Letter to my Conservative MP

Thank you for your last email. I hope that you are well. I am as delighted as you (Abbots News Feb) about the success and roll out of vaccine. Fantastic news. Can’t wait to get mine. 

However, I wish that you would respond properly to some of my other concerns. The government can not hide serious irregularities if our democracy is going to hold strong.

I have asked you time and again about the tendering of contracts over the last year, specifically and generally. You have fobbed me off.

Judge Chamberlain has just adjudicated that the ministerial code has been broken and government guidelines as to the tendering of contracts during the pandemic have been unlawful. 

All governments, as you have told me yourself, need to be held accountable. That is why I have signed this petition. The ‘integrity’ of the current government, of which you are part, it would seem, cannot be relied upon. 

I would welcome a swift and specific reply on the above matters. I need to know what you and other backbenchers are going to do about this and do not want to be fobbed off with what great guys Hancock and co are working in a difficult situation in unprecedented times. We all are. 

That is not an excuse to consistently misappropriate public money! You should be doing the job because you are up to it and you should all be enshrining the seven principles at all times. If you do not do this, then by parliament’s own standards, you are not fit to govern.

Kind regards,

Name withheld

T Dan Smith: a re-appraisal

Your article on T Dan Smith found its way to me and I was glad to read it. I think the time has come for a re-appraisal of what he achieved, which was a lot, and didn’t achieve (there was quite a lot of that too).

It is a pity, though that your historical perspective is undermined somewhat when you say “the mark he made on the city … can still be seen to this day, over a century after his spell as leader came to an end”. I was there. I remember it well, and I am still alive to tell the tale!

I look forward to more, deeper, analysis and historical account-settling.


Fred Brookes

Editor’s reply:
Thank you for your feedback. I have amended the reference. As you rightly point out, it was not over a century ago!

Cracking the perfect poached egg: still too much work!

Just read your article. Still too much work!

Here’s my method:
Boiling water in a microwaveable cereal bowl
Crack egg into the water
Microwave for 40 seconds. 
Done 🙂


Shocking, distressing and highly disrespectful

I happened to stumble across an article by Louisa Britain in North East Bylines: How bad recipes are deflecting from a truthful debate. I cannot agree more. It is shocking, distressing and highly disrespectful of people who have more than enough, in many cases much more than enough, to ‘preach’ to those who are really struggling.

The author points out that much of the advice given by these well-meaning if misguided ‘advisors’ is inaccurate anyway. 68p to make a family dinner for four! Good grief! I think not. She rightly writes about how other ingredients are needed (salt and pepper etc) and that utensils, cooking equipment, electricity or gas are needed.

It is hard enough for many people to cope, possibly out of work because of the pandemic or other factors, possibly dealing with emotional and mental health issues and desperately trying to manage on very little money. They do not need to be lectured by the very people who would be much better actually trying to provide practical, kind, and dignified support – or just by staying out of it!

J. Thompson

Promises, promises …

The first broken Brexit promise of 2021 was Mr Gove’s, “never to weaken the environmental protections that we have put in place while in the EU” – but already, in the first week of January, the sugar beet producers have been granted permission to use pesticides containing the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam, the ones that kill the bees.    Harvesting sugar beet damages the soil just as eating sugar damages our health – we spend £8.8 billion per year treating Type 2 diabetes. 

And there’s no sign yet of a British law to prohibit the export of UK plastics in bulk to poorer countries to match the EU’ ban.

Instead, we have a bill to preserve the statues of dead white men, mostly slaver traders or owners, from the horrid demonstrators.  

And no more Private Members’ Bills for the foreseeable future, a diminution of democracy obscured by a Jolly Bad Taste Joke made simultaneously by the immaculate Rees-Mogg mocking the fishermen – who were also promised something better than piles of rotting fish they cannot export.  He got the headlines with that, as intended. 

Wendy Bond

We can always be in control of migration and the economy: a note for Keir Starmer

Why do political leaders in this country seem to have little knowledge of
European treaties? If they invested time in reading, they would realize
a solution to a massive jobs and business crisis in the whole of the UK
and for British citizens based in Europe could be avoided.

The term ‘freedom of movement’ is highly misleading. It was never free.
At least not if it was used according to the provisions for this under
treaties present for both EU members and members of the single market.

Under article 7 of the EEA regulations, a person who migrates to
another country within the single market must provide
evidence of a job, business activity, freelance income or funds from
savings, investments or a pension in order to remain for more than
3 months in another European country, in addition to comprehensive health
insurance so that the individual and his or her family if relevant
are not a burden on the host country. This is hardly freedom of movement,
rather a controlled migration framework, which Theresa May failed to
use when at the home office. Despite numerous letters to my MP,
I have not received one satisfactory explanation as to why the Conservative
government never applied these controls on immigration.

Labour needs to get over their aversion to support such a controlled migration
framework. This is not ‘freedom of movement’ by any means.

I cannot understand the attitude of Keir Starmer on this.
If thousands of jobs were to be lost due to the closure of a factory,
the labour party and the trade unions would be up in arms.
Yet without mobility frameworks to work in Europe without red tape,
British industry is suffering.

For example, the outbound tourism industry provides 25,000 British people, most
of them who are young and in their first job, with roles in winter and summer seasons each year.
It alone is worth more to the UK economy than fishing, contributing a staggering
2.3 billion Pounds to the Exchequer, whereas fisheries, with its 12,000 workers, contributes 987 million.

UK operators will now look to recruit seasonal workers in the EU because applying
for visas is a complex procedure:
1. jobs need to be advertised for 8 weeks to make
sure that there are no European nationals losing out,
2. the British applicant needs to apply for a work permit (which takes several weeks)
and then go to an Embassy to apply for a visa in person.
At any point, the authorities may reject the candidate.

How many Northern lasses in poorer families in the Red Wall districts have dreamt of
careers as a courier for one of the big operators on the resorts of Europe,
studying hard for their GCSE or A-level language skills and
tourism diplomas from our colleges?
The outbound tourism industry helped them along, gave them skills
which could be used back home in many jobs.
Experienced managers may be able to go to work on an inter-corporate
transfer to a company office in Europe, but those starting out can
forget that.

Tourism is one example. There are many more sectors.
Last week, it was revelated that the EU was prepared to grant
musicians and creative professionals access to its markets
without permits. The British government rejected this offer.
The ISM (musicians union) and NUJ (journalists union) members find themselves professionally
restricted. Many a British dancer gained an Equity card via
a Summer season in a European hotel, which allowed them to audition for shows in the UK after that.

Britain could take its place in the single market again with
a controlled migration framework to ensure that no sponging happens
and reassure the public.

As for global Britain attracting the brightest and best talent, we have already
witnessed several different models for permits or permit free work for the
exempted categories of professionals under the UK-EU Brexit deal, who may still work in services in Europe,
such as IT specialists and engineers. The Netherlands and Germany allow easier access
to their markets, whereas Denmark and Belgium insist upon work permit applications.
Even before the Brexit deal, the Dutch developed a ‘knowledge migrant framework’ as a
full- EU member, which allowed easier entry for third country nationals on their terms.
So much for EU or single market membership removing a country’s ability to
allow entry of world class talent. Barriers to these were all in the mind of politicians.

There’s nothing wrong with a controlled migration framework. Forcing thousands of
people into unemployment and poorer futures is utterly wrong, as is the massive
deficit caused to the UK treasury.

J. Hamilton