Tuesday, 17 December 2013

World War Two monuments buried on Grain

A couple of years ago a development company hit a sticky wicket in Gillingham. Right in the middle of their proposed construction site was a set of Dragon's teeth, put in place to slow the advance of German armoured vehicles if the Wehrmacht had landed during World War Two. This really caught my attention at the time as my Grandfather, Corperal Alfred Pullen, had been working on the defences of Gillingham and Chatham in 1940 and had more than likely put them there with his team of Sappers. They had also put the large Concrete block outside what was the Town hall in Chatham.

The Dragon Teeth were built across much of Kent and have sadly been cleared following the war. Their design to hamper the enemy also hampered civil usage of roads, fields and beaches!

They do, however, survive in areas and have now been Listed as grade II as items of special interest. One surviving group is situated on the Isle of Grain and these have been defiled recently. The Grain Group stretch for some 570 meters along the north foreshore and have been  listed because amongst all the usual models there is also exceptionally rare Caltrops as well as anti-tank pimples on Concrete sleeper grid. They are listed with number 1019955.  According to local sources (and photographs that hit the web) they have been buried under a large amount of top soil that has been dumped on the beach.

Rumour has it that the soil was put there to cover up more older refuse and waste that has been there for as long as 40 years and may be leaching out into the river.

English Heritage have been contacted about the possible damage and the covering of the World War Two and they have asked Medway Council to look into it, I understand the Environmental officers have been tasked with this process. I have also heard that Peel Ports and the LRG, who own the land and are thus responsible for the upkeep of the beach and the monuments, have also been contacted by the Council.

As the history of this nation is slowly eroded by progress and time it is important to cling on to those monuments that do bear significance are properly maintained and restored. I trust that those responsible are held to account and this area restored to the way it was swiftly.

I also trust that there are no pollutants or waste under the soil, should there be then this makes a bad situation far, far worse.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

IWM Out sources Visitor Services Department

News that the Imperial War Museum Visitor Services department has been outsourced to Shield Security has already hit the newspapers.

I have to be careful what I write as I am still an employee of the Museum and can thus face disciplinary... Until 1st April.

The Museum like many other has been forced to face up to a hefty budget cut (caused by the financial deficit) from the Treasury and the Department of Culture and Sport as well as trying to save money for costly regeneration works for the World War One centenary in July next year. Museums as a whole have to face greater and greater competition for visitor figures and with the over priced nature of visiting London and more sunny days than wet, falling visitor numbers.

The IWM has had ticket only galleries in the past and in the five years I have been here they have had varying levels of success. Ian Fleming 007 and Horrible Histories: Terrible Trenches did very very well where as Once upon a War time based on certain fictional books set during wartime failed to impact - it was interesting to note that at the same time the Evening Standard wrote at length about the falling literacy levels within young readers...

Two Years ago the Museum began its review of the Visitor Services department and looking how to do things better. One of the problems highlighted at the time was that over the five branches the roles varied massively and that contracts differed depending on length of service. It was identified that the department was too cumbersome and there were offers of voluntary redundancies and early retirement which were accepted by a few. At the beginning of this year management had to look at the possibility of outsourcing the whole department except for a small Visitor Services department who would handle Visitor Planning and tours etc. The Tender process would begin and they would look at the feasibility. That was in April.

Since then rumours have been fierce and unrelenting. Yesterday it was announced to staff that they would, as of the 1st April 2014 be working for SHIELD. My meeting was today and we have been told that under the Tuppee law that our terms and Conditions, rotas, and structures would remain the same until at least April 1st 2015. After that nothing was certain.

The PCS have not been very helpful in this. Three years ago before I resigned my post our branch chair told us that there would never be agency staff working at the Museum or Volunteers doing VSA jobs... Both have since happened.

There have also been no real fight until the last week when the when Mark Sewotka's comments were published in the  Gaurdian and the PPS website. They also told the Museum that they did not agree with the process when it was pretty much over - a position that should have been taken eight months ago.

There are mixed fillings at the moment within the staff. There is a grim acceptance by some, others are trying to be optimistic that at least nothing changes for a year and we maintain pay etc, others are angry that their loyalty is not being repaid and that this may have been the plan all along.

Comments on Facebook and other Social media say things like:
"So angry, furious... annoyed"

"When you have a brilliant, warm-hearted, dedicated team, you do not outsource them. You treat them with respect and dignity"

"Dick move, IWM. That is all."

There is belief that this will not have any bad ramifications on the Centinary as staff who know and love the subject matter gently bleed away to be replaced by contractors with little interest in the subject. This remains to be seen.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Stop the Badger Cull in Medway

Many of my regular readers will know that I have been against the Cull of Badgers to combat Bovine TB within the UK.

It is a barbaric practise acting on very little evidence and is being carried out by brutal methods that are not being regulated properly. Usually someone is telephoning the sniper aiming at the badgers and measuring the amount of screams from the victim as to how much pain they are in rather than being on site. This cull has included the murder of young through direct action or by the killing of their parents.

The more costly yet effective route of Vaccination is being ignored in favour of the quick and simplistic Cull which does not cut to the route of the problem.

Now a petition is being put to Medway Council to:

We the undersigned petition the council to We, the undersigned, call on Medway Council to prohibit the culling of badgers on council-owned land and invest in vaccination programmes locally. We ask this because we believe culling to be inhumane, inefficient and unscientific.

This is a national issue which will be of direct concern to the people of Medway when DEFRA "rolls out" its culling policy in 2014. The object of the petition is to ensure that Medway's badger population is as safe as possible from slaughter and that the already available injectable badger vaccine against bTB is used in as many cases as possible. We ask this because we believe the culling policy is inhumane (DEFRA's measurement of "humaneness" is to time the screams of wounded badgers), inefficient (previous culls showed an increase in bTB because of badger movement) and unscientific (the majority of scientific opinion hold that a cull will have "no meaningful result").

Please take two minutes to sign this petition to stop the barbarism of one of Britain's favourite rural indigenous species and spread the word.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Tracey Crouch on the Mesothelioma Bill

I have written before on the problems of Asbestosis and Mesothelioma that has affected the people of Medway in particular Tracey Crouch's campaign and outspoken work on the subject.

These conditions cause severe health issues and death and Medway is one of the highest registered areas in the South behind Portsmouth and possibly Southampton (from memory - I can't find my original chart!!!). Statistics stated here show that an estimated 100,000 will die from Mesothelioma nation wide and 1.4% of all ship yard workers will contract the condition. Unknown amounts will suffer from Asbestosis.

