Equality a signpost but only sometimes a destination. Equality a hope but often a disappointment. Equality a dream, but all too often a nightmare

Words lead and mislead. Take Care. Human rights are like mountain peaks. They dominate a landscape by their presence, but not by their equality. Fairness illuminates them. Equality simply steams up your specs. Fairness and Equality are not the same.

When Abraham Lincoln spoke of “a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal “ it was at the end of the American Civil War and, in his mind, he was asserting Equal Rights for Blacks. When Emmeline Pankhurst and the Suffragettes campaigned for equality, in their mind they were asserting Equal Rights for Women.

They were not asserting that everyone was equal.

I have been arguing for some time that “we are equal only sometimes, unequal most times and different always. And people much prefer it that way.” Size seven shoes do not fit everyone, and for every person who wants to be more equal there is another person who does not want to be less equal.

PART ONE

I flag up here the danger of not recognising this. You don’t recognise a State Sanctioned Power Snatch – if you like acronyms SSPS – when it deprives the silenced majority of their rights. You will read about the black art of political persuasion.

And, it leads to tyranny by a minority.

I write this as a whistle-blower’s lament. My personal experience of it.

I describe two totally different situations that have given me profound cause for concern, not for me, but for future generations living with the consequences here and elsewhere. Some people look at the grand scheme of things. I am minimalist. Two relatively small situations tell the same story and enlarge it in the telling. I repeat. It is the black art of political persuasion.

It may be an uncomfortable read for human right zealots because it shows how their best intentions can be totally counterproductive.

This is how it happens. It is a bit like a Ponzi. It feeds on hope and gullibility and it can grow exponentially.

Driven by their own hopes for a segment of society they categorise as the “disadvantaged”, political zealots give them an equal human right backed by an Act of Parliament.  

As this is a Human Right it is a noble cause and the ends fully justify the means to assert it. So, market research is totally unnecessary. People’s needs are pre-determined even if many think otherwise. Consultation can be contrived to secure the desired result; it is not of itself necessary. Children can be denied education that is right for them.  Transparency is simply a hostage to fortune. Protocol can be ignored. Cockups are excused. Dirty tricks are cleansed. Or so some seem to believe and behave accordingly. And, in short, naughties no matter.

As with every Ponzi Equality fuels expectation but, afterwards, comes the anger, the bitterness, the disillusion, and the disappointment. Blame the Tories and Austerity? It is not as simple as that. Remember that with the French and Russian Revolutions Égalité was the precursor to the Guillotine, the Gulag, and the Purge.

Political zealots are aided and abetted by Academia that use historical narrative to promote to new generations of students totally discredited 19th Century revolutionary nostrums for 21st Century problems and find excuses for terror. And they are further assisted by Newsnight and Channel 4 with highly selective memory loss when best intentions ended in tears.

Once an equal right it pre-empts all others.  Sometimes the others are also disadvantaged. They should not be outside the frame of their concern. Sadly, sometimes they are. For example, there were huge demonstrations for BLACK RIGHTS MATTER in the UK while, to save lives from Covid-19, gatherings over six were not allowed.

If all the human rights that you create are equal and absolute that puts a premium on selfishness – f**k everyone else’s Rights when my Rights conflict with them. “I know my Rights…. Never mind yours!”

In these circumstances the French word Égalité serves no useful purpose whatsoever.Traditional English equity, fairness, fair play are the only words that make any sense at all. Very appropriate for Brexitland.

In essence, recognise that most rights are plural and relative, not singular, egocentric and absolute.

 If you use the word Equality, be careful as you go. Very simply EVERY RIGHT MATTERS.

And see the danger.

Human Rights have statutory backing. So, Ombudsmen should simply act as a safety valve to facilitate their implementation turning a blind eye to executive malfunction. They can legitimately represent the State against the citizen instead of being neutral. They certainly do not need to represent the citizen against the State and be true to their Scandinavian origins. But, as a result, complaints that should serve as a warning that something is wrong are suppressed and red and amber warning lights are set permanently to green.

