Jim’ll Fix It

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We’re hearing there were some very curious campaigning practices leading up the elections in May including Frank “Family Man” Field being accompanied on his doorstep visits by 2 children ( a boy and a girl) on his rounds in Rock Ferry. Any further information and witness reports on what all that was about will be gratefully received.

However by far and away the most worrying information we have received concerns the electioneering antics of belligerent Bidston & St.James councillor Jim “Crabby” Crabtree.

It is alleged by an appalled Labour insider that on the run up to Polling Day Crabtree loaded up the mini -bus he has access to as a tutor in horticulture at the Twelve Quays site with a group of Special Educational Needs kids and a teaching assistant from Meadowside Special School to help him deliver leaflets on behalf of the Labour Party………

It is further alleged an irate parent who got wind of this exploitative and wholly unethical practice complained to no avail to Cllr Matthew Daniel who was running the local Labour campaign.

They then tried complaining to the Davies a trio of Phil,George and then Bill (Labour’s Chief Whip – who seems to be doing a really miserable job of reining in his seemingly totally out of control councillors ).

After receiving no response from any of them the concerned parent then wrote to Anna Hutchinson the Regional Director of Labour North West. Hutchinson did not reply.

Undaunted the persistent parent emailed Hutchinson again and received a reply saying that Labour North West would look into it.
After weeks of no response from Labour North West and after receiving an abusive email from the charming Cllr Crabtree they sent all the paperwork concerning the incident by recorded delivery to new Wirral Council CEO “Stressed” Eric Robinson along with a formal complaint.

After what seems to be Eric the Red’s quickly established decisive executive decision making process of “I -don’t-know-what-to-do-so-I’ll-ignore-it” the complainant was compelled to email him again and he finally responded by passing the buck and saying the hot potato was in the scorched hands of Surjit Tour and he would be communicating directly with them.

As we go to press and true to form it seems that the “bloody useless” (© copyright Cllr.G.Davies) Director of Law has not communicated directly with the pushed-around parent – unless of course he’s practising the skills he’s picked up on a telepathic communications course.

Give him his due it seems that a re-born Brian Kenny having spent some time in the political wilderness after being ousted from his seat in Birkenhead & Tranmere has seen the light and on returning to Wirral Council as a councillor representing the same Bidston & St.James ward as Crabtree has expressed his disgust at these turn of events – although it seems his disgust doesn’t extend to actually helping the parent ensure that they actually get their complaint properly addressed.

However, we’re sure that “Crabby” and co will want to make a full and frank denial of these allegations and we look forward to him clearing up any misunderstanding as soon as possible.
Whilst he’s at it Jimbo might want to explain the curious circumstances from a few years back which led to his sudden departure from the employment of Wirral Council when he was a lowly support worker at Dale Farm.

Now that he’s rapidly risen through the ranks to chair the Audit and Risk Management Committee we’re sure that in the interest of openness and transparency “Crabby” will want to establish his impeccable credentials to lead Wirral Council on matters relating to accountability and corporate governance

Suspension Suspense

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Following the time-honoured tradition of burying bad news it was announced (or rather it was dragged out of them) just prior to the elections ,that the North West Labour Party had suspended Wirral Labour Councillor Louise Reece Jones pending a further investigation.As you can see from the press report they are desperately trying to keep this one on media lockdown. HERE

Consequently, we have been asked whether we know why Cllr.Reecejones had been suspended – and needless to say – we do.

This is Wirral Council we’re talking about – where leaks are in direct proportion to secrets.

We publicly stated on Twitter that we wouldn’t want to jeopardise due process (an alien concept at Wallasey Town Hall) so we’ll keep a watching brief on this development for now.

We expect the usual – a report to be released on Christmas Eve stating how robustly Labour Party investigated the matter and there will be press release stating either a) there is no case to answer or b) appropriate sanction will be made as such misconduct will not be tolerated (unless you’re Cllr.Steve Foulkes or Cllr.George Davies).

Talking of which we were excited about new kid on the blog “The Morton Distortions” written by Wirral Council whistleblower Martin Morton but somewhat like Cllr.Reece jones that currently also seems to be in a state of suspended animation.

From what we’d read there were a couple of revelations about the Wirralgate scandal which we didn’t know about – but much of it we already knew and had already disclosed.

We’re just waiting information from a couple of sources and we’re ready to publish “The Definitive Guide to Wirralgate”.

Might we suggest that it might be useful to her if Cllr Reecejones reads the guide so as to understand what conduct the local Labour group think is or is not acceptable.

Failing that we think her only hope is to foster a friendship with Frankenfield very,very quickly or her days are numbered.

Blonde Ambition

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Following our last Election Special featuring Wirral’s veteran political Svengali Frankenfield and in the interest of political balance Wirral Leaks will this week feature Wirral West MP Ms Esther McVey ( aka McVague,McVile etc;) – who is very much the cheese(cake) to his chalk.

Let’s face it we’d be wasting our time profiling Wallasey MP Angela The Eagle (Hasn’t Landed on Wirral) and Wirral South MP Alison McGormless.They are to the local political scene what Her Ladyship is to rugby league.

For example McGormless – clearly desperate for some pre-election press coverage – recently joined a hapless postman on his round to see what he does…and she found out he posts letters …..and er,sometimes delivers parcels.
McGormless was able to reassure us that during this selfless fact-finding mission the weather was “quite good”. Phew!……the parents and carers of Lyndale School currently facing closure and which sits in her constituency will sleep well tonight knowing their MP has avoided getting wetter than she already is during the course of a puerile PR stunt.

SEE HERE

The difference in profiling the fragrant Ms.McVague is that we are not in a position to deconstruct her personal political ideology which is set out in a series of publications – all we can draw upon is : “If Chloe Can …” her seminal feminist work or “career recipe book”/”bookazine” as she likes to call it .

Put it this way – Simone De Beauvoir it ain’t.

The message of the “bookazine” (that’s a neologism we hope doesn’t make the Oxford English Dictionary) is of course simple and direct: “If Chloe Can….” you can too! Flicking through this literary masterpiece this basically means you can grow up to be another ” Duffy” – remember her? – just follow your dreams,reach for the stars or alternatively face benefit sanctions. SEE HERE

The Esther Bunny

The Esther Bunny

And if Ms McVague isn’t the living embodiment of this credo then we don’t know who is…… however she appears to us to represent what happens when limited talent meets limitless ambition. Where the X-Factor meets welfare reform.

Witness the toe-curling disregard of accepted protocol as she announces on the cutting edge political arena that is the TV programme “Loose Women” that she harbours the ambition to be Prime Minister.  Good luck with that one Esther – but we think that as an ex-TV presenter you’re destined to be forever associated with the showbizzy ,shouty end of politics (or should that be screechy end of politics) – an Anne Widdecombe in waiting – an end of the pier politician – an Edwina Currie who’s cashed her chips. Rather than dream of being PM we think you should follow your destiny ……. straight to reality TV – which is where you will find your natural metier – a new career being voted out rather than being voted in.

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Having said all that McVague does seem to have a particular knack of annoying people – recently having been variously described by fellow politicians as “Hard Hearted Hannah” and as a “Washing Machine” (the latter by Speaker of the House John Bercow – who clearly thinks that McVague is more irritating than his wife Sally which I’m sure you’ll agree is quite an achievement ) .

Indeed as her Wirral West constituency has been identified as a target seat by Labour at the next General Election McVague has been under particular fire lately with visits from heavyweights (that’ll be mainly you Tom Watson) and Harriet Harperson in her pink “Woman to Woman” van. “Dearie me…..” sighed Her Ladyship “I’ve heard of a political vehicle but this sounds like a Sapphic Love Bus”. McVague even claims that during a recent visit Labour MP John McDonnell called on West Wirral voters to ” lynch the bitch” !

SEE HERE

Can you imagine if a political opponent had called for Frankenfield to be lynched – it would need a catering size pack of smelling salts to bring him round and there’d be outraged cries about dangerous political subversives and endless articles about how it was not very nice to say rude and nasty things about such a lovely man.

Even this week there was a “Sack McVey” rally held in Hoylake or was it Heswall ? (all 14 protestors and 1 dog didn’t seem to know)

SEE HERE

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This demo was organised by local TUC firebrand Alec McFuckup and coincided with the release of a strongly worded song “Sack Esther McVey” which includes the touching refrain “The wicked witch of the Wirral’s had her day” .

Considering the animosity that McVague seems to engender in Labour politicians you’d think that Frankenfield would be particularly keen to have a few sly digs – but he’s curiously silent on the subject of McVague. Could it be he has a sneaking admiration for someone so closely associated with policies which he himself espoused in his magnum opus Making Welfare Work (1995). Someone in the know recently described this publication as the blueprint for Iain Duncan Smith’s destruction of the welfare state – check out the Green Paper which Field authored in 1998 if you don’t believe us.

However it seems to us that The Right (Dis)honourable McVague will hitch her rising star to any cause or any policy if it raises her profile. Who remembers that it wasn’t long after she raised the damning Independent Review about Wirral Council at Prime Ministers Questions in February 2012 where she raised concerns about overcharging and intimidation of disabled people that soon thereafter she was appointed Minister for the Disabled before swiftly being promoted to the Department of Employment to work with Duncan-Smith.

It is not known what Minister was tasked by David Cameron to look at the matters raised by McVague and what did that Minister tasked with addressing McVague’s concerns do about her plea that “those responsible be brought to account and never work in Adult Social Services ever again”.

Did McVague ever follow it up or was it just a case of making a name for herself and pleasing her political masters by having a pop at a Labour-controlled Council and then forgetting about it?

Sadly those in the know inform us that because of the redactions in the report it would have been impossible to identify the perpetrators of abuse and consequently it seems that some people who should indeed never work in social care have since gone on to manage care homes on Wirral – care homes where unsurprisingly concerns have been raised about further neglect and abuse of vulnerable people.

We would suggest that the recent spate of care home scandals that have been reported in the local press are not unrelated to the fact that certain abusers were never “brought to account”.

But hey why should that concern McVague as she continues her political ascent ?
Whether that ascent continues following the General Election we shall see – but whatever the outcome we suspect that McVague will simply pick up a copy of “If Chloe Can..” and continue her relentless pursuit of power…..

Frankenfield’s Monsters v Little Green Men

FRANK SPACE

Well it’s all been happening Rock Ferry way hasn’t it?

