Cllr. Rupert Read, prospective Green Party MEP for the Eastern Region, today slammed Independent MEP Tom Wise after his arrest on suspicion of obtaining money by possibly several counts of deception (1), branding the former UKIP member ‘a disgrace and a disaster for Eastern Region voters and to European politics’.
Mr Wise MEP was suspended by UKIP in 2007 during a European Parliament inquiry over allegations that he claimed money to pay for one of his staff’s wages but did not pass all the cash on to her. In May this year he then bragged how he had spent a day ‘shamelessly dodging work’ and how he ‘milks the taxpayers for thousands every week in allowance and expenses claims… It’s the opportunity to make shedloads of money. At the end of the day I made £2,000 this week.’ (2)
Cllr Read said
“Tom Wise is a disgrace and something of a disaster for his Eastern Region voters and for European politics. He is someone who seems to do virtually no work at all, despite being an elected Eastern Region MEP and, therefore, a supposedly-trusted representative of the people.

“It is disturbing, and deeply ironic, to see an out-and-out euro-sceptic MEP boasting about taking advantage of the Brussels expenses system, to the detriment of his Eastern Region constituents. His voters might as well cut out the European Union, where he is elected and paid to work on their behalf, and channel their taxes straight into his bank account. It is no surprise to me that he has been arrested for alleged corruption, and if found guilty will complete his transition from trusted politician to petty thief, unworthy of the voters’ trust.
“He has no place as a politician, nor as an MEP.”
Cllr Read, who was endorsed by Martin Bell (3), the BBC’s ‘man in the white suit’ and who in 1997 stood as an anti-corruption MP against Neil Hamilton in the Tatton constituency, and whose first job was as a Radio Norfolk journalist, added
I am a committed Green politician. Greens are well know and much respected on Norwich council and throughout the UK for honest and open government and, if elected next June, I am committed to being absolutely 100% transparent and honest in my expenses and work in the European Parliament.
“Being Green means being clean. Clean politics, especially in Europe, is more vital than ever if we are to combat the rising tide of public scepticism about politics, fueled by the self-proclaimed behaviour of the likes of Tom Wise. You can trust Greens to deliver clean politics.”

Notes to editors

3. While sharing a platform at the 2008 Green Party spring national Conference, discussing corruption in government and the state, Mr Bell told Party Conference: “Rupert has a very good chance of winning in 2009. The Greens are a mainstream party now and deserve such breakthroughs. I wish you every good luck.”

MEP arrested in fraud probe – Tom Wise, elected as one of UKIP’s Eastern Region MEPs in 2004, has been arrested…

Police have arrested a Euro MP representing the East of England on suspicion of obtaining money by deception.

Tom Wise, who was elected for the UK Independence Party but who now sits as an Independent, is being investigated by detectives on behalf of the European Parliament authorities in Brussels.

Last night, a spokeswoman for Bedfordshire Police, which is conducting the inquiry, said: “I cannot confirm the name but we have arrested a man on suspicion of obtaining money by deception. At this stage we cannot say how many counts this is on.”

Mr Wise is one of seven Euro MPs representing the six counties of the East of England – Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire – who were elected in 2004.Mr Wise, who lives in Leighton Buzzard, hit the headlines in May this year when he was accused by a national newspaper of bragging to an undercover reporter how he had spent a day “shamelessly dodging work” and how he “milks the taxpayers for thousands every week in allowance and expenses claims.”

After the story was published, Mr Wise replied on his website: “There is abuse across the EU, with millions of euros squandered on pointless, minority serving interests and the system of remunerating MEPs is part of it.

“I claim that which is available to me. I do not fiddle, embezzle or otherwise operate any scam for the purposes of unlawfully extracting more than this. I believe the system is disgraceful and should be changed.”

In February 2007, Mr Wise was suspended by UKIP when at the centre of a European Parliament inquiry over allegations he claimed money to pay for one of his staff’s wages but did not pass all the cash on to her.At the time, UKIP said he had been suspended “for failure to provide information responding to alleged fraud irregularities that are now being investigated by OLAF (the European anti-fraud body).”

Following the withdrawal of the UKIP whip, Mr Wise has sat as an Independent in the Parliament, although he is still aligned to the Independence and Democracy group.

