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Very unpleasant incident on the Upper Richmond Road

On Nextdoor, Emily Reed has reported a shocking attack on her son yesterday. I can't provide a link (perhaps because I viewed it on the app?) but here's the text of her post:On Tuesday 22 September at 7pm our 11 year old son was chased and attacked on his way home from a Karate Class at The Putney Methodist Church on The Upper Richmond Road.It was his first experience of independence - as we usually escort him to and from all classes.Our son and his friend were approached by a gang of at least 4 older boys on bikes at the junction of Charlwood Road and Norroy Road. They chased our boys down Charlwood Road, Clarendon Drive, down Gamlen Road and onto Hotham Road.During the chase our son and his friend lost their shoes.  Our boys were on foot.When our son reached our house one boy held him and then his friend punched and threw our son to the ground. Our neighbour came out and the boys didn’t stop or run away.  When I came out one of the boys told me “Don’t f*ck with me”These are young boys (probably 12 to 14) in secondary school.  They aren’t intimated or scared by adults. Our son was told they have weapons and they aren’t scared to use them.  The Police were called who arrived 4 ½ hours later.Our son and his friend are, understandably, traumatised, scared and our son is sore, his head aches and his face is swollen. This is terrifying.Thankfully we do have CCTV at our house and caught two of the main culprits in the act on camera. The images aren’t perfect but hopefully are good enough to ID them.If you recognise any of these children please let us know.They need to be stopped and we don’t want this to happen to other children.It was obviously very distressing for all concerned, a horrible incident and my sympathies are with the family. But almost as distressing, is the fact that it was 4½ hours before the police deigned to turn up: compare that with the fact that earlier in the day, for XR's completely non-violent and non-obstructive demonstration (see http://www.putneysw15.com/default.asp?section=info&page=conxrdemo001.htm) they managed to send two police cars and three officers, one of whom was desperate to find something - anything - with which to charge the demonstrators and was disappointed that even a request to base couldn't produce anything. There's something very wrong with their priorities there.

