EU FLAG PROMS: ‘Brexiteers’ angered by Royal Proms pro-EU flag distribution

London – VIJAY SHAH via JEFF FARRELL and The Independent

As the United Kingdom heads for its possible withdrawal from the European Union in two years’ time, supporters of EU withdrawal, informally known as Brexiteers, have hit out at a pro-EU campaign group who distributed EU flags to visitors at a music festival, The Independent reports.

The campaign group, EU Flag Proms Team, a previously unknown collective which favours UK remaining part of the European Union, had planned to distribute EU flags and banners outside the Royal Albert Hall in London, which plays host to a televised classical music festival, the Proms, which is specially promoted by the national public service broadcaster BBC. 

 

During the final day of the festival, known as the Last Night, EU Flag Proms team members planned to give out the 10,000 blue and yellow flags free to concertgoers to support EU closeness, while wearing t-shirts with the slogan “thank EU for the music EU”. EU Flag Proms explained the unusual stunt was to highlight how music is a universal language” that transcends borders.

It is a tradition among audiences at the Proms to wave national flags when national anthems are played, so for example the Union Flag (Union Jack) is waved when the song “Rule Britannia” is performed. As many classical composers featured at the Proms are from mainland Europe, it was hoped that the Proms’ visitors would be more supportive of Europe as a whole. The BBC’s own symphony orchestra featured music by the late composers Jean Sibelius and Richard Wagner, from Finland and Germany respectively.

A spokesman for EU Flags Proms Team told The Telegraph paper: “During the Age of Enlightenment Mozart, Handel and Bach all lived and worked for part of their lives in London.

“Presumably under the Brexit dark ages, they would not be welcome. What an appalling backward step for our country.

“We hope that the EU flags will remind the audience, the musicians and those watching from all over the world that music is a universal language that unites people, breaking down barriers and promoting communication, understanding, and peace.”

Leading supporters of Brexit, however have condemned EU Flag Proms, claiming that music can also be a signifier of national identity. Vociferous and controversial Brexit supporter, Nigel Farage, former leader of the right-wing nationalist UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party), said to the Independent that he hoped Brexiteers would stage a similar counter-campaign distributing UK flags to Proms visitors. He said, referring to EU Flag Proms explanation for their campaign: “As for this airy fairy ‘music crosses all borders’ nonsense, music is also an important part of national symbolism in every part of the world.”

Farage said he planned to contact a former UKIP donor, Aaron Banks to possibly bankroll the counter-campaign, but due to the donor being abroad, the UKIP Union Flag giveaway did not take place for the Proms this year.

EU Flags Proms Team last year staged a similar Brexit protest outside the Royal Albert Hall, and handed out 2,500 EU flags to members of the public who turned up for Last Night of the Proms 2016.

British politicians are currently in negotiations with the European Union over the terms of withdrawal from the Union, which the UK was one of the first members of since it joined in 1973. The UK Brexit negotiation team has been slammed at home for heading into the talks unprepared and the EU has also been criticised for demanding a £50 billion ‘divorce settlement’ from the UK, for various projects and commitments made during the UK’s membership of the union. The United Kingdom plans to withdraw completely in 2019 after the two-year notice period after it triggered the Article 50 clause this year. There have been calls for a second referendum, either on the terms of Brexit or the withdrawal itself.

SOURCES:

Sarah Harness.

We Are The 48% – #StopBrexit, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1586336064998120/

“Brexiteers furious over thousands of EU flags handed out at Last Night of the Proms” – Jeff Farrell, The Telegraph (9 September 2017) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/eu-flags-brexit-last-night-proms-bbc-royal-albert-hall-london-a7938206.html

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Flagging Support” – Dave Kellam, Flickr (24 February 2007) https://www.flickr.com/photos/davekellam/414918350

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FRANCE ELECTIONS: Last runoff between Macron and Le Pen begins, hackers cause havoc

Paris – VIJAY SHAH via JON HENLEY and The Guardian

The last stage of the French presidential elections has begun in earnest, with the European country’s voters choosing between centre-leaning former economist Emmanuel Macron and leader of the far-right nationalist party Front National, Marine Le Pen, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reports.

