Friday, 30 September 2022

Reasons To Be Cheerful

This from today's Times:- 

Defiant Liz Truss set to curb benefits to fund budget 
Labour surges to 33-point lead over Tories

Liz Truss has insisted that she has the “right plan” for Britain as a poll for The Times found that the Tories have slumped to their lowest level of public support in a quarter of a century. The survey, by YouGov, showed that Labour had surged to a record 33-point lead over the Conservatives, after a week of market turmoil triggered by the prime minister’s tax-cutting budget.

Truss said she would not change course and would push ahead with government savings to pay for her £45 billion stimulus package. Ministers are drawing up plans for real-term benefits cuts, saving £5 billion by increasing them in line with earnings, rather than with inflation.

Well, who'd have thought that then! A week ago there seemed little prospect of a Labour government any time soon, what with a majority of the public not knowing who Keir Starmer was and those that did know thinking he was 'boring'. Politics has yet again been turned upside down with the Tory 'nasty' party proving their credentials by giving money to the rich as they prepare to rob the poor by cutting their benefits. 

Of course this wouldn't unduly worry the Tory faithful because it's just how they are, but trashing the economy in one day by causing a run on the pound and pushing interest rates up not only for government borrowing, but the nation's mortgages as well, has suddenly gained all our attention and in the process sealed the fate of possibly hundreds of Tory backbenchers. 

It's a slow burn situation that can only get worse as the next General Election date approaches, fixed rate mortgages end and the harsh reality of massive monthly repayments hits home. All self-inflicted by a new prime minister and chancellor who think they're playing a game and wonder which levers to play with next. Suddenly it's Labour that look to be fiscally responsible and a 'boring' prime minister might be just the ticket. Their approval rating has rocketed just as letters of no confidence start arriving at the 1922 Committee! 

So, with a genuine chance of a change in government at last, where is the campaign for probation breaking free of HMPPS command and control and regaining operational independence? Does the Labour Shadow Prison and Probation minister Ellie Reeves know what we're about and why being subsumed by a uniformed service is a disaster? I really, really hope so, but sadly her video message yesterday marking another one of those bloody pat-on-the-back award/thankyou things - 'Hidden Heroes' - hit entirely the wrong note with a suggestion we get medals!! 

Look - probation staff want proper payment and a break from the medal-wearing HM Prison Service - we do a different job; we have a different professional culture and we want our independence back!   


  1. Whilst I have zero respect for the current shower, Starmer isn't going to be any better- he has the gravitas of a squashed peach. Politicians are all the same and Labour in its current incarnation is Diet Conservative. You might get a little change here and there, but not much else. Blunkett was the buffoon who brought in IPP, 'New' Labour bought in tuition fees and Tony Blair went to war on a lie. As for Probation having a different culture to prisons, even though Probation work in prisons: they're still making the same mistakes of blaming the workforce for the amount of work, not the system for being overloaded and people having enough and leaving. This is a form of distancing- what Probation Officers try to dissuade offenders from keeping hold of to help address their offending. If you continue to blame the workforce who seem to work on goodwill usurped by a culture of poor warehousing, mismanagement and oops, I hope that doesn't turn to an SFO kinds of winging it. I often feel like someone who has to clear up the mess made from others' mismanagement. I inherited a rapist and violent offender on my caseload that hasn't been seen face-to-face for 6 months. How in any way shape or form is this acceptable? Problematically, it's not unusual. Who normalises this culture? We need to clean our own house without worrying about prisons, even though they do think they're running the show- and often failing to do the basics as well, especially with releases and 'threatening' COMs with "they'll be released with Standard Licence Conditions unless, blah, blah." They're nothing to write home about either.

  2. No help in slagging off labour leader while the pills are 8n our favour for the first time in years. Better still the daily fail cannot find a headline to defend the vicious Tories. Yet whatever we think about them tax cuts to the rich funded by benefits cuts from the poor can only indicate the skewed and savage instincts of the people in this country. So if anyone thinks there will be any change in probation being subsumed by the prison regime forget it.

