beautiful, self-effacing, polite and courteous and she is yet to go off on any Diana–esque meanderings...so to speak. The closest she’s come to criticism is the scoffing of the country’s many laddish men throughout the country going, “William picked the wrong one, ‘ave you seen Pippa’s arse? Phwoar”...Such commentary makes Nicolas Witchell seem royal comparatively inane...oh wait.
But all of a sudden a scathing attack has been directed towards the lovely Duchess. Who is the culprit? Nope, it’s not Jeremy Clarkson. It is, indeed, one of the nation’s favourite authors. Again it isn’t Jeremy Clarkson, but a genuine author of admired intelligence. Yes, it’s Hilary Mantel.
The Man Booker Prize winner in 2009 and 2012 has compared her to Anne Boleyn (who she knows quite a lot about having written novels based on the history of Boleyn) during a lecture entitled Undressing Anne Boleyn (yes, she’s an expert). She said that the princess has made the progression from being a “shop-window mannequin” to a woman whose only “purpose” is to “give birth”.
"It's rather that I saw Kate becoming a jointed doll on which certain rags are hung” she said. “In those days she was a shop-window mannequin, with no personality of her own, entirely defined by what she wore. These days she is a mother-to-be, and draped in another set of threadbare attributions ... her only point and purpose being to give birth."
Quite what she expects from a woman who has the world’s eyes on her at all times in the PR exercise that is the Royal Family, I’m not so sure. Perhaps, behind closed doors (really closed, quadruple-locked doors being required to escape the paparazzi), she may be an absolute hoot, but does she really have much choice about being the mannequin or smiling princess she is in public life? It’s hardly as though the queen has ever showed much of her non-head-of-state face, nor William or Harry (having a go at architects aside). Prince Harry (the Duke of Edinburgh is just a bit old-school really) is the only exception to the PR necessities of the core members of the royal family, and he is usually lambasted for his tomfoolery. Sure he’s probably more loved by the public because of it, but can we really expect the whole royal family to do the same? Nope, thought not.
Mantel may have meant her criticisms as historical commentary rather than personal attack, but the reality is that the Duchess of Cambridge has so far led the life expected of her – which wasn’t the same as predecessors such as Anne Boleyn, Marie Aonteinette and Princess Diana. Can she really be blamed for doing so? It’s hardly as though the three aforementioned princesses fared too greatly.
Nicholas William Peter Clegg, or simply Nick Clegg, is the incumbent Deputy Prime Minister of UK and likewise the Lord President of the Council since May 11, 2010.
John Vincent Cable or Vince Cable, a Tory Member of Parliament, is the current Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills since May 12, 2012.Both Conservative Party members were recently interviewed on the Murnaghan show on Sky News.
Cable admitted that they have business ties with some members of Labour, and though it could possibly jeopardize his status within his party, he remarked that the public “understands” that the Lib Dems have “got to talk to opposition people”. He said “Of course you’ve got to have a dialogue with the opposition as there are decisions needed to be addressed for the very long- term”.
Cable’s remarks were prompted relevant to queries of “keeping lines of communications open to Labour”, and the fact that senior Lib Dems ministers are in discussion about long-term plans for pensions and business strategy.
Last year, Cable was compelled to expound on his text messages exchanges with Labour leader, Ed Miliband, saying “I’ve been open for a very long time and once in a while I talk to people in rival parties and in my opinion, that’s grown-up politics”.
Cable stated that he is already discussing issues relevant to pensions and industrial strategy with some Labour figures, stating “Talking about industry strategy and pension policy is understood by the public and business sector”.
Meanwhile, the deputy PM, Clegg, stated that the UK will likely witness more coalition in the future, as the prospect of an alliance between Lib Dems and Labour is evident. He said “My own view is that coalition government would be a regular feature in British politics and it is the obligation of all parties concerned to impart to their supporters and the general public its possible implications”.
Clegg also criticized Labour saying “The party will not be taken seriously if they steadfastly deny their own responsibility for the state of the economy of the country”.
It’s already been a suitably controversial year for far-right ‘political’ group, the English Defence League. Six members were jailed for rampaging Bradford enacting what the courts described as "sustained and unprovoked racial violence by a group acting together in a crowded town centre” last year; co-leader Stephen Lennon was jailed for using a fake passport trying to gain entry to the USA; other co-leader, Kevin Carroll, was arrested for inciting hatred on Facebook. None of this news is particularly surprising for those familiar with EDL tactics – their hatred shrouded ‘political’ bravado has long been known for its bullying associations.
But, behind the idiocy of the EDL flag-bearers of the right wing, is there an underlying movement towards right-wing, nationalist and anti-immigration views among the British public? Teesside University has set up a centre to look into trends among right wing trends in the UK and Dr Matthew Feldman notes that “cultural nationalism” is supposedly moving “into the mainstream”.
“For the first time since, I believe, the National Front in the late 70s and early 80s, the far-right is really going for popular support,” he told the The Guardian. “It's moving out into the mainstream, with some success.”
