With Bio-Waste Spreader: “Last month the high court in Bristol awarded Somerset dairy farmers Ian and Judith Wakley £1.75m damages for multiple breaches of their farm tenancy by their landlord, the Crown Estate, whose income from its vast landholdings goes to the Treasury. The Crown Estate was found to have misrepresented the condition and capacity of the farm. But the cavalier way the Wakleys were treated illustrates a broader problem in the tenanted farm sector, where landlords increasingly hold all the cards…”
With M.D.: “Whether you agree with the Red Cross that the crisis in social care and the NHS is ‘humanitarian’, or merely ‘human’, there is no doubt millions of people are being denied the care they need or waiting too long for it. Christmas was particularly bad, with a third of hospitals having to take urgent action to safeguard patients and reports of staff meltdown and deaths in the corridor queues. With so many hospitals overcrowded and on red alert, now does not seem to be the time for the massive cuts in bed numbers predicted by the McKinsey-heavy NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans...”
With Dr B Ching: ““I don’t think anybody can deliver the right solution with a gun to their head,’ transport secretary Chris Grayling said last week when asked why he insisted rail unions must call off their Southern strikes before negotiations could begin. He then made clear he wouldn’t remove the gun his department has been pointing at unions since February last year, when senior rail official Peter Wilkinson vowed to ‘break’ staff and predicted: ‘Over the next three years we’re going to be having punch-ups and we will see industrial action’…”
With Remote Controller: “In debates over the remits of the BBC and ITV, we hear a lot about the importance of choice. But, in the heart of Saturday night peak-time at the dawn of a new year, here are two new shiny-floor competitions designed to find new musical talent. Each is filmed in Manchester and has a structure of auditions-bootcamps-finals and a quartet of judges. Jennifer Hudson, female solo expert at the ITV desk on The Voice UK, played the role of Effie White in the movie musical Dreamgirls, while Amber Riley, her BBC counterpart on Let It Shine, has just started singing that part in the West End version of Dreamgirls… Remarkably, what the shows also have in common is that neither is under the umbrella of the godfather of the genre, Simon Cowell. The shadow of the Botox-frozen A&R man, though, hangs heavily over the franchises…
[reviews of Let It Shine (BBC1) and The Voice UK (ITV)].”
With Old Sparky: “The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy excelled itself on Christmas Eve, slipping out 51 energy documents when it thought nobody was watching. Even Old Sparky won’t read them all; but one in particular revealed ministers’ increasingly desperate (and unsuccessful) efforts to rig the electricity market to get the results they want…”
With Piloti: “One project whose closure, or cancellation anyway, would be widely welcomed is the Garden Bridge across the Thames (Eyes passim ad nauseam). The hope must be that 2017 will see the demise of this gratuitous and ludicrous folly. If so, the main reason will be that the Garden Bridge Trust has failed to raise enough money to build it. The original estimate was £185m, but that must have risen as the pound’s fall since the EU referendum means the Italian steel required will cost much more. It is also disturbingly unclear who will pay to maintain the bridge in future…”
With Lunchtime O’Boulez: “As the survival of serious music in Britain increasingly resembles a postcode lottery, a useful place to be right now is Edinburgh, where the Scottish government has just dropped an unexpected £300,000 bonus into the lap of the annual festival as a present for its 70th birthday next summer. A distinctly bad place to be, however, is Birmingham, where funding cuts have just wiped another 34 percent off the city council’s arts budget…”
With Slicker: “News that Nigel Farage pal and multimillionaire Brexit campaign funder Arron Banks plans to float his insurance broker, Eldon Insurance Services, on the AIM market later this year raises some interesting questions about the Bristol-based Brexiteer and his relationship with those that regulate his insurance interests. Banks owns between 50 and 75 percent of Eldon, which mainly trades under the GoSkippy brand, but is not a director. So he no longer has to be an ‘approved’ person as far as the Fundamentally Compliant Authority is concerned. Banks’ FCA status is listed as ‘inactive’ since September 2013, when he resigned from Eldon. However, as the controlling shareholder he has FCA approval…”
Letter from Caracas
From Our Own Correspondent: “Ever at the cutting edge of the revolution, we Venezuelans are moving to a cash-free economy. Not because we want to, mind you. We just can’t get hold of the stuff; and when we do, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. Literally. Back at the dawn of history, about six months ago, we would spend hours every day queueing in our hundreds for a chance to buy a couple of kilos of flour, some cooking oil or babies’ nappies from government-run supermarkets at subsidised prices. As goods became scarcer and tempers frayed, riots tended to break out. Our moustachioed supremo, Nicolas Maduro, then had a brainwave…”
Next issue on sale: 24th January 2017.
Health Correspondents Can’t Cope with Influx of Ailing NHS Stories… Littlejohn, Morgan, Hopkins: Why Do Arses Keep Appearing in the Daily Mail?… Bank of England Economist Admits He May Be Wrong About Being Wrong… Hospital beds, Seats on Trains – What We’ll Share in the Shared Society… Three Bears in Pop-Up Brothel Shock – Nursery Times Exclusive… Much Longer Journeys Mean Passengers Getting ‘Better Value Than Ever’ Says Rail Chief
- Trump that: The president-elect’s diary, as told to Craig Brown
- Sun tribute: The death of George Michael – a very Bizarre tale.
- Health check 2017: M.D. takes the pulse of the NHS
For all these stories you can buy the magazine or subscribe here and get delivery direct to your home every fortnight.