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The SKWAWKBOX

col2.pngAs the Daily Mirror observed on Monday, Kensington and Chelsea council has – unsurprisingly – been relieved of any responsibility for the response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy:

mirror rbkc relievedThe Mirror also mentioned, in passing, that the Gold Command that has taken over the operation is headed by Chief Executive of the City of London John Barradell, but without any further comment on the matter.

But should survivors and local residents be concerned at this development?

Theresa May spoke in Parliament about the urgency of restoring the faith of those affected by Grenfell – and the wider population – in government and distrust of authority is a serious issue for those hit by the fire and its aftermath.

But the City of London’s (CoL) involvement in the operation raises serious questions about levels of accountability and transparency – because it has few obligations to either and a long history of…

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The SKWAWKBOX

As the SKWAWKBOX showed yesterday, Theresa May unforgivably used the Grenfell Tower tragedy as cover for her inability to reach an agreement with the DUP’s Arlene Foster, by claiming the further delay in the announcement of a deal was because of the terrible fire.

Foster flew home to Northern Ireland and the Tories claimed juniors were hashing out the final details.

But this morning, the Conservatives are spreading word to their activists to prepare for a new General Election – which can only mean there is no deal, or at best a slim and receding prospect of one.

Arch-Tory site Guido Fawkes gave the game away:

wickham.pngOf course, the article does not admit it’s because May is useless and the DUP negotiations are failing, but he does make the astonishing claim that CCHQ (Tory headquarters) were ‘caught unprepared’ by May’s announcement of the last election:

on the hopThe carefully-crafted and completely false…

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Grenfell Action Group

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When we published our two recent items on Fire Safety in the Grenfell Tower area we expected to see some serious repercussions. Our earlier complaints to Siobhan Rumble had, of course, been copied to senior figures at RBKC, including the Director of Housing and the Cabinet Member for Housing, so we fully expected to see evidence of some kind of seismic upheavel following our revelations. Nothing of the sort happened. There wasn’t so much as a peep out of Coleridge or his deputy Laura Johnson.

We did get a reaction from Rumble herself. Following her earlier failure to provide us with contact details for Steve Cunningham, the Station Manager at North Kensington Fire Station, she did so immediately, once she had been publicly embarrassed by our first blog.

Unfortunately, and for reasons that we don’t fully understand, we got a very poor response from Mr Cunningham, who seemed inclined to…

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The poor side of life

Luckily today the weather was on our side. No rain and only a welcome breeze, it does help to make things a bit easier.

I arrived promptly as usual and as soon as I arrived I was met by people waiting for food parcels. I did tweet this and someone stated ‘are you surprised?’, my response was actually no, we’ve been doing this for a long time now and have seen some terrible things. At any rate, we usually have a queue for the food parcels and they were all gone within 15 minutes. that’s six food parcels gone within 15 minutes. Imagine if this was replicated all day, can you imagine how many we would hand out?

Today was busy though, people rushing in and out, many not having the time to stop and talk. Some people are scared of talking though and that’s understandable. It’s not unusual for a…

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Politics and Insights

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It’s worth considering that in the past few years President Bashar al-Assad’s Government has allegedly killed over 100,000 people in Syria, amongst them were many civilians, including women and children, so we need to ask why, exactly, would allegedly using chemical weapons on 1,300 people suddenly be much more of an issue and a matter of national interest for America, Britain and France?

My own view of the situation is that aggressive intervention is an absurd and incoherent solution. We cannot bomb people into democracy or shoot them into observing human rights. Punishing a dictator for killing his own people by simply killing more of his own people seems beyond cruel. The gesture of war will not punish the guilty, such as members of the tyrannical Assad regime: it will simply kill ordinary people and their children, topple buildings and cause injuries and hardship to the innocent. It seems to…

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Politics and Insights

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1. Longest period of sustained low inflation since the 60s.
2. Low mortgage rates.
3. Introduced the National Minimum Wage and raised it to £5.52 per hour.
4. Over 14,000 more police in England and Wales.
5. Cut overall crime by 32 per cent.
6. Record levels of literacy and numeracy in schools.
7. Young people achieving some of the best ever results at 14, 16, and 18.
8. Funding for every pupil in England has doubled.
9. Employment is at its highest level ever.
10. 3,700 rebuilt and significantly refurbished schools; including new and improved classrooms, laboratories and kitchens. 
11. 85,000 more nurses.
12. 32,000 more doctors.
13. Brought back matrons to hospital wards.
14. Devolved power to the Scottish Parliament.
15. Devolved power to the Welsh Assembly.
16. Dads now get paternity leave of 2 weeks for the first time.
17. NHS Direct offering free convenient patient advice.
18…

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The SKWAWKBOX

This morning I had the privilege to be at the special conference for the announcement of the result of the leadership contest between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith.

As you will know by now, the result was emphatic, with Corbyn gaining a decisive 61.8% share (313,209/506,438/654,006) of the votes in spite of the efforts to weed out around 250,000 mostly Corbyn supporters by suspensions, expulsions and simply not sending them a ballot.

But there was a significant little passage of events that you will have missed. I was seated directly behind deputy leader Tom Watson and party General Secretary Iain McNicol, within easy touching distance (if I had wished:

wp_20160924_001Iain McNicol looking positively underwhelmed at Labour’s overwhelming democratic choice

As he prepared to read the results, NEC Chair Paddy Lillis said he would read out the overall result but would also show the results by voting constituency (full members, supporters…

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