PM’s £170m tech pledge ‘a drop in the ocean’ – UCU : Morning Star.

THE PRIME MINISTER’S pledge to invest £170 million in creating new institutes of technology has been condemned as a “drop in the ocean” by the University and College Union (UCU).

The union said yesterday that it was little more than a “relaunched skills strategy” and that the vocational education sector needs bold ideas, more staff and proper funding instead.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “This is a drop in the ocean that will do nothing to solve the funding crisis in further education, which has seen one million adult places lost since 2010.

“If government wants to support technical education it should invest in our further education colleges who desperately need thousands more teachers rather than another set of gimmicks.”

Independent think tank the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) called on Theresa May to help those struggling financially now, as well as invest in people’s futures in boosting the manufacturing and industrial sectors.

JRF chief economist Ashwin Kumar said: “Improving maths and technical education for young people will certainly benefit the economy in the future. But this is a policy for the long term.

“Millions of people already in the workforce are struggling with low pay and insecure work.

“Despite making up only 23 per cent of the economy, low-paid sectors such as retail, care and hospitality account for a third of our productivity gap with leading European economies.

“The government needs to help the millions of people who work in low-paid sectors, live in low-skilled areas and work in low-productivity firms.”

Link : Morning Star.

Rail workers could be banned from striking to protect people’s ‘right to get to work’ under plans to be considered by MPs : Telegraph.

An RMT worker hands out leaflets

Chris Philp MP said strikes over the past few months have been ‘completely unreasonable’ and ‘completely disproportionate’ Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

Rail workers could be banned from striking if it interrupts with people’s “right to get to work”, under plans being considered by MPs this week.

Tory MP Chris Philp said trade unions had “abused” their right to strike by undertaking “completely unreasonable” industrial action as part of an ongoing dispute with Southern Railway.

As a result, he has brought forward draft laws which would require all industrial action on critical national services to be proportionate and reasonable in order to be deemed legal.

The measures would also require a skeleton service to run on strike days to ensure people can still get to and from work.

Mr Philp said: “A High Court judge would weigh up what it is the strikers are striking over on the one hand versus the impact on the public on the other to make sure it is reasonable and proportionate.

“All it is looking to do is it recognises the right to strike, but it just says that the general public also have a right to get to work and to get home to see their loved ones.

“What I want to see is a balance between those two rights.

“At the moment, for example on the Southern Railway strike, we have lost that balance.

“The dispute is over who presses a button to open and close the door yet the strikes are stopping 300,000 people getting to work so that’s not reasonable and it’s not proportionate, it’s not balanced.”

Chris Philp

Tory MP Chris Philp said trade unions had ‘abused’ their right to strike by undertaking ‘completely unreasonable’ industrial action Credit: Heathcliff O’Malley for The Telegraph

Mr Philp will introduce his proposed Industrial Action (Protection of Critical National Services) Bill on Tuesday using the 10-minute rule motion device which allows MPs to propose their own laws.

The Croydon South MP said his proposals had “enormous backbench support” with 50 of his colleagues having signed a letter backing the plans.

He also believes the Government is considering the push “very carefully” and that the “behaviour of trade unions will in part determine how this story evolves”.

He said: “What we have seen in the last few months is completely unreasonable, completely disproportionate, yet no one is losing their job, no one is getting a pay cut.

I would be astonished if anyone stood up and said that they supported strikes that were unreasonable and disproportionateChris Philp MP

“The rail regulator says there is no safety issue and yet for a period of months 300,000 people have been prevented getting to work.

“Clearly the trade unions in this example have abused the power they have with strikes and I just want to have some kind of level of reasonableness and proportionality introduced.”

He added: “I think even in the trade union movement, the wider trade union movement, they might recognise that actually what the RMT and Aslef have been doing on Southern is actually damaging the trade union movement as a whole because they have pushed it too far.”

Mr Philp believes his plan has “good prospects” of eventually becoming law and he is not anticipating anyone opposing it on the floor of the House on Tuesday.

“I would be astonished if anyone stood up and said that they supported strikes that were unreasonable and disproportionate,” he said.

Link : The Telegraph.

Cyber attack locks Lloyds customers out of accounts: Online assault took down bank’s digital services for more than two days : Daily Mail.

  • Reports say financial attack was carried out by an international criminal gang
  • Other high street lenders targeted but only Lloyds clients had account issues
  • No customers lost any money but Lloyds will not discuss execution of attack

A cyber attack on some of the UK’s largest banks left customers of Lloyds Banking Group unable to access their accounts.

The online assault brought down digital services at Lloyds for more than two days a fortnight ago.

The Financial Times reports the attack was carried out by an international criminal gang.

It is understood that a number of high street lenders were targeted but only Lloyds customers had trouble accessing their accounts.

