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Stormzy closed the Brit Awards with a politically-charged performance, taking aim at Theresa May’s handling of the Grenfell tower disaster, institutionalised racism and the Daily Mail.

It was a big night for the British rapper on Wednesday (21 February), taking home both awards he was nominated for, including the coveted British Album Of The Year prize, as well as delivering what was unquestionably the performance of the night.

Taking to the stage immediately after winning British Album Of The Year, Stormzy kicked off his performance with a chorus of ‘Blinded By Your Grace, pt. 2’, surrounded by figures in balaclavas, in the style of the album artwork for ‘Gang Signs & Prayer’.

<strong>Stormzy on stage at the Brits</strong>

Following this, he stripped off his t-shirt and delivered a brand new rap, where he took aim at the prime minister. 

He was heard saying: “Yo, Theresa May, where’s that money for Grenfell? You just forgot about Grenfell.

“You’re criminals, and you’ve got the cheek to call us savages, you should do some jail-time, you should pay some damages, we should burn your house down and see if you can manage this.”

<strong>What a man</strong>

The same rap saw him discussing the treatment of black people in Britain, name-checking Daniel Kaluuya’s Baftas win over the weekend and the declaration: “Will someone tell the Daily Mail they can suck my dick?”

Since the Grenfell disaster last year, Stormzy has been among the most vocal celebrities when calling out the establishment’s reaction, taking the opportunity to say that the government should be held “accountable” during his set at Glastonbury.

Source: huffingtonpost

The Tories are set for a hammering in the nation’s capital in May with voters in flagship London boroughs set to turn out for Labour.

A new poll reveals that Labour could wrestle control of Westminster and Wandsworth council from the Tories in what would be huge blow to the party’s London power base.

According to research conducted for the Mile End Institute at Queen Mary University of London, 54% of Londoners are planning to back Labour on May 3 – a figure that would give Jeremy Corbyn the highest vote share of any party in the council elections in the capital since 1968.

Worryingly for the Tories, 78% of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) voters are expecting to support Labour, compared to just 12% who would back the Conservatives.

The loss of Wandsworth would be particularly symbolic, as it was Margaret Thatcher’s favourite council thanks to its low poll tax rates – even scrapping in at zero in some years.

The poll shows that Labour’s support in inner London stands at 67%, compared to just 17% for the Tories.

Labour also leads in outer London boroughs, but by 47% compared to 34% for the Conservatives.

That translates to a 13.4 per cent swing to Labour in inner London since 2014, and a 4.2% swing in outer London over the same period.

Philip Cowley, Professor of Politics at Queen Mary and Director of the Mile End Institute, said: “This is not just because inner and outer London have voted differently in the past – it is also because the swing from the Conservatives to Labour between 2014 and today is much greater in inner London.”

The Liberal Democrats are on to 11 per cent in the London-wide poll, almost identical to their vote in 2014, but they are up by two percentage points in Greater London where they have hopes in Conservative-controlled Kingston and Richmond.

Professor Cowley added: “On paper, these swings mean Kensington and Chelsea should remain safe for the Conservatives, but the post-Grenfell situation here means I would advise caution. 

“Basically, this poll means that the Conservatives are facing difficulties in almost every London council they still control.”

Asked which issues will determine how they vote, 33% say housing, 29% say local services and facilities, and 28% say health.

When it comes to the performance of their own council, more London voters think their own council is currently doing a good job - 47% say ‘Very’ or ‘Fairly Good’ - compared to 29% who say ‘Fairly’ or ‘Very Bad’.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,155 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12 and 15 February 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all London adults (aged 18+). YouGov is a member of the British Polling Council and abide by their rules.

Source: huffingtonpost

The Brit Awards has paid tribute to the victims of last year’s Manchester bombings with a poignant performance from Liam Gallagher.

Bosses took time out of this year’s ceremony to remember the 22 victims who were killed when a terrorist detonated a bomb at an Ariana Grande concert last May.

In what was the ceremony’s most emotional moment, Manchester-native Liam taking to the stage to perform Oasis classic ‘Live Forever’ in their memory.

Liam had stepped in at the last minute for the tribute, as Ariana had originally been scheduled to perform, having arranged the One Love Manchester concert.

However, she was forced to pull out after her doctor ruled that she was too unwell to travel from the States.

