Thursday 30 June 2016

Unions Register Dispute

BR 47/2016
30th June 2016

To: all Napo Members in Working Links owned CRCs
Cc: For information only
Napo Branch Chairs
Family Court SEC
Napo Officers and Officials

Dear Colleague,

Trade unions register dispute across three CRCs owned by Working Links as news of company acquisition by Aurelius breaks

Napo Members will be aware that the probation unions have been engaging in regular dialogue with senior management representing the 3 Community Rehabilitation Companies owned by Working Links: Devon Dorset and Cornwall; Bristol, Gloucester, Somerset and Wiltshire, and Wales.

Latterly, much of our discussion has been focused on the intended operating plan for the future delivery of rehabilitation services across the above areas against the intention of Working Links to make reductions of around 40% in staffing.

Members Opposition to Job cuts

Following the last Joint Union and senior management meeting in Worle on 10th June, the unions have had an opportunity to report back to their respective members. The clear message coming back is that the proposed staffing reduction tabled by Working Links is unacceptable and unjustifiable.

The attached letter records that the unions have lodged a formal dispute and have asked that the planned consultation with staff which forms part of an as yet unagreed job matching and selection process be delayed pending further urgent dialogue.

We have not as yet had a response to indicate that the company are prepared to call a halt to the planned briefings and interviews with staff. This is unfortunate, but Napo cannot instruct staff to not attend a meeting with their managers, but we can say that you should not feel compelled in any way to answer questions that you might be asked which make you feel that your individual position is at risk or which ask you to make any definite commitment.

Next steps for members

Napo and the probation unions await an invitation to discuss the specific grounds of dispute which are contained in a letter sent to senior Working Links management and we will keep members advised of developments. It can be seen that, among other things, Napo does not believe that adequate support and training has been offered to managers who are to be charged with the difficult task of commencing a selection process that could directly lead to the loss of your job.

Meanwhile, you should take the opportunity of any discussions between you and your line managers to ask that the following questions are recorded and fed through to senior Working Links management:
  • Why is Working Links intending to make such a substantial reduction in staffing? 
  • How can such a large reduction be justified when there is a need to ensure that the quality of probation services and the protection of communities are maintained? 
  • Why has there not been an agreement with the unions about the consultation process including the HR principles and the appropriate redundancy policy before consultation with staff has started? 
It will not be feasible for Napo to provide individual representation at any initial meetings that you are invited to have with your line manager, but assistance will be arranged if required in the future should members find themselves in difficulty.

Napo will do its best to keep you and your local reps posted as to developments.

Aurelius acquires Working Links

In a shock development that I understand was unknown even to a number of the senior Working Links management team, news broke last night that a German institutional investment company known as Aurelius has now acquired the operation.

As you would expect, Napo will be investigating the exact financial aspects of the purchase and the track record of this company, but on the face of it, this buy out appears to be a straight forward business acquisition. Aurelius have not signalled any changes to the senior CRC management teams and have no record in the justice sector. We have already started to make enquiries as to why there was not a period of reflection so that the Secretary of State could be satisfied that he wanted this company to be involved in the provision of the CRC contracts and we will report further if we can obtain more information on this point.

Napo’s expectation is that Aurelius are looking at opportunities to buy into work programmes potentially in Europe and or expand in the UK if and when opportunities arise.

The important question that members will have is whether this development changes the operational plans including the planned staffing reductions, and the predictable answer is that it will not make any difference.

It is also unlikely that the two gushing announcements to staff by the Working Links Chief Executive today which suggests this is ‘great news’ and an ‘exciting time’ will be received with any enthusiasm by those members in the three CRCs whose jobs are at risk.

Join Napo today!

The continuing uncertainties faced by Napo members working in the three CRCs and the volatile political and economic climate that is being generated on the back of last week’s ‘Brexit’ decision, means that membership of a trade union is more important than it has ever been.

Please encourage colleagues who have yet to become Napo members to do so today and to take advantage of reduced subscription rates that are available to all members who pay subscriptions by Direct Debit.

More news on developments within your CRC will follow as soon as possible as Napo continues to oppose and challenge the rationale for job cuts.

Yours sincerely

General Secretary


JTU 10-16
John Wiseman,
(By e-mail) 

28th June 2016

Dear John,


The Trade Unions are writing following the last Joint Union Meeting and after now having had the opportunity to report to our members across the three Community Rehabilitation Companies owned by Working Links.

Despite the efforts to convince Working Links that the planned staffing reductions are both unsafe and unjustifiable, given the need to provide effective rehabilitation services across the areas concerned, the refusal to withdraw the current Section 188 notices and offer a fresh period for formal consultation and a refusal to call a halt to the selection process that you intend to implement, the unions hereby give formal notice of a dispute which will now be copied to the Joint Secretaries of the National Negotiating Council.


The unions also need to express our serious disappointment that despite the commitment from management to convene a short side’s discussion group for the region (which is captured in the JUM minutes and re referenced at the last JUM); this has still to take place.

We are also disappointed at the failure to circulate the information pack of materials to managers across all three of the CRC’s simultaneously and in reasonable time for the unions to consider these prior to the commencement of staff briefings, despite Union Chairs requesting the papers last week.

The HR principles have yet to be agreed despite the initial progress made at earlier meetings and as they stand there is a conflation between the need to try and reach local agreement over the staff reduction programme and what appears to be the incorporation of NNC management of change principles which, in fact, is a separate process to be used in order to avoid compulsory redundancies.

In view of the foregoing we have identified the following grounds for the dispute:

1. The unions’ position is that we do not believe that a case has been made by the employer to justify any further reductions in staffing. Moreover, we are not convinced of the rationale or business case behind the intention to reduce staffing across the three CRC's by over 40%. We also believe that the use of Operational Hubs has still to be proven in terms of concept and the safety of staff and service users.

2. Notwithstanding the foregoing, we have not finally agreed a process for negotiation in terms of which legacy redundancy policy you intend to operate, or agreed the terms of the selection and mapping process which includes staff appraisals and sickness absence as key criteria. We have seen no evidence that adequate training has been provided to managers who will be expected to make critical decisions using a sifting process in this way. This means that there will not be a consistent or reasonable application of selection across the 3 CRC areas.

3. The proposed roles and job descriptions under the intended future staffing profile have not been finally agreed with the Trade Unions.

4. The proposed roles have been arbitrarily graded and have not been subject to any Job evaluation using the established NNC JE process.

5. Subject to us being able to reach agreement the roles should be advertised amongst all three CRC areas to avoid unnecessary reductions and relocations.

6. There is also an absence of assurances around mobility and future estates policy and pay protection, all of which need to be the subject of any agreement.

Clearly we have reached a critical position in terms of the working relationship that is developing between the unions, Working Links and the CRC employers. Whilst we would rather not have had to exercise the option of a dispute, which we will of course be communicating to our respective members, we believe that the above narrative provides the parties with the basis for meaningful dialogue with a view to reaching agreement.

In view of this we would ask that the planned staff briefings are postponed until further dialogue has taken place between us. We are proposing an urgent 'short sides' meeting be arranged comprising of say 4/5 representatives from the unions and an equivalent number from senior management to explore how we can move on from this impasse.