A spokesman for the European Parliament’s London office said Euro MPs were governed by the same rules as those affecting MPs in the country they represent. Mr Wise, formerly political adviser and office manager in Chelmsford for UKIP’s first Euro MP Jeffrey Titford, would be disbarred from office if he was found guilty and receives a jail term exceeding 12 months. Mr Wise, who has been bailed by police, said last night he had voluntarily attended the police station and agreed to return for a further interview at a later date.

The Envy of the World?

Should we or should we not give the go-ahead to ‘polyclinics’ within the NHS? This is the biggest question facing health service policy. It faces us here in Norfolk and Norwich, because there is a proposal to replace the walk-in health centre in Thorpe St Andrew with a city centre ‘polyclinic’. That would apparently be a health centre grouping several GP practices with new facilities.

I want to take an indirect approach to the question that I raised, above. I am going to talk about a book which can I think put us in a much better position to maybe answer it.

The book is Alysson Pollock’s magisterial NHS plc. The opening lines of its closing chapter, “The emerging health care market”, make the stakes starkly evident: “The NHS is being dismantled and privatised. Very soon every part of it will have been ‘unbundled’ and commodified… a new business dynamic is taking charge of the ways in which services are provided and patients are responded to. The dramatic costs involved – in terms of loss of equal access and universal standards, as well as of money – are concealed by claims of ‘commercial confidentiality’.”

Our Government’s most brilliant achievement of spin has not been its – exposed and now failed – effort to conceal the truth over why it attacked Iraq, but its – largely successful – concealment of the destruction under its tutelage of Labour’s greatest ever achievement. It is an act of true political brilliance that the NHS is being dismantled by the Party that created it whilst successfully posing as its saviour.

But, as Pollock predicted, this PR success too is unravelling. The NHS is in serious financial trouble, and for the first time ever, more citizens now trust the Tories (heaven help us!) with the NHS than New Labour. This is the backdrop to the Government’s announcement of the polyclinic initiative.

Now, the NHS was never perfect. Indeed, Pollock herself details how it was perhaps fatally compromised by primary care (i.e. doctors’ surgeries) never being nationalised. One could add to that something that Pollock neglects to address: the deep importance of prevention, and how ultimately what we need is not only to defend the NHS, but to transform it into a national wellness service, with a smaller budget for its big hospitals.

But the NHS was incredible value for money; it was the envy of the world in countries from Moscow and Havana to Berlin and Washington. And I’ve started speaking in the past tense since, for now, the NHS is half-abolished. It is dying; or rather, being killed, because of dogmatic beliefs that private solutions must trump public ones. It is on the way to becoming little more than a kite-mark for numerous outsourced profit-making operations.

If one wants to understand how the NHS has been cherry-picked, cream-skimmed, and bled dry financially by the private sector, at the bidding of the party that once upon a time created it, then there is one thing above all that one needs to do: read Allysson Pollock’s book.

And then, I think, a potential answer to our question emerges. ‘Polyclinics’ could be a very fine thing. Why shouldn’t people have easy access, in the city centre, to a ser of facilities where they can be treated for a wide variety of ills? Since the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital was so foolishly moved out to the edge of the city, we have lacked anything like this. Polyclinics could be a new form of community hospitals, in effect, but with simple walk-in access.

Just two things: (1) This had better not be at the expense of existing well-functioning facilities, such as that in Thorpe, and such as various good doctor’s surgeries around the city. There is a very real worry that polyclinics would in effect compete with existing doctors, and drive them into the ground.

And (2) It had better not be a trojan horse for privatisation. Pollock points out how the Government is trying to engineer more and more private involvement in the NHS. And the big worry about polyclinics is that they will, on the Government’s current plans, be open to private companies to run. That is very bad news indeed.

If we are to have polyclinics, then let them be run by the NHS. Not, as could happen under the current proposals, by the likes of Tesco…

Save the Norwich nuclear bunker!

PRESS RELEASE: Green Party joins call to preserve nuclear bunker

Green Party lead Euro-Candidate Councillor Rupert Read today announced his support to local residents’ bid for the preservation of a Cold War era bunker on Chartwell Road near the Constitution Hill roundabout in Norwich.

Councillor Read said, “The use of this site for a road side restaurant is clearly inappropriate. The site should be preserved and turned over to community use.”