Meanwhile lawyers can feel confident that they can rule that complaints about the system will be bound to fail and save everyone’s time by doing so. And and all the fires in Hell for other lawyers if they break rank to say otherwise. I shall return to this later.

Note this quote: “For many, inclusion is a fundamental human right …. It is important to be clear, therefore, that an analysis of costs and outcomes cannot properly be used to determine questions of rights.”  Costs and Outcomes for Pupils with Moderate Learning Difficulties in Special and Mainstream Schools 1999.

Consider the fundamental human right to free health care at point of use. Do not trouble your mind how you meet its escalating cost, whether people should share responsibility for their own health with the State, whether in 1948 the architects of the NHS anticipated the monolithic edifice it has become with its top down bureaucratic control. And some would make you believe there is no private sector involvement in health care, and at a price that Covid-19 has truly exposed

To make matters worse political zealots – especially parliamentary draughtsmen – do not understand three things.  It is easier to create a human Right than to deliver its benefit. They never allow for human fallibility including their own. And other people have legitimate Rights, other segments just as disadvantaged in different ways.

What follows is not an academic dissertation. It is from the real world.

Special Educational Needs and Inclusion

The first situation I describe is this one. < Click for an illustration of SPS, a Sanctioned Power Snatch.>In 1976 the Labour Government’s Education Act gave children with special educational needs a human right to mainstream education and in the years that followed over 100 special schools were closed to give effect to it and force-feed children into mainstream schools.

This is what I wrote in 2011 about Special Educational Needs in the Prologue to Death of a Nightingale

Just why, despite all the paper plans, despite all the talk of human rights, why do they continue to get it wrong? Why do they fail to give so many children the one chance they have?

 And they do. Rights! My mind goes back to a lecture by Herbert Hart, the eminent Professor of Jurisprudence at Oxford. He explained that there was not one single meaning for the word “right”. …

 You must be very careful how you use the word “right”, and you need fine judgment and a sense of fair play in deciding when and how to assert it. It is as well to remember that while human rights may enable lawyers pronouncing on them to enjoy the fruits of Utopia, they afford the rest of us only a partial glimpse of it. In Professor Hart’s own words human rights are “the prime philosophical inspiration of political and social reform”. Not more than that. Understand that; understand everything.

So, when you talk about the “right” to Inclusive Education you should recognise that some will want to assert it and may succeed and thrive, some may assert it but be disappointed and wish they hadn’t, some may want to assert it but be denied it, some may not want to assert it at all but be forced to accept it with no other realistic choice available, and some may want to assert a different right altogether, the right to go to a special school.

 You also need to remember that children without special needs have their rights too Social reformers have not always grasped this. I suspect that many have looked at this simplistically, projecting what they felt in their gut they would want for themselves for everyone else. Even disability organisations that have done so much to help the disabled, may have fallen into the same trap. That is why they may not always have seen the quite different and totally varying needs that some children and their parents have, and the not always pleasant reality they have to deal with every single day.

Very simply, some do not want an open door. What they want is a helping hand and the comfort zone of their own company. For them change is a worry and a threat. Inclusion is a concept that is absolutely wonderful in the libraries of the mind; It is not always quite so wonderful in the classrooms of the real world, especially if children are excluded when they are supposed to be included.

Today classrooms are populated by far too many bully boys and bully girls. Teachers may have too little time and sometimes too little training as well. Supply teachers are here today and gone tomorrow. Classroom assistants do not always know how to stretch children in the way that trained teachers do, and those teachers are not always trained to relate to them. A hundred thousand more classroom assistants have come on stream since 1997, quite a number of them supporting children with special needs.

 Did anyone anticipate this – and calculate the cost? In addition, there are too few therapists and money is still short. But then the policy of Inclusion was never properly costed by anyone in the first place. It is far too simplistic, far too naïve, to say that the failure of the plans can be attributed to the shortage of money. If that is the case, then in the nature of things they will be destined always to fail.

To starve a special school of kids I saw one child with Crohn’s disease denied her education from November 1997 until June 1999 despite an intervention from her MP Chris Mullins in 1998 and given no compensation for her loss.

