Above The Law

Richard Langridge should know better. He has been a Conservative councillor in Witney for years. Now he stands as an independent for the Witney North ward in the District Council elections.

The Electoral Commission insists that no election placards are erected on public land and that all must carry an imprint. These are the little words saying who printed the thing, who authorised it and where they can be found. The LibDems often consider themselves above this aspect of the law, but the Tories are punctilious. Perhaps Langridge is making some sort of point.

What’s A Little Earthquake Here And There?

To joyous celebration in Green quarters, Natasha Engel has resigned after only 6 months as the UK’s shale gas commissioner. Hers was always a strange appointment. As a Labour MP, she opposed fracking in her North East Derbyshire constituency, then she changed her mind about fracking, lost her seat in 2017, and took a job with Ineos (Jim Ratcliffe’s fracking company).

Engel feels that folk should not worry if fracking causes the odd earthquake. She also thinks ministers should pay no attention to someone only sixteen years old, meaning Greta Thunberg.

Asked by Greenpeace under Freedom of Information legislation to cough up her emails and notes relating to Ineos and Cuadrilla, she protested she had hardly any to disclose.

“I tend to deal with everything on the day and delete what has been done …”

As one does.

A Hostile Environment For The Prime Minister

Nearly 60,000 foreign students took an English language test as part of the UK visa renewal process between 2011 and 2014. Only 2,000 did not cheat – according to the Home Office and the American company it paid to administer the test. 34,000 have been packed off home in disgrace; the rest are fighting the decision in the UK.

Shades of Windrush here and Sajid Javid has just asked the National Audit Office to investigate. A failure rate of well over 90% makes a nonsense of the test, but the context then was Theresa May and her hostile environment. The context now is Javid’s interest in leading what might be left of the Tory party.

Cracking Down On Caring Criminals

In the few spare moments left from Brexit negotiations, the government is coming down hard on carers who have claimed too much allowance. These are people paid a pittance to look after the disabled, often aged relatives. They save the state a fortune.

It’s not that these carers are trying to steal; only 483 of 93,000 over payment cases were prosecutions for fraud last year. They have simply failed to report sufficiently quickly, and in the correct fashion, that they have received more than £123 of other income in a week. These criminal carers are paid just £66.15 to provide at least 35 hours of care a week.

Latest Lib Dem Placard Outrage

These are real LibDem candidates, standing for Bridge ward in Lewes. The LibDems are normally cutthroat and unscrupulous in their approach to leaflets and placards. Could they have selected candidates with these names just to attract attention?

Patent Nonsense

This from the UK government’s Intellectual Property Office, which used to be called the Patent Office.

“Today, we’ve published our 2019-2020 Corporate Plan. We wanted to let you know, so you can get a sense of our plans and how you might fit into them.”

With all its faults, the Patent Office expected to fit into the public’s plans, not the other way around.

About Burgers

A piece in Politico Magazine (‘Inside the race to build the burger of the future‘) balances the burger debate rather nicely. To paraphrase: producing burgers pollutes the environment. Using fewer resources to produce the same number of burgers would help reduce pollution, but has implications for animal welfare and human health. Taxes and regulation might reduce meat production, but at a cost to the poor.

It’s complicated, and a solution is unlikely without the cooperation of farmers. Demonising burgers may make vegans feel better, but may not be the best way to gain the cooperation of those farmers.

Let’s Hear It For Strong And Stable

The Make Votes Matter campaign is happy enough about today’s Westminster Hall debate on proportional representation that it offers a naughty thought:

“And given the state of British politics, we’re looking forward to watching the responding government minister try to claim First Past the Post “ensures ‘strong and stable government’!”

Make Votes Matter goes on:

“Recently we have seen new support for PR emerging from the most unexpected of places – so please do contact your MP.”

The Witney constituency ranks among the ‘most unexpected of places’. And our MP, the very passionate Robert Courts, cannot resist contributing to debates, whatever their subject …..

Selling The Arts – The Cost To Farming

The UK economy gains more from the arts than it does from farming, says the Arts Council of England, which may just have fish to fry.

It’s a GDP calculation. So, the more it costs to stage and attend cultural events, the greater their contribution to the economy. Conversely, the cheaper our food, the less farmers are contributing.

Nonsense, of course, but the ethics of those who tout it should be questioned. They may have the welfare of the arts at heart, but the smell of frying fish is oppressive.