Akin to the recent U.S. presidential elections where Russian hackers were accused of interfering with the system to guarantee a win for current president Donald Trump, the French voting rally has been marred by recent reports of a ‘massive online dump’ of campaign data by unknown parties and attributed to Macron’s new political movement.

 

Ten of thousands of stolen emails and documents, some claimed to be fake, were put in the public domain. Fearful of the likely impact on the outcome of the election, the French government has made it a criminal offence for the data to be published. The Senate also declared an electioneering blackout lasting until the close of polls today at 8 pm local time.

Macron’s election team, the En Marche! movement, condemned the hack, saying that it was clearly an attempt at democratic destabilisation, like that seen during the last presidential campaign in the US,”

The bitter and divisive at times runoffs are a litmus test for the future direction of politics not only in France, but also in Europe, particularly as politics in the developed world increasingly swings towards the far-right. Far-right candidates were recently just about kept out of the presidential palace in Austria, and are increasingly grabbing a greater share of the vote in the U.K. and Netherlands. The two forerunners in the French elections are also polar opposites. The Guardian writes: Macron, a 39-year-old former banker and economy minister running as an independent centrist, is economically liberal, socially progressive, globally minded and upbeat. Le Pen is a nation-first protectionist who wants to close France’s borders and possibly leave the euro and the EU.”

The last polls, published on Friday, suggest that Emmanuel Macron has a lead over Marine Le Pen of around 22-23 percentage points, buoyed in part by a recent controversial televised debate, where Le Pen was said to have spent more time laying into her rival than promoting her party’s policies to the country’s electorate.

“The commission calls on everyone present on internet sites and social networks – primarily the media, but also all citizens – to show responsibility and not pass on this content so as not to distort the sincerity of the ballot,” the national election commission said on Saturday.

Most French media decided not to break the news of the hack, whose origin was not mentioned by the Guardian. France’s leading broadsheet, Le Monde, declared it would not publish any of the 9 gigabytes of leaked data, due to both its volume and the risk of influencing the election’s outcome.

“If these documents contain revelations, Le Monde will of course publish them after having investigated them, respecting our journalistic and ethical rules, and without allowing ourselves to be exploited by the publishing calendar of anonymous actors,” the paper said.

The data was dumped onto popular sharing service Pastebin under a profile named EMLEAKS. The targeted political movement, Macron’s En Marche! (On the March!) were not perturbed by the public release of the data, saying that most of the emails were from day-to-day operations, and that some files were false, put in with the dump to ‘sow doubt and disinformation’.

France’s vote will be run in stages, with residents of the country’s overseas departments and territories being the first to mark their ballot papers. Saint Pierre and Miquelon, a small dependency off the coast of Canada’s Newfoundland island, will be the first to cast their votes. French people in the diaspora will also take priority in voting, before Metropolitan France’s 47 million voters will begin visiting around 70,000 polling stations today.

SOURCES:

Google News https://news.google.co.uk/?ar=1494148359

“French election: voting begins as France decides between Macron and Le Pen” – Jon Henley, The Guardian/Guardian News and Media Limited (7 May 2017) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/07/voting-begins-in-final-round-of-french-presidential-election

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:French presidential election P1200051.jpg” – David Monniaux, Wikimedia Commons (14 April 2007) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:French_presidential_election_P1200051.jpg

STURGEON’S OFFER: Scottish first minister invites Remainers to settle in Scotland if independence occurs

Aberdeen, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via PATRICK GRAFTON-GREEN and Evening Standard

The first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has invited residents of the other parts of the UK who were disappointed with the outcome of last year’s Brexit referendum to settle in her country, as she petitions for a new referendum on Scottish independence.