I saw a pupil write this of her mainstream experience: I was also the object of bullying and ridicule, only because of my writing difficulties. It reached a point whereby one day my teacher went out of the room giving instructions to others that I was to be looked after. This only provided an opportunity for them to be cruel. They actually locked me in the room and barricaded desks against the door. I was trapped for what seemed like an eternity. My shouting went unheard and I was only discovered when the care staff realised I had not emerged from the class. Any thread of confidence I had in my classmates’ ability to treat me normally completely disappeared. Life was just a complete misery.

If you read the Times Educational Supplement as I have done over the years you will see what happens when zealotry pre-empts professionalism in education; schools are okay for some, but chaos for others, little self-esteem on offer for those failing to get into Uni. The Ashleigh Watts, nee Ritchie, of the world, whose mainstream experience I have just quoted, fare much better in a special school.

You will shortly see what happened when I tried to use freedom of expression to put these thoughts into my play Death of a Nightingale.

Cycle lanes

The second situation. There could not be a better illustration of the tyranny of a minority. Cycling UK says that “cycling accounts for less than 1% of road traffic and under 2% of trips”.

In London cyclists are properly categorised as disadvantaged. Their cost of housing, transport, and living generally and their vulnerability on the roads are proper causes for concern.  They are given an equal Right to Clean Air. They are also given an equal Right to the road even though they pay no road tax, no petrol tax, and are not required to have a policy of insurance. While drivers must wear seat belts, cyclists are not required to wear helmets and when they hire their cycles are unlikely to wear one. These Rights fuel their expectation. And the expectation is that the future is the bike not the EV revolution that the motor industry is currently tooling up.

But other road users have their Rights too, and some should also be considered disadvantaged if, for instance, they have an old banger without a garage, would like to go electric at the earliest opportunity and make their contribute to Cleaner Air. For all of them and many others, time is money and inconvenience can threaten their livelihoods. None of their Rights appear to rank.

Here the cycle lobby, notably Sustrans, are the political zealots. Their vision “one driver in eight to make a model shift” giving up their car for a bicycle for “all journey under five miles” and “traffic to drive more slowly.” <Click to see an illustration of SAPS, a State Authorised Power Snatch.>

They have infiltrated central and local government and beyond.

Here even the cyclists themselves are not even the beneficiaries of the rights they have been given.

RoSPA acknowledges that serious cycling accidents could be two or three times more than their stats based on police reported accidents. No one asks NHS for true stats. Inclement weather, quite often totally unsuitable for cycling, congested narrow streets and country lanes, and potholes are also ignored by Sustrans, the cycling lobby entrusted with urban planning. The EV revolution and the need for fast chargers outside the frame of their concern altogether. Another quick fix, the e.scooter instead.

Professional planners not zealous cyclists should oversee our roads.

As I write this, I read Janice Turner in today’s Times. “Universities, businesses, celebrities, or charities should always remember that only a fifth of Britain — about 14 million people — is on Twitter and 80 per cent of tweets are written by 10 per cent of users. A tiny, intolerant minority is dictating public policy which the vast majority of us abhor.”  The article here about Transgender rights, but you can transpose it to many other contemporary issues.

I have just revisited Death of a Nightingale and rediscovered this. There could not be a better description of SSPS, a State Sanctioned Power Snatch.

Justice Brandeis has warned:

‘Experience should teach us to be most on our guard when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning, but without understanding.’

‘The first task of a society that would have liberty and privacy is to guard against the misuse of physical coercion on the part of the state and private parties. The second task is to guard against the softer forms of secret and manipulative control. Because they are subtle, indirect, invisible, diffuse, deceptive, and shrouded in benign justifications, this is clearly the more difficult task’. [Olmstead, 1927]

PART TWO

Now I relate to you my own troubled journey over the last twenty years.