We look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely

General Secretary         Regional Organiser     National Secretary
Napo                              UNISON                     GMB/SCOOP

Pick of the Week 8

A bit late I know, but here's Sunday's round-up, delayed by our attention being diverted due to the fall-out from the referendum:- 

MOJ/NOMS. Read it and weep! You should be ashamed and humiliated for allowing this abysmal situation to occur. Why do you not act now whilst there is something left to salvage? Admit that this experiment has failed and remove the toxicity it has left behind. These private companies are not fit to run the CRC's. You have been severely negligent and have already allowed a brain drain and an integrity drain of frontline staff and managers now. This must be halted. It will never work. Things are getting worse literally every day. What more do we have to say to make you listen? Preserve what is already left, CRC staff who still care and believe, the managers with values who will be replaced by managers from Working Links and Sodexo etc. It will cost a whole lot more to put right if you leave it until the contracts expire. Stop the rot now!

Differing CRC owners being arsey about accepting custodial transfers. Crown Court has allocated a case to our Area on the basis he was stopped on a motorway network in our area. He has absolutely no links to us. The area he should've been allocated to is insisting I keep hold of the case until all ROTLs completed and for me then to re-apply. Ridiculous! 

Loads of mistakes coming through from Courts, paperwork not being allocated with Child Protection or DV markers and so those cases being given to PSOs who upon reading CPS have to take them back to senior to be re-allocated but by this time they've been inducted and the clock has started ticking for the ISP. Court not notifying me of current orders who have been arrested on new matters and remanded meaning I've started breach proceedings un-necessarily, court terminating cases that are still LIVE! The list goes on and on. As a case carrying PSO it's a shambles.

Risk-escalation 'ping-pong' between CRC and NPS. CRC applying to NPS for case transfer of risky case instead of recall. NPS not accepting and recommending CRC recalls asap. CRC wanting to shift responsibility to NPS and avoiding a failed case and potential risk of increased penalties to the CRC?

How are CRC's with open plan offices coping with the CP groups? We have up to 60 max turning up on certain days, do they all pile in to open plan office? Or made to wait outside with the vans? Doesn't seem ideal at all. Wait for bad weather, reception may get busy!

What really needs to happen is that the NPS & CRC's are shut down, it's back to real basics where a tailored individual programme for each person is developed based on what that person actually needs to stop them reoffending (as opposed to what "experts" think they need which is not the same thing) so you'd have to actually involve the offender in the development of the programme. People are far more likely to take ownership and comply if they are involved in a programme's development rather than being forced to do something some idiot has dreamt up and forced on them. Then you might just get the reoffending rate tumbling.

Spare a thought please for colleagues in the NPS court team who have increasingly being asked to take on more responsibility for pieces of work that fundamentally misjudge the delicate balance with HMCTS and CRC. There is evidence that HMCTS are increasingly sidelining probation in courts due to their inability to respond flexibly to requests for assessments on the day, resulting in offenders being sentenced without reports. Not a surprise given that PSOs are being asked to take on a layer 1 assessments for medium trigger ROSH cases, as well as the RSR and CAS within record times, leading to delays and stress. Why bother with these assessments when, in the majority of cases CRC colleagues will not see the assessment post sentence. The split has also pitted PSO breach staff against CRC staff leading to numerous complaints across the board.

Not long before they have to poach experienced PO's from CRC! Previous experience with high risk offenders, lifers, sex offenders? Likely to be a serious shortage of skilled and qualified probation officers over next 4 years in NPS!

Whatever you call it, frontline staff who actually have the skills and experience to manage a highly complex group will soon be in very short supply. Private companies will find that they cannot replace them with unskilled staff whom they will hope to train up on a shoestring. And to the 'ACO' who says "these changes are happening', no doubt you would be more than happy seeing the service turn into a sweatshop with as few rights as possible, zero hours contracts and weak unions, all the better to exploit staff. But hey, that's progress! Off to the CRC staff briefing to see what the WL managers have to say about the organisation they know sweet FA about!

Can this blog invite some significant TR advocate and explain what the hell their ambitions are and some evidence of their success. A good argument backed up by some solid evidence would surely make the malcontents like myself at least reconsider our position. C'mon England (and Wales)!!

I'm currently off sick after finally being overwhelmed by TR stress! I feel so much better now but am worried about relapsing when I return to work. Nothing has changed and I know it's only going to get worse. How do I find a way to achieve a healthy balance when I have no control or stability at work? It's a dreadful situation I just wish it would all go away and leave me to do the job I'm good at, helping individuals to change their situation and have successful futures.

Empathise a 100% with your situation. Was when r r you are 9 months ago. Ensure you are referred to Occupational Health, have recommendations for suitable support via EAP or GP referrals to community services. I received 1-1 CBT and anxiety management group. Ensure you have phased return and involve union rep to accompany you. Also a stress risk assessment. You may not be able to change the organisation, unfortunately, but may gain more control over your perceptions and work life balance. Take care, put your own needs and recovery first - it's just job, they can't do any worse to you. If you can't return, explore other viable options - all the best and hope you come through this all with belief in your ability to move forward.

Wot "just a job!" Careful the Vocation Martyrs will be on your case. We are all marked by how many "extra miles" we are prepared to go, how much stress we can carry and how long we spend at the office telling each other how long we spend at the office. Until we fall off the perch and realise it cannot be done. Look after yourself, do your hours, try not to take all the crap home. In a month NOBODY WILL CARE about whatever you are doing now, not you, not your manager and not your client. 99% of the time we are wasting our time, the job is all about spotting the 1%.

The above blog says it all really. No end in sight to this chaos. RSR not fit for purpose. Service users allocated to CRC that were previously high risk cases. Don't think Gove will do us any favours, ask the teachers what he did to them. Whatever the result of the referendum the decimation of public services will continue but the government will have a new excuse either because we stayed in or because we left the EU.

The horrendous truth is out there. The American model tells us that there are people (businesses are made up of people) in the world that are perfectly prepared to operate a corrupt CJ system that imprisons people for profit. The approach of the US Justice system seems to be to pay private companies to incarcerate people thereby incentivising the CJS to imprison more people for longer and longer, especially if they are ethnic minorities. There is literature that refers to the use of prison labour in the US as 'the new slavery'. When you realise that these companies are THAT unscrupulous, you begin to recognise that all of the arguments against 'conflict of interest' and 'injustice' are futile. There are many that a satisfied with maintaining a thin veneer of respectability that allows them to cream off their profits. Once that is understood, the only option for the committed professional is to walk away.

CRC's are screwed. In five years the average worker will be a person with an online counselling qualification on a three year contract topping out on 25k. You will be holding 100 cases and do as you are told with no autonomy. 25 days leave and no job security. The contracts will go to new providers every few years and you will all be TUPED regularly.

In the NPS it will be a PSO led job as more and more of the work is found to not require a PO. Already most reports are done in a hurry by people who know the least. Soon "low level sex offenders" can be supervised by PSO's. It will not be long before PO grade start to leave as the work is boring but relentless and stressful. As a PO in NPS I have two types of service user, boring and safe...OR distressing and terrifying, there are only so many rapists you can stand at once before it starts to bleed into your life "I hugged my son! Am I grooming him?" "Hmm how many people in this room are downloading images of abuse?" 