In a report by London-based newspaper The Evening Standard, the first minister announced an open invitation to the forty-eight per cent of Britons who voted ‘yes’ to staying in the European Union to relocate to Scotland, which plans to rejoin the EU should the outcome of the second ‘indyref’ be in favour of Scotland departing the United Kingdom and going it alone. Sturgeon presided over the first referendum, in 2014, which saw fifty five per cent of voters opt to stay in the UK, and forty-four per cent lean towards independence.

 

 

Sturgeon has expressed that those who have experienced discomfort with the actions of Westminster could relocate to Scotland and be part of a “outward-looking, compassionate country”. The open invite is the latest in a war of words between Sturgeon and UK prime minister Theresa May, who is open in her desire to realise Brexit and complete EU withdrawal by 2019. May has condemned Sturgeon for demanding a new referendum before Brexit negotiations with Brussels are complete, and has refused to give federal government permission for it to go ahead, angering Sturgeon and the Scottish National Party (SNP) which she heads.

In an address she made at the SNP conference in Aberdeen recently, Sturgeon has said that her party will completely guarantee the rights of EU nationals residing in Scotland. This is at odds with May’s approach, where she has refused to give a final ruling on EU settlers’ status in a post-Brexit Britain. May’s critics have accused her of using European nationals in the UK as a ‘bargaining chip’ in order to force the EU to guarantee settlement rights of Britons living in countries like France and Spain. At the address, Sturgeon also said that Scotland had potential for massive opportunities, and criticised the Conservative Party, who are the dominant political party currently in the UK, claiming they were trying to interfere with Scotland and accused them of maintaining a condescending attitude towards the country since the 1980s.

Sturgeon also criticised Westminster for its attitude towards Europeans living in the UK, saying “You cannot lecture others about politics not being a game while you are using the lives of human beings as pawns,” to Prime Minister May.

She told the conference: “Imagine what will happen if Scotland chooses to stay.

“We will become a magnet for talent and investment from all across the UK.

“So let me issue this open invitation today – Scotland isn’t full up.

“If you are as appalled as we are at the path this Westminster Government is taking, come and join us.

“Come here to live, work, invest or study.

“Come to Scotland – and be part of building a modern, progressive, outward-looking, compassionate country.”

SOURCES:
Sonel BC.
BritCits, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/britcits1/
“Nicola Sturgeon tells UK residents: Move to Scotland if you don’t like Brexit” – Patrick Grafton-Green, EveningStandard – News – Politics (18 March 2017) http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/nicola-sturgeon-tells-uk-residents-move-to-scotland-if-you-don-t-like-brexit-a3493366.html
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Welcome to Scotland sign A1 road.jpg” – Amanda Slater via oxyman, Wikimedia Commons (14 September 2008) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Welcome_to_Scotland_sign_A1_road.jpg

 

SULLEE J: Solo

Baltimore’s finest underground rapper Sullee J has just released his autobiographical album, entitled SOLO, that tells the story of his musical journey. The mixtape is guaranteed to be a treat for fans of the upcoming musician, it being packed full of phenomenal bars and wisdom for every listener, with a story behind every track.

To make the launch of SOLO, Sullee J has also released a special music video on YouTube, produced by BCHILL Music and directed by Michael ‘G-Nut’ Flores. It was filmed on the streets of Chicago and features contemporary footage of recent events since the shock election of Donald Trump as the American president this past 8th November, revealing the stark intimidation people face under a new order. Sullee J delivers hard-hitting poetic justice over a gentle Nineties beat, asking where do we all go?

 

 

Sullee J also used the album launch to reveal his latest thoughtful slogan “Let’s Keep America Awake” – a direct reinterpretation of the election slogan of the Trump campaign “Make America Great Again”.

The artist was recently picked up by indie record label Bogish Brand Ent. owned by King Ca$his, who was himself previously signed as an artist to Shady Records. His latest single with his group TRIPL3 Threat was just released last week on iTunes, Apple Music & other locations, featuring Slaughterhouse’s Royce Da 5’9. 

SOLO’s headliner track is available on YouTube and SoundCloud, and you can stream the full album at Sullee J’s Bandcamp page below.