It started while I was chair of governors of Barbara Priestman School in Sunderland, an outstanding special school for children with a physical disability and a learning difficulty. I claim no credit for its excellence. However, the flavour of the times was to give children with special needs the Right to go to a mainstream school and deny the alternative by closing them down. They tried to starve it of funds and pupils but it was saved by a timely legacy.

Trying to starve it of funds

I help the governors, teachers, carers, parents, and the children themselves in their campaign to keep the school in existence. It is there to this day.

But there was a price. The local authority did not like to lose. They orchestrated a financial sting to discredit the governors and destabilise the school. Illegally they asked the parents to find £60,000 to pay towards their children’s education. This is now ancient history, but it was the trigger to my social activism.

Lawyers were unhelpful. A costly, largely wasted visit to Elizabeth Appleby QC.

OFSTED did not want to know. Local Government Ombudsman refused to know. I took details to the Audit Commission right through to an aural hearing. At the end, there was no shortage of whitewash.

I surprised myself. I wrote my play, Death of a Nightingale.  Then my book with the same name with all the background info’, and then with the help of a talented friend I launched my website with its blog. www.deathofanightingale.com. UK’s libel laws prevented me publishing my diary narrative, Machiavelli Rides Again.

New End Theatre, and a new discomforting experience.

By sheer chance – meeting his wife – I then meet the artistic director of the New End Theatre in Hampstead in London. The theatre was owned by the director, his pension fund benefitting from it. Relevant, I think.

He tells me that the best way to progress a play is a Rehearsed Reading with professional actors and a dramaturge. At a cost. Many thousands of pounds. I can afford it. It is a new and great experience. By chance Miriam Margolyes, a long-standing friend of Ros, is in London and is there. She has her criticisms but the play works. Times Ed reports it. The presence of pupils with special needs in the cast an attraction, but they are not the actors on the two evenings it was performed.

That was the last time Times Ed covered anything I have said or written. They realised I was swimming against the tide of Inclusion that was and probably still is the flavour of their times although for good reason Warnock has now distanced herself from her creation. Bullying chronic despite best endeavours. Click for more detail

https://youtube/6HpXUaQGY8I.

Then, with money in it for his pension fund, he invites me to stage the play for a month with a cast of actors. Quite big money. In truth tho’ he does not like the play! We meet in Harrogate and he invites me to pay him a few thousand pounds to rewrite it. I decline. His dramaturge has already made a hugely valuable contribution!

So, we press on. Alas, the dramaturge who I hoped would direct it disappears from the scene and there is no early replacement. Months roll by.  Finally, under three months before opening I am offered a director. Initially I am shocked. He wants to make major cuts. In fact, the cuts are professionally inspired! His cuts make sense. The problem is that time is now limited to find and teach pupils from a special school take the parts of the pupils in the play. But they make it, just.

The real live drama outside the drama however continues. And another real shock to my system. It turns out that the artistic director is putting on short plays immediately before mine and he promotes them to his clientele; the result, I have difficulty getting an audience! Insufficient audience no performance.

BBC London does report the play and you can visit it on my website, https://youtu.be/4_kcMtZU6Iw, but I rely on family and friends – fortunately for Ros and myself more than a few – and a very small theatre! I pay to advertise in Ham & Hi. By good fortune, Miriam Margolyes is again in London, comes and enjoys the play and gives me a useful plug.

But see what happens with Stage Magazine. The Editor employs someone he later acknowledges is “as bad as Pol Pot” to review the play – he is associated with the Public Services Union.  The Tories do not have an exclusive use of nastiness. My play is called Death of a Nightingale. There were those who wanted to make sure that it died.

Click and give yourself a few minutes to read it, the review was written in vitriol:

The opening night coincided with the Government Green Paper on SEN, and I brought to London for a post-performance discussion the head teacher at Cedars School in Gateshead who had been a teacher at BPS and a friend. Times Ed, Guardian, Times, and even Jewish Chronicle were all absent then and subsequently. Only Ham & Hi reported the play. It did help a bit.

While I get law tutor Professor Sir Ralph Wedgwood from Merton to come as my guest, it proves impossible to get any sort of dialogue going with him afterwards.

