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Whacking public services now a clear political strategy to match economic strategy of cuts

Posted on 24 June 2011 | 8:06am

I was surprised there were no ministers at the Local Government Awards organised by the Municipal Journal last night. It was one of those events at which, if memory serves me right, Labour always tried to ensure a ministerial presence.

But I didn’t have to be there for long to pick up the feeling from council leaders of all political colours that relations with central government, and Eric Pickles in particular, were not too great.

The spending cuts were big and bad enough, and there was a feeling Mr Pickles somewhat relishes the image of having settled early as one of the biggest losers in the public spending round.

But the weekly bin collection issue seems to have been something of a straw-breaks-camel-back situation for some. A Tory leader who came over basically for a bit of Tory-Labour political joshing between courses, ended up fulminating ‘how on earth can Pickles preach localism whilst telling councils how often to collect bins and what kind of salaries they should pay senior officers?’

There was a feeling that Mr Pickles, despite or perhaps because of his local government background, is keen to present himself politically as a scourge of councils rather than a supporter.

In my speech I pointed out that this was a theme which can be detected as something of a political strategy across the government.

– The PM and Chancellor never tire of telling us how bad the ‘economic mess we inherited’ is as a way of justifying all the cuts.

– Andrew Lansley, despite the NHS having its highest ever satisfaction ratings at the end of a long period of Labour government, has to talk that success down as a way of justifying the top down reorganisation they promised they would never have.

– Michael Gove has to communicate a sense of our State schools being failures rather than successes to justify his flagship free schools policy.

I missed out the military and the police. One of my fellow diners – a Labour leader this one – said David Cameron’s ‘you do the fighting, I’ll do the talking’ jibe was a fairly unsubtle put down of the military, also facing big cuts.

And on twitter this morning a policeman sent me a message saying they feel they are being deliberately attacked and undermined from central government to whom they usually look for support.

You cannot accuse the government of lacking the taste for a fight. They appear to be taking on a lot of different groups at the same time, and sticking to their mantra that the cuts and the reforms are inevitable and right. It is quite a risk as a political strategy, but then so is their entire economic strategy too.

My message was not universally well received, and my observation that I never saw Michael Gove emerging from a State school and saying ‘what a great school’ was greeted with a solitary cry of ‘Rubbish’.

Twitter later revealed this to be from Harry Phibbs, now a councillor in Hammersmith and Fulham it seems, where one of the first free schools is being established. Something of a blast for the past for me, having been a journalist in the mid 80s covering the demise of the Federation of Conservative Students – ‘more Thatcherite than Thatcher’ – in which Mr Phibbs had a central role. Nice to know he has lost none of his fire or his adherence to crazy right wing policies.

I look forward to his positive account of the event in Londoner’s Diary, and meanwhile wish Good Luck to all councils and councillors trying to continue to deliver important sevices in a challenging environment.

  • Chris lancashire

    Despite being a fan of localism, councils appear to need telling on executive pay. The number of councils paying “Chief Executives” (aka Town Clerks) over £200k – and that’s before pension and benefits – is ludicrous.

    • MicheleB

      I would imagine most Chief Execs of councils need to be a lot more in to the detail of their roles than the CEO of our Parliament will ever manage.  They do after all oversee the expenditure of zillions.

      Cameron’s much-vaunted salary of £140k is a fib; he has the right to be on over £200k but has shelved his MP salary £65k.

  • Paul M

    Interesting report from the the line behind the front line Alastair. The Cameron government will go down in history as starting out more aggressively than Thatcher and ending more incompetently than Major. While the whizz bang smashing wheezes from Cameron (Big Society anyone),Lansley, Gove and Clegg will probably be forgotten within a few years the spending cuts cannot be easily challenged by opponents and will leave a baleful legacy for at least a decade. However expect an announcement by Osborne of an economic miracle and big tax cuts in early 2015 and to hell with the deficit.

  • Watoop

    The demonisation of public services is a critical part of the “narrative” of this government. How anyone would make a choice to enter public service now is beyond me since the Government is determined to join the “race to the bottom”  with the private sector on terms and conditions and pension rights (some of the main compensatory reasons for doing such a public sector job since, usually, the pay is lower).

    This will inevitably lead to failing and low-quality public services as the talent looks elsewhere – probably joining large consultancy forms to charge the maximum possible for long-term outsourcing contracts, accountable to no one.