On the plus side, this growing popularity of mainstream right wing politics (most notably in the form of UKIP‘s rise) coincides with the decreasing of the already minimal actual influence of extremist right wing groups like the EDL. The lack of end-product by the usually disorganized and often illegal methods of groups like the EDL and BNP somewhat puts people off. Most right-wing people hold their views not because of genuine hatred (and, let’s face it, racism)but because of what they believe to be right for their country, because they want to defend what they perceive to be their comfort of living and the historic prestige of their British lives. With most of these people being more akin to old school conservative traditionalists rather than hate-filled radicals, the BNP and EDL have suffered – the BNP has reportedly lost 90% of its membership while the EDL is constantly dogged in controversy.
However, even with far right activism declining, a milder, wider and more tolerated form of “cultural nationalism”, directed against Muslims in particular, is still dangerous. Hostility against the 2.5 million British Muslims has increased following the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks in New York and London. Accordingly there were 1,200 anti-Muslim attacks in 2010 according to police data, while a Financial Times opinion poll showed that an awful lot of Britons are suspicious of Muslims – in fact Britons are the most suspicious of Muslims in Europe. While the latter more cultural statistic does not necessarily represent a general racist attitude in Britain towards Muslims, it does note an admitted hostility that, if not overcome and dispelled in the coming generations, could veer into a more ugly and concerning cultural attitude.
There are of course important things to consider with these reports of cultural suspicions – notably demographics such as older aged people being more likely to be suspicious than the younger more culturally diverse and liberal younger generations and the fact that people in cities are more likely to be exposed to myriad ethnicities. It also has to be remembered that in a country as big as the UK, there will always be extremists such as those that make up the EDL and BNP and presumably the majority of those reported attacks. Indeed the Teesside centre is looking into the possibility of such extreme right wing fascism spilling over into seriously destructive actions in the same way that it did in Norway in 2011, when Anders Breivik slaughtered 77 people.
"I don't want to overstate the risk of it, but there is a conjunction between what the far right has always done – what we call lone-wolf terrorism, with Breivik the perfect example – and what you have on the internet in terms of logistics and communication," said Feldman.
Of course the internet has changed the face of extremism and it takes a lesser amount of people to cause great catastrophes than ever before. Fortunately, the EDL and BNP have never exhibited the kind of sociopathic intelligence required to do damage beyond the relatively small-scale thuggish beatings that they currently enact. However, if cultural nationalism really is becoming more of a thing, then people with the intelligence to do real harm could be so culturally affected that they could actually do this serious harm.
Let us also not forget that it was in a period following economic depression and growing liberalism that reactionary right wing fascism emerged in Germany in the 1930s. While history has hopefully taught subsequent first world societies like Britain the immorality of cultural extremism, it should be remembered that all hostility and suspicion is not conducive to a morally cohesive society. Should the growing “cultural nationalism” depicted by academics like Feldman actually be taking place, let us remember that hostility towards any law-abiding sector of society is bad for society as a whole.
Labour Party Councilor Jean Campbell died at the age of 65 on Saturday, November 17th last year. She represented Wormholt and White City ward since 2006. Her death triggered a by-election to Hammersmith and Fulham, and Max Schmid was chosen nearly a couple of months ago as Labour’s candidate.
Max Schmid said “Jean Campbell was an inspiration and I will do all I can to live up to her legacy and to the high standard she set”.
Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith remarked “I know Max will be a strong advocate for local people, to change the divisive and destructive Tory policies impacting so negatively on the area”.
Max Schmid, a 29-year-old environmental charity worker from Parson Green, is a seasoned campaigner having run for elected office in North End in 2010.
His campaign promises focused on the following g issues, among a few, planned by the Conservatives:
= The devastating cuts to the local National Health Services (NHS)
= The closure of the Shepherd Bush Police Station, despite the escalating level of crime.
= Removal of housing rights and benefits.
He was elected as the Labour’s Councilor for Wormholt and White House ward in the by-election held on February 7th, Thursday, with an overwhelming 67% of the vote in his favor.
Schmid garnered 1,419 votes, followed by Conservative’s Jamie Mckittrick, 251, Lib Dems’ Chris Whittaker, 209, UKIP’s Andrew Elston, 122, Independent Jeoffrey Boateng, 75 and British National Party’s Andrew Timothy Donald with 45 votes. Turn-out was 24.77% and 27 ballot papers were rejected.
Prior to the result of the by-election, Hammersmith and Fulham council announced that Charring Cross hospital could be saved from closure by injecting L90 million investments to rebuild the hospital and a decreased 24-hour accident and emergency services. However, no plans were cited relevant to the planned closure of Hammersmith hospital by NHS North West London.
After his victory, Schmid reiterated his pledge to try to save the closure of Hammersmith hospital and said that he is determined to fulfill his campaign promise to increase provision of affordable and social housing.