The heavy industrial works at Chatham Dockyard and even in the Short Brother's factories building Stirling Bombers and Sunderland seaplanes meant that many of the Towns' residents who were employed at these facilities were exposed and in later life they are suffering from their employers not taking enough care. (Asbestosis was published in Medical journals in the early 1930s)

Tracey has been speaking out on this issue for sometime and rebelled over the legal aid bill and she has consistently fought for the rights of the sufferers, who have given so much to this country's war effort as well as peace time industry. On Monday she gave a speech on Mesothelioma Bill which, according to the post on Facebook says;

 This is a welcome piece of legislation that will compensate victims of this horrific and fatal disease caused only by exposure to asbestos, and one that sadly is prev...alent in the Medway Towns due to its heavy industry and shipbuilding legacy. The Bill makes it possible for sufferers who cannot trace their former employer or employer’s insurer to receive some form of payment, but there are a few shortcomings in the Bill that need to be addressed. Unfortunately I am not now on the Bill Committee but will do all I can to continue to fight for a fair outcome for victims.

I can only hope that this bill does go through relatively unmolested and that aid can be provided to those who have been exposed to this toxic substance and help those who have slipped through the holes and more importantly that money gets to those who deserve it and not soaked up by Lawyers and insurance companies.

Here's Tracey's speech (including the first question from Rochester & Strood's Mark Reckless MP) for the original link and the rest of the questions you can see it all on Hansard

Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford) (Con): It is a pleasure to speak on this issue, on which I have a great deal of knowledge from working in the insurance industry for five years before I became a Member of Parliament and from representing a constituency with very high levels of mesothelioma. Britain has the highest rate of mesothelioma in the world and sadly that rate is rising. In the past five years, the south-east of England has had the highest rates of deaths from mesothelioma compared with anywhere else in the UK. Medway, with its heavy industry and dockyard history, is a particular hot spot.
Mesothelioma is a horrific disease that is contracted exclusively by exposure to asbestos. Those who are diagnosed are often dead within a year. For many years, lawyers and insurers have taken their time to settle claims through civil procedures, leaving great financial uncertainty for sufferers and their families. A great deal has been done to speed up civil claims for victims and tribute ought to be paid to the work of Senior Master Whitaker for making that happen. However, there remains a small yet significant group of people who contracted mesothelioma but could not be compensated either because of poor record keeping by their employer or their employer’s insurer, or because neither existed any more.

The Bill will help to rectify that and is therefore welcome, but it still contains shortcomings that, if Ministers, insurers and lawyers were open-minded, could be rectified at little extra cost to them. Before going into detail, I congratulate Lord Freud on his sterling efforts to introduce the Bill. From my own experience of working in the insurance industry and alongside lawyers, I know that the negotiations would have been very difficult. He deserved the praise he received from peers on both sides of the House as the Bill progressed through the other place, but it still lacks fair compensation for victims of this dreadful disease.

In my preliminary discussions with interested parties, there was consensus on one point: the Bill will give sufferers something. That is true and something might be better than nothing, but the Bill puts the something squarely in the pockets of the insurers and lawyers, and not as much as there should be in the hands of the victim. The victim is the one who turned up to work and was exposed to asbestos. The victim is the one who happened to work for a company that kept shoddy records. The victim is the one who will die through no fault of his own. The Bill has room for improvement, based on further compromise.
Their lordships debated the Bill on a set of assumptions that have been revised since it has progressed to this place. The goalposts have moved. It is a shame that what should be a simple piece of legislation has become so mired in suspicion and confusion regarding what is and is not included in the levy. When the Bill was discussed in the Lords, Lord Freud made it clear that the levy could not be more than 3% gross written premium. That was to ensure that insurers financing the scheme would not incur additional costs that would be passed on to their existing customers. At that point, the levy agreed with the insurance industry was 75% and equated to, as illustrated in the Department for Work and Pensions’ own analysis in support of the Bill, 2.79% GWP in the first four years of the scheme and 2.27% GWP in the first 10 years of the scheme.
Since the debate in the Lords, the assumptions relating to legal costs have changed. Their lordships debated a fixed legal fee of £2,000, but we are now debating a fee of £7,000. In truth, there is total confusion about who will pay the fee. As the Association of British Insurers understands it, it will be paid by claimants out of their compensation which the Government will uplift accordingly.

Not only is it unclear what precisely the fee is for, but what the other 25% is paying to administer. It would be helpful if the Government clarified who pays the legal fees. Is it the claimants out of their compensation or the insurance companies out of the administration fee? If it is the claimants, we need to be absolutely clear that when they are awarded £57,000 of compensation, £7,000 of legal fees will have to be deducted from that award.

Lawyers, insurers and the Government are, unsurprisingly, at loggerheads on the fixed fee, presumably because if it is acceptable for this scheme, why could it not be applied to civil claims? Where would it fit into the LASPO review that the Ministry of Justice is expected to complete and report on next year? At the heart of the Bill is supposed to be the fact that the victim is coming into the scheme at last resort. A lot of what is required will have already been done, so lawyers in a civil claim might not be as necessary as they would be in this scheme. Senior Master Whitaker has helped a great deal and the Department is clear that in some circumstances a medical report would be enough. The underlying point, however, is that because of the revised estimates, about which I remain sceptical, there is no room to raise the compensation limit from 75% to 80%—a much fairer level of financial recompense for victims of the disease. In his introduction, the Minister said that 75% is not the important figure and that the 3% levy is. With the greatest respect to the Minister, it is the level of compensation that is important to the victim, not what the level of GWP is to the insurance industry.

Mark Reckless (Rochester and Strood) (Con): My hon. Friend mentioned that Medway is a hot spot for the disease. There have been 42 deaths in my constituency in the past five years—a greater number even than in her constituency, and about three times the national average. She mentioned the 3% and 75% figures. Is it not the case that the changes to which she referred will affect the sums relating to the 3% cap? If that is so, will it not be open to Ministers to show some compromise or movement in the direction that she is so ably arguing for?

