Thursday 30 November 2017

Urgent Appeal - Colindale foodbank collection this weekend in Mill Hill

  Christmas is coming. Tomorrow sees the start of Advent, when we get our advent calendars and a daily treat. There are some in our community who sadly won't be getting an advent calendar or any other treats this year. They are our neighbours who rely on local foodbanks to survive. Please consider making a donation as Christmas is perhaps the time of year when you can make the most difference.

The first full weekend of every month, there is a collection for Colindale Foodbank in Mill Hill. The Sacred Heart RC Church on the Broadway is the designated collection point. You can just drop a bag of provisions into the narthex (lobby area by doors) or leave it at the Presbertery. The church is the Mill Hill collection point. At this time of year, many regular donors are away. It is also a time when many families have an extra mouth to feed at lunchtimes, when children are not at school, therefore it is vital to make sure that donations are made. Find out more about the foodbank - - which has done fantastic work distributing food to the most needy people in Barnet. This has been supported by people all across the Borough.

Foodbank dates
Mill Hill collection foodbank dates December 2nd and 3rd
The following items are needed. 
UHT Milk or powdered
Fruit Juice (long life carton)
Tinned or packet Soup
Sponge Pudding (tinned)
Tomatoes (tinned)
Rice pudding (tinned)
Instant Mash potatoes
Tinned meat and fish
Tinned Vegetables
Tinned fruit
Biscuits or snack bars
There is also a need for toiletries and babies nappies size 3, 4 and 5
Currently they do not need pasta or teabags.

There is also a regular collection point at Waitrose in Mill Hill East, so you can buy a few extra provisions and pop them in. It is a sad fact of life that we need such collections in 2017. Please pop a few provisions in a bag and help a few local families. The provisions are collected and dropped off on a Monday morning and distributed. If you know of any other collection points in the Borough, please post a comment. 

A big weekend in Mill Hill - Details here

This is a big weekend in Mill Hill. Tomorrow we have the big Xmas lights turn on and on Saturday we have the official opening of the new town square.  There will be a full blown music festival in the town square. We also have a Christmas market, make sure you come down.

Fri 1st

14.00St Martins School Choir
14.30Courtlands Choir
16.00London Belles (Glen Miller style swing Jazz Vocal trio)

17.00Lights turn on then Mill Hill Marching Band
17.20 Douriane (Singer/Songwriter)

Sat 2ND
13.00 Official opening with the Deputy Mayor of Barnet and Mill Hill Marching band
13.20 Alexander Wyatt - Acoustic Singer/Songriter
14.00Radfax - We welcome back one of our favourite bands, covers and originals
14.45Jumpup Ballet school - Local Ballet School
15.00Paul Frankenberg -Simply Grey - We are pleased to welcome back Mill Hill's finest 50's & 60's Rock and Rollers!

16 DJ
16.30Mill Hill Churches choirs join up for our favourite Xmas Carols.

17.30Drop Pink - We welcome back our local indie rockers to close the festival, who did a storming set at the last festival.

For your enjoyment, here are a few preview clips!
Friday Artists

Saturday Artists

Alexander Wyatt. Alexander did a short set at the previous festival and also appeared on percussion with Bossa Bandits

Radfax have played locally many times. They are on at 2pm On Saturday,

The festival will be closed byDrop Pink who are a local Indie/ alternative band, who did a storming set at the last festival.. They’ve been together mainly doing covers for the last year and a half and have now starting writing our own music. We’re a group of four school mates  with an addictive stage presence and a passion for music. We also have a lovely following from our friends that come to all our gigs. Shanuk Dilhara is our lead singer and Rhythm guitar, Corey Herbaut as Lead guitar, Callum Graham on bass and Jack Medlin on drums and backing vocals.

Music will be performed between 1pm and 6pm. There will be a bar as well. Come down and say Hi!

Why can't Anti Semites just grow up?

Sometimes I just despair. The Evening Standard reported that a local Labour Party member has been suspended from the party following a series of anti semitic tweets.

Adam Langleben posted a series of tweets showing a whole series of tweets which are clearly inflammatory and anti semitic. I've known Adam for nearly as long as I've been writing this blog. We don't always see eye to eye on everything (who does), but he is a sensible bloke and he is not fixated on Israel or Jewish issues. He is clearly proudly Jewish and supportive of Israel, but in all of the hundreds of conversations I've had with him over the years, I can only recall two conversations on what may be deemed "Jewish issues". One about Ken Livingstone when he was being suspended from the Labour party for anti semitic comments and one about Adam's perceived view that the hard left Momentum supporting element of Labour seemed to be a safe harbour for anti semitism. For the record, I was disappointed with Livingstone. I think his two terms as Mayor brought all manner of fantastic things to London, especially the first term. The Oyster Card, Congestion Charging and winning the Olympic bids are three. I was a fan, but I feel that Ken has virtually destroyed his reputation with a seemingly never ending stream of unfortunate comments on all things Jewish  (for the record I'm a Roman Catholic. I don't and wouldn't belong to any "friends of Israel" group because I have no ties at all to the country. My heritage is Irish and Australian and I don't belong to any groups supporting these nations, so I have no desire to join any other groups. I personally don't see it is helpful for politicians, without family ties to a nation to join "friend of" groups, especially in areas where there are deep racial/religious divisions. It means they have vested interests and it becomes hard to become honest brokers).