One Love Manchester was arranged in support of the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund, which went towards helping the victims of those who died, as well as the concertgoers who were injured in the bombing.

Ariana’s efforts in the wake of the atrocity led her to be made an honorary citizen of Manchester by the city’s council, claiming she was “moved and honored” by the gesture.

Watch Liam’s performance in the video above...
Source: huffingtonpost

Damon Albarn made this year’s Brits feel like the awards show’s golden years again, as he provided a couple of minutes of chaos during his acceptance speech.

During Wednesday’s (21 February) ceremony, the Britpop singer took to the stage to accept the award for Best British Group prize on behalf of his project, Gorillaz, where it appeared he’d taken full advantage of the refreshments on offer.

Following a video message from Gorillaz’s “lead singer” 2-D, Damon told Brits viewers: “I’ve got one thing to say and it’s about this country. This country is a small, little thing.

“It’s part of a beautiful world but… uh… all I wanna say is don’t let it become isolated, don’t let ourselves become cut off, you know?”

Seemingly alluding to Brexit, he continued: “Considering our size we do incredible things in music, you know what I mean? Don’t let politics get in the way of all that shit. Right?”

The camera then cut back to presenter Jack Whitehall, at which point Damon was heard continuing off-screen: “I just want to say... oh it’s been cut off.”

Confusingly, we were then treated to more speeches, before Jack Whitehall returned to view, commenting: “Oh I really didn’t want this to be an Adele moment. I’d have let them talk all night if it was up to me.”

Whispering to camera, he joked: “I think he was talking about Brexit.”

This wasn’t the only noteworthy exchange during the 2018 Brits, though, with Jack Whitehall’s conversations with both Cheryl Tweedy and Little Mix getting viewers talking for different reasons.
Source: huffingtonpost

Jeremy Corbyn is a secret Communist who would sell out Britain for a few quid to pursue his dream of turning the UK into East Germany.

At least that’s the impression you might get from a number of newspapers, Tory MPs and political commentators over the last week, following an intital report in the Sun.

Thursday's SUN: "Corbyn And The Commie Spy" #bbcpapers #tomorrowspaperstoday (via @AllieHBNews)pic.twitter.com/r39NqGLDkb
The most solid accusation levelled at Corbyn came from former MI6 Chief, Richard Dearlove, who told the Sun: “Either Jeremy Corbyn was incredibly naïve or he knew exactly what was happening to him, so he was complicit in all this.”

Since then a number of front pages have been plastered with headlines using less-than-subtle language to suggest Corbyn was always more loyal to Lenin than the Union Jack.

These claims are a ridiculous smear and entirely false. The former Czechoslovak agent Jan Sarkocy's account of his meetings with Jeremy was false 30 years ago, is false now and has no credibility whatsoever. pic.twitter.com/qKMiyLaxbe

February 16, 2018
WHAT’S THE LATEST?

The Telegraph and Daily Mail were still leading with the story on Tuesday, reporting on comments made by Theresa May calling for the Labour leader to be “open and transparent” about the matter.

The front page of tomorrow's Daily Telegraph: 'Corbyn urged to reveal his Stasi file' #TomorrowsPapersToday pic.twitter.com/cPg0u5MOEj
Tuesday’s Daily MAIL: “Time To Be Open, Comrade Corbyn” #bbcpapers #tomorrowspaperstoday pic.twitter.com/Kn1RI34zLv
SO WHAT’S CORBYN HIDING?

When you actually dig down through all of the reports, not very much - if anything.

Let’s start at the beginning.

THE SOURCES

The stories rely on two sources - documents publicly available in the Czech Security Service Archive and the 65-year-old former spy, Jan Sarkocy, the man Corbyn is said to have been approached by.

Intriguingly, they contradict each other.

THE DOCUMENTS

The files held in the Czech Security Service Archive outline attempts by Czech intelligence to make contact with Corbyn and obtain information from him.

They include passages such as:

Corbyn, Labour MP of the House of Commons of the British Parliament, contact initiated 25.11.1986. Let’s approach carefully as Labour MPs are also under control of the British intelligence service. He seems to be the right person for fulfilling the task and giving information. Behaviour is reserved and courteous, however, occasionally explosive (when speaking in defence of human rights), though the performance is calm and collected
The documents do not mention Corbyn handing over any information or receiving any kind of payment but appear to be proof an attempt was made to make contact with the now-Labour leader.