A cyber attack on some of the UK’s largest banks left customers of Lloyds Banking Group unable to access their accounts

A cyber attack on some of the UK’s largest banks left customers of Lloyds Banking Group unable to access their accounts

A denial of service attack, where a website is swamped with traffic in an attempt to disable it, also affected Lloyds brands Halifax and Bank of Scotland, meaning many customers could not check their balances or transfer payments online.

TSB, which split from Lloyds in 2013 but shares its technology platform, was also hit.

No customers lost any money and Lloyds has declined to ‘speculate’ about the cause of the loss of service.

The National Cyber Security Centre and the National Crime Agency are currently investigating a hack into Tesco Bank, where 9,000 customers were fleeced out of £2.5m.

Other banks, including HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland, also suffered service outages over the past two years after their systems were breached by attacks.

Banks are frequently targeted by cyber attacks, and manage to deflect many of them.

Banks are frequently targeted by cyber attacks, and manage to deflect many of them (file photo)

Banks are frequently targeted by cyber attacks, and manage to deflect many of them (file photo)

But successful attacks reveal flaws in banks’ systems, which are often based on out-of-date technology.

Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury committee, called on regulators last year to help bolster the security of Britain’s banks after a high number of system failures.

A spokesperson from Lloyds Banking Group told the Daily Mail: ‘We had intermittent service issues with internet banking between Wednesday AM and Friday PM week before last and are sorry for any inconvenience caused.

‘We had a normal service in place for the vast majority of the period and only a small number of customers had problems accessing their accounts. In most cases if customers attempted another log in they were able to get on OK.

‘We will not speculate on the cause of these intermittent issues.’

Theresa May: Embracing The World (Order) : UK Column.

Today Theresa May set out her stall. Britain is leaving the EU. Brexit means Brexit. And now, at last, we begin to see what Brexit means.

Theresa May’s speech today confirmed our analysis of the policies at work. “A little over 6 months ago, the British people voted for change,” she said. “They voted to shape a brighter future for our country. They voted to leave the European Union and embrace the world.”

Embracing the world is a policy agenda that Theresa May has been discussing since she became Prime Minister. Her intention is the fatal embrace of the black widow spider. The “brighter future” of Britain can be summed up in one hashtag: #GlobalBritain.

Brexit, you see, “means more than negotiating our new relationship with the EU. It means taking the opportunity of this great moment of national change to step back and ask ourselves what kind of country we want to be.”

Is this a question which needs to be asked? This question was certainly not included on the referendum ballot, and I have no recollection of anyone campaigning on the “Leave” side asking it in the run-up to the vote.

The “kind of country” the British people want to belong to is clearly defined by our constitution; by Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights and the Coronation Oath. But as we know, Theresa May and her colleagues do not recognise that Britain has a constitution, and so she decided that rather than ask that question with a view to waiting for an answer, she would simply tell us what she wants:

“I want this United Kingdom to emerge from this period of change stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking than ever before.”

In her speech, Theresa May explains that her government “has a Plan for Britain”. Not a plan for Britain – a Plan for Britain. Capital ‘p’.

This, then, is a proper noun. A brand name.

In, Out, In, Out, Shake It All About

As the speech progressed we discovered that the Plan is exactly as the UK Column warned: Brexit is a PR exercise, albeit one with a sting in the tail. Nothing about our relationship with the EU will change in reality.

The full body of EU law translated into domestic regulations and staying in sync thereafter; out of the single market (because to do otherwise would be leaving the EU in name only) and opting into EU institutions, not paying into the EU because we’ve left the single market and paying into the EU because we’re still opted into EU institutions; taking control of the borders but we will always want immigration.

Theresa May know’s full well why EU law is being transposed into British law.

“And it is why,” she said, “as we repeal the European Communities Act, we will convert the ‘acquis’ – the body of existing EU law – into British law.”

The “acquis” relates to the European doctrine “Acquis Communautaire”. This means that when a power has been surrendered to a supra-national body, such as the EU, it can never be recovered by the member state. By invoking the term, she made it absolutely clear what is going on.

“This will give the country maximum certainty,” she said. “The same rules and laws will apply on the day after Brexit as they did before.” She knows full well that the British Parliament will not look at a single one of those “rules and laws” in order to make any meaningful future changes.

A Truly #GlobalBritain

But it is in the area of “free trade” that we discover that the Black Widow has a sting; the reason the British government is putting so much time and energy into what is otherwise no more than a PR exercise.

TTIP has failed. Yet TTIP was, and remains, at the heart of British policy. This was laid out clearly a year ago in David Cameron’s Best of Both Worlds document:

Concluding all the trade deals already underway could ultimately be worth in total more than £20 billion a year to UK GDP. These include the UK’s top trade priority: an agreement between the EU and the US (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), which alone could add £10 billion to UK GDP.

The UK’s top trade priority. And it failed.