    The abolition of the COI yesterday rather confirms this massively flawed thinking. Here we have a Government talking about making savings by introducing centralised buying structures, then abolishing a fairly successful centralised buying structure for one of the most “difficult to value” services there is (advertising and marketing).

    As I worked in the marketing industry, I know full well that the big media agencies will be in strategic talks this morning about how they can now approach individual Departments with a view to fleecing them for as much as they’ve got (“£10,000 to change that advertising text, Sir”).

    Shocking and infuriating dogma that will come back to haunt us all.

  • Quinney

    Always happy o helpout with matters military AC. The latest story, although denied by the MoD is that our mothballed Harrier fleet is to be sold to the US for £35m.

    Considering that they were very recently upgraded at a cost of £1 billion to GR9
    standard which gave the RAF an extremely capable aircraft and the fact that they are now up for sale for peanuts is another crass decision made by the Tories.
    It also looks like the Tornado fleet is heading the same way, this was the opinion of former top brass from the armed services at the latest Defence Committee review.
    The RAFs five Sentinel surveillance planes will also be scrapped off soon, they’ve been in operation for less than two years and cost £1 billion, that’s on top of the £4 billion of Nimrods scrapped off.

    • MicheleB

      I understood the Harriers had already been sold to USA, one of the very few decommissioned lots not to have been chainsawed to bits already  …… ideology anyone?

      Why would the US want them if not to get mitts on the technology?  Brain drain anyone?  What price D&T?

      One of those recently/subsequently slapped-down military chaps was on the radio a couple of weekends ago saying that they, along with Ark Royal, would have been invaluable for the Libyan misadventure …. the planes they are using instead need to be refuelled in-flight on every mission …. ‘plane trains’ was the phrase used to describe the method.

  • MicheleB

    I think the horrendous ideology we’re all seeing, the total sweeping-ness of it all, the lack of nuance and the overgrown-brats nature of it all that made my reading of last weekend’s blog ‘In defence of politics’ a hard read for me.

    I haven’t commented there because reading it as the amateur that I am of all things political I couldn’t work out why we need to defend politics or why the Professor did; they’re  addictive BUT in the face of the disgusting activities of this front bench and its obedient skivvies I don’t see anything defensible.

    I doubt many of its members have travelled routinely on public transport; I daresay that if they did so recently or in the near future they’d regard the apparent prosperity of young families as their own doing; claim all the credit for the products of Sure Start/near-universality of  school uniforms as standard (i/o the ‘I’m a porn star’ type of t-shirt that were quite ‘normal’ school attire since the late 80s) / homework in Primaries as standard and kids’ healthy confidence as their own achievements.

    The only reason these cuts are in any way possible is that the general public’s health and spirit had been being improved for 13yrs …………..

  • Sarah Dodds

    Have received a little bit of training on the Localism Bill for my new role as a district councillor.
    To summarise…
    “Communities will be empowered. They should take initiative and the lead at a local level to make decisions. Well, …kind of…..well, sort of….. as long as those choices are what we want them to make.”

  • Paul M

    Funny how the debate in the media always seems to be about councils, schools and hospitals and whether they are efficient or not and,whether to introduce childish ideas of competition. Why is there no criticism of the performance of the privatised companies. Take the huge profits and confusing tariffs of the cartel of six energy companies, the complicated fantastically high rail fares, the huge salaries paid to the about to be privatised banking and Royal Mail chiefs. The biggest scandal of privatisation is the rip-off of the customers by the management and the shareholders. Short term prices may drop, long-term prices rise to pay for higher capital borrowing charges and the a rising share price. Competition? No thanks that’s for the public sector, we get rid of it..  

    • MicheleB

      Running down of our Royal Mail is something that I can’t get my head around at all.

      I recently heard a ‘consumer programme’ applauding a private courier service because it operates through local shops.

      Convenient yes but ….. I send out a lot of packets of work per week and while something sent via RM can arrive the next day, that lauded courier service takes four to six, with packets going back and forth to various hub depots.

      However, what really really (weally weally) annoyed me about the plug was that the courier service is owned by PayPoint and is advertised heavily by PayPal (which is owned by ebay and based in Luxembourg). 

      Yet more tax losses.