    1. Unfortunately Starmer is blue in all but name,the parallels with 1997, when Majors government went into free fall allowing Blair his ‘turn’ are clear to see. It’s almost as if the tories need a rest so give it to labour for four years before they will be back in force. Labour,Tories, they are all the same, who said if voting changed anything they’d
      abolish it.....Politics,I have come to realise after a lifetime of voting and hoping that things will only get better, is the mechanism of control for the populace with no intention of it ever getting ‘better’.....don’t vote for a few years till they make it mandatory, only then will we see fundamental change in this country.......

  3. PCS said the DWP had offered redundancy packages to nearly 800 staff “when it is struggling to recruit staff, despite repeated claims that it would do everything it could to redeploy those at risk of losing their job”.

    The union said it is "scandalous" that DWP is making staff redundant while struggling to recruit in areas that "are chronically under-resourced" such as personal independence payments, child maintenance, and retirement pensions.

    1. Civil service union PCS has slammed the Department for Work and Pensions for making redundancy offers to hundreds of staff while recruiting in other areas.

      PCS said the DWP had offered redundancy packages to nearly 800 staff “when it is struggling to recruit staff, despite repeated claims that it would do everything it could to redeploy those at risk of losing their job”.

      The union said it is "scandalous" that DWP is making staff redundant while struggling to recruit in areas that "are chronically under-resourced" such as personal independence payments, child maintenance, and retirement pensions.

      The offers come in the wake of the DWP’s plans to shut more than 40 back-office sites. They are for members impacted by the initial set of office closures due at the end of this year, the union said. PCS said it believes many more staff will be made redundant by DWP next year, when the second tranche of offices close.

      The union said DWP had accused it of “scaremongering” in March, when the closures were announced, adding “it is now clear that our honest appraisal of the impact of the office closures was correct”.

      Then-employment minister Mims Davies told MPs in June that voluntary redundancy for staff affected by the shutdown of 43 sites was “the absolute last resort”.

      She said more than 80% of colleagues had confirmed that they can move to a new site but acknowledged that at least 1,100 staff had indicated that they cannot move.

  4. We have to get behind Starmer. He’s not perfect as a campaigner but I think he’d be an awesome PM.
    I became a PO under Tony Blair and there was lots of mistakes they made, lots of terrible decisions but they were still, still better than the last twelve years of grimness
    Starmer is currently further ahead in the polls than Corbin was behind.
    I liked much of Corbyns agenda but I’m a lot more left wing than the public.
    We have to accept the best possible compromise and that’s Starmer

  5. Also. Don’t complete the people survey. Don’t have a rant and a moan. It changes nothing. We complain about pay every year and they’ve done nothing. The best way to express your anger and frustration is not to complete it, they will far more worried about low completion rates.


  6. Watch al jazeera’s “the labour files” 3 part documentary on the corrupt state of the Labour Party and how it attacked Corbyn supporters (available on YouTube)

    1. Corbyn is over. He isn’t coming back. Get over it


    3. Yeah he's alright but he was always unelectable, he's not super bright and he's destinctly dodgy about Israel, Ireland and Putin. I voted labour, I donated to the LP, I wanted a Labour victory and I'd have loved to see the 2019 manifesto implemented but life is complex and this country was never going to elect someone who can very easily be painted as being "anti-british"

  7. I saw on QT last night a panellist saying that if the polls were correct, Labour would win by a landslide with something like a 326 seat majority.
    I cast my mind back to previous governments including Thatcher, who on the day after her election brought in legislation regarding the transfer of money around the globe. I was reminded of Blair with a 96 seat majority who did precisely nothing to repeal the anti Trade Union laws brought in by his predecessor.
    I heard some bloke on QT describe Starmer as ‘ business friendly,’ and therefore in his view electable.
    I remember Tony Benn saying ‘ we don’t seek to destroy Capitalism, we seek to inherit it.’ ( in other words, we can run capitalism better than the capitalists)
    We are in times of momentous change yet nobody seems to acknowledge that the system itself is the cause of the problem. The politicians are talking yet again about tinkering at the margins and the sheeple think that making an ‘X’ every five years or so gives them a say in the way their lives are run.
    I am often reminded of the chapter in The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists where the socialists caravan is stoned and run out of town to cries of “ we don’t want no free thinkers here.”

