Soubz vs. Dimbleby / Tamar Take-over: Tne NHS.

For no discernible reason, Soubry is due on Question Time in Portsmouth tonight. After the government suffered it’s worse week ever, with the penta-whammy that was GreggsGate, Cameron For Hire, Francis Maude’s petrolheaded idiocy, the worst received budget in memory and the leak tonight that we’re back in recession; this is make or break. A stirling defence, and she can tart eyeing up a front bench position. A flop, and she’ll be seen as the sacrificial lamb offered to the Dimblegod.

I’ll be on twitter  (@Beeestonia, note the three ‘e’s) giving live commentary and examine any claims she makes, but for now I want to publish a great letter I was recently CC’ed into, with Soubry the main recipient. It’s a long one, but a wonderful demolition of our beloved MP’s stance on the NHS. Better stick in a disclaimer: Tamar, the author, is my designer/ columnist /all -round publishing wizard on The Beestonian. Which has it’s latest Issue, number 7, out tomorrow, and it’s a visual feast: we’ve gone and done it in colour to mark the arrival of spring. Or the fact our printer pressed the wrong button. One of the two. Anyhow, over to Tamar:

Dear Ms Soubry,

I have read your open letter in response to the ‘Keep our NHS Public’ postcard petition.  Unfortunately, it has done nothing to allay my fears about the Health and Social Care Bill.  Many of the points you make sit uncomfortably, they read as vague dismissals of your constituents’ genuine concerns about, and disagreement with, the Health and Social Care Bill.

I would never have guessed you would simply argue that all opponents to the Bill haven’t read it / have read but don’t understand it, or are simply, deliberately misleading everyone else in order to… what? I’m not sure. However, it appears as though that’s exactly what you have done.

I would like to address the points you make that concern me most, and respond to them individually.  I have quoted statements from your open letter to me and other constituents (emboldened in green) and follow with paragraphs of my response to your statement. I do so in the realistic acknowledgment that you may only have the time to read a small section at a time before interruption.  Also, I don’t normally ‘do’ this sort of thing, so it’s easier for me too…


“There are no plans to privatise the NHS or any part of it.”

The NHS will be treated like a private industry because the Bill will subject the whole NHS to the EU requirement to enforce Competition Law. It will also leave NHS hospitals vulnerable to private take-over because they will have to become Foundation Trusts. Foundation Trusts are autonomous, so will have to fund themselves through bank loans etc. and only have to generate 1p more NHS income than private income.  Therefore, that’s hardly ‘not private’, is it?
Furthermore, many of the executives of the bodies assigned to oversee the NHS have experience in privatising public business, some even receive six figure salaries from current NHS outsourcedservice providers.  There are already areas within the NHS that are tendered out to private companies – public relations companies for example – in areas that were formally provided by public sector staff. Not to mention the sheer amount of lobbying done by US healthcare corporations who know they stand to benefit from the Bill becoming law.

In 2011, you gave assurances to a group of Physiotherapists who came to discuss the Bill with you that the NHS would continue to be “funded by the tax payer”. I’d feel somewhat misinformed by that assurance, were I them.


“The very first clause of the Bill sets in law a responsibility on the Secretary of State for Health that he or she must continue to promote “a comprehensive health service{…}” which must be “free of charge.  Either the people who are running the campaign against the reforms haven’t read the Bill of they have and are deliberately misleading people, like you, who care so strongly about the NHS.”

This was already set in Law. Despite the many amendments to the wording, the Bill removes the duty of the Secretary of State to provide or secure the provision of health services in relation to providing free healthcare in that he/she is no longer responsible for providing said healthcare but only responsible for securing their provision through specified bodies. If any of us is unhappy with aspects of decisions made by these specified bodies, we will no longer be able to complain to our MP or Health Secretary because these bodies are autonomous. You know this. Why then, do you seek to mislead your constituents?
Quite why this clause needs to change from the 2006 version has not been explained, yet it is obviously extremely important else it would not have attracted so many wording changes since the Bill’s conception.  Could it be that, if this first clause was removed the EU Competition Law implications could mean the large fines for the Government, I wonder…?


“We have increased the amount of money going in to the NHS budget – even whilst we are having to make cuts elsewhere. […] by 2015 there will be an extra £12 billion going in to the NHS.”

I simply draw your attention to John Healey’s challenge of Mr. Lansley regarding this, “The OBR’s [Office for Budget Responsibility] inflation figures mean that the NHS will not get the 0.4% real increase that he bragged about and that was stated in the spending review; the NHS will get a 0.25% decrease – a cut – in funding, as has been confirmed today for me by the House of Commons Library.”

The House of Commons Library figures also show that, when taking into consideration the  social care funding to the NHS, real term change from the previous year is DOWN 0.64% in 2011/12, and DOWN 0.02% 2012/13; 2013/14 is spot-on the same.

You fail to take into consideration, or mention, that the cost of reform brought about by the Bill could be as much as £3 billion; the demands on the NHS to make £20 billion cuts or that inflation will effectively cut the spending power of the NHS. GPs right now are costing £1 million a year in Locum costs as they spend up to 4 days a week tied-up setting up Clinical Commissioning Groups ( , and someone has to do their day job – part time or not.

Again, back in 2011 you claimed the amount the Coalition was ‘giving’ to the NHS was being increased by “£11.5 million over the next four years” (­_mp__broxtowe-2.htm) which is it? Considering the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics alone is going to cost £40 million – so this figure seems like crumbs.


“I believe GP’s and nurses in Broxtowe will make better decisions about the needs of patients in our area than administrators based in the north of the County, or in Whitehall.”