In the Middle East dispute, I have sympathies with both sides. My father was working in Palestine and the Middle East until the end of British rule. He always viewed the Stern gang and Ergun as terrorist groups, who murdered British servicemen. As a former RAF officer, he thought they were beyond the pale. On the other hand, he often travelled on Pilgrimage to the Holy Land once Israel was established and was strongly of the opinion that modern Israel was the safest, most developed, most liberal and least corrupt country in the region. His main base was Beirut and he blamed the Palestinians and Yasser Arafat for the civil war that nearly destroyed the city. Having said that he had huge sympathy for the ordinary Palestinians who lost their homes and livelihoods and ended up in refugee camps. My father spoke fluent Arabic and as chief pilot for a construction company working in the oil industry, he had a far greater knowledge of the region, the conflict and the issues than anyone I've ever met.

Shortly before he passed away in 1987, we had a long discussion about the situation. He said that having flown over Palestine many times, as well as other Arabic lands, there was no question that the Israeli's had massively improved the country. He contrasted this with Libya. He'd been active in the North African campaign in WWII and said that once the Italians had been expelled, the infrastructure improvements they'd built had been left to rot. The Israeli's had irrigated land and grown food on previously barren lands. For him the contrast was the key fact. Israel today is not Palestine in 1948. His view was that with all the oil wealth and empty land in the Middle East, the Arab nations could easily have resolved the issues with Palestinian refugees. To some extent this is still the truth. It seems that the Arab Nations are far keener to supply arms and ammunition to Palestinian groups than aid  and expertise to actually make Gaza and the West Bank a pleasant place to live. It should be clear to all and sundry that supplying Rockets to Hamas in Gaza is not doing any good for anyone.

As to Israel, have they followed the best policies to resolve the conflict and show good will? I think the question of illegal settlements shows that there is a lack of good faith. One other thing which my father also regularly spoke of. The Israeli armed forces and secret services are second to none. As an ex forces man, he was a huge admirer of their prowess. He specifically went to Israel the year after the six day war as he was fascinated by the subject. He was also mightily impressed by the Entebbe Raid. He was also a fan of Mossad and their relentless hunting down of war criminals. My father lost too many friends to think that on the run Nazi's deserved anything but a bullet or the noose. He'd read books and explain just why the Israeli tactics and strategies were so effective. His view was that as the Arab world was committed to the total destruction of Israel, the Israelis effectively had a free pass on the tactics they used to fight back. He felt that while the UK did not practice state sponsored assassination, Israel would be insane not to, given the stated position of the Palestinians and their Arab backers.

Of course things have changed since 1987 when my father died. The UK now has a fully operational program of state sponsored assassination. Unlike Mossad, it is not highly trained killers ambushing opponents. We use Drones in foreign countries, usually assassinating people who bear no clear and present threat to the UK. We have lost any high ground we may have had. We launched a war in Iraq that has seen hundreds of thousands die and splintered a country into many parts, all of which are far more dangerous to us than the Saddam Hussein regime. This was done following a concerted campaign by a Labour Party Prime Minister to lie and mislead Parliament. Do you remember the term "shock and awe". This was the title for a bombing campaign of the city of Baghdad by the completely overwhelming air power of the UK and USA. This when Iraq posed no threat to us and those at the top in the UK and USA knew.

Which brings me back to our Anti Semites in Barnet. They really need to grow up. Anyone screaming at Israel for anything should take a long hard look at what we've done in the last 20 years since New Labour became the government of the day. Critising Israel when we are complicit in a blood bath based on lies is just pure hypocrisy. Israel still potentially faces an existential threat, which is only expedited by it's military and secret services. I have no issue with Israeli's such as Gilad Atzmon, who is a big supporter of Palestinians, having a row with Adam. They both sit on different sides of an argument I don't want to stick my nose into. I just don't like people with no knowledge of the area and no ties to it pontificating.

I have concentrated on the issues with Israel primarily in the blog up until now. To me, the issue of Israel and the Palestinians is a bit of a fig leaf for a more general issue which is that some people don't like Jews. The succession of Tweets Adam Langleben posted show me something that I think we all know. Bigots of all shapes and sizes are really just very immature people who need to grow up. Homophobic images, unamusing charicatures and implying that there is a holocaust "brainwashing program" are simply rather sad.