The play itself works well. While the director politically is left of centre – we are still in touch in Facebook – we end up with total mutual respect. And a great and ongoing relationship with some of the actors, notably Feyi Babolola the music teacher. Max Lewis, with cerebral palsy, discovers himself as time goes by.  There are many plusses. One actor is so good at playing two roles that Ros doesn’t realise this for some time, although we see the play quite a few times. And I forge a new relationship with the special school involved. Fortunately, I spotted that the parents and teachers had not been invited and was able to correct it!

I hope you see what I am getting at with all this. When the current is running against you, swimming is always going to be a bit of a struggle.

But you can see how it all began. Click https://www.deathofanightingale.com/note/note2 you will see how a small group of zealots captured the system taking advantage of its reluctance to admit to a mistake.

 I blow my whistle for the first time.

Cycle Lanes and Red lines on Gosforth High Street Newcastle

Times pass, and a totally different issue grabs me, cycle lanes and red lines for non-existent cyclists on Gosforth High Street in Newcastle. Another group of zealots have captured the system, the cycling charity and lobby Sustrans

I write about the tyranny of a minority. In Newcastle, the minority is minute.

For all sorts of reasons there are very few cyclists in Newcastle, the weather probably as important as any. However, the Local Council pays Sustrans, the cycling lobby, to apply to government for the funds to employ them to bring cycling to the city and put them in charge of it. Not even two LibDem councillors I know realise their planners are a cycling lobby, never mind the public.

I start writing again! The thought of cycle lanes on an already busy, narrow, congested stretch of road appals me. The damage to people’s livelihoods, to local amenity, to the cyclists themselves horrifies me. Again, I recognise the mischief making of London’s metropolitan elite, clever maybe streetwise, not at all. And I recognise the steam roller of the State when I see one.

I add my complaint to that of others to the local authority and get nowhere. I go to the Local Government Ombudsman and get nowhere. With a local estate agent, I go to Bindmans LLP, leading human rights lawyers in London give them a 100-page dossier. Judicial review starts with a pre-action protocol letter. The Local Government Ombudsman’s office says that it is best if it is written by a solicitor. Bindmans’ lawyers say that judicial review would be “bound to fail.” In legal terms TWM “totally without merit”. I have been here before. I go back and forth now to the Legal Ombudsman and then to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

I pursue this because it is revealing. It is a case study that enables you to see the way the Ombudsman system works, how lawyers’ minds work, why institutional inertia is chronic in the UK. I give a running commentary in my blog. And then I commission Jan Woolf who had edited posts in my blog into my book Death of a Nightingale to edit posts into my new book, Kafka’s Cycle, slow death of a complaint. I find a publisher.

Freedom of Expression in the public interest 

Now, Bindmans say they will sue me if I publish anything that criticises them but won’t even read the book I sent them and tell me what they can legitimately ask me to delete when I have told them that I would do so. They assert their right to protect their reputation.

I do not say that they were not entitled to take the view they did and decline to write the pre-action protocol letter. I do say that I believe other lawyers would take a different view and I also believe that my pupil master, CN Glidewell, sadly no longer alive, would have relished the challenge that Bindmans’ lawyers declined.

I have a letter from his son, Sir Iain Glidewell PC Lord Justice of Appeal – also sadly no longer alive. It will give you some idea of the sort of person he was. His world was planning. And as he drove me around for a year in his Bristol motor, I saw how he worked.

I will give you just one page of the 100 in the dossier. If you are a lawyer, or even if you are not, does this have the flavour of a case TWM, “totally without merit”, where you would feel professionally obliged to decline to represent a client’s interests and pre-empt the decision of a judge?

THE DOSSIER – Part 6 Errors & Omissions in Assistant Local Government Ombudsman’s decision

1. She states: “As I have seen no evidence to suggest Cabinet or the Overview and Scrutiny Committee received inaccurate information about cycling figures when making its decision to approve the scheme and there is no evidence cycling figures were the motivation for the traffic scheme I have no grounds to criticise the Council.” She ignored the “overarching aim” of the Ambitions Bid all about cycling figures and the projections in Appendix 9 where Sustrans, the national cycling charity commissioned by the Council factored into them the exponential growth of cycling in London. <“an increase in cycling trips by 73% – 1,232,177 additional cycling trips are forecast.”