Formerly known as the place where complacent Labour politicians could rely on the unquestioning support of local residents (well the few who voted that is)

However it would appear that times have changed and Wirral Leaks is particularly pleased to see the disenfranchised and disillusioned finally find their voice over plans for the former Rock Ferry High School site at a public meeting at Highfield Church (or should that be High-handed Field Church?)

Recent discussions on future proposals for the use of the site culminated in a meeting last week where – as the world and her husband now know – that veteran Birkenhead MP Frank Field was suddenly taken ill. However Frankenfield ‘s subsequent response to the unfortunate incident clearly indicate to us something that we have long believed at Leaky Towers and that Frankenfield has really,really lost the plot this time.

We have documented the man’s wild conspiracy theories on here for some time – from the Wirral highways robbery scandal that seemingly never was, to the time he claimed on Radio Merseyside that mysterious members of the public were conspiring to bring certain parts of Wirral Council down by making an excessive number of Freedom of Information requests ( this wayward allegation was later dismissed by the Information Commissioners Office – the body responsible for monitoring FOI requests ) ,to his sardonic remarks about this very blog at a Birkenhead Constituency Committee meeting – but he really has excelled himself this time. There was always a possibility he would resort to conspiracies about Little Green Men taking over the world but we never expected this……

Witness his aggrieved wailings about Green Party members in the aftermath of the public meeting described above and where we understand there was 1 Green Party member present.Frankenfield used the platform of his Wirral “News” column to bleat:

“A small number of people are carrying out political thuggery in a way I haven’t witnessed since the Trotskyist Miltant Tendency tried to infiltrate the Labour Party thirty years ago.”

It would be easy to dismiss these wild-eyed statements if it wasn’t for the fact that the local media are still in thrall to Field and despite – as far as we know ,that no journalist who has written about the meeting actually attended it , the press coverage of the incident at Highfield Church has been as unbalanced as the man himself.

The Liverpool Echo saw fit to print this apparent nonsense straight from Frankenfield’s disapprovingly pursed lips :

“There were five of them [agitators at the meeting]. They dot themselves about the hall to make out this is a huge uprising. They do the same sort of appalling things as the Trots, which is these are people who are going to rat on you so you are set up to fail.”

Paranoid Android much?

Meanwhile in the same report friend,confidante,Rock (or should that be Rocky) Ferry councillor and Wirral Council social care failure Matron McLaughlin chipped in that events at the meeting were “orchestrated” by about 5 agitators ( oh do get your stories straight people).

What isn’t reported is that members of the audience had been described as “a mean spirited little group of people” in an email sent by Frankenfield to McLaughlin and that another Rock Ferry councillor Chris “Meany” Meaden called them “horrible people” at the meeting. And before you can say Her Ladyship and I can talk when it comes to pejorative comments can we remind our readers that we are not elected representatives meant to serve their constituents and represent their best interests.

Perhaps the most disturbing report we have of the meeting (besides the police presence ) was the comment from McLaughlin that if local residents wanted to visit a green space perhaps they could use public transport and visit a park!.
Coming from a Councillor who’s taxi bill is the largest in Wirral Council and paid for by the people she was treating so contemptuously is a comment that reeks of (taxi) rank hypocrisy!

However having said all that it’s not that the “horrible people” of Leaky Towers are unsympathetic to Mr.Field’s health concerns – quite the opposite – we think that for the good of his health and the well being of his constituency he needs to retire as soon as possible………

ELECTION SPECIAL – Uncle Frank’s Hunger Games

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“The one thing that does not abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience” – Harper Lee

As the momentum grows towards the May elections we thought we’d start our series of Election Specials with a profile of the leading political figure on Wirral…or should we say the Master Puppeteer himself – Frank Field.
Field’s anti-poverty, anti-slavery,anti- global warming stance makes him sound like an ideal candidate for the Green Party – but as you will read further on he works to an entirely different agenda.Frank likes to be where the power is and preferably to be the one with the power and is anti-anyone who disagrees with him.

The Right Honourable Mr.Field has been MP for Birkenhead since 1979 and has one of the largest majorities in the country. However considering that he is a leading advocate for people taking responsibility he seems particularly averse to taking any responsibility for the poor quality of life in Birkenhead – preferring to run the town down rather than getting his mates at Wirral Council to run the place properly.

We are therefore asking you to take some time out and read this learned study of Field by our academic correspondent Professor G and give the motivations of our most prominent MP some further consideration:

UNCLE FRANK’S HUNGER GAMES

‘Totalitarian regimes know that human beings need a high degree of certainty if they are to lead happy and free lives. Such regimes therefore organise themselves to deny such certainty, knowing that its absence makes it that much easier to control and subject the populace.’

Neighbours From Hell; Frank Field MP

Readers should remember the above statement as we proceed. It underlines our theme. As the 2015 general election approaches we will see desperate attempts by the three established parties to demonise the candidates of UKIP, as ‘fruit cakes’ and ‘nut cases’. This can be seen as part of the legitimate democratic examination of those who would represent us…so long as the attitudes and views of their own MPs and parliamentary candidates are also open to public scrutiny. The public surely needs to be informed about all the fruitcakes, whatever their party.

In this spirit of openness let us examine the words, deeds and character of Frank Field, MP for Birkenhead. He has the unique distinction of having both his major reviews of welfare and poverty policy, commissioned by Tony Blair and David Cameron, at far ends of the nominal political spectrum, quietly ignored by the sponsors themselves. Yet Frank, it is said, is widely regarded as an independent, principled, good, indeed almost saintly, chap who it must be accepted, has occasionally produced some good ideas. For example in 2014 Frank led the study into hunger in the UK, producing the well received report, ‘Feeding Britain’. His all party team took evidence on the role of poverty, low wages, benefit delays, cuts and sanctions, and so on, in creating hunger in British children. All these hunger factors had already been widely flagged by experts and activists for some years but another public airing was useful. As to solutions, in addition to wage and benefit reform, the team also pointed to the shameful waste of edible supermarket food which could be given to the poor, perhaps via state enhanced food banks. So far so good.

However with politicians like Frank there is no such thing as a free lunch. Frank had a very old personal axe to grind and presumably found a like minded team to go along with him. Frank emphasised family ‘resilience’ as a hunger creating factor: basically that some poor families created their own hunger problems through ignorance or deliberate irresponsibility. At the press launch of the report, the posh Tory, Lady Jenkin, told us that the problem was that many poor families did not know how to cook cheap food. She herself recommended porridge! This position was widely seen by the public and media commentators as ‘blaming the victims’. Lady Jenkin was forced to withdraw her derogatory comments but correctly pointed out that she was only repeating what was in Frank’s report. Frank wisely, kept his head down and let Jenkin take the flak. In fact the report quite sensibly recommends the inclusion of parenting, cooking and budgeting lessons in the National Curriculum to train our future parents…sensible, providing Frank has nothing to do with defining those lessons, for reasons which will become clear.

However, the report also points to inadequate and irresponsible parents who waste their meagre incomes on selfish non-essentials and let their children go hungry. These wicked, undeserving poor should be sent to the ‘Troubled Families Projects’ for social reprogramming, according to Frank’s report. Let’s look at the implications of this proposal, which the media missed.

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These projects, we are told by the Department for Communities & Local Government, are for ‘chaotic’ families who are responsible for ‘most of the crime and antisocial behaviour in the UK’ and who cost the state a fortune to support. In the projects they will face ‘assertive, non-negotiable interventions’ and ‘tough sanctions’. In fact these projects began under Tony Blair as a ‘treatment’ for antisocial behaviour but for fifteen years they targeted poor, underclass families with serious physical and mental health problems who often had disabled children, council rent arrears, dirty homes and untidy gardens. Only a very small proportion had criminal records. We are repeatedly told by Eric Pickles, the C&LG minister, that they should all feel ‘shame’ and ‘guilt’, presumably for being inadequate and ill… and for costing the state money. We will see that Frank appears to take the same position.

Contrary to successive government claims, the lives of most of these feckless families were not ‘turned around’ in the projects. How do we know that? Well apart from several formal, government sponsored evaluations, we have the word of the woman who supervised the programme for over a decade. Louise Casey CB, was Tony Blair’s ASBO Tsar and then Respect Tsar and is now Cameron’s Troubled Families Tsar. On the 12.06.14 Casey made a speech at a meeting of the Reform organisation and told us

‘As hard as it is to accept, the truth is despite our best efforts over many years
-and I include myself in that- we just haven’t got it right. We haven’t succeeded in getting these families to change or in stopping the transmission of problems from generation to generation – we just haven’t’

What the projects did do was put the mark of Cain on these unfortunate, vulnerable families. Around 60% were subsequently hounded out of their homes by vigilantes. These are the projects to which Frank wants to send the non-criminal, but inadequate families identified in his Hunger report. Perhaps they can be bullied out of starvation, although fifteen years of evidence says not.

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We will see that Frank has long had these inadequate families of the ‘undeserving poor’ in his sights as part of his grand plan to rebuild UK society in his own image. But if Frank is so respected by fellow politicians why are his major policy ideas not implemented more often? In fact his ideas are influential but often are not to be acknowledged publicly, as the Lady Jenkin ‘porridge’ fiasco demonstrated. A detailed analysis of all Frank’s policy adventures is beyond the scope of a short article and would be too technical for most tastes, but here is what Tony Blair said about Frank’s work in his own autobiography

‘The problem was not so much that his thoughts were unthinkable as unfathomable’

It is true that Frank on occasion suffers from explanatory dyslexia in his writings but the author contends that the core problem remains that when Frank does speak clearly there is much to be afraid of, whether thoughtful voter or nominally democratic politician. Let us take as the classical example Frank’s master work, ‘Neighbours From Hell: the Politics of Behaviour’; Politicos 2003, which was written before caution about publicly expressing his more extreme views set in.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in how a democratic society should conduct itself… and how it should not. It is as relevant now as we endure austerity and the poor and sick are stigmatised by the state, as it was then. In essence in NFH, Frank paints an apocalyptic picture of the decay of British society and its decline into a ‘social abyss’ under the assault of the ‘semi-barbarian hordes’. He builds on the hysteria of the New Labour ASBO Jihad and then utilises this dark vision to justify his model of invasive, state, social control mechanisms. Frank tells  us calmly that

‘Antisocial behaviour is on the march…[it] is the new horseman of the apocalypse… [it] is nothing less than a war for civilisation as we know it… The measures the [New Labour] government has taken …will not contain the new nihilists, let alone strike down their recruiting sergeants’

Who are these recruiting sergeants? They appear to be the religious ‘doubters’ who follow the Enlightenment idea of the ‘moral autonomy of man’ and who insist to Frank that ‘my views are just as good as yours’. This Frank will not tolerate. We will see that he intends to ‘strike down’ such godless dissenters by excluding them from public debate. As we proceed many readers may detect a whiff of the Taliban or possibly of Soviet Russia. See what you think.

