We all know that politicians like to promise us the moon on a stick in a bid to win our votes - but now one party has made one of the most audacious pledges since Homer Simpson ran for garbage commissioner.According to the Standard The Green Party is now floating a policy that would see us get a three day weekend.Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday, co-leaders Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley (yeah, co-leaders is a thing) argued that an extra day of rest is the sort of "bold new ideas" we need in a 21st century, globalised economy."I think there's a lot of evidence that suggests that when people are exhausted their productivity goes down", Lucas is quoted as saying."What we're suggesting here is that we are now the sixth-largest economy in the world, people are working ever more hours, getting ever more stressed, getting ever more ill health, mental health problems as well.""What we want to do is take a step back and think 'what is the purpose of the economy?
We all know that politicians like to promise us the moon on a stick in a bid to win our votes - but now one party has made one of the most audacious pledges since Homer Simpson ran for garbage commissioner.According to the Standard The Green Party is now floating a policy that would see us get a three day weekend.Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday, co-leaders Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley (yeah, co-leaders is a thing) argued that an extra day of rest is the sort of "bold new ideas" we need in a 21st century, globalised economy."I think there's a lot of evidence that suggests that when people are exhausted their productivity goes down", Lucas is quoted as saying."What we're suggesting here is that we are now the sixth-largest economy in the world, people are working ever more hours, getting ever more stressed, getting ever more ill health, mental health problems as well.""What we want to do is take a step back and think 'what is the purpose of the economy?
Yet this is what the UK’s political parties and their agencies are doing ahead of 8 June’s snap election, and the results have been mixed to say the least.“It's like a training exercise, just with the political future of the UK at stake.”He recalled: “The first steps were to get on the tube to Portcullis House to sit down with [co-leaders] Caroline Lucas, Jonathan Bartley and their comms team to work out what the hell we were going to say about an election that nobody was expecting, and nobody really wanted.Following on from 2016’s revered ‘The not so secret life of five-year-old politicians’, it is arguably one of the only truly creative pieces of work that has been produced over the last four weeks.But for Alastair Allday, a freelance creative and political commentator who deems the election marketing collateral as “very dull” so far, there is more than one way to be creative in political advertising.They seem to be spending more money convincing people to register to vote rather than promoting their policies, which says they’re really a long way behind."
The Second Source, an alternative professional network, launched on Thursday night with the aim of raising awareness of harassment and helping companies to stamp it out.It has the support of London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Green MP Caroline Lucas and the Lib Dems’ Jo Swinson.It comes in the wake of allegations Times columnist Kate Maltby and radio presenter Julia Hartley Brewer faced sexual harassment from male MPs.Evening Standard columnist Rosamund Urwin, who is among the 20 journalists behind Second Source, said she was inspired to take action after hearing how freelance reporter Emily Reynolds was targeted.She said: “It was after reading a piece by my fellow journalist Emily Reynolds about sexual harassment she had suffered that I realised that unless we act, nothing will change.“It will happen to the 23-year-olds of tomorrow, as it once happened to me and happened to Emily.”
So according to Buzzfeed, a political story with the concept of animal sentience at its core has become ‘the most viral politics article of 2017’.There has been much written about the reporting and misreporting of the parliamentary vote on Caroline Lucas’ amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, but as far as I am concerned the raising of the profile of animal sentience is a very useful fallout and may in the long run prove beneficial for animal welfare - as long as all those who care about animals maintain political pressure on the topic.Is it not the case, as some who have defended the vote against Lucas’ amendment argue, that it is already covered in UK animal welfare law?Their emotions and experiences are more complex than this; Broom (2006) defines a sentient being as ‘one that has some ability: to evaluate the actions of others in relation to itself and third parties, to remember some of its own actions and their consequences, to assess risk, to have some feelings and to have some degree of awareness’.Sentient animals have an individual welfare that has importance to them irrespective of their use by, or impact upon, humans.This is accepted science, and the incorporation of the concept into the European Union Lisbon Treaty of 2009 was a major win for animal welfare science and for animals.
