Hope Not Hate: Stop Tommy Robinson’s US Links

One of the biggest anti-Muslim think tanks in the USA has invited Stephen Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) to speak at a major event in Washington DC next month. Speaking at this event will give Lennon a huge platform to stir up greater Islamophobia and a chance to raise even more money from far right donors in the States.

We need to try and stop him from being there and furthering his hateful cause.

Luckily for us, the United States usually frowns on people with criminal convictions from passing through – especially when one of his convictions is for entering the US illegally on someone else’s passport!

Let’s tell the US Ambassador to the UK about Lennon’s record, and demand he be banned from entering the US.


The organisation that has invited him is called “The Middle East Forum”. They’ve been supporting Lennon for a while and funded the demonstrations in London that erupted into violence earlier this year.

The event is being hosted by the “Conservative Opportunity Society” which is chaired by none other than Steve King, a Republican Member of Congress who is basically a white nationalist.

Lennon is making friends in high places in America because of the media profile, and access to money these links give him. Going to this event is important to him: it’s not just a jolly, it’s a key part in his publicity plan following the trial he’s faced. He wants a bigger platform to push his anti-Muslim agenda. And this sort of exposure is how, according to the Sunday Times, £2 million has flooded his fundraising page in recent weeks.

We need to stop him from getting into the United States. There are several reasons for the US to block his visit: he’s a violent thug with criminal convictions for assault and leading a gang of football hooligans. Or “Soccer thugs” to our American friends. He has a conviction for mortgage fraud. One of his convictions is for trying to enter the United States illegally – you couldn’t make it up.

You could say that President Trump should have ‘a total and complete shutdown’ of far-right extremists coming to the US from the UK.

Help us make sure the US authorities know about Lennon’s record. Sign our petition demanding the US block his visit.

Future Wars: The Impact of New Technologies

  • Free CND public conference – open to all
  • 10th November, 9:30am-5pm
  • Birkbeck University of London, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7HX

We are living in increasingly dangerous times – most recently with President Trump’s announcement of US withdrawal from the INF Treaty. This opens the door to massive nuclear proliferation. At the same time, new technologies are emerging, rapidly transforming warfare; billions of dollars are being spent on a new hi-tech arms race. It’s already big news and the public is awakening to the serious consequences.

Space is being militarised, warfare is conducted online, and killer robots and drones carry out secretive wars via artificial intelligence and remote control. How do we organise to stop this new and uncontrolled wave of weapons and war?

Join CND and a host of expert speakers to discuss these issues at our public conference ‘Future Wars: The Impact of New Technologies’.

Sign up here for your free ticket

NUJ silent vigil Thursday 1 November 6-7pm

The assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is barbaric and gruesome.

As more and more evidence emerges about the murder, the International Federation of Journalists has called on the international community to stop appeasing the Saudi regime.

On the eve of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, the union has organised a silent vigil outside the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in London.

The event will take place on Thursday 1 November starting at 6pm for one hour at 30 Charles St, Mayfair, London W1J 5DZ.

Please spread the word and come along on the night.

https://www.nuj.org.uk/events/international-day-to-end-impunity-for-crimes-against/

Barnet Tories ask residents to pay for cracked pavements as council cuts bite

Barnet’s Conservative councillors are proposing a new ‘service’ to enable residents and businesses to pay for replacing cracked paving stones that the Council won’t repair because they “don’t reach the criteria that warrant replacement from the Highways department”.

A motion has been submitted to next week’s Full Council meeting (30 October) by Conservative councillor, David Longstaff, calling for the Environment Committee to “develop proposals to make this service available to all residents and businesses”. He is calling the new service ‘Right to Buy’.

At the beginning of this financial year Barnet Council identified an unforeseen budget gap of £62m leading up to 2024/25 which had emerged out of the blue.

The Conservative-run Council introduced a new policy of resurfacing most residential street pavements with tarmac rather than paving stones in July 2016 in order to save money on reactive footway repairs. The tarmac pavement resurfacing has proved unpopular with many local residents.

Barnet Labour’s Environment spokesperson, Cllr Alan Schneiderman said:

“”This is another unbelieveable crackpot scheme from the Barnet Tories – why should we have the ‘right to buy’ our pavements. The Tories have made a mess of the Council’s finances and now want residents to pay the price. Many of Barnet’s pavements and roads are in a poor state of repair and now it’s clear they will only be fixed if you can afford to pay. Residents deserve safe pavements to walk on and not another Tory stealth tax, with the likelihood of more similar charges to follow.”

Full Council: 30 October 2018

Administration motion in the name of Cllr David Longstaff

Right to Buy

Council notes that some cracked paving stones don’t reach the criteria that warrant replacement from the Highways department, but are unsightly.

