Conservative politician apologizes for saying people on welfare "needed putting down".

Francesca O'Brien, the Conservative candidate for the Gower constituency in the forthcoming UK elections, said that people appearing on the TV show "Benefits Steet" needed "putting down".

In the posts following the broadcast of the first episode of Benefits Street five years ago, Ms O'Brien said: "Benefit Street..anyone else watching this?? Wow, these people are unreal!!!"

Responding to another user's comment, she said: "My blood is boiling, these people need putting down."

In a statement released on Sunday, Ms O'Brien said: "These comments were made off the cuff, a number of years ago.

"However, I accept that my use of language was unacceptable and I would like to apologise for any upset I have caused."

Benefits Street was a Channel 4 documentary about people on welfare, broadcast in 2014, criticized at the time for "vilifying and misrepresenting benefits claimaints" in tabloid fashion. O'Brien neglected to delete her social media history before launching her bid for office. Read the rest

UK Supreme Court rules parliament shutdown unlawful

In a unanimous 11-0 decision, the UK's Supreme Court today ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's supension of parliament was unlawful. Parliament is therefore still in session as Brexit looms and BoJo has to deal with it.

Mr Johnson suspended - or prorogued - Parliament for five weeks earlier this month, but the court said it was wrong to stop MPs carrying out duties in the run-up to Brexit on 31 October. Commons Speaker John Bercow confirmed MPs would now return on Wednesday. Supreme Court president Lady Hale said "the effect on the fundamentals of democracy was extreme."

A raft of MPs have now called for the prime minister to resign - Downing Street said it was "currently processing the verdict".

Breakout star today is Lady Hale, the court's chief justice, and her House Baenre spider brooch.

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Video of UK cops ramming suspect's scooter, then the suspect

British cops have an (unearned?) reputation for restraint. So it's always wild to see them do things that even the rootin'-tootin' murderers of America's thin blue line would balk at. Here's one simply ramming a suspect with his cruiser, on foot: "There's a myth that if they take their helmet off or take to the pavement, we won't pursue them," says officer lawnmower.

Met police use "tactical contact" to take down a moped rider who escaped by riding at speed through a park and down pavements. Officers also sprayed DNA identification spray in the incident in case the offender escaped and then potentially could be identified later. Rider arrested for failing to stop for police, theft of motor vehicle, possession of Class-A drug with intent to supply, failing a road-side drug test, and dangerous driving.

Police have gotten in trouble for 'tactical contact', but the sands are shifting underfoot thanks to Brexit rage, the normalizing effect of documentaries such as this one, and of course to posts like this one, inevitably experienced as facile entertainment irrespective of any sentiment or framing I might apply to it.

"We recovered your stolen scooter, sir! What's that, sir? No, actually you'd best come get it in your car." Read the rest

Why Essex is crap, or at least why everyone thinks it is

I lived in the county of Essex for two years as a teenager. It's unique in the English imagination, a place once rural but colonized by Londoners fleeing Germans during the war and Immigrants after it. A sprawling exurban development park, it's held to be trashy yet conservative, its villages surrounded by shabby modern projects and its market downs gutted by them, all inhabited by criminals, sluts and people so stupid their behavior dances on the margins of sanity. That's the nasty charicature, anyway, immortalized in the 1990s by the novelty song embedded above. Tim Burrows narrates the history behind this myth of Essex, "the crudest, stupidest symbol of Englishness."

...before Essex was a punchline, it was a dream. A place that offered hope to working-class Londoners in the form of “new towns” such as Basildon and Harlow, which were built by the state to meet dire housing, sanitation and civic needs after the second world war. As the century progressed, however, parts of Essex came to represent the dismantling of this dream, as Thatcherism, the UK arm of the global new right movement that believed in lower taxes and lower public spending alongside deregulation and privatisation, became indelibly linked to the county. In 1990, a new term, “Essex man”, was coined by the Sunday Telegraph journalist Simon Heffer, to describe a new type of voter: a “young, industrious, mildly brutish and culturally barren” worker in London’s financial centre, whose roots lay in east London, and whose political views were “breathtakingly rightwing”.

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British celebrity Freddie Starr "definitely dead"

Freddie Starr, a stalwart of British light entertainment most famous for a fabricated news story alleging he ate a hamster and lately implicated in historical sexual abuse scandals, was reportedly found dead today at his apartment in Spain. He is "definitely" dead, according to a person who has seen the body. The Guardian reports:

At the height of his fame, Starr was known by fans for his eccentric and often unpredictable behaviour.

In 1986 he was famously at the centre of one of the best-known newspaper headlines when The Sun splashed with: “Freddie Starr ate my hamster.”