Frankly I don't need this in my head. NPS terms and conditions will decline as the "Industry benchmark" becomes the crap conditions in the CRC. Already I have gone 6 years without a substantive pay rise (A few scraps thrown at me a couple of years but never into my salary and so never into my pension)I don't expect to ever have one. In fact with the loss of car users allowance I am pushing £1000 poorer than I was in 2010 in cash terms. E3 is just going to lock in the stupidness. We are fucked, corporately, organisationally and personally.

Consultation has always been problematic in my experiences with the former Trusts and now CRC and NPS albeit different issues. It doesn't matter whether you're CRC or NPS, consultation should have the same meaning but our employers all take a different view and attempt to circumnavigate consultation. We always get the fait accompli in the pretence of consulting on change. It's encouraging to see a branch pushing back on the employer to meet their contractual and legal obligations. The ship maybe sinking, but at least this branch is looking to save its crew and not leave them to drown.

Attended the WL briefing few weeks ago. I don't think WL quite get their responsibility for public protection. Very worrying! I am all for empowering offenders in a positive way but their approach was all: 'what would the service user want' 'how can we serve them?' No mention of victims such as partners being assaulted! Is this REALLY what the government intended? NOMS AND MOJ you need to get involved and get the act together.

So WL are doing a very good job at destroying BGSW CRC. The final blow comes with the closure of the purpose built HQ next to the courthouse in north Somerset! Just a few remaining staff rattling around in what used to be a hive of activity. Last remaining staff will be hived off to cheap digs no doubt saving WL more cash. No more training rooms and complete loss of identity for an increasingly fragmented service. WL still talking about their estates! What estates? Staff squashed up sharing increasingly cramped spaces and service users having to trail down to Bridgwater for groups from town like Clevedon! So called community hubs which actually mean a library with little or no private interview space. WL watch your targets plummet as staff fight over inadequate desk and interview space. A case of musical chairs but no winners!

I feel exactly as you do. Going through this crazy mess and going from a purpose built office to a shoe box has only brought me closer to the service users who are pretty gobsmacked at what is going on! Sort of 'we are all in this shit together' so let us make the most of it. Most service users being very gracious about having to be interviewed in public when no office space, but a few are not happy and will probably lodge complaints.

This is part of the reason why we are in the mess we are in. This article refers to 'Offender Managers'. No one knows what that means. Today I met a young man for the first time and completed the pile of forms, repeating over and over again his name and date of birth and both of us signing each individual document. I started by saying that throughout this paperwork, he would see me being referred to by various titles, Offender Manager, Supervising Officer, Responsible Officer; but they all mean me. And I am your Probation Officer.

In the midst of this quagmire, in the face of the horrendous situation that dedicated probation staff and service users now find themselves in, this story of one remarkable man just inspires me to continue in my PO role. I've wanted to walk away - actually run like the clappers - from the job I loved. But probation is not just a job, it's a vocation and I will continue in the hope that some day soon the people up there in their ivory towers at NOMS realise the complete and utter devastation they have reeked on this amazing profession. Thank you Jim for publishing this story - it's given me the kick I needed to continue. Defiant, I refuse to let the bastards grind me down and will be a probation officer to the end. Stuff targets and stuff the trillions of directives that pour down the shoot daily. I'm here to help people turn their lives around.

It has always been the big dilemma for anyone working in public service. Are we part of the problem or part of the solution? We do what we can but, because we do what we can, those who create and maintain the status quo can respond to criticism by pointing at us and saying 'look at what s/he is doing for the poor'. This is where the professional associations should come in; 'we do what we do but it is not enough and YOU POLITICIAN need to address this'. I can't help feeling, though, that the professional associations are now gagged by Government. We need people like Bob now more than ever.

Colin Allars is jumping ship and moving to YJB with undignified haste - in July, none of the more usual 3 months notice/lead time on such senior posts here. Has he jumped in to a lifeboat, or was he pushed? Who will replace him? - maybe no-one, the post might just disappear again as it did when they introduced ROMs and moved Roger Hill out of his Probation figurehead job. Wouldn't hold my breath on any replacement being from a Probation background that's for sure. God forbid they draft in the likes of Yvonne Thomas, tempting them back from the private sector, though wouldn't surprise me.

Wednesday 29 June 2016

Money In Rehabilitation After All

A message from the Chief Executive

We are committed to helping as many people as possible to maximise their full potential. This passion and pioneering attitude has meant that we've built a very successful business, which over the years has constantly evolved and changed. We've grown significantly and moved into new markets, we've designed new innovative services, interventions and products and we are now well on the way to transforming our business as we aim to become an integrated and single end-to-end provider of social needs interventions, following the acquisition of three Community Rehabilitation Companies.

We want to make a significant social difference and this commitment means we will always consider investment opportunities that support our vision and values and which allow us to accelerate our growth plans and continue to succeed.

In addition to our objective of continuing to make a social difference, the management team has exciting plans for the ongoing development of Working Links. In order to achieve our goals for the business, a new ownership is required. We are therefore pleased to let you know that early today Aurelius became the new, sole owner of Working Links. 

Aurelius is an investor with a long-term horizon and is experienced at enabling firms to enhance their performance and success through the provision of operational and financial support. It has worked with more than 70 companies across numerous countries, industries and sectors and is fully committed to supporting our plans going forward.

While our ownership has changed, our founding values and purpose endure and we remain committed to helping as many people as possible to maximise their full potential. Our change in ownership will only strengthen our capacity to deliver better services for the people we work with, and provide value for money for our government partners both here and internationally too.

This is a significant and exciting time in Working Links' history and our executive team is really looking forward to working with Aurelius as we continue to implement our business transformation plans, grow our organisation by preparing for the upcoming tenders on the horizon and, most importantly, continue to change lives and create futures. 

If you have any questions around this announcement please speak to your director or email me or or any member of the executive team.

Kind regards,

Phil Andrew, Chief Executive.   


Munich/London, 29 June 2016 – The AURELIUS Group (ISIN DE000A0JK2A8) has acquired Working Links, a leading provider of welfare and rehabilitation services with operations in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, and the Middle East. In the 2015 financial year, Working Links recorded revenues of around €160m. The acquisition was made for an undisclosed sum.

Working Links delivers employability consulting and rehabilitation services across three markets: The aim of the employability services is to improve living conditions through employment, training, and personal skills development. The rehabilitation services aim to reduce reoffending and thus protect the public. The international specialist services include employability consulting services for domestic workers in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and also delivery of Job Path, the Irish Government’s flagship programme to support bringing long-term unemployed people back to work in six regions of the Republic of Ireland. This contract with the Irish Department for Social Protection (DSP) is delivered by Working Links in a 50-50 joint venture with FRS Recruitment Services, the Irish national recruitment agency with 35 years of experience in providing career advice.

Since its founding in 2000, Working Links has delivered on more than 200 government contracts and programmes, helping over 350,000 people to return to employment and social inclusion.