And no-one is denying that happened - Corbyn has admitted meeting Sarkocy but was under the impression he was a diplomat.

THE SPY

Forget what the Sun, Mail and Telegraph printed about Jan Sarkocy, it’s what they didn’t print that is important.

None of them has not reported three key claims he made in an interview with Slovakia’s best-selling tabloid newspaper, Nový Čas.

When asked about the information Corbyn gave him, he said:

I'll tell you this. I knew what Thatcher would have for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and what she would wear next day.
THE PROFESSOR

Professor Anthony Glees, from the University of Buckingham, is the expert quoted in the original Sun piece and historically, he’s not exactly been a fan of Corbyn.

He has said Corbyn’s Labour will “turn the UK into East Germany”.

Your Brexit gives Corbyn & McDonnell their only real chance to turn the UK into East Germany. Well done. https://t.co/nKcKETLuoa
Rob. Stunned. Loyalty used to be our secret weapon. Brexit will aid Corbyn in turning us into East Germany. You didn't listen to me. https://t.co/CTAxgHzBFV

Svetlana Ptacnikova, Director of the Czech Security Service Archive and expert on the very documents that form the basis for the accusations, has told the BBC:
She added: “The files we have on him are kept in a folder that starts with the identification number one.

“Secret collaborators were allocated folders that start with the number four. If he had been successfully recruited as an informer, then his person of interest file would have been closed, and a new one would have been opened, and that would have started with the number four.

“He stayed in that basic category - and in fact he’s still described as that, as a person of interest, in the final report issued by the StB agent shortly before he [the agent] was expelled from the UK.”

So there you have it. But the damage has already been done - those who already had a dislike of Corbyn will double-down on their beliefs now.

If any true Labour supporters vote for Corbyn the traitor who could be the downfall of the U K ,you yourselves would be classed the same as him and would have to live with that stain on your character . https://t.co/CzBilFZRty

February 20, 2018
THE FALLOUT

Speaking on Tuesday at the EEF Manufacturing conference about Brexit and the City, Corbyn was quizzed by reporters about allegations that his office has dismissed as a “ridiculous smear”.

A reporter from the Daily Mail asked: “Mr Corbyn, you say you want these business leaders to put their trust in you to run the country how can they do that when serious questions remain about your past?

“And will you give permission for your Stasi file to be released to help clear things up?

In his first public remarks on the claims, a clearly irritated Corbyn replied: “Thanks for your question, I’m very sorry that the Daily Mail has reduced itself to reproducing some nonsense that was written in The Sun beforehand.”

But The Sun’s journalists are not giving up, and it remains to be seen if they have any more documents from any more countries about ‘Comrade Corbyn’.

Jeremy Corbyn describes The Sun's reporting of his links to a Czech intelligence officer as "nonsense", but again does not deny holding 4 different meetings with him, or explain why they happened.

February 20, 2018
Daft question from @stephbreakfast to Corbyn: "Are you a Czech spy?" A very rare chance to hold someone who revels in avoiding scrutiny to account and the BBC turn it into a joke? It's very simple: why did Corbyn hand information about MI5 to a representative of a hostile state?

February 20, 2018
BUT CORBYN WASN’T FINISHED THERE

In a personal video message following the encounter at the EEF conference, Corbyn initial made light of the allegations saying: “In the last few days, The Sun, The Mail, The Telegraph and The Express have all gone a little bit James Bond.

“In the last few days, The Sun, The Mail, The Telegraph and The Express have all gone a little bit James Bond,” he said.

“They’ve found a former Czechoslovakian spy whose claims are increasingly wild and entirely false.

“He seems to believe I kept him informed about what Margaret Thatcher had for breakfast and says he was responsible for either Live Aid or the Mandela Concert - or maybe both.”

But the main thrust of the message was to criticise newspapers, attacking their owners as “billionaire tax exiles” and warning them “change is coming”.

“At the moment, much of our press isn’t very free at all,” he said. “In fact it’s controlled by billionaire tax exiles, who are determined to dodge paying their fair share for our vital public services.

“The General Election showed the media barons are losing their influence and social media means their bad old habits are becoming less and less relevant.