The story claimed Starr placed the creature between two slices of bread and ate it at a friend’s home after returning from a performance in Manchester. But in his 2001 autobiography Unwrapped, Starr said the incident never took place.

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Brexit Crisis: Church of England to host Emergency Tea Parties

With the Prime Minister's Brexit deal failing for the third time to receive Parliament's blessing and the looming possibility of crashing out the EU without a deal, or a snap general election, or a second referendum, or another series of Parliamentary votes, or a general-purpose popular uprising, or alien intervention, the Church of England has a plan: tea parties.

Churches are being encouraged to host “informal café-style meetings” over the weekend of 30 March “to bring together people of all standpoints and encourage open discussion.” The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and John Sentamu, have today backed newly-commissioned resources to invite people to “get together and chat over a cup of tea and pray for our country and our future”.

Under the slogan “Together”, the packs include specially-chosen Bible passages, prayers and questions designed to prompt conversations. The introductory notes urge participants to have “respect for the integrity of differently held positions, encouraging communities which feel the same about the issues to use their imagination to consider the viewpoints of those who feel differently.”

Photo: AS Food studio / Shutterstock Read the rest

Man stops in traffic to steal parked car's catalytic converter

Watched and filmed by the other drivers he has delayed, a man in East London slowly, laboriously, loudly removes and steals the catalytic converter from another vehicle.

If you have plans to be in Britain any time after March or thereabouts, maybe just cancel them. Read the rest

Prime Minister's Brexit plan defeated by 230 votes

Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan was not expected to pass, but it was brutally murdered in a far larger margin of defeat than was expected: 432 to 202. This is the largest parliamentary defeat for a sitting government in history.

The options for the Brits now include a no-deal Brexit on March 29; desperate negotiations for a new plan; or asking for an extension from the EU while a fresh hell is organized, such as a new referendum or a general election.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn immediately tabled a no-confidence vote in May's government.

"Time is almost up," wrote EU chief Jean-Claude Junker on Twitter within minutes of the lawmakers' vote.

May's plan, assuming she wins the no-confidence vote, will be to stall until all parliament can do is choose between a no-deal Brexit (widely expected to be a disaster) or a largely-unchanged version of this dead-on-arrival deal. And then they'll pass it, because misery is preferable to mortality. Read the rest

British shopping center creates Christmas tree out of Remembrance Day poppies

Britain, like most of western Christendom, celebrates Christmas with ornamented trees. The British mark Remebrance Day for World War I on November 11 by wearing paper poppies. A shopping mall in Salisbury, England, has ingeniously combined the two events by making a giant Christmas tree out of paper poppies.

One tweet described the red tree as an oddity, saying: "Christmas and Remembrance Sunday, together at last in one oddly conceived package."

Another comment described it as "tasteless", while a further tweet said it was "disrespectful". But the Royal British Legion said it was "grateful to all individuals, as well as any shops, pubs and other commercial enterprises, which choose to show their support for the Armed Forces Community".

There's something about the way monumental paganism remains an emergent property of the British condition, even (especially) when it's trying to do blithely inoffensive corporate promotional material.

MARKETING CONSULTANT: George, something's come up about the sign by the poppy tree. It's Selfridges. They object to some of the text.

GEORGE: What now?

CONSULTANT: It's the line that reads "KNEEL BEFORE THE BLOOD TREE! FUCK BEFORE THE BLOOD GOD!" They're wondering if it could say "copulate" or "make love" instead of "fuck".

GEORGE: (sighs angrily) There's always something. Read the rest

Welcome to the grim new car-dependent exurban villages of housing-crisis Britain

The UK's housing crisis is much like the one in certain American cities — nimbyism, runaway housing prices, political paralysis — but with a British flavor of madness that allows for deeply unpleasant solutions. The local delicacy: car-dependent exurban developments made of uncanny cookie-cutter housing clusters in the middle of nowhere, with no shops, pubs, schools, cafés or public transport, surrounded by highways and austerity.

Jenny Raggett, researcher at Transport for New Homes, said: "We were appalled to find so many new housing developments built around the car with residents driving for almost every journey.

“As those cars head for our towns and cities they clog up existing roads. Commuter times get longer and longer. Car-based living of this kind is not good for our health or quality of life.”

Pictured above is a street view of Prior's Hall Park, near Corby, a new subdivision surrounded by three industrial parks and apparently inspired by childrens' drawings of bricked-up Victorian tenements. Welcome to the center of the venn diagram of J.G. Ballard, Minecraft and $6-a-gallon gasoline. Read the rest

Spiders blamed after broken siren played creepy nursery rhymes randomly at night to UK townsfolk

Floating in on the wind, yet again, the sound of It's Raining, It's Pouring being sung by a child on the creepiest siren in Britain. Read the rest

Britain publishes Brexit advice guide for the likely event of a "no deal" divorce from Europe

The British government, veering toward a "no deal" exit from the European Union, has published "practical and proportionate" advice for citizens in the event of this taking place. The BBC posted excerpts.

