The Will of the People

One of the joys of the East Anglian Daily Times is that it not only features regular letter contributors but it also allows for ideas to be developed,
One such correspondent is John Dell from Shotley who recently has been arguing that the Brexit vote did not reflect the will of the people, as the Remainers and the Abstainers outnumbered the Brexiteers.
As readers if this blog will know, I greatly believe in voting. If you don’t vote then your views do not count and you are only a whisker away from not mattering.
Acknowledging John’s position on this issue I caused the following letter to the editor was published by the EADT on 30th June.
Dear Sir
Let trumpets sound. Let the bells ring throughout Suffolk. Let there be bunting and dancing in the streets all along the Shotley/Pinewood corridor. John Dell (EADT letters 24th June) and I seem to have found something we can agree on in respect of the statistics regarding voting for the UK/EU referendum.
If you add the abstaining votes to the Remainers then 29 million people did not vote for Brexit. But fairness demands that you also add the abstainers to those who voted against remaining in the EU. The overall result is the same but by reclassifying the abstainers as being both against Brexit and against Remaining then you have an accurate and verifiable result based on 128% of the electorate. Thus surpassing anything seen, so far, in Russia, China or North Korea.
Abstainers effectively assign their votes to those who do vote.
But the Dell-Riley principle of counting abstainers twice revolutionises vote reporting and allows everyone to move forward
Such is the joy of the Dell Riley principle; it lets the voting outcome to truly be the will of the people and lets political activists harmonise political wistfulness with political reality and so happiness can be achieved all around.
And that is my contribution to Suffolk happiness this week
The full correspondence is below.

Meanwhile on Planet Babergh

Just when you think that lessons gave been learned, you realise that very few people pay attention to history, whether it is recent history or not.
Readers of this blog may recall that on May 3rd 2016 I posted a commentary on the then continuing saga of East House, which Suffolk County Council had handed back to Babergh who didn’t know what to do with it except to evict the tenants and leave it empty. The unfortunate history of East House is that whilst Babergh made up its mind, the market moved on and any rehabilitation/upgrading with a view to selling was rendered uneconomic.
This week’s news is that Babergh District Council are to increase the debt threshold for Babergh Growth Ltd., from £3,7 million to £7m to facilitate cash flow. The company is responsible for the redevelopment of Babergh’s former offices in Corks Lane We can assume that the cash will be flowing all one way for some time to come as the cash holdings of the company were only £61,433 at 31st March 2021.
The development is expected to realise 57 homes. Due to increased costs and impacts from Brexit, the war in Ukraine and inflation, the costs of the scheme have gone up by £680,000 over four years– which begs the question why is there an increase in borrowing powers of £3.3 million.
And now comes the prize-winning comment from the Great Leader of the Rainbow Coalitioned Council (John Ward) “Ultimately the development is still expected to break even or even show a modest profit”
Why are we undertaking a marginal project? You can almost hear echoes of “With a fair wind and a few sunny days, this time next year we could all be millionaires”
It’s time to go back to basics. The economic outlook is not good and the project needs to be reworked to bring the projections back to a reality which will give comfort to the residents that their leaders know what they are doing.

Millions of Ghost Patients

According to the Daily Mail and highlighted by the Taxpayers’ Alliance there are 61.7 million people registered at GP practices in England despite there only being 56.5 million people in the country -meaning there are 5.2 million ghost patients. (Which is around a 10% overcounting).
The ghost patients are costing the country over £800,000 a year. A sum which would support more than a few nurses.
As it is, at the moment the overcounting lets the British Medical Association (the doctors’ trade union) claim that they are overworked simply by looking at the average number of patients per doctor.
The NHS must have its own inspectorate and checking a sample of patients’ names against the electoral register would throw up an instant list of names to be investigated.
It’s not rocket science – but quite often simple solutions are.

