Brexit. Why do Brits want Out of the EU?

Thu 30 Mar, 2023 04:35 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Rishi Sunak wasn't elected by the people of Britain. Neither was Liz Truss.

You have nothing even resembling democracy there, which is why the people aren't exactly chuffed about the status quo.
Walter Hinteler
Thu 30 Mar, 2023 05:06 am
Builder wrote:
Rishi Sunak wasn't elected by the people of Britain. Neither was Liz Truss.
Not that I'm a supporter of any of them, but in parliamentary democracies the head of government is elected by the parliament - that's why this system got such a name. (The modern version in the UK dates back to 1707, the system itself is known since at least the 12th century.)
[Countries with parliamentary systems may be constitutional monarchies (here: UK), where a monarch is the head of state while the head of government is a member of parliament, or parliamentary republics (like Germany), where a mostly ceremonial president is the head of state while the head of government is from the legislature.]
Walter Hinteler
Thu 30 Mar, 2023 05:24 am
A leading Brexiteer has claimed that politicians in Northern Ireland who accept Rishi Sunak’s post-Brexit deal with the EU would be like Nazi collaborators. Baroness Kate Hoey made the remarkable claim an attempt by the DUP to block a key part of the revised Northern Ireland Protocol deal was heavily defeated in the Lords. Belfast Telegraph

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph on Thursday morning, Ms Hoey said she did not use the term “Nazi” and defended her comments.

"I never used the word 'Germany' and I never used the word 'Nazi'," she said.
Belfast Telegraph
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Thu 30 Mar, 2023 06:20 am
Pig ignorance has always been your thing.
Thu 30 Mar, 2023 06:23 am
People in Britain have more confidence in the EU than the UK parliament, reversing a state of affairs that has lasted for more than 30 years, research reveals.

Since the UK voted for Brexit, the proportion of people declaring confidence in parliament has slumped by 10 percentage points to 22% while there has been a seven percentage point rise in confidence in the Brussels-based bloc, to 39%. Confidence in the UK government also fell from 2017 to 2021.

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Thu 30 Mar, 2023 11:22 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
but in parliamentary democracies the head of government is elected by the parliament

We have the same pathetic excuse for a system in Australia. It's the reason why voters are jaded here, and in Britain.

Hell, with the dodgy "preferential" system they're running with here, your vote can end up with someone you actually despise.
Walter Hinteler
Fri 31 Mar, 2023 06:09 am
'Take back control'? With this Pacific trade deal, Brexit Britain has just signed it away
Goodbye, food standards. Hello, corporate lobbyists. Why are we doing this, for no real economic benefit?

Last night, the government announced that Britain has joined a trade deal so contentious that it united Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in opposition to US membership.

While hardcore Brexiters would like to pretend this is the ultimate payoff of our decision to leave the EU and write our own rules, the reality is somewhat different. In signing the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Britain has ditched environmental standards, signed up to terms that will undermine British farmers, and left us open to being sued by multinational corporations in secretive courts. And all for no real economic benefit.

The deal began life as the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP, a last gasp of hyper-globalisation. Alongside its ill-fated sister deal, TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), it aims to lock participating countries into rules that prioritise pro-market, corporate interests. The corporate power grab was then sold to a sceptical public as a way of containing China’s economic power, by surrounding that country in a sea of neoliberal trade.

But, like TTIP, the deal sailed into strong anti-globalisation headwinds. In the US, the last thing the public wanted was more outsourced jobs, longer and more fragile supply chains, and further power vested in the hands of big business. The 2016 presidential election was the death knell for US membership.

When the US withdrew, a few contentious parts of the deal were placed on ice – including rules that would have handed even more power to pharmaceutical monopolies to set medicine prices. But there is much to dislike in what remains of what became known as the CPTPP.

The most pressing issue reported from the talks is that Britain has been forced to lower environmental standards as a condition for entry to the deal. Palm oil plantations in Malaysia are a driver of deforestation, threatening biodiversity including the survival of orangutan populations. European tariffs on palm oil aim to stop deforestation, but the UK is understood to have agreed to scrap the tariffs as a condition for entry into the Pacific deal, in effect reneging on deforestation pledges made at the UN climate conference in Glasgow.

