NHS and the Conservatives

The Telegraph quotes David Cameron as saying “Tories will create a ‘truly seven-day’ NHS

A Conservative government will create a “truly seven-day NHS”, David Cameron will say, as he pledges that everyone is the country will have weekend access to urgent and emergency care at the weekend.

The Prime Minister will use the first major speech of his general election campaign to promise voters that voters will have “access to the NHS services they need seven days a week” by 2020. In a frank admission, Mr Cameron will concede that the “truth” is that patients are currently “more likely to die if you turn up at the hospital at the weekend”. Mr Cameron will use a speech in Manchester to say that it is “too hard to access the NHS out of hours” and that “illness doesn’t respect working hours”.

Also in The Guardian.

Benefits and Conservatives

The Independent reports on Conservative ‘secret plan’ for £12bn welfare cuts

Secret plans for swingeing cuts to benefits have been drawn up by civil servants on the orders of senior Conservatives, it emerged last night. The proposals, which have been leaked to the BBC, suggest the party is looking at reducing benefits paid outside London, taxing disability allowances and scrapping money paid to all carers except those on the lowest incomes.

The plans are aimed at helping the Tories meet George Osborne’s commitment to save £12bn from the welfare budget by 2017-18 as part of plans to eliminate the deficit. The documents, which have been disowned by the Conservatives, suggest the following measures:

  • Restricting the carer’s allowance to those eligible for universal credit. The documents suggest that about 40 per cent of claimants would lose out – saving the Government £1bn a year.
  • Taxing disability benefits such as the disability living allowance, personal independence payments and attendance allowance (for over-65s who have personal care needs), saving £1.5bn a year.
  • Introducing regional benefits caps. The £23,000 total benefit limit would vary in different parts of the country with Londoners, for instance, receiving the top amount due to the higher cost of living.

Also in The Guardian.

Immigration and Drugs

The Mirror claims that David Cameron’s border controls see FEWER illegal immigrants turned away from UK

Drug hauls are down and fewer illegal immigrants are being turned away since David Cameron came to power, figures have shown. Labour says guards at the border sent home 26,378 people in its last full year of government in 2009-10 but this fell to 14,473 in 2013-14.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper says: “The Tories have failed to tackle illegal immigration. It’s unfair on everyone – the port authorities and border staff working hard to keep our country safe, responsible businesses who employ people on a fair wage and communities across the country as local jobs and wages are undercut.”

The value of ecstasy, cannabis and heroin seized has also fallen by £125million over three years.

Air Safety

The Daily Mail reports that European aviation chiefs FORCE British Airways to carry an extra person in the cockpit at all times – but experts fear it may make planes more vulnerable to terrorism

British Airways is being forced to follow the lead of other UK airlines and ban pilots sitting alone in their cockpits, despite fears it may make planes more vulnerable to terror attacks.

It had resisted calls by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority for it to fall into line with other British airlines such as Virgin Atlantic, easyJet and Monarch in enforcing the policy to stop a repeat of Tuesday’s Alps plane tragedy.

But European safety regulators last night issued a ‘temporary recommendation’ for airlines ‘to ensure that at least two crew, including at least one qualified pilot, are in the flight crew compartment at all times of the flight’. Such recommendations are effectively mandatory.

It later added: ‘The CAA has been closely co-ordinating with colleagues at the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) since the Germanwings incident and we believe this recommendation is a proportionate step to enhance aviation safety for the travelling public.


The Guardian reports on a travel ban for five east London girls over fears they will join Isis in Syria

Five teenage girls who attend the same east London school as the three girls who fled to join Islamic State in February are subject to a travel ban, it has been revealed. The children, all at Bethnal Green academy and aged 15 and 16, have been made wards of court to prevent them departing for Syria.

Applications for the travel ban were lodged by social services at the London borough of Tower Hamlets following the disappearance in mid-February of Kadiza Sultana, 16, Shamima Begum, 15, and Amira Abase, 15, from their homes in east London. The fact that the five teenagers are from the same school as the three missing girls emerged during a legal challenge brought by the Press Association at the high court in London on Friday.