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And if the reader thinks Frank’s apocalyptic visions have faded over the years, note that in late 2014 he told the local press that his constituency, Birkenhead, was ‘Becoming like Beirut!’

This hyperbole was at odds with the facts on the Wirral council ASB website. Here we find that the number of ASB incidents in 2014 was the same as in 2008 and lower than in the years before that. But then a general election was coming: time to frighten the electorate again and win votes! It worked for Tony Blair after all. By January 2015  as the election hotted up, Frank was out on the streets of ‘Beirut’ (with a TV crew) hunting a ‘fast’ moving ‘yob gang’…so fast they could not be found! His sound bite solution : new legislation ‘that warmly shakes them by the throat’. Yes, let’s bring back hanging, or maybe beheading, Taliban style? Actually Frank we have masses of law, thanks to New Labour, which does not seem to have helped. What we need are evidence-based intervention strategies, not sound bites. What we need are more police, freed from New Labour paperwork, and out on the streets combating real crime and disorder. And surely Frank knows we already have the powerful Coalition Gang Injunctions and the Injunction to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance which is even more draconian than the ASBO? Perhaps he really does want beheading?

Let’s begin our look at NFH with Frank’s ASBO fear spin in 2004. He sells his national apocalypse thesis with local anecdotes. Let’s compare his numbers with the above Birkenhead is ‘Beirut’ claim. We read that in Wirral there are 5 households which ambulances will not attend without a police presence because the families have a reputation for ‘brawling’. Frank does not claim ambulance staff were ever assaulted only that such assault was a ‘possibility’. If these 5 families did assault medical staff, who they themselves had called for help, surely this would signal a significant mental health problem requiring investigation? And is Frank really unaware that in this ‘Health & Safety’ obsessed country ambulance staff are instructed not to attend homes, for example, with dementia sufferers without a police escort because of the ‘possibility’ of a violent reaction?

By the way, given the Wirral population, Frank’s 5 families represent ~0.01%
of households. If we accept Frank’s valid point that the ‘families from hell’ are concentrated in the poorest communities, let us say the poorest 10%, we can increase this to a ~ 0.1% frequency. Other data confirm this scale. Frank tells of
a ‘respectable area of terraced housing’ of some 300 homes ‘quickly decimated’
by just two ‘dysfunctional’ families. That is an incidence of 0.67%.

FRANKY-KNOWS

The British Crime Survey of experience and perceptions of antisocial behaviour, which Frank trusts, tells us that in 2003 / 4 only ~2% of people believed that neighbour disputes were a ‘very big’ problem. Frank, master of understatement, describes these few problem families as the ‘new horsemen of the apocalypse’.
(By the way the major ‘anti-social behaviour problems’ in the BCS report were said to be speeding cars at 43%; inconsiderately parked cars at 31% ; litter at 29%. At 28% we have ‘teenagers hanging around’ …not causing trouble, just being there. In the full report we learn that only 3% of respondents had experienced an actual problem with such teenagers hanging around).

The distress caused by the small number of ‘dysfunctional’ families should not be marginalised but the issue is how best to deal with them in order to protect the public effectively. Frank himself tells us that the police have an arsenal of law to deal with criminal behaviour and that they should use it. We also have the broadly applicable and effective Harassment Act. However Frank points us to the impact of non-criminal, low level serial ‘annoyance’ by youngsters and the need to combat that. The New Labour nostrum for this problem was the ASBO which abandoned the ancient principle of a universal common law and invented tailor made, personalised offences while allowing anonymous and hearsay evidence in court and public denigration of accused adults and children before trial or a right to reply. The use of the magic spell ‘behaviour causing or likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress’ by the complainant was sufficient. Whether such a response was objectively justified was never tested. Nor was it necessary any longer to show intent or mens rea, guilty mind. 98% of ASBO applications, mostly by council ASBO teams and housing officers, were granted. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. In fact the council in Frank’s constituency won a prize for its catchy and sadly accurate public slogan

‘Abuse your rights; Loose your rights’

There is much to be said about the dangerous legal precedents set by the ASBO for all of us but the key point is that it was a failure. ASBO breach rates reached 70% in England and 35% were breached 5 or more times. In some cities like Manchester the breach rate was 90%. Frank wants more of the same failed medicine. In court it was found that over 60% of those accused had diagnosed mental health problems and learning disabilities, according to the Cabinet Office in 2002. God knows how many went undiagnosed. The process went for the low hanging fruit, not the real yobs and criminals. The ASBO was quickly abandoned in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Eire as the courts and police absorbed the performance evidence. In New Labour England & Wales the ineffective farce continued until they were thrown out.

Frank himself proudly played a role in the criminalisation of non-criminal behaviour by young children.

‘I believed that the law should be changed so that by merely committing certain designated acts, a person was deemed old enough to be held accountable for those actions. This proposal… was seen into law in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.’

This and other innovations eliminated the ancient common law principle of doli incapax which held that children of ten could not be considered legally responsible.  These New Labour innovations, as their impacts on children became clear, including a huge increase in criminalisation, were condemned by the four home Children’s Commissioners, various parliamentary committees, the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe and the UN Children’s Commissioner. Well done Frank.

Deconstructing-Frankie

Note that it is well established in modern neurology that the right temporo-parietal junction area of the brain dealing with higher decision making and ‘moral’ judgements does not physically complete its development until the early twenties. In some it never fully develops. The brain is a purely physical organ and a very vulnerable one.  Experiments show that using trans-cranial magnetic stimulation of the RTPJ it is possible to disrupt ‘moral’ judgements in normal people. It would be interesting to try this on Frank and other moralising politicians. Of course judging by the scale of the ongoing MP expenses, cash for influence and Westminster paedophile ring scandals, some may already have damage in that brain area. Childhood behavioural problems are also strongly linked to poor nutrition. Malnutrition is crucial here, not moral degeneracy.

After New Labour was thrown out, the police and courts recovered their backbones and sanity. The number of arrests of children fell from 315,923 in 2008 to 209,450 in 2011, a fall of 37%. However 2,117 children of 10 or 11 were still arrested in 2011 so Frank’s law is still in play in some places. The Howard League for Penal Reform said ‘A commitment to public safety means treating them as vulnerable children and making sure they get the help they need to mature into law-abiding citizens.’

We will see that this needed help is often medical and nutritional. Similarly a senior Metropolitan Police spokesman also commented on the data

‘We are not chasing [New Labour] targets anymore. We have realised that once children get arrested and get involved with the criminal justice system they are likely to offend again and that is what we want to avoid at all costs. ‘

SAINT-FRANK
Well done Frank, but by all means ignore the experts and the facts. In fact Frank’s influential ‘war against children’ reached a point where it became ‘legal’ and ‘patriotic’ to deploy a ’low level sonic weapon’, the Mosquito device, in public places. These devices put out an indiscriminate wall of high frequency sound painful to teenagers, children and babies, aimed at ‘moving them on’ from outside shops and council facilities. Several thousand were installed despite warnings from the Children’s Commissioners and the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner. We should all be very proud.

This brings us to the issue of the causation of low level antisocial behaviour and chaotic families, the understanding of which, is surely central to tackling them effectively. We will find later that Frank sees the problem in terms of moral degeneracy in the underclass and the solution in terms of imposing a substitute for evangelical Christianity while introducing pervasive state controls including welfare sanctions, suppression of public discourse and the silencing of the ‘recruiting sergeants of nihilism’. Meanwhile here are a few actual facts about the youngsters and families caught up in the ASBO Jihad and ‘Troubled Families Projects’ which might hint at more effective strategies. Some 60 – 80% of those receiving ASB interventions were found to have serious mental / physical health problems and learning disabilities. This was known in the early 2000s by the New Labour government and ignored. There were more votes in the yob and families from hell narratives. In 2012 the Children’s Commissioner brought together all the evidence and published ‘Nobody Made the Connection: the prevalence of neurological deficits in young offenders’. The report compared the prevalence of mental health disorders in young offenders and the general population with remarkable results.

The prevalence of general learning disability (IQ < 70) in young offenders is
9.2 X that in the general population.

The prevalence of autistic spectrum disorders is 16.6 X higher.

The prevalence of communication disorders (Torretes, etc) is 12.5 X higher.

The prevalence of dyslexia is 5 X higher.

The prevalence of ADHD is 2.5 X higher.

We can add another statistic from repeated surveys by Mencap and Mind :
people with such disorders are 8 X more likely to suffer physical and verbal abuse in their communities. They are often abused and then scapegoated, taking the blame in local disputes and being unable to explain themselves to the authorities. By the way these mentally disordered people are then 9 X more likely to die in police custody than normal folks. But as Frank compassionately tells us

‘if a drunk can fight there is little chance of them dying from their own vomit’

AFrank-WIRRAL-LEAKS

People die because the police often cannot tell the difference between a drunk and somebody who is mentally ill or learning disabled and, actually Frank, it is perfectly possible for a drunk or a mentally disordered person to panic on arrest, thrash about and then collapse, particularly after a beating. Ask a doctor. As Frank tells us, ‘his’ ASB is often about serial ‘annoyance’ and sadly it is true that living near neighbours with mental disorders may be challenging, or worrying but does that warrant, moralising denigration and criminalisation, rather than medical intervention?

Having considered evidence about causation let us look in more detail at Frank’s solution approach, based on his moral degeneracy hypothesis.

‘Neighbours from Hell’s central thesis is a consideration of what can replace the largely beneficial role evangelical Christianity once played in moulding civilised behaviour’.

According to Frank, lacking Christianity and hence a Victorian respect for ‘authority’ figures such as priests and politicians, the modern parents of the underclass have failed to teach their children their proper place. The ASB problem lies then in bad, godless, parenting among the poor. He also addresses the question of poverty in an interesting historical way.

‘The liberation from the Victorian approach – or so it is interpreted – came when

the poverty debate began laying the blame for poverty on society and its institutions, instead of the poor themselves… the more recently established conventional wisdom is that poverty is caused by lack of money and not by the behaviour of the poor.’