• Pharmaceutical companies have been told to stockpile an extra six weeks' worth of medicine to ensure a "seamless" supply • New picture warnings will be needed for cigarette packets as the EU owns the copyright to the current ones • Britons living elsewhere in Europe could lose access to UK banking and pension services.

The government says the economy will shrink 7.7% under a no-deal Brexit scenario. It's shocking to imagine even in the abstract, but then you realize how unevenly that suffering will be distributed. It's no wonder Prime Minister May had to promise not to put the army on the streets.

I'd like to see a BREXIT SURVIVAL GUIDE along "Scarfolk" lines.

42. How to skin a rabbit43. Unguents and potions...42 (appendix). How to skin a human

UPDATE:

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Man charged after walking pig off-leash in Norwich

A Norwich man who took a pig for a walk without a leash was charged with "having a pig untethered and loose", reports the BBC.

Norfolk Police were called to Prince of Wales Road on Wednesday and found the untethered pig "running around" with a dog, which bit one of the officers ... The pig was taken away by the RSPCA and the man will appear in court later. Officers were called to reports of a man being abusive to members of the public at about 10:10 BST on Wednesday.

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Trump on the UK: "They call it Great Britain. They used to call it England, different parts."

It is important to remember that the President of the United States of America is plain stupid: "I have great respect for the U.K. United Kingdom. Great respect. People call it Britain. They call it Great Britain. They used to call it England, different parts."

For the record, the part formerly known as England is still known as England, the United Kingdom is no— oh, never mind.

From Brilliant Maps, with the caveat that Ireland is actually much closer to Britain:

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Matt Berry covers classic British TV themes

Matt Berry, of Darkplace and IT Crowd fame, has produced a covers album of 70s- and 80s-era British TV themes. His rendition of "Are You Being Served?" signals delights to come on October 5.

"Self-consciously naff, but this actually results in it being kind of cool", says Robin Murray from Clash Magazine. Ffff! Here's nothing naff about it!

Tracklisting:

Are You Being Served? (1972-1985)The Good Life (1975-1978)LWT (1968 – 1972)Blankety Blank (1979 – 1990)Top Of The Pops (1963 - 2005)Picture Box (1966-1990)The Liver Birds (1969 – 1979)Thames Television (1968 – 1992)Rainbow (1972-1997)Doctor Who (1963- present)Wildtrak (1979-1984)World In Action (1963-1998)Sorry (1981 – 1988)Open University

I am alarmingly eager to hear Berry's cover of Rainbow. Here's the original, completele with the inappropriately melancholy bit in the middle they never used in the show.

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Map of Britain's roads... and nothing else

jamaps created a map that shows all the main roads in Britain and nothing else, giving the vague impression of something weirdly biological.

Data: Ordnance Survey (2014) Tools: QGIS

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Wakefield Rural police in West Yorkshire threatens to prosecute anyone who mocks its epic drug bust

Covering Airedale, Altofts, Castleford, Crofton, Featherstone, Ferry Fryston, Glasshoughton, Normanton, Ryhill, Walton, Whitwood and surrounding areas of West Yorkshire in England, the Wakefield Rural Police scored an epic haul at Walton Colliery nature park: a "small quantity of Cannabis" seized from a "young man who was parked up alone" and subsequently sent on his way without charge.

After announcing the drug bust on its Facebook page, however, the department found itself being mocked by locals who made fun of it posting such a trivial incident.

Such insolence will not stand!

Unfortunately we have had to ban a number of people from using this page today. I would like to remind everyone that this is a Police page and whatever your thoughts on one of my officers seizing drugs in the community, being insulting, abusive or offensive can and will result in a prosecution under the Malicious Communications Act 1988.

We will not overlook the significant harm that illegal drugs cause to our communities. We know from experience that this can progress from using what are perceived to be recreational drugs to more addictive and harmful substances and the resulting criminality used to fund their continued use.

Please use this page with respect or you will be banned and maybe even prosecuted

Police Inspector Martin Moizer.

***Cannabis Seized***

PCSO 687 Ian Campbell and PCSO 882 Ben Hughes attended Walton colliery nature park and seized a small quantity of Cannabis from a young man who was parked up alone.

Walton Colliery nature park will be firmly on our patrol plan in the future to prevent this behaviour.

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