When I started working in the building trade aged 18, the man I worked for had been a captain in the British Army and one of the first British Officers to enter Belsen. He told me that when the British entered the camp, they got a film crew in. They shot thousands of hours of footage to document the crimes that had occurred there. The reason? So that in 70 years, when all of the eye witnesses were dead, there would be a permanent record so that people could not say "it was all made up". At the time such a suggestion seemed crazy. I went to Orange Hill School, which had  a strong Jewish presence. Many had lost relatives, others had relatives who had escaped. Many of these friends I still see. I simply cannot fathom how someone can insult the experiences of such people and their families. I can sort of understand how juvenile teenagers in the Mid West might watch a crackpot video on Youtube and be swayed, but I genuinely thought people in North West London were a bit more sensible.

Another theme in these tweets is the concept that "rich Jewish bankers control the world". Sadly for all of my Jewish friends, they are strangely excluded from this cartel. Some have done well for themselves, some haven't. Strangely, they seem to have the exactly the same concerns, problems and dilemmas that I have. They worry about their kids, they worry about their jobs, they worry about their relatives and they worry about their football team. Rather like I do. I mentioned the hundreds of conversations I've had with Adam Langleben. I said we'd discussed Jewish Issues a couple of times. We've spent far more time discussing inequality, injustice, the incompetence of Barnet Council and the sorry behaviour of certain Barnet Tory councillors. As Barnet has a large Jewish population and many have families affected by the holocaust, I would expect Adam to be vocal on these issues in Council, where appropriate. Just as I'd expect a Barnet Councillor of Muslim heritage to be vocal about Islamophobia, such as we saw at Golders Green.

A key point for me is that of all the Barnet Councillors, Adam is perhaps the one I've spoken to most. There is a very mundane reason for this. We used to see each other on the daily commute. We've grumbled about late Thameslink services and about the issues of the day. As I stated we don't always see eye to eye, but he's probably been on more marches, attended more public meetings and done more grunt work than any other councillor I can think of. Some of the Twitter following his actions comments seem to imply he's a stooge of some sort for some dark vested interests. To me this is yet another incarnation of the rather immature view that some people have that anyone who disagrees with them must be part of some a big conspiracy. If Adam is part of a big conspiracy, it seems like an awful lot of work to put in to ensure that Barnet Council occasionally put up a holocaust memorial or pass a motion suggesting a Two State solution is the way to go in the Middle East.

Whenever I hear conspiracy theorists on such subjects as Jewish conspiracies, I think of McCarthy in America. Many decent people were hounded for completely spurious reasons. For some reason, some think that it is OK to make inciteful comments about the Jewish communty. It isn't. Sadly the internet age has spawned a whole army of armchair warriors, who see dodgy Youtube videos as a form of education. They need too blame someone else for their woes and they gain energy from spewing bile.  It is not OK. Such people really need to get out more. They need to let the scales drop from their eyes.

If you want to end injustice, start here. If you post such tweets, all you do is alienate all reasonable people. I think it is brave of Adam to post such things. I am not a Labour member, but think it is vital that the party gets to grip with this oozing sore on their party.

Wednesday 29 November 2017

The Wednesday Poem #33 - The Royal Wedding

As the unofficial Poet Laureate of Barnet, here is my poem to celebrate the engagement of Harry to Meghan. Don't be cynical, we should all celebrate good things and wish people happy, whether we are Royalists  or Republicans. Two young people being happy is something to celebrate.

Celebrate Love, Celebrate Life.
Harry's getting hitched to his trouble and strife,
I hope they live long and I hope it's all great,
For the missus and the brother of our future head of state,
I hope they have kids and I hope they have dogs,
Coz the the best thing in life is a house full of sprogs,
I quite like Harry, feel sad about his Mum
So I'll raise him a glass when the wedding deed is done,
Cause marriage is a blessing and I hope his is for life,
And I hope like me he's happy with his choice of wife.

Copyright 2017 Roger Tichborne

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (27 November 2017)
Charles and Meghan (courtesy of the EPA/BBC Website)
I just hope that Harry gives Megan a happier life than Charles gave his mother. I really wouldn't want one of my daughters to end up in that goldfish bowl. I am a republican as I don't believe a modern democracy should have an unelected head of state, although I think that any discussions should wait until Charles succeeds Her Majesty and it would simply be disrespectful to someone who has done a fantastic job for decades to even have a debate. I actually quite like the fact we've got an old dear on the throne. It is two fingers up to both sexists and ageists which can only be good. So put your cynicism aside for a few minutes.

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Has the Barnet Opposition given up at just the wrong time?

Something has been bothering me greatly of late. Next year we have council elections in for Barnet Council. The local opposition should be ramping up and making a push like never before to get rid of the tired and ineffective Conservative administration. Since I started blogging in 2008, I've seen three different Conservative group leaders. It started with Mike Freer from 2008-2009. Then we had Lynne Hillan who tragically passed away from lung cancer in 2012. She was followed by Richard Cornelius, who has presided over the Borough since then. I doubt many expected Richard to last this long. When he took over arch schemer Brian Coleman was the power behind the throne in the Barnet Tories and you were never more than five feet from a political scheme in the town. For all his many faults, Brian was an arch schemer. He delighted in taunting opponents and being as rude to them as possible. He often provided a smokescreen whilst his more cerebral colleagues pushed through all manner of hard right schemes that never got the scrutiny they deserved due to Coleman's public facing buffonery.