The figures given to me by the Project Manager for the scheme as reason for the scheme were consistent with its “overarching aim”, and he actually says so in a letter that he sent to Mr. C. Thorpe on 4 December 2014 “we are tasked with growing cycling in the city to a significant proportion of all trips under five miles. On numbers this could easily mean that to be successful we will need to see up to 3,000 cyclists a day using this corridor to comply with 20% of all trips under five miles.” < His email to me: “Currently there are less than 1000 cyclists a day using the High street, but we want to see that grow so that 20% of all trips in Newcastle use this mode. Given that 30,000 vehicles use the Great North Road per day for return trips then it is not unreasonable to see that figure grow to 3 or 4 thousand return trips by bicycle.”>

 She is happy to dismiss all of this and ignore the professional survey conducted by Duncan Young showing that only about 70 cyclists a day use the High Street.<maybe only 35 as two way journeys.> She also ignores figures in National Cycling to Work Statistics 2001 -2011 and its implications for Newcastle. <2001 1,781. 2011, 3,223>This does suggest that the Cabinet received inaccurate information and were very much an important part of the motivation.

 2. I have specifically drawn attention to the City’s Protocol to provide “an integrated and evidence-based means of partners working together to determine priorities in the city.” She ignores the fact that there would not appear to have been any market research among motorists in the city confirming their willingness to use a bicycle instead of a car for all their journeys under five miles.

 3. I have specifically drawn attention to the City’s commitment to “open government” and in Core Value 4 making “transparent decisions.” She ignores the fact that their “overarching aim” in relation to cycles and motorists was not detailed in the consultation process and she finds no fault in the city’s consultation procedures. I pose this question: Paragraph 10.20 of the Council’s Replies to the LGO states “The changes are essential to ensure that the optimum network benefits are realised from the current programme of works to the Great North Road”. Was the whole consultation process here predetermined?

 4. I have also specifically drawn attention to Core Value 4’s commitment to “risk management.” She ignores the considerable anxiety being expressed by those who would know best whether the High Street is likely to suffer, namely those actually earning their living there, and accepts without question the assurance from the Council that the High Street will benefit. She ignores the health and safety risk of placing narrow cycle lanes alongside heavy traffic on a main arterial road with cyclists inhaling toxic, carcinogenic diesel fumes from the many buses, lorries and diesel-engine cars proximate to them. She also ignores the health and safety implications of allowing parking on that road in the evenings which the City Council contemplates.

 5. She ignored the facts on the ground in relation to the complex reasons for the chronic congestion in Gosforth High Street and she declined to accept that dramatically increasing the number of cyclists to about 3,000 cyclists a day especially in rush hour providing only very narrow cycle lanes for them to ride on would add to the congestion not reduce it by virtue of there being fewer cars; and she declined to accept that this would constitute a health & safety risk for the cyclists.

 6. One of the most reprehensible aspects of the Assistant Ombudsman’s decision, endorsed by all of her colleagues was her total failure to resolve the conflict between the facts on the ground as described by the Newcastle Council and evidence contradicting them, notably the number of cyclists around, the reasons for chronic congestion on the High Street, the way people get to the High Street .… A visit to Newcastle, not just a paperwork exercise, could have resolved that conflict one way or another. Her failure to do so is reprehensible.

 7. Bias here is not just an inclination. There is no neutrality here. She has deliberately loaded the scales against the citizen. The wording of her final decision is the same as the draft. She clearly paid no attention to the contents of my response to the draft.