But it gets worse, because the Pacific trade deal isn’t a one-time set of rules, but rather gives corporate lobbyists permanent power to force governments to lower standards over time. The whole point of the CPTPP is to get countries to recognise standards as equivalent to each other – and to accept imports even where there are real differences in standards.

Britain still endorses the precautionary principle, which places the burden of proof on the producer of a product to demonstrate that it is safe. Most signatories to the Pacific trade deal do not, and there will be inevitable pressure to accept food containing pesticides that have been outlawed here, antibiotics in livestock farming or hormone-treated beef.

But nothing better displays the heavy bias towards big business interests than the corporate court system at the heart of the CPTPP – an international arbitration system that will allow corporations to sue the British government for treating them “unfairly”.

Fairness, here, is highly subjective. Corporate courts are increasingly used to challenge all manner of climate action, and Canadian companies are particularly aggressive users of the system, having brought 64 cases against governments. One such ongoing case sees Colombia being sued for $700m for daring to restrict gold mining operations on environmental grounds, by a Canadian company that didn’t even have all the permits needed to mine, and had had its environmental impact assessment rejected.

In another, more famous, case, a Canadian corporation is suing Biden’s administration for $15bn for cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have carried environmentally devastating tar sands oil from Alberta to the US. Canada is a signatory to the CPTPP.

And all of this in the absence of evidence that the deal will boost jobs or growth. By the government’s own estimates, the deal will add a mere 0.08% of GDP after running for about 10 years – a number so small as to be meaningless in the uncertain world of economic predictions.

So what is the point? For the government, in true Liz Truss style, it is “proof” that they can do things, however detrimental those things might be to the people they are governing. For some, there’s an additional benefit to joining the Pacific deal: the rules being foisted on us diverge from EU rules, providing an added impediment to a future government negotiating closer relations with our neighbours.

All of this is a far cry from the idea that we would, through these trade deals, have a chance to set our own rules. Trade journalists reported that another Pacific trade deal member, Japan, had worked tirelessly to ensure Britain accepted “all existing CPTPP rules without any exception”.

In order to prove we’ve taken back control, we are, in reality, relinquishing it as quickly as possible. And a last thought for those who hoped parliamentary sovereignty was a cornerstone of British democracy: the parliamentary committee able to properly scrutinise treaties like the CPTPP was abolished last week.
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Fri 31 Mar, 2023 06:33 am
Claiming people didn't vote for PM X, Y, or Z shows a profound ignorance as that has always been the case for every single prime minister since Walpole.

Our head of state is Chaz, and I can't see any sizable majority wanting to change that for the time being.

As for changing the system we had a referendum on that when Cameron squeaked in, and unlike the narrow margin for Brexit it was resoundly defeated.

People didn't want to reward Nick Clegg for betraying his core values and siding with Tory scum.

It's our system and nobody here gives a monkey's about the opinion of a gormless dunny cop wannabe.
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Fri 31 Mar, 2023 07:08 pm
An expose of the depravity in the British ruling class.

Won't help their cause at all, but not surprising in the least.

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Walter Hinteler
Sun 16 Apr, 2023 04:57 am
From London to Venice on a historic luxury train: This will no longer be possible from 2024. The operator of the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE) is discontinuing the section between London and France, British media report unanimously.
A spokesperson for the operator Belmond justified the decision with complicated passport controls due to Brexit.

Because of Brexit, since October 2021, EU citizens can only enter the United Kingdom with a passport.
According to travel providers, this makes the UK less attractive for travellers, especially for school groups. (For instance, more than half of Germany's citizens don't have a passport.)
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Mon 24 Apr, 2023 05:34 am
The UK Faces a Steep Climb Out of a Deep Hole

Food shortages, moldy apartments, a lack of medical workers: The United Kingdom is facing a perfect storm of struggle, and millions are sliding into poverty. There is little to suggest that improvement will come anytime soon.

In the innermost chambers of the old palace, Britannia is still just as large as it once was. Vast paintings stretching up to the ceiling narrate the glorious triumphs of a stupendous global empire – of battles against the Danes, Napoleon, the Spanish Armada, of the subjugation of India and the settling of America.

Those wishing to enter Westminster Palace, for centuries the seat of British Parliament, must pass by bronze statues of pioneers, commanders and thinkers – Walpole, Gladstone, Lloyd George, Thatcher – and a life-sized Winston Churchill, who still seems to be watching over the lower house, once destroyed by German bombs.