“But instead of learning these lessons they’re continuing to resort to lies and smears. Their readers - you, all of us - deserve so much better. Well, we’ve got news for them: change is coming.”

AND IN A SIGN THE BACK AND FORTH WILL CONTINUE ...
Source: huffingtonpost

Jeremy Corbyn has lambasted newspapers over claims he helped Communist spies in the 1980s, attacking their owners as “billionaire tax exiles” and warning them “change is coming”.

In a personal video message, the Labour leader hit out at The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and The Express for printing allegations that he had worked with a Czechoslovakian agent to hand over British secrets.

His angry riposte follows claims by former Czech agent Jan Sarkocy that he was on the country’s payroll during the Cold War.

Corbyn, who earlier on Tuesday made his first public comment on the claims, used the video to hit back at newspaper proprietors who “dodge paying their fair share for our vital public services”.

He said that “we’ve got news for them – change is coming”.

Labour insiders told HuffPost that the party in government would take action on tax dodging, higher taxes on the richest, implement ‘Leveson Two’ on media regulation and review the plurality of newspaper ownership.

The Labour leader ridiculed the allegations against him, saying: “In the last few days, The Sun, The Mail, The Telegraph and The Express have all gone a little bit James Bond.

“They’ve found a former Czechoslovakian spy whose claims are increasingly wild and entirely false.

“He seems to believe I kept him informed about what Margaret Thatcher had for breakfast and says he was responsible for either Live Aid or the Mandela Concert - or maybe both.”

But he warned that the allegations were so serious that it was time he and Labour hit back.

“It’s easy to laugh, but something more serious is happening. Publishing these ridiculous smears that have been refuted by Czech officials shows just how worried the media bosses are by the prospect of a Labour government.

“They’re right to be. Labour will stand up to the powerful and corrupt - and take the side of the many, not the few.

“A free press is essential for democracy and we don’t want to close it down, we want to open it up.”

Corbyn served notice that he intended to tighten up media regulation.

“At the moment, much of our press isn’t very free at all. In fact it’s controlled by billionaire tax exiles, who are determined to dodge paying their fair share for our vital public services.

“The General Election showed the media barons are losing their influence and social media means their bad old habits are becoming less and less relevant.

“But instead of learning these lessons they’re continuing to resort to lies and smears. Their readers - you, all of us - deserve so much better. Well, we’ve got news for them: change is coming.”

Earlier, Corbyn was cheered by businessmen as he hit back at a Daily Mail reporter for asking him to publish any secret file held on him by the Stasi, the East German secret police.

BBC Economics presenter Steph McGovern, who was chairing the event, jokingly asked at the end of the session: “Are you a Czech spy?”

Corbyn replied: “No.”

Sarkocy, who was a member of Czechoslovakia’s Communist secret service Statni Bezpecnost (StB) last week told the Sun that Corbyn was named ‘Agent Cob’ and that he met him in the House of Commons.

The Sun reported that a newly-released archive in the StB’s HQ in Prague included a Sarkocy report that read: “Jeremy CORBYN, Labour MP of the House of Commons of the British Parliament, contact initiated 25.11.1986.

“Followed up to the degree of RS (person of interest) ‘COB’. He has an active supply of information on British intelligence services.”

On Monday night, Corbyn threatened legal action against a Tory MP who had claimed he had “sold British secrets” to spies in Eastern Bloc states.

Tory vice chairman Ben Bradley deleted the tweet after the Labour leader instructed lawyers to purse a libel claim.

However, Security Minister Ben Wallace had not deleted a similar Twitter message that suggested Corbyn had acted like the British spy Kim Philby.

“Jeremy has been interested in Foreign Policy issues his entire political career “ - Labour MP Louis Haigh , BBC Daily Politics - yup so was Kim Philby
The Labour leader has not denied meeting the agent for tea - but insists he had no idea Sarkocy wasn’t a normal diplomat as he claimed.

BBC Diplomatic Editor Mark Urban revealed on Tuesday that he had talked to former UK intelligence agents who also dismissed the spying claims as ‘nonsense’.