If so, why do you not listen to them when they withdraw their support for the Bill, or make statements saying that it “will damage the NHS” (Royal College of Surgeons)? Why do you dismiss the representatives as being “part-time” or say that the vote is not relevant because of the numbers that took part?  The results (released today) of the survey of its membership carried out by the Royal College of Physicians found that more than 6,000 (69% of those who responded) of its members called to reject the Bill, and nearly 5000 (49% of those who responded) called to withdraw from the Bill entirely (you may well argue that the response was low for this survey, but I would point out that it was the highest turnout of any survey of the Royal colleges, and a higher percentage than voted for a Conservative government). It goes on to detail quite clearly their main concerns ( Other societies held a vote of their fellows in their General Meetings, some of which contained hundreds of the country’s leading experts in their professional field.  Yet you chose to suggest that they too must have not read the Bill/ not understood it or are seeking to deliberately mislead their colleagues and the population as a whole. Despite having a great deal to gain by the passing of the Bill, the Royal College of Surgeons has withdrawn its support of the Bill. It seems to me that it is the Government who is actively seeking to mislead others. The greatest example being that we have had no referendum on this.
We asked you to please listen to the clinicians – to listen to the British Medical Association, Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Midwives, UK Faculty of Public Health, Royal College of Radiologists, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, British Geriatrics Society, Community Practioners and Health Visitors Association, Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Institute of Healthcare Management, Royal College of Gynaecologists, The Allied Health Professions Federation (on behalf of The College of Paramedics, The Society and College of Radiographers, The British Association/College of Occupational Therapists, The British Dietetic Association, The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, The British and Irish Orthoptic Society, The British Association of Prosthetics and Orthotics, The British Association of Dramatherapists ,The British Association of Art Therapists, British Association for Music Therapy) British Psychological Society and the Royal College of Surgeons – who do not/are unable to support the bill, have withdrawn support of the Bill or believe the Bill “will damage the NHS” – or  nearly a million people who have petitioned the government (‘Drop the Bill’ e-Petition = more than 175,000, and 38 Degrees more than  541,902 people).  But you have ignored us, and them, and went along with it anyway.


“But unfortunately Labour skewed the financial side of things so that the private sector received more money (about 11%) for the same treatments provided by the NHS. The Health Bill stops this from happening; now the NHS, charities, not for profit organisations and other private organisations will operate on the same footing.”

But you will make it up to around 14%?! You know that this is in part to make up for their exposure to Corporation Tax, and more favourable public sector pension provisions.  Why do you “skew the financial side of things”?  Professor Allyson Pollock goes into detail on this, “Despite the claim of a “level playing field” for the mixed public-private competitive market, in fact it will be operated at a 14% advantage in favour of the private sector. This calculation is reported in the Combined Impact Assessments of the reform, last issued at the end of 2011, and was carried out by KPMG, which is among the private organisations expected to gain most from the passage of the Bill. It awards compensation to the private sector for their exposure to corporation tax and VAT-exempt supply status and for more generous public sector pensions. It also penalises the public sector for the “advantage” of access to “cheap” funding through PFI. None of the cost advantages to the private sector are included in this calculation.”  (Statement in response to the Lib Dem “40 points” document by Professor Allyson Pollock, David Price and Peter Roderick – 9th March 2012)


“GP’s will continue to be able to get health treatments from both the NHS and the private sector – which includes charities and not for profit organisations. But they will not be able to choose the cheapest treatment – instead, the criteria will mean they will need to choose the best treatment. And your GP will be able to offer you a choice of where to go to get the best health care you need. So when the opponents of the Bill talk about “competition” what they fail to explain is that a charitable organisation offering a treatment for, say, older patients will “compete” with the NHS offering a similar service on the basis of which one is the best for the patient, not which one is the cheapest.” 

You fail to mention, however, that Under EU procurement law one of two procedures must be used whenever public sector procurement is carried out through competitive tendering. One of which is based on cost, and the other (the “Most Economically Advantageous Tender”) combines cost and quality.  So your statement that procurement in the NHS will ‘not be on which is cheapest’ is misleading.


“The other important part of the Bill places a statutory duty on everyone involved in the NHS to reduce what are called “health inequalities”, a problem that got worst under the last government.”

The BMA doesn’t agree with you. They say, “If passed the Bill will be irreversibly damaging to the NHS as a public service, converting it into a competitive marketplace that will widen health inequalities and be detrimental to patient care”.  The Allied Health Professions Federation of Health doesn’t agree with you either, “The competitive approach to the delivery of health and social care as proposed by the Health &Social Care Bill could well discourage integrated care pathways leading to fragmentation of services.” And neither does the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, “We believe that the Bill will undermine choice, quality, safety, equity, and integration of care for children and their families. The NHS outperforms most other health systems internationally and is highly efficient. The 2010 Commonwealth Fund report on seven nations ranks the UK second overall and best in terms of efficiency and effective health care.”  It goes on to say that competition-based systems are less efficient, and that Children with disabilities or chronic conditions will suffer most, “A family with a disabled child will find it more difficult and complicated to organise a complex package of care, because integrated working between the NHS and local authorities will become much harder to achieve.” (

Anyone with more than one chronic condition will be affected by this lack of efficiency; and it could multiply for each condition, as specialist conditions require specialist care and these will not necessarily be integrated in the way they currently are.


“I think people opposed to the Bill have somewhat taken advantage of people’s genuine concerns and heartfelt support for the NHS.”

I think that people who oppose the bill share the genuine concerns and heartfelt support for the NHS. I know, because I am one.

People who have led demonstrations, petitions and active campaigns have merely scrutinised the Bill (I too have read it. So have many of my fellow opposers to it) and translated it into a summary more suited to the busy, tax-paying, NHS-using man or woman on the street.  You acknowledge that it is a complex, technical document.  But you also go on to patronise people, your constituents, who have taken the time to read and decipher it for themselves or by calling on greater experts within medicine via the media and the internet.  The difference between the opposers to the Bill and yourself, Ms Soubry is that they have listened to the experts where matters fall beyond their own field of expertise or understanding. You and your colleagues in Government have allowed clinicians and the medical experts’ words to fall on deaf ears; you’ve blocked them out.