Tracey Crouch: My hon. Friend is right that our constituencies are particularly affected and I am delighted to see him in his place to debate this important issue. He makes an important point. The Government have set a cap of 3% and there is no room for manoeuvre unless they are willing to stand up to the insurance industry and say that there is a firm view on both sides of the House that the 75% they have currently negotiated is not good enough. They need to agree on another figure. I believe that 80% would be appropriate as a good compromise between the 90% being called for by the lawyers—they cite the financial services compensation scheme as a useful comparator—and the 70% the insurers were originally willing to accept. Furthermore, with the previous assumptions under which their lordships debated the Bill, 80% would have been 2.98% GWP over the first four years and 2.42% over 10 years. Now, with the 3% cap, under the new legal costs associated with the scheme, there is no room for manoeuvre. I find that disappointing, unless the Minister is willing to stand up to the insurance industry and discuss this.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Do we trust Labour on the Bedroom tax?

I have some real problems with the notion of the Bedroom tax. I, like Charles Kennedy and others, feel that it needs to be really heavily scrutinised if it is to be brought in and that there need to be some very clear exemptions to this.

I also have a bit of a problem with moving people out of their homes to make space. After all, your council or social house is your home and you are basically being evicted to a smaller unit against your will because the state is telling you too. However there is a problem with Overcrowding in social housing which means ultimately I don't know how I feel about this and it needs more thought that I currently don't have time to allocate due to a very busy personal/family life!

Many readers will know that I am deeply cynical of Opposition politics.

Although, I am deeply disappointed that MPs from my party whole heartedly voted for this (except Tim Farron who voted against and several others who abstained) I am also curious about Labour's position.

The Government passed with 252 votes yesterday against 222 Labour, Libdem and other party members. A full list can be viewed here.

There is a lot of crowing on Social media this morning about how only Labour can defeat this bill in 2015 and Rachel Reeves MP stated yesterday that;

 Let me be very clear: if I am Secretary of State in 2015, the first thing I will do is reverse this unfair and pernicious tax.

The interesting thing is though that the Government won with 252 votes against 222 mix of MPs. The Labour party number some 257 MPs. Had they turned up in force and voted they would have won the vote without the other parties support but in fact 47 Labour MPs failed to turn up. So where were they?

If, the Labour Party really wanted this killed off now they could/would have done it.

The cynic in me would argue that Labour actually are happy to leave this policy to go through kicking up a stink at every step (but not actually killing it off) to be the party of opposition and gain votes in 2015 then once in they can get rid of it and claim ultimate victory on the subject at the end of a long standing campaign.

As a party lacking policies excepting being whole heartedly against the Government's every suggestion (even ones that agreed with previous Labour moves) or grand standing on things like freezing energy bills (which is causing energy bill hikes now and is considered wholly unworkable by experts) it gives them a policy.

I don't know, maybe I am too cynical for my own good but my overall question is...

Where were the 47 MPs who didn't turn up to vote down this policy they so dispise and is wholly unpopular?

Sunday, 10 November 2013

To Any Dead Officer by Siegried Sassoon

To Any dead officer

Well, how are things in Heaven? I wish you’d say,
Because I’d like to know that you’re all right.
Tell me, have you found everlasting day,
Or been sucked in by everlasting night?
For when I shut my eyes your face shows plain;
I hear you make some cheery old remark—
I can rebuild you in my brain,
Though you’ve gone out patrolling in the dark.

You hated tours of trenches; you were proud
Of nothing more than having good years to spend;
Longed to get home and join the careless crowd
Of chaps who work in peace with Time for friend.
That’s all washed out now. You’re beyond the wire:
No earthly chance can send you crawling back;
You’ve finished with machine-gun fire—
Knocked over in a hopeless dud-attack.

Somehow I always thought you’d get done in,
Because you were so desperate keen to live:
You were all out to try and save your skin,
Well knowing how much the world had got to give.
You joked at shells and talked the usual ‘shop,’
Stuck to your dirty job and did it fine:
With ‘Jesus Christ! when will it stop?
Three years ... It’s hell unless we break their line.’

So when they told me you’d been left for dead
I wouldn’t believe them, feeling it must be true.
Next week the bloody Roll of Honour said
‘Wounded and missing’—(That’s the thing to do
When lads are left in shell-holes dying slow,
With nothing but blank sky and wounds that ache,
Moaning for water till they know
It’s night, and then it’s not worth while to wake!)

. . . .
Good-bye, old lad! Remember me to God,
And tell Him that our Politicians swear
They won’t give in till Prussian Rule’s been trod
Under the Heel of England ... Are you there?...
Yes ... and the War won’t end for at least two years;
But we’ve got stacks of men ... I’m blind with tears,
Staring into the dark. Cheerio!
I wish they’d killed you in a decent show.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Guy Fawkes should blow up Parliament

One of my family's favourite sayings is that only person to enter the Houses of Parliament with honest
intentions was Guy Fawkes.

With the public perception of modern Politics this could be argued to be true.

The big problem is that the public don't vote for people, they vote for parties. You could be the best candidate in the world but if you aren't in the right party you won't stand a chance. For example of Jesus was standing for the Liberal Democrats - (I know, I'm going to hell anyway...), Adolf Hitler was standing for the Conservative party and Stalin was standing for Labour party in say in an urban constituency like Liverpool and let's be honest Labour would get in.

If it was a seat in an area like Eton, or a Rural area then generally it would be Hitler arriving in Westminster as MP.

At no point would Jesus get voted in to these constituencies because; who wants to throw their vote away on a third party?

I'll give you that there are marginal seats where the vote swings wildly but between the big two. Take Chatham and Aylesford which has swapped sides and has had two good MPs. Now when 2015 comes along there is a good chance, despite how well Tracey has done in representing her constituency, that she will lose many votes from swing voters who are unhappy with the Coalition/Conservatives in Government (despite what she may or may have rebelled against.)

It is sad that many good candidates, who care deeply about their constituents will never get voted in because they are in the wrong party. Even Independents, who are not tied to the Party mast and policies will very rarely get in without the backing of money and party activists and are considered a wasted vote to the public. Indeed the Libdems are often seen as wasted vote.

Even if there are good MPs, and I really think there are some fantastic ones in Parliament, mostly back benchers but they are tarred with the same brush as those who have caused such public uproar. Ed Balls' time at the treasury that helped the current crisis, the Cross party MPs who were part of the expenses scandal, tuition fee Lib dems... it is a big brush that paints corruption and double standards across the whole house no matter what your Party affiliation or position. The grand standing for the benefits of the TV cameras and the pithy sound bites that ultimately don't solve problems such as the exchange about power companies between Ed Balls and George Osborne yesterday, I find it hard to imagine that Salisbury and Wellington or Asquith and Bonar Law behaved in this manner, so why do our current MPs think it is ok?