Scotland’s First Minister said there was a “golden opportunity” for moderates to press for continued single market and customs union membership.It came as Ian Blackford, her party’s Westminster leader, revealed he was working with the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, and Green Party to amend the EU Withdrawal Bill at report stage.If their bid is successful, ministers would be blocked from using so-called Henry powers to amend primary legislation and drag the UK out of the single market and customs union.Sturgeon said: “More than 18 months on from the Brexit vote, it beggars belief that the UK Government is not only still unable to say what kind of relationship it wants with the EU, but has also failed to produce any meaningful economic assessment of the different possibilities.Sturgeon added: “[Hard Brexiteers] have completely failed to explain how their approach could even remotely come close to replacing the enormous lost trade and investment of leaving the single market.“It will be a fundamental dereliction of duty as Prime Minister if Theresa May continues to pursue her red lines without providing information on their impact and publicly discussing the options available.”
Boris Johnson has been accused of acting in a “shameful” way after he decided to allow Bermuda to reverse the right of gay couples to marry.However Foreign Office minister Harriet Baldwin told the Commons on Thursday that while the government was “disappointed” with Bermuda’s decision, Johnson had decided it “wouldn’t be appropriate” to intervene.Baldwin said while Johnson could overrule Bermuda in “exceptional circumstances” - this test had not been met.Labour backbencher David Lammy said the government was on the “wrong side of human rights”.“And that is why leaders like Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Barack Obama have not just fought for race rights, but they have fought for rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.The FCO claims to stand for LGBT+ rights, yet in a territory THEY GOVERN they are waving through the repealing of same-sex marriage.
Arguably her breakthrough role, a whole generation of young people were glued to their screens in the late 1970s, as Joanna kicked ass as her ‘New Avengers’ alter-ego, Purdey.‘The New Avengers’ ran for two series, during which time Joanna (as Purdey) helped combat giant mutated rats and even took on fanatical Nazis after discovering their secret on a day of scuba diving.But of course, it’s as the legendary Patsy Stone in ‘Ab Fab’ that will be forever remembered as Joanna Lumley’s most famous role.As the chain-smoking, perma-boozing, “42”-year-old former model, her performance alongside Jennifer Saunders’ Eddy Monsoon has gone down in British comedy history, and become a cult classic outside the UK too.But while she’s best known for her fun and comedic performances, in 2005 she served up something a little different, starring in the drama, ‘Sensitive Skin’, where she played a mature woman struggling with dissatisfaction over her lot in life.Her work for the Gurkhas
Two: The Russian Government is vicious, authoritarian and downright dangerous, and it was almost certainly responsible for the recent nerve agent attack in Salisbury.What I can’t work out is why so few people seem able to hold both of these opinions at once.It’s not just Iraq, but their role in the miners’ strike and their collusion with loyalist death squads are just two other examples of where they’ve got things wrong.Of course they do vitally important work, but sometimes they make big mistakes, too.It might strike people as odd that we’re taking a hardline stance against Russia for this vile act in Salisbury - while happily arming Saudi Arabia, who are accused not only of war crimes in Yemen, but have also of turning a blind eye to the terrorism being exported across the world.It’s also puzzling to see people demand a blind subservience to the British foreign policy establishment when the Government steadfastly refuses to give an honest answer to repeated questions about the civilian impact of our ongoing drone warfare in the Middle East.
The allegations centre on Vote Leave whistleblower Shahmir Sanni’s claims that BeLeave was controlled by Vote Leave rather than an independent campaign.If needs be, the police should be resourced to investigate as well.”Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has called the claims “utterly ludicrous” but by the end of the day looked increasingly isolated by his cabinet colleagues.Hunt said: “I know Stephen Parkinson and I’ve always thought of him as someone with the highest integrity, and there are two sides to theses stories.”Labour MP and Remain-backer Ben Bradshaw, also speaking to Peston, said Johnson should not be interfering.She described the allegations about Parkinson outing his ex as “gossip” which was acting as a “smokescreen” for the separate allegations made about Vote Leave.
Will the government convene cross-party talks to address the rot in our politics exposed by the Cambridge Analytica scandal?— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) March 28, 2018Green MP Caroline Lucas has vowed not to be “silenced” after Tory MPs tried to shout down her question about the Cambridge Analytica scandal.Speaker John Bercow was forced to reprimand Conservatives during a hostile PMQs in the Commons on Wednesday as they jeered at Lucas and two SNP MPs who challenged Theresa May on the issue.SNP MPs Ian Blackford and Alan Brown also faced shouts and jeers from the Government benches when they asked about Scottish Tory links to AggregateIQ - a Cambridge Analytica-associated firm.It comes as questions continue to swirl about spending during the EU referendum and the Brexit campaign links to Cambridge Analytica, which is accused of mining Facebook data, some of which may have been harvested without consent.