Frank obviously sees the bad behaviour of the poor as central, as he is still promoting in Feeding Britain, but so that he cannot be accused (as a nominally Labour MP) of ‘poor bashing’ Frank makes a distinction between the deserving poor who toe the line, live within their means and plan ahead for their old age, the people who ‘put on their best clothes to visit their MP’, as opposed to the undeserving poor among whom we find the feckless, bad parents and their children who cause antisocial behaviour : parents who choose to let their children starve.

Why do these groups differ? Frank has his answer ready:

‘How can these different circumstances be explained if personal character and its view of responsibility are written out of the script?’

Poverty it seems is often simply a matter of poor moral character and lack of personal responsibility! Mental and physical ill health, learning disability and social inadequacy do not come into it despite the extensive evidence. Frank equates the undeserving, feckless poor with his deviant families from hell, a distinct antisocial minority, nothing to do with their decent, respectable neighbours. Is this true? Well Sheffield Hallam University produced a series of ‘ASBO Sin Bin’ project evaluations for the New Labour government, still cited by the Coalition. This research group summarised their extensive experience of the families from hell in a number of published papers.

‘Contrary to popular belief the evidence suggests that rather than being a distinct minority, families tended to conform to the norms and values of the communities in which they lived’

How could this possibly be? Well the researchers were clear as to why the problem families differed ‘The subjects of ASB interventions often have mental health problems, learning disabilities and neurological disorders. This raises the crucial question about the use of punitive control mechanisms. ASBOs in particular may serve to exacerbate their problems’

Exacerbating mental disorders surely does not improve the protection of the public. So Frank is on the wrong causation track but he helpfully goes further in his analysis.

‘If the absence of an ability simultaneously to weigh the needs of others with ones own priorities is the first defining characteristic of antisocial individuals, a second defining characteristic is that they do not see any value , or relevance in looking beyond the now in calculating the consequences of their actions. Thinking through the longer term consequences of their behaviour is simply an unintelligible activity. …As an ever greater number of families become dysfunctional an ever increasing supply of socially offensive individuals results’

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Frank has put his finger on important causative factors here but wrongly assigns them to a moral dimension. But many of the mental disorders we looked at earlier, which are far more frequently encountered in those accused of antisocial behaviour and bad parenting, are characterised by low IQs and cognitive executive dysfunctions, namely: disinhibition; impulsivity; lack of ability to compute consequences of actions and ‘plan ahead’; inability to put themselves in other’s shoes; inability to control involuntary behaviours which may cause alarm or offence; inability to understand complex social situations and instructions; inability to explain events to others ; anxiety, depression and consequent aggression. The frequency of such disorders in the population is steady over time but the New Labour government, for its own political purposes, encouraged communities to see people with such disorders, as Frank says, as ‘socially offensive’. Where once communities tolerated their village idiots, or set the local bobby on the most annoying, now they are encouraged to send for the council ASBO team: the sub-human rat catchers.

Despite the high and well recognised incidence of mental disorders among the
ASBO recipients and the ‘families from hell’ forced into the ‘ASBO Sin Bins’, it
is remarkable that less than 10% of those on court orders received the Individual Support Orders originally intended to provide mental health and other medical treatment. Only ~12% of ‘families from hell’ in the ‘ASBO Sin Bins’ received professional psychiatric treatment or counselling. It is little wonder that the ASBO Jihad failed. It is little wonder that the abusive ‘Troubled Family Projects’ are still failing as Louise Casey CB, Troubled Families Tsar, told us earlier. Given the above facts, Frank’s analysis of causation is clearly faulty and we must therefore be cautious about his proposed solutions. However later in his book, having made the case for his utopian moral jihad on the basis of the ‘semi-barbarian’ flood, Frank suddenly discovers a national survey which examines the reasons why British parents with problems seek outside advice. Frank says

‘First, health problems were the most reported reasons for seeking help by parents of children under five. If learning and behavioural difficulties are added together this group then jumps to the second most significant reason given by parents in difficulties. For older children behavioural problems were the most common issue on which advice was sought… Poorer parents were twice as likely to seek advice than their working counterparts.

The exception was of single mothers at work who reported a higher incidence of problems than non-working families’

So by ‘poorer’ Frank means non-working and on benefits: the unemployed and the long term ill and disabled. (By the way by 2013 the Centre for Social Justice report ‘Signed On: Written Off’ found that Birkenhead, Frank’s constituency, was fourth in the UK league table for people on ‘out of work benefits’ with 55% of those aged 16 to 64 in that category). Frank acknowledges that many parents recognise health and behaviour problems in their children and that twice as many of the really poor seek help with such problems. But these include many characterised by Frank as bad parents and neighbours from hell.

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The history shows that the chances of such people getting the medical help they ,above all others, need is low and continues to be low even after the state has unhelpfully ‘intervened’ through the criminal justice system. The most likely outcome for inadequate families remains state bullying and criminalisation, not treatment. Why did Frank not mention this important information when he introduced his readers to the ‘families from hell’ and discussed ASB causation? Well firstly, it might have generated inconvenient compassion for these morally degenerate, godless people and secondly, it would have undermined the logic of his sanctions based, social engineering solution.

With all these caveats in mind let us turn in more detail to Frank’s political strategy for preventing the social ‘apocalypse’. It has three components: firstly respect for important people like Frank ‘in authority’ must be restored; secondly state support for individuals and families should be conditional on ‘good behaviour’ as defined by Frank of course; thirdly the voices of the ‘new nihilists’, as defined again by Frank, must not be allowed to influence public debate. Here are Frank’s own words beginning with the respect issue :

‘Respect is no longer awarded or even conceded simply because a person holds a position [of authority]’

Frank means respect to important people like himself. Not only was he an MP but also a member of the General Synod of the Church of England! Of course respect
for MPs and the church is admittedly not what it was but is this due to the moral degeneracy of the people, particularly the godless poor, or the behaviour of the establishment in recent decades : politicians on the gravy train, fiddling expenses and selling influence for money? Is it rather the greedy bankers? Is it the established church obsessed with internal theological and moral turmoil over women priests, female bishops and gay marriage while the poor and the sick suffered under austerity? Respect should be earned.

Is it any wonder that Christianity in Britain continues to decline? The 2011 census results showed that in the previous decade those professing a nominal Christian faith fell from 72% to 59%. The fraction following no organised religion rose from 15% to 25% in just ten years. Frank no doubt would see these changes as confirming his thesis. However the census also showed that 5.8 million people were caring for sick and disabled family members or friends, a percentage unchanged for a decade.

The care provided by the state meanwhile, particularly for the disabled, has been in decline for many years, as has social mobility. Fortunately every year the Children In Need campaign breaks previous records for charitable donations from the public. The public charitable support for food banks has exploded in the last few years. In 2014 the OECD published a global survey of charitable giving. More than 72% of UK people give to charity every month, well above the average for leading, developed nations. Giving was maintained through the worst recession in a century. Individual compassion, it seems, has survived even as organised religion has declined.

Frank is also clear why respect and authority must be enforced: it seems a properly ordered society is a giant ‘pyramid selling operation’.

‘Such a pyramid sales operation is no bad thing as long as the pyramid continues to be built. Social virtues are practiced because other people practice them. The sense of crisis …stems from an awareness that this gigantic but so beneficial pyramid operation is crumbling’

Is Frank seriously telling us that the ‘great social pyramid scam’ is crumbling because of a few tens of thousands of dysfunctional, chaotic families at the very bottom of the pile? (Remember in total, New Labour imposed a mere 19,000
ASBOs over thirteen years despite the spin; despite Frank’s ‘barbarian flood’ and apocalypse).The essence of pyramid selling is that those who set it up, those at the top, make fortunes and those at the bottom take the dregs or nothing. In the last
few decades it is those near the top, the bankers and speculators, whose greedy behaviour has damaged the stability of the pyramid, along with the hubris of the senior politicians who were supposed to be its guardians. As the pyramid crumbles
it is those at the bottom who will, and are, being crushed: the very poorest, the chronically sick, the disabled, the old. Frank’s obsession with imposing respect in
the underclass for the likes of him, as a solution to our social and economic ills, is ludicrous. To be fair to Frank he does concede that respect is still sometimes given …but, irritatingly, to the wrong sorts.

‘Respect can still be awarded. The most obvious recent example here has been Princess Diana. While her good work and general demeanour won her wide respect and affection, the awarding of respect to this clearly troubled person has more than a whiff of sulphur about it. What kind of role model does such a troubled figure provide for teenagers and, as importantly, what is the significance of such a choice?’

Frank completely fails to understand that Diana received compassion, if not respect, just because she was ‘troubled’. Ordinary people saw their own troubles, their own mental health problems, anxieties, depressions, relationship failures reflected in this tragic ‘fairytale’ princess. They felt empathy, fellow feeling, compassion. Even Tony Blair understood that. Many of us brought up in the Christian faith might sense in that spontaneous compassion for a troubled soul, a faint echo of the Christ.

If Frank smells ‘more than a whiff of sulphur’ in this respect and affection for Diana it perhaps tells us more about Frank than about a satanically misguided public.

Chamber
But then Frank lives alone in his high tower, unmarried and childless, from which he looks down on the rest of us in righteous judgement as we struggle below to do the best for our families, however inadequately.

He goes on, with his usual understatement, to explain why and how respect and authority must be restored.

‘The natural authority that society requires for its proper functioning is being over run by the storm troopers of nihilistic behaviour. It is becoming ever more necessary for that authority which is fundamental to the operation of a free society, and which was once freely accepted, to be imposed’

‘Moral and civic duties provide the very foundations upon which civilised life is built and are a proper area for legislative prescription and if necessary sanctions’

Readers may begin to detect a small disconnect here between a free society and the imposition of Frank’s views on morality and enforced authority. When we look
at the avalanche of new law and the loss of civil liberties under Tony Blair, Frank’s views are perhaps not so far from the New Labour, control freak, mainstream. We must also understand that when Frank talks of state intervention he is thinking big. For example

‘Tackling the breakdown of the common decencies culture requires an effort equal to that which is mobilised for war …Just as wars are too important to be left to generals, so parenting is too vital to society’s well being to be left to parents unaided’

Generals of course are experienced, often competent, experts. Frank, as an obviously experienced expert in parenting, is going to rebuild the education system in his own image. Teaching the elements of good parenting and indeed citizenship in schools is a sensible innovation so long as unnecessary and ill-founded ideological baggage is not built into the package. As we read on consider whether such baggage could ever be excluded under Frank’s model and influence. Recall that Frank is still trying to impose his views on UK education through the Feeding Britain proposals.