Sadly, should Guido sneak under the Palace of Westminster and blew the lot up, I'm sure that there would not be that much public outcry and the notion that well, we're probably better off without them!

The mother parliament of many others around the World and the Commonwealth needs reform, it needs to generate interest from the people and represent them properly. Think of all the centuries of struggle that has gone on to get people the vote and a say in how they are ruled and now the apathy that has set in and the lack of engagement this centuries old institution has caused would make people like Fergus O'Conner, Emiline Pankerhurst and the others wonder why they bothered in the first place.

We need change and better democracy.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Rail fare Political football

Watching the Twittersphere from my fortress of solitude I noticed that Medway Labour, indeed Kentish Labour, were out in force today at Railway stations to campaign about the rise of train fares and this Government's failure to scrap RPI and for people to have more of a working wage...

I hate to say this but we've heard this all before.

I've been commuting to work in London since April 2008 and my fares have been climbing since then. My monthly fare is now up to £350 odd and is set to rise yet again in January. To some extent this Government, especially under pressure from the Medway Troika of Rehman, Tracey and Mark have listened and kept increases to RPI+1 instead of the usual +3 however when wages are frozen at 1% Per year and with the increases in other bills and costs it is just another bill that we eventually can't afford.

There are no fast answers and I fear that Labour's plans to Nationalise the network, which has the benefit of bringing Railtrack and the various Networks back "In house" may see the networks suffering from under investment or from the dreaded strikes of civil servants should Labour not get in the following Parliament.

Indeed why should I trust Labour with the Railways after they failed to do anything for 13 years of power and the introduction of RPI+3 to get more investment and to pay for HS1, a service that really only benefits a few?

The whole subject has become a political football that is kicked around by the political parties and ultimately it is us, the commuter and public, who are forced to pay for the overcrowded, work shy if the weather is even 4% out of the "Perfect weather conditions" required, dirty cash cow that is Southeastern and other commuter lines.

Who will win, Red or Blues? - It apparently doesn't matter and will be a no score draw.

I'm afraid the only solution I can find to this non ending nightmare and Political posturing and arguments is for me to either win the lottery, write a best seller or find a job in Medway...

The future for Commuters, I'm sorry to say, is bleak...

Friday, 25 October 2013

Tracey Crouch MP on Legal highs

In Today's Medway Messenger local MP Tracey Crouch has written her column on the dangers of Legal Highs and their availability.

Sometimes we talk about things in Westminster from a theoretical high level basis which we think might be right but until something happens in your backyard or you meet someone affected the relevance of the chit chat becomes real.

This has happened on two occasions recently with the issue of legal highs. One was informative, the other tragic.

I have spoken in Parliament several times on the dangers of legal highs. Very early on in my time in the Commons I sat on a Committee that banned a particular legal high that had become incredibly popular but had caused some extremely dangerous adverse affects in those who had consumed it. More recently measures were proposed within a Bill to look at how Government deals with the thorny issue of legal highs and in response the Home Office started a review.

However two events have made me recognise that this is not just another debate on the use of drugs, this is about how we can protect our youngsters from taking something that they think is harmless because it is deemed ‘legal’.

I met a young girl recently who had taken legal highs. It made her unwell and distracted. But beyond the health consequences what shocked me most was how easy it was for her to purchase them, despite being under age. She has stopped taking them now and is well on the road to recovery.

Then sadly the news broke this week that a young man, suspected of purchasing a legal high in a shop in Chatham, died of a heart attack. There is an ongoing investigation into the precise cause of his death but the ready availability of legal highs, despite their labelling of not fit for human consumption, is a worrying trend.
Government must publish its review into these highs soon and should look to America, which has banned the "analogue chemical formation" of these drugs for the solution. How many more parents must suffer because something deemed legal is actually rather deadly?

It raises some interesting points and questions. Legal highs, like alcohol do pose an interesting dilemma. Even though they are deemed legal the amount of research into the possible damage it can do the human body over the long term.

As Tracey has stated there are cases where they have caused illness, withdrawals and even death though until the Coroner's report is out on the lad from Chatham I'd shy away from linking the two.

Many would argue that it is up to the individual who takes them, and to an extent I do agree. After all if you drink too much beer (not at today's prices) you will damage you liver and incur a large amount of health issues - yet these dangers are well publicised. Smoking too. As long as you're not hurting anyone when you take it or breaking any laws, what is the harm?

However not as much is known about "Legal Highs" and their effect. Before making them legal perhaps some more serious stringent tests should be done. After all any chemical compound that enters the body can have an unknown amount of side-effects and the more complicated it is the more dangerous it can be. The human body is a highly balanced chemical equation and everything has a running order. When you mess with it bad stuff happens.

I'd be interested to see how the young lady managed to purchase them whilst under age. Now with Challenge 25 everywhere you should be looking at the suppliers and clamping down on this sort of thing rather than the chemical itself?

The other question is the role of Government in deciding what it is good for the people or not. Many would argue that this is an extension of the Nanny state deciding what is good for us and we should be allowed to think for ourselves. Although, normally I would agree with that I would also argue that the role of Government is to also protect its citizens and ask the questions (and debate) that a 22 year old out on the lash would not. Indeed asking questions as to whether these substances are good for us over the long term or their supply is a being policed properly and how readily they are available to people. Is this not what an elected body should be looking at and encouraging debate on these subjects?

Ultimately if the Government want to stop people having them so readily they should do what they have done with alcohol and cigarettes and just put a levy on them!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

NHS reshaping, privitisation and hypochondria

I was very interested to read in today's Metro, that suggestions have been made to cut cost in the NHS by copying ideas from poorer nations like India or Ghana such as people sending picture texts of injuries to Doctors/Nurses for a response, Mexican telephone calls to a nurse with symptoms and cutting about 30 non necessary surgical procedures that are of no medical (or cosmetic) benefit.

The point is the NHS is spending, on average £2,264 PA per person in the UK and the NHS is looking at a £30bn shortfall!

Take the NHS back to brass tacks. It was to provide medical assistance for free to all funded by National Insurance payments.

I agree that non-essential surgery and cosmetic surgeries should be carried out on the NHS. Why should someone get their breasts augmented or their nose reshaped for free unless it was because of an accident?
A child gets mauled by a dog and their face is a mess - yep, give them the surgery. You're 24 and you don't like your nose - sorry I think you should pay for it.

I've had some issues with Medway's NHS and the way it is run and dealt with my family members. It is not a slight against the hard working nursing or casualty staff, they have always been excellent and deserve more than they get in pay and praise. However there are issues more towards the top.