With every echoing step, British parliamentarians are reminded by these weighty premises of their own importance.

It is rather rare, however, that one of them makes their way from the halls of parliament into the underworld of the old palace, which was once built on a swampy island in the Thames. Here, in the low-ceilinged, labyrinthine catacombs, the foundation of Britannia’s democracy is literally rotting away, largely out of sight and out of mind. Most of the structure is contaminated by asbestos, while thick tangles of cables hang chaotically from the ceiling and pipes suddenly come to an end, seemingly in the middle of nowhere.

Gas, power and water lines – all bunched together – run for several kilometers through the damp cellars. The fire alarm has been triggered more than 40 times here in the last 10 years, and fire experts are allegedly on patrol in the building 24 hours a day.

Seven years ago, an internal report outlined a "substantial and growing risk of … a catastrophic event," and the 1,000-room neo-Gothic monument with its 100 staircases is long overdue for a comprehensive renovation. It would take decades to complete and cost up to 22 billion pounds. But thus far, the honorable members of parliament have been unable to agree on when and how.

Instead, inside the gold, brocade and hardwood-trimmed imperial halls upstairs, the country’s representatives continue to put on a show of democracy week after week while a time bomb continues to tick below them.

The old palace, in fact, has become a perfect symbol for the United Kingdom of today.

Boarded Up Windows

Things aren’t going well for the United Kingdom these days. For the past several months, the flow of bad news has been constant, the country’s coffers are empty, public administration is ineffective and the nation’s corporations are struggling. As this winter came to an end, more than 7 million people were waiting for a doctor’s appointment, including tens of thousands of people suffering from heart disease and cancer. According to government estimates, some 650,000 legal cases are still waiting to be addressed in a court of law. And those needing a passport or driver’s license must frequently wait for several months.

Boarded up windows and signs reading "To Let" and "To Rent" have become a common sight on the country’s high streets, while numerous products have disappeared from supermarket shelves. Recently, a number of chains announced that they would be rationing cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers for the foreseeable future.

Last year, 560 pubs closed their doors forever, with thousands more soon to follow, according to the industry association. Without Oxfam, the Salvation Army and other charitable organizations that operate second-hand stores, numerous city centers would have almost no shops left at all.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund forecast that in no other industrialized nation would the economy develop as poorly as in Britain this year. Even Russia is expected to end up ahead of the UK.

One Pound Wonders

Whereas the number of billionaires in the UK – at 177 – is higher than it has ever been, millions of Britons have slid into poverty. Newspapers and television channels are full of cheap recipes and shows like Jamie Oliver’s "£1 Wonders." Since December, hardly a day has passed without a strike by bus drivers, medical workers, teachers, public servants, university employees or rail workers. Last week, assistant doctors across the country went on strike for four days, with the media calling on the populace to avoid all activities that could result in injury.

For many, the situation is reminiscent of the 1970s, when high debt, punishing inflation and widespread protests brought the country to its knees – leading Henry Kissinger, who was U.S. secretary of state at the time, to grumble from across the Atlantic: "Britain is a tragedy, reduced to begging, borrowing and stealing."

To be sure, after two years of pandemic and one year of war, the rest of Europe isn’t doing particularly well either. But nowhere is the feeling of having "lost the future" stronger than in Britain, according to the public opinion pollsters from Ipsos. In 2008, the year of the banking and financial crisis, 12 percent of people in the UK believed that their children would be worse off than them. Now, that number is 41 percent, Ipsos has found.

One significant reason for that pessimism is the fact that many simply no longer trust their speechifying politicians in Westminster to get much done. The Tory party, which has been in power now for a dozen years, has gone through four prime ministers since 2016 alone.

And even if the fifth in the series, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, is doing all he can to leave behind the period of sloganeering and slapstick, the UK isn’t likely to recover from his predecessors any time soon. Particularly not from Boris Johnson, who still refuses to admit any personal responsibility for the plight in which Britain finds itself and continues to bleat in a huff from the sidelines.

Even as his country slid further and further into the abyss, Johnson spent years absorbing all political momentum like a black hole, instead throwing his energy into projects like bringing back imperial measurements, announcing his intent to build a sinfully expensive royal yacht named Britannia and convincing the populace that he was building a "global," or even a "galactic Britain," a reference to the country’s budding space program.