The imposition of new authority is to come via ‘citizen contracts’ and pseudo-religious ceremonies covering all aspects of our lives.

‘The new citizen contract would spell out for the first time the duties society places on citizens by linking them to benefit entitlements’

‘The celebration and registration of the birth of a citizen, the signing of pupil’s school contracts, the contracts for drawing income support, housing benefit, incapacity benefit and the like, and the celebratory contract for citizens as they reach the state retirement age, will each offer the community the opportunity to teach through the registrar, priest, teacher, trade union official or benefit clerk, what the duties and rights of citizenship involve’

These teaching agents he calls ‘enforcement officers’. Just to be clear what Frank means by teaching he also says

‘…new boundaries need to be drawn… Benefits provide such a boundary as between
them they provide a universal coverage for those most likely to commit antisocial
behaviour’

Frank has told us that antisocial behaviour and bad parenting are phenomena of
the undeserving poor in the underclass but also that he is not ‘poor bashing’. It is interesting then that it is the poorest who will experience Frank’s benefit sanctions for behaviour he disapproves of. Remember that in his Birkenhead, 55% of adults depend on out of work benefits, never mind those on working tax credits and the rest. As Frank receives accolades for Feeding Britain remember that this is the thinking behind sending feckless parents to the Troubled Families Projects: we will combat hunger and re-programme the undeserving poor using benefit sanctions if necessary…er, but won’t that increase their hunger? Didn’t Frank condemn the Coalition in his report for making benefit sanctions and cuts?

The well off, who do not need benefits, are outside such sanctions but in Frank’s Utopia they would still suffer the indignity of being lectured about their responsibilities to the state as Frank sees them, by his approved agents: priests, politicians and minor state ‘enforcement officers’.

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How will such sanctions be enforced in Frank’s Moral Utopia?

‘The agency deciding what action should follow a repeated failure to meet a [citizen’s] contract should be the police and only the police. Once the police have the required evidence to levy a sanction, and then lodge that decision, the sanction should automatically come in to operation on the appropriate benefit.’

So the police are to become the only enforcement arm of Frank’s Moral Renewal Jihad. The involvement of the police in controlling benefit provision surely makes Frank’s fundamental political attitudes and intentions only too plain. What would come next we might wonder? Well Frank tells us in the third strategic element of his final solution, which is to combat the voices of ‘nihilism’ in the interests of protecting his idea of a ‘free society’. But do not worry dear reader, since

‘In no way is Neighbours From Hell advocating some kind of thought police…
At no point is the aim of NFH to open a window into the minds, thoughts or beliefs of voters… The attempt of critics to occupy the high ground is misplaced for although the new politics is different it is most definitely not about invading the private as opposed to trying to influence what goes on in the public domain’

Yes, in Frank’s ‘1984’ Utopia you are free to think what you like …in private. However

‘We enter a different domain when these private views are expressed in public …Private opinions are usually made public with one objective. They are offered in the hope or determination to change the views of other people. Once such opinions are made regularly in a concerted way in public the guardians of our public space have a responsibility to consider the impact on the public peace…If the new politics can be said to be about anything it is how to challenge the private views and values which are impacting so adversely on public conduct’

Frank will perhaps graciously allow us our private thoughts but not their public expression…if they disagree with Frank’s societal model or we lack a position of ‘natural authority’, such as priest or politician. Who then will be allowed to take part
in public debate on issues of concern? Not the man in street. Certainly not the intellectuals and non-Christian doubters who might easily gainsay Frank’s arguments and ideas. Is the press to be controlled or is the press allowed to speak as a ’responsible’ arm of the metropolitan establishment? Certainly Frank has made wide use of the press to promote his ideas. Can there be a democracy when Frank and his kind decide who is respectable and responsible enough to be allowed to present their lawful views in public? Taliban indeed.

Frank’s position on public discourse is a curious one, given his background. Where would Christianity be if the Christ had declined to give the Sermon on the Mount and taught his creed only in private? European Christianity began in hiding in the catacombs of Rome but despite centuries of persecution, thanks to the bravery of individuals who carried their faith and message into the streets, it conquered an empire.

How could the labour movement or the suffragette movement ever have
achieved success if their intellectual leaders and followers had not been able to
protest and present their reasoned cases in public? Well, Frank’s political party is
now at the pinnacle of the establishment and the only way is down. Change, new science based interpretations of the nature of society and its problems, are to be avoided at all costs. After all they might have evidence and reason on their side.

We have looked herein at Frank’s magnum opus, Neighbours From Hell, written in 2003 at the height of the ASBO Jihad. However over the years little has changed
and Frank is still promoting his repressive model of society as opportunity presents itself. Frank was still berating poor parenting in 2012, claiming that local head teachers would take 20% of their children in to care if they could and that children were starting school ‘without knowing their own names’ or ‘what a book is’ and unable ‘to dress themselves’. Frank appears unaware that educational policy has long imposed integration of the learning disabled into ‘the main stream’ while limiting specialist support in schools for such children. He has forgotten that the lowest 0.5% in the IQ distribution, corresponding to the Coalition’s 120,000 troubled ‘families
from hell’ reprogramming target, have IQs below 60 points, well below the normal threshold of criminal responsibility in civilised democracies. He has forgotten that studies have repeatedly shown that poor families with mental health, addiction and learning disability problems find it much more difficult to access specialist medical support (even in the ASBO Sins Bins). He has forgotten that the life expectancy of such people is at least a decade shorter than that of the average Britain. He has forgotten that many local authorities have increasingly tried to dodge the issuing of statements of Special Educational Needs because of the long term support cost implications… ASBOs, and now the Coalition ‘Injunction to Prevent Nuisance & Annoyance’ are much cheaper.

To help the poor Frank, by 2012, was calling for a tougher cap on housing benefit than even the Coalition government proposed. Those most affected would be the feckless unemployed with many children …obvious ASBO or IPNA fodder.

The issue of profiteering landlords playing the benefits system unchallenged, was not to be condemned, nor the thirteen year long failure of New Labour to build low cost homes. That would only distract from the bad families message.

Frank also returned to his first love, promoted in NFH. In 2002 Frank introduced
a parliamentary bill to ‘withdraw housing benefit from neighbours from hell’.
Unfortunately his bill failed under the ‘time rules’ but it seems that the Housing Benefit (Witholding of Payment) Bill was also sabotaged by the parliamentary select
committee on human rights who had the temerity to suggest the bill did not comply with the European Convention; the sticking point being the potential suffering of the evicted (poor) family’s children. Frank saw all this as the ‘defence of unacceptable behaviour’. It is clear that he wants to see the Convention ‘rebalanced’ or, as we might suspect: gone.

By 2012 with the shortage of social housing, thanks to the neglect of building such housing over many years, Frank again lobbied central and local government via a private members bill to allocate homes on the basis of ‘good behaviour’ as defined by him in Neighbours From Hell. The problem of course is still that if we refuse a tenancy to a parent and their family because of, let us say, the bad behaviour of a teenage child, is that fair to the other children? But of course bad behaviour is the ‘parent’s fault’ so serve them right and in the New Labour model crime runs in families so all are guilty anyway. If the family is then black listed by Frank’s intended sanctions where do they live? In expensive bed and breakfast hostels paid for by tax payers? On the street? Shouldn’t we bring back the workhouses favoured by Frank’s Victorian Christian, moral paragons?

Frank also helpfully stirred up in the media, the question of ‘foreigners’ occupying social housing in parallel with his ‘good behaviour’ campaign. He told us that such foreigners occupied 19% of the social housing in London. Of course London is a very special case. In Frank’s own, more typical constituency, the fraction of foreigners and ethnics is less than 3% so it is surprising that this issue is, he says, ‘a matter of intense interest in my constituency…’. He told the press that there was

‘a strong suspicion that long established citizens have had the rough end of the
stick for far too long.’

Frank also told the press that if we don’t zap immigration and its effects on public services ‘it will turn very nasty’ in Britain. Rivers of blood perhaps? We can imagine the potential, unfortunate consequences of such rhetoric in some areas of high East European immigration, never mind the areas of Commonwealth Asian immigration. Frank is correct to ask for a serious review of allocation policy for social housing
but not on the basis of selective statistics, race, and his NFH sanctions based approach. His party made a complete mess in promoting free immigration for ideological reasons, along with a fatal ‘loony left’ multiculturalism policy, but the answer is not rabble rousing. Having set the hounds running Frank then tells us remarkably that ‘It is now clear that the relevant statistics are a complete shambles so attempts to reassure them [the voters] can only be based on the most flimsy analysis’

If this is so these same statistics should surely not be used to create a moral panic, or at worst, racist responses among voters. But this is Frank of course.

In the same month, May 2012, Frank closed the loop on social housing, foreigners, immigration control and dysfunctional, unemployed families by saying ‘it’s come to a head because I found out that one in five households has never ever had work …the government needs to tell Brussels that we just can’t have free movement of labour’
A number of observers who bothered to check found that the real prevalence of perennial non-working homes was not 20% but 1.8%. In fact the DWP recently estimated only ~300,000 households out of ~20 million have never worked or ~1.5%.

Frank still has a way with numbers. In fact by the end of 2012 he was making an all out attack on welfare which he says ‘rots the soul’; that is to say welfare creates a moral hazard encouraging bad behaviour among the poor and sick. Presumably it is more preferable for poor families to suffer malnutrition than to risk their souls. But surely this attitude seems a long way from his attack on Coalition welfare cuts in Feeding Britain? As he repeatedly said to the press

‘As we now have a welfare state based on meeting need, this encourages individuals, not unreasonably, to try to ensure they qualify under this guise. It therefore pays to lie about one’s earnings, to cheat, or to be inactive. The worst
side of human nature is encouraged…’

This is a completely unqualified statement. It panders, with the authority of a senior MP, to the uninformed sections of society who believe that all welfare recipients are ‘benefit cheats’ and ‘scroungers’. Remember 55% of his own constituents subsist on out of work benefits. In this approach Frank stands with the Coalition. In fact Frank also says on his website that adopting his harsh welfare policy views

‘Will put the [labour] party firmly in line with public opinion’

Er…does all this sound like the Saint Frank of the Feeding Britain initiative, as reported by the media? The author is unaccountably reminded in all this cant of Dickens’ England.