The Great Helmsman

I like reading spy novels. Whether it is The Three Musketeers, through to
John Le Carré and currently Mick Herron’s Jackson Lamb series. Through all the novels you can see the need for informational intelligence. Even Peaky Blinders has strong elements of inside knowledge, whether it is fixing races or choosing which side of a contest you will be on. Reading spy novels also let’s you explore the how, what and why of any situation
So, I greeted the news with interest that John Ward, Leader of Babergh District Council has resigned from the Conservative Group, has formed an Independent Conservative Group with three others and is now heading up a rainbow coalition with other minority party councillors.
What is going on?
We are told it arises from the dismissal from the Cabinet of an independent councillor which lead four other councillors to resign from the Cabinet. Plans to form a minority administration with other Conservative councillors fell by the wayside and so one thing lead to another.
There was a meeting of the (Conservative Councillor) group on Sunday 24th John Ward’s proposals were unacceptable. I guess that at some point the toys went out of the pram, a huff was called and John went off in it.
On the Monday John resigned from the Conservatives and formed his so-called Rainbow Cabinet.
How the Rainbow Cabinet members will be successful in the next district election in 2023, I cannot tell. But South Suffolk Conservatives (the councillors’ sponsoring organisation) must decide how this affects their plans.
Constitutionally, the defecting members must either resign from the party or be expelled. In either case they face the prospect of having official candidates stand against them and also having to pay off their 2019 election expenses.
For the time being John Ward remains the Great Leader, resting upon the support of the Independent Conservatives, The Independents, The Lib-Dems and the Greens.
I can see it all ending in tears. The Shotley Independents and the Greens are against car park subsidies, particularly in the two towns of Sudbury and Hadleigh. I guess that the headline Council Tax will come down or will be less than the Government cap and any shortfall will be met by increased parking charges and increases in any other charges that can be levied.
Watch out for higher planning fees, brown bin fees and so on.
John Ward is holding onto his powers not because he has a great vision that he must implement. He’s holding on because he doesn’t want to be a back bencher and this way he upholds his amour propre.
Such a position does not bode well for Babergh nor for Councillor Ward
Photo © Greg Fitchett (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Trollery in Suffolk

For some time, I have harboured the suspicion that the letters page of the East Anglian Daily Times has been infiltrated by Russian trolls or worse.
Let us look at the correspondence of John Dell (actually a real person – but who may not be the actual correspondent). His letters usually have two themes. First is that Brexit was a huge mistake and every disadvantage experienced by Britain should be exposed.
The second view is that the Prime Minister is unfit for the job.
On March 7th he quoted the Russian ambassador saying that “they (the Russians) have crushed Britain to the ground, they (the British) are on their knees and will not rise again for a very long time” Dell, found it difficult to disagree!
Where has Dell been? Have his eyes and ears been open to current events?
The Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24th, some ten days prior to the letter.
As for the ambassador’s comments, I’m sure his words are a comfort to the occupants of the Russian tanks destroyed in Ukraine by British weaponry.
On March 28th Dell conflated the Ukraine’s wish to join the EU with the British vote to leave, reinforcing his view regarding the regrettablity of the latter.
I don’t mind partisanship. But I object to people taking me for a fool. Thus, my conclusion that these extreme positions are being articulated by one or more trolls.

A Pie Too Far

I have a native Suffolk friend who is not unadventurous but is famous for the phrase “I’ve never tasted it but I don’t think I’ll like it” when confronted with new (usually foreign) food. This is not unwarranted xenophobia as Suffolk has a long history of invasion from Caesar’s visit to Boudica’s Iceni through to the Anglo Saxons, Danes, Vikings and Normans from Northern France. Such a response can also be seen in many people’s resistance to change, even though for the most part the only constant is change.
But some changes can be seen as a step too far.
Thus I was bemused and then possibly horrified to learn that a vegetarian pie has claimed the Supreme Champion crown at this year’s British Pie Awards in Melton Mowbray.
There were 23 different classes of hot and cold savoury and dessert pies and pasties for the 151 judges to consider at the competition. The contest played out over three days and took place at St Mary’s Church in the home of the pork pie, Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire.
And there is the essence of a Melton Mowbray pie. Pork!
The winning entry was made with vegetarian jackfruit ‘steak’, gluten-free craft ale and black pepper.
The judges praised the pies ‘crunchy’ pastry and ‘moist filling’
Matthew O’Callaghan, chairman of the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association and host of the British Pie Awards, said: “This was a superb pie, it looked good, had a nice even golden bake.
“The pastry was crunchy complemented by the moist filling which had ‘bite’ and the balance of flavours in the pie was just right.
With this pie, gluten-free pies are now equal to any other pie.
“Being vegetarian and gluten free, Pieminister’s Mooless Pie is an ‘everybody’s pie’, be they vegetarian or meat eater, gluten tolerant or intolerant. Serve this at a meal and almost everyone’s a winner.”
The judges, many of whom are experts and old hands, were asked to mark the pies on criteria including eating qualities, the filling, and how a maker could improve their entry.
The Mooless pie is shown above and more details can be found at https://pieminister.co.uk/pies/mooless-moo/
Why you should want a meatless meat pie I do not know but I congratulate the marketing whizz who dreamed up the idea once he found a good recipe. As for the pie tasting burghers of Melton Mowbray they can only deserve what they get.


