13 September 2018
Diary of a Corbynista
Time to Switch
by Don Urquhart
Frank Field MP has resigned the Labour whip. He has been a member of the anti-Corbyn cabal for some time. This comprises Labour MP’s who have no future in the party while Corbyn is the leader, members of other parties, apart from the SNP which is agnostic about him, and in and outside parliament anyone who does not support the creation of a Palestinian state. Corbyn’s critics are keen to depict him and his followers as anti-Semitic bullies, concatenate anti-Semitism, Momentum and Marxism into a cosy miasma of indignation where they posture to each other and to corrupt media organisations in the mistaken belief that these confer legitimacy. It’s a bandwagon and as a Corbynista I hope it runs into the buffers soon. Mr Field might be cheered by Eric Pickles’ enthusiastic endorsement or he might ask himself whether this is the sort of person he wants to identify with.
I had a vague idea that my gas supplier was putting up its prices so logged on to the website. I was alarmed at their plans for me, so initiated an online chat with a chap called Umar.
Here’s our dialogue which I have edited only to remove my personal details and reinstate the money amounts which had been redacted by my supplier:
Umar (09:35:24 GMT): Good morning, you’re through to Umar I hope you’re well today, how can I help?
Visitor (09:35:30 GMT): Hallo
Visitor (09:35:57 GMT): I would like to discuss your charges.
Umar (09:36:10 GMT): I’ll have a look into that for you, can I start by taking your full name, address and date of birth please?
Visitor (09:36:49 GMT): Don Urquhart…..
Umar (09:38:57 GMT): How can I help?
Visitor (09:40:20 GMT): I currently pay £105 per month. If I do nothing you will put this up to £129 in September. Is there a reason why I should not switch?
Umar (09:42:34 GMT) : I’ll have a look for you
Visitor (09:42:43 GMT) : Thanks
Umar (09:46:38 GMT) : It looks like you’ve just had a reassessment and based on what you’re using we’ve had to increase your payments to keep you on track
Visitor (09:48:30 GMT) : Other suppliers are offering to charge me £90 or less for the same usage. Shall I take your answer as a confirmation that I should switch?
Umar (09:49:57 GMT): No not at all, I’ve noticed your tariff is coming to an end we other tariffs available. You can view them online
Visitor (09:50:27 GMT): What is your best offer?
Umar (09:51:21 GMT): You can view our tariffs available online or call XXX XXX XXX to discuss your options
Visitor (09:52:26 GMT): Thanks for trying. Bye.
So I called the number and sent the following to Customer Services:
As advised by your chap I called you and told the machine that I was thinking of leaving. The machine told me there was a 25 minute wait.
I am not about to spend 25 minutes waiting to talk to someone who does not appear interested in retaining my business.
I will switch to another supplier unless you call me on…..
(a long standing customer)
Their automated email response:
You don’t have to do a thing
We’ll handle your enquiry as quickly as possible, however if it’s a complicated issue we may need a little more time to make sure we’ve covered everything. We’ll be in touch within 7 days.
I wish I had a pound for every project I have cocked up in my mediocre career so was not surprised to see that Crossrail completion had been put back by 9 months to autumn 2019.
On Newsnight Emily Maitlis set about analysing the slippage with the help of Daniel Moylan, a former Conservative Councillor and Rachel Maskell the Shadow Transport Secretary.
Daniel told us how complex the signalling software was and that the slippage announcement was not completely out of the blue.
There have been hints about this in the trade press over the last few months.
However there had been no sign of problems when he had left the Board in 2016. He was the TFL nominee until Sadiq Khan became Mayor.
Rachel pointed the finger at Chris Grayling and Daniel turned round in his seat to claim that Sadiq Kahn was responsible:
This is now Sadiq Khan’s project…Crossrail is a wholly owned subsidiary of TfL.
Emily piled in:
Right now this is under a Labour mayoralty and the wheels have come off and this is a Labour Government that has £500 billion of infrastructure projects up its sleeve, rail nationalisation. Why would we trust Labour to go along with any of those when this has happened in the last 2 years?