1/3 spoke to some fmr British spooks about the Corbyn 'Czech spy' claim. They consider it nonsense, 'he had no secrets to give away' says one, E. Bloc officers in London 'had a pattern of exaggerating the importance of their contacts' says another

February 20, 2018
2/3 most intelligence agencies define an agent as 'under control', or 'taskable', say former spooks, & having had full access to Czech StB files post cold war, MI6 evidently do not consider Corbyn met that definition

February 20, 2018
3/3 one former case officer jokes Corbyn 'may have been naive in his contacts [with a Czech spook] but I'm not looking for any more evidence of his naivety'

February 20, 2018
“These claims are a ridiculous smear and entirely false,” his office said on Monday.

“The former Czechoslovak agent Jan Sarkocy’s account of his meetings with Jeremy was false 30 years ago, is false now and has no credibility whatsoever.”
Source: huffingtonpost

The Queen made a surprise appearance at London Fashion Week today. And show organisers decided to sit her next to none other than the queen of fashion, Dame Anna Wintour.

The Vogue editor-in-chief and Her Majesty watched the Richard Quinn catwalk show together, before the monarch presented him with an award.

The pair have met before, in May 2017, when Wintour was awarded a DBE (Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire) for her services to the fashion industry.

And on Twitter royal commentators confirmed that they had a brief conversation before the show started.

Kensington Palace confirmed this afternoon that the royal would be attending the annual event in order to present the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design to emerging British fashion designer, Quinn.

The Queen and Anna Wintour have a chat on the front row at @LondonFashionWk pic.twitter.com/p1CnvyX4tR
Arriving at the British Fashion Council (BFC) showspace, Somerset House, the Queen was greeted by Caroline Rush CBE, the chief executive of the BFC.

The Queen was wearing a baby blue two-piece skirt suit with a black handbag.

Quinn, a graduate of Central Saint Martins school, has gained recognition for his striking prints and his collaboration with Liberty London.

Vogue said in September in a profile of the designer  that he is part of a “new generation of weird and wonderful designers”.

The new award has come about as a result of a year of consultation between the Queen and her personal advisor, Angela Kelly. They have worked on  designing an award to give recognition to emerging British fashion talent.

Each year a designer will be selected by the BFC, in collaboration with the Royal Household to be recognised by this award which will be presented annually by a member of the royal family.
Source: huffingtonpost

There is a clear link between problem debt and mental ill-health.

Half of adults in problem debt also have a mental health problem. That’s three million people. People with problem debt are twice as likely to develop major depression as those not in financial difficulty. 86% of respondents to a Money and Mental Health survey of nearly 5,500 people with experience of mental health problems in spring 2016 said that their financial situation had made their mental health problems worse.

That’s why I am joining the call to extend for a six-week ‘Recovery Space’ scheme to cover people in a mental health crisis, during which their creditors cannot harass them, and they have the space to sort things out. It presents a simple and workable way to fix a growing problem. I urge Ministers to look closely at this proposal. I hope we are pushing at an open door.

The issue of problem debt is familiar. I hear every week stories from desperate people in my constituency, who are getting into difficulties through no fault of their own.  It might be dramatic changes in behaviour caused by clinical depression or bipolar disorder, with uncontrollable and unsupportable spending sprees. It might be small changes in family incomes or outgoings, created by external forces such as the loss of a job, precarious employment, or physical illness, which can be devastating.

Imagine being discharged from hospital to an eviction notice, or doorstepped by bailiffs when you’re unable to open your post and tackle your debts.

People with mental health problems are three times more likely to be in problem debt. Debt that makes recovery harder, and take longer. Debt that makes it harder for mental health professionals to help, and that has long-term impacts for people and their families well after the mental health crisis is over.

For many people, debt becomes a terrible burden, borne in solitude. We see the classic vicious circle. People in problem debt may become too ill to work. They hide their problem from friends and family. The problem gets worse. Then the vultures start to circle overhead. Pay day loans, advertised everywhere and easily available, with sky-high interest rates.

In the most deprived parts of our communities, we see the spectre of loan sharks: easy money with no regulation and enforced by intimidation and violence.

So for a person getting into problem debt, the only options are further debts, swiftly becoming a mountain of unsustainable, unmanageable debt. Of course this weighs heavily on the mind of the debtor.  Our understanding of mental health is developing all the time. The causes and triggers of mental ill-health are complex and usually down to more than one factor. There is seldom a single reason for someone to suffer depression, anxiety, phobias, bipolar disorder, thoughts of self-harm or suicide, or other forms of mental illness.