 AND SOME RELEVANT CASE LAW

 Richards J. in Georgiou v Enfield LBC [2004] BGLR 497 31. I therefore take the view that in considering the question of apparent bias in accordance with the test in Porter v. Magill, it is necessary to look beyond pecuniary or personal interests and to consider in addition whether, from the point of view of the fair-minded and informed observer, there was a real possibility that the planning committee or some of its members were biased in the sense of approaching the decision with a closed mind and without impartial consideration of all relevant planning issues. That is a question to be approached with appropriate caution, since it is important not to apply the test in a way that will render local authority decision-making impossible or unduly difficult. I do not consider, however, that the circumstances of local authority decision-making are such as to exclude the broader application of the test altogether.”

 Porter v Magill [2001] UKHL 67 “Whether the fair minded and informed observer would conclude that there was a real possibility of bias”.

 ONE EXTRACT FROM BINDMANS’ ADVICE WITH MY COMMENT

The most frequently raised category of bias is apparent bias, the test for which is whether the fair-minded and informed observer, having considered the facts, would conclude that there was a real possibility that the decision-maker was biased.10 In our view, that test is not met here. In particular, the mere fact that, at various stages throughout your lengthy correspondence with the LGO, staff within the LGO office upheld prior decisions of their colleagues would not, in our opinion, lead a ‘fair-minded and informed’ observer (or, therefore, a Judge) to conclude that there was a real possibility that those individuals were biased. To establish bias some factor outside the decision-making process itself is required to give rise to a real possibility of bias. If this were not the case, then every decision of a decision-making body would demonstrate bias against the person to whom the decision was adverse. This is a nonsensical argument made on the hoof not on the basis of any legal authority. It should never be argued, just because you don’t like it, that an adverse decision is a biased one. It is the way in which a decision is reached that can evidence that. The authors of the Advice create their own Aunt Sally here. In any event, they totally ignore the coconut. The failure of Newcastle City Council to identify their “overarching aim” in their consultative procedures and the role of Sustrans in relation to it. The malign role of the multimillion £ national cycling charity and cycling lobby, Sustrans, is the “outside factor” if you need one; it provided and sustained the Council’s hidden agenda.>> An adverse decision does not automatically create Accordingly, we consider that the bias argument would be bound to fail.

 You could not want a better illustration of a State Sanctioned Power Snatch, SSPS.

The US Truth Act, passed unanimously by Democrats and Republicans in Congress just three years before Parliamentary draughtsmen prepared the 2013 Defamation Act, showed where the burden of proof should lie for those who genuinely care, to put up or shut up. Then fair play, and Bindmans would say what they could legitimately object to.

As I write, an article in today’s Times: A set of 153 academics and writers, including Margaret Atwood, Noam Chomsky, JK Rowling and Salman Rushdie, have written a letter on justice and open debate to Harper’s magazine to defend the “free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society.”

But in the UK Equality rules and Bindmans’ right to protect their reputation pre-empts my right of free expression in the public interest with the threat of legal action if I publish.

It is all part of a hypocritical charade that we call a democracy.

PLEASE SHARE WITH CHANGE MAKERS

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A Mid-Year Resolution for the Summer Solstice. Never again say that anything British is “the envy of the world”

A Rant from a grumpy old octogenarian OR a Fart after a Good Meal?  You judge.

Not our creaky old Parliament where tradition and the Whips demand that MPs queue for hours to vote instead of pressing a button. Our democracy where a minority interest can pose as a majority. Where popular democracy can degenerate into anarchy and representative democracy into the corporatism of a mutual self-protection society.

 Not our bewigged self-deluded legal system where unequal Justice before the Law rules in the courts, in its Tribunals if at all.

Not our top down, beleaguered NHS monolith that never has enough money and does not want to know about caring for the elderly because in 1948 there were no elderly as we now know them; today a terrible price leaving them in the care of local authorities. 70 year old design faults ignored. Vision impairment compounded by chronic, self-congratulatory, institutionalised inertia. Serious reform outside the political parties’ and bureaucracy’s comfort zone. Thus our NHS does not encourage people to own some responsibility for their own health, and does not look how other countries fund hospitals and care homes. A sacred cow with one leg missing.

Not our civil service where their knowhow is not matched by know-what. Clever, possibly, street wise questionably, accountable not if they can help it. Technology not its strong point.