You have dismissed the clinicians’ claims to ‘being in the majority against the Bill’ because you consider  the numbers voting or responding to surveys not representative of this.  You  forget, Ms Soubry, that this country did not vote for the Conservative party; we did not vote for a Liberal Democrat/Conservative Coalition government. Furthermore, we did not vote in the General Election with this Bill on the horizon. This top-down reform was not only not part of any Party manifesto; it was not part of the Coalition agreement.  However, Mr. Cameron did state quite clearly, “With the Conservatives there will be no more of the tiresome, meddlesome, top-down re-structures that have dominated the last decade of the NHS” (and the Coalition Agreement reiterated this statement later).  This u-turn would appear to paint Mr. Cameron as either a liar, a manipulator or, in the very least, someone who can’t be trusted not to go back on their word.  His word means nothing. The BMA has said, “…over time, it has become clear that this is the most top-down reorganisation the NHS has seen since its inception… the ability for ordinary GPs to change things will diminish.”

To add insult to injury – and despite all the listening to “arguments for and against” you have been doing, or not doing, “at length” – we have not had a referendum on this.  Redefining the remit of a crucial public service so categorically without consultation of the elective who fund and use it is nothing short of tyrannical.
I whole-heartily believe you should be ashamed of yourself for supporting this Bill, and for failing to represent the interests of your constituents to the Government.

I’m sure it will become very clear, in the days, months and few years after this Bill goes through that, although the present Government may have felt it had a lot to gain by getting this Bill through parliament, ultimately it will lose everything. Because at the next General Election I imagine it will be elected off the premises.

I hope you take the time to consider these points.  I know they will do nothing to change matters. But I want to convey to you very clearly that, as my MP, I hope you will in future refrain from making the assumption that your constituents are merely ‘sheep’ led about by others in forming their opinions. We are not so different to you – we are capable of reading the Bill, and of hearing a person’s words and understanding them.  And, especially in the absence of any clear and accurate information we can trust, we most certainly can, and do, go on to find out the information for ourselves.

Thank you. I do appreciate your time and attention.

Yours sincerely,

Tamar Feast



Cc. The Beestonian

The Brussels Stud-Muffin: a free emetic for all readers.

When it comes to politics, there are few more simple than our gorgeous MEP, Roger Helmer. Roger recently decided the tories were not right wing enough – I know!- so threw  his lot in with UKIP. And? What’s news? Well, here’s a picture of Roger:


Yep, he’s he spit of Alan Whicker if the jet-setting presenter declared Whicker’s World only consisted of  village-green England/ evil foreigners.

Now look closer. Look at that ‘tache. To help, look at this:


I recently heard that Mr Helmer, charmer that he is, refers to his hirsute lip-sprouting as the ‘Thigh Tickler’.

I apologise for the outbreak of spontaneous retching now occuring throughout Beestonia and it’s environs.

A message from Neil Davidson drops into my inbox, which, as always with Beestonia I’ll publish in full:

Dear Mr Goold,

Anna Soubry’s house has been on the market with Bairstow Eves since last September.

For personal family reasons, she could not put it on the market before then.

Once it is sold she will be buying a property in the constituency.

I would be grateful if you would correct your website.

Neil Davidson.
Campaign Manager

Which is surely good news, and I’m sure any earlier aspersions cast upon the Soubry team (while not wanting to bring this to any personal level, a bit of context is provided by explaining Mr Davidson is Anna’s long term partner) are laid to rest. We’re only eighteen months into the present government, and things aren’t going too well with the economy. It’s only understandable that it takes some time to sell a property as there are only a few people, such as MPs, in a position to purchase. I accept that Anna is chomping at the bit to move here asap, even if it is only until Spring 2015 when she decamps to Rushcliffe to claim the long held Crown of Ken Clarke.

Since I seem to be bending our MP’s ear right now – well, her partners, so I’m sure he can pass a message on- I’d just like to expand on my previous essay regarding Anna.

Anna has recently found a stance to try and maintain some following in Broxtowe, in a typically political fashion. I say ‘political’ as it’s a rather cynical method all parties fall back on, a fault of the general system rather than any individual. However. It is still not acceptable and those who perpetuate it are damaging democracy, which leads to the shameful turn-out at last weeks by-elections, where nearly 75% of the electorate stayed at home rather than determine their representative,

Welcome to the world of popularism. Here, politicians wrap themselves in whatever flag seems to blaze brightest, whichever cause pre-Levenson Murdoch fancied, whatever was tested on focus groups and found ‘warm’.

New Labour were guilty of pushing this polticizing into the mainstream, but the new rulers have seized it with the vengence. Pre-PM Cameron advocated, depending on where public mood was, hugging hoodies, huskies and homosexuals. All admirable, if they had been at all sincere.

Souby spent the first year of her tenure as our representative struggling to find a popularist cause to latch onto. Her ability to commit gaffes at the most primary level (see the posties debacle; the hiring of Craig Cox and her resistance to moving to the constituency as true political face-palms) made any attempts to anchor herself too dangerous to undertake.

Then along came the Greenbelt. An ideal cause for Anna, as it was wonderfully non-committal. While her own government threatened to strip local authorities of power should they not find adequate land for planning; it was easy to grab a following in areas threatened by develpment, even if they really were only consultation suggestions rather than agreed plans. This has had a distorting effect on Borough planning, and could lead to planning regulations being removed from the Borough altogether, giving unscrupulous developers free rein. See Beestonia passim for more on this.

Still, she got a nicely designed banner for her newsletter out of it, proclaiming she was Champion of the Greenbelt. As a recent adventurer into the world of print publishing, I do love a good font.

I’d support the protection of the greenbelt, if it was that simple. But one has to look at the engineering behind this stance, and examine it’s veracity: thats what I do cos I’m sure you lot are far too busy not being political obsessives to care for.

Today, Wednesday 21st March, a heap of new regulations will be passed with the Budget that could have the most detrimental effect on the environment ever known since the 1825 Burning of Orphans and Anything Not Made of Steel law within a single swathe of legislation. It’s been rather overshadowed by issues involving tax, the NHS and road privatisation,yet is possibly the issue we’ll look back on in a few years time and wonder how the hell it got under our radars.