‘Oh God, to hear the insect on the leaf pronounce upon the excess life among
his hungry brothers in the dust!’
The Spirit of Christmas Present.

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As we might expect by now the facts on cheating do not support the propaganda, nor the opinions of the ignorant to whom Frank appeals. In 2012 Lord Freud (the former banker and Blair welfare guru) told parliament that in the last year ‘fraud and error’ cost the tax payer £3.2 billion. He neglected to say that this amounted to ~2% of the annual welfare bill. Nor did he remind the House and the public that 2 / 3 of this was due to DWP and other administrative error, not fraud. So the benefit cheating rate is ~0.65%, or on a people basis, 1 in 150 benefit recipients.

From time to time governments have a populist blitz on ‘cheating’ but don’t always publicise the embarrassing results. The Coalition soon introduced the ‘Fraud Hotline’ to encourage good citizens to report the cheats. After great efforts they caught 32,000 people. In terms of all those claiming benefits this is again ~0.6%. Recently the benefits police went after those receiving Disability Living Allowance, often among our most needy, disabled people. After extensive investigations they established a cheating rate of less than 0.5%. The equivalent fraud rate on Incapacity Benefit was 0.3%. The evidence seems clear enough… too clear to be broadcast to the public. It might make it more difficult to justify cutting benefits to the poor employed and unemployed, chronically sick and disabled. Under Coalition austerity all the poor are undeserving, but at least the Coalition is not after their souls.

Frank was also part of a movement in 2012, led by the Coalition, to rewrite the Beveridge Welfare reforms of 1945 in order to claim they have been misused.
Frank is correct that Beveridge was not in favour of means tested benefits on the basis that, on taking up work, loss of benefits meant a massive marginal tax rate that discouraged such working. Coalition policy has attempted in part to overcome this problem. However Beveridge’s revolution was very definitely based on ‘need’.  He pointed to squalor, disease and want as well as ignorance and idleness as the ‘giant evils’. He was clear that sickness caused worklessness and that poor people could not afford medical attention, creating a vicious circle. He believed that families should be supported at a ‘minimum’ level for decent living ‘for as long as the need lasts’. This is what he actually said

‘The state should not stifle incentive, opportunity, responsibility; in establishing a national minimum [income], it should leave room and encouragement for voluntary action by each individual to provide more than the minimum for himself and his family’.

Who could argue with this? But Beveridge most certainly was about welfare
‘meeting need’ and ‘for as long as it lasts’, contrary to Frank’s reinterpretation.
Beveridge did not advocate starvation level state benefits or using benefits as a weapon.

The story of the targeting of the undeserving poor and vulnerable by the Coalition and rogue Labour MPs like Frank seemed to go on forever. The author began to wonder just what the silent, 21st century Church stood for. Finally even the Anglican Church, under the new Archbishop Welby, could take no more. The Mission and Public Affairs Council published a remarkable report in June 2013 which is worth comparing with all we have seen about Coalition and New Labour social ‘reforms’.

‘With material inequality so great, the moral case for squeezing welfare recipients
is harder to make when the very rich appear to be escaping recession largely unscathed. Unemployment is seen less as a misfortune occasioned by the fluctuating economic cycle and more a moral matter reflecting a person’s willingness to work.  The public debate has very quickly become one about the deserving and undeserving poor. Government spokespersons have made political capital out of this and the distinction between strivers and scroungers has entrenched harsh attitudes towards those being targeted for cuts.

Where the poor and vulnerable carry a disproportionate share of the burden created by the financial crisis, something is wrong.’

Amen to that…very wrong indeed. But is Frank’s attitude to the undeserving poor really any different from that of the Coalition? By the end of 2014 Frank’s dream of wholesale state zapping of the feckless poor, via sanctions, was realised. Some 900,000 poor, disabled and sick people had been sanctioned by the Coalition for failing to conform to the Byzantine benefits rules. As Frank’s report team told us,  this was one, important factor in the rise of hunger. At Christmas 2013 Welby went further.

‘No society can be content where misery and want exist unless, through our collective love, we also challenge the greed and selfishness behind them…Where people are measured in their worth only by what they can produce, what economic value they have, then Christ is denied and our humanity is corrupted.’

This seems clear enough: whatever the cause of their zero economic value, whether feckless or not, to let such people and their innocent children suffer, is
to deny Christ.

(A personal note : That was certainly the understanding in the author’s Salvation Army family in one of the poorest areas Liverpool in the 1950s. My uncle and
cousin, good Army men both, went onto the streets and did what they could
for the poor without discrimination or making moral judgements. I must say, remembering them, Frank’s ‘brand’ of Christianity is not one that I recognise.)

We began by looking at Frank’s Feeding Britain report. Let’s end with his comments on Feeding Birkenhead, made to the Wirral Globe in January 2015

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‘We’re bringing together our churches, charities, schools and supermarkets to get food to those in need and, as importantly to use this as a way of beginning to deal with the major problems in people’s lives’

Yes, the inadequate and undeserving poor will be sent to the ineffective, sanctions based, Troubled Families Projects where their real intellectual and medical problems will still not be addressed, whatever the hype. In the 21st century, hunger is still apparently a weapon that can be wielded covertly (remembering Lady Jenkin’s ‘porridge’ faux pas) to reshape society into one’s own ideological image …unless
we are vigilant and stop it.

Let us review what we have learned. From all we have shared of Frank’s own words in Neighbours From Hell it is clear that Frank helped build the New Labour ASBO Jihad which ‘sexed up’ fear of crime, disorder and ‘low level terrorism’, as Blair called it, and criminalised the mentally disordered, including children. Frank then exploited this populist political artefact to promote his model of an authoritarian, ordered society with its roots in his view of evangelical Christianity, with the backdrop of the Poor Laws, workhouses and treadmills of Victorian England.

Of course the ASBO Jihad was a failure. It did not protect the public but it did criminalise many thousands of mentally disordered children and adults who needed medical help. But it also showed a control freak government how far it could go in dismantling ancient legal protections, essential to all of us, by concentrating at first on unpopular minorities and turning them into folk devils. Nor did the ‘ASBO Sin Bins’ successfully re-programme the chaotic, troubled, ‘families from hell’. They merely put targets on their backs for the local vigilantes.

The Coalition has adopted the same approach with a vengeance.

It is also clear that Frank is completely, indeed fanatically, sincere in his social and religious views and he has the right to express them just as we, hopefully, still have the right to test, debate and reject them; although if Frank had his way we would not be allowed to do this. We have also seen that Frank’s views on the undeserving poor and dysfunctional families have not changed over the years. The content of his Feeding Britain report makes it clear that he is still blaming the victims for being inadequate…and morally degenerate. He is still trying to sell his moral jihad to any political party that might listen. It would be a dangerous mistake to see Frank merely as a slightly eccentric, aging MP with an axe to grind: as a kind of principled, ‘holy fool’ of little relevance. Although Frank’s major reviews of welfare and poverty were publicly rejected, they and his other works represent a treasure trove of ready made extreme ideas, moralistic justifications and sanction based interventions which governments can dip into for tactical political benefit as the times and the public mood allow.

It is a pity, on the local scene, that the mainly poor electorate of Birkenhead will no doubt continue, thanks to his populist rhetoric, to see Uncle Frank as their friend, or at least, sleepwalk into a Labour vote in the false hope of deliverance from poverty and want. Frank has been their MP since 1979, including a thirteen year stretch under powerful, New Labour governments. They should ask why 55% of them are still reliant on out of work benefits, or are they all undeserving scroungers? They should also recall that Frank wants to bring back National Service for the unemployed in order to restore

‘a sense of order and patriotism’

After all, according to Frank, his constituency is now like ‘Beirut’…despite all the legislation Frank has proposed in Parliament, all the coercive law he has supported, and all his puffed up media rhetoric over twenty five years. Why get fooled again?

It was remarkable how many times, when things were bad for them, that the New Labour government played the ‘antisocial behaviour’ and ‘scrounger’ cards. We
can similarly expect the Coalition and the next government to dip into Frank’s box of sanctions as austerity trundles on, including their moralistic justification based on the supposedly shameful and irresponsible behaviour of the feckless poor. (See any recent speech by Eric Pickles, the Coalition C&LG minister for examples). We  must be very alert to this kind of ‘fear and hate spin’ based policy so often used successfully by populist politicians to sell their often extreme ideological visions, or to merely divert public attention from their failings.

Historically it has too often ended badly for everybody involved. We should recall Frank’s warning at the beginning of this paper about totalitarian regimes and note that of another famous expert

‘The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leader. That is easy.
All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the
pacifists for lack of patriotism…’

Reich Marshal Herman Goring; Nuremberg Trials, 1945.
When a supposedly ‘moral’ dimension underlies such a political strategy, as Archbishop Welby has noted, things can become even worse. I will end with the
famous warning of the great Christian writer, C S Lewis
‘It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber barons may sometimes sleep but those who torment us
for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of
their consciences’

Frank Field: omnipotent moral busybody, dangerous fruitcake, or saint? You decide.
Professor G

FRANKLYSAYS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS

1REDACT
“There is a purpose to journalism…It is not to pander to political power, big corporations and rich men” – Peter Oborne – journalist resigning this week from Telegraph newspaper group

During the interminable run-up to the local and national elections we must learn to get used to PR and puff pieces and party political broadcasts masquerading as news so Wirral Leaks will continue to bring you the news that you won’t read in local newspapers or websites.
Wirral Council – please take note  below  are just some of the despairing correspondence sent to us recently by your adoring public…..

I Spy With My FOI

“Haven’t bothered for a while but seen John Braces video from the council budget proposals for the coming years and then was amazed to see my old job (only twelve months ago) with a hefty bit of investment and the promise of new staff to carry out a role deemed redundant only last March.
After many emails, F.O.I requests, meetings with councillors who soon disregarded me as soon as they realised I was talking sense and trying many other avenues to raise the point making us redundant was a stupid idea in the first place because their plan was built on lies and was quite shit also.

Now Philly boy has eventually decided that yes it was a shit idea and as he was told the Police couldn’t carry out the same role carried out by the council staff and for the amount of money invested in the cctv and repairs it was better left alone with the fully qualified staff carrying out their role much un-noticed but much admired and appreciated by Merseyside police officers and many other stakeholders. As previously stated they were all hoodwinked by our ex boss …… who is now failing to pitch for council contracts..thankfully.”