One of the most distressing cases I have come across in my own constituency was when I was visiting a local foodbank a couple of Christmases ago and I met John. He had walked nine miles to get to the foodbank in the freezing cold, not even wearing a jumper. Recently, he had been discharged from an inpatient unit. He had no access to benefits, no money on his electricity meter, and no food in the fridge. How could he continue his recovery and maintain his wellbeing under these circumstances?

We know from countless testimonies of people in problem debt that it creates the conditions for mental health to worsen. In fact, people in financial difficulty are twice as likely to experience suicidal ideation.

Allowing people who we know are in absolute crisis to be pursued by creditors – whether it is their local council, energy companies, or bailiffs – is unacceptable and dangerous.

This is why the work of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute is so important, which despite being a new kid on the block of policy think tanks, has already made a huge and significant contribution to this area of public policy. I am proud to sit on their advisory board.

No-one should be preyed upon by banks, credit card companies and legal loan sharks. No-one should suffer in silence, scared of the shame of debt and the stigma of mental illness. No child should have to pretend not to be in when the debt collectors come knocking. No one should be discharged from mental health crisis care to be faced with the bailiffs. None of us should fear the post arriving on the door mat.

The extension of the ‘Recovery Space’ initiative is an important step in alleviating the pressure on some of the most vulnerable people, and preventing worsening mental health. I urge everyone to get behind it. And to recognise there is so much more to do.

Luciana Berger MP is on the advisory board of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, and is President of the Labour Campaign for Mental Health
Source: huffingtonpost

So it turns out the much publicised manpower shortage in the British Army is down to outsourcing company Capita’s failure to do its job. It’s not often I applaud The Sun on it’s journalism, but their revelation this week that the army is being crippled a man power shortage, despite a record number of of would-be recruits attempting to join, is a favour to all of us who believe in public services need to be brought back in-house.

Our 82,000 army is 4,000 short of the recruits it needs to function viably. Yet according to The Sun reports of 100,000 who attempted to join last year, only 7,500 survived the 300 day joining process - most dropping out because of frustration with Capita’s lengthy and impersonal procedures. The Sun damning Tory outsourcing is to watch the governments own media bulldog break from its chains and turn to savage them.

Neither Capita, nor the Tories outsourcing programme, is any longer for for purpose. The Sun’s exposé puts the nails in the privatisation coffin. Labour’s 2017 General Election manifesto pledges of a new economic settlement to end the outsourcing of public services and to replace costly PFI with direct public investment was derided by the Tories as unviable last June. Seven months on, those pledges look prophetic. Wriggle as they might, the Tories can no longer escape the public’s wrath for the terrible value for taxpayers money which Private Finance Initiative (PFI) projects provide.

Day after day, the Tories are failing in their  first duty of government - to protect it’s people.  Outsourcing is the flip side of the austerity coin. It’s the side that delivers privatised profits to the corporates, the speculative and the downright greedy elite. Austerity is what’s tossed to the rest of us - and it isn’t just hurting those at the bottom, it means Britain is now operating on an almost war-footing, with just about every citizen at risk of becoming collateral damage. In January they imperilled all of us by banning all but emergency cases from hospital waiting rooms because our ravished health service can no longer cope.  This month,  it’s our army that’s revealed as diminished.

The collapse of Carillion has destabilised thousands of schools futures, halted our infrastructure building and for 20,000 Carillion workers, a future without a pension is now on the cards. Credit to Labour’s Frank Field as chair of the Work and Pensions Committee for now showing the same dogged determination to hold Carillion’s board to account that he showed to discredited tycoon Phillip Green for his failure of care to BHS employees whose pension fund had also been ransacked prior to its collapse.

Unless we halt them, the Tories will remain desperate to inject some life into this dying outsourcing culture which has seen privateers laugh all the way to the bank at our expense. From the day John Major started the PFI boom, we were repeatedly told that this was a good way to fund public investment as the private sector took on the ‘risks’. Sadly, New Labour followed suit and PFIs and outsourcing grew rapidly during the Blair and Brown era. Those of us who continuously argued against this costly way of delivering investment and services were cast aside as ideological deviants.