This worked pretty well until 2012, but by then, we'd got the measure of him and he was ejected from the GLA with a huge personal anti vote, following the disaster of his parking policies.  Colemans star was already in decline when Richard took over. He was however still a councillor. His altercation with Helen Michael on the High St saw the end of that.

Labour believed the 2014 council elections were in the bag. Labour was riding high in London and with Colemans demise, many believed that there was no need to run a community wide campaign. Then Labour Leader Alison Moore, didn't bother trying to enlist bloggers and Labour made some serious mistakes, most notably not throwing the kitchen sink at Hale Ward, which was winnable, whilst chasing rainbows trying to unseat Lib Dem Jack Cohen and his Lib Dem running mates in Childs Hill. This was the height of folly, as Jack generally had been highly supportive of the Labour group. Labour and The Lib Dems had run a highly effective coalition in Barnet between 1994 and 2002. As  a result, Labour cannibalised the Lib Dem vote, allowing the Tories to win two seats in Childs Hill and only taking one out of three seats in Hale.

Perhaps the biggest personal sign of this stupidity, was when bloggers had a meeting with local Labour and asked whether there was any assistance Barnet bloggers, with our huge local readership could do to help. The answer "deliver leaflets and act as tellers at polling stations". For me it was an extraordinary suggestion. My view was that there should have been a co-ordinated push across all opposition groups to achieve a change of administration. I am quite happy working with anyone. At the time, I was not a member of any political party (the Labour Party banned me from being a member in 2010, but that is another story). Groups such as the Barnet Alliance were excluded from strategy and planning, despite a strong record of organising of events.

To the surprise of many in Labour, but sadly not myself, the Tories retained Barnet Council by one seat as neighbouring Tory councils all around fell. In many ways it was a stunning victory for the pragmatism of Richard Cornelius. Realising that the Tories were in trouble, he did many sensible things. He ensured that all sitting councillors who wanted to stand were guaranteed a seat. This menat no fratcuous deselection battles. He ensured that campaign resources were wisely husbanded and that marginal seats were the priority. He was lucky in that Brian Coleman stood as an independent and started firing off leaflets and blogs denouncing his former colleagues. I often wondered if this was a Machiavellian masterstroke by Coleman and Cornelius. His toxic brand had infected the local Tory Brand and his "hissy fits" could only help in the Tory Detox. Whilst many believe the Barnet Tories to be bumbling incompetents, I believe that they are anything but. They simply find that to be a useful public persona, as if you can portray unpopular policies as simply the result of being bumbling buffoons, people don't turn against you. Boris is the master of this type of strategy.

If you doubt just how good at running the show Richard Cornelius is, consider how tightly he's managed to control his group, with only one councillor needing to vote with the opposition to lose any vote. I can't recall any major policy votes that the Tories have lost and they've even managed to pass completely childish pieces of grandstanding such as the motion to declare "Sadiq Khan an enemy of people", a measure at least three Tory councillors have privately confirmed to me they felt was a very silly motion and quite unhelpful.

But all of that is just the history. I am more concerned with the present day. What six years of Richard Cornelius has managed to do, quite incredibly given the national mood, is to completely grind down the opposition. Wheras at the 2014 Council elections, the Barnet Alliance was an active and vibrant organisation, it has ceased to exist. The local members who still have a stomach for a fight have jouned Barnet Momentum. This highly political group for left wing activists has currently got approx 1,200 followers.  This compares favourably with The Barnet Tories who have less than 500. Barnet Labour have over 4,000, so I suppose that we can assume that around 25% of Barnet Labour supporters are Momentum followers. Now of course not all followers are supporters. People like me follow just about all parties & Councillors, but it is indicative.

Of course Twitter is far from the full picture. The tweets put out by most political groups are banal and I doubt many sane and rational swing voters would follow any of the party feeds for fun. The Barnet Opposition look just as intent on throwing this election away as they did the last. Perhaps the worst example of this is Childs Hill. Historically the anti Tory vote has gone to the Lib Dems with Labour (until 2014) standing aside. In 2014, they tried to run a strong campaign which simply meant two of three Lib Dems lost to Tories. This time, Labour have an absolutely excellent candidate in Anne Clarke. Anne is a fervant local campaigner and I would normally say that she should walk the vote. The trouble is that I don't believe that Labour has the numbers to take Childs Hill. I also think it would verging on criminal to see Jack Cohen, the stalwart Lib Dem lose his seat. The Lib Dems have put up two strong local campaigners. My great fear is that a great Lib Dem team and a strong Labour team will simply form a Guard of Honour and allow the Tories to walk in. My own view is that the opposition should be pragmatic and back the Lib Dems in Childs Hill and ensure a win, but I accept that would highly unfair to Anne Clarke who really does deserve a seat. I'd love to see Anne Clarke stand as a Labour PPC in Finchley and Golders Green against Mike Freer. I think Anne is of the calibre to do it. She is a worker and I suspect that if the Labour Party had the balls to do this, it she'd win. My perfect outcome would be to see Jack and his team retake the seat and Anne to become the local MP, in an election later next year.