It has sparked a huge political row, with many MPs appalled the PM did not seek the backing of Parliament before pressing ahead with military action against the Assad regime.We’ll hear more from the government tomorrow, when May makes a statement in the Commons.Jeremy Corbyn made his views on the intervention very clear on the Andrew Marr Show, accusing May of being too quick to follow Donald Trump’s lead and using policy “made up on Twitter”.He was backed up by his shadow justice secretary, Richard Burgon, on Sky’s Sunday With Paterson.Corbyn wants the international Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to take the lead in investigating exactly what went on in the rebel-held town of Douma, where civilians were targeted in a suspected chemical attack.He believes humanitarian grounds alone did not provide enough of a basis for the UK to launch air strikes and said he could not support such action unless it had UN backing (which Russia could still veto).
The dawning reality of Brexit means that we live in interesting times.By extension, the sentient animals that we share our island of Great Britain also live in interesting times.Remainers, in contrast, argue that Brexit will lead to national isolation, economic depression and endless waiting in European airports.Rather, it is our sentient nonhuman British fellows, and particularly the billions of farm animals, that are in the greatest danger of a calamitous drop in living standards.If you were a pig on a farm, a rat in a lab or a deer roaming in the wilderness, the chances are you would be better of living in the EU, rather than outside of it.Secondly, there are a great deal many more farm animals than there are other categories of animal.
Theresa May’s new housing minister introduced a controversial policy widely criticised for pushing landlords to rent to “white tenants with British-sounding names”.James Brokenshire, who was May’s trusted ally as immigration minister under her leadership of the Home Office, introduced “right to rent” checks, which forced landlords to investigate their tenants’ immigration status.Brokenshire was announced on Monday as the new Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, after the previous office-holder, Sajid Javid, was made Home Secretary in the wake of Amber Rudd’s resignation over the Windrush debacle.Under the “right to rent” rule, rolled out across the UK in 2015, buy-to-let property owners were made responsible for checking the immigration status of potential tenants, or face a £3,000 fine.It formed part of the Government’s attempts to create a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants, but critics said the changes made landlords “border guards”.Campaigners, including Green co-leader Caroline Lucas and the pressure group, Generation Rent, also said the changes “will drive discrimination, encouraging otherwise fair-minded landlords and agents to let to white tenants with British-sounding names, just to reduce the likelihood of additional bureaucracy from the Home Office”.
Along with Jeremy Corbyn, the Scottish Tory leader was one of the few big winners in the botched snap election last year, driving her party to its biggest total of MPs in years norther of the border – at exactly the same time as May failed to connect with English voters.We don’t get to win if we start hectoring the people we need to vote for us.Ken Livingstone’s resignation from Labour last night certainly looks like the end of his formal links to the party he joined 50 years ago.In a statement, he finally apologised to the Jewish community for his remarks about Hitler and Zionism, saying he was “truly sorry” thathis words had “caused offence and upset”.Labour’s NEC meets today and it will be interesting to see if anyone marks his political passing.On a practical level, it allows him to resume campaigning on issues like climate change, from outside the party.
An audience member at Channel 4′s big Brexit TV debate appears to have captured the mood of many Remain supporters with a seemingly involuntary reaction to Nigel Farage sounding off.The former Ukip leader was appearing on the live debate show, ‘Brexit: What the Nation Really Thinks’, on Monday when he was presented with a poll suggesting people thought he would do a worse job of negotiating with the EU than Theresa May.Farage argued the PM was delivering “a Remainer’s Brexit”, which prompted an eye roll to end all eye rolls ...There’s been a lot of competition this year, but this has to be the greatest eye-roll of 2018. pic.twitter.com/bB2stJh1Ku— Hannah Jane Parkinson (@ladyhaja) November 5, 2018The debate also featured Justice Secretary David Gauke, Shadow Trade Sceretary Barry Gardiner and the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas on behalf of The People’s Vote.
New pro-EU drive must reject "vapid centrism" and “urgently learn the lessons of the past”.HuffPost is part of Oath.Oath and our partners need your consent to access your device and use your data (including location) to understand your interests, and provide and measure personalised ads.Oath will also provide you with personalised ads on partner products.Select 'OK' to continue and allow Oath and our partners to use your data, or select 'Manage options' to view your choices.
"Women have shown they can bring a different perspective to crises," says Green MP.HuffPost is part of Oath.Oath and our partners need your consent to access your device and use your data (including location) to understand your interests, and provide and measure personalised ads.Oath will also provide you with personalised ads on partner products.Select 'OK' to continue and allow Oath and our partners to use your data, or select 'Manage options' to view your choices.