One of my big problems is GP appointments. You always have to wait almost a week and when you get to them they are always running late or brimming with people with sniffles. The same is true when you go to casualty. My brother-in-law was struck on the head with a brick and had to wait three hours in Casualty, in the mean time you have people waiting there because - and I swear to god this is true - a woman had paint in her hair.

My wife, who was unwell called the NHS direct service and was advised to get to Casualty immediately and within the hour only to be gently referred to the MEDOC for a Middle Ear infection brought on by Gastritis. When I have been in casualty I've often thought what a massive waste of time this has all been and wonder how ill or injured some of the people sat calmly reading the paper really are.

People of my Grandfather's generation used to self medicate and diagnose. I know I do still and won't waste a doctor's time unless I think it is serious enough to warrant it. I've been to the Doctors, for my self, once (and the resulting referral to the hospital) since I was 18! People seem all to ready to call up the Doctors or wander around to casualty and waste everyone's time because they ate a dodgy Kebab last night or they've got a bruised shin and they think it is broken...

I would indeed welcome a service that could cut down waiting time at the first line of medical attention, a screen if you will for non-essential cases. After all a battlefield surgeon doesn't have time to help a soldier with a stubbed toe when they are under fire and neither should an A&E doctor.

What erked me even more about this was they wheeled out Andy Burnham, Labour's shadow Health secretary, who said;
This will send a shiver down many a spine. It confirms the suspicion many people have that David Cameron is softening up the NHS for privatisation.


It really does seem that every time serious, constructive change and slimming down to make the service more effective  Labour come out with the cry of Privitisation. It is an absolute crock.

First the NHS should always be free at point of use. However it needs to be functional for everyone and for necessary medical needs.

I want to be able to go into casualty with a wound and be seen quickly not sit wait a few hours killing time because someone has flu or bruised their shin or got paint in their hair. I agree with Monitor's chairman David Bennett.

While there are things the sector can do - like be more efficient in its procurement or introducing new ways of working - what is needed is a step change.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Transcript of Nick Clegg's speech on Europe