I could explain each facet myself, and if you trust me, read on, if you need more evidence I’ll be sticking links below as I find them:

So is Anna likely to vote against these proposals, which on the whole support profit-driven developers against the environment? Proclamations from the last few months suggest this is a given, considering her evident concerns against development on anything containing chlorophyll. Yet it would be the first time she’d voted against the government, so it’s a real test of her sincerity.

Annas obviously a busy woman, so she may have overlooked this legislation as she papers up her porcelain in preperation of an inniment  move to Broxtowe.  So perhaps it’s best to appeal to her partner, an evident reader of this blog, to ensure this message is passed on. Though thats ensuring he too isn’t too busy, having to simulataneously run Anna’s campaign while being a non-executive board member of, errrr, Persimmon Homes, who have a reputation for sub-standard new builds* , and would be very happy to have the government lift restrictions on what they can get away with.

I will be the first to welcome you to Broxtowe, Anna. God help you if your boyfriend had anything to do with building your new gaffe.


Persimmon has regularly come in for criticism due to poor build quality on a number of their homes. Examples include wiring up sockets dangerously giving the potential to shock, installing wobbly bannisters, laying turf on builder’s rubble rather than on newly laid soil and radiators not properly fixed to the wall




…and numerous articles via Google.

Soubry (sort of) Replies via her Politically Perilous Persimmon Partner.

Cllr. Richard Jackson Budget Response

I published budget statements submitted to Beestonia from Cllr. Greg Marshall (Lab) and Cllr. Steve Carr (erstwhile Lib Dem) at the weekend, and now I have the missing part of the Chamber trinity, Cllr. Richard Jackson (Con), on why he voted the way he did in the Borough budget:

We took a pragmatic decision to support the budget put forward by the Labour & Lib Dem Group at the Town Hall. That isn’t to say that we support, unconditionally, everything in their budget and it certainly does not mean that if we Conservatives had a majority we would be managing the council in the same way.

I was surprised that Broxtowe’s coalition actually proposed the council tax freeze in the first place. Throughout discussions in the lead up to the budget it seemed that they were preparing to increase Council Tax and senior coalition members dismissed the Governments funding for a Council Tax freeze as “a dangerous bribe”. Rumour was that they planned a 3% increase and that seemed to be the case until a few days before the budget papers were published.

Many of the savings identified in this budget are ideas that we have put forward in the past, for many years I have said that Labour & Lib Dems at Broxtowe would only make these saving when they were forced to and this budget confirmed that.

The debate and vote on the night of the budget meeting demonstrated the underlying tensions within the ruling coalition. Three Labour Councillors voted against their own budget whilst Steve Carr abstained leaving the Conservative Group as the only group to fully support the idea of a Council Tax freeze. We now have the spectacle of both Labour and Lib Dem members claiming to have forced their coalition  partners into a zero increase whilst at  the same time at the fringes some of their own members didn’t support it!

My fear now is that Labour & Lib Dems will fail to get to grips with the problems just around the corner. The budget for 2012/13 requires employee savings to be found throughout the year yet there is no clear indication of how they are going to achieve these. Even more worrying is the black hole in the budgets for 2013/14 and 2014/15 which will require further savings of more than £700K – so far there is no indication of how they plan to achieve these savings and little sign that the coalition is united enough to achieve a balanced budget.

At this time it’s the role of an opposition to work constructively to get the councils finances into a sustainable position for the financial challenges it faces and not to oppose for the sake of it.

Soubz: Economical With The Actualite?

Oh the pressure. I didn’t mean to be a tease with the Soubry Update but so much stuff is happening right now: The Beestonian is doubling in size, I’ve been asked to contribute to a documentary, I have Wilkos news to relate and, oh yes, I have a full-time job now…well, my back-burner seems to have swelled to the size of Nicki Minaj’s arse.

Yet it becomes an issue that one must clear one’s inbox when one’s (I’m dropping this ‘ones’ business now. I grew up in Stabbo, I live in Beeston. It’s simply not right) ; when my own mother (Mail-reading; arriveste Middle-Class) asked me ‘When’s that Souby thing coming out then.

So lets not delay it further. It’s not just one story but a few. It’s long overdue, and for that I apologise. Whenever I get an idea of a Soubz story, she goes and does something else awful. So here’s the latest. I’m sure I’ll have another hoard before long.


The scoop I have might seem minor, until you view the context. In April 2010,as the hustings were in full swing Soubry spotted an Achilles Heel to attack incumbent Nick Palmer on. Nick had, for personal reasons, recently moved from Attenborough to Mapperley, thus out the constituency. Despite the fact she also lived in Mapperley, Anna leapt on this with a cynical line that Dr P could not represent Broxtowe fairly if he lived outside the Borough.

This is a spurious point. Nick was parachuted into Broxtowe in 1997 with little personal link to the place, but overcame local worries by moving here and engaging himself in the area, By the time I became involved in local issues, Nick was fluent in every town, every estate, every street in Broxtowe. When he moved out it mattered little: he knew the area well, was always willing to be there, but chose to sleep in Maperley (or more likely Westminster, since that’s their workplace).

Actually, I’m not sure if Nick does sleep. I, and many others, have recollections of Dr Palmer responding to nocturnal emails we sent to him angrily demanding he supported our take on an issue. Seldom agreeing we were correct, always responding in the early hours fluently, comprehensively and accountably. Thus makes a good MP, irrespective of ideology.

Soubs nevertheless saw the popularism of Palmer’s non-Broxtoweness and used it. I was intrigued, as I knew that she had a quite lovely house in Mapperley, replete with indoor swimming pool, vast garden and suchlike.

And yes, she did seem to want to come here. A friend in Bramcote rang me in June 2010 to report she had viewed a property there near to his, a spacious, gorgeous place just off Town Street. She didn’t take it, however, possibly due to the lack of a heated pool. Surely the short stroll to Bramcote Municipal Baths would suffice? Apparently not.

So Soubs stayed put, until a few letters to the Nottingham Post and the Beeston Express, no to mention the humble environs of Beestonia began to question her commitment to this major pre-election promise.