Then we have Hale Ward. I spoke to local Momentum supporters who are also active in Labour. They feel that it is in the bag. Most of them were new to campaigning. I said that "This is what Labour said last time". The response I got was "this time it is different". I advised them to concentrate all of their efforts in marginal and winnable seats, however they told me they felt that they had a good chance of winning Mill Hill as well. If they split their resources and don't target marginal council seats, I suspect that they will end up crying in their beer for the fifth election in a row.  I've canvassed and delivered leaflets in every council election since 1988. I was truly gobsmacked when Labour and Lib Dems took the council in 1994. An incredible amount of hard work won it. Labour came to agreements with Lib Dems in Mill Hill and Childs Hill and as a result a centre/left administration was returned. many good things were done in that period. The blueprint for success is there, but what is missing is a Labour team who are prepared to actually take the tough decisions needed to win elections. The leader of the group is almost silent. He should be busting a gut to win recognition and doing everything to push campaigning in marginal wards. Sadly a search of the Leader of The Labour Group's twitter feed shows that he's hell bent on making all the same mistakes. If I search for tweets he's made about Hale ward, which is winnable and Labour have 1/3 of councillors I find

Tweets by Labour Group Leader about Hale Ward

Then there is the wider opposition. Us bloggers, to start with. I think we are largely exhausted. in 2013, the year before the last Council election Mrs Angry posted 130 blogs, over ten a month. This year, the same point in the cycle, she's managed 30 so far. Mr Reasonable managed 99 in 2013 and a mere 21 so far this year. Mr Mustard managed 239 in 2013 and yet this year has only managed 118.  As for me, I managed 487 in 2013 and a mere 367 this year. I think it is fair to say that we are all pretty exhausted by the process. That is not to say that there have not been excellent blogs with huge impact this year, in fact for the Barnet Eye, in the history of our blog, three of the ten most read blogs were posted this year. It simply demonstrates that there is a degree of fatigue. Then there are the trades unions. The Barnet Tories have been hell bent on emasculating them ever since they took power. Sadly this assault on the rights of workers has taken its toll. Long standing stalwart of the opposition and good friend of mine, John Burgess publicly admitted that the stress has caused him to suffer mental health issues. Although John struggles on, without his iconic presence in teh Borough full time, much of the vigour has gone from local campaigning.

In short, it seems to me as if the Barnet Opposition has run out of stream, just at the very point when finally there is an opportunity to actually achieve regime change in the Borough. There is six months until the next election. If you really want to see a change. If you want to see the end of a head of Education who seeks to cut after school care for disabled children, who won't lobby the education secretary for a better deal for Barnet Schools and who has reduced the Barnet Libraries footprint by 50%, you'd better realise that only hard work will do the trick. If you think that councillors who get paid £25,000 a year in allowances have nothing better to do than draft motions calling the Mayor of London an "enemy of the people" then fine, but if you want change and you want the council to fight for YOU, then you need to work harder.

I am prepared to make a commitment. I promise that in 2015, I will publish at least 500 blogs to effect change. I managed over 750 in 2012, so it is not a pipedream. I will be seeking guest blogs from you the community to help. The second most read blog on this site is a guest blog about council housing  Guest Blog - Opposition to huge rent rise growing - posted in 2012.

Of course if no one is prepared to even bother, is there any point. Therefore, I ask you to come along to the Barnet Eye Community Awards Ceremony on Saturday 9th December at The Chandos Arms in Colindale. There will be members of all major campaigns and opposition groups, so it will be a great chance to meet like minded people, network and work out how to effect change in a relaxed environment. We need a full house to ensure that we can send a message that the Barnet Opposition has not given up. We will be giving an award to our "Community Campaugn of the Year". This is a campaign that shows local grass roots campaigns really do work. So if you need some inspiration, come along.

If you are a regular reader, it would be great to meet you. There will be live music (including a never seen before acoustic unplugged session from my Band, The False Dots), a DJ and the awards ceremony. If nothing else, come along to support our local champions.

The False Dots will also be performing a song we wrote in honour of the workers of Barnet who lost their jobs to The Capita Outsourcing of Barnet Council entitled "They cleared out your desk". This .was us performing it for the first time last year at The Chandos Arms. We will also be passing around the hat for our charity of the year, so bring some spare pennies.