Richard Carter ● 37d61 Comments ● 24d

Poor Boris is trending: The Times

Looks like Murdoch has got the knives out for Boris.'Shortly before lunchtime on Wednesday Boris Johnson summoned a small group of Conservative backbenchers to his wood-panelled office behind the Speaker’s chair in the Commons.He had just come from prime minister’s questions. Later that day he was scheduled to have another downbeat assessment of the rise in Covid-19 cases from Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser.The prime minister had come to compromise, to see off a damaging rift with all wings of his parliamentary party over Brexit that he had not intended, or indeed seen coming. Yet it was not the fact that he was prepared, so easily, to backtrack over his threatened brinkmanship with the EU that surprised those present, it was his mood.The normally ebullient Mr Johnson, for whom joking, cajoling and backslapping (if it were allowed) is the default form of political operation, seemed unusually serious — even sombre. “He just seemed subdued. He was engaged but he certainly wasn’t as lively as you’d expect,” said one of those there. “You can speculate — does that go back to the illness? Is it the weight of responsibility or is it maybe just a recognition that he’s not always very well briefed on things? Most likely it’s some combination of all those.”Another senior Conservative who meets regularly with the prime minister added: “This is all weighing very heavily on him. I think you can see it even in some of his public appearances — the sort of misery etched on his face. He doesn’t seem to be enjoying being at the helm in rough seas.”Westminster is always alive with gossip — some of it accurate, some embellished and some just plain wrong. But in recent weeks a narrative has begun to form of a prime minister who is under pressure both personally and politically and it seems to have some substance.Those in contact with the prime minister, both friends and colleagues, say he is finding aspects of the job extraordinarily tough. They are concerned that Mr Johnson’s longstanding tendency for dark moods is being exacerbated by the pressure he is under.On the personal front, they say, Mr Johnson, 56, is worried and complaining about money. He is still supporting, to different degrees, four out of his six children, has been through an expensive divorce and had his income drop by more than half as a result of fulfilling his lifetime ambition.As a backbench MP, with his Daily Telegraph column netting him £275,000 and lucrative speaking engagements, he was earning well in excess of £350,000 a year. His prime ministerial salary of about £150,000 might seem perfectly sufficient — but that is not what he actually receives. His use of the flat that he shares with his fiancée, Carrie Symonds, above Number 11 is taxed as a benefit in kind. Any food sent up from the Downing Street kitchen has to be paid for and if they want to have friends to stay at Chequers — Covid restrictions permitting — they receive a bill from the government.As one friend put it: “Boris, like other prime ministers, is very, very badly served. He doesn’t have a housekeeper — he has a single cleaner and they’re worried about being able to afford a nanny. He’s stuck in the flat and Downing Street is not a nice place to live. It’s not like the Élysée or the White House where you can get away from it all because they’re so big. Even if he or Carrie want to go into the rose garden they have to go through the office.”Another friend added: “He’s always worried about money, he has a genuine need to provide for his family, all of them, and I think that does worry him.”Then there is Mr Johnson’s health. While Downing Street and Mr Johnson himself are adamant that he has made a “full recovery” from his bout of Covid-19 in April, others who have seen him are less convinced.“The recovery period for him has been really hard,” said one. “At the beginning he was not allowed to go to Chequers at weekends because of the ban on moving from one place to another. The illness itself and having a baby was absolutely exhausting.”Another person who knows him and other senior members of the government said the extent to which he was still suffering was a cause for concern.“Ministers and other people say to me that he feels and looks unwell. He’s pin sharp one day and then he will say to somebody in his own inimitable way ‘Why have you not briefed me on that?’ and he’ll be told ‘You were told that yesterday.’ Whereas on other days he will cut straight to the quick and he knows the answer straight away. Physically I think Covid has had a huge impact, definitely.”Those who work directly for Mr Johnson in Downing Street deny this and point to his regular exercise regime and the fact that he has lost a stone and a half since leaving hospital.They say the allegations are hard to counter but insist that he seems fit to them, and that he is working long hours.Then there is the relationship with Ms Symonds, 24 years his junior, and their five-month-old son, Wilf. Long before they were in a partnership Ms Symonds, 32, was a powerful and influential figure within the Conservative Party and government. She is a former special adviser to Sajid Javid and ran the Tory press operation. But in her new role as the partner of a prime minister she cannot be seen to be too actively involved in day-to-day politics. Some say this is a cause of frustration but others insist that behind the scenes she is a key source of advice.Nevertheless what most agree on is that they have a very different relationship from the one Mr Johnson had with his former wife Marina Wheeler, who split from him when he was foreign secretary over his repeated infidelities.“Carrie does genuinely love him and he loves her,” said one person who knows them both. “But that’s very different from what came before and the pressures of living in Downing Street with a young baby and partner, however accommodating she might be. It’s still bloody difficult.