Phil Andrew, Chief Executive of Working Links: “Today marks an exciting new chapter in the history of Working Links. The long-term investment from AURELIUS will enable the organisation to accelerate its growth and transformation plans and to continue to provide best-in-class services for socially excluded people.”

“The timing of this investment may seem surprising to some audiences directly following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. However, AURELIUS has always sought investment in complex situations, including turbulent macroeconomic backdrops which often create interesting investment opportunities that fit with our investment model”, said Dr. Dirk Markus, CEO of AURELIUS. “We do not expect detrimental consequences for Working Links due to Great Britain’s upcoming exit from the EU, nor do we expect consequences from Brexit to negatively affect the AURELIUS Group.”    


From Aurelius website:

"AURELIUS focuses on the acquisition of companies with development potential through operational engagement. With respect to the acquisition of subsidiaries, AURELIUS strives to identify, analyze, develop and exploit all available opportunities in the market.

With a strong capital base, international contacts and a large team of specialists in financial and corporate management we will bring your company back on the road to success."


This from Aurelius UK website:

"We are a pan-European investment group focused on creating value through the operational improvement of companies with development potential. Established in 2004, we are publicly listed in Germany and we operate from offices in Germany and the UK.

We have a track record of successful investment in more than 50 companies in numerous geographies, industries and sectors. Aurelius improves the operational performance of companies by providing management capabilities and financial resources for investing in products, sales and R&D. Aurelius has liquid cash resources for investment of over £200m."


This from WL own website seems to suggest UK Gov have also been bought out? That was never in the plan for CRCs was it?

"Working Links is pleased to announce that it has been acquired by Aurelius, a specialist investor with a long-term commitment to our future.

The deal will enable Working Links to accelerate our growth and transformation plan, and move to the next level of development in a rapidly evolving marketplace.

While our ownership has changed, our founding values and purpose endure and we remain committed to helping as many people as possible to maximise their full potential, and move from social exclusion to inclusion. Our change in ownership will only strengthen our capacity to deliver better services for the people we work with, and value for money for our government partners in the UK as well as internationally.

We thank our previous shareholders, UK Government Investments, Capgemini, Manpower and Mission Australia, for the pivotal role they have played in our success to date. Here in the UK alone we have delivered lasting employment for over 300,000 people. This is a legacy we are proud of and we look forward to building upon this foundation of success with Aurelius support."


"Aurelius is a private equity firm that acquires, restructures and eventually sells companies. This is not a company that is in it for the long-term. There is a democratic deficit when public services are traded like any other commodity."  

Democratic Deficits

Seeing as people much brighter than myself don't seem to know what's going to happen next, I still feel as qualified as anyone to offer a few more thoughts on the political carnage, post Brexit decision.

It strikes me it's all about democracy, or I suppose to be more precise, democratic deficits. The Parliamentary Labour Party have just voted 142 to 40 that they have no confidence in Jeremy as their Leader. Hilary Benn might have said Jeremy was 'a decent and honourable man' but all attempts to reason with him to go quietly have failed with him in turn citing a greater democratic mandate from 400,000 or so ordinary Labour Party members. 

Like most political disagreements, there is always another side to an argument and Jeremy has a point. For a party that could well be facing a general election in November though, it's clearly not good, but then one does have to wonder at the judgement of his team allowing photographers to snap a shadow cabinet meeting taking place amid a sea of empty chairs. A microphone picks up Jeremy whispering to an aid 'Seamus, not sure this is a good idea' as poor old Tom Watson sits next to him twiddling his thumbs nervously.

As I write this, we don't know who will emerge as front-runner in an inevitable leadership contest, but it could well be Tom Watson or Angela Eagle and they must be considering embarking on such a move with a very heavy heart indeed for the very survival of the Labour Party could be at stake here. Just like the referendum result, whatever the result of the leadership election, there's going to be some very sore losers indeed and to be honest I can't see reconciliation being possible, thus making a split and formation of a new party, SDP-style, a real possibility. 

If Jeremy wins, and I think it's highly likely, the Labour Party will be urgently seeking some new candidates because the rebels will be without a Whip and in any event as reported here on the Huffington Post website, compulsory re-selection of candidates is likely to be introduced:-
Jeremy Corbyn Plans ‘Mandatory Reselection Of MPs’ If He Wins Fresh Leadership Mandate

Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn have warned he will impose mandatory reselection of MPs and a string of other moves to give party members more control if he successfully defeats the Commons ‘coup’ against him. HuffPost UK has been told that a string of radical measures are being planned if Corbyn is re-elected, including recall by-elections and a new ‘lock’ giving the rank and file membership a veto over any future leadership elections.

Senior Labour sources say that a fresh election victory would give him the mandate to draft an even more ‘socialist’ policy programme, but more importantly would allow him to transform party democracy. Labour MPs voted overwhelmingly for a vote of ‘no confidence’ in their party leader, and letters requesting a leadership contest were expected to be submitted to the party general secretary Iain McNicol in coming days.

But furious pro-Corbyn figures in the party say that plotting MPs will “have sleepless nights” if they fail in their bid to topple him. Private polling done by trade unions shows that support among their individual members for Corbyn is as strong as it was when he won his landslide in September 2015, and in some unions is even stronger. “We will offer the most radical leadership reform package ever,” said one insider. “Reselection, recall, a lock on leadership elections that only members can remove. We will bring it.”

Allies of Corbyn were furious at his “rude” treatment by MPs at the Parliamentary Labour Party meeting on Monday night. The grassroots Momentum movement has always said it opposes plans to impose mandatory reselection of MPs, but some within the group think that the conduct of the PLP has forced a rethink. A string of rule changes will be implemented, with the backing of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee, to effectively shift power away from Parliament and towards the rank and file members and trade unionists. A party spokesman said in the wake of the PLP meeting that Corbyn felt deeply that it was upto members to decide his future.

“He believes in the democracy of the Labour party. That’s what’s at stake,” he said.


So what could be wrong with this, it's democratic after all? Well, it rather ignores the inconvenient fact that general elections are not fought under a similarly democratic system where every vote counts. Remember how that long-standing democratic deficit stored up the largely working-class anger that was unleashed last Thursday and how it's being stoked-up further by the determination of the political class to frustrate the Brexit decision. Remember how it stored up anger in 2015 when UKIP only achieved 1 MP with 4.5 million votes? Remember that landslide victory by Margaret Thatcher when more people voted against her and finally remember how the SDP failed to gain sufficient traction because of the first-past-the-post system?

Now this historical point regarding the SDP might well prove to be extremely significant in the coming days if democracy delivers a split in the Labour Party again. I can see it being entirely appropriate and consistent with any decision arrived at from a leadership election for one disaffected group or other to decide that the stakes are so high that splitting away is the only honourable route to take. Unfortunately, it's also highly likely that such a split will lead to electoral oblivion precisely because of the refusal by the political class to accept that reform of the voting system is so obviously necessary. 