 

 

BANDCAMP https://sulleej.bandcamp.com/album/solo-by-sullee-j

officialsulleej.com

 

SOURCE/IMAGE & VIDEO CREDITS:
Sullee J Management/Team Justice.

SULLEE J: Trump & beyond

Baltimore rapper and street poet Sullee J has this week kindly submitted an article regarding the US presidential elections taking place on the 8th November, one of the most contentious the country has even seen. As there are so many things and controversies happening in America and across the world with the elections being right around the corner, Sullee J has penned this article as he considered it vital to open up people’s minds before they go out to the polls, and that it will influence them towards a positive decision.

*********

I initiate this with a few words to Trump –
A man who has changed his belief more than he’s changed his undergarments. What has happened? A man who is trapped in a self-made illusion in such a level of hate finds it to be a form of satisfaction. A man whose word reflects spasticity but actions remain flaccid. A man who’s focus is worse than Dick Cheney, no matter what brand his glasses. A man who’s addicted to a lifestyle inspired by ignorance wants to tame the masses? A man who, back in 1999, went from activist to Democrat to Republican and whatever next seems to look attractive! Distractions. Distractions.

War over seas, and you’re here playing Pokémon, what happened? “War against blacks” “all lives matter” “prays for humanity”, which is the caption? Syria faces bloodshed, Yemen is being massacred. World War 3 has already begun, poisonous waste in the vascular. Brilliant vernacular but actions real amateur. Sounds like the most wicked have taken over the vehicle and kill off any awake passenger. The ambassador of evil, faith vanisher. Quite interesting, as this next subject is tempting.

 

 

One Kardashian falsely robbed and the worlds in a frenzy. My skin isn’t bright enough for that action; they’d have me burned before they exempt me. I learned that reaching for your wallet could have you murdered, and that the law isn’t friendly. I learned that protect and serve was for a certain group, now I understand how nepotism affects me. I also hate that my religion is the reason they won’t accept me. Distractions, distractions, how dare they neglect me!

Biased traditions, force fed capitalism, torched heads for alliances, which allowed tyrants to be risen. Manipulate science to where they afflict the most pious chemical and spread disease for monopoly. Programmed virus in the vision and this is by default they flaw the nucleus, more signs of division. The origin of all new creation, motto: keep you as far from the cure, healthy lifestyle deviation. Aggravate the internal, solution alleviation. This is pollution with a constant reign, who’s mediating. I watched the debate recently, saw fools in the making. Money rules, if you haven’t picked up on the clues, and the news is just a tool to distract you from the truth. The view is all faking.

Magnitudes of abuse, racial feuds, and cruel hateful fumes. Can we really count on anyone in power right now to change this fuse? Who dare save us from this flagrant noose? Systematic slavery, what a game they choose. How can we win when the way they set up the rules have us aimed to lose. Confused. Avenues tainted with a heinous lube. Oh, and how many strange things to attain fame, that they would do. This is all entertainment now; everything from the election to Isis. False created groups to spread hate amongst nations. If you didn’t know, your tax money is supplying the mass murders overseas, you probably think you aren’t apart of the crisis. I still don’t understand the power of paper, money isn’t real, where the f*** do they get these artificial prices. How do you sell a star, something nobody owns, I swear greed makes you lifeless. Distractions, distractions. This is a call to all the righteous.

I hope you picked up on the last ring. This message is to alter your rhythms and get the lights flashing. Awaken all the sleep; life is too short to stay a sheep. We can’t allow them to keep separating us through lame tactics, quit obeying the freaks. They got money in their pockets, but surely the character they display is weak. I will starve before I eat off the plates they offer. Some of the realest speakers are the fakest authors. You may have the same watch as me but our time is different. I’m on a mission to lift my generation and my grind’s consistent. I rebut not with a roguish mind full of puckish thoughts. It’s as if Trump was designed for an atrocious crime, what a sucker’s plot. We can stand up now and prevent this. Otherwise future demise is endless. You think they really care if we die? That’s senseless. Just one more question before I end this. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a politicians intention?

