KEEN observers will know that it is a sure sign of division and disagreement when assorted MPs appear in the media saying that their party is a broad church and following that observation with a plea for unity.
Accordingly, you would have to have lived in a very deep hole indeed not to have come to the conclusion that there is something amiss within Conservative ranks.
The Brexit-ultras – the thirty to forty MPs who regard themselves as the keepers of the flame when it comes to Britain’s departure from the EU and the terms under which it should proceed – are cutting up rough. There are dark mutterings that the Chancellor is ‘selling out’ or ‘betraying’ the cause of freedom for which they and Boris Johnson fought and lied.
The mutterings against the chancellor follow the well-worn tactic of taking a pot shot at those close to the throne, rather than its occupant. Besides, off the record briefings about Theresa May’s uselessness made by those infamous ‘sources close to [insert name of one of the 57 varieties of MP groups here] are all too easy to place in the sort of newspapers whose proprietors are so fond of Britain they prefer to look at it from afar, rather than live there. Apart from the Daily Express, of course; its editorial line is not determined from afar, but from another dimension. Any day now it will pose the question of whether Philip Hammond is implicated in the deaths of Dodi Fayed and Princess Di.
The government, you might think quite sensibly, says it is proceeding with caution when it comes to determining quite what shape the future of the UK’s relationship with the EU might take. This means that all sides of the issue have to be examined. Brexiteers do not appear prepared to accept that this means potential downsides have to be considered as well as the prospect of the freebooting trade in chlorinated chicken favoured by Dr Liam Fox.
The cause of logic and clarity has, however, been thrown into disarray by the appearance of junior minister for Brexit Steve Baker MP before a Parliamentary Committee. Questioned about leaked impact assessments revealing that each of the three principal Brexit options lead to economic fallout for the UK, Mr Baker said the report needed “improvement”.
When asked about the accuracy of forecasts, the minister replied: “I’m not able to name an accurate forecast, and I think that they are always wrong.”
The leaked analysis forecasts that departing the EU on World Trade Organisation terms, as favoured by the claque of MPs around Jacob Rees-Mogg would see growth reduced by 8%.
It was not made clear what Mr Baker preferred to rely to inform his judgements, other than professional advice tendered to him in the course of his duties as a government minister. Runes, reading the entrails of sheep, possibly necromancy: on that he was noticeably not forthcoming.
As a member of the ministerial team charged with negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU, Mr Baker’s personal views on the EU are less of a mystery: ‘I think the European Union needs to be wholly torn down’.
Like Samson and the Philistines’ temple, Mr Baker appears to be resigned to the thought that pulling the edifice down could bury the UK.
Ben Lake MP supports campaign to close deadly cancer gap
Ben Lake MP is backing calls from the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce (LSCT) to end a vicious cycle which has seen survivability stagnate amongst the six deadliest cancers over the last decade.
Ben Lake MP met charity members of the LSCT in the House of Commons on 4 February to coincide with World Cancer Day.
The LSCT represents six ‘less survivable cancers’, lung, liver, brain, oesophageal, pancreatic and stomach, with an average five year survival rate of 14% due to a legacy of neglect and underfunding. The Taskforce aims to double the survivability of these cancers to 28% by 2029.
At the event, Ben Lake met with cancer specialists and patients with first-hand experience of these ‘less survivable cancers’. They learnt about the critical situation for people diagnosed with these cancers and the urgent need for a step change in targeted investment in research in order to make much-needed diagnosis and treatment breakthroughs.
Ben Lake MP attended the event and said: “I am pleased to speak out for the less survivable cancers this World Cancer Day. We have made incredible steps in treatment and prognosis for many cancers and we now need targeted action to close the deadly cancer gap for these less survivable cancers”.
Anna Jewell, Chair of the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce added:
“We are delighted that Ben Lake MP shares our concerns about the stark inequalities in cancer outcomes.
“There are some cancers which have seen remarkable progress in survivability but others that are just as deadly as they were decades ago. Together, these ‘less survivable cancers’ make up half of all common cancer deaths in the UK.
“Today we are calling on the UK governments to commit to doubling survival rates from 14% to 28% by 2029 and I’d like to thank Ben Lake MP for supporting our campaign to close the deadly cancer gap.”
The LSCT includes Action Against Heartburn, the British Liver Trust, Guts UK, Pancreatic Cancer UK, The Brain Tumour Charity and the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.
Sarah Lindsell, Chief Executive of The Brain Tumour Charity, added:”Every year, thousands of people diagnosed with a less-survivable cancer, including those with brain cancer, are denied even the hope of a cure. Many are told they have only months to live. That has to change.
“We need more research and a committed drive towards improving survival for these cancers, so that fewer lives are cut brutally short and fewer families are left devastated by loss.”
Ceredigion councillors to consider 4% increase in council tax
COUNTY councillors in Ceredigion will be asked to consider a 4% increase in the Council tax rate when they meet on 5 March 2020.
They will consider the rate after Ceredigion County Council’s Cabinet recommended the increase to ensure that there are no further cuts to council services in the next financial year.
The proposed increase would mean that an average Band D property in Ceredigion would pay £1,364.82 of council tax annually, an increase of approximately £1 per week.
Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn is the Leader of the Council. She said: “We are proposing to the Council that the Council tax rate is increased at a similar level as our government funding has increased. This means that all Council services would be protected from further cuts during next year. The increase would meet the increased demands placed on social care budgets which we cannot avoid.”
The overall Council tax rate increase will be set by three key components, the County Council’s tax, the precept of Town and Community Councils and the Police precept. Increases set by the Police and Town and Community Councils result in a combined increase yet to be calculated.
Elin Jones congratulates Ceredigion Talking Paper in National Assembly
AM marks 50 years of service by local news service for the blind
Elin Jones AM has congratulated the Ceredigion Talking Newspaper in a statement in the National Assembly for Wales, marking 50 years of service to blind people in Ceredigion and beyond.
In her statement on Wednesday the 20th of January, Elin Jones said:
“Fifty years ago, in January 1970, an innovative charity was established in Ceredigion for blind people, offering the first service of its kind in Wales and the United Kingdom – a service that would enable the blind people of Ceredigion to hear the latest local news in the press.
“That innovative scheme was the Ceredigion Talking Newspaper.
“The talking newspaper was set up by Ronald Sturt, a lecturer at the College of Librarianship in Llanbadarn. Initially, the recordings of local voices reading articles from the local press were on tape cassettes and provided to 18 people.
“Nowadays, the recordings are on a USB, and there are over a hundred regular listeners of the talking newspaper and more than 60 volunteers contributing regularly. The recordings are published weekly and the coverage includes the Cambrian News, Golwg and Y Cymro.
“One reader, Eileen Sinnett, has volunteered continuously for fifty years. What a contribution she has made!
“I would like to congratulate the Ceredigion Talking Newspaper for breaking new ground in 1970, for 50 years of service and for bringing the news, in both Welsh and English, to those who cannot see or read it in Ceredigion and beyond.”