We'll be presenting our awards to outstanding local people and organisations

The categories this year are

Barnet Person of the year

Barnet Charity of the year

Barnet Pub of the Year

Barnet Band/Artist of the Year

Barnet Sports Club of the Year

Barnet Compaign of the year

Barnet Community Event of the Year

Barnet Campaigner of the year

Monday 27 November 2017

Matthew Offord seeks to justify Conservative Party position on Animal rights and Animal Sentience

Hendon MP Matthew Offord has released the following statement regarding animal rights on his website.

There has been a lot of misinformation spread about this specific matter, so I would like to clarify a few facts.
First of all, there was not a debate or vote on the principle of whether animals have feelings. I am proud that the UK has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and, as part of this, the principle of animal sentience is already enshrined in our own laws, as you will find in s.1(4) and s.4(1)(a-d) of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
The EU (Withdrawal) Bill will convert the existing body of direct EU animal welfare laws to become UK laws. Most of these EU laws relate to farmed animals and many were passed after Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union came into effect.
We should not be looking towards the EU as a benchmark for animal welfare standards. EU law currently permits bullfighting, foie grois production, fur importation and the transportation of live animals in horrendous conditions. The Animal Protection Index, maintained by World Animal Protection, rates the UK's formal recognition of animal sentience as grade A. Other EU countries such as France, Italy and Spain are graded C.
Already, this Government is showing its commitment to animal welfare with policies such as compulsory CCTV in abattoirs, banning microbeads, five year sentences for animal cruelty, and the banning of ivory in the UK.
On a personal note, as a vegetarian of over 35 years and someone who has consistently raised issues surrounding animal welfare standards, I would invite anyone to look at my Parliamentary history on this issue, which I believe speaks for itself.

Offord released his statement after much adverse publicity for Conservative MP's following a recent vote that animals are not sentient beings.

Personally I find Mr Offord's statement rather misleading. He says little on the subject beyond "I'm a veggie so I am Ok". Without wishing to sink to the usual banal comment that is thrown at such times, we all know cases of famous politicians who were vegetarians who were most definitely not OK.

I personally believe that animals should be treated with the highest levels of care, compassion and dignity wherever possible. I think we should have a presumption of sentience as there is really not a good reason, other than to allow cruelty and bad practice to do otherwise. I am upset with Offord as I had previously thought he was sound on compassion towards animals. He may say "look at my record". The sad truth is that we looked at how he voted in this case. If you care about animal welfare, then you really shouldn't be surprised that the party of foxhunting are keen to legislate in this manner.

There is a petition online to try and get the Tories to change their policy. Here is the text

UPDATE: Michael Gove has promised to make “any necessary changes” to UK law to recognize that animals can feel pain, however we can't trust that we will get the animal rights that this country wants until something is in law. We need to keep up the pressure on the Government to ensure animal sentience is put into law.
Under EU law all animals are considered sentient (meaning they are beings that feel pain). This law is there to protect the welfare of animals. MP Caroline Lucas had submitted an amendment clause (NC30) to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which sought to transfer the EU Protocol on animal sentience into UK law, so animals continue to be recognised as sentient beings under domestic law.
Not allowing this amendment could see animal welfare go backwards instead of forwards allowing unethical exploitation of animals for hunting, battery farming and inhumane slaughtering for food.
It flies in the face of commonly held scientific belief that animals do feel pain and have emotions.
This is not a matter of left or right wing politics it's about protecting animal rights and coming together to ensure that animals maintain sentient status in UK law, to protect animal welfare. As Ben Fogle said "dogs are much smarter and more emotional than politicians believe them to be."
The UK is still among the highest animal testing nations on the planet with 3.9 million testing procedures carried out here in 2016. Regardless of what has been claimed about how good our animal laws are we are ranked the 7th highest animal testing nation. I do not trust that the animal welfare we are petitioning for will be delivered by our government without the EU Protocol on animal sentience as a basis for improving animal welfare laws moving forwards."There can only be one reason to deny animal sentient status, and that is to exploit them"
If you want to sign this petitions, the link is here.

Sunday 26 November 2017

The Tweets of The Week in The London Borough of Barnet - 26/11/2017

Once again, it's tweets of the week time.

Don't forget to follow any tweeters who tickle your fancy!

1. Here's to our local Rugby club hitting a fantastic milestone and a brilliant achievement, fingers crossed

2. Well done to Burnt Oak Police on a fantastic achievement

3. We rather liked this exchange. Can you think of a better Burnt Oak related song

4. Cricklewood has its own official green space!

5. It looked a bit chilly in Mill Hill this morning!

6. Richard Peters Opticians having their say on North Finchley Regeneration

7. People's Champion Mr Mustard in action and fighting for your rights!

8. This Tweet from Barnet Rebel tickled our fancy!

9. Can You Help?

10. If you are looking for something for that budding heavy metal drummer, this could fit the bill

Tha't's all folks!