The government unlawfully failed to publish details of billions of pounds’ worth of coronavirus-related contracts, the High Court has ruled.The Good Law Project took legal action against Matt Hancock’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) for its “wholesale failure” to disclose details of contracts agreed during the Covid-19 pandemic.The government is required by law to publish a “contract award notice” within 30 days of the award of any contracts for public goods or services worth more than £120,000.At a hearing earlier this month, the Good Law Project and three MPs – Labour’s Debbie Abrahams, the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas and Liberal Democrat Layla Moran – argued there had been a “dismal” failure by the DHSC to comply with the obligation.They also claimed the government was breaching its own transparency policy, which requires the publication of details of public contracts worth more than £10,000.In a ruling on Friday, Justice Chamberlain said: “There is now no dispute that, in a substantial number of cases, the secretary of state breached his legal obligation to publish contract award notices within 30 days of the award of contracts.“There is also no dispute that the secretary of state failed to publish redacted contracts in accordance with the transparency policy.”The judge said that the obligations to publish details of such contracts “serve a vital public function and that function was no less important during a pandemic”.He added: “The secretary of state spent vast quantities of public money on pandemic-related procurements during 2020.“The public were entitled see who this money was going to, what it was being spent on and how the relevant contracts were awarded.“This was important not only so that competitors of those awarded contracts could understand whether the obligations … had been breached, but also so that oversight bodies such as the National Audit Office, as well as Parliament and the public, could scrutinise and ask questions about this expenditure.”Justice Chamberlain said the situation the DHSC faced in the first months of the pandemic was “unprecedented”, when “large quantities of goods and services had to be procured in very short timescales”.The judge said it was “understandable that attention was focused on procuring what was thought necessary to save lives”.But he added that the DHSC’s “historic failure” to comply with the obligations to publish contracts because of the difficulties caused by the pandemic was “an excuse, not a justification”.Justice Chamberlain rejected the Good Law Project’s argument that there had been a department-wide “policy of de-prioritising compliance” with the requirement to publish contract details.In a statement after the ruling, the Good Law Project said: “This judgment is a victory for all of us concerned with proper governance and proof of the power of litigation to hold government to account.“But there is still a long way to go before the Government’s house is in order.”In a letter to the health secretary, the Good Law Project’s founder Jolyon Maugham QC invited the minister to agree to publish the names of all companies awarded public contracts under a fast-track “VIP lane” and how much they were paid.Maugham also asked Hancock to “commit to recovering public money from all the companies who failed to meet their contractual obligations” and set up “a judge-led public inquiry into the handling of PPE procurement”.Abrahams said in a tweet: “The significance of this ruling cannot be underestimated. It seems odd having to make this point but the Government must act within the law when awarding contracts.”Lucas said: “This indictment of Government secrecy should spell the end of the culture of cronyism which has swallowed billions of pounds of public money during Covid crisis.”In a statement, a DHSC spokesperson said: “We have been working tirelessly to deliver what is needed to protect our health and social care staff throughout this pandemic, within very short timescales and against a background of unparalleled global demand.“This has often meant having to award contracts at speed to secure the vital supplies required to protect NHS workers and the public.”She added: “We fully recognise the importance of transparency in the award of public contracts and continue to publish information about contracts awarded as soon as possible.”