I must be a very simple fellow because I just don't understand what the problem is with the concept of every vote counting - I thought it was what democracy should be about. Such a system will either endorse or not the current leader of the Labour Party when each member has one vote (there is surely a real problem here with £3 mischief-makers though?). It could allow members to endorse or de-select every Labour MP. In turn Labour MP's could decide who they had confidence in to lead them in Parliament. Finally, by a simple majority of voters, the electorate could decide if any party had a majority of MP's sufficient to form a government. What's wrong with this, or are we happy to carry on with a system that gives us perverse results and a great deal of anger from people who increasingly feel disenfranchised?              

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Helga Wields The Axe

We may now be living under a zombie government and a zombie opposition, have no chance of prison reform any time soon, have a vacancy at the top of NOMS and the guy in charge at the MoJ very much pre-occupied elsewhere, but the TR omnishambles carries on regardless. My thanks go out to two seperate readers for the following news from London:- 

My vision for London CRC is to be the number one CRC in the country, committed to reducing reoffending, and we recognise that quality service user engagement plays a key role in achieving that aim.

While we appreciate the importance of service user engagement, we are making some changes to our approach that I would like to share with you.

Probation Engagement Workers’ consultation

We have made the difficult decision to end the Probation Engagement Worker (PEW) role in London CRC. We recognise the valued contribution that our PEWs have made to our organisation, and regret not being in a position to extend their contracts or to make them permanent.

We will begin a six week consultation period with the PEWs from 28 June. During this period, we will work with them to look at ways of avoiding potential redundancy including exploring job opportunities internally and with our partner organisations.

The PEWs will also be able to get advice and support on topics such as CV writing, interview practice and networking skills from staff at specialist outplacement company Penna.

I’d like to extend a personal thank you from myself and the senior management team for the positive impact that the PEWs have had on service user engagement while they have been in post, and wish them all the very best for the future.

User Voice

Over the last five years, we have worked closely with User Voice and have valued their input and work in helping us to achieve our goals. It’s with regret that I announce we were unable to agree new contractual terms and conditions with them. As a consequence, we have both decided not to continue our relationship going forward and held our penultimate Service User Council meeting last week.

I would like to emphasise our ongoing commitment to service user engagement and confirm that we will be exploring new and fresh approaches. We will share these with you as soon as we can.

Please speak to your ACO if you have any questions about this announcement.

Helga Swidenbank
Director of Probation

London Community Rehabilitation Company
Floor 9, Hannibal House, New Kent Road, Elephant and Castle, London SE1 6TE


The CRC in consultation with the NPS have decided to remove existing security guards from most offices in order to reduce costs. We are currently raising concerns in respect of this decision.

We had been advised that a pro-forma had been sent out to managers so that a review and risk assessment of every office could be done.

BUT the process of withdrawing security staff has already begun.

In order for NAPO to try and ensure that management are meeting their obligations on staff safety we need you to become actively involved in raising concerns so that security staff are either retained where needed or appropriate alternative arrangements are made.

  • Are you aware of the current safety procedures in your office? 
  • Do you feel safe with the current arrangements? 
  • Have you been consulted by senior management on whether or not you feel safe with the current arrangements? 
If your answer to any of the above is no then raise the matter urgently at a staff meeting. A full risk assessment should be carried out immediately.

1. Ask to see the risk assessments in relation to your place of work. These should be reviewed annually by all those concerned i.e. staff and management. They should also be reviewed when there is a significant change in circumstances that might either increase or decrease risks to staff e.g. removal of security staff.

2. Look at the risk assessments with others in your workplace and decide if whether they are accurate, if they are suitable and if they are sufficient. Try to agree what risks you are most concerned about. What changes are likely to increase risk and decrease safe working. If they are not up to date, and you consider they are not suitable and sufficient to address the risks, then you should alert your manager.

3. Write to your line managers copying in their line manager with a recommendation that your concerns are addressed urgently and reviewed at the next local health and safety meeting. Ask for a report back of all actions taken.

4. Copy in Ian Lander (NPS) and Paul Fairbrass (CRC) Senior H&S managers especially when you have serious concerns. Copy us in. We will try to support members in resolving local issues regarding safety concerns.

5. AND Remember to complete an A&I Form every time something happens that compromises your safety or the safety of anyone else.

Terry Wilson (H&S Convenor NPS)
David Raho (H&S Convenor CRC)

Monday 27 June 2016

The Law of Unintended Consequences

The internet says:-

The law of unintended consequences, often cited but rarely defined, is that actions of people—and especially of government—always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended.

I think most people would agree that, post the referendum Brexit result, we are in quite a mess and nothing seems clear or straightforward any more. As I wrote the other day, we thought there was a clear decision and as a nation we were on the path to Brexit, but that was to seriously under-estimate the cunning and guile of the political class and it now seems quite likely any exit will either be considerably delayed, or may never happen at all. 

With a Prime Minister nearly gone and an Opposition Leader possibly on the way too, it's anyone's guess what might happen next, but before I throw in my twopenneth, this off Facebook made me chuckle and I hope the author doesn't mind me bringing it to the attention of a wider audience:- 

Right. F*ck this. We're ALL up shit creek and we need a paddle. Now, not in three months.

Fellow Remain voters: Enough already. Yes, we're all pissed off but navel gazing ain't gonna help. Not all 17 million Leave voters can possibly be racist northern pensioners without an O level to their name. Maybe they have a point about this quitting the EU thing? Maybe not. Whatever, we are where we are and no amount a whinging is gonna change that. Allegedly we're the intelligent ones, so get your thinking caps on.

Leave voters: Well done. Good game. We hear you. Now you need to get stuck in to the aftermath and not just piss off back to Wetherspoons. (Just banter, twats!). And the first person to say they "want their country back" gets deported to f*cking Gibraltar. OK?


David. F*ck off. Shut the door behind you. Now.

George. You may be a twat but you're our twat. Plus you know the passwords for our Junior Savers account. Get your calculator. Drop the face-like-a-slapped-ass routine. You're on.

Boris. Sorry mate. That photo of you abseiling by your scrotum over the London Olympics while waving a Union Jack can't ever be un-taken. Plus, you'll never be able to appear on Question Time again without some sturdy Glaswegian nurse asking where the f*ck her 350 million quid is. Not only will she have a very good point, she'll be wearing a T shirt that shows you gurning in front of that f*cking bus! No captains hat for you I'm afraid.

Theresa. You're in charge love. Get the biggest shoulder pads you've got. We need Ming The Merciless in drag and you'll scare the shit out of 'em.

Nicola. Yep. Fair cop. You probably could get us on a technicality, as could London. But we f*cking love shortbread. And oil. And to be honest you're probably the best politician we've got, so we need you on side. Sort your lot out and we promise never to mention that Jimmy Krankie thing again (although it is pretty uncanny) and we'll make you a Dame once we're sorted. Bring Ruth Davidson. She kicks ass.

Opposition party. We'll need one. Someone take Jeremy and John back to the British Legion Club where you found them. Take Nigel as well. Give back their sandals, buy them a pint, then go to Heathrow and collect David Milliband. F*ck it. Lets gets Ed Balls as well. He keeps George on his toes. I think he works on the lottery kiosk at Morrisons now?

Oh. And Mark Carney. Give him a knighthood and tell him to keep that shit coming. We definitely need more of that good shit!