  • Akhaldi

    Well said last night.  It takes guts and principle to stand up to the small minded and uncaring people we now have in power

  • MicheleB

    Re GB technology, this is a funny video of a Spitfire

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvDDDKnNhuE&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    .

  • Richard

    “Labour always tried to ensure a ministerial presence.” A resounding maybe there then!
    The fact is that all Governments fiercely proclaim the need for local decisions, empowerment etc etc. At the same time they manipulate the central government payments to local government so that they strangle “localism”, leaving the blame to fall on local government for raising local rates to make ends meet.
    Pickles is  a master bully: does anyone recall his QT appearance when he defended his need for overnight hotel expenses because sometimes he had to “attend meetings starting at 7 or 7.30am!”
    I think it was a London audience and many had to commute for two hours to start work at such an hour.
    Can anyone suggest any of the current crop at Westminster who are for sure connected with the man in the street any more?

  • Ehtch

    It is the “path of least resistance” syndrome, and we know what the traditional path that is of the comfortable torys is – bugger the poor, let them rot! Song, via Sheffield,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6QLi2agHKU

  • Ehtch

    …and furthermore, with the announcement of new nuclear plants dotted around the UK, which when looked at it hard and sensible, with the way we all lead our lives these days taken into consideration, is needed, no matter how many windmills and solar farms we build with our vaguaries with our clouds and wind and weather. Song via Brighton about such things, Katsen, people which I like lots,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgcDqiIbwOI

  • Anonymous

    Chief executives are wildly overpriced in most organisations – why is this in itself the cue for attacks on the public sector?

  • Gilliebc

    It seems strange and rather unwise that this Toryled Government are upsetting or at least unsettling the Police at this time, when many public sectors workers are most likely to be taking action over their very unfair treatment.

    At least Maggie had the sense and fore-thought to get the Police well and truly on-side, when she and the Tory Government took on the coal miners back in the 1980’s.

    The Police are not allowed to strike, so how they must feel about these unjustified attacks on the public sector workers which obviously includes them, one can only guess.  Perhaps commenter Sarah D may have something to say on this issue?

  • Ehtch

    But I suppose The Simpsons and Homer working in his glowing factory is the main premace and main funny part of the the long running animation, overtaking Tom and Jerry in animation history, Itchy and Scratchy-like?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCM4EEZHUPY

  • Robert

    You do the fighting, I do the talking…eh?
     
    A spot of Wilfred Owen is called for (courtesy of warpoetry.co.uk):
     
     If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud  Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, My friend, you would not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori.

    We know Mr Cameron doesn’t do the details, don’t we? 

  • ZintW4

    To be fair central Government has consistently had a paranoid relationship with local authorities. I think this is largely because most local authority elections become a mini-referendum on the Government of the day. The problem is that the Tories approach to local government has a whiff of Marie Antionette to it “You shall do as we say and eat a smaller slice of cake in the process, but we will pretend we want local people to decide”. Real localisim would focus on regenerating deprived communities, not decimating the services delivered to them.

    I live just over a mile away from the White City estate, in LB Hammersmith & Fulham. Luckily for me I live in Ealing where our Labour Council is doing it’s best to protect key services such as libraries and resisting the Tory march towards further privitisation. Yet, I can’t help thinking Labour have missed a trick. Why can’t more local services be delivered by local co-operatives and community enterprises employing local people? Most big council estates have massive unemployement but the people who come to empty the bins or deliver meals on wheels are increasingly from outside that same community.  In opposition Labour has to articulate an alternative model of service delivery which delivers change and economic empowerment (employment) to our most deprived communities. In itself this would then expose the Tory rhetoric on local services for what it is – a fig leaf so that more of their corporate friends can make more by delivering inadequate services to line the pockets of those who already have more than enough.

    Labour authorities have the option – just as they did in the 90’s – to show what a Labour Government at a national level could achieve. It’s time we started to deliver a programme that shows a different approach to the Tories and their Lib Dem apologists.

  • Ehtch

    Since we are in Saturday, traditionally footballing day, hope Swansea City do not make tits of themselves at the top table, Alastair. Memories here when they were last there, Tosh as manager, could have won the league, if they were allowed..