  8. From Brandon Lewis swearing-in speech as Lord Chancellor and Minister of Justice:-

    "I would like to say something about prisons and probation, for which I am also responsible as Secretary of State for Justice.

    Prison and probation officers – some of whom were involved in the State Funeral procession – play a huge role in our justice system and are so often the hidden heroes of our society.

    I want to also take the opportunity this morning to thank them for their immense efforts throughout the pandemic – and for their continuing hard work – to keep our prisons and the public safe.

    I will continue to prioritise the creation of secure and modern prison places – ones that champion rehabilitation by equipping offenders to become active in the jobs market. This in itself will keep the public safe by preventing reoffending, but it will also help us play our part to drive the government’s agenda for economic growth.

    I also want to explore options for reforming the Probation Service, which is vital in steering prison leavers towards better futures.

    And I am determined to make public protection the overriding factor in parole decisions – so that we can be assured of the confidence of both victims and the public."

    What the fuck does 'reform' mean? We need a campaign, not 'we need to set up a meeting with him and ask him not to do it!!!' as in continue with 'oneHMPPS'. I really do despair with Napo.

    1. It’s a joke, Brandon Lewis must be smoking crack in Number 10. All they ever do is “reform” probation. So much reform there’s nothing left. Leave probation alone!!

    2. Probation officers were not involved in the State Funeral procession. Only prison officers were important enough too be chosen. Maybe it’s the uniforms!

    3. "Prison and probation officers – some of whom were involved in the State Funeral procession"

      Let's try to guess who... Romeo? Farrar? Rees? The usual fucking suspects. So fucking what? Divisive, exclusive, elitist drivel falling from the slobbering jaws of an utter incompetent.

      "I want to explore options for reforming the Probation Service..."

      Again? And again? And again? And again?

      They just blatantly & joyously take the piss while they pocket our money - time & time * time again.

  9. Rioting prisoners took over a wing at one of Britain’s high-security jails for eight hours after they expelled officers and put up barricades.

    Tornado teams of specially-trained riot officers were deployed to regain control of the wing at HMP Swaleside in Kent which contains some of the UK’s most violent offenders with a third serving life sentences and nearly 200 foreign offenders.

    About 35 rioting prisoners forced officers out of one of the eight wings at about 10am on Thursday, leaving them no option but to lock it down to prevent them escaping.

    “Staff withdrew and locked it off because the prisoners were rioting. At about 6pm Tornado teams intervened and took back control by force. When we took the wing back, there were no injuries to prisoners. It is going to be a dodgy weekend,” said one prison source.

    Tornado Teams are units of up to 50 elite officers who wear heavy duty riot helmets, and are armed with batons and protected by shields. Every officer carries an American-style PR-24 sidearm baton.

    Once the teams were deployed, they took just 15 minutes to retake the wing and put the prisoners back in their cells. No prison officers from either the jail or the Tornado teams were injured.

    However, one officer in another wing was seriously assaulted the previous evening. He suffered a head injury after being knocked to the floor and stamped on. He was conscious when taken to hospital and his condition was said to be not life-threatening.

    Insiders blamed prison officer shortages as the jail is in an area with strong employment opportunities, making it hard to recruit new staff.

    Mark Fairhurst, chair of the Prison Officers’ Association said it meant prisoners were spending too long in cells without exercise, time in the gym, work or education.

    “They haven’t got enough staff to provide a full regime. You are dealing with long term prisoners in high security. These are criminals serving long sentences for violence and other serious offences,” he said.

    In an inspection last October, Charlie Taylor, HM chief inspector of prisons, warned that the number of assaults on staff were higher than similar jails and that the “incidence of violence was on the rise.”

    “The causes of violence were not yet fully understood and there was no long-term plan to make the prison safer. In our survey, over a third of prisoners said that they felt unsafe,” he wrote.

    Ian Acheson, a former prison governor and adviser to the Government on extremism, said: “This is very concerning. Recent reports have shown this prison has extreme difficulty recruiting and retaining front line officers.

    “The salary is not attractive but when you combine that with high levels of assault, inexperience, invisible leadership and a reluctance to enforce control, you have a recipe for disorder and chaos.”