Not our Ombudsmen system that does not require Ombudsmen to sign off the decisions of apparatchiks written in their name when they are challenged. Ombudsnotmen a better name for them. Make them earn their cake. Wrong decisions mean that red and amber warning lights are set to green.

Not our armed forces thatever since the Crimean War have never seemed to have had equipment right on the day.

Not our ill-disciplined education system – I read Times Ed. It provides an equal opportunity to go to Uni to half a school cohort that wants something entirely different, simply an opportunity in life, any opportunity, not necessarily an equal one, and force-feeds them the wrong curriculum. Labelling them failures when they do not get there. Denying them self-esteem in the ludicrous quest for parity of esteem. Charlie Darwin’s selection politically unacceptable.

Not our Universities when they apply 19th Century nostrums to 21st Century’s problems.

Not our student loans with State Scholarships to reward ambition and much needed talent around in my school days abolished to satisfy the egalitarians, debt slavery making a nonsense of social mobility. Writing off their unpayable debt would be of some comfort to the present generation blighted by covid-19.

Not our planners who never think to factor human fallibility into their planning, especially their own, or just never think. I have a thing about DfT and their amateur planners, Sustrans.

Not our Media. They would all have made a better job of governing; leastways they think they would. Sometimes, they make even God feel threatened. 2008 an illustration of their black/white television view of the world, putting all the blame on the bankers to the total exclusion of politicians who believed that the disadvantaged had an equal right to own their own homes, put them up to it, and shut their eyes to it, promising no return to “the shifting sands of boom and bust.” A shame printers serving IBM supercomputers didn’t print in red as well as black.

Not our political parties, the Tories born to rile, Labour so concerned about equal human rights of those they categorise as disadvantaged – not all of them in their net by a long chalk – that they regularly ignore the rights of everyone else, recently, with scant regard for covid-19. LibDems, nomads in the desert without an oasis. The Greens, Luddites reborn especially when they ride bikes and hate the idea of electric anything, other than bikes and scooters; demonstrating a way of life.

And certainly not the City and the banking and hedge fund fraternity putting its obscene bonus culture before a Transaction Tax. IBM supercomputers work at 200 quadrillion calculations per second. At 0.1% suggested by Michael Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders, a mix more potent than Viagra, I would call it a Teabag tax. Best argument for it an ad for Bitcoin Trader! A good deal better than a hike in Income Tax. It would help countries balance their books and pay their way in the world, I trust not entirely outdated ideas for economists; and put people first for a change.

And please, please, please not another £multi-million Enquiry. Everyone knows too much already. Leave to others the dead hand of the past.

Boris, don’t postpone your new Resolution until 1st January 2021. Good news now. Boost new jobs manufacturing electric vehicles and batteries, bring new hope to the country’s High Streets with tens of thousands of fast chargers located there, opportunities for the young for instance Bring it on 2020, not tax and debt. Care for the elderly within the NHS not outside it. Post Brexit people want a bright future as well as a safe one. Spell it out.

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Weather Warning for Cycling Enthusiasts. Only for the Brave and Foolhardy.

Do you really believe owners of cars with toxic emissions will want to buy a bike because there is a pop up cycle lane or hire an e.bike or e.scooter without helmet and insurance?

London averages approximately 106 rainy days each year and receives a total of 22.976 inches (583.6 millimeters) of precipitation annually. In the rest of the country, according to the UK Met Office, the average rainfall in Britain is 1,154mm per year. On average it rains for 156.2 days per year (data from 1981 to 2010 ). No wonder metropolitan elite can’t understand.

In 2019, the average wind speed in the UK was 8.2 knots.

Climate change can increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. Flooding is becoming more frequent in the UK.

BEWARE puddles, potholes, occasional flooding and patches of ice.

Urban Cycling is not for the faint-hearted. Only for the brave and foolhardy.

Most people just don’t fancy cycling on UK’s roads despite all the media hype and £1bn+ Austerity spend. Numbers flatlined since 2002 OFFICIAL.

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