Yet in early January, when the first 11 satellites ever to be launched from British soil were to head into space from Cornwall, the mission failed, and they ended up in the Atlantic instead. Excitement about the launch had been limited anyway, with an earthly populace that would have been happy with functioning school toilets.

Even before the failure, the Economist wrote: "A country that likes to think of itself as a model of common sense and good-humored stability has become an international laughing stock." No longer is it a single government or political party that seems dysfunctional, the magazine intimated, "Britain itself can seem to be kaput."

The question is: Who broke it? Was it just the pandemic and the warmonger to the east, as the current government never tires of insisting? Or did the unstoppable decline of the kingdom perhaps begin much earlier? On the search for answers to these questions, it is helpful to take a trip to the edges of a now modestly sized empire – to the people who no longer expect much from the political classes in faraway London.

"You probably won’t believe this, but this used to be one of our most fashionable areas," says Simon Cartmell, as he comes to a stop on Bond Street in Blackpool one Wednesday morning in winter. A cold wind is blowing in from the Irish Sea and the drizzle is falling almost horizontally, but Cartmell, a friendly 50-year-old wearing a colorful scarf, can’t stop gushing about times past. "There were banks, boutiques, an old bingo parlor, a cinema, and right there, the red-brick building, was once a busy hotel."

It's almost impossible to imagine.

Over the phone, Cartmell – head of the local employment agency – had said: "Come to Bloomfield." This neighborhood in the south of the city, one of the poorest not just in the city, but in the entire country, is, he continued, the best place to see what has happened to Blackpool. "Just a couple of paces away from the sea, and you’re already in the middle of a Dickens novel."

Countless shops have closed their doors in recent years, with only bargain stores, cheap supermarkets and fast-food chains remaining. Almost all of the empty lots are filled with trash, while signs on the walls announce the spaces as perfect for advertising.

The people here have lost a lot over the years, but not, apparently, their sense of humor. Entire streets are lined with bed-and-breakfasts bearing names like Sweet Dreams Hotel, Fortuna House, Great Escape Hotel and Hollywood Apartments, even as most of them have become home to welfare recipients.

The local pub is called Last Resort. Even the screeching of the seagulls sounds like a sarcastic commentary on the current times.

When Prince William and his wife Kate visited the place a few years ago to show solidarity with the poor, the local community garden was quickly replanted, says Cartmell. They wanted to present at least a little bit of the town’s past glory to the royal couple.

Yet no matter how hard one might try, it is impossible to deny the dismal reality of Blackpool’s present. This "Las Vegas of the North" may still attract more than a million visitors every summer who relive their childhoods between the glaring neon of the beach promenade and the Pleasure Beach amusement park. But the "Golden Mile" has long since declined into a crumbling Potemkin façade along which gleamingly modern street cars – funded by the EU – run.

The city’s decline came in waves. Like other cities in northern England, Blackpool profited many centuries ago from the British empire’s involvement in trading slaves and other wares. The wealth of Lancashire County, where Blackpool is located, was primarily the result of the local textile industry. Following the deindustrialization of the north, mass tourism kept the city’s 140,000 residents afloat for a time. But budget airlines soon began flying to sunny southern destinations, and Blackpool has had a hard time competing.

And since then, the place has been left largely to its own devices. The young and energetic have left, while many who failed to make it elsewhere have come to Blackpool for old times' sake.

The city was already on its knees when the conservative-liberal government of David Cameron announced an era of austerity in order to recoup the fantastical sums the government had injected into the banking industry during the financial crisis. And there was hardly another area of the country that was hit as hard by the savings measures as Lancashire. Blackpool had to slash far more than a billion pounds in public spending, and there was little left over for the poor. The city then had to close its doors to holidaymakers for two years during the pandemic.

Today, Blackpool is a place of records. No other city in the country is home to as many run-down neighborhoods. The life expectancy of male residents is just under five years below the national average, while that for women is almost four years lower. Almost one in five residents suffers from what local doctors call "**** life syndrome," while anti-depressants are prescribed here twice as often as in the rest of the country.

Brexit, this grandiose promise of restoring lost greatness, found a willing audience in Blackpool, ready to grasp onto any straw – as was the case across northern and central England, where production had plunged over time and hardly anything grew in its place. Aside from inequality.