DISCLAIMER: Views are of the author only. The Half-Eaten Mind is impartial.

 

SOURCE/IMAGE CREDIT:
Sullee J Management.

POST-BREXIT SCOTLAND: First minister may sign off separate trade deal with EU

gb

London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via BBC News

As the UK decides what to do next after the life-changing EU referendum in June which saw the country vote largely to leave the European Union, and the nation is facing a rocky political climate coupled with a weak pound, there are concerns about whether the UK will still be able to maintain access to the European single market.

In a sign of the complexity of the situation, and with EU leaders hitting back hard at the UK’s pick-and-choose approach to negotiations, the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has hinted that her country may go it alone in seeking a separate trade deal with the Continent, the BBC reports.

 

 

Around 62 per cent of eligible Scottish voters were in favour of Remain, and in the aftermath of the highly divisive referendum, some members of Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party pushed for another plebiscite on Scotland quitting the UK and rejoining Europe. In a recent interview with the BBC, the First Minister said that she believed a deal could be struck which will preserve Scotland’s own access to the single market, saving the country millions of pounds in tariffs and other fees for importing European goods.

Speaking on videolink with the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Sturgeon said that Brexit should not come in the way of Scotland establishing its own and separate trade deal that will not be affected by the rest of the union’s departure from the EU.

“I think that is possible,” she said.

Sturgeon also added that her government are examining the technicalities of a separate trade deal and mentioned We will publish proposals over the next few weeks.”

In recent days, EU leaders have warned the UK that continued access to the single market is dependent on it continuing to allow free movement of EU citizens. Concerns over the UK being a magnet to EU arrivals was one of the issues vocalised by supporters of Leave.

SOURCES:
Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind
Ace News Services, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/AceNewsServices
“Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland may seek separate EU trade deal” – BBC News – UK – Scotland – Scotland politics (16 October 2016) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-37671236?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
IMAGE CREDIT:
“Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland” – First Minister of Scotland, Flickr (29 November 2014) https://www.flickr.com/photos/firstministerofscotland/15805899567

BREXIT: EU nationals in the UK to stay after country leaves union

gb

London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via Press Association & The Guardian

 

 

The Home Office, the UK government agency in charge of immigration and settlement matters, has announced via various reports that European Union nationals currently residing in Britain will be permitted to continue living there, ending a dilemma for hundreds of thousands of continentals worried about their status post-Brexit, the Guardian reports.

After the July referendum which saw the shock decision by just over half of British voters to get their nation withdrawn from the EU after forty years, European Union citizens were left in the lurch, unsure of their futures, as new prime minister Theresa May refused to give a final definition of their status. Her manoeuvre consisted of a criticised attempt to guarantee the rights of the 1.2 million British emigrants living in Europe, mostly in France and Spain.

It is expected that 80 per cent of the EU citizens currently in the UK will be allowed to stay after Britain triggers Article 50 on membership and leaves the union, widely expected to be in 2019. The 600,000 remaining will be offered an amnesty, the Guardian says. At one point, reports suggested that EU nationals who settled in the UK before the referendum would not be asked to leave. There are believed to be 3.6 million EU nationals working and living across the UK.

Home Office calculations were reported as saying that five out of six EU nationals could not be deported after the country leaves the EU.

SOURCES:
‎Sergio Mourão‎.
EEA visa.. EU free movement, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/groups/650212281695959/?fref=nf
“EU nationals living in UK will be allowed to remain after Brexit – report” – Press Association, The Guardian – home – politics/Guardian News and Media Limited (8 October 2016) https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/oct/08/home-office-says-eu-nationals-living-in-uk-can-remain-after-brexit
IMAGE CREDIT:
“brexit” – portal gda, Flickr (25 June 2016) https://www.flickr.com/photos/135518748@N08/27612677760

 

HARROW YOUTH ELECTIONS 2016: Young people make themselves heard

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Harrow, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via Harrow Times

Youngsters in the Harrow borough in north-west Greater London will have a chance to make their voices heard in the forthcoming elections for the Harrow Youth Parliament next week and decide the next direction for their community and borough’s youth services, local paper the Harrow Times reports today.