Vanity of Vanities; All is Vanity

The Church of the Militant Elvis Party first appeared on the national political scene in 2001 when the party stood in Brentwood (Essex) where it ran in the General Election against Eric Pickles and Martin Bell. As a very minor party it unsurprisingly garnered 68 votes.
The party contests all General Elections and some by-elections. Their beliefs include Elvis still being alive and living in an old people’s home on the Lincolnshire coast somewhere between Skegness and Mablethorpe.
Its aims are to combat the influence of various right-wing churches on mainstream parties in the U.K.
Furthermore, the Party believes that the established church’s involvement with the global market is yet another contradiction of Jesus’s teachings. They are also interested in stopping the degradation of the planet by capitalism and the attacks on old people’s welfare in the UK.
So far so good. I came across them this month when I was looking at the by-election results for Erdington (Birmingham) when the party came last with 8 votes. Usually, they score between 50 and 200 votes each time and to end the latest campaigning season with only 8 votes seriously suggests that they are having trouble getting their message across or that they have become the Billy No-Mates of political parties.
All in all, the ratio of cost to votes indicates that standing in elections can be a vanity project beyond understanding.
Since power comes from the people and respecting the King, I’m pleased to plug their web site: https://grumpyoldelvis.co.uk/

The Hospitable Magpie

For the last month or so I have been traveling to and from Diss enjoying the perpetual Lenten affliction known as the A140. The road suffers from a gross lack of updates and still bears the marks of having been ignored by the stagecoaches – so far I haven’t seen any milestones indicating that this might have been a post road.
Normally I stop and have a quick sandwich in Diss and then rush back south as quickly as possible bearing in mind that much of the road has a 50 m.p.h. speed limit.
Yesterday I had a companion and we decided to try the Magpie Pub on the A140 in Stonham Aspel.
The pub boasts a Lithuanian menu and I chose the pickled herring and my companion opted for the dumplings. It may have been my imagination but I sensed a Baltic influence in the herring. The dumplings were the hit of the day being much lighter than Polish pierogi and very tasty.
The bill with coffees and a small glass of Guinness was extremely reasonable and the pub is now on our goto list.

The Bildeston Melon

Scratch a Green and discover what sort of melon they are. Are they red on the inside (closet Socialist) or yellow (closet Liberal).
I’ve always had my doubts about Robert Lindsay, leader of the Greens on Babergh and a County Councillor in Suffolk.
I was not too surprised when Lindsay announced that he would have reduced Council Taxes by increasing car parking charges specifically in Hadleigh and Sudbury.
So far, as expected.
On Monday (21st Feb) the Greens at the Babergh District Council Meeting went further. Cllr Lindsay expanded on the Green ambition that if all parking was taxed appropriately the monies raised and saved could go to subsiding bus services and providing grants and other support to those businesses adversely affected by the parking regime.
So it’s in with more bureaucracy in the guise of serving the people with the additionality of opportunities for waste and corruption in money dispersal matters
So, now we see their true colours. They are not interested in global warming as such but are keen on redistributive taxes. The car parks are to be a money maker.
And what if that’s not enough? Will they advocate (like some councils) taxing parking spaces at work? Will they regard garages at home as facilitating car ownership and therefore taxable?
At District level Robert represents Bildeston and its surrounding area. Bildeston is a large village with just over 1,000 inhabitants. It also has free, maintained parking in its village square. Is this square to be monetised? Is it to be exempt? Do the villagers know Cllr Lindsay’s ambitions?
We should be told, but I don’t think we shall.

Photo © Evelyn Simak (cc-by-sa/2.0)

La Reine Margot r.i.p.

We have just said good bye to Margot who was just shy of sixteen years old and who suffered a stroke which hastened her demise, since a dog’s life not worth living is not worth living.
Margot had been with us since 2005 and was a beautiful puppy and became a beautiful dog. She was shown at Cruft’s as a puppy and film from that time shows what a wonderful dog she was.
However her personality rendered her not suitable for the show ring. My main conclusion was that she was a winter baby and so was not used to the usual rough and tumble of spring litters which enjoy the garden and open air. I also think that she was spooked in the show ring by a dog behind her and so developed a dislike of anything behind her.
I considered arranging therapy for her and the advice I received was that animals like ourselves must learn to conquer their fears – so every day I took her with me to collect our morning newspapers. The route was direct but she got used to road traffic coming from behind her. She also got used to other dogs and people in dark clothes (I never understood that one).
When it was raining, I would carry her from the newsagents and on one occasion it was noted by my fellow District Councillors that instead of having a German Shepherd to reflect my Council persona I had a small blond dog whom I indulged beyond expectation.
Over the years she became less intolerant and enjoyed trips out in the car.
She was not a timid dog and I characterised her as being able to identify possible intruders at 100 yards.
She faithfully defended our households and I shall miss her loyalty and regard for us.
If there is a dog heaven, then she has a place scrutinising all new arrivals to check that they are worthy of admittance.