Council supports residents and businesses who wish to pay for our term contractor to replace cracked paving stones on a like-for-like basis.

Council requests that the Environment Committee develop proposals to make this service available to all residents and businesses.

2. Details of the footway tarmac policy (Agenda Item 12): http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=695&MId=8634&Ver=4

Capita computer system cock-up costs extra £4.2m

Capita computer system cock-up costs extra £4.2m

Capita CSG’s failure to properly implement Barnet Council’s new adults social care case management system could cost council tax payers a further £4.2m according to recent budget reports.

The Mosaic IT system was supposed to transform case management for adults social care, but has caused huge problems including with budget management. There was no financial reporting for the first six months of last year and the system is still not able to bill clients.  Significant staff time has been taken up creating system work-arounds.

Capita was supposed to ensure Mosaic was fully operational by now. Barnet Council has now decided to find another IT partner to deliver the system and has allocated an additional budget of £4.2m for this.

Labour councillors have called for a comprehensive report on the failure to be presented to the relevant Committee so councillors understand the cause and full impact of the problems, as well as any lessons learned from the process. The Conservatives refused to support this at the last Adults & Safeguarding Committee, but Labour councillors will be asking for this report again at next week’s Policy & Resources Committee (23 Oct).

Labour’s Adults & Safeguarding Spokesperson, Cllr Jess Brayne said: “Yet another incident in the saga of Capita cock-ups, costing the people of Barnet and placing additional pressure on the Adults team – who deal with the most vulnerable in our society. The Conservatives’ policy of outsourcing to Capita is causing chaos throughout the Council – they need to be held to account. ”

Ends.

Notes:

  1. Details of the problems with Mosaic can be found in paragraph 1.13 p9-10 of the Q1 Adults & Safeguarding performance report (Agenda Item 9, ASC 20 Sep): http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=698&MId=9473&Ver=4

“STR020 and AC028 – Lack of fully functioning case management system (residual risk score 20). The programme plan has been revised to focus on meeting Adults and Communities’ statutory duties and a review of the build and configuration is being undertaken. The delivery focus has been on safeguarding related activity, statutory reporting and budgetary control – this activity continues to be closely scrutinised by the Programme Board. Lessons learned from statutory reporting will improve the functioning of business processes and case recording. Work has been taken forward to  help determine the long-term solution for customer billing. Data inputting backlogs have been reduced substantially. The commercial process is ongoing. Authority to procure a new implementation partner was agreed by Policy and Resources Committee in July 2018.”

“AC031 – Budget management (residual risk score 16). Following the move to the new case management system, delays in resolving issues have limited the ability for the council to produce routine budget reports, which could result in budget issues not being identified and addressed in a timely fashion, leading to overspend. The permanent finance reporting solution for budget monitoring has been tested and used in Q1 forecasting and for the Adult Social Care Finance Return in place of the Mosaic standard report. Work has been undertaken to reduce backlogs in inputting and ensure financial information is up-to-date on Mosaic though there are still some issues with incomplete or untimely information. The finance build and service structure review, which will support financial reporting, was pushed back due to the focus on statutory reporting.”
2. Details of the additional £4.2m budget allocation can be found at paragraph 2.2.2 p14 of the Month 4 Chief Finance Officer report (Agenda Item 8, FPCC 9 October): http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=693&MId=9731&Ver=4

“Adults and Communities – Additional funding of £4.2m for the procurement of a new delivery partner to complete the implementation of the adults case management system was approved by Policy and Resources Committee in July. £2.850m of the budget is currently forecast to be spent in 2018/19.”

Capita fail to pay £2.387m pension contributions

Capita Re Ltd and Capita CSG have failed to pay £2.387m of pension contributions into Barnet Council’s pension scheme despite Capita CSG being the pension scheme’s administrator responsible for checking all admitted bodies are up to date with their pension contributions.

A report to last week’s Pension Fund Committee on 16 October said:

“Previously, these quarterly reports have indicated that all contributions due by employers had been paid. This is not correct. The monitoring of contributions by the Administrator has been limited to checking that the amounts paid by each employer are consistent with the payroll returns submitted by that employer. No checks have been undertaken that the rates of contributions are in accordance with those set by the Scheme Actuary. The Administrator is reviewing their processes with the objective of including checks that the contributions paid are at the correct rate.

“For two employers, deficit contributions due in 2017-18 have not been paid. These are Capita RE and Capita CSG. In aggregate, deficit contributions of £1.179 million remain unpaid for the year to 31 March 2018. This sum was provided for within the Pension Fund Accounts. A further £1.208 million is due for the year to 31 March 2019. Capita were aware that the payments are due and had sought supporting information when the schedule of contributions was first issued (March 2017). The lack of monitoring of contributions has resulted in the failure to pay not being identified until April 2018. Capita have indicated that payment will be made before the Committee meeting.”