The Youth Parliament, which is the largest and most active of any of Greater London’s 32 boroughs, has called on young Harrovians to go out and vote in the 2016 elections, enabling them to challenge decisions made by councillors, get involved in important decisions affecting them and their local communities and express their opinions and concerns to decision-makers.

Polls are open from February 8-12 and thousands of Harrow’s young people are expected to cast votes for Youth Parliament representatives to speak for them on the local government stage. The elections are open to Harrow residents aged 11-18 years only. Seventy seats in the Parliament are to be filled, along with two seats for the borough in the National Youth Parliament, the Harrow Times reports.

Annual Sitting 2009
Annual Sitting 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Current chairperson of the Harrow Youth Parliament (HYP), Dina Khatum said to the Times recently: “Harrow Youth Parliament’s extensive local and national involvement has played an active role in getting young people’s voices heard.

“We try, both with our external activities and internal projects, to do as much as we can to improve the lives of Harrow for young people by representing their views to decision makers.”

The HYP came into existence in 2004, and in its nearly twelve years of operations have helped influence and shape many key regulations regarding Harrow Council‘s provisions for young residents, as well as speaking on behalf of teenagers across the nation.

Lists of candidates contesting the 2016 HYP elections are being put on public view in the borough’s youth centres, schools and sixth-form colleges for voters to choose the Members of Parliament they will be backing.

The elections are supported by Harrow Council’s Electoral Services and organised by the borough’s Youth Development Team.

Youth Parliaments are an important means of getting youth interested in politics. They help give future decision makers a taste of the democratic process and a chance to represent young people in key decisions including the annual debate at the House of Commons. They have been key in helping many of their young members a foothold into local and national politics.

Last year more then 12,000 ballots were cast in the Harrow borough– one of the highest turnouts in London.

The adult Harrow councillor in charge of the portfolio for young people and children’s services, Simon Brown, commented: “By taking part in the youth elections you can help shape the future of young people.

“Challenge us, share your views and speak up on issues that matter to you.

“I encourage you all to vote in this year’s election and look forward to working closely with new members of our fantastic Harrow Youth Parliament.”

In 2015, the HYP has been active in running various projects, including improving relations between schools, between young people and the police, and setting up activities during school and college holiday periods. The Parliament also won a contract with MOPAC in their police and youth community work.

SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
Harrow Times, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Harrow_Times
“Chance for young people to have their say in the 2016 youth elections next week” – Beth Cherryman, Harrow Times/Newsquest (London) Ltd/Gannett (6 February 2016) http://www.harrowtimes.co.uk/news/14257155.Chance_for_young_people_to_have_their_say_in_the_2016_youth_elections_next_week/?ref=rss&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:MYPs at the University of Kent.jpg” – UK Youth Parliament & Pretzels, Flickr via Wikimedia Commons (28 October 2009) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MYPs_at_the_University_of_Kent.jpg

DBIS SCALEDOWN: UK Government department to shut Sheffield office, others

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Sheffield, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via The Mirror

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills, a government agency tasked with supporting business development and work initiatives in the United Kingdom, has announced this past Thursday it will be closing down its office in the northern English city of Sheffield and moving jobs to London, the Mirror reports.

The closure is due to go into effect by 2018, possibly seeing the loss of 250 jobs at the Sheffield office, and several other DBIS offices may also face the axe as the Department cuts back under the government’s cost-saving austerity programme and as DBIS leaders look to centralise their operations in the UK’s capital.

Often dubbed the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ for its efforts to promote business in the North of England, the DBIS may close another 12 or so offices, including six in the North, despite previous parliamentary intentions to encourage more investment and job creation in the region, which is one of the poorest pasts of the country, having lost many of its heavy industry output since the 1980s.