A constituent, who I will not name but resolutely stand by as they wish to remain anonymous, recently sent Anna a correspondence; one of may; asking if she still intended to keep her promise to move to the Borough she represented. After many letters disappearing into the void of the Soubry Black Hole (more of which later) eventually a reply was sent on House of Commons writing paper.

The missive promised that Broxtowe’s Honourable Member had put her house on the market for several months and once she found a suitable buyer and place to move to she would become a proper member, as promise, of Broxtonia. She wants to be here, but the market is saying no. Or is it?

I know, for my sins, a few estate agents, so I asked them if they could confirm if Anna had stuck her property on the market. How do I know where she lives? Well, I have contacts who know for sure but wish to be kept anonymous, but I’m willing to shoulder any Nadine Dorries style stalker crapness if she decides to accuse me of some private infringement. I know where Nick used to live, and from that one can infer.

She hasn’t, as far as my research lets me see, decided to flog her home to take a lovely terrace in Inham Nook. My contacts in estate agencies have conducted searches to find out but to no avail.

So has Anna been dishonest in a letter to a constituent? If so, this could have serious repercussions. The MP code is to be honest towards those you represent. Why would Anna jeopardise herself so obviously?

Maybe Anna and Honesty have never spent enough time together to make friends. Let’s examine a few more cases our honourable member has been less than representative….


This was a Soubs classic, and well documented so I’ll just briefly brush over it. Anna stated that postal workers were generally pro-privatisation, as she had somehow missed the massive wodge of letters from posties saying no to being sold off with some spectacular blindness. The result: a hilarious photo of her grimacing as she received a giant, anti sell-off postcard at her office, followed by massive anti-Soubs rally, the largest march in Beeston for 140 years, to highlight the fact she had talked a whole load of bollocks to Parliament.


Anna still persists in the assumption that the Broxtonians are crying out for the sell-off of the NHS. She stated that Broxtowe GPs were dedicated to reform, and said so in her evidence -based, balanced way here: .As a Tory GP was elected to the County Council on Thursday, Anna can now chuck out anecdotal evidence of medical professionals backing the bill, despite the factual argument: whereby EVERY professional medical body opposes, or has deep reservations about the proposed legislation. Want anecdotes? Within 48 hours of the interview, 4 Broxtowe GPs emailed me to say they opposed the bill. Yeah, that left-wing, bitter cabal that are General Practitioners.

Again, it’s well documented but still worthy of a mention. Anna’s recent surgery at Beeston Library was cancelled when she got wind of a gentle protest on Foster Avenue against NHS privatisation. She described the protestors as ‘politically driven’, which gives a valuable insight into her psyche. Anyone who agrees with her: fine. Anyone who doesn’t: ideological, organised terrorists hell-bent on perverting constituent based democracy by challenging two years of lies, misrepresentation, and trampling over the people of Broxtowe to ensure a lengthy political career in post- Ken Clarke Rushcliffe.

We’re the ugly girl the Casanova dances with so he can snog the beauty. Bite that tongue Beestonians. We deserve better.

Part 2 will follow tomorrow.

Politics, anyone? First off, a quick mention of the election results on Thursday: the Conservatives held both County and Borough seats, pretty much as expected. Turnout was a pitiful 25% and 27% respectively. I’m getting closer and closer to believeing compulsary voting is the answer.

Anyhows, with all the excitement of the Wilkos petition I didn’t get round to mentioning the Borough Budget that took place that evening, and the bizarre nature of proceedings.

I’d been expecting a mammoth session as the proposals were argued in great detail; I’d even packed a flask, but to my surprise the tories instantly agreed to endorse the Lib/Lab proposals. A weird outbreak of cordiality in the chamber; which with the near-unianimity backing the Wilkos petition earlier made for a starnge love-in. My notes on the night have a scrawled ‘GET A ROOM’, possibly written while Councillors fawned over each other in this strange debate. Unless the Council are slipping MDMA in the Councillors mineral water, something strange is afoot.

To shed some light, I requested a few words from three councillors why they voted the way they did.  Why was a Lib/Lab budget accepted by the Conservatives, opposed by three Labour Councillors, and recieved an abstention from the only Independant?

I asked Richard Jackson (Conservative); Steve Carr (erstwhile Lib Dem, now a Social Democrat) and Greg Marshall (Labour) why they voted the way they did in this topsy-turvy manner. I’m still waiting for Cllr. Jackson’s piece so we’ll start with Steve then hand over to Greg:

It was interesting to see the Conservatives support the budget at Broxtowe for the first time I can remember. Times are very difficult and even Labour’s national leadership are begining to appreciate that if they were in power, they would be doing little different to the Coalition. Those that did not support the budget were myself and the hard-left in the Labour group, who are becoming an increasing thorn in the side of their moderate Group leadership. Their spin on this is that the economic crisis is entirely the fault of the banks. That is partly the case but of course the reality was that Labour when in office took a light-touch approach to bank regulation and welcomed top bankers to Downing Street with open arms. Labour must take considerable blame for the economic mess we are in and stop treating this fact as if they were on the quiz show Room 101! I did not vote for the budget for entirely parochial reasons. I represent many council tenants and simply put, I could not and would not vote for an increase in rents of 8.6%. Many that I represent simply can not afford this. I was subjected to a tirade of reasons why I should support the rise from Labour councillors – something I found a little surreal. I abstained because I did like the fact that the Liberal Democrats had forced Labour to accept a freeze in council tax – something that the hard-left are very angry about.

Over to Cllr. Marshall:

Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.” (Paulo Freire)

On 29th February, Broxtowe Borough Council passed a budget in the face of a £845,000 (12.5%) of formula grant from Central Government. It is part of the overall cut of 27% to the “formula grant” from Whitehall over the next four years – and part of the government’s overall national spending cuts totaling more than £80 billion over four years.

These government-imposed cuts have inevitably impacted on jobs and services and the living standards of ordinary working people, whether council employees or council tenants, will be hit.