The Pension Fund Committee were informed at their Committee meeting that Capita had not paid the contributions by the time of the meeting.

Capita Re and Capita CSG are the two largest ‘admitted bodies’ contributing to the pension scheme.

The external auditor’s annual report on the pension scheme also highlighted ongoing problems with membership data quality. Barnet Council has had to report itself to the Pensions Regulator for failing to produce 447 pension benefits statements on time – which is a breach of the law.

 

Barnet Council was fined £1,000 last year after Capita CSG failed to submit the 2016 annual pension return on time – the first such fine to a public service pension scheme.

 

Labour Pensions spokesperson, Cllr Alison Moore said:

 

“Capita are the biggest admitted body and they are also the Administrator of the pension scheme so not only do they not deal well with other admitted bodies but they can’t even get their internal processes right – the left hand really doesn’t know what the right hand is doing!

It’s scandalous that the scheme is currently short by this much and who knows how long it would have gone on without the current tightening up of policy and procedures.

 

“The Conservatives running the Council are so complacent and want to sweep everything under the carpet – the Chair of the Pension Fund Committee even had a go at me for focussing on Capita!  Employees who rely or will rely on their pensions have every right to expect the scheme to be run rigorously.”

 

Ends.

Notes:

 

  1. A copy the Admitted Body report on pension contributions can be found here (Agenda Item 10, paragraphs 1.6-1.8): http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=191&MId=9498&Ver=4
  2. A copy of the External Audit report on the pension scheme can be found here (Agenda Item 7): http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=191&MId=9498&Ver=4
  3. For details of Barnet Council reporting themselves to the Pensions Regulator: http://www.pensions-expert.com/DB-Derisking/Barnet-in-TPR-breach-as-Capita-misses-payments?ct=true
  4. For details of The Pensions Regulator fine: http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/press/tpr-issues-first-fine-to-a-public-service-pension-scheme.aspx

Stand Up to Racism Conference speaks out against Racism Across Europe

By Alfio Bernabei, National Association of Italian Partisans in London

Loud applause at the International Stand Up to Racism Conference in London greeted a message of support to Cécile Kyenge, Italy’s first black minister in 2013, who is currently being sued by Matteo Salvini, Italy’s interior minister.

The message was delivered by the shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott during the Plenary Session at Friends Meeting House, which was also attended by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

“I was fortunate this week to be in Bruxelles and meet the only black female MEP who has been the subject of awful harassment and abuse and who is now being sued for calling a blatantly racist party leader a racist” said Abbott referring to Matteo Salvini, the League party leader who is also Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister.

Kyenge, currently an MEP, had bananas thrown at her and was likened to an orangutan during her time as Italy’s integration minister. Upon her appointment an MEP with the League, Mario Borghezio, described the administration “a bongo-bongo government”. One of the racist attacks came from Roberto Calderoli, a League senator, who said that whenever he saw pictures of Kyenge “I cannot but think of the features of an orangutan”.

Kyenge is pursuing a legal case against Calderoli and about 10 other Italian politicians over alleged racist slurs and verbal attacks.

“I said publicly several times that the League must distance itself from racism and condemn and penalise it,” Kyenge said. “They not only never did this but people convicted of racist acts are still in positions of authority. If the League doesn’t distance itself it must mean that the party shares the [racist] views.”

Kyenge is being sued for defamation by Salvini for calling his party racist and is due to face trial in the Northern city of Piacenza.

On 12 October, a number of black Labour MPs, including Diane Abbott, wrote a letter to the Guardian newspaper in which they stated “We fully support Cécile and stand with her decision to remove her parliamentary immunity to fight against racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance.”

A number of references to Italy as a country in danger of sliding towards a new form of fascism were made during the Stand Up to Racism conference, with one of the speakers, Emma Dent Code MP, quoting as a warning the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini who said in 1935: “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”

Another speaker, Colette Levi,former hidden child from Vichy France, chose to read a poem by Primo Levi, the Italian Holocaust survivor, author of ‘This is a Man’, his account of the year he spent as a prisoner in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

John McDonnell said it’s time to wake up to the scale of the threat we are facing: “500,000 people signed a petition calling for Tommy Robinson release after he was condemned for contempt of court. There were at least 15,000 people to protest outside Downing Street against his jailing. Britain First has 1,900,000 followers on Facebook compared to just over one million for Labour. Three out of the far-right activists with the biggest online reach in the world are British. We cannot allow this to grow within our society. It’s time to mobilize against this threat.”

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