I am a pro-European - that is no great revelation, I know. But sometimes you need to say it, clearly and unambiguously.
The isolationist forces in Britain are on the rise - UKIP on the doorstep; Conservative politicians at their conference; familiar headlines in some of our newspapers each placing Britain’s ills firmly at Brussels’ door: too much immigration, too much crime, too much red tape. And every time Europe is back in the spotlight, their hostility towards it – this negative reaction to all things continental – drowns out the other voices in this debate.
Pro-Europeans have to take some responsibility for that. The moderate and rational voices have been too quiet up until now. But we cannot afford that silence anymore. We are no longer asking if Britain will have a referendum on continued membership, we are asking when Britain will have a referendum on continued membership.
The parties differ on the timing. The Conservative party want one in 2017, regardless of what’s happening in Europe at that time: it’s a date chosen for internal party management as much as anything else. The Liberal Democrats believe it will be far better to have the referendum when a serious change to Europe’s rules, affecting the UK, next arises. But we all agree that it will happen at some point or another.
Senior - and usually moderate - voices in the Conservative party have now openly flirted with the idea of leaving; the Mayor of London insisting we should be ready to walk away; the Chancellor issuing threats of exit in German newspapers. That rhetoric has been toned down more recently. I expect they’ve realised that threatening to flounce out of the EU is hardly the best way to appeal to British business.
But the threats certainly haven’t been forgotten in Europe’s capitals. The hardliners have been stoked up. And next May the Euro-elections are bound to become a proxy for the bigger question of ‘in versus out’ – a debate that will play out in the 2015 General Election too.
And all this at the worst possible time. Our economy is finally turning a corner, but the recovery is fragile. We should be focusing on finishing the job and laying the foundations for long-term growth, not entertaining the idea of an EU exit that would throw our recovery away.
Let me be absolutely clear: leaving the EU would be economic suicide.  You cannot overstate the damage it would do to British livelihoods and prosperity.
Three million British jobs are linked to the Single Market – three million. As a member we are part of the world’s biggest borderless market place, made up of 500 million people. It’s now the largest economy in the world – ahead of the United States – and it’s where we do around half of all our trade.
Major non-European companies build their factories here precisely because we are a springboard to the EU.
It gives us access to trade agreements with over 50 countries around the world – and we’ve launched negotiations with Japan and the US. The latter alone could bring an extra £10bn to the UK every year. But on our own we’d have to renegotiate all of them – from scratch, and from a position of weakness; government would spend a decade doing nothing else.
The fact is you cannot be for a stronger economy if you are for leaving the EU.
And it’s not just jobs and prosperity. What will happen to our influence in the world if we choose to go it alone? Of course Britain must build up relationships with emerging powers and likeminded nations in other continents. But this idea that we can pull up the anchor, drift away from our neighbourhood - our historical and geographical allies – only to float around in some new network of relationships is a nonsense.
I worked in Europe; I used to negotiate trade deals with the Russians and the Chinese. We simply will not be taken seriously by the Americans, the Chinese, the Indians, all the big superpowers if we’re isolated and irrelevant in our own backyard. We stand tall in Washington, Beijing, Delhi when we stand tall in Brussels, Paris and Berlin.
Two weeks ago I was in Washington. Did they want to discuss US/UK trade? No – they understandably wanted to talk about the big money, the US/EU deal. The Americans value their old friend Britain as a bridge to Europe as much as anything else.
What will happen to our citizens’ safety if we leave? The British police depend on cooperation with their counterparts abroad - sharing information, pooling resources, helping each other bring criminals to justice. Take that away and you are forcing the police to do their job with one hand tied behind their back.
Just last week we heard Rob Wainwright, the British Head of Europol, declare that it would be an ‘unmitigated disaster’ in the fight against organised crime if Britain withdrew from the organisation.
Criminals cross borders – so must we.  
What about our environment? Climate change doesn’t stop at Dover. There is no point reducing our carbon footprint unless our neighbours do the same. But together we can set collective targets and work in concert to achieve them – and we have far greater clout in encouraging other countries and regions to do the same.
Every way you look at it – jobs, influence, safety, the environment – the UK is infinitely better off in the EU.
Time to speak up
So I’m not worried about how we make the case for membership to the British people – the argument is ours to win. But I am worried that we’re not out there making it. My great fear, in all of this, is that pro-Europeans are being too slow to wake up to the danger ahead.
The day I dread – the day I hope never comes – is a time when it is all too late: Britain has stumbled out of the EU, and we look back to these days and say we should have done more. It will not be enough to speak up on the eve of a referendum. We need to start challenging some of the ludicrous mythmaking by the isolationists now. 
Brussels isn’t perfect by any means. But it’s just not true that it’s some kind of sinister super-bureaucracy - the Commission is smaller than Birmingham City Council. It’s just not true that the Treasury is robbed blind for the privilege of membership – last year our contribution to the EU Budget was around the same as we spend on the NHS every two or three weeks.
It’s just not true that we’re at the mercy of a foreign elite. Britain shapes everything that happens in the EU. Nothing passes into UK law without the input of our MEPs and Government Ministers. Even though there are 28 states in all, we have one in ten of the seats in the Parliament. And in the Council the countries with the most votes and greatest power are France, Germany, Italy and the UK.
So we need to counter the myths. And we need to explain the real reasons Britain belongs in the EU and what is really at stake in this debate. I have made my commitment very clear: the Liberal Democrats will lead the way as the Party of In.  But today I am calling on businesses and organisations and individuals to show their support for continued British membership in a reformed EU.
I am not asking you to get involved in the party politics. I’m not asking you to support the Lib Dems. But I am asking you to be part of a coalition for the national interest – standing up for Britain remaining in Europe; for a Britain that is richer, safer, greener and stronger in the world.
I’m calling on every internationalist politician – from any party; every company that buys or sells across the Channel; every umbrella group representing British business interests; the big banks and City firms that depend on the Single Market as well as the small family firms who want to expand; the investors who’ll have to reconsider their operations here if we withdraw from the EU; the research institutes that benefit from pooled EU funding; the British Erasmus students studying abroad;  the hundreds of thousands of Brits who’ve relocated to France, Spain, and Greece; the police;  the charities who pick up the pieces when men, women and children are trafficked across our borders; the human rights organisations that want to make sure British citizens stay signed up to the protections in EU law; the green groups who want a UK that can lead the way on climate change; the farmers and fisherman who need a level playing field in Europe; the millions of British consumers who get better, cheaper products because we’re a member of the EU; and anyone and everyone who can see that there is strength in numbers in today’s world.
Express your support for staying in the EU however you like: tweet using #whyIamIN, put it on Facebook, post it on our website, write to the Government, write to the newspapers, make your position clear in the conversations you have and the work you do.
Whatever you do, just don’t let the isolationists speak for you or dominate this debate.
And if you are for IN, don’t wait for others to say it; make yourselves heard.
Don't surrender reform
And, if you believe we should stay in Europe, don’t let anybody tell you that you are somehow against change, or anti-reform. Don’t believe this idea that if you see the benefits of membership, you are blind to the EU’s faults.
I was campaigning to make Brussels more open and transparent a decade and a half ago, when I was an MEP for the East Midlands. Last month, at my Party’s Conference, we signed up to a forty page document filled with ideas to make the EU more streamlined, more accountable, more focused on growth; less meddlesome in areas of national life that are none of it’s business, and more effective in the areas where nation states cannot act alone.
And the fact is: Europe is changing, whether we like it or not. The single currency area is healing, but the Eurozone crisis revealed deep economic tensions and they must be resolved. The Eurozone core will need to tighten further: rules governing greater fiscal discipline will be demanded by the strongest Eurozone members and the weaker economies will expect sustained Eurozone support in return.
Britain, by definition, will lie outside of these emerging arrangements. But there will be big implications for the single market as a whole – and we need to make sure that the EU that emerges at the other end continues to serve all of its members.
The Banking Union is a prime example. It’s in everyone’s interests for it to work – including states like the UK who are not part of it. But it is in no one’s interests if the banking union operates in a way that damages the City – Europe’s biggest financial centre. The Coalition Government will now make sure that doesn’t happen.
And next time there is Treaty Change I will certainly advocate new legal safeguards guaranteeing that – whenever a reform might impact on the Single Market – Euro-ins and Euro-outs have an equal say.
So the real question is not who wants to reform Europe and Britain’s relationship with it, it’s who can do that?
Flawed and bound to unravel
I don't believe the Conservative strategy of demanding repatriation with the threat of exit can or will deliver lasting reform. The sceptics have been placated – temporarily – with a promise of a repatriation of powers in the next parliament, ahead of a referendum in 2017.
It is a seductive offer – a grand, unilateral renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the EU. But this promise is deeply flawed, and bound to unravel. It collapses under the weight of its own internal contradictions.
Just imagine how this will develop. After the next election, a Conservative Government will fly from capital to capital, clocking up air miles demanding a series of UK opt outs and carve outs from other European leaders. There’s been some speculation suggesting there’s a deal to be had with the Germans, ready and waiting. But that misses the point. Of course a future British Government will be able to cobble together a package of reforms with Germany and other member states with likeminded views on European competitiveness and so on. But the question is not can a reform package be negotiated. The question is will it ever be acceptable to the large swathes of the Conservative party who want to be semi-detached from the EU, or out of it altogether?
Let’s be clear: what these people really want is not a change in the wording of treaty here, a directive repatriated there. For many on the right, this whole process is just a smokescreen for exit. Politics masquerading as patriotism. Nothing a Conservative government could bring back will ever be good enough unless it meets that impossible test. The isolationists will latch on to everything that wasn’t achieved. They will say that to accept this deal would be humiliation at the hands of the Germans and the French. They’ll say it’s just Wilson all over again.
And because the Government will have spent two years conducting these negotiations under the threat of exit – saying that if the offer on the table wasn’t good enough, the UK would be forced to leave – don’t be surprised when the sceptics say: ‘it’s not good enough, let’s leave’.
The Government will have armed them with precisely the arguments they need. And then what? What kind of chain reaction will have been set off?
A renegotiation widely deemed a failure; a divided Conservative Party; the sceptics emboldened and off the leash; a referendum fought at the wrong time and on a skewed debate; and a very real possibility of Britain tumbling out of the EU.
The promise of unilateral repatriation was made at a time when the Conservative party needed to find a way to plaster over their internal divisions on Europe. They needed a position that, in the lead up to the election, all sides can get behind – a policy fix. Although, judging from this weekend, it’s not even clear they’ll make it that long.
It’s a short -sighted political calculation that could jeopardise the long-term national interest. It is playing with fire and, if we go down this track, it is Britain that will get burned.
The Coalition’s unsung success
And, most perplexing of all: the unilateral approach is completely at odds with what the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have been doing together in this government. Our partners don’t tend to shout about this, but one of the least noticed Coalition successes  is our record of delivering for the British people by engaging constructively with our European partners – much of which David Cameron deserves credit for.
This is the real way to be ambitious for Britain. Yes, there are times you need to put your foot down: that’s why I supported the Prime Minister when last year it looked like Britain might need to exercise our veto to stop a rise in the EU budget. But by working with our allies – the Germans, the Dutch, the Swedes and others – we not only secured a good deal for British taxpayers, we protected the rebate and capped the budget for the next spending period.
For years people said the Common Fisheries Policy was beyond reform. In Britain we have seen our fish stocks depleted and profits diminished, while our fisherman have been tied up in bureaucratic knots. 
Yet in January we led the way on a historic agreement that will transform fishing practices across Europe, and end micro-management from Brussels, massively benefiting our fishing industry and our marine environment too.
The Coalition has brought together 13 like-minded countries to take on the Commission over excessive red tape. For example, hundreds of thousands of firms will now be exempt from costly EU accounting rules. We’ve also cracked the previously illusive EU-wide patent – worth up to £20,000 per patent in translation costs alone.
And our experiences only prove what we have seen with every government for the last 60 years: if you want Europe to deliver for Britain, you have to lead. Margaret Thatcher led when she helped pioneer the single market. Tony Blair led when he and Jaqcues Chirac launched EU defence and security cooperation. It was British Lawyers who drafted the European Convention on Human Rights - not to be confused with the EU, as it so often is, but a huge success for European cooperation nonetheless; British police who have driven ground-breaking cooperation on cross-border crime. And – in keeping with this very British tradition – I will always believe that the best way to represent our nation’s interests is to stay and win the argument, showing leadership abroad for your citizens at home.
If you want to know my position, it's very simple: yes to staying in Europe; yes to reforming the EU and improving our relationship with it; yes to a referendum when the time is right.
And that is the approach I will continue to take.
More meaningful, less meddling
And throughout this process we need to get Europe back to what it’s good at: adding value where the global nature of our problems means states have to work together for any real chance of success.
Completing the single market in services and the digital economy; innovating so that our continent keeps up with China, India, Brazil; opening up trade with the rest of the world; dealing with the fragile states on Europe’s borders; promoting human rights and democracy; working together for a greener future; protecting our citizens from the threats that cross our borders.
Where the EU has lost its way, we need to refocus it, so that its contribution to national life is less meddling and more meaningful. Where the EU has become intrusive, it needs to be pushed back.
I welcome the announcement by President Barroso last week that the Commission will simplify EU rules to make them lighter and less burdensome. I want to see a much more active role for national parliaments in scrutinising EU decisions and policing the principle of subsidiarity. We're still not fully exploiting the provisions made for this under the Lisbon Treaty.
And it's right that the UK stays opted out of rules that we believe are damaging - like the 48 hour cap on the working week in the Working Time Directive. It's important to point out that we're not ideological about this. Many of the workers' protections that we now take for granted actually originated in the EU. Guaranteeing paid holiday and regular breaks - they're also in the Working Time Directive. So there are good bits too; but we need to get the right balance.
Where arrangements are unfair, they need to be corrected. High up on my list is the Common Agricultural Policy, where we need to end the historical subsidies that distort trade.
And where the institutions are just plain wasteful, of course that needs to end. It’s ludicrous that the European Parliament has an official seat in Strasbourg. The round trip for MEPs travelling from Brussels and back costs £150m a year. It’s high time the Strasbourg seat was scrapped.  
And I say all of this as a pro-European – because we are the real reformers now. I say this as someone who wants to change and improve the EU and Britain’s relationship with it precisely because I am ambitious of what can be achieved, because I believe we are at our best when we are open and outward-facing – richer, stronger, safer and greener.
If you believe that, it’s time to say it. Stand up for a proud Britain leading in a better EU. Stand up for staying in Europe, for the sake of the national interest.
I will and I hope you will too.  