Breitbart has a report on Scottish Nationalists accused of setting up ‘Hitler Youth’ In Scottish Schools

The Scottish National Party has been accused of “infiltrating” local schools in order to “brainwash” pupils into supporting Scottish Nationalism. Michael McCann MP claims to have seen evidence from a local SNP meeting, where delegates boasted of “sterling work” being done in local schools to encourage children to persuade their parents to vote SNP through pester power.

SNP members reacted furiously when it emerged that a local Labour party activist, Andy McMillan, attended an SNP ‘meet the candidate’ meeting at Murray Bar and secretly recorded the proceedings. He then passed a transcript of the meeting on to Mr McCann, who published quotes from that transcript on his website earlier this week.

According to the transcript, one delegate told the meeting “Sterling work was being done by the SNP youth wing in all local schools. The meetings were packed out at lunchtimes and this would be intensified during the election period as pester power from children could help persuade their parents to vote SNP.”

MP’s Expenses

The Telegraph claims that 46 MPs claim rent or hotels to live in London – despite owning taxpayer funded homes in capital

Forty six MPs have claimed expenses for London rent or hotels despite owning a taxpayer-funded property in the capital, an investigation has found. The situation has come about after a new system brought in after the 2009 expenses scandal, which was exposed by The Daily Telegraph, banned MPs from claiming mortgage interest.

This meant the MPs have had to let out their old second homes – often for thousands of pounds – and claim for hotel rooms or renting another property. Channel Four News found that 46 MPs – including 25 Conservatives, 14 Labour, and four from the Liberal Democrats – were letting out their old second homes which had been part-funded through the old expenses system.


The Express reports that Nigel Farage vows to make St George’s Day a bank holiday

He told the Daily Express it was unfair the English and Welsh did not celebrate their national culture as the Northern Irish and Scottish do. The UK Independence Party wants England to have a new public holiday on April 23, St George’s Day, or the next Monday if it fell on a weekend. In Wales, March 1 would be a new day off for the country to honour St David.

Mr Farage declared: “Surely it’s only fair for us to have a day off to celebrate our own patron saints too? England has been denigrated to such a point that English culture isn’t celebrated in the same way as the national cultures of Scotland and Ireland are. We’d like to see St George’s Day and St David’s Day become national days of celebration, both in recognition of the significance of the countries, and to boost consumer spending and tourism, which will make up for money lost from people having the day off. Ukip believes in Britain, and we celebrate Britishness. Let’s all of us in the UK fly our flags with pride.”

Smart Meters

Breitbart has a report “Dumb and dumber: EU-mandated smart meters still coming to UK against all possible advice

Here are two words that should chill you: smart meters. These digital utility meters are designed to provide real-time statistics to energy providers, thus allowing them to monitor consumer usage 24-hours a day – and charge differential rates accordingly.

An ambitious £11bn scheme to deliver new gas and electricity meters to every home and business in the UK, the single largest government IT project in history, is currently in the consultation period. Already plenty of alarm bells are ringing at the prospect. As they should.

The UK Smart Meter programme has the hugely ambitious target of installing 100 million new pieces of kit nationally by 2020. It was initiated by Ed Miliband as energy secretary in 2008, following an EU directive and confirmed by the Coalition Agreement in 2010.

Saudi Arabia and Yemen

The Telegraph reports that UK ‘will support Saudi-led assault on Yemeni rebels – but not engaging in combat’

British-built aircraft are being used in the campaign already, Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, confirms to the Telegraph. Britain will support the Saudi-led assault on Yemeni rebels “in every practical way short of engaging in combat”, the Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, said on Friday.

In a briefing while on a visit to Washington, Mr Hammond confirmed that British-built aircraft were being used in the campaign, in which Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Arab allies have bombed targets throughout the country. He reiterated that Britain stood behind the intervention, intended to prevent the Houthis, an Iran-backed Shia militia, from taking over the country. He said that Britain was not directly involved but that might change.

The Independent has this report: “The battle for the Middle East’s future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss”

Saudi Arabia has jumped into the abyss. Its air attacks on Yemen are a historic and potentially fatal blow to the Kingdom and to the Middle East.

Who decided that this extraordinary battle should take shape in the poorest of Arab nations? The Saudis, whose King is widely rumoured in the Arab world to be incapable of taking decisions of state? Or the princes within the Saudi army who fear that their own security forces may not be loyal to the monarchy?