Everyone set? Right. Hold the Easyjet. We're going to Brussels and this ain't no hen party.


Unintended Consequence 1 

The wrong bloody decision. Ok Angela decided she couldn't cut David a better deal, but Project Fear was still supposed to deliver the right decision because, lets face it, who in their right mind would vote Brexit? Well, as we now know, the working class did and they turned out in significant numbers either blissfully ignorant of the official Labour line, or determined to ignore Jeremy's lack-lustre campaign message of being 'sort of 7.5 out of 10' keen on the EU. 

Unintended Consequence 2   

The Prime Minister resigns. When announcing his intended departure from No 10 Downing Street, David says it's up to the new PM to fire the gun by sending the Article 50 Declaration to Brussels. It turns out the referendum result is only 'advisory' anyway and of course with most MP's being for Remain, any PM is most unlikely to obtain a mandate from Parliament authorising the firing of the gun.

Unintended Consequence 3 

The political class choose to circumvent the wrong decision.They cry 'foul' and demand another referendum and start exerting all kinds of pressure as only this group know how. The Brexiteers are made to feel guilty having robbed the young of their inheritance and start threatening to seek revenge on the old. The working class begin to realise they've been screwed over, but also realise there's nothing they can do.

Unintended Consequence 4  

There's going to be a general election. Despite the fact that none was likely until 2020, it looks highly likely there will be one before the year is out in order for the new PM to seek a 'refreshed democratic mandate' over whether we really do Brexit or not. The beauty of this is that it won't be held under that pesky system where every vote counts, but rather first past the post where every vote doesn't count.

Unintended Consequence 5   

HM Opposition implodes. Realising that a general election is only months away and not years, old Blairites suddenly become seized of the view that the chance of electoral success under Jeremy is close to zero, despite his huge popularity amongst individual Labour Party members. They know this is due to a number of factors, including the first past the post electoral system.

Unintended Consequence 6 

Jeremy was never meant to be Labour leader. It started as a bit of a joke and the desire to have a proper debate within the party, but it back-fired spectacularly and he proved hugely popular amongst individual party members, together with significant numbers of 'supporters' only too keen to shell out £3 in order to cause mischief. 

Unintended Consequence 7

It will be impossible to ditch Jeremy. He is highly likely to lose a vote of confidence brought by the Parliamentary Labour Party, but despite efforts to keep his name off the leadership ballot paper, he will be handsomely re-elected to the utter dismay of many Labour MP's.

Unintended Consequence 8     

The rise of UKIP. Having won the referendum, some might have assumed that UKIP no longer had a purpose and would quietly fade away so that politics could get back to normal. This might have been possible, but having had the referendum decision circumvented, UKIP will enter any general election well-placed to benefit from working-class outrage in the previously loyal Labour heartland. They also find themselves well-placed to benefit from outraged Tory Bexiteers in their heartland.  

Unintended Consequence 9 

UKIP become HM Loyal Opposition. Any general election is likely to be fought on the basis of the Tories trying to seek a 'refreshed democratic mandate' for a skilfully-negotiated proper deal with the EU, against a UKIP demand for Brexit. It will be working-class pitted against political class again, but this time under first past the post. I have no idea what the pitch from Labour under Jeremy will be, but it's highly likely that first past the post will deliver them close to oblivion. Remember how many MP's UKIP got in 2015 under that electoral system and 4.5 million votes? 

Unintended Consequence 10  

We stay in Europe with a choice of Tories or UKIP in government. 

Napo at Work in the South West 3

Yet again thanks are due to the keen reader from the South West who keeps us informed about what's going on in that neck of the woods:-

Chairs AGM Report SSW Branch 2016

Welcome members,

This is the second branch AGM for our amalgamated area South South West. It is a difficult geography to manage against the backdrop of reduced travel arrangements across the board. Less frequent meetings given the distances and time with a membership that have been so hard pressed this year many are resigned to making do than making a challenge against the deterioration that has beset our working conditions and branch activism. Nevertheless the branch remains strong and committed to fighting off as much as we can and pursue all avenues of defence where possible. In particular we have the General Secretary now taking a direct hand in the overall support of our efforts in the SSWest branch.

Regular readers of Napo articles will know that we are a busy active and capable branch. We have a strong leadership and a team of activists that monitor and support our members in every location across the CRC and the NPS offices. This is getting harder as the onslaught to close CRC building gathers pace. More difficulty for those in the NPS as we have seen colleagues separated and the activism is split from comrades in the different organisational structures.

While there is still much to be done we are trying to retain all the linkages and we have to combine your efforts to do that. However this AGM report is to keep you informed of the progress we have made over the year.

This branch has managed to deliver planned branch meeting across all the locations in our areas with most of these just making the quoracy requirement. For that, we thank you as journeys for the exec are long and there is some reward with well attended meetings as we can get on with current NAPO members led sanctioned business. There was also a series of successful office based meetings on the pay ratification issue although we have not seen that materialise into paid back pay just yet. 

We have as a branch exec maintained our reporting structures and central links to NAPO NEC committee and wider involvements. We thank the national activists for their personal commitment travel time lost and exceptional commitment to you. Also to acknowledge that some of our members have obviously been able to take opportunities to end their careers in this time of organisational uncertainty.

Barry Adams long standing NEC rep who has more than a few battle scars within that forum departing our structure in December. We wished him well then and acknowledge his brand and style no matter how controversial will be missed.

Another leaver who has to me in particular, been a colleague, a working practitioner an excellent trade union leader and a great friend. A loyal NAPO supporter and activist with both local and national experience with strong and capable views. Helen Coley. Sadly leaving the organisation after nearly 30 years service, this is Helens last AGM. Helen retires from the JNCC and branch and now is moving onto a national Union role. With her skills and ability they will be richer and we wish her well knowing that Helen will be around in communication and as a trade unionist. Our best wishes to Helen and sincere thanks.

The branch thanks and recognition list is lengthy, yet most on the Executive continue to keep working hard in the background and look for nothing. I want to recognise this group and ensure we acknowledge them. 

In combating and challenging the excess of the management cutting all jobs agenda considerable efforts by the executive ensure we remain strong, and of course they deserve all our gratitude for their support. The NPS side of the Executive constantly working to bring a closer cohesion into union matters is a difficult task.

What has become clear is the need to deliver a report for both sides of the NAPO membership in the NPS and the CRC. It is also clear the different structures are creating needs that range from the reorganisations and the associated staffing sickness stress recording and workload issues. To those of role change variation and the process to change the NPS under E3 agenda. I know this AGM will be full of the situations many members now face. What we do and how we organise to challenge the dictatorial structures within the NPS remain to be seen. That starts in the AGM this year and how much strength and revitalisation we can achieve as things start to get worst and your resistance will be needed. Whatever the challenges we have to remain as strong as we can and I will as your Chair in NAPO SSWest branch will be here until such time that many of our members posts become terminated from the process of reorganisation within the CRC. To help us understand the events and contextualise what this means for all our members we welcome our guest speakers Angela Cossins Deputy Director NPS and our own NAPO General Secretary, Ian Lawrence to answer your questions. We thank them for contributing and their time.