  • Although no compulsory redundancies are proposed, the employee savings target of £180,000 comes on top of the loss of 44 full-time posts and 32 part-time posts deleted since April 2008 (and a reduction in hours for a further 27 posts). So-called “back office” jobs support front line services;
  • The changes to the car allowance scheme will mean a worsening in terms and conditions for more than 250 Council staff;
  • Charges will now be made for a gardening service for council tenants who, because of disability or age-related reasons, are unable to look after their gardens. This previously free service was available to elderly or disabled tenants who do not have a relative living within three miles of their home;
  • By following government guidelines on rent increases, council house rents will rise by 8.6% – those tenants not on housing benefit will need to find another £5 a week or more than £20 per month; and
  • Accepting the council tax freeze grant instead of increasing Council Tax and foregoing the one-off grant will create a budget hole (and mean further cuts) next year (in 2013/14).

But all this comes at a time when the government is weakened, economically, socially and politically. Indeed, Osborne’s economic perspectives lie in ruins. Unemployment is at a 16-year high with female unemployment at 1.1 million, the worst in 23 years. Youth unemployment is approaching the highest ever on record. The TUC estimates that the real unemployment figure is 6.3 million if part-time workers and those who have dropped out of looking for work completely are included. Osborne predicted growth of 2.3% last year which turned out to be only 0.3%!

In other words, Britain’s economy is unstable and in the grip of stagnation and there is no possibility of Osborne’s private sector – the famous phoenix arising from the ashes of the public sector – rescuing the situation. The ‘phoenix’ of a revived private manufacturing base is now reduced to ninth position in the world manufacturing league and has already flown to China and elsewhere, sadly never to return.

The Con-Dems’ policies have severely contracted the economy and unemployment has begun to climb. They claim that this is a ringing endorsement of their destructive deflationary programme! Moreover, the injection of a huge £325 billion of quantitative easing by the Bank of England, while preventing an outright slump, has done nothing to fundamentally change the situation. Larry Elliott of the Guardian writes: “At the current rate of progress it will take until the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the first world war before regaining the lost ground. Those seven lost years will have cost the UK economy around £200 billion in output”. Truly capitalism is a ‘progressive’ system!

In recent months, this has been on full display. The vilification and scapegoating of the poor, those compelled to exist on benefits, including the disabled, has reached new depths. Cameron has shamelessly presented a picture of ‘benefit scroungers’ receiving as much as £26,000 a year, while hiding the fact that, in the very few cases where sums like this are paid out, 70-80% of the benefits are taken by rack-renting landlords.

Some disabled people, the long-term sick, are now being forced to work unpaid for a limited amount of time or their benefits will be cut. Disabled people have been singled out in shopping malls and elsewhere for vilification, with some tipped out of wheelchairs by those whipped up by the demagogic campaign of Cameron and Osborne.


Who is being hit by these cuts?

Many ordinary working people are being hit by these cuts – and the poorest and most vulnerable in society are being hit the hardest. The government’s public spending cuts will hit the UK’s poorest 10% of people 13 times harder than they will affect the richest 10%. The government says that these spending cuts are necessary to deal with the deficit and that we are all in this together. Yet the bankers who caused the crisis and had to be bailed out by the tax payer are continuing to pay themselves multimillion pound bonuses.

While hardworking families struggle with pay and job cuts – public sector workers have just been told their pay is being frozen for a third year and communities lose vital local services, bankers at the 82% taxpayer-owned bank RBS just received bonuses worth £785 million even though the bank is still making a loss. A reward for failure.


The witch-hunt of the poor and defenceless is destined to go on but will be resisted. And 94% of government cuts and 88% of benefit cuts have yet to be implemented. Thousands of families from inner-city areas have been effectively expelled to the outskirts, Cameron appears determined to carry through the government’s pro-business NHS.

There is an alternative:

Instead of cutting public sector jobs and services the government should:

  • Create jobs to boost the economy and cut the deficit – in areas that badly need investment, such as housing, renewable energy and public transport;
  • Take action to close the £120 billion tax gap of evaded, avoided and uncollected tax;
  • Introduce a Robin Hood Tax: A modest 0.05% tax on global financial transactions applied to UK financial institutions it would raise an estimated £20–30bn per year. This alone would reduce the annual deficit by between 12.5% and 20%; and
  • Scrap Trident.  The Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church have launched a campaign calling upon the Government to ditch its Trident nuclear weapons. They argue that the Government could save £55bn by axing the programme and invest the money instead in public services, employment and national security.

Greg Marshall

Beeston West


The Broxtowe Budget: Politics Down The Rabbit Hole..

It’s a bit of a political week in Beeston, with two elections on Thursday which have just got a bit interesting, so I best do my job and try to find a narrative to run through them before banging some satirical device on the end to make you all think I’m some sort of local Swiftian genius cos you may not read Private Eye enough to realise I nick all my schtick wholesale from them, then cram some NG9 stewings into their genius pastry crust before presenting it to you as a golden hued satirical pie.

I digress. Despite a weird outbreak of peace in the council chamber at the last full session, more on which later this week, hostilities were happily resumed again as the parties once again prostrated their furry bellies before you, all hopeful for a tummy-stroking vote in two up-coming by-elections.

We’ll examine the County first, arguably the more important of the two races. This by-election was triggered by the sad death of Tom Pettengell, late County Councillor for Toton and Chilwell, who passed away on New Years Eve. Ostensibly it appears to be a fairly safe seat for the Tories, who took it with a comfortable majority at the last County elections. However, a few factors may make it more exciting.

The last election was in mid 2009, when the Tories were in their pomp in the polls. Tom was a popular politician, and although I never met him myself, tributes from all ends of the political spectrum overwhelmingly suggest that his record, coupled with his charisma, accounted for a good chunk of votes. Will the fact that the Conservatives are suffering a dip in the polls due to the NHS debacle , coupled with a lack-lustre challenger, 2011 Borough election loser John Doddy, have a significant effect?