“Brexit”, then, is about this. The big, headline-grabbing, trade deal will be replaced with smaller trade deals which don’t attract the same attention or the same angst. Instead of a single US/EU trade deal, there will be a Brexit driven US/UK deal (Britain is now at the front of the queue), and a Brexit driven UK/EU deal.

And it won’t end there, because TPP has failed too. So we need UK/every-other-nation-on-the-planet deals to secure the policy that these trade deals represent: the superiority of corporate law over national law.

Theresa May has a Plan: an “orderly exit” not only forming “a new partnership with Europe, but building a stronger, fairer, more Global Britain too.” Note the capital letters once again.

“Global Britain” directly translates to “British Empire”, which despite what we were told at school was always a financial/trading “empire”, backed by naval power.

Hidden in plain sight since the end of the Second World War, the Empire is once again coming out into the open. The Royal Navy may have all-but gone, but that’s ok because in recent decades we have had the United States as our enforcer. (This is the danger of The Donald, and why British politicians and media are so apoplectic that he was elected. Can he be controlled? Doesn’t matter – Brexit means EU Military Integration as well.)

The resurgence of the Empire is the legacy Theresa May wishes to leave, that is the prize she wishes to win.  A #GlobalBritain: extending “the most effective hard and soft power” and renewed focus on the Commonwealth.

They are all in it together.

The best of #AlternativeFacts : Another angry voice.

Donald Trump is such a thin-skinned narcissist that the first days of his administration will be remembered for an astoundingly farcical display of truth-denial from the White House rather than any meaningful political initiative.

Trump was clearly furious at the press for pointing out that Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration attracted much bigger crowds that Trump’s in 2017. First into the fray was Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer who furiously denounced the media with claims of some kind of vendetta to “minimise the enormous support”telling quite a few demonstrable lies in the process before storming out of the press conference without actually answering any questions from the press.

Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway then attempted to defend Spicer’s lies with the astounding claim that they weren’t lies, but actually “alternative facts”.

Read More : Another angry voice.

Tory brings in Bill to ‘treat workers like galley slaves’ : Morning Star.

PLANS to severely limit lawful strikes that would see workers treated as “galley slaves” are to be debated in Parliament tomorrow as a Tory MP accuses rail unions of “completely unreasonable” action.

Chris Philp will introduce the Industrial Action (Protection of Critical National Services) Bill under the 10-Minute Rule because he believes unions have “abused” their right to strike, especially on the failing Southern network.

The Croydon South MP claims the proposals have “enormous back-bench support,” with 50 of his Conservative colleagues signing a letter backing the plans.

However, a rail union accused the Tories of regarding workers as “galley slaves.”

A High Court judge would have to rule on whether industrial action could go ahead under the “outrageous” plans. Under the law, a skeleton rail service would take people to and from work.

An Aslef source said: “This proposal is clearly outrageous. We are not galley slaves.

“We are taking perfectly lawful strike action and have been given a huge mandate to do so from our membership.

“We are a member-led organisation. The Tories think the answer to that is to change the law and redefine the status of rail workers to prevent them from striking.”

Guards on Southern are starting a 24-hour strike this morning in a long-running dispute over safety.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Southern should be engaging with RMT in the same way that they have engaged with the TUC and the government in the drivers’ dispute.

“That is the way forward and the only way that we can deal with the safety issues that have led to the latest phase of strike action.”

Link : Morning Star.

Overworked junior doctors falling asleep at the wheel : Morning Star.

AT LEAST four in 10 junior doctors have fallen asleep while driving home from a long night shift, according to research for a BBC documentary airing tonight.

Out of 1,100 newly qualified doctors surveyed, 41 per cent of them said they had nodded off at the wheel.

Dr Sam Jayaweera from Oxford said she often works four 13-hour night shifts in a row and admitted that she had fallen asleep on her way home once and drove on the wrong side of the road. Luckily, there were no other vehicles around.

She told the BBC: “Only last year I was going to a night shift and I came across a car that (had) flipped in the road, it was an unlit country road and … it was another junior doctor coming back from their late shift.”

The Inside Out programme details how 23-year-old Lauren Connelly died after her first night shift.

Her father Brian — whose campaign brought about a reduction in the permitted number of consecutive night shifts in Scotland from seven to five — told the makers how he and his wife had set out to look for Lauren, learning of her accident only when they arrived at the crash scene.

In another case, 33-year-old Dr Ronak Patel from Gosport died when his car hit a lorry when he was heading home to his pregnant wife after his third night shift in a row. According to evidence at the inquest, it was likely that he had fallen asleep.

Dr Michael Farquhar, who teaches junior doctors about the benefits of rest, said that nurses and doctors must take breaks when they work at night — it was not a “sign of weakness” to do so.

Inside Out is on BBC1 South at 7.30pm.

Link : Morning Star.