“What Marina gave Boris was grounding. Proper grounding in the hinterland of his political views. She was his intellectual match and in terms of his view everything was run by her or through her. She was instrumental in the organisation of his life from an intellectual standpoint. I don’t think it is quite the same relationship with Carrie.”And then there is the politics, both of the coronavirus and Brexit. This week’s Spectator — a magazine of which Mr Johnson was previously editor and which has always been a reliable media “friend” — turned on the prime minister. Under the headline “Where’s Boris?”. Fraser Nelson, the editor, accused Mr Johnson of presiding over “disorder, debacle, rebellion, U-turn and confusion”.In a separate article Toby Young, long a cheerleader for Mr Johnson’s, wrote that he had “given up” on the prime minister, adding brutally: “He’s no longer fit to be prime minister and should step down as soon as he’s got Brexit done.”In Westminster MPs are privately despairing about an administration that appears to be lurching from one crisis to another. On Brexit things are not quite as straightforward as they seem.Despite the election rhetoric of an “oven-ready deal” with the EU, senior government figures said that Mr Johnson always knew there were contradictions in the withdrawal agreement that he signed last year that had the potential to cause him serious difficulties.Back then Covid-19 was merely a Department of Health war-gaming exercise and everyone expected Brexit to be the dominant political issue for both Britain and the EU throughout the year. But the lockdown and shutdown of normal government — with Brexit in effect parked for three months — has meant the disputes that should have happened in the summer have been delayed with much less time to resolve them. Not only that but the crunch point of Brexit has coincided with a resurgence of the virus that is demanding the prime minister’s full attention.Several sources said that while Mr Johnson was fully aware of the “madman” strategy of threatening the EU with reneging on aspects of the withdrawal agreement, he had not appreciated the consequences.While Downing Street and Mr Johnson himself are adamant he has made a “full recovery” others who have seen him are less convincedThe plan had been to demonstrate to Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, and leaders within the bloc that, unlike Theresa May, Mr Johnson was in command of parliament and could push through legislation that could make life difficult for the EU. “I think David [Frost, the British negotiator] was desperate for his own revolver to take into the negotiations with Barnier,” one usually loyal MP said.A key Downing Street aide, Oliver Lewis — nicknamed Sonic — fatefully briefed Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, to tell MPs that, yes, the plan might be in breach of the UK’s international legal obligations, but the government was still prepared to do it. Yet there had been no consultation — or indeed pitch rolling — with MPs in advance. And Mr Johnson at least, two sources said, had been taken aback by the extent of the hostility to his plan from not just from the traditional left of the party but Brexiteers as well.“It was Oliver Lewis who gave Brandon the words to say,” one senior Tory said. “Boris may have known about it but he certainly wasn’t aware of the full magnitude of it. It was a classic case where he had not thought through the issue in detail and was taken aback.“When they realised this was a significant rebellion was when it became clear that this was not just all the usual suspects. Once Michael [Howard] and Norman Lamont started coming out and then Geoffrey [Cox] and Willie Hague. They were firm Brexiteers. It was only at that point it dawned on them — shit we’ve got a problem. After that they were not unreasonable. It was much less tense than some of the negotiations that some of us have been involved with around this topic in the past.”Yet it still cost him the resignation of Lord Keen of Elie, one of the government’s most senior law officers. The advocate-general for Scotland, who resigned shortly before the compromise meeting on Wednesday, made clear to friends that he blamed Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s chief adviser, for having advertised the government’s willingness to break international law. “It’s a cunning plan with two ‘M’s,” he said privately.The grimness of Covid continues to be a more pressing issue than what happens when the Brexit transition period ends on January 1. Replying to critics who say Mr Johnson has lost buoyancy, allies point to a relentless round of “grim” economic and coronavirus forecasts. The prime minister’s Wednesday started with a downbeat economic review with Alok Sharma, the business secretary, and Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, and ended with an update on coronavirus from Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance.He, alone, has to chart a course that avoids a disastrous second national lockdown and exponential growth in infections. Insiders say projections presented to Mr Johnson suggest the UK is on almost the same path as France and Spain, just a few weeks behind. The additional difficulties of managing winter pressures on the NHS, plus a backlog of treatments created by the diversion of resources to cope with the first wave, is bound to increase non-Covid deaths just as the daily fatality rate from the disease starts to climb back into the hundreds.What Downing Street is very keen to dispel is any notion that the prime minister can’t cope or that, as is sometimes whispered in Westminster, that he doesn’t intend to do a full term in office. “He is constantly talking about the next election and what we need to do now to make sure we are in the right place in 2024. He is totally focused. He feels a real sense of public duty and public responsibility.” Mr Johnson may feel down — but in the circumstances that is pretty understandable.

Lucille Grant ● 40d25 Comments ● 39d