Author Archives: Martin Roche

Are all the Brexit Tories rock solid for the “precious union”?

Theresa May was in Wales this week, talking of “our precious union.” I imagine she is genuine in her wish to maintain the United Kingdom, if for no other reason than avoiding her place in history as its last prime minister. Enough of my cynicism. Better we assume history’s verdict is not her prime motivating factor. That it is indeed “our precious union.”

Posted in Op-eds | 2 Comments

Electoral expenses allegations may have deep and game-changing implications

 

Last week we heard that 12 English police forces have sent papers to the CPS, in response to concerns about electoral expenses matters in up to 20  seats won by the Conservatives at the 2015 General Election. Four other forces, including Kent Police, which is investigating what happened during the election in the Thanet constituency, have yet to say where their investigations have led them.

Thanet was won by the Conservative’s Craig McKinley, much to the disappointment of UKIP’s candidate, Nigel Farage.

So, and allow me to indulge in pure wishful thinking, what would happen if the courts said that some or all of these contests must be re-run? Would that not go straight to the heart of the legitimacy of the Conservative government and any legislation passed since that administration was formed?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 19 Comments

Drive the wedge

The weekend’s media was full of reports of bitter disputes between No 10 Downing Street and The Treasury. Hitherto buried tensions have surfaced publicly, following the Chancellor’s NI debacle. Hard Brexiters, we learn, want to see Hammond off and have him replaced by one of their own. The Tory party is as split on Europe as ever it was. It is up to us to exploit those divisions. It is up to us to remind the public that the ruling party is a split party. Split on EU policy, economic policy, foreign policy and social policy.

In the very near future …

Posted in Op-eds | 8 Comments

Let’s turn the forensic spotlight on Theresa May’s “Britain that works for everyone”

It should have been one of the government’s more difficult weeks.
 
News emerged that police forces in England are rationing how they respond to calls for help. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary says too many crimes are not being properly investigated and fewer prosecutions reaching the courts. That’s the sort of Britain that works for everyone.
 
Another watchdog, this time the Care Quality Commission, says 80% of hospitals are failing across a range of vital areas. That’s the sort of Britain that works for everyone.
 
In the House of Lords decency prevailed and the Noble members of that house voted to guarantee the UK residency and other rights of EU nationals. The government’s immediate response was to say it will try and overturn the vote when the Bill comes back to the Commons. That’s the sort of Britain that works for everyone.
 
What else, oh yes, Shelter says 80% of families in England can’t afford to buy a new home in their locality. A Tory minister gave a grudging apology following an outcry over his dreadful remarks about mentally ill people. In the South East of England commuters continued to suffer strikes and delays as the government plays ideological games over the Southern Rail dispute, which is really of course about the Tories crushing the last ounce of power from the public-sector unions. That’s the sort of Britain that works for everyone.
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 26 Comments

Draconian changes proposed to Official Secrets Act

Out of the blue, on Saturday, we learned that The Law Commission has been at work. It proposes changing the Official Secrets Act to cover matters that are about what the government of the day considers to be matters of national economic interest. Anyone in unauthorised possession of material that might be included in the scope of the Act, or who transmits it or publishes could go to jail for up to ten years. There would be no restriction on who can commit the offence,” including hackers, leakers, elected politicians, journalists, and NGOs.

What this boils down to is the ability of government to shut people up. Imagine this; The Daily Boot is passed a paper that says that, as part of trade deal negotiations, HMG will allow US chicken treated with chlorine to be sold in the UK. If the news becomes public the trade talks might be jeopardised. The Boot’s editor either publishes and risks jail or lets the matter quietly drop. Ah, but that’s not good enough. Even being in possession or having had knowledge of the information could make the editor liable to prosecution. The Damoclesian Sword hangs forever over the editor’s neck.

The Liberal Democrat MP for Old Sallop can’t raise the matter in the Commons, as that would mean the member admitting they know what is in the material, thus rendering themselves liable to prosecution.

The Law Commission has published an enormous consultation document called Protection of Official Data.

I put consultation in italics because the Commission claims it has already consulted widely, though this statement is as thinner than an After Eight mint crushed by ten-ten road roller.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 19 Comments

Winning the self-employed vote

Writing in Tuesday’s Times, Paul Johnson, a director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, says some 15% of the UK workforce is now classed as self-employed or as an owner/manager. Among them is me, now in my 17th year of my second period of self-employment. Indeed, I am the fourth generation of small business petit bourgeoisie Roches (so far, no generation has managed to propel us permanently to the haute bourgeoisie).

Many of the new self-employed are part of what is now known as the “gig economy”: living on short term contracts and often experiencing a financial life of feast and famine. Family insecurity and financial instability are frequent visitors, especially in the early years of a business, when getting established can be a real struggle.

Posted in Op-eds | 13 Comments

Time to expose the government’s dire record of incompetence

Today, the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies has slated the government’s plans for creating three million apprenticeships on the back of a £2.4 billion tax on business as, “a considerable risk to the efficient use of public money.” The IFS is warning of an expensive blunder in the making. Government does not look like it is listening.

Then we have the Home Affairs Select Committee calling much of the housing provided for refugees, “a disgrace.” Add that piece of inhumane incompetence to the epidemics of violence and suicide in our prisons. Or how about the cries of anguish coming from head teachers faced with slashed budgets imposed by ever-deeper austerity at the same time as rising expectations created by Mrs May’s rhetoric that she’s on the side of the left behind.

Posted in Op-eds | 3 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarTynan 24th May - 4:06am
    Thekes-: Would you stop the F.A. cup final or the rugby cup final as being trivial noise, or draining resources ,risking safety etc ,whilst families...
  • User AvatarTynan 24th May - 3:48am
    Andrew McCaig-: I would suggest your statement says more about you than May or the conservative party.
  • User AvatarGlenn 24th May - 1:34am
    I think getting side tracked by arguments about the IRA misses the point. The IRA had a distinct organised chain of command, weapons stores and...
  • User Avatarmalc 24th May - 12:23am
    @Graham Evans ‘While the IRA did not explicitly set out to kill civilians,’ You obviously don't recall Gerry Adams saying the families of British servicemen/women...
  • User AvatarIan Sanderson (RM3) 23rd May - 10:30pm
    @Graham Evans 'While the IRA did not explicitly set out to kill civilians,' That's a really fallacious argument. In the Northern Ireland troubles, all terrorist...
  • User AvatarNonconformistradical 23rd May - 9:47pm
    @Glenn " I must admit I just assumed that there was a mechanism that took into account the possibility of a national crisis." In 2001...