The “story” of Yemen appears simple. Houthi rebels, who are Shia Muslims, have captured the capital of Sanaa with the help – so say the Saudis – of the Iranians. The legitimate President – Abed Rabou Mansour Hadi – has fled to the Saudi capital of Riyadh from his bolthole in the old southern Yemeni capital of Aden. The Saudis will not permit an Iranian proxy state to be set up on their border.


The Daily Mail reports that Police chiefs claim expenses to spend on extra-marital affairs and are guilty of ‘predatory sexual conduct’ towards juniors, finds report

Police chiefs put gifts for their lovers on taxpayer-funded expenses and preyed on young female colleagues out of arrogance, a scathing report has found. They saw themselves as captains of industry rather than public servants, research into a string of misconduct scandals concluded.

A culture of entitlement meant some in the highest ranks believed they had a right to perks and privileges including gym membership, school fees, overseas travel, hospitality and executive cars. The report added that too many forces tolerated bullying with a ‘boys club’ culture that allowed misconduct to thrive. It was compiled as part of a College of Policing drive to improve leadership and integrity within the 43 constabularies in England and Wales.

Is there a common purpose behind this, we ask?

Accident Compensation

The Daily Mail reports that Lufthansa offers up to £40,000 immediate financial assistance to grieving families of each passenger on board Germanwings jet

Relatives of those killed on the Germanwings flight have been offered up to £40,000 from Lufthansa immediately, amid speculation they could receive multi-million pound compensation settlements eventually. The German airline, which owns the budget carrier, offered to pay up to 50,000 euros per passenger, for immediate financial assistance.

However, the relatives could receive multi-million pound compensation settlements if they can prove that Lufthansa knew about the co-pilot’s mental health difficulties. Sicknotes found at Andreas Lubitz’s apartment in Dusseldorf by German police could form a key part of any legal case launched by the families. Legal experts claim that the level of awareness the passengers had in advance of the crash would also influence any compensation payments.

Education in Finland

The Independent reports that in Finland subjects are scrapped and replaced with ‘topics’ as country reforms its education system

For years, Finland has been the by-word for a successful education system, perched at the top of international league tables for literacy and numeracy.

Only far eastern countries such as Singapore and China outperform the Nordic nation in the influential Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings. Politicians and education experts from around the world – including the UK – have made pilgrimages to Helsinki in the hope of identifying and replicating the secret of its success.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that Finland is about to embark on one of the most radical education reform programmes ever undertaken by a nation state – scrapping traditional “teaching by subject” in favour of “teaching by topic”.


The Express reports that Wi-fi router security flaw leaves HUNDREDS of hotel guests vulnerable to HACKERS.

The vulnerable Wi-Fi routers – which have been found in EIGHT of the world’s top ten hotel chains – could be used to INFECT hotel guests’ computers, the research found. Security experts claim hackers could use the vulnerability to monitor and record data sent over the hotel Wi-Fi network.

Cybercriminals could use the security weakness to infiltrate the keycard systems used in many hotel chains to secure and lock room DOORS, the researchers sensationally claimed.

Security firm Cylance reported the vulnerability. It claims a weakness exists in the firmware installed on the popular InnGate Wi-Fi routers, built by Singaporean company, ANTlabs.

Boardroom Quotas

The Guardian carries an interview with a female executive: “Helena Morrissey: ‘If I was doing it for a popularity contest, I probably wouldn’t say anything’

She hates the term ‘superwoman’ — but since she’s CEO of a £50bn investment fund and a mother of nine, you can see why people use it. So is her own example really useful in her battle to get more women on to boards? And why does she always wear heels?

‘I was a manic Brownie,” Helena Morrissey tells me, fiddling with the lacy cuffs on her dress. “I collected a lot of badges.” She has not let up since, and now has the kind of CV that leaves normal people needing a lie-down just from reading it. At 48, Morrissey oversees £50bn of assets at Newton Investments, and has nine children ranging in age from six to 23. In her spare time, whenever that might be, she set up the 30 PerCent Club to fight for greater female representation on company boards. She is also a trustee at the Eve Appeal, which fundraises for gynaecological cancers, and she chairs the corporate board of the Royal Academy of Arts.

Her day begins at 5am and ends at 11pm, and she lives in the kind of executive whirlwind where taxi journeys are primarily understood as a good opportunity to call the New York office. It’s just as well her husband Richard is a Buddhist priest.

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