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Trouble with sleeping on trains is...

Some of you will know that I work shifts in London at an asylum - I mean museum. Half of this shifts start at

A combination of wanting to spend time with my family, house work and a mild Skyrim addiction means that I often try to top up my sleep on the train. This has lead to some problems...

Yesterday, whilst passed out and blissfully unaware what was going on a signal broke down at Swanscombe. I woke briefly in Dartford to see the station sign and then dozed off again. I awoke sometime later on a packed train, that according to the automated voice was heading to Crayford - back to London!!!

I looked at the time - 16:10 - we weren't due to Gillingham until 16:30 so I'd not overslept... I looked out the window and saw Dartford bridge was still on the left and drifting behind so we were going towards home.

I had to hurriedly jump online to find out what was going on and found we were the first train through and running about 23 minutes late.

Late enough to make collecting my kids from nursery by 6 an absolute nightmare but not late enough to get a delay/repay form in.

Other problems have seen me wake up having missed Waterloo and being sat in Charing cross station (once or twice Gillingham station) for 10 minutes in an empty carriage and no one had woken me!

Worse yet I have also been the victim of crime. Having been at work all day and then at the works Christmas party where I had consumed a fair amount of free beer I took the last train home and went to sleep. When I woke up at Gillingham Station my wallet (with season ticket but thankfully not my bank cards!) and mobile phone had been lifted from my jacket pocket. I now sleep with all my valuables in my trouser pocket on the wall side of my person.
6.30 which entails getting up at 4.00 am.

I was also assaulted, in the same way as Michael Crick was assaulted by Mr Bloom of UKIP. A very rude and surly ticket inspector who couldn't be heard over my IPOD shoved my shoulder quite hard and I banged my head on the wall of the carriage, he then barked Ticket. at me when I removed my earphone and looked at him through the haze. He couldn't understand why I was a little impolite with him!

Also if you snore, be wary of a sharp elbow to the ribs from other commuters or indeed if you are really self conscious try not to think that you may be providing entertainment for some one (even an MP!) ;-)

So weary travellers be careful and learn from the lessons of someone who has travelled too many miles at stupid times of the day.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Who can you trust in Government?

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As 2015 gets closer and closer I'm starting to look ahead to the election and what the various national parties are planning and offering policy wise.

Ed's Labour party have done well in the polls mostly by saying they would not do what the Coalition would
do (but would not reverse it if they got in.) Considering some of the policies that have come out of CHQ (the things we have had to agree with) it is fairly to score points this way.

However it does seem that Labour have been picking at holes and nitpicking at times over successes and playing games with statistics. No one deserves to gain power by using technicalities, there is no substance to this.