    Anyway,
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/13839037.stm

  • Ehtch

    More Sheffield thinking, about canoe(a translation) Osborne that he is,
    @112ba09a14c145c886e8a4079bd18dcd:disqus 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcoGU5i9E9s

  • Ehtch

    what is this Michelle ma belle b that shows her head when I try and post? Anyway. But she does sound sweet. Song for her,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfzUhro9dHs

    How yow doing?
    hey,more, let me know…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmA-mczzN3Q

  • Ehtch

    Colombo has died, jeez, who would have thought it.

    It was expected – his mind had gone, so you did it, didn’t you, life creeping up, eventually making fools of us all?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leybGZjiqoE&feature=related

    All the best Peter Falk, elsewhere.

  • Richard

    Peter Falk had Alzheimer’s disease.
    Re your charming analysis, “his mind had gone” , I will resist all urges to disect your contributions on this blog, and simply say that I hope such a death never happens to any of your loved ones.

  • Richard

    Peter Falk had Alzheimer’s disease.
    Re your charming analysis, “his mind had gone” , I will resist all urges to disect your contributions on this blog, and simply say that I hope such a death never happens to any of your loved ones.

  • Quinney

    The yanks use the Harrier AV8B (I think) whixh is advanced as our GR9s. We both upgraded the Harriers as a joint package which included a carbon fibre wing and advanced avionics. The probable reason is for spares as aircraft use “lifed parts” which have to be changed after so many flyig hours. This is for flight safety.
    Regarding technology the yanks are developing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Lightning 2 which will come into service in about 5 yrs. The STOVL (short take off and vertical landing) version will replace the Harrier although at the moment it is on a two year probation to prove due to technical problems. The difference between JSF and Harrier is that JSF is supersonic and has stealth characteristics.

  • Quinney

    Regarding the cost of the Harriers flying from the Ark Royal it would have been @ £6k per hour versus @£35k per hour for the Tornados and up to @£70k per hour for the Typhoons.The air to air refuelling won’t be doing any favours for the RAFs ageing tanker fllet of VC-10s and TriStars, these are very old aircraft and are due to be replaced by the Airbus Military’s A330 Voyager.
    There was a proposal to use the Ark Royal as a floating heli-pad on the Thames which sums up Cameron’s government nicely. They strip this country of the ability to defend itself and our prime asset is used for tax avoiders and dodgers to land to commute from their overseas tax havens.

  • Ehtch

    There’s MicheleB again! Am I the only one that can see it? I will have to reply to one of her comments one day.

    I love electro-soul as above/below. It is me, early 1980s embeded memorywise, even 2011 products reinvented.

  • Ehtch

    Furthermore, Sheffield is my barometer on the health of average UK life, maybe since my great-grandmother came from near there, Harthill, near Kiverton Colliery of coal in old, between Sheffield in Yorkshire and Worksop in Nottinghamshire. Always thought I was on the same wavelength as them, rather than Wales where I was brought up. That’s “Who do you think you are” hidden telly programme genetics for you.

  • Ehtch

    Yep, that is a good clip, seen it many times, from Hampshire local telly news programme I believe. Spitty scaring the shit right out of him!

  • AndyC

    Thanks Alistair – as an early casualty of Eric Pickles your views are comforting. But it did strike me how the last government failed to get across how improved public services had become under its watch. We lived in a country with the best value health service in the world, with social housing in the best condition it had ever been in; with much less homelessness and a great increase in the amount of support services which help to prevent homelessness and improve health. Serious crime was on the wane. Life wasn’t perfect as the Climbie and Baby P scandals proved and the failure to control the banks led to house price inflation which itself reduced the number of affordable homes that the government was able to deliver. But it seemed to me that the government was always on the defensive; trying to be all things to all people and desperate not to upset the Sun and Daily Mail.  

  • Ehtch

    Heard a rumour Fergie might allow Ryan Giggs to join the Swans in this Premier League load of rubbish? Giggs is getting on, isn’t he, but is what the Swans Jacks need next season, a person putting their footie socks on in the corner of the dressing room before game and telling others “stop talking crap – we can win this game”?

    Is it a rumour Alastair? Ask your mate Fergie for me. if you can.

  • MicheleB

    Perhaps it touched a raw nerve Richard but it is the truth, the symptoms are almost loss of the very self.

    In fact Peter Falk developed his after prolonged dental treatment just a few years ago, which doesn’t sound standard.

  • MicheleB

    I do happen to be from about 8m from Sheffield Aitch !

    Been away a very long time, Sarf Larndan now.  Have a good Sunday.