We Don’t Need No Education

“The level of misconduct, negligence and breach of the legal responsibilities of Wirral LEA (Local Education Authority) and Social Services confounds me.
I am being forced to take legal action against them as, even now, their behaviour (is) ridiculous.”

Our Source Is Outsourced

“I don’t know if you are aware that a company is being set up (extremely quickly!) by the council for all the services who trade / provide services to schools , it will run as a partnership with Cheshire and Cheshire West, like Cosocious. Staff will be type transferred across so they no longer will be council employees, they also will loose the option to take EVR /redundancy at the enhanced rate. No negotiations have been had with unions and staff have not been told t&cs (terms and conditions,) The financial information is not forthcoming to staff in relation to the ‘ business case ‘ that was drawn up by consultants ( which were apparently paid for by the government) so it makes the staff ask the question , is this company being set up to fail to rid the council of a number of staff at a reduced redundancy rate? I do wish to remain anonymous please, as repercussions do still happen within the council ”

Preaching to the Converted

‘Spect you’re v. busy with elections looming. Don’t know if the mormon councillor for Prenton’s standing for re-election in May but here’s some info about his ‘church’ & their latest efforts.

HERE 

“How he’s balanced commitment to this organisation with his role as a Labour councillor is baffling. Throw in his continued membership of XXX……well, just makes your head start to spin. Why is he still chair of a major committee? (Merseyside Pension Fund) & how does he find the time to fit everything in? His building company SDA’s got a lot of planning applications currently in process; the late (but unlamented) Dirty Food, Hoylake (prev Bej Vegetarian) restaurant’s been re-incarnated as Steak & Lobster & his day nursery (Little Angels), occupies a disused mormon meeting house in Moreton is pretty much full.”

Which brings us to …..

Alison McGovern wringing her hands –  HERE – & he’s coining it from this venture. Last OFSTED inspection (October 2012) reports 66 children in attendance. The mormons’ll conveniently overlook this one tho as all his income generates at least 10% for them so he’ll be filling their trough nicely & the good people of Wirral have helped those donations along over the last 4 years as his councillor allowance will also be available to tithe. Plus gift aid & if he is up for re-election, that’ll be another 4 years of creaming off the 10% from the long suffering citizens of Wirral.

The Godfather

Godfrank

There was a collective scratching of heads and dropping of jaws at Leaky Towers when we read highly concerning local press reports about the appointment of a retired judge to undertake “an informal review ” of an infamous and seemingly neverending Wirral Council whistleblowing case.  We at Leaky Towers shall henceforth be calling this review “The Warren Commission” – a title which conspiracy theorists will no doubt appreciate.
We consider that Wirral Council’s press release and subsequent statements given to the media by local politicians about this review are highly dubious, open to serious question and much closer scrutiny.

Therefore it is left to Wirral Leaks to deconstruct these press statements in the name of openness,transparency and most importantly the PUBLIC INTEREST – all of which seem to be alien concepts to some of our most prominent so-called public servants……

Let’s start off with excerpts from the Wirral Globe : HERE
Firstly we are grateful that they have corrected the description of “Nicholas” Warren as a retired high court judge. How remiss of the Globe’s sources not to seek to immediately correct this description, especially when they’re not usually backward in coming forward when it comes to anything they believe to be misleading or inaccurate (or more usually embarrassing or incriminating).
No – this is Nick Warren – a Birkenhead solicitor who chaired benefit tribunals…..and has been personally appointed by Birkenhead MP Frank Field to box this little local difficulty off once and for all . To which all we can say is : in your dreams Frankenfield.

Now this particular Mr.Warren is very much part of Wirral Labour’s Inner Ring ( a phrase we’ve picked up from Morton’s Open Letter to Wirral Council sent to us just before Christmas and which is suddenly beginning to make more and more sense and which we will be following up at a later date. ) We understand Old Nick is very much an old friend of Frankenfield and they go back a very long way indeed. There are unconfirmed reports that Frankenfield is Godfather to one of his children.This may or may not be true but in every other sense Frankenfield seems to be THE Godfather round here. A source writes: “Apparently Warren used to work for Frank at the Child Poverty Action Group before either of them came to Birkenhead. Stinks to high heaven.”

Let’s just hope all the right declarations about conflict of interest have been made. For example what are Nick Warren’s links to the local Labour group?

The Globe helpfully clarifies that The Warren Commission is to lead an inquiry into the way a group of Wirral whistleblowers have been treated by the council – and decide whether they should receive compensation.

Wirral Leaks comments : This particular group of Wirral whistleblowers have been known by various names – HESPE/Colas whistleblowers and more recently in the Patricia Thynne report involving allegations of misconduct concerning Councillors George Davies and Steve Foulkes as “The Group” ( a term of reference that we have adopted at Wirral Leaks).
Wirral Globe :Nicholas Warren will carry out the review once the scope and terms of reference of the inquiry has been agreed by council leader Phil Davies.The move comes after Birkenhead MP Frank Field met with the authority’s now-retired chief executive Graham Burgess in November, demanding that a sum of £48,000 in compensation given to an unnamed senior council officer should also be paid to the whistleblowers.

Wirral Leaks: Now Wirral Leaks devotees will know that this alleged payment of £48,000 has always deeply troubled us. But what troubles us even more is that Frankenfield thinks he can stroll into a Wirral Council Chief Executive’s office and demand the same kind of compensation for The Group without due legal process.  Of course “now-retired” Graham Burgess has left Wirral Council so Frankenfield doesn’t have quite the same leverage he once had in negotiations as we understand that Burgess was very much compromised with regard to this £48,000 pay-off (in more ways than one).

Wirral Globe : Mr Field said the group are suffering severe hardship and are “on the point of bankruptcy” after raising their concerns over a multi-million pound outsourced highways contract. He claimed the payment to the anonymous officer, who it is understood had suffered at the hands of town hall bullies, was the least the council do in the circumstances.

Wirral Leaks : We do hope that Frankenfield and The Group are able to evidence that they are “suffering severe hardship” and “on the point of bankruptcy” especially when we understand that they may have all been continuously and gainfully employed and there may have already been compensation payments made (although not by Wirral Council). What we’d particularly like to know is how Frankenfield thinks there is any equivalence between these two cases. Did The Group “suffer at the hands of town hall bullies”? – reading The Thynne Report it makes it sound it was the other way round!  Could it be that the compensation payment of £48,000 was also made without any evidence that the recipient had suffered any financial loss as clearly they are still in post as Head of Neighbourhoods and Engagement?

Furthermore if Wirral Council taxpayers have had to stump up just under £50,000 (thereby evading any public scrutiny as we understand the Chief Executive has the authority to sign off anything under £50K – no questions asked) can we state that we make these claims in the PUBLIC INTEREST. We firmly believe that when public money is given to public servants because of the alleged malpractice of other public servants this should NOT be hidden from public scrutiny under the guise of confidentiality and privacy.

This then becomes a COVER-UP and Frankenfield seems curiously anxious not to challenge this precedent but to replicate it !….and we think we know why!

Wirral Globe: His (Frank Field) demands led to agreement that Mr Warren should carry out an informal review and that his findings will be binding to both parties. Mr Field told the Globe: “I am delighted that Nick Warren has agreed to take this review.He has one of the finest legal minds in the country and if anyone can get to the bottom of what has gone on – and decide whether the whistleblowers have been fairly treated or not – he can.

Wirral Leaks: Hang on – if this is an informal review with no legal standing how can findings be “binding on both parties” ? We presume that this statement heralds the potential return to the bad old days of pay-offs and Compromise Agreements to hide malpractice and misconduct. Frankenfield seems very selective about making “demands” doesn’t he ? and the making of such demands also suggests his baleful influence extends way beyond that of being the MP for Birkenhead. Furthermore we’re absolutely sure Frankenfield is “delighted” about The Warren Commission being undertaken by “one of the finest legal minds in the country”. You’d certainly think that someone who fitted such a description would have a much bigger public profile or perhaps Warren is just very modest and keeps his legal wisdom within the confines of Houlihan’s……

Wirral Globe :The added advantage of Mr Warren leading the inquiry is that he has no connection with the ongoing case and can approach it with a completely clear and unbiased view.

Wirral Leaks: Oh I think we know what the “added advantage” of the Warren Commission to Frankenfield is don’t we boys and girls?

To reassure the Wirral public that this review is unbiased we request that any prior connections and affiliations to any interested parties is openly and publicly declared or we’re heading for the same sort of outcry that accompanied the short-lived appointments of Judge Woolf and Baroness Butler-Sloss to head up a national Child Abuse Inquiry because of their prior connections and affiliations.

Actually – who are we kidding – there will be no such outcry. This is Wirral where political apathy rules and therefore the abuse of power will probably continue unchecked .

Wirral Globe : His review will get underway as soon as Phil Davies, who is extremely keen for a fair and equitable outcome, signs-off the terms of reference.

Wirral Leaks: Well this is an interesting (but entirely understandable) turn around. Didn’t Council Leader Phil Davies state that “The Group were trying to use the content of the phone conversation to pressurise him into settling their claim” . The phone conversation to which Davies refers is of course contained on the infamous Wirralgate tapes – which of course is what we think this little circus is really all about.

Are we to assume then that the Wirralgate tapes have been handed over and will be part of the investigation about how the whistleblowers were “treated by the Council”. It’s the only way to counter allegations that the tapes are the real means to a “fair and equitable” outcome. Otherwise it looks suspiciously like Quid Pro Quo ( a legal term which Mr.Warren will no doubt be familiar with) – we’ll sort you out if you bury the tapes (which is similar to the tapes themselves which were concerned with sorting The Group out if they provided incriminating document about a political opponent)

Wirral Globe : Mr Field has been battling to reach a settlement with the authority for several years after a group of former council employees – acting under whistleblowing law – voiced concerns of alleged “irregularities” in a £40m contract with highways maintenance company Colas.

Wirral Leaks: And of course a subsequent investigation conducted by Richard Penn concluded there was “no case to answer” with regard to alleged “irregularities” . We seem to remember there have been at least 5 investigations regarding The Group’s case and we are still are none the wiser about the extent any malpractice (or indeed if there was any) . This begs the question as to why Frankenfield has been battling to reach a settlement for The Group if there was no foundation to their claims. Now either he knows more than he’s letting on and that the Penn report was a stitch up or he has an ulterior motive in pursuing this settlement. Which is it?