"If you are poor, sick, weak or tired, don’t come to Blackpool," says Simon Cartmell at the end of his stroll through the present. "Nobody will help you here." Nor will the 40 million pounds pledged by the government in London to the university as part of a national Leveling Up Fund – money intended to create a carbon-neutral campus. "It’s like giving a beggar 10 pounds after taking his house."

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak took it upon himself to personally announce the windfall for Blackpool and several additional municipalities in the north a few weeks ago, and even flew into the airport in Blackpool for the event. Cartmell, who is running as the local Labour Party candidate in the next parliamentary elections, was in front of the airport to shoot a campaign video.

As he was waiting, he says a construction worker suddenly appeared with a shovel and a bucket to fill in a pothole in the airport’s access road. "And 90 seconds before Sunak’s limousine drove past, the road was once again in passable condition."

Pain Pills and Yorkshire Tea

It’s one of those days when Jo McReynolds doesn’t know what to do first. On the screen in front of her is a seemingly endless list of food items. Thirty trays of bread, two pallets of mixed vegetables, hundreds of cans of chicken tikka masala, 600 kilograms of Maris Piper potatoes, 52 packages of frozen buttermilk scones, 144 cartons of veggie meat, 200 crates of yogurt, 318 packets of Caesar dressing – and those are just the items that came in early that morning.

Ideally, most of it should be shipped today. McReynolds laughs. "I begin each day with a nervous breakdown, and things get worse from there," she says. On her desk in Hall 2 is a tabloid newspaper with Putin’s face on the cover, pain pills and a package of Yorkshire tea.

A blond, 62-year-old with a nasal piercing and wearing a reflective vest, Jo McReynolds is the manager of the FareShare delivery partner in Birmingham. To fight both food waste and hunger, FareShare collects food that is no longer completely fresh, but which has not yet expired, from supermarkets and producers, distributing it to schools, food banks and other facilities. When McReynolds started as a volunteer 10 years ago, FareShare had six small outlets in the UK, but it now runs 34 regional centers with 1,500 employees and around 5,000 volunteer assistants.

Feeding the needy has turned into big business.

In the Nechells district north of the Birmingham city center, McReynolds now oversees four brick warehouses filled to the roof with nonperishable food. Forklifts are in constant motion as they load up delivery vans, while countless, mostly good-natured workers are bustling about in their reflective vests marked with the words: "Food Hero."

Hunger has been the focus of numerous recent stories coming out of the United Kingdom. Stories about a government that was planning on making cuts to the school dinners program before a football star intervened. About how even UNICEF stepped in to help feed children in a country with the sixth largest economy in the world. And about the skyrocketing popularity of Asian instant noodles, popular because they are filling and cheap, and because they take almost no time to cook – a huge advantage given that spiking energy prices have made electricity unaffordable for many Britons.

Indeed, in addition to the almost 3,000 food banks in the country – more than three times the number found in the much larger country of Germany – facilities in the UK like churches, museums, public libraries and schools opened up "warm banks" around the country this winter. The needy can also go to baby banks to pick up free diapers and formula, bedding banks for mattresses and down comforters, and fuel banks to receive vouchers for coin-operated gas and electric meters. The Blue Cross also introduced the country’s first pet-food banks this winter so that people with nothing could at least keep their dogs and cats.

And in some places, community centers have turned into multi-banks, where the needy can go to find all of the things they might be short on in one place.

The New Hutte Neighbourhood Centre in Knowsley, a 10-minute train ride from Liverpool, is one such a place. On a recent chilly Tuesday, 69-year-old Linda was there, wearing short, raspberry red hair and a leopard-patterned shirt that was far too thin for the weather. On Tuesday, the former school offers free lunch, and Linda has learned how to make her money go a long way. A former elderly care nurse, Linda tried to apply for state aid, but she was told that her 700-pound pension was 29 pence over the limit.

Since then, she’s been going to the New Hutte on Tuesdays, to the food bank at St. Hilda’s on Fridays, and to the one at St. Mary’s on Saturdays. She also frequents the Asda supermarket, where a bowl of soup and a cup of tea costs just one pound. "This is a good community," says Linda, who hardly cooks at all anymore and only turns on the heat when her youngest grandson is visiting. But she doesn’t want to complain and talks about her life as though discussing some distant relative. "Things are a bit upside-down at the moment," she says, but at least she has friends and a place to live. "And next Tuesday, they’re serving curry with rice. I’m already looking forward to it."

