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Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Delays to Charging Points

There are reports that electric charging points are not being installed as a result of the government's cuts to local authority budgets.  This is completely unsurprising, and a natural result of Councils being forced into minuscule budgets.  It will delay the supersedence of the combustion engine and ensure unclean air long after "austerity" is gone.  All part of the enormous damage wrought by the present government.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Art at Willesden Library?

Passing by Willesden Library recently, I noticed that many of the ground floor windows are simply blacked out on the Grange Road side.  Those strike me as potentially a good site for some more interesting community art.  One of the selling points of the current library compared to the old one is that the current library engages much more with the local area.  The old one simply had a blank brick wall on this space.  I can see why the Council want it to have windows into the staff only areas blacked out, but if I would suggest they take inspiration from William Morris who used to design curtains that both worked for the interior and were also designed to be seen from the street.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Revoke Petition Surpasses Five Million Signatures

The Revoke Article 50 petition has now surpassed five million signatures.  I suspect there might be a lot more to come.  Even on the People's Vote March yesterday, I spoke to potential revoke supporters who had yet to sign it.

At the time of writing, the number of Brent Central signatures amounts to 10,836 (7.6% of constituents).  Brent North numbers 6,670 (about 5% of constituents).  Hampstead and Kilburn numbers 24,669 (about 18% of constituents). 

Labour Finally Committed to a Referendum?

Amid the political turmoil today, which includes entirely credible rumours that Theresa May is about to be forced from office, it is worth remembering the important pledge given by Tom Watson at the People's March yesterday:

To vote for a deal to go through provided it is put to a confirmatory referendum

That is a really big change that might get us out of this whole Brexit mess.

It is unclear whether Jeremy Corbyn supports this pledge.  To the surprise of some, he was in Morecambe Bay yesterday.  Jon Trickett apparently said this had something to do with the cockle picker tragedy.  I read a tweet from Aaron Bastani claiming it was do with purdah for the local elections, which of course has nothing to do with politicians, and seems an odd reason for turning down the opportunity to speak to a million people in a well publicised event. 

That means not just losing to the immediate audience but also the press attention.  Judging from the people I saw, there are plenty of people there with no very great sense of partisan allegiance, who could be persuaded to come to Labour if the right pitch were made.  The whole thing really showed that lots of people have a deep attachment to the European Union which they can't at present express through their vote for either of the two main parties.  

Bridge Park Litigation Continues

Stonebridge campaigners are claiming victory in their attempts to block Brent Council's plans at Bridge Park.  The grounds of the victory are quite technical and merely move on to another stage.  This looks like it will become an extremely long running dispute.

I looked for a statement by the Council on this matter, but I could not find one on the Brent Council web site.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

People's Vote March Today

Today is the  day for the big People's Vote referendum March.  I shall be going behind the Cooperative Party banner meeting at 83 Park Lane around noon.  Last time it was absolutely packed, and I gather it is predicted to be this time as well.  The March is of course for people to have a final say on whatever the deal is, but anyone who would just like to remain an EU member might consider signing the Parliamentary petition that is already attracting millions of supporters.  I don't think I have ever heard of a petitions getting so many signatures so quickly

Even if you don't like the details of this position, I think it is worth doing because of the general indication it gives.

In the meantime I think that the UK will be forced to apply for a longer extension than the one announced on Thursday, just to pass its own domestic legislation.  In which case the UK will have to hold European Parliament elections to make sure that European decisions continue to be legal.  Since Jacob Rees Mogg et al  have always claimed to be democrats who would oppose us being a "vassal" state, I think they should logically agree to such a vote.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Importance of Language

It seems to me that one of the reasons that political debate has so degenerated in this country is the use of language as buzzwords where the actual meaning is either obscure or hotly disputed. "Neoliberal" seems to fall into this category.  To me a neoliberal believes in a minimally sized state, as Mrs Thatcher did and George Osborne still does.  To say there is no difference between them and Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who drove record levels of increases in public spending especially in the NHS is therefore absurd, and if the people using the word actually thought about its meaning that would be obvious.  Ash Sarker apparently considers herself to be "literally a Communist" although she sounds much more like an anarcho-syndicalist to me.

Incidentally, people seem to have given up on the literal meaning of literal, and simply seem to use it to mean "purely" or "extremely".

Equally "Zionist" to me simply means a Jewish Nationalist essentially no different from people who think that French people are entitled to live in France, Italians in Italy, or indeed Palestinians in Palestine.  Other people seem to get very confused as to whether it means what they regard as a use of force, or whether it is just a random term of abuse.

I see that many people apparently don't know what antisemitism is, i.e. hostility or hatred towards people who are Jewish.  Apparently 40% of people, and a greater proportion of younger people, don't understand the word at all.  Campaigners against antisemitism might well be more successful if they talked more of anti-Jewish hatred rather than antisemitism

What puzzles me is how it is that we have higher and wider levels of education and yet people can be so ignorant about quite basic things, and use language quite uncritically.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Cricklewood Library

"Cricklewood Library" was the most plausible of the schemes put forward during Brent's Libraries Transformation Project, albeit one that the Council couldn't support.  It has now received  substantial grants of public money to be brought forward, and whilst still not open, it looks as if it will open eventually.  The old building was demolished and there is a major improvement in that the new building gives not only some new housing, but also community space with proper disabled access.

So far the cost to the taxpayer has come in a one off grant.  What would be disastrous would be if at any point, it started to be given revenue from the Council which would inevitably be drained off public services.