Saturday 25 November 2017

The Saturday List #156 - My Top Ten Takeaways in Mill Hill

Image result for mill hill broadway takeaway
Takeaway food
It's Saturday. You have a dilemma, do you watch Strictly as you quite fancy seeing if Debbie McGhee's twirls are up to scratch, but you also fancy a tasty dinner and a good bottle of wine and you don't want to cook. What to do? Well the simple answer is to get a takeaway. If you have a great local takeaway, why not leave a comment at the end of this blog, so we can all join in the fun!
These choices hopefully cover all the bases and they are all favourites of myself or the family. Enjoy!

1. Indian - I rather like the Day of the Raj for a Takeaway. They used to also have a proper restaurant in Mill Hill, but sadly that closed. They are based in Mill Hill East. Check them out at I should also mention the Mill Hill Tandoori, which I eat at far too much and is great, however I do tend to order takeaways from Romel at The Raj, as it is good to support local businesses  and spread the love around.

2. Fish and Chips - In Mill Hill we are rather spoiled as we have five to choose from in the immediate locality. All of which warrant a plug, King Neptune and Boobas at The Green Man,  Fridays at Salcombe Gardens,  Marina's on Deansbrook Parade and the latests addition Cannons on Mill Hill Broadway. I'll go for Cannons here, simply as it is the one I use as it is the closest, I can walk, order my fish and chips, have a quick pint at the Services club, then collect the food and hop along home. All are worth a try

3. Pizza's. Now this is a bit of a sore subject in our household. The only one we like is Molto Pizza on Hale Lane and they have closed. It isn't clear if this is for refurbishment or for good. So if you know whether it is reopening let us know. Alternatively, if you can recommend an alternative leave a comment. We don't do the huge corporrates, so don't add the obvious ones.

4. Japanese. Kiyoto Sushi is excellent. Sushi is something that has to be fresh and well prepared, this place ticks all the boxes.

5. Shakes. Now I never drink these, so I am going solely on the recommendation of my (not so) wee nippers, who still see this as a great treat. This is now a chain, but Mill Hill was the first branch. This was a mega success from day one. It is a great example of what you can do if you have a great idea -

Cobans Kebabs
6. Kebabs. I love a  great Lamb Shish Kebab. My wife is a non meat eater, so you may think that would be an issue, but in Mill Hill we are lucky to have Coban's kebabs. They also do a great falafal wrap. No website, but you can ring them on 0208 906  3296

7. Chinese. Now if you want great quality Chinese food, then the Good Earth really is the best. It isn't cheap, but it is very, very good. People generally think of it as a sit down restaurant, however they do takeaway as well -

8. Bagels. Lets face it, if you live in Mill Hill, you are most likely partial to a smoked Salmon bagel! Yummies Deli is very, very good. They have a great selection of Smoked Salmon as well and will advise you accordingly.

9. Kentucky Fried Chicken. I said we didn't do corporates, but this is my one guilty pleasure. When it comes down to it KFC really do the best fried chicken. Sadly their chips are rubbish! Their drive through at Apex Corner is a very useful part of the local landscape. My sister moved too Essex six years ago and when she comes back, the first thing my nephew does is walk up to KFC with my son. I think that for families KFC is an integral part of the local landscape.

10. A bottle of wine. Ok, if you haven't found something you like there, I can only apologise. If you have, then why not wash it down with a decent bottle of wine. Mill Hill Wines are an excellent wine shop. They also have a range of craft beers.

Friday 24 November 2017

The Friday Joke - 24/11/2017

Image result for Xmas funny
Xmas is coming!

Have you started buying your presents yet?

I saw Arnie Schwarzenegger in Poundland in Burnt Oak yesterday. He was stocking up on his Xmas presents, I said "Hi Arnie, you looking forward to Christmas". He said "No I hate all of that false sentimentality". So I said "So you hate all religious holidays?" He said "No, not all, have to love Easter"

Have a great weekend!

Brexit - The Ten big lies revisited

On Wednesday 15th July 2016,  a couple of weeks before the Brexit vote, I published a blog called "Top Ten #Brexit Porkies" -  in the week when the Budget finally skewered the lie that the NHS would get £360 million a week, I thought it might be worth revisiting these. Lets see whether what I said had any bearing on how things are working out. Claiming a major political campaign is telling porkies is a pretty major claim, so lets see how my list stacks up with reality.

My commentary on these is in red italics.

1. 70 Million Turks will come to Uk if we remain. The concept that the entire population of Uk will relocate to Uk is clearly dishonest.

Remember this one? This was one of the big scare stories. Has the EU moved towards allowing  Turkey to join the EU? I think you know the answer to that one. In fact the UK Conservative government was the only major power keen to see Turkey join. 

2. We will regain control of our borders. We already have control of borders. Everyone entering UK has to show a passport.