Back in 2010 I watched Germany beat England 4-1 in the South African World Cup whilst in Wales. Whilst driving back to England and listening to the fall out on Radio 5 one of the common themes was that players like Gerrard, Lampard, Terry and Ashley Cole - all of whom had played badly, should be dropped from the squad and younger players could get a chance and the FA would not be fielding "Names"

The same is true of the Labour party front bench. Yes Darling, Brown and Blunkett have been quietly dropped but yet Ed Balls, Keith Vaz (who had some hilariously high expenses), Harriet Harman and even Ed Miliband are still leading the fray. these names are still linked to the failures of the Brown administration and hardly inspire confidence or trust.

The same can be said about Ed Miliband. He makes a fair opposition leader but... he seems to be lacking the qualities that would make him a good Prime minister. He lacks the charisma and personal magnetism.

As for the Conservatives... Despite having some really good MPs (like some of Labour) they are a party divided, especially with UKIP pushing into the normal territory and securing Right wing voters who grudgingly supported Cameron as there was no other choice before. Desperate to keep these staunch Tories the party seems to be lurching right.

Social engineering in the form of Marriage tax relief, anti European dogma, refusing mansion tax and reforms to the House of Lords, doggedly holding onto Trident - it is a party trying to move forward but maintaining footholds in the past.

Though Cameron strikes me as more of a leader than Ed. Maybe it is the brash Etonian accent and cavalier way he responds at PMQs but he is definitely more charismatic.

The LibDems however have brought in policies that have directly benefited my family. We have a pupil premium that is helping our local school, free nursery hours which saves us 15 hours a week on little Sophie's bill allowing my wife to go to work, lifting my wife out of income tax altogether and halving mine.

Yes, there is the ink blot of the tuition fees and other things they have gritted their teeth and voted for and despite his great personable charisma, this is something that will haunt Nick Clegg's political career for many years to come and could and will blight him as a possible leader of the country. However my wife, who is non-partisan and she has told me that on this strength alone she will more than likely vote Liberal Democrat in the future on the strengths of the party actually promising to help the people and actually doing it with in the confines of deficit.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Married Tax break - looking backwards?

Firstly I'd like to thank Dave and the Conservatives for bringing in this policy. With the cost of living
(and commuting) rising, my wages at a 1% rise well under inflation and my job looking fairly uncertain after next April any extra pennies are greatly received.

However - it is still bollocks.

I'm not sure what the Conservative high command were thinking about when this idea was floated. Is it a return of traditional values? Is it to try and build up marriage as the stable relationship for bringing up kids? Is it an attempt to return to the golden era of MacMillan? Eden? Or even Baldwin and Bonar-Law?

Society has moved on. With the decline in religious belief and people being more secular and with a lot of people unable to pay for weddings now they cost so many thousands of pounds people are just staying in committed relationships and what really is the difference?

Does the tax break cease if you have a divorce?

My Dad left us when I was Eight years old and my Mum had to bring myself and Gemma up on her own yet would have needed a tax break! Further to that both my Sister and I understand commitment and both of us have families of our own and are married - Not to each other obviously, I grew up in Kent not Alabama!

Many children from "broken" homes grow up to fine by society's standards, in fact no worse than children who grow up with both their parents.

The foundation of family life is not marriage it is commitment between people and that doesn't have to be ratified by a church or the state - after all you can get married and the relationship can break down in a year or two, you can stay a couple and be together until the day you die. In deed I never wanted to get married. As far as I was concerned it was just a piece of paper that sealed what my family and friends already knew - that I loved Sam and wanted to be with her. In deed we were together for five years before we tied the knot and we've been married almost five years and my feelings have not changed for her at all in that time, indeed I would have brought my children up in the same way had we not been married. This thin strip of white gold on my left hand would not stop me from being a bad parent or from being a bad husband or even cheating (was I that way inclined).

But I should be clear to say once again, I love my wife now as much as the day I married her and the day we got together.

But that should not entitle me to a tax break.

It is fairly discriminatory (despite Jeremy Hunt's protestations here). Why should one set of people get it and not any one else in similar situations not? It really does ascribe a certain weight to an ideal too. What of those struggling single parents whose partners have walked out? Or been abusive and they have taken a stand and left them now found themselves cut off?

Relief from Taxation should be based on financial situation not on family setup. Should we hand out tax relief to those who are confirmed in their religious faith as religion traditionally set people up with values for life and let the atheists suffer?

Jeremy Hunt says this is not a judgement... he says Love is love yet unless you get the piece of paper in what the State is now dictating is the only way they accept that you are committed and in it for the long haul - you won't receive the benefit.

Clearly this is not a well thought out policy and the cynic in me says that this is an attempt of the Conservative party to recapture votes from traditionalists and their original core of voters who may have been turned off by the Equal marriage bill.

Oh and Jeremy, if you are reading this, rather than Love is love (which I think I read on a fortune cookie once) I'd like to offer up the German writer and philosopher Johann von Goethe's definition:

True love is love that stays constant for ever, whatever its fortune:
Whether requited or scorned, filled or sent empty away


Without a doubt, the only thing that makes Man's life on earth essential and necessary is love

Monday, 23 September 2013

Cllr Stamp's website is hacked

Yesterday one of our activists sent me a link to a tweet from the Rochester & Strood Conservatives (pictured) with the message to take a look.
As a member of the Exec committee of the Medway Libdems I can categorically deny this had anything to do with any of our current members.

Our position was made perfectly clear in the Local Medway Messenger by our Chairman, Tony Jeacock, on the letters page the week after the announcement that the former Liberal Democrats who had defected to the Independent group in 2010 had turned coat again and joined Labour. It is something I wrote about at the time (including copying Tony's letter). Some commentators have been critical of the move saying that it was motivated by their own electoral self interest rather than representing those who elected them and not Labour candidates in the first place.

Although they have purged their twitter feed Medway labour accused a “known Liberal” however the person they are accusing has not been a member for several years.
Interestingly, it was Cllr. Jarrett the Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group who publicly noted at the last full council meeting that Cllrs. Stamp and Cooper had belonged to three different political groups in as many years and who, jokingly said that there will always be a seat for them within the Conservative Group, a joke which Cllr. Stamp failed to appreciate, something I commented on at the time. 

It would seem to me that both Labour and Conservatives should be looking to clean their own doorsteps before accusing the LibDems of something which clearly we are not guilty.

I must admit though - it did make me smile when I read it, however briefly!