But as the collapse of our public services - including the very programme by which we recruit to our army - becomes endemic, so does outsourcing itself, which is being revealed as ideologically deviant. There are now 700 PFI projects around the UK including for schools, hospitals, prisons and motorways. There is also a very a compelling body of evidence that the costs of these deals outweigh the benefits- with £200billion due back to these companies over the coming years for £60billion worth of buildings. PFI is the equivalent of taking out a payday loan to pay for building and running our public services. The annual charges for these deals amounted to £10.3billion in 2016-17 – with around half of this cost being for interest repayments and charges rather than services for local residents.

Which is why my union is calling on all Labour MPs to debate and vote on amendments 1 & 3 to the Finance Bill, at its third reading this Wednesday. These amendments require the Government to calculate how much would be raised by implementing a windfall tax on PFI companies. And it is for now a pragmatic stepping stone en route to  solving our PFI problem as well as a means to land another blow on this bad for Britain Tory government.

National Audit Office (NAO) research show PFI contracts have made the costs of public building projects 40% more than relying solely upon government money with additional charges, such as insurance and cash requirements, pushing up  costs further.  The NAO also highlight the failure of the 2012 Conservative Government review of PFI to address any of the concerns about the costs of borrowing or overcharging by these companies. And the real tragedy is that the contracts were always designed, as my union warned at the time, to ensure cancelling them would be more costly than remaining with them. Clever clauses were inserted to the contracts requiring the lenders and the shareholders to be ‘fully compensated’  and left no worse off because of authority default than if the contract had proceeded as expected.

The contracts also require the Government to cover the interest rate swaps used to ensure that these deals were profitable. The NAO estimate this would add a further 23% to the costs of buying out these contracts. In total it could cost up to £220billion – money which would not go into our public services but back to these multi billion pound companies and their shareholders.

That’s why PFIs have never been worried about calls to cancel their contracts. But the work of Labour MP Stella Creasy and others to impose a windfall tax is a credible threat to excessive PFI profits which, thanks to Tory cuts to corporation tax, will fall to 17% by 2020, allowing them to continue to prosper whilst our public services are made yet more meagre. As Stella’s points out, the NHS is facing an unprecedented funding gap of up to £34billion over the 5-year period to 2020/2, but we don’t have to wait for a Labour government to get PFIs to pay back into the public coffers. Winning this amendment means we can begin to use the state’s power to bring these companies round the table to renegotiate all PFI deals. If these companies won’t negotiate substantial reductions in their repayment costs, then parliament can use the threat of bringing in a tax on their windfall profits.

The tide is now with Labour. No matter what desperate moves the Tories make to try and save outsourcing, privatisation and PFI, they’ll be a busted flush. The public mood is against them. All Labour MPs must now do the right thing and let the will of the people be heard in Parliament on Wednesday.

Let’s hit the outsourcers where it hurts in their profits. Let’s force them to up their taxes in the here and now and advance the cause of a more cost effective and democratic way to run our public services and investment. It’s not just in our Labour Party interest, this is the will of the people! Let’s serve them.

Manuel Cortes is general secretary of the TSSA
Source: huffingtonpost

‘Marcella’ made a very dark return to our screens on Monday (19 February) night, as the crime noir introduced us to a disturbing new case which centres on the world of paedophilia and child killings. 

As the cast previously warned, there were no answers to the questions that were left over at the end of series one (don’t worry, they are coming though), and instead, it threw up a load more that are going to keep us hooked for the next eight weeks...

Why was Marcella on the roof?

The episode began with a flash-forward, showing Marcella heading to the top of a building, seemingly ready to jump off. She was followed up there by Tim, who appeared to make an attempt to talk her down. But what has driven Marcella to contemplate suicide? And how did she get the cut on her forehead?

Who is keeping the boy locked up?

As we flicked back to the present day, disturbing scenes saw a teenage boy being held captive in a derelict house, but it remained unclear who was keeping him there. 

This scene was establishing the new case, so we don’t think we’ll be finding out their identity any time soon, but we soon started suspecting a number of characters - namely convicted paedophile Phil Dawkins. More on that later... 


Who killed the boy found in the wall?

Marcella’s team soon got to work on a new case after the body of missing schoolboy Leo Priestly (who just happened to be a friend of Marcella’s son) was found in the cavity of a wall. 