The DBIS plans have not been warmly received in Sheffield, a city of 563,749 inhabitants in South Yorkshire, once famed for its stainless steel cutlery manufacturing, but having experienced severe decline until recently. Local MP (Member of ParliamentNick Clegg , former party leader for the Liberal Democrats, told the Mirror: “This flies directly in the face of the Northern Powerhouse agenda.”

“I want to be clear that no one ever put this to me in Government and I would not have agreed to it if they had.”

Labour’s Shadow Civil Service Minister Louise Haigh also lambasted the ruling Conservative party’s decision to close the Sheffield and other northern offices, saying that the plan “demonstrates the utter contempt the Tories have for the North.”

DBIS civil servants have allegedly already been informed of the closure, scheduled for January 2018, with the department looking to move towards a “smaller workforce and more streamlined structures”, according to the Mirror. A spokesperson for UK prime minister David Cameron said “The Business Department, like all departments, seeks to operate as efficiently as it possibly can to deliver the best quality of service to provide the right kind of guidance and advice to ministers.

“This is part of their process of becoming leaner and more efficient.”

The DBIS plans to close its regional offices and focus on fortifying operations at its central HQ in London, where most government departments are situated. Currently the department oversees twelve other regional centres in the towns and cities of Billingham, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Darlington, Guildford, Gateshead, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and Watford – all of which are likely to go with much job losses or relocations.

The DBS will possibly replace them with six ‘business centres’ and some staff will be offered the chance to relocate to them. Each of the new business centres will be connected to a particular business activity, for example higher education, but there will not be one in Sheffield, a huge blow to the city’s economy and business community.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said: “Sheffield needs jobs and London’s overheating. This move makes no sense and it exposes George Osborne’s empty rhetoric about the Northern Powerhouse once again.

“I’ve pressed Ministers to move public sector jobs out of London, as Labour did, and I’ll be challenging this decision at every opportunity.

“Well paid civil service jobs provide opportunities for local people. They enable graduates of our two universities to stay in the city.

“Their spending in the local economy creates more jobs. And we need more of the country’s top decision makers to experience life in the regions, not see everything through the distorted experience of London.”

Speaking to Sheffield-based civil servants this morning, the DBIS permanent secretary Martin Donnelly said: “Today’s announcement is part of implementing our BIS 2020 strategic plans to modernise the way we work, reduce operating costs and deliver a simpler, smaller department that is more flexible and responsive to stakeholders and businesses.

“Our operating model needs to be designed in a way that works for this smaller workforce with more streamlined structures.”

“The decision to close Sheffield by 2018 has not been taken lightly. The unions are being consulted and will be involved throughout the process.

“It is my top priority that all our staff are fully briefed and consulted on the process. We will provide comprehensive support to all those facing a potential change or loss of job.

“In relation to the new business centres, we will be working closely with our Partner Bodies over the coming months to develop firm plans for their office locations.”

The DBIS is a relatively new government department, created in 2009  by the merger of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR). It is headed by Conservative MP Sajid Javid who is also the president of the Board of Trade. The department is responsible for many aspects of business matters, law and education, along with the promotion of trades, scientific research and skills. The DBIS even has remit for business aspects concerning outer space and the postal services. Most deicisions on important policy areas are undertaken at DBIS HQ in Westminster, London.

SOURCES:
Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/topic/Department-for-Business-Innovation-and-Skills/133294340042912?source=whfrt&position=1&trqid=6245539918854066441
“‘Northern Powerhouse’ department to close Sheffield office and move 247 jobs to London” – Ben Glaze & Mikey Smith, Mirror/Mirror Online/MGN Limited (28 January 2016) http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/northern-powerhouse-department-close-sheffield-7265022
“Sheffield” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheffield
“Department for Business, Innovation and Skills” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Department_for_Business,_Innovation_and_Skills
IMAGE CREDIT:
Getty Images via Zemanta.

BNP: Far-right racist political party officially ‘defunct’

gb

London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via GapBaGap.com

The U.K. far-right anti-immigration political organisation the British National Party (BNP) has been officially declared defunct after party members failed to pay its registration fee to the Electoral Commission at the beginning of this year, according to GapBaGap.com and reported widely by British media yesterday.