Then throw in another significant factor. Labour aren’t running a candidate, due to a rather embarrassing catastrophe in selecting someone suitable. It’s a complex tale, available for the price of a  pint in the back bar of The Crown most nights, but in short their anointed had to swiftly stand down after being judged ‘unfit’ by the parties NEC. Wounds were licked, resources being to the Borough election; tacit support thrown behind he Lib Dem challenger, Borough Councillor David Watts. Watts already commands a degree of local profile that can only add to his campaign, and is a pugilistic bruiser when it comes to campaigning on the stump. Expect the unexpected with this one.

However, as the last few days of campaigning draw to a close, any hope of a Lab-Lib love seems to have taken a hit after Watts wrote a piece in his newsletter claiming that as well as the County election being a two-horse race, as such was the Borough election.

This is a rather bold claim, and swiftly rebuked by erstwhile MP Nick Palmer. Tory Craig Cox’s departure from the seat does create an interesting, if not necessarily knife-edge battle, and this one is at best a three-way scrap, but statistically more likely a straight Lab/Con tussle.

Expect a turn-out that is paradoxically low, yet motivated. Floating voters will avoid the ballot boxes as a third year of decisions may have led to electoral fatigue (a concept so bizarre to a politics obsessive like myself, it’sbeing akin to Samuel Johnson’s take on those jaded by London’s attractions). Thus, a lot goes a long way.

The Lib Dems know this so have put forward a very strong, proven candidate in Barbara Carr, former Borough councillor who stood down before the 2011 election. With effective campaigning, coupled with the gem of familiarity, there does remain a grain of a chance, yet little more. Post-party conference, the Lib Dems seem to be in disarray, attempting to stay in power at one end while staying electable at the other. Local Lib Dems have all told me they oppose the non-publication of th NHS Risk Register, and, while I have not heard anything official, assume by this it’s fair to imagine they oppose the NHS bill that Clegg is roping himself to like Captain Ahab to the mast.

Labour have put forward Jane Marshall, spouse of Borough Councillor Greg Marshall. This husband and wife duo proved to be passionate, articulate campaigners at the 2011 elections, with Greg grabbing Beeston West and Jane nearly pulling off a Portillo-esque shocker against local Tory stalwart Richard Jackson. An effusive campaigner, whose less-centrist politics seem to be on-message with the current climate may an interesting result come Friday.

Palmer’s annoyance with Watts is understandable, as it doesn’t take a seasoned psephologist to work out a Lib Dem victory in the Generals was hugely unlikely. However, there’s not a politician alive who enters an election on a ‘I’m gonna lose’ ticket. Even John Major in ’97.

It’s maddening to think that the Lib Dems partner Labour on a  Borough level, and not on a pragmatic level of supporting the party with most seats. There is a cordiality in the chamber, yet it’s tense. While the national media scrutinise the strained lower-leg tendons that threaten to tear between the Con-Lib coalition, I’ll do my best to provide a watchful eye over the shin-splints developing in our own local partnership.

(Cont. on page 94)

Toton and Chilwell Elections: First Signs of Divorce?

Fairtrade Fortnight Comes to Beestonia; Soubs Doctoring The Truth? A Guest Post.

I’m a busy Beestonian right now, so am letting others take over my blog for this post. First up is news of what looks like a very good cause exhibiting in Beeston tomorrow evening, followed by a piece submitted by a reader which on the Government’s NHS debacle and how our MP, the indefatigable Ms Soubry is dealing with it.

FAIRTRADE EVENT : Tomorrow (Tuesday 6th) Evening 6pm for 6.30 until 8.30, Beeston Town Hall, Foster Avenue, Beeston

As part of the national Fairtrade fortnight campaign, Fairtrade Beeston is delighted to be able to invite you to a Fairtrade evening at the Town Hall. There is a special guest speaker at the event, Moses Renee, a Fairtrade banana producer from St Lucia in the Windward Isles, Moses will give a talk and answer questions about his experiences of Fairtrade and the benefits it has for his community. You will also be able to visit stalls and sample a range of delicious Fairtrade products, find out more about Fairtrade and how people in Beeston can get involved making a real difference to Fairtrade communities throughout the world.
Full details of the event can be seen here  & on
Moses Renee is interviewed on this video from the Guardian website 
The event is free and everyone is more than welcome. To help them with planning, if possible please reserve places by emailing

Central Weekend Revisited: Anna Soubrey and the peculiar case of real and non-real GP’s

Guest Post by Simon Cross, Beestonian

Today on the BBC Politics Show I watched Anna Soubry sock it to the leader of the Royal College of General Practitioners that she and 90% of her 44,000 members were “wrong” in opposing the NHS Bill in such overwhelming numbers. But it’s easy to make this preposterous claim when one has presented Central Weekend. Let me explain. To begin with, the overwhelming members of the RCGP’s are not, it turns, real GP’s and as such are ineligible be taken seriously by Anna. Where, then, are the real GP’s to whom Anna listens? Well, Anna found them, you guessed it, in her very own Broxtowe constituency. Thus, she tells Andrew Neil that she has gone into her constituency to speak to “real GP’s, on the ground”. Anna tells us: “I was approached by a doctor who lives in my constituency but practices in Nottingham. And he took hold of me and said ‘For God’s sake’s [sic], get this Bill through so I can deliver the treatment to my patient’s, that I want to do’”. Anna doesn’t tell us quite how she dealt with such dreadful manhandling of her body-politic even by a ‘real’ GP.

Here is the Central Weekend connection. Those of us old enough to remember late-night Friday telly will recall that Central Weekend was not just a poor-man’s Kilroy, it also the nearest ITV could get to a post-pub laugh for sheer awfulness. The basic premise of the show was to marry expertise with experience and to ensure that the latter won every time. No matter how well informed was the expert what really mattered in this ‘debate’ format was that the ‘common sense’ of ordinary people won the day based on the only type of knowledge that mattered: the supposed authenticity of direct experience. And in the Politics Show today Anna’s Central Weekend-ness shine through again. Thus, she suppressed 90% of the Royal College of GP’s by declaring them ‘not real’ and not ‘on the ground’. Instead of the statistics of opposition, Anna prefers to conjure up the one anecdotal GP and presumably will have photographed the bruises on her arms if evidence of the ‘real, on the ground’ encounter is ever required. It’s not that I don’t believe Anna but more that Central Weekend rhetoric sounded like the worst form of journalism and the most of desperate of political manoeuvre.