Likewise, we don’t think we’ll have any answers to who killed him until the final episode and it’s likely it ties in with the other boy being locked up. However, neighbouring ’70s rocker Reg Reynolds was put firmly in the frame as a suspect, when it was revealed the wall had been accessed from his side.

What is Nick supposed to have done?

We met Eric (the chap with the 1996 tattoo on his head), who was watching a boy called Simon play football, waiting for his dad, Nick, to come home. When he did, Eric threatened to tell Nick’s wife something, but he claimed she already knew. Frustratingly, we didn’t get to find out what was said.

Eric told him his sister was “missing child support because of [him]”, which could suggest Nick has a child with her? Or perhaps he reported her for something? Either way, it remains unclear how the two men are connected. 


Was the pink pig significant?

In the foodbank, Eric’s niece was with a pink pig, and just moments later, a similar one was spotted in the room where this mysterious man was preparing to conduct a procedure on the captive boy. Does this suggest Eric is connected to the man?

Is Adam being groomed?

Partway through the episode, we were introduced to a character called Adam, who was a friend of Nick’s son. As he was held in detention, it was revealed he had drawn a picture of a schoolboy killing a man. 

Later on, viewers saw him making secret calls to a number late at night, before her later got into a strange-looking car on his way home from Simon’s house, all of which points to him being preyed upon. 

Did Edward have something to do with Leo’s disappearance?

They were supposed to be walking home from school together on the day Leo was abducted, but Edward left him alone. It also appeared that Marcella and Jason had tried to hide this fact, suggesting there could be more to this.

Leo certainly seemed menacing when playing with the mouse in his bedroom, and we have a feeling he’s a character to keep an eye on.  

Who attacked Marcella in Reg’s house?

After Marcella paid a late-night visit to Reg’s house to have another look at the scene where Leo’s body was discovered, she was attacked by a mystery assailant. Just who was it?

We were also left wondering how they could have got past the police presence outside the property, unless it could be that the attacker is a member of the force themselves... 


Is the factory boss linked to a paedophile ring?

Red Cow Gifts had hit the front pages over claims they exploited teen workers, before it was revealed Eric was a member of staff there. 

The factory boss was seen later briefing his lawyer, as it transpired he was using young workers and switching them to zero hour contracts once they hit 21, before replacing them with 16-18 year olds. Could it be that his business is providing a conveyor belt of young people for paedophiles to abuse?


What are Reg and Alan hiding?

After Alan was questioned about Reg’s whereabouts at the time of Leo’s abduction, he claimed they were out of the country on tour. Police suggested Reg could have been involved in paedophilic activity back in the 1970s - something Alan shut down. 

However, when Alan picked Reg up after he was released from police hold, he asked the rocker if he’d divluged something during questioning, to which he responded the police “hadn’t even asked”. What was it?

Also, we couldn’t help but notice Reg seemed to be speaking fine to Alan, despite Alan telling police he’d had a stroke years previously that caused his speech to become muddled - who’s lying?


Is Phil connected to Leo’s murder and the captive boy?

Despite his earlier denials he had acted on any recent urges, it was revealed convicted paedophile Phil Dawkins was still active, with young boys being delivered to him. 

You may have noticed not only was he using a different name (Mr Jones), but the building looked strikingly similar to the one the other boy was being held captive in, which could mean Phil is the one holding him, or is this too obvious?

Meanwhile, we know the original investigation into Leo’s disappearance couldn’t find any link to Phil (who also claimed to have an alibi), but could this be revisited now we know that Leo is dead?

Whose car did Adam get in?

We’re guessing it probably belonged the person he had been messaging. Although, it could have been totally innocent - don’t forget the ‘Marcella’ writers do love to drop in a few red herrings. 

Who is watching Marcella?

At the end of the episode, we saw that someone was watching Marcella at home through the webcam on her laptop, before we saw a man watching on the other end. Could this be Tim? He’s certainly had enough access to Marcella’s house, and don’t forget he was already in the house when she arrived home earlier during the show, giving him prime opportunity to set the webcam up. 

If it is Tim watching her, what exactly is he hoping to find? Could it be that he is actually working on a case against Marcella after finding out she moved Grace Gobson’s body at the end of the last series? Although if he really wanted to nail her for that, surely he has enough evidence already?

‘Marcella’ continues next Monday at 9pm on ITV. 

Source: huffingtonpost