Killed By Mold

Someone has put up Union Jack bunting in front of the house where two-year-old Awaab died – almost as if they wanted to say: This, too, is the UK. The plastic flags are the only color on the dirty-white facade of the four-story residential block, a structure which looks exactly like all the other blocks that make up Freehold Estate in the town of Rochdale. There are no markers, no flowers and no sign to commemorate what happened here, just outside Manchester.

Awaab Ishak died shortly before Christmas 2020. But the country where he lived only took notice of his death last November. As part of a court case relating to the death, it became widely known that Awaab’s parents, who are from Sudan, had been complaining for years about the damp walls and black mold in their apartment.

Their landlord, Rochdale Bouroughwide Housing, denied all responsibility, saying that the mold was likely the product of the renters' questionable "lifestyle" and should be painted over. That ignorance cost the two-year-old his life, as the court found. Awaab died due to "prolonged exposure to mold" in an apartment that was "not fit for human habitation." The furious coroner asked: "How in the UK in 2020 does a two-year-old child die from exposure to mold in his home?"
A dangerous place to live: Outside the Rochdale flats A dangerous place to live: Outside the Rochdale flats

According to research conducted by the renter rights organization Shelter, such subpar conditions are far from uncommon in the country, with 2 million apartments allegedly in a similarly miserable and unhealthy condition. Yet they remain occupied, since in the vast majority of the cases, the only alternative would be homelessness. No other country in Europe faces such a severe housing shortage, and those most frequently affected are people with low incomes or no income at all. In England alone, hundreds of thousands of men and women are waiting for the council housing to which they are legally entitled – and more than 30,000 of them have been waiting for 10 years or more.

The situation is largely the result of the vast wave of privatizations set off by the administration of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, with municipalities across the country selling their housing inventory to investors. The loss of public housing accelerated again during the financial crisis in 2008/09.

Construction continued throughout the ensuing years, of course, but little heed was paid to what the country actually needed. Whereas London is now home to almost 3 million square meters of empty office space – the equivalent of 25 Westminster Palaces – countless people in Briton are competing tooth and nail for whatever apartment they can find, even if it is drafty and moldy.

Just as is the case in Blackpool, Knowsley and so many other places in the country, Rochdale – population 200,000 – also had little choice. City officials had to cut the budget by 183 million pounds in accordance with the austerity plans imposed by London following the financial crisis. Freehold Estate, with its regiments of housing blocks, was privatized in 2010.

One evening in winter, Terry Williamson – whose name has been changed for this story – is standing in front of a fenced-in playground at the estate with her 20-month-old son. Pointing to a soccer-ball sized patch of moss on the wall of a nearby building, she says: "That’s what it looks like in my kitchen, too." Nobody, she says, was surprised by the news of Awaab’s death. "We all live in the same holes. It’s disgusting."

She says she has complained to the landlord on several occasions – about the fact that the heating unit in the bedroom is becoming dislodged; about the newly installed window that is too small, leaving a gap in the wall. "Nobody cares," says Terry, adding that she would move out immediately if she had somewhere else to go.

She doesn’t think that Awaab’s death will change anything, either, even if a government minister from London showed up in Rochdale once the case started receiving publicity. Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove, a member of the Conservative Party, toured Freehold Estate last November, expressing his disgust at the situation and announced that landlords would henceforth be forced to make improvements. The regulations, he insisted, would soon be outlined in "Awaab’s Law."

Gove insisted that a lack of money would not be accepted as an excuse. "It is a basic responsibility of the local authority ... to make sure that people are in decent homes," he said. "All this what-aboutery. Do your job, man!"

The Ambulance Arrived 15 Hours Late

It was early on a Monday morning when David Wakeley stumbled and fell on his patio in the small town of Indian Queens. The 87-year-old, already weakened by prostate cancer, broke seven ribs and a hip. His family called the ambulance at 7:34 p.m.

When it still hadn’t arrived after several hours, Wakeley’s son used tarps, a toy soccer goal and three umbrellas to shelter his father, who was still in too much pain to move, from the wind and rain. He emptied his father’s catheter several times during the night – until the paramedics finally arrived on Tuesday morning, 15-and-a-half hours after the first call went out.