“This bunker is a relic from a time when the Cold War was very real and could have easily led to Nuclear War. It is part of our history and a memorial to a war that thankfully never happened.”

Campaigners are attempting to raise the money necessary to buy the site and are due to apply to English Heritage.

Councillor Read added, “I urge the owner of the site to reconsider and allow campaigners the time they need to raise the money to buy the site.”

A ‘Wasted Opportunity’

Below, important news on the failure of the E.U. to take
action to curb incineration.
If the EuroParl had done what our Green MPs suggested, then it would have
made it harder and less attractive for Norfolk County Council to build an
incinerator at King's Lynn (or at Costessey, still not 100% out of the
question). Unfortunately, they didn't…


A plenary vote in the European Parliament today, which sealed an agreement
on a second Council reading for the crucial EU Waste Framework Directive,
was little more than a 'wasted opportunity', said the South East's Green MEP
Caroline Lucas.

Dr Lucas MEP said: "This patchwork compromise containing both positive and
negative elements is a major lost opportunity to have made real progress on
waste prevention. As well as promoting incineration, the compromise also
includes two potential loopholes that are likely to haunt us in the future.

"It introduces new definitions for 'by-products' and when 'waste ceases to
be a waste'. This creates possibilities to unduly escape waste legislation
and may well lead to a new series of court cases."

She continued: "Today's compromise means that instead of EU waste
stabilisation and reduction targets we only get Commission studies on waste
prevention. Instead of clear and ambitious targets for waste reuse and
recycling, we get non-binding targets for 2020 that many Member States have
already achieved.

"And rather than establishing separate collection and composting of
bio-waste, this is left to the goodwill of Member States – and subject to
yet another Commission study.

"The compromise is also a missed opportunity for climate change policy. An
ambitious European waste policy could and should make an important
contribution to reducing CO2 emissions through consequent waste prevention,
recycling, and the composting of bio-waste – but the political will is
unfortunately still lacking to make this happen."

Greens lead Norwich stand against higher education privatisation

Only a vote for the Green Party can stop the ‘Labour’ government from turning universities into bastions of privilege for the rich, rather than what they should be: open centres of learning.

Labour is planning to allow different universities to charge different fees to their students, a move which will price all but the rich out of Britain’s best universities.  In response last week I had a motion overwhelmingly supported and adopted by the best ever attended annual University of East Anglia (UEA) staff assembly, expressing powerful opposition to the new Labour Government’s agenda of privatising higher education.
Learn more here.

People Power Wins, as Ireland Votes No to Lisbon Treaty

The Green Party is welcoming the clear No vote in the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. 862,415 voted No, compared to 752,451 who voted Yes.
Cllr. Rupert Read, Lead Green Party candidate for the 2009 European Elections in Eastern Region said:
“The remote political establishment of Brussels has had their dream of ever greater centralisation of political power utterly shattered today.
People power has won. The voters of Ireland saw though the pretence that the Treaty was a harmless exercise and recognised it for what it is – a further draining away of democracy from member states.
The UK Government would not dare put this Treaty to a vote here as the majority No vote would be overwhelming.
Irish voters have sent a clear message on behalf of all the ordinary people of Europe – that the Euro elite have now got to stop their grand plans to rule the continent without consent. A new democratic settlement is needed for Europe that retains co-operation between states but allows them the ability to make their own decisions on matters that affect their own people without being micromanaged from Brussels.
The Green Party opposes the Lisbon Treaty because it would have led to the further militarisation of the EU, as well as measures to promote increased economic liberalisation – which is an agenda for big business, at the expense of local communities. The Green Party favours localisation, instead.
Lisbon squandered a unique opportunity to put sustainability and climate security genuinely at the heart of the Union, and failed to bring the EU institutions closer to European citizens. It is a great thing that the Irish people have enabled us to see the back of such a failed Treaty.”

Ireland votes No — you heard it here first

I’m feeling slightly smug at having — as it seems — correctly predicted earlier this week that the Irish voters would roundly reject the E.U. Constitution (aka ‘Lisbon Treaty’) — see my micro-blog-posts (‘twitters’) at left on this blog.
A certain Irish bookies are feeling decidly queasy, having ignored my prediction and started, stupidly, paying out to those who had bet ‘Yes’, before the votes were counted….: