Posts Tagged ‘Eric Pickles’

Pickles’ sacking shows Cameron is trying to make peace with local councils

11/05/2015, 06:33:58 PM

The cruel jibe has it that Eric Pickles’ sacking in the reshuffle frees up two seats around the Cabinet table.

Still, it appears to have come as a shock to the former communities secretary, as he was confidently predicting a return to government and was “waiting by my phone” for the call.

Local government watchers see signs here of David Cameron trying to mend fences by replacing the abrasive Pickles with the more emollient cities minister, Greg Clark, who is widely liked across the political divide.

It seems to be a version of the same tactic tried last year when the Prime Minister unceremoniously dumped Michael Gove from education, replacing him with the balm-anointing Nicky Morgan. Consolidators following revolutionaries, as it were.

Neither is it lost on Cameron that the surge of Conservative councillors from last week has seen the party take political control of the Local Government Association.

He can do without Pickles being gratuitously rude to his party’s elected grassroots, especially as he was boasting that there was still an “awful lot of money to be still saved” from council budgets.

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Rotherham: a case study in the laws of political mob dynamics

06/02/2015, 10:30:02 PM

by Ian McKenzie

I recently wrote of my terror at the prospect of a mob in full flow. On Wednesday I witnessed one first hand. It wasn’t as terrifying as a gang of religious thugs stoning to death a gay man who’d had the temerity to survive being thrown from a seven-story building, but it was frightening in its own context nonetheless.

Seven decent, honourable people doing righteous public service for very little reward were hounded out of office in Rotherham, by a mob whipped up by a partial government report that has condemned the very people who had finally started to get a grip on the chaos and confusion that has hurt so many in that town.

Over the last 30 years, I suppose it’s possible I’ve met a braver politician with more integrity than Paul Lakin but I can’t recall one and I’ve shaken the hand of Nelson Mandela. If you think that’s hyperbole you’ve never had a friend who suffered sexual abuse from the age of eight and seen her shake uncontrollably at its mere recall many years later, or heard her scream out in her sleep, as I have. If you believe I don’t take sexual abuse seriously enough then stop reading now, I can’t help you and you will learn nothing here.

Paul Lakin and his team rolled up their sleeves when many others headed for the hills, and they were making good progress. Lakin was the leader of Rotherham Borough Council from 10 September 2014 until Wednesday 4 February 2015. It was the interregnum between the Jay report and this week’s Casey report, shall we say? During those 146 days he put his heart, soul and considerable personal capital into serving the people of Rotherham who are today worse off for his absence as their council leader. Among their number are many survivors and victims of child sexual abuse.


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After Charlie Hebdo, we need confident social democrats

21/01/2015, 10:34:20 AM

by Jonathan Todd

It is over 170 years since Karl Marx published On the Jewish Question, which rebutted the argument of fellow Young Hegelian Bruno Bauer that Jews could only achieve political emancipation by relinquishing their particular religious consciousness. While individuals can be spiritually and politically free in the secular state, Marx prefigured his later critiques of capitalism by arguing that economic inequality would constrain freedom in such a state.

Jews are again questioning their place in European society, as are UK Muslim leaders, outraged after Eric Pickles asked followers of Islam to “prove their identity”. Whether or not that makes a Charlie of Pickles is debatable. But the Pope seems not to be. “One cannot provoke,” he claimed last week, “one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith.”

The ancient questions are back. About the relationship between faith and citizenship that the young Marx addressed in On the Jewish Question. But a concept – alienation – that Marx later developed also seems relevant. I’m not a Marxist but I’ve found myself thinking about alienation after the killings at Charlie Hebdo and in the kosher supermarket. Nor am I a massive fan of Daniel Hannan, a Tory MEP, but since the atrocity, I’ve also been impressed by his reaction.

In my fusion of Hannan and Marx, I like to feel that I’ve done better than Jamie Bartlett’s characterisation of much of the Charlie Hebdo reaction, as, conveniently, meaning precisely whatever we were thinking already. But in a sense, I am only revisiting the point I made on Uncut after the London riots of 2011: Can we really only look deep enough into our hearts as to bleat about the same old hobby horses?


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Revealed: Secret ministerial transport memo

01/04/2012, 08:00:53 AM

by Kevin Meagher

Labour Uncut can reveal the existence of a secret government contingency plan to transport ministers to meetings around Whitehall in the event of a fuel shortage.

Ministerial cars will be mothballed for the duration of any fuel strike in order to show “we’re all in this together”. Instead ministers who need them will shuttle between appointments across Whitehall by… sedan chair.

The novel idea, brainchild of Chancellor George Osborne, will see unemployed young people specially trained to carry ministers around. The ability to carry a sedan chair may also be used as a means of qualifying for DLA in a tightened ‘fitness to work’ test.

According to a leaked memo entitled: ‘Contingency Ministerial Transportation: Safari Old Ploy’, Ministers will be carried around as if they were on safari. “It is important” the memo says “that we do not give rise to the impression that ministers are behaving like Roman emperors.”

The original plan was for rickshaws, but Osborne vetoed this move, claiming they would need a road fund license. Also, it is believed the Chancellor in fact has his own sedan chair, which he is eager to use in public.


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Friday News Review

05/08/2011, 06:18:45 AM

World markets in turmoil

Markets around the world have tumbled as fresh fears over the eurozone and US debt grip investors. America’s Dow Jones index closed down more than 4%, while the Asian markets also suffered massive losses on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index lost 3.4%, South Korea 4.2%, and Australia tumbled 2.4%. Almost £50bn was wiped off the value of the FTSE on Thursday, with the listing for the UK’s top 100 companies closing at 5393, down 191 points or 3.43%, taking £49.8bn from its value. It is the biggest fall on the FTSE for more than two years. Since last Friday morning, £124.97bn, or 8.17%, has been wiped off the value of the FTSE 100. – Sky News

Eurozone countries are failing to stop the “contagion” of the debt crisis, the President of the European Commission warned yesterday. José Manuel Barroso’s warning came as stock markets plunged around the world amid growing fears of another global recession. Mr Barroso called for an emergency strengthening of Europe’s bail-out mechanism. He said he had “deep concerns” about the faltering Spanish and Italian economies. The stark message was delivered as the FTSE 100 suffered a 3.43pc fall, its biggest since the height of the banking crisis in March 2009. In the past five days, investors have lost a total of £125bn. The doubts spread to America as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 4.3pc to its lowest point since December 1 2008. – Daily Telegraph

Lib Dems: ‘decriminalise all drugs’

Liberal Democrats are expected to call for an independent inquiry into the decriminalisation of possession of all drugs. A motion to be put at the party’s annual conference next month is likely to be passed, officials said. It would be the first government-sponsored inquiry into decriminalisation, but is unlikely to have the support of David Cameron who has hardened his approach to drugs after being a past advocate of more liberal legislation as a member of the home affairs select committee. Ministerial sources point out that the government published a review of drugs strategy in 2010 and does not yet see any need for a rethink. Senior Liberal Democrats believe Cameron and the home secretary, Theresa May, could be persuaded to hold an open-minded inquiry into a controversy which divides public, political and medical opinion. The inquiry, the Liberal Democrats said, would look at reforms in Portugal which are said to have reduced problematic drug use through decriminalisation for personal use and investing in treatment centres. – the Guardian

The Liberal democrats are to call for the decriminalisation of all drugs, including heroin and cocaine, to be considered urgently by the Coalition Government in an effort to cut levels of addiction. The party’s conference is preparing to back demands for Britain’s “harmful” and “ineffective” drug laws dating back 40 years to be swept away and replaced with an entirely new strategy for tackling drug use. Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, who has previously supported drug decriminalisation, is understood to be relaxed about his party committing itself to such a contentious policy proposal. But it would be bound to provoke tensions with the party’s Conservative coalition partners, who strongly oppose reform of drugs laws. – the Independent

The coalition’s new 45p tax rate

David Cameron and George Osborne are considering emergency plans to slash the top rate of income tax from 50p to 45p in the pound, according to reports. However, Downing Street and the Treasury last night both strongly denied the claims. But the idea added to growing speculation about how the Government planned to improve sluggish growth figures. Any such plan would cause major friction with the Tories’ Liberal Democrat partners and be seen as a direct challenge to Business Secretary Vince Cable. Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has already dismissed the idea of cutting the 50p rate as “in cloud cuckoo land”. But it was suggested that cutting the top rate to 45p would cost the Chancellor no more than £750 million a year. Treasury analysis shows that Labour’s decision to raise the rate to 50p for those earning £150,000 a year or more has generated up to £2.4 billion a year. – Daily Telegraph

Councils told to sell the family silver

Town halls are being urged to sell billions of pounds’ worth of assets – including clubs, sports stadiums and bingo halls – to protect front-line services. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has asked councils to take a ‘good hard look’ at their extensive land and property portfolios in order to save taxpayers money. His department has located 180,000 assets, worth an estimated £385billion, owned by 600 public bodies – including 87 councils. Researchers found that these organisations own or lease properties to six horse-riding stables, more than 20 sports grounds, dozens of hotels and theatres, about 100 golf courses and a similar number of pubs. Mr Pickles has estimated that selling off some of these assets, or using them more efficiently, could save the taxpayer as much as £35billion over ten years. – Daily Mail

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The government has declared war on workplace benefits. Labour must save middle England from Picklesian puritanism.

21/02/2011, 04:00:44 PM

by Dan Cooke

I have been having a recurring nightmare lately that I go to work one morning and my boss has been replaced by Eric Pickles.

Maybe it stems from guilt that I let my office pot plant fade from neglect, when there are others not allowed to have them. Or it may be a deeper fear of what could be exposed and corrected. Can it be right that my employer subsidises my lunch every day? What about the free language lessons? And, even more embarrassing, the “Thai head massages at your desk” promised in my offer letter… I never did find out exactly what this meant but I know what Pickles would make of it.

But then I remember: I work in the private sector, so Eric can’t touch me. Thank goodness it’s only on TV that you can get a line manager like that (think The Office).

But a different type of guilt – and a different worry – persists when I ponder the pillorying of public sector “perks” like sandwiches in meetings and a work mobile phone that, in the jobs I’ve had, were simply things provided so you could do the job. Do government employees really deserve such different conditions from those in the private sector for similar work? And can their terms really be attacked without influencing the norms in the private sector as well? (more…)

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Monday News Review

07/02/2011, 06:26:04 AM

Stop it or we’ll take your ‘bling’

Thugs will have their stereos, iPods and other ‘bling’ items seized by police if they refuse to behave. Ministers will today announce the scrapping of Asbos, the anti-social behaviour orders which have become a badge of honour among hooligans. Instead, they will be hit with new ‘criminal behaviour orders’ banning them from town centres or street corners for up to two years. Under the ambitious initiative, troublemakers will face the same asset seizure powers as major criminals. They would be likely to lose personal items such as stereo systems and electronic gadgets. Previous ideas to target young tearaways with financial penalties – such as Tony Blair’s much-derided plan to march violent drunks to the nearest cashpoint – have been attacked as ‘gimmicks’. Opponents say that taking cash or property from criminals makes them more likely to carry out muggings or burglaries. But the Home Office believes that confiscating items which are hugely important to youngsters, such as their music systems, will ‘hit them where it hurts’. A Government source said: ‘We want punishments that are meaningful and useful.’ – Daily Mail