I wondered whether Emily is as biased as she appears or is just regurgitating what is coming through her earpiece from the producer.
We will be hearing plenty about how everything was fine until Sadiq took over.
I’m not interested in assigning blame but I think it is important to know who is in charge when you are spending £15 billion. It could be that the governance model is the underlying problem with Sadiq and Chris passing the parcel and keeping the rest of us confused.
Chris Grayling moved two Crossrail executives, Chairman Sir Terry Morgan and Chief Executive Andrew Wolstenholme to new roles having congratulated them on their success with Crossrail. Terry was installed as Chairman of HS2 just a month ago; Andrew became a non-Executive Director at HS2 earlier in the year. How relieved they must be at having jumped ship before the less than sparkling results of their Crossrail tenure became obvious.
Won’t be putting any money on HS2 meeting budget and schedule targets.
I would love to see the Crossrail Board Meeting minutes just to discover whether any of the Directors was asking questions about delivery dates. Perhaps they were all dozing off or pondering the route to their next sinecures.
Hopefully the days are gone when political leaders have to grovel to Rupert Murdoch in order to attain and hold on to power. Murdoch’s flagship, The Sun certainly cuts no ice in Birkenhead since it vilified Liverpool fans at Hillsborough. The fact that Frank Field writes for The Sun cannot be an electoral strength for him.
However, he might be heartened by yesterday’s article by Michael Gove which slaps him on the back and predicts the imminent demise of Corbyn. He signs off with:
I wish him well and hope that his bravery will prove the wake-up call his party and the country needs to ensure there’s a sensible party of the centre left once more.
Frank, with friends like that…..
It has become fashionable in the media to blame hard-left Momentum members and, by extension, Jeremy Corbyn for the death threats and abuse that politicians experience. This does not square with the fact that almost half of the Twitter abuse sent in the 1917 election campaign was sent to Diane Abbott.
Today we read that Frank Field has received online death threats and abuse following his resignation of the Labour whip. There were reports also of a young lady called Scarlett London receiving 80,000 abusive messages including death threats for publishing a photo of herself relaxing on her bed drinking a cup of tea. There were crimes involved – there was a bottle of Listerine on the bedside table, her tea cup was empty, she was eating the wrong kind of pastry and so on.
If we must put labels on people who send abusive messages, I would recommend “pathetic” or “inadequate “as the most appropriate.
Parliament is back today. On Newsnight it was almost business as usual. It was a Brexit special with the usual suspects nattering – Mogg, Andrews, Horlick and the like, all talking over each other and Evan Davis incapable of letting anyone else finish a sentence. I say “almost back to normal” because there was a new face which belonged to Danny Lockwood, who runs a newspaper in Batley.
For the last 2 ½ years we have watched a pantomime – these worthy people like those tonight talking themselves into ever decreasing circles.
If you’re sitting where I am in Yorkshire looking down on all these people in the Westminster Bubble swimming round in their little goldfish bowl talking nonsense to each other and getting nowhere fast I think you revert to what happened on the 23rd of June.
He captured in a couple of sentences the irritation with the establishment that led many to vote for Brexit and which continues today.
Now that summer is over, the Labour Party needs to get back to playing a few home games. Frances O’Grady showed the way yesterday taking the PM to task for abandoning her vow to tackle “burning injustices” in Britain. She referred to an ONS finding that families’ outgoings have outstripped their incomes in every quarter since Mrs May took office in 2016.
Wonderful to see John McDonnell on Politics Live answering virtually every question with “I really want a General Election” as if this were the only solution to the nation’s problems.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has published a report entitled Prosperity and Justice – A Plan for the New Economy. Its key messages are:
- The UK economy is not working. It is no longer delivering rising living standards for a majority of the population.
- The economy needs fundamental reform.
- A fair economy is a strong economy. It used to be thought that prosperity and economic justice were in conflict; we had to choose one or other but could not have both. The international evidence now points in precisely the opposite direction. A more equal economy generates stronger and more stable growth, lower social costs and greater wellbeing. Both economics and morality argue for an economy which achieves prosperity and justice together.
- Economic justice needs to be ‘hard-wired’ into the way the economy works. It is not sufficient to seek to redress injustices and inequalities simply by redistribution through the tax and benefit system.
- Achieving prosperity and justice together requires a comprehensive and integrated programme of reform across the economy.
- Achieving change means redressing imbalances of economic power: from corporate management towards workers and trade unions, from dominant companies towards innovators and entrepreneurs, from short-term finance towards long-term investors, from Whitehall towards the nations and regions of the UK.
- Change is possible, and urgent. Many other countries have economies that are both fairer and more successful than ours.
It tells us that our present Government is very right wing and that Corbyn’s Labour is in truth a Centre Party.
In October 2017 the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities issued a damning report accusing the UK Government of grave and systematic abuse of disabled people’s human rights. Last month, Sarah Newton, the DWP Minister of State rejected the report’s findings in a written statement which is dismissed as a pack of lies by Linda Burnip from campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).
The MSM is quiet on the issue but The Canary has a full report.
I talk to well-adjusted millennials who are increasingly angry about their life chances compared to those enjoyed by their parents’ generation. Brexit is blamed on the latter and now it is reported that the police are planning for civil unrest as a consequence of a no-deal Brexit. My young friends have been warning of this for some time, occasioned not by Brexit but by low pay, high cost of living, particularly for accommodation and fuel. To understand how they feel take a drive down Stroud Green Road through the burgeoning cardboard city under the bridges of Finsbury Park Station.
It’s reported today that former Brexit Minister Stephen Baker expects that around 80 Conservative MP’s will vote against the Chequers Plan. So the PM negotiates with Brussels on the basis of a set of proposals which have already been rejected by the EU and will not be agreed by the Commons. Just as a no deal Brexit becomes more likely with each passing day, so does the replacement of Theresa May as Tory leader. Much shaking of heads all round. Who is there? Sajid Javid has to be a candidate although Boris might mount a racist campaign as Zac Goldsmith did against Sadiq Khan. On Andrew Marr yesterday I was astonished to hear Javid admonishing Diane Abbott because she had not apologised for Windrush. On what planet…
Bronagh Munro reported for Panorama yesterday on the methods employed by the management of Bright Tribe and the Adventure Learning Academy Trust. The Academy schools they owned were in Cornwall, Cumbria and Northumbria with the main focus of the programme being The Whitehaven Academy in Copeland. The tactics alleged – taking public money for high compensation and non-existent projects while maintaining total secrecy about finances make one wonder about many trusts around the country.
I wonder how long this programme has been in the can. Here’s a Guardian report from 9 months ago that tells the same story. Campaigners had been attempting to alert government and local officials for at least a year before that.
It’s the tip of an iceberg. Stephen J Ball in a British Academy Lecture earlier this year exposed the privatisation of Education for what it is – a gravy train for entrepreneurs.
A further Guardian report yesterday tells us how toothless Ofsted, the resource-starved regulator is.
Academies minister Lord Agnew said:
We take the use of public money very seriously and will not tolerate those who try to exploit the system for personal gain. Academies have to provide more financial information than other schools and that more than 95% of trusts have no issues.
How hard has Lord Agnew looked at the trusts he is responsible for?
Could it be that Panorama needs to visit a few more of them?
At some point in the 16th Century BCE, Moses may well have bravely confronted the Pharaoh to complain about working conditions at Gizeh where his enslaved people were humping bricks and creating ostentatious monuments to their vainglorious oppressors. If the conversation ever occurred, the Egyptian ruler might have taken a similar line to Esther McVey commenting yesterday:
We haven’t had a lower unemployment rate for over 40 years and I’m especially proud that youth unemployment is at a record low, falling by over 45% since 2010 – opening up career opportunities for our next generation.
Whatever the conversation back then, Moses took his people to Hebron, leaving the Pharaoh and his army looking for lifebelts in the Red Sea.
Paul Johnson from the Institute for Fiscal Studies reported yesterday:
The UK economy has broken record after record, and not generally in a good way.
Record low earnings growth, record low interest rates, record public borrowing followed by record cuts in public spending.