The images of Wakeley’s makeshift shelter triggered widespread anger in the UK. But not for long. It was quickly replaced by anger over similar cases across the country as winter began. Images of ambulances lined up in front of countless hospitals where every single bed was occupied; reports of nurses mounting IKEA hooks on the walls in hospital hallways to be able to administer IV drips to patients; photos of a three-year-old suffering from scarlet fever and croup who finally fell asleep on plastic chairs in the waiting room, 22 hours after her parents had first called the ambulance and five hours after she had finally made it to the hospital.

The media has been rife with such reports in recent months. The National Health Service (NHS), an element of Britain’s identity on par with the BBC and the Premier League, is sinking into chaos. In December, heart attack patients were forced to wait an average of 93 minutes for the paramedics to arrive – a record. Some 54,000 hospital patients had to be parked in hallways because there were no free beds – a record. Experts believe that there are hundreds of preventable deaths in the country each week – you guessed it, a record.

Government ministers insist that the pandemic is to blame, but at most, that is only half true. Even long before 2020, London had been cutting the NHS budget, and the number of hospital beds in the country was falling. Britain spends 21 percent less on healthcare than France, and 39 percent less than Germany.

Once Brexit became reality, the country experienced an exodus of workers from other EU countries that affected all industries – including the NHS. Today, around a tenth of all healthcare jobs are unfilled. And those who are still working in the industry are at the ends of their ropes.

One of them is Kim Gordon. It’s an ice-cold Tuesday in February, and Gordon is standing on Headley Way in Oxford holding a to-go cup of coffee and a protest poster. Every few seconds, she waves at trucks, buses and cars that honk at her in encouragement. Around a hundred meters behind her is the vast, gray structure of John Radcliffe Hospital, where the photo of the young, scarlet fever patient on plastic chairs was taken. The hospital is considered to be one of the best in Britain, but today, many of its workers are out on strike.

Gordon, 56, has been working as a nurse for 39 years, and can still remember times when it was difficult to find a job in the field. "Today, people are leaving in droves. They’re already stressed before they even start."

She says she understands quite well why that is. For at least the last 10 years, the NHS has been consistently going downhill. "We haven’t been taking lunch breaks for a long time. We work 10 hours or more at a time and still only manage to do the bare minimum." If there are any beds available at all, they’re only for the direst cases, she says, and there is a shortage of important drugs. "Allegedly because of Brexit," Gordon says. During the pandemic, she says, she and several of her colleagues were even assigned tasks normally taken care of by doctors. "But of course without paying us even a penny more."

But this strike, the first one she’s ever participated in, is about more than just money for her, says Gordon. It’s about a vital profession, about her patients, and about the future. "There’s something rotten here," she says. "Nothing is as it used to be."

The longer she speaks, the more it seems as though she’s actually talking about the entire country. A country in which the famous wartime propaganda maxim "Keep Calm and Carry On" – one which tourists still like to take home on souvenir mugs – is no longer really a serious option for an increasing number of Britons.

It is a country which, thanks to its universities, its thinkers and its cultural importance, has so many opportunities, yet which makes so desperate little out of them. And that is mostly due to the fact that for decades, it has been essentially standing still, seeking its salvation in the very financial industry that collapsed so spectacularly 15 years ago, creating a situation in which billions were squandered – billions which are still lacking today.

This country was already on its knees before Brexit, before the endless phase of political trench warfare and before the pandemic.

And now, it seems as though it has dialed 999 and is waiting in vain for the paramedics to show up.

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Walter Hinteler
Wed 26 Apr, 2023 04:59 am
Former chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost said leaving the EU had brought politics ‘back to life’.

Lord Frost: Brexit has revived British politics and is healing democrac
Brexit is healing democracy and has revived British politics, former minister Lord Frost has claimed.

The Tory peer and former chief Brexit negotiator said leaving the EU had given the UK the opportunity to “debate and change everything again in this country”.

But, in a swipe at Rishi Sunak’s Windsor Framework, Lord Frost said the benefits of Brexit did not apply to everyone. And he defended populist politics as “reflecting citizens actual views”.

Lord Frost’s comments came in a debate in the House of Lords during which the Green Party’s Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb compared the “corrupt, far-right government” with 1930s Germany and the rise of the Nazi party.

Speaking in the Lords, she said: “This is not a democracy. This is not a country we can be proud of any more.”