Wirral Globe : In November, he (Frank Field) told the Globe: “Their whistleblowing resulted in an almost clean sweep of senior council officers.

Wirral Leaks : This is simply untrue. No disciplinary action of any senior council officer ever took place as a result of The Group’s “whistleblowing” and former Chief Executive Jim Wilkie went off sick ,never to return just after the publication of the damning AKA report in January 2012 – 10 months before Penn published his report .

Wirral Globe : ( Field ) – “The debt Wirral owes to those who blew the whistle is considerable. And yet they gained no compensation for the damage that has occurred to their careers.There were last year carried information (sic) that a senior officer of the council was paid a fraction under £50,000 after allegedly being bullied by an even more senior officer. Surely the case of the whistleblowers is more deserving than the case of this officer, who is still in post”.

Wirral Leaks : We note that Frankenfield provides absolutely no evidence to support his allegation that Wirral Council’s head of Engagement and Communities was bullied by an even more senior officer (can he, in the public interest , name the officer involved and identify whether he is aware of any disciplinary action that resulted from Wirral Council having to shell out nearly 50K because of such unacceptable conduct).

We do know that Graham Burgess claimed that the payment was a result of “corporate failure” to respond to an allegation of bullying. Corporate Failure we presume being a euphemism for the Leader of the Council – who at the time the allegation was made was…..Councillor Steve Foulkes!

It’s all beginning to fit into place isn’t it ?- unless Wirral Council would like to publicly deny any of these claims.

The Liverpool Echo also seems to have based it’s story on press release statements from the same sources. HERE

Liverpool Echo : The whistleblowers had highlighted concerns about the authority’s former multimillion pound highways contract.
Wirral Leaks: Which up until now appear to be unfounded. What has never been revealed is that the whistleblowers themselves had also bid for this particular contract …….

Liverpool Echo : But several have since lost their jobs while in July 2012 the then acting chief executive of the council, David Armstrong, was forced to issue an “unreserved apology” after a blunder allowed one of them to be stripped of his anonymity when his name was published on the authority’s website.

Wirral Leaks: As we have always been led to believe that The Group comprised 4 whistleblowers how can it be said that “several have since lost their jobs ” when we know that contracts of employment would probably have been transferred from Wirral Council to Colas to Bam Nuttall in accordance with employment law.

Once again this statement is inaccurate. What is true (and the only example of mistreatment of The Group that we actually know about) is that indeed the anonymity of one of the whistleblowers was compromised by Wirral Council.

But can anyone remember the name of the whistleblower involved ? – it’s on our blog somewhere but we simply can’t be bothered referencing it and anyway we can remember a time when the whistleblower involved was quite happy for his identity to be revealed or we simply would not have printed his name. Once again we’re wondering how this whistleblower is going to demonstrate how this cock-up has adversely affected their career.

Liverpool Echo: At a meeting with council chiefs last year Mr Field called on the council to act quickly to compensate the whistleblowers who he says have suffered since highlighting their concerns.

Can Frankenfield please describe the nature of their “suffering” exactly…. ?

Liverpool Echo : The MP said the debt Wirral owes the whistle-blowers “is considerable” and yet they gained no compensation for “the damage, or potential damage” that has occurred to their careers.

Wirral Leaks: After at least 4 previous investigations can the”influential” MP explain exactly what Wirral owes these whistleblowers?  Eldritch rather succinctly if crudely states that it is : “Fuck all….”

That’s not to say we don’t think The Group should not be compensated. We wholeheartedly do ….but simply not from dwindling council funds.

We think Wirral Labour need to be dipping into their fighting fund as it is they who have ruthlessly played cat and mouse with The Group and have engaged them in a dangerous double bind from which they seem to be trying to extricate themselves by means of a pay-out from the public purse.

Liverpool Echo: The group of whistleblowers were told by the council in 2012 to employ lawyers, Mr Field said, to obtain compensation but he said they have “nearly bankrupted themselves in the process with mounting legal fees and with no compensation package being offered”.

If The Group has been paying lawyers for over two years might we suggest no compensation package has been offered to The Group could it be because a) lawyers have been leading them up the garden path and/or b) they do not have a legitimate legal claim against Wirral Council …..they cannot take their case to an Employment Tribunal,they don’t seem to be able to bring a claim for bullying – so what is the basis of their claim ? (other than 1 person’s confidentiality has been breached ). All we know for sure is that they have a series of taped recordings which incriminate Wirral’s leading politicians in acts that could be interpreted as criminal.

Liverpool Echo : Mr Field said: “I met with the former chief executive Graham Burgess before Christmas with the whistleblowers to seek some way of settling in a fair and equitable manner their grievance. They said I could suggest a chair to review how the authority behaved. I suggested Nick Warren, who is just retired and lives in Birkenhead, but has no knowledge of the case.”

Wirral Leaks : Lady W spluttered out her sherry on reading this : “Where’s Old Nick been – living in a cave? Are we really expected that someone who should be so well informed about the local political scene would have no knowledge of the case?  Poppycock!”

Liverpool Echo : Mr Field said the retired judge would have access to the whistleblowers, council and documentation and said: “I’m hoping we might now get justice, a settlement that is fair and just to the whistleblowers.”

Wirral Leaks : And of course Warren will also get access to a bumper pay-cheque Who knows , if he plays his cards right , he can spin it out as long as Anna Klonowski. Unless of course he’s doing the work pro bono or donating the cheque to charites fighting poverty…….

Liverpool Echo: Council leader Phil Davies said: “We have agreed that the review will go ahead and we will await his report.I know Nick quite well and he is a very distinguished judge and I’m sure he will do a thorough job.”

Wirral Leaks : All of us at Wirral Leaks are in complete agreement with Pip ,especially when he knows him “quite well” and that indeed Warren will do a thorough job (wink,wink nudge nudge)

A council spokesman said: “Terms of reference have yet to be agreed regarding the proposed review so it is not possible to confirm timescales or exactly what form any subsequent report might take.”

Wirral Leaks: Ok we’ll do it on behalf of the highly paid council spokesperson – we anticipate the report won’t be completed until after the May elections and will then be exempt from any Freedom of Information requests on the grounds that the report contains legally privileged information.

Let (another) cover up commence !….

Christmas Caption Competition: I’m Dreaming of A Whitewash Christmas

 A-leaky-Xmas-2
 “A good conscience is a continual Christmas.” – Benjamin Franklin
wbc
Please send your captions to : wirraleaks@gmail.com
Please note do not make comments on Facebook page as apparently last time that led to someone banging in a hurt feelings claim to Wirral Council….(no we don’t know how that works either).
From everyone at Leaky Towers we’d like to wish all our devoted readers a very Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with truth and justice.

 

Christmas Tradition

PEAs Wirral Leaks crashes through the quarter of a million hits barrier whilst being on WordPress we celebrate the age -old Christmas Tradition of  Wirral Council appearing in the Christmas edition of Private Eye. Let’s face it Rotten Boroughs is to Wirral Council what stuffing is to turkey.

The article itself  titled “Stella Performance” takes centre stage with a box and a cartoon all of it’s own. As the title suggests the story concerns Wirral Council’s globetrotting exploits from the wooing of Shiu  to the beano in Reno.

Private Eye writes :

“Despite all the evidence that Wirral Council was being had , it’s regeneration director Kevin Adderley insisted all ” due diligence” had been done,while council leader Phil Davies pathetically insisted: This is not a myth ,they are real companies with real investment plans.” Alas,nothing has been heard of Ms.Shiu since. Never mind,Onward!”

The story may well not be new to Wirral Leaks readers but it’s certainly the first time we’ve seen Addled and “due diligence” in the same sentence (shurely shome mishtake?!)

And we must say the word “pathetically” clings to Power Boy Pip like a limpet to a sinking ship. Leader? – the only way this guy leads the people of Wirral is up the garden path. Witness his pathetic history – ” There’s nothing we can do – they’ve all  left…” he said wimping out after it was revealed that council officers had departed cheque in hand after failing to tell councillors that oops! they’d run up £30 million +  in toxic debts. Byeeeee! And didn’t he chair a disciplinary hearing when he exonerated and let off  two of the main protagonists involved in this financial mismanagement?

As Private Eye says: I think we should be told!

Witness also his ongoing support of Foulkesy and Georgy as Wirralgate unravels…..”I can’t defend that” he apparently said after hearing the Wirralgate recording.
Oh but he has and will continue to do so as long as he clings (pathetically) on to power ( cont. p.94).

Christmas Post

 keep-calm-and-build-a-crisis-management-plan
As we predicted earlier this week it wasn’t long before a copy of that email landed on the Leaky Towers doormat…and not just one copy either! When we say email the author Martin “Mad” Morton actually describes it as “An Open Letter to Wirral Council ( & Frank Field) and there was a collective wry smile here when we read the line from one of our leakers about the leak itself which went: ” I’m sure it is what he would have wanted.” We thought it made it sound as though Morton had shuffled off this mortal coil.Although to be frank actual assassination (as opposed to character assassination)  may be Wirral Council’s best option.We predict that there may come a day when we read John Brace’s forensic examination of Wirral Council’s accounts and find a payment to the contemporary equivalent of committed Marxist-Leninist hitman Carlos the Jackal.
Now we haven’t had the go ahead (yet) from the man himself to publish the letter so instead Verity is going to extract the pertinent points from the letter which are primarily concerned with “Wirralgate” and add it to what we already know from a variety of sources to bring you a Christmas cut out and keep “Wirralgate For Dummies” special.
What we can reveal is that the opening line of the letter reads : “The Mayor of Wirral Cllr Steve Foulkes and Cllr.George Davies are unfit for public office”……..which isn’t exactly news but we are wondering why Morton stopped there – we would have thrown in Frankenfield and Power Boy Pip for starters and anyone who puts their head in the sand in the hope this scandal blows over.
What is particularly shameful is that considering the length of time this has sorry saga has gone on http://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/exclusive-wirralgate/
is that the likes of “Foulkesy” and his sidekick have been able to be involved in decisions involving redundancies,cuts to services and closure of Lyndale School when they should have been exposed and ran out of town (hall). Remember it was Foulkesy who originally chaired the Committee to “consult” on the closure of Lyndale and at a previous meeting it was Davies, G who seconded the motion for closure.
Indeed here he is this very week for voting for closure.As far as we’re concerned that should be grounds enough to have the closure decision overruled.
 COMBOVERVOTE