  • MicheleB

    I still don’t get the reasoning (presuming there was some).

    I don’t see how the Harriers could be deemed redundant; had the plan been to swap them for drones at the time the latter are ready for delivery I would ‘get’ it – not that their purposes are anything like each others’. 

    There is just too much showiness in what the brats are doing.

    I heard on Any Qs this weekend, c/o David Davis about 1/2hr in, that TB has supposedly advised Cam to do as much as he can as quickly as he can.

    I find that hard to believe and wish the Labour panellist had challenged him, especially as DD said TB felt he had wasted his own first term.

    .

  • Ehtch

    Just a bit of gallows humour. I apologies if it gave offence. A great-aunt of mine had alzheimers, so it is not not know to me, as well as when younger worked for two years in a hospital with psycho-geriatric wards. As I say again, I apologise if it was offensive.

    And with my other comments, I agree, I do go on at times.

  • Ehtch

    Just a bit of gallows humour. I apologies if it gave offence. A great-aunt of mine had alzheimers, so it is not not know to me, as well as when younger worked for two years in a hospital with psycho-geriatric wards. As I say again, I apologise if it was offensive.

    And with my other comments, I agree, I do go on at times.

  • Ehtch

    Alright, how you doing? Hope you are having a good Sunday too.

    Worked for a small successful engineering company in South London for a couple of years, a few years back. Lived in Forest Hill while I worked there, right near the South Circular, just up a side road from Forest Hill train station. Could never get used to the traffic and lack of fields with sheep in it, though, had a difficult time living there. Always craved fresh air when I lived there.

  • Ehtch

    Alright, how you doing? Hope you are having a good Sunday too.

    Worked for a small successful engineering company in South London for a couple of years, a few years back. Lived in Forest Hill while I worked there, right near the South Circular, just up a side road from Forest Hill train station. Could never get used to the traffic and lack of fields with sheep in it, though, had a difficult time living there. Always craved fresh air when I lived there.

  • Ehtch

    He’s Amanda de Cadena’s dad if I am right, the old formula 1 race driver, Ryan Giggs first girlfriend, his daughter that is, not him, god forbid!

    What’s the latest with Giggsy joining the Swans Alastair – Kennedy, James (used to play for Burnley!), Latchford, St-John, anckle destroyer Tommy Smith and of course Dal Davies the keeper, from Ammanford, which did not take much perssuasion, nor money… joined them then.

    Telll your mate Fergie to do the right thing, for the good of the, spit!, Premier League, help the hacks out?

    Any help will do. Remember John Charles for furck sake, a footie legend, born in Swansea.

  • Ehtch

    Fergie, help the Jacks out, even. Hacks!?!

  • Dave Simons

    If your great-grandmother came from Harthill you may have heard of nearby ‘Wales’. The former village was called ‘Wales’ by the Anglo-Saxons for the same reason that the country was called ‘Wales’. The word approximates to ‘foreigners’, which was a bit rich considering that these particular ‘foreigners’ were in the area before the Anglo-Saxons.
    Sheffield will be an interesting barometer because, as in the 1980s and most of the 1990s, it has a Labour Council at a time when the central government is effectively Conservative – a recipe for confrontation, with the central government trying to starve local government into submission. Nick Clegg will prove himself useless for Sheffield, as he already has done, when the LibDems were the ruling group in the council.

  • Ehtch

    evem thpough tjeu spent my time sending me to Singapore, Finland, and France Bretagne and Torino,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgcjQuWTBZ0

  • Ehtch

    The pink granite on the north coart of near Perros harbour, you need to see it.,..

  • Ehtch

    John Foxx from Chorley, Lancashire, not that far from Burnley, and things, Still a lecturerer in West London Unvivesity, in art things, last I heard, but I might be wrong,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XZfL_As4Oo

  • Ehtch

    The classic Sheffield shit, from the very late Martin Rushent, enjoy, via Human League mark,2,.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSn2K3eciSc

  • Dave Simons

    Thanks for those rhyming pentameters – it’s a pity they never seem to print out on this blog as you intend them to. I can imagine that line about ‘you do the fighting, etc’ being incorporated into a Siegfried Sassoon parody as well.

  • Chris lancashire

    They certainly spend zillions, unfortunately they don’t have to earn a penny of it, it is given to them by the taxpayer. And that’s the huge difference between a local government “Chief Executive” and a real one.