A range of measures to tackle anti-social behaviour will be unveiled as the Government pledges to crack down on minor crime. Among the proposals to be outlined on Monday are plans to compel police to investigate any incidences of anti-social behaviour reported by at least five people. The “community trigger” is one of a raft of proposals which form part of a government consultation on anti-social behaviour, a Home Office source said. Other measures will see police given powers forcing culprits to make amends for nuisance behaviour immediately. The move comes as the Anti-Social Behaviour Order (Asbo) is overhauled. Instead police will be able to apply for a court order to tackle low-level nuisance behaviour. The new measures will be called criminal behaviour orders. – Daily Mirror (more…)

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Tuesday News Review

14/12/2010, 06:59:23 AM

It’s not over yet

Controversial government plans to raise university tuition fees in England to as much as £9,000 a year are to be debated by peers. In the Lords’ vote, Labour peers will have to overturn a coalition majority of 40 to have a chance of blocking the government’s education proposals. Labour’s leader in the Lords, Baroness Royall, said: “Labour opposed the government’s policy in the Commons last week, and Labour will oppose the government’s policy in the Lords this week.– BBC Politics

The Liberal Democrats ran into fresh trouble today when the party’shigher education spokeswoman in the Lords, Lady Sharp, said she was not sure she could vote tomorrow for the coalition government’s trebling of tuition fees. Sharp told the Guardian: “I face a dilemma. I have a lot of reservations, and I am in the same position as many Liberal Democrat MPs. I have not decided how to vote.” – Guardian

Labour reaches out

Labour leader Ed Miliband yesterday appealed to disgruntled Liberal Democrats to work with him against the UK coalition Government. With 21 Lib-Dem MPs having voted against government plans to raise university tuition fees in England, Mr Miliband said the party should recognise its “common interests” with Labour. At his first Westminster press conference since becoming Labour leader, he called on Lib Dems to submit ideas to Labour’s policy review. – Western Mail

No pork in Pickle’s agenda

The biggest cuts to police and local councils “in living memory” were yesterday unveiled by ministers with some parts of the country losing almost 10 per cent of their budget in a single year. Inner city areas of Liverpool and Manchester and parts of London including Hackney will be worst hit with spending reductions of 8.9 per cent. However richer parts of the country such as Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Wiltshire fare much better with cuts of less that 1 per cent. – Independent

The revolution in local government outlined in Eric Pickles‘s localism bill has laid ministers open to the charge that their package of new powers coupled with drastic spending cuts will hit the poorest in society hardest, enable big business to buy off local opposition and devolve difficult political decisions to councils at a time when they are least able to cope with them. Overshadowing the devolved powers in the bill are the cuts imposed on local councils and the impact on local services as well as the potential job losses, amid claims that more than 140,000 people will be handed redundancy notices by town halls next year. – Guardian

Cost guard Cuts

Opposition MPs claimed lives would inevitably be put at risk if the cutbacks were put in place, and rank-and-file coastguards spoke privately of “an impending disaster”. Angus Robertson, defence spokesman for the Scottish National Party, said: “The Tory government is putting lives at risk on sea and land by their reckless cuts to the Coastguard and privatisation plan for Search and Rescue services. The coalition is planning to sell off the search-and-rescue service to a foreign consortium. – Telegraph

Don’t forget me

The former foreign secretary said his brother Ed had ‘done well’ since winning their battle for control and it was a ‘very difficult job being leader of the opposition, especially in the first year of a parliament’. The 45-year-old added: ‘I have no plans to return to front-line politics – at the moment, that is. ‘For now, I’m doing what’s best for the party and leaving the field open for Ed to lead the party. I’ve got to admit, I wish the leadership campaign had gone differently but who knows what will happen in the future?’ – Metro

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Caroline Flint writes to Eric Pickles over FoI refusal

29/10/2010, 12:21:08 PM


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Tom Watson writes to Eric Pickles over FoI refusal

28/10/2010, 01:27:07 PM

If you can’t see the viewer below the plain text version is here.

TomW Pickles

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