I stand by what I said. At the time of the referendum, most immigration was from outside the EU, and we had full control of this. One point I'd missed was that the new arrangements were likely to make it far more difficult for UK citizens to move between the UK and the EU. Nearly a year and a half on, it is still completely unclear what will happen at borders when we leave. Business is desperate for free movement of labour with the EU. The Tory government is paralysed by fear as tow hat this will mean for them politically. I have two predictions in this respect. Firstly I think it is clear that the new arrangements will be worse for the economy than the existing arrangements. Secondly, the Brexit fans will still not be happy with it and will scream betrayal at whatever pragmatic arrangements are put into place.

3. If we quit EU Leave will spend an extra £360 mill a week on NHS. It will be up to govt of day to set budget and £360 mill figure excludes rebate we already receive.

In the budget, this myth was completely skewered. The chancellor had to find £3 billion for planning to leave and the divorce bill is currently looking to cost £50 billion. Ever feel like you've been had. One thing is clear. There never was and never will be £360 million a week for the NHS.

4. If we leave EU #leave will scrap VAT on household energy. If this is done it will further reduce money available to put into NHS as described in point 3 and would be a matter for govt of day.

I'd actually forgotten this promise. I daresay that everyone involved in the Leave Campaign will have forgotten it as well. As the Chancellor is desperate for cash to pay for the failures of this administration and the EU divorce bill, there is absolutely zero chance of this materialising.

5. If we leave EU, the EU will automatically give us a preferential trade deal. This is pure speculation as know one knows what the final deal will be.

Do you remember the likes of Leave fundamentalist John Redwood claiming that the EU had to give us a deal as the German car builders wanted to retain our market. This is the same John Redwood that is moonlighting as a financial adviser and is advising his clients to get their money out of the UK

6. If we leave EU, migration from EU will decrease. If we achieve a deal on same terms as Norway, this is not true. No one knows what deal we will get so cannot say.

Even before we've quit the EU we have seen a slump in migration from other EU countries. In fact many people have packed up and left, causing acute Labour shortages in certain sectors. As such I have to admit I called this one wrong. I doubt too many Leave fundamentalists will be too upset that this has happened, however the damage this is doing to the UK economy is pretty clear for all to see and the worst victim appears to be the NHS which is seeing a huge flight of qualified staff.

7. If we leave EU we could deport foreign criminals. This would be subject to a new treaty and may breach European Human rights laws. These are not written by EU.

The Belfast Telegraph this morning details how there is still no proposal for a post Brexit replacement for the European Arrest Warrant. We are a country that respects the rule of law and without a replacement for this system, we are likely to see many criminals evade justice. It is alarming that the government has not recognised that this is a critical process and something must be put in place.

8. A lower pound would be good for the economy. This is only true for net exporters with a strong manufacturing base. Sadly we do not have that.

We've had a lower pound since the Brexit vote. The chancellor released appalling projections for growth at the Budget. If what the Leavers was claiming was true, we'd be top of the league in the G7 growth tables, not bottom. As we mentioned earlier, Leave fundamentalist John Redwood is advising investors to pull their cash out. If an arch Leaver such as Redwood is saying this about the Post Brexit Economy, what hope is there.

9. The EU makes all our laws at present. It doesn't.

That was and still is a lie. If it wasn't, there would have been nothing for Parliament to do since 1971. What no one really saw coming at that time was the "Henry VIII Powers" that Theresa May want's for ministers, to be able to make up laws without parliamentary scrutiny to replace EU laws. No one in the Leave camp mentioned that the Government would abolish democraticoversight as part of the process.

10. The rest of the world will be keen to sign trade agreements with UK. No country has said this is true, whereas most say they want us to stay.

Remind me. After a year and a half, how long is the queue of countries seeking free trade agreements?

So I got one out of ten of these wrong. I apologise. I wonder if anyone from the Leave Campaign will apologise for conning the British public with the other nine porkies. Of course we've seen the likes of Nigel Farage, who has never held a political post or been a minister saying it's going wrong because the Brexit negotiators are not following his "just quit and be damned policy". I have no doubt that Theresa May and her administration have been extraordinarily incompetent, however Farage is clearly a complete buffoon, who would make a disaster into a full blown catastrophy. I am very tempted to report John Redwood to the Parliamentary Standards Committee for advocating a policy which has created a situation where he is now advising people to quit the UK.

A question that has repeatedly troubled me is whether a referendum, where the winning side told so many clear porkies and the winning margin was a mere 2%  really be considered to be a valid poll? If you buy a product and it doesn't do what it said on the tin, surely you should be entitled to your money back. I don't think the public are ready yet for the concept of a second referendum, however I think that everyone who can see what a disaster this whole process is, should start building the campaign now.

The argument that it is defying the will of the people is a spurious one. The British people were conned. What is disgraceful is that Pro Brexit Papers such as the Sun, Express and Mail did not even cover the story of Redwood advising his clients to pull out of the UK. The lies go on. If you are a client of John Redwood, you can get the truth, if you read the Pro Brexit press you don't. I don't believe that the UK population like being conned.