  • MicheleB

    LOL, you think all other CEOs earn their humungous packages by virtue of their own effort?

    There are far too many people being paid (note: not having earned) unspendable amounts.  Chief Execs of councils are among them, not out there on their own, pay parity throughout the executive sector is why they are paid as they are .

    Your dismissive ‘Town Clerks’ analogy is stupid, you must have a grudge so the post was never worth responding to.  Toodle pip.

  • Chris lancashire

    I’ll tell you why KDouglas. You are right that many Chief Executives are overpaid – private as well as public. But in the private sector the Board is responsible to the shareholders and if the shareholders don’t like it they are able to do something about it.
    And secondly, don’t try to equate a plc Chief Exec with a local council “Chief Executive” for the reason I give below to MicheleB

  • MicheleB

    Nope, no fields with sheep but lots of fabulous woods and swishy trees all round and over the hills.

    Have a good week.

    .

  • Ehtch

    Not forgetting the nuclear war drama documentary, “Threads”, from the early 1980’s based in Sheffield.

  • Ehtch

    More John Foxx, Europe after the Rain,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEpG3qy9nKk

  • Ehtch

    Secret is to make male and female friends, and then you will eventually get off, Notting Hill style,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ae-YxX71pyE

  • Ehtch
  • Chris lancashire

    Who or what is LOL?
    No, I don’t think all Chief Executives are worth what they are paid in the private sector. Some are. some aren’t. Among the ares, I’d pick out Willie Walsh, James Dyson and Warren East (look him up), amongst the aren’ts David Higgins, Stuart Rose and Tidjane Thiam. But that’s just my opinion, the point is that if they are overpaid then it’s their own shareholders who are losing out – not the wider taxpaying public who don’t get a choice in their local authority town clerk or what he gets paid. And if you really think that your local “Chief Executive’s” job equates to a real plc or even SME Chief Executive’s then you need a long lie down in a quiet, dark room.

  • Ehtch

    thank the Lord it didn’t rain, say no more.

  • Ehtch

    Scottish apple growers, from West Atlantic warm air stream Scotland, via Oregon and Canada,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wll2o21LUbY

  • Ehtch

    Duffy, if I was younger and not decrepid as I am now, you’d be mine. Time ey?

  • Ehtch

    Us brits are good specimens in humanity life, and the chinkkies know it, oh yes!, don’t they know it. Shirley,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jUnwTu35U8

  • Ehtch

    Gwyn Thomas on Shirley’s Tiger Bay and Allah anywhere, perfectly in any childs playpark, if we can,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkpikdSDkS0

  • Ehtch

    I am going to say something controvervial now – dutch/french hugnots and jewish immigrants taught the english to drag money to London from the wealthy regions of the UK, and it continues, as 1980’s Brent Crude nonsense that happens in the city. Where is the quote for Norway Oil I say, when they have more left?

    But I don’t hold it against on accountants then, tulip or whatever, orange or french or spannish that came to live here for that, but it is history now. Let bygones be bygones, with Liverpool not the capital of Britain, as it should, since it was the richest city in the world in the early eighteenth century, albeit, well, through some slave things carry-ons. But that is beside the point. Royalty since Henry VII and VIII decreed London is the focal point, and all you english followed like welsh sheep.

    Where does it leave us today? Well, where it leaves us – dysfuntional at all levels, if you ask any trick cyclist if he was in a group therapy session called the UK.

  • Ehtch

    If only Henry VII, in his infinite wisdom(!), didn’t marry Catherine of Aragon to Prince Henry after her first husband, Prince Arthur, died, which was Harry eight’s elder brother, we would not might be in this mess now, maybe!

    History is interesting, isn’t it? But wish Queenie Lizzy One did more to get married and spawn babies, but we do not know the lie of the ground then, with all this protestant/catholic/Pope buisiness her Dad, Harry eight, started. Not a Duchess of Cambridge and Wills situation thankfully it isn’t. Hello/OK! magazine will no doubt let us know if it is, on their hols in Canada.

  • GOVE’S PERFORMANCE IN FRONT OF HARRIET HARMAN ON NEWSNIGHT WAS BREATHTAKINGLY COMPLACENT AND APALLING NOT TO MENTION OUT OF TOUCH