In relation to the coming year it is looking to me at least, like a lot of bleak signals as we see the plans to close offices separate our colleagues further and start to end the commonalities across all our usual working practices. We will as your elected representatives, and this is an illustration of the posts that remain vacant and the uncontested union positions, think about putting yourself forwards to help. Many of us currently will be coming to the end of our allowable terms and to continue to resist and challenge the changes we should have new and optimistic branch activists to help. We look on hoping for your continued support and new membership where possible recruit.

Members, the 2015-16 year has been punishing in the announcement last October of the likelihood of mass reductions we are fearful of what this may bring by next October but we are not fearful of having the fight on your behalf as things worsen keep us informed so we can ensure all matters are recorded.

Finally, this branch has managed to secure through a range of contacts and through some additional Central Napo funds particular branch training. We have provided specialised Women’s interest course, and have this month seen 10 branch activists engage in their TUC accredited stage 1 union reps training. This learning compliments the national Napo efforts to develop new activists. While Napo have provided funding support I want to ensure Mona Lim is recognised as the ongoing treasurer for making sure things happen behind the scenes. Also the skilled educators that have made efforts to encourage and develop our comrades so they are enabled to look more critically and skilfully at what they can do to help protect us all as part of the union movement. They know who they are we say thank you.

Dino Peros 

Branch Chair AGM report.

12 06 16.

Sunday 26 June 2016

No Brexit After All!

The fallout from Brexit continues, especially where the political class are concerned. Forget all that crap about the democratic will of the people, the wrong decision was delivered on Thursday and it's not binding anyway, only advisory. Here's David Lammy MP on twitter demonstrating his democratic credentials on behalf of the metropolitan political class:-

View image on Twitter
I guess the working-class never did stand a chance when up against the sheer guile of the political class who make for very sore losers indeed. As I write, they are in the process of collecting zillions of signatures on a No10 petition crying foul and demanding another referendum. It is suggested that Thursday's vote has no legitimacy because:-
"We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the Remain or Leave vote is less than 60%, based on a turnout less than 75%, there should be another referendum."
It's a great wheeze, like that of David Lammy's, but for a variety of reasons won't or can't get anywhere - but it turns out that nothing is exactly as most people might be tempted to think it is. We might have voted for Brexit, but that doesn't mean we have yet and maybe we might not at all. This on the Jack of Kent website:-

Why the Article 50 notification is important

On Thursday 23rd June 2016 there was a historic referendum vote. A clear and decisive majority – though not a large majority – voted for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. And the following day, Friday 24th June 2016, something perhaps just as significant did not happen. The UK did not send to the EU the notification under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on European Union which would have commenced the withdrawal process.

The Article 50 process is the only practical means by which the UK can leave the EU. There are other theoretical means – which would mean effectively the UK unilaterally renouncing its treaty obligations – but as the UK wants to be taken seriously in future treaty making, such approaches would lose credibility. And so unless and until the Article 50 process is commenced and completed, the UK will stay as a member of the EU.

If it is a notification which can be made by a Prime Minister once the referendum vote result was known, then it was a notification which could have been sent yesterday. That such a speedy notification would be made was certainly the impression David Cameron sought to give when the referendum was announced back in February:
Then there is the legality. I want to spell out this point very carefully. If the British people vote to leave there is only one way to bring that about – and that is to trigger Article 50 of the Treaties and begin the process of exit. And the British people would rightly expect that to start straight away. Let me be absolutely clear how this works. It triggers a 2-year time period to negotiate the arrangements for exit. At the end of this period, if no agreement is in place then exit is automatic unless every 1 of the 27 other EU member states agrees to a delay.
If you read this carefully, you will spot that it is quite deftly worded: Cameron was not committing himself to making the notification. It was instead something which would be “rightly expected”. He did not promise to meet that “expectation”. But in his (resignation) statement yesterday, Cameron said something different about Article 50:
A negotiation with the European Union will need to begin under a new Prime Minister, and I think it is right that this new Prime Minister takes the decision about when to trigger Article 50 and start the formal and legal process of leaving the EU.
So Cameron has gone from it being “rightly” expected that the notification be made by him straight away, to it being “right” that the decision be made later by somebody else at the time of their choosing. The fact is that the longer the Article 50 notification is put off, the greater the chance it will never be made at all. This is because the longer the delay, the more likely it will be that events will intervene or excuses will be contrived.
There will be those who will say: of course, the notification under Article 50 cannot take place straight away – don’t you realise it is part of a process? The UK should negotiate as much as possible before the notification is made and the two year deadline is triggered. They may have a point, but pretty soon they will perhaps become self-conscious of explaining away why the notification has not been made quite just yet. It may dawn on such people that the notification may never be made at all.
And so long as the Article 50 notification is not made, the UK continues to be a full member of the EU as it was before the referendum took place; indeed, as if the referendum never took place at all. The Article 50 notification also has another side to it: unless and until it is made, there is no obligation on the European Union to negotiate with a Member State about to leave. As I set out yesterday at the Financial Times, this means there is a stand-off:
Nothing can force the UK to press the notification button, and nothing can force the EU to negotiate until it is pressed. It is entirely a matter for a Member State to decide whether to make the notification and, if so, when. In turn, there is no obligation on the EU to enter into negotiations until the notification is made. There is therefore a stalemate. If this were game of chess, a draw would now be offered. Stalemates can last a long time. And unless there is political will to resolve it, this stalemate will not resolve itself.
There is no indication that UK politicians – including those like Boris Johnson and Michael Gove who are possible successors to Cameron – are in any hurry to make the Article 50 notification. It is not impossible to imagine that the Article 50 notification will never be made, and that the possibility that it may one day be made will become another routine feature of UK politics – a sort of embedded threat which comes and goes out of focus. The notification will be made one day, politicians and pundits will say, but not yet.

And whilst it is not made, then other ways of solving the problem created by the referendum result may present themselves: another referendum, perhaps, so that UK voters can give the “correct” result, or a general election where EU membership is a manifesto issue, or some other thing.

This will not please Leave campaigners, and rightly so. It means the result of the referendum will be effectively ignored. But that was always possible, as it was set up deliberately as a non-binding referendum (unlike the Alternative Vote referendum, which was designed to have binding effect if there was a “yes” vote, which there wasn’t).

“Of course, they will respect the popular vote. They would dare not ignore it!” is the cry. People saying this have a good point, but they should also remember a ship which never did get called Boaty McBoatface. In my view, if the Article 50 notification was not sent yesterday – the very day after the Leave result – there is a strong chance it will never be sent.

If this view is wrong, it remains the case that those with a sincere interest in the issue of UK’s membership – whether Remainers or Leavers – should keep their eyes on the Article 50 notification, regardless of noise and bluster and excuses. As long as the notification is not sent, the UK remains part of the EU. And there is currently no reason or evidence to believe that, regardless of the referendum result, the notification will be sent at all.