Private firm Deloitte is receiving taxpayer cash to help ministers to draft parliamentary answers and media “lines to take” to defend the Test and Trace programme, HuffPost UK can reveal.The unprecedented role for the consultancy giant is part of a series of contracts worth £323m to “support” the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the National Testing Programme run by Baroness Dido Harding’s service.Four different contracts show that Test and Trace has been using Deloitte for “general management consultancy services” ranging from building testing capacity to stockpiling and logistics oversight.But buried within the contracts are details of help provided with PR and communications, with a requirement to “draft and respond to parliamentary questions, Freedom of Information requests, media queries and other reactive requests” and to “support lines to take and Q&A’s in anticipation of queries”.Traditionally Whitehall civil servants draft answers to parliamentary questions from MPs, as well as statutory Freedom of Information requests.Similarly, “lines to take” – often a defensive reaction to criticism of a particular policy – are normally drafted within government by officials.Critics claimed that Deloitte could be “marking its own homework” when MPs asked questions about Test and Trace.Labour said the contracts laid bare ministers’ spending priorities and the top civil service union warned of potential conflicts of interest and the undermining of officials.Appearing before MPs on Wednesday, Boris Johnson defended the £37bn allocated to Test and Trace claiming it was “a very valuable thing” that enabled ministers to understand the pandemic in a “very granular way”.But the service has been dogged with criticism, with the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee highlighting its use of outsourced private firms, consultants being paid £1,000 a day and poor performance on contact tracing and testing turnaround times.Earlier this year, Harding defended the use of consultants needed to build the testing programme from scratch last May, claiming that their use would be phased out and their skills transferred to civil servants in coming months.Government documents show that Deloitte has been awarded four different contracts worth £323m since the start of the pandemic. The most recent is for £122m, and runs from February this year until September.Two of the contracts have a clause that specifies a role for the firm in “communications” on so-called Pillar 4 of the testing programme, which covers blood and swab testing for national surveillance on the prevalence and spread of the virus, as well as the accuracy of home testing. Several MPs, from Labour’s Stella Creasy to the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas, have submitted questions on Deloitte’s role in the testing programme.Gemma Abbott, legal director of the Good Law Project, told HuffPost UK: “We have a government so addicted to outsourcing that it has even outsourced being held to account.“If a member of the public submits an FOI request, or an MP asks a parliamentary question about the government spending millions on contracts with Deloitte, it seems that it’s Deloitte at the other end marking its own homework – it is beyond parody.“Does anyone know where the Department for Deloitte ends and the Department for Health begins?”Shadow health minister Justin Madders said: “When we are told the government can only afford a 1% pay rise for NHS staff the news that the Department for Health are spending hundreds of millions of pounds on private sector consultants to do work the department should be doing anyway will confirm to many just how out of touch this government is.“There is no doubt the department has struggled in the last year but there can be no justification for what amounts to a part privatisation of the civil service. It also raises massive questions about conflicts of interest and a clear blurring of the lines between impartial civil service advice which should be paid for by the taxpayer and political activities which shouldn’t be.“The taxpayer is footing a £300m bill for services that appear to include advice on how to ‘spin’ the media on the work of Test and Trace. No amount of cash can spin that failure into a success.”Dave Penman, general secretary of the First Division Association that represents civil servants, said it was sometimes justifiable to bring in outside expertise in an emergency – but not if that meant effectively replacing officials with more expensive and less accountable alternatives.“Civil servants will tell you that consultants can provide invaluable expertise and often work closely to transfer their expertise in a particular field,” he said.“However, there are many areas where the civil service has unique insight and expertise, including support for ministers, parliamentary procedures and freedom of information.“An impartial and permanent civil service also has a critical role in providing ministers with their best evidence-based advice, speaking truth unto power. This makes for better decision making and more effective government and is why civil servants are recruited for what they can do, not what they believe.“Extending the role of consultants into work that could and, indeed, should be done by civil servants is not only hugely expensive, it undermines the efficiency of government over the longer term.“It is extraordinary that, on the one hand, Lord Agnew, the Cabinet Office minister, has accused Whitehall of being ‘infantilised’ by an ‘unacceptable’ reliance on expensive management consultants, when, on the other, Matt Hancock is choosing to pay those very same expensive management consultants to do jobs that civil servants can and should be doing.”Harding will hand over the running of Test and Trace next month to a brand new UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), led by deputy chief medical officer, Dr Jenny Harries, who will be its chief executive.UKHSA will bring together Public Health England (PHE), NHS Test and Trace and the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) under one public body.The Department of Health and Deloitte have been approached for a comment but have failed to respond. UPDATE: Hours after HuffPost UK published this story, the government came back with a response.A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Setting up the largest diagnostics network in UK history, from scratch, was an unprecedented challenge that necessitated a dynamic public-private partnership that could work together in the national fight against Covid-19. “Over 115 million tests have been conducted in the UK in total since testing began, which is more than any other comparable European country.“The government employs contractors in the same vein that private businesses do and responsibility for answering parliamentary questions, freedom of information requests and media enquiries rests firmly with a team of civil service communications professionals within the Department of Health and Social Care. Every single response is subject to the highest levels of scrutiny to ensure they are both factual and detailed.”Related...Test And Trace Spending Will Top £37bn, Budget Small Print RevealsYou Could Soon Be Testing Yourself For Covid Twice A WeekMatt Hancock Says Government 'Hit The Ball Out The Park' With Covid Response
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