The party, once headed by Oxford-educated firebrand Nick Griffin at the height of its popularity, was widely derided by many for its far-right and racist stance, including its support for the repatriation of all non-native Britons and immigrants. its overt nationalism, and its reputation as a collection of ‘thugs in suits’. It has in recent years being losing ground to other far-right nationalistic outfits, such as the English Defence League and Britain First.

English: Nick Griffin MEP speaks at a British ...
English: Nick Griffin MEP speaks at a British National Party press conference in Manchester. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Electoral Commission, which is a statutory body responsible for the compulsory register of all political parties in the United Kingdom, said that BNP treasurers failed to pay the mandatory £25 registration fee in order to maintain its entry on the register. The deadline for payment was the 7th of January this year, according to newspaper Metro. According to the BBC, all political parties must be registered officially under the provisions of the Political Parties and Referendums Act 2000.

The lack of registration means that BNP councillors will not be able to run for office using the party’s logos or its name until the registration issue is resolved. This occurred despite the party having a notice period of six months.

Sources within the official defunct party however denied that the party had ceased its involvement in the political process. One spokesperson was quoted by GapBaGap.com as saying “If it (the failure to be registered) has happened, it was an oversight”.

The Commission confirmed that the BNP has been officially removed from the register. It also added that the party, which succeeded in gaining two seats in the European Parliament in 2009, had ‘failed to meet the annual requirement to submit its registration details on time’. A source at the Commission commented: “The last date a notification can be sumbitted…is six months after the deadline for submission of a party’s statement of accounts”.

Its then-leader Nick Griffin was the face of the party, which was widely hated for its alleged racist nature, until he lost his seat as an MEP in 2014, before eventually losing the BNP leadership itself in the following internal struggle as the party began to falter. Griffin was eventually expelled from the party five months later and replaced by chairman Adam Walker.

The BNP’s accounts, last filed in September 2014, showed the party was in serious financial disarray after it lost £50,000 worth of deposits filed for the contesting of European elections, and the total leftover assets were a mere £45,756 remaining.

The BNP does still have the option of ‘returning from the dead’ and becoming officially registered for elections again, should it be able to muster the funds to pay the £25 registration costs, the Electoral Commission said. The registration process takes up to 3 weeks to complete, including a 10-day long ‘public consultation’. A BNP spokesperson however said that the party would fix its registration issue ‘within a couple of days’.

The BNP was founded in 1982 by John Tyndall as a breakaway faction of the notoriously racist National Front and headquartered in Wigston, Cumbria. The party’s main platform is the promotion of a ‘British nationalist identity’ and the repatriation of immigrants and even their British-born children. It also advocated the re-introduction of the death penalty and is opposed to same-sex marriage, multiculturalism and the existence of Islam in the UK. Despite fielding candidates for European Union elections, the BNP was opposed to EU membership.

It has been condemned as fascist and a outlet of neo-Nazism by many inside and outside politics. An electoral breakthrough in 2008-2009 led to the BNP holding over fifty local council seats, forming the official opposition on Barking and Dagenham Council, winning a seat in the London Assembly and having leader Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons elected as Members of the European Parliament (MEP) in the North West and Yorkshire and Humber regions respectively.

SOURCES:
Facebook, Facebook Inc https://www.facebook.com/topic/British-National-Party/113465761997303?source=whfrt&position=3&trqid=6237746580447216645
“The BNP has officially ceased to be a recognised political party” – GapBaGap.com/GapBaGap (8 January 2016) http://gapbagap.com/?p=9197#
“BNP removed from official list of political parties” – BBC News – Politics/BBC (8 January 2016) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-35261637
“British National Party” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_National_Party
IMAGE CREDITS:
“File:Nick griffin bnp from flickr user britishnationalism.jpg” – britishnationalism & Parrot of Doom, Wikimedia Commons (10 June 2009) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nick_griffin_bnp_from_flickr_user_britishnationalism.jpg