Quite a few people have been writing about how the referendum result can be circumvented and a new term has entered the lexicon, the need for a 'refreshed democratic mandate' as espoused here:-
Some have mooted that our Parliament could simply ignore the referendum result. Although that may be right in legal theory I don’t, myself, consider it a practical likelihood. But, what democracy has commanded shall be done it can also command to be undone. Or, to put the matter less grandly, a second vote, this time for Remain, would undo the democratic imperative of the first. So I see a refreshed democratic mandate as key. 
How might such a thing be delivered? I can see two routes. First, were we to have an early General Election fought by one party on an explicit Remain platform and were that party to prevail it would, I think, amount to a ‘refreshed democratic mandate’. The electorate would have spoken such that the result of the Referendum would be superseded. Second, even without such a General Election, Parliament might decide that circumstances had changed sufficiently, as in Ireland, to put the proposition to the electorate again.
A reminder how we got here by James Galbraith on the DiEM25 website:- 
The Day After
The groundwork for the Brexit debacle was laid last July when Europe crushed the last progressive pro-European government the EU is likely to see – the SYRIZA government elected in Greece in January 2015. Most Britons were not directly engaged with the Greek trauma. Many surely looked askance at the Greek leaders. But they must have noticed how Europe talked down to Greece, how it scolded its officials, how it dictated terms and how it made rebellious country into an example, so that no one else would ever be tempted to follow the same path.
If the destruction of Greece helped set the tone, Leave won by turning the British referendum into an ugly expression of English nativism, feeding on the frustrations of a deeply unequal nation, ironically divided by the very forces of reaction and austerity that will now come fully to power. The political effect has sent a harsh message to Europeans living in Britain, and to the many who would have liked to come. The economic effect will leave Britain in the hands of simpletons who believe that deregulation is the universal source of growth.

That such a campaign could prevail – leading soon to a hard right government in Britain – testifies to the high-handed incompetence of the political, financial, British and European elites. Remain ran a campaign of fear, condescension and bean-counting, as though Britons cared only about the growth rate and the pound. And the Remain leaders seemed to believe that such figures as Barack Obama, George Soros, Christine Lagarde, a list of ten Nobel-prize-winning economists or the research department of the IMF carried weight with the British working class.

Since nothing happens, at first, except the start of negotiations, the immediate economic effects may be small. If the drop in sterling lasts, British exports may actually benefit. If the world gets skittish, the dollar will rise and US exports may suffer, with possible political consequences in America this fall. Otherwise, in the most likely case, the markets will settle down and British life will continue normally at first – except, of course, for immigrants. This will further give the lie to the scare campaign.

Over time, however, as they apply to the United Kingdom, the structures of EU law, regulation, fiscal transfers, open commerce, open borders and human rights built over four decades will now be eroded. Exactly how this will happen – by what process of negotiation, with what retribution from the spurned powers in Brussels and Berlin, by what combination of slow change and abrupt acts, with what consequences for the Union of Scotland to England – is clearly unknown to the leaders of the Leave campaign. This morning they appeared on British television in equal parts triumphant and clueless.

And the crisis now erupts everywhere in Europe: in Holland and France, but also in Spain and Italy, as well as in Germany, Finland and the East. If the hard right can rise in Britain, it can rise anywhere. If Britain can exit, so can anyone; neither the EU nor the Euro is irrevocable. And most likely, since the apocalyptic predictions of economic collapse and “Lehman on steroids” that preceded the Brexit referendum will not come true, such warnings will be even less credible when heard the next time.

The European Union has sowed the wind. It may reap the whirlwind. Unless it moves, and quickly, not merely to assert a hollow “unity” but to deliver a democratic, accountable, and realistic New Deal – or something very much like it – for all Europeans.

James Galbraith is author of “Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe.


Here's Fraser Nelson writing in the Wall Street Journal explains how the die was cast:-

Mr. Cameron has been trying to explain this to Angela Merkel for some time. He once regaled the German chancellor with a pre-dinner PowerPoint presentation to explain his whole referendum idea. Public support for keeping Britain within the EU was collapsing, he warned, but a renegotiation of its terms would save Britain’s membership. Ms. Merkel was never quite persuaded, and Mr. Cameron was sent away with a renegotiation barely worthy of the name. It was a fatal mistake—not nearly enough to help Mr. Cameron shift the terms of a debate he was already well on the way to losing.

The EU took a gamble: that the Brits were bluffing and would never vote to leave. A more generous deal—perhaps aimed at allowing the U.K. more control over immigration, the top public concern in Britain—would probably have (just) stopped Brexit. But the absence of a deal sent a clear and crushing message: The EU isn’t interested in reforming, so it is past time to stop pretending otherwise.

With no deal, all Mr. Cameron could do was warn about the risks of leaving the EU. If Brits try to escape, he said, they’d face the razor wire of a recession or the dogs of World War III. He rather overdid it. Instead of fear, he seemed to have stoked a mood of mass defiance.


Finally, a powerful piece by John Pilger on the Counter Punch website:- 

The majority vote by Britons to leave the European Union was an act of raw democracy. Millions of ordinary people refused to be bullied, intimidated and dismissed with open contempt by their presumed betters in the major parties, the leaders of the business and banking oligarchy and the media.

This was, in great part, a vote by those angered and demoralised by the sheer arrogance of the apologists for the “Remain” campaign and the dismemberment of a socially just civil life in Britain. The last bastion of the historic reforms of 1945, the National Health Service, has been so subverted by Tory and Labour-supported privateers it is fighting for its life.

A forewarning came when the Treasurer, George Osborne, the embodiment of both Britain’s ancient regime and the banking mafia in Europe, threatened to cut £30 billion from public services if people voted the wrong way; it was blackmail on a shocking scale.

Immigration was exploited in the campaign with consummate cynicism, not only by populist politicians from the lunar right, but by Labour politicians drawing on their own venerable tradition of promoting and nurturing racism, a symptom of corruption not at the bottom but at the top. The reason millions of refugees have fled the Middle East – first Iraq, now Syria – are the invasions and imperial mayhem of Britain, the United States, France, the European Union and Nato. Before that, there was the wilful destruction of Yugoslavia. Before that, there was the theft of Palestine and the imposition of Israel.

The pith helmets may have long gone, but the blood has never dried. A nineteenth century contempt for countries and peoples, depending on their degree of colonial usefulness, remains a centrepiece of modern “globalisation”, with its perverse socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor: its freedom for capital and denial of freedom to labour; its perfidious politicians and politicised civil servants.

All this has now come home to Europe, enriching the likes of Tony Blair and impoverishing and disempowering millions. On 23 June, the British said no more.

The most effective propagandists of the “European ideal” have not been the far right, but an insufferably patrician class for whom metropolitan London is the United Kingdom. Its leading members see themselves as liberal, enlightened, cultivated tribunes of the 21stcentury zeitgeist, even “cool”. What they really are is a bourgeoisie with insatiable consumerist tastes and ancient instincts of their own superiority. In their house paper, the Guardian, they have gloated, day after day, at those who would even consider the EU profoundly undemocratic, a source of social injustice and a virulent extremism known as “neoliberalism”.


Is it just possible that when things calm down in Brussels, rather more wise heads may prevail and that in order to stem a very ugly move by electorates in other Member States for exiting, some serious negotiations begin behind closed doors for both EU reform and a proper deal that keeps the UK in the club?