Now here’s another Central Weekend connection. When I had the misfortune to experience Anna’s barrack-room lawyer tactics in one of her open surgeries, which amounted to shouting me and a colleague down by, well, raising her voice like a parody of a lawyer who never willingly gives up the floor because they enjoy shouting too much, she did tell me that Central Weekend was a ‘terrible programme’. I had to agree with her. And I would add here that the rhetorical manoeuvre Anna employed of undermining the voice and expert views of GP’s in favour of what one GP ‘on the ground’ says was a key element in what made her appearance not just embarrassing but revolting in its political thuggery. It is also precisely what made her performance on the Politics Show terrible and the voters of Broxtowe need to judge for themselves by clicking on the accompanying link:


Beestonia adds: there’s also an interesting piece here  questioning Anna’s performance:

Also, tune in later this week when I reveal how Anna has been less than honest in a recent letter…

Wilkos: The Beginning of the End or The End of The Beginning?

A most surreal week. We got out Issue 6 of The Beestonian after a torturous production process: however we’re now online: , all back issues are there for you to peruse without trekking up to one of our distributors.

However, things got truly bizarre on Wednesday. This was the day I’ve been waiting for for several months, the presentation of the Wilkos petition to full council.

We got a good turn out, Beestonians and Wilkos staff packed the public benches, easily the largest attendance I’ve ever seen at the Town Hall. We were the second petition after Cllr. Ray Darby, and Cllr. Janet Patrick (read her piece on the campaign here: presented the thousands of signatures, neatly tied together with a black ribbon, and gave a rousing speech to the chamber.

The debate began, with Cllr. Owen (Cons, Nuthall) kicked things off by spectacularly misjudging the mood and blaming things on the tram, attempting to make a positive discussion negative. No surprise really; she seems to have to say something batshit crazy at every meeting. Previous gems include her claim that global warming was false, accusing Cllr Watts of anti-christian behavior for not using the word ‘Christmas’ in a meeting of seasonal celebrations, leading to Watts, a lay-preacher, replying to her with a lusty ‘What utter rot’.

Once Owen had done her off-line equivalent of internet trolling, the council rose in turn to praise the Wilko’s staff, the campaign, and I even got a few mentions from politicians of all political stripe, which was nice. It’s weird to go from being an observer of meetings to being a subject, and if I didn’t have a sense of restraint I’d bang on about how it was all very post-modern and meta, grow a goatee and smoke Gauloise and sip Ricard.

But I do, so I shan’t. What was incredible was how aware the council have become that this is a major issue for Beeston, so thanks to all of you for supporting the campaign and signing the petition: we got this in the public eye first, and then we got it into the chamber and the consciousness of councillors.

That’s not all. Things got even more odd, and in a very good way. When a petition reaches a certain size, it automatically triggers a debate in the chamber, up to a maximum length of 15 minutes. The quarter of an hour flew by, and still more councillors were queuing to speak, so a swift vote was taken and it was unanimously agreed to extend the debate for another quarter of an hour. Beeston North  Cllr Carr, even asked if their was a way that a motion could be proposed and voted on to send a strong message of support to the Wilkos workers that the Council were fully committed to work with Henry Boot Developers and Wilkinson’s Head Office to find a swift solution. This is unprecedented: a proposal to effectively change the constitution to endorse a campaign. Sadly, this couldn’t be done, but by then I knew that one of the aims of the campaign; to ensure the council fully backed the staff and the rapid return of the store; had been achieved. But what next?

I had a brief chat to the acting head of the ruling partnership, Beeston Central Cllr. Pat Lally. He also assured me that things were in motion and a solution was on the horizon, but issues of commercial confidentiality prevented him from telling me more.

I understand how delicate negotiations must be. Henry Boot have some major plans for Beeston Square, and where Wilkinsons fit into these (if at all) is a red-hot topic. Henry Boot are notoriously skittish on this subject, and seem unable to commit to anything. This has effectively led to the running-down of Beeston precinct; I recently recieved a tweet that described walking off the bus to the Square as akin to ‘walking through a Eastern-European, Soviet era slum. In a bad winter’. Henry Boot have been so close on so many occasions to signing an agreement to get development started, but have jilted the Council at the altar each time.

I call on Henry Boot and Wilkinsons to issue statements in support for the retention of Wilkos and the protection of the workers jobs.By all means keep your negotiations behind closed doors, but do throw us some crumbs. An ex-Beestonian blogger now studying PR in Leeds recently wrote a good piece about the Wilkos campaign  ( which pointed out that Beestonia is the only real source of information on the web for whats happening in Wilkos. What the devil are there PR staff do all day?? As we were originally told that the gap in trading was to be ‘a few weeks, maybe months’ and now hear that it could be ‘at least five years’ are hardly heartening. The occasion statement saying you’re ‘committed to Beeston’ is cold-comfort to the workers facing an uncertain future.

If Henry Boot and Wilkos want to send me their opinions on the issue, I will publish them unedited and in their entirety. Keep us in the picture, let us see that you are sorting this. The Council now realise this, and you have to too. Your staff, and all Beestonians, deserve nothing less.


We got a good write up in the Post, both in an article in the news section and a Leader column praising the way the campaign was conducted. Far from being the end of the campaign, I think we could see things escalate soon. I gave an article to the Notingham Post yesterday and am keen to also get BBC Nottingham to follow up their previous stirling job in covering our efforts. Thanks to the Nottingham Post for the publicity, but I can’t say the same for The Beeston Express, who chose not to give any aspect of the campaign a mention, except for the printing of a couple of letters that miss the point entirely, by saying ‘you can buy stuff from Wilkos in other shops’. Oh well.