Lady Jones added: “Our traditions have been scrapped and this Government is responsible for that.

“I would argue that, at the moment, the strength of parliamentary democracy in the UK is absolutely zero.”

In response, Lord Frost thanked Lady Jones for securing the debate, but said he “did not recognise” her “bleak, rather fantastic and comic picture” of the UK.

He said: “When the nation state weakens, confidence in democracy weakens and that is just what we saw in this country over the last nearly 50 years during the time of our membership of the EU.

“Then we were in practice only a limited democracy. Fewer and fewer issues could be settled at national elections.

“Policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries, the environment, employment, social, migration, citizenship rights could only be changed by agreement in Brussels, whatever our national electorate said.

“It’s no wonder I think that people switched off and stopped believing voting could change everything.

“Luckily, we have now escaped that or at least 95 per cent of us have escaped that since the Windsor Framework unfortunately preserved some of these weaknesses. I hope not for too long.

“Overall, we have brought politics back home. We have revived political life, we can debate and change everything again in this country.

“Of course, it’s clear that many people are uncomfortable with that. They call it populism when a democracy reflects citizens’ actual views.

“But for me it is a strength. Our democracy is healing. Politics is coming back to life.”
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Sat 29 Apr, 2023 09:22 am
Number of hospitality venue closures soars six-fold in a year - triggered by EU staff shortages.

Revealed: The great Brexit pubs and clubs shutdown
Sat 29 Apr, 2023 05:46 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Evidence that your problems in that sector are brexit-related, are anecdotal, at best. Australia is in exactly the same position, amid calls for increasing migration, despite a chronic shortage of affordable accommodation.

Job vacancies in the Australian labour market have not just recovered from the Covid pandemic, they’ve doubled.

According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics release, there are 480,100 job vacancies in Australia, a 111.1% increase since February 2020.

In June unemployment tumbled to 3.5% as Australia approaches what is considered full employment, meaning almost everyone willing and able to work is in a job.

The sectors with the biggest absolute number of job vacancies are healthcare and social assistance (68,900), accommodation and food services (51,900), and professional scientific and technical services (42,900).

Many professionals left their careers here, because they refused to comply with "emergency" mandates dictated by their employers (not government) .

And while the cost of living is rapidly escalating, and housing becoming literally impossible to source, the only answer anyone in government will consider, is importing skilled labour from OS, placing even more of a burden on non-existent housing supply.

This is all, C19 related, but an admission of that, will be likely not forthcoming.

Sat 29 Apr, 2023 10:52 pm
Builder wrote:

This is all, C19 related, but an admission of that, will be likely not forthcoming.

The reason an admission won't be forthcoming is because it's BULLSHIT. Housing prices are going through the roof all over the developed world. This is not Covid-related. Prove it.

Do you read what's actually going on in real time in other countries, like Italy, Greece, France, India, Africa, Canada, etc.?

Educate yourself!
Sun 30 Apr, 2023 12:06 am
Do you read what's actually going on in real time in other countries, like Italy, Greece, France, India, Africa, Canada, etc.?

All of your media (and ours) is controlled by a very "special" tiny crew of like-minded manipulating fossils. You think they're giving you any information they don't want you to see?

Try and find a reference to the Greek TEM. The most successful people's response to the austerity measures imposed on any nation in the EU.

Now ask yourself why they'd NOT want you to be aware of that success.

Educate yourself!

After you, Mame.
0 Replies
Sun 30 Apr, 2023 03:01 am
When David Icke predicted Cuba would sink below the waves in 1999 and it never happened Builder saw it as proof that not only is David Icke God, he's a merciful God.

That's the level of intelligence you're dealing with.
Sun 30 Apr, 2023 04:27 am
Your fixation with David Ikke is noted.

And if you had a link to anything I'd ever said about your idol, I'm sure you'd be sharing it with our (rapidly dwindling list of) readers here.

But you don't. Do you? This is all in your head.

You're in a fantasy world of NPD suffering, and I do feel that you're never going to escape that horror story.

Not in our current historical version of reality, that is.
Sun 30 Apr, 2023 04:28 am
Good night, Builder.
Sun 30 Apr, 2023 04:53 am
You're like a broken record, son.

Stuck in a scratch. Much like your bud light.

Get a new act.
0 Replies

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