    The ringleaders of the riot have been placed in segregation cells while 42 prisoners from Swaleside, which has a capacity for more than 1,100 men, are being dispersed to other jails. It is thought that extra officers are also being deployed to the jail.

    Prisons have been attempting to return to pre-pandemic regimes after Covid saw inmates locked in their cells for up to 22 hours a day. However, Mr Taylor warned in the Telegraph this month that progress was too slow with too many prisoners failing to be given sufficient rehabilitative or purposeful activities.

    In his inspection at Swaleside, he said most prisoners were only out of their cells three and a half hours a day - although this better than other prisons. However, just 17 per cent were attending any purposeful activity and gym take up was low.

    A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We will push for the strongest possible punishment for those involved, including extra time behind bars, and have recruited more permanent staff at Swaleside as well as deploying officers from other prisons.”

  10. Brandon Lewis wants to "explore options for reforming the probation service" and tonights Daily Telegraph splash is Antonia Romero to be Perm Sec at Treasury....


    1. Civil servants at the Department for Work Pensions are having to go without showers, heating, food, and social lives as they cope with soaring inflation, rising energy bills and “paltry” wage increases.

      The hardships suffered by officials working in the department amid the cost-of-living crisis are revealed in a 156-page dossier compiled by PCS, which the union will deliver to DWP’s Whitehall headquarters tomorrow afternoon.

      The document, seen by CSW, includes testimonies from around 150 PCS members in the department who deliver key public services such as jobs and pensions support and who have received average pay rises of just 2%.

      They tell of civil servants cutting down drastically on energy use and commuting costs, sometimes at the expense of their health; having difficulty sleeping; visiting foodbanks; running into overdrafts buying essentials; and turning to parents and payday loans to buy childrens’ clothes and other basics.

      The union says the response underlines why it is balloting members nationwide on strike action over pay, pensions, redundancy compensation and jobs.

      One work coach quoted in the dossier, a mother-of-three who has worked at DWP for six years, said this is the worst financial situation she has ever been in.

      “With the cost-of-living crisis I have had to choose between heating my home for children or buying myself new work clothes. Mine are about four years old and are in bad condition (thank God for hybrid working),” Eve said.

      “I had to buy school uniforms on my salary and still had to feed my children. I have a car which I am now contemplating giving up so I can keep my fridge fully stocked but will have to walk to and from my children’s school which is about a 20-minute walk then probably a 40-45-minute walk to work with a mobility disability – it’s not ideal.

      “I have thought about foodbanks in the past, but my children are well fed and looked after; my needs come after theirs.”

      An earlier survey by PCS found around one in 12 civil servants have visited foodbanks.

      Kerry, an administrative officer working on Universal Credit, said she had started visiting foodbanks because after paying her bills and buying some groceries, “I’m left with no money for the rest of the month.”

      “I live in overdraft to cover my family’s other needs, which has a knock- on effect. With the price hike in energy I am really scared of using the gas.... I often go without a meal, so my children have food,” she said.

      A full-time AO in the department earns between £21,495 and £21,688. For the next grade up, executive officers, pay ranges from £23,700 to £28,117; while at the bottom end of the scale, pay for administrative assistants is set at £21,245. As in other government departments, grades are tied to job roles rather than years served.

      Another AO, Jane, said she asked her MP to lower the age she could access her pension “so I can eat and keep warm in winter”.

      “I am cutting back everywhere. I eat two meals a day. I have no treats. I have candles on at home, so I don’t switch the lights on. I am desperately doing all I can to survive,” she wrote.


    flagged earlier by @21:39

    "Antonia Romeo, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice, is considered the “disruptive” choice by senior officials, who believe she has a close working relationship with Truss. Unlike the other two contenders, Romeo has not worked in the Treasury.

    Downing Street and the Cabinet Office declined to comment."

    Disruptive she is... its exactly the role she performed under Grayling & now as perm sec for MoJ - Strong White Shark, The Disruptor.

    "Two names that have been doing the rounds are Antonia Romeo, currently Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, and James Bowler, Permanent Secretary of the Department for International Trade."