Reply To: Elections Aftermath: Was our 2019 Vote & the EU Referendum Rigged? #TORYRIG2019

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Kim Sanders-Fisher

A historic moment was reached today when the UK Parliament conducted their first semi-virtual hybrid PMQ session. Covering for our part-time PM Dominic Raab was keen to continue the repetitive false messaging that the Government was “making the right decisions at the right time following the scientific advice.” When the vast majority of the population know by now that the exact opposite is true one has to wonder who this propaganda is directed towards. Are the Government worried about the angry masses who, the second that this lockdown is lifted, might take to the streets in protest over those who have died caring for patients and the negligent slaughter of abandoned elderly being culled in UK Care Homes? They should be, very worried, as a reckoning will come and it might just be angry enough to force them from power; let’s face it, that is the only thing they really care about.

I have been watching PMQs on a regular basis for quite some time now; I have reached certain conclusions that are carried over, and if anything reinforced, by the new hybrid arrangement. While the one very significant improvement was the blissful absence of childish jeering from MPs, the questioning still oscillated between well targeted scrutiny from the opposition, universally met with lies or non answers, to vomit worthy “stroking” from the Tory benches, greeted by expansive boasts of promises never to be kept and the outlandishly untrue fabricated Tory achievements. While the obsequious language beginning with “does the Prime Minister agree with me” leading into self-congratulatory spin ditched the usual appeal for consensus; the emphasis now is on presenting the ideal opportunity for yet another bragging sales pitch to detract from the Tory Government’s incompetence.

It is quite nauseating to watch, but I still feel compelled to do so especially with the advent of this hastily organized hybrid session for which the organizers should be well proud. After telling us the PM was doing OK in hiding, Raab served up the standard fare of repetitive, broken record, propaganda pitch; “we were doing the right things at the right time yada… ya… Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives.” It was as if he was talking to toddlers! Raab replied by saying that “we expect and embrace scrutiny….” That must be why they have dodged all scrutiny so phenomenally well over the past few months! Without the customary fanfare, Kier Starmer made his debut appearance at the dispatch box as newly appointed leader of the opposition. He dived into the scrutiny vacuum with scathing comments on how the UK was slow to act. The WHO provided multiple opportunities for us to prepare.

Starmer began by saying: “Testing is crucial were we so slow and we are way behind other European countries,” now only 18,000 – 19.000 a day; what will we do in the next eight days to get to the 100,000 a day target by end of month? Raab tries to correct him, our capacity is now at 40,000 with expediential increase expected soon; that sounds like “the check is in the mail” excuse! Starmer countered that despite 40,000 capacity only 18,000 were tested, so why are we not using all the tests? Raab started with lots of sideways spin about broadening eligibility and name dropping. Starmer then asked about access to testing for those in the Care sector reminding Raab that the demand for testing is there, but testing facilities are up to a 45 min drive to get to and not all Care workers have cars. Raab replied: “We are working with resilience forums, using the army…” then there was an obscure attack re a Welsh Labour minister as he rambled on with irrelevant excuses.

Starmer identified a well respected NHS doctor who had died of Covid 19, one of the many NHS staff to have become infected, he asked how many NHS staff had now died and how many key workers had died? Raab quoted a reduced number of 69 NHS staff who had died, but did not know the Care Home staff fatality numbers. Starmer said the Government was on notice re Care worker numbers and went on to the issue of protective equipment saying, “staff are scared,” nurses are under pressure to take risks. There was more floury language from Raab who committed the obscenity of bringing his children into the response as a sympathy ploy. It was a massive international challenge; we got the ventilators, one billion items of PPE; it was now harder to source equipment… Wow, like we didn’t know that! Then Raab prattled on with more BS and expansive numbers.

Starmer spoke of the “gap between promise and delivery,” while admitting to understand the need for due diligence he raised the point that frustrated and ignored UK suppliers were now sending PPE overseas. He ended by saying: “something is going wrong, there’s a pattern emerging here, we were slow into lockdown, slow on testing, slow on protective equipment and now slow to take up these offers from British firms.” Raab denies they have been slow to act, he sticks with the Government time honoured defence line about being “guided by the scientific advice” from their coapted Tory stooges and finishes with a flourish of more high numbers intended to impress: 8,000 businesses were contacted. Raab defensively added excuses about the quality of gear that was offered by some companies that must have added insult to injury among credible, well intentioned UK manufacturers.

Scottish MP Ian Blackford video linked in to ask questions on behalf of the SNP. He focused on the precarious nature of support saying it was now 34 days since the Government had offered a package of support saying that thousands find no support at all with arbitrary cut off dates and bureaucratic barriers people are being left behind. He stressed the need for a Universal Basic Income. Tories always answer with a series of empty accolades to help them buy enough time to formulate a way to evade the question or grapple for an excuse. Raab was emphatic there would be no support for Universal Basic Income from the Tories. While he insisted on what they innocuously refer to as a “focused approach” most realize it is targeted to exclude all sectors and people the Tories would prefer not to survive this crisis.
Blackford revealed that over 100 members of Parliament from seven different parties agreed with the need for this measure with 89% of the public in support of Universal Basic Income, he insisted that the self-employed and others had been left behind. Raab countered with the false claim that those who need it most are getting help and boasting that the UK has established one of the most extensive support packages in the world, but in reality the Tory approach is always to means test the poor.

Peter Bone was next to ask a question via video link to highlight the many people being forced to use their bank overdraft yet the banks are charging 20% interest per year going to increase to 40% in July. At the same time savers are being offered 0.1% “yet these are the same banks that were saved by billions and billions of pounds of taxpayers money. What on earth is going on? When are the banks going to act in the national interest?” Raab did a great job of covering for predatory banks and making them sound generous with their exploitation. We certainly know that the banks are not going to pick up the tab for this mess.

Lucy Powel was next up pitching for the hospitality sector who do not qualify for grants and loans are not an option; these venues will be the last to reopen after the lockdown is lifted; they will be hit hard. The lifeblood if our high streets will the Government come up with a rescue package to stop our pubs etc disappearing altogether. Raab spun a few soundbites of concern for the sector and moved on. The new Tory MP for coastal Hastings and Rye continued in this vain inquiring about hospitality and tourism what measures to enable recovery? This was the first of a succession of Tory invitations for Dominic Raab to pitch more party political advertising spin on the eerily empty chamber, but there was none of the usual Tory cheering for proposed promises of rescue.

Barry Gardener weighed in to remind the House that it was on the 26th of February that the Government was advised of the urgent need for a complete shut down, but it took another three and a half weeks to implement it. “The Government likes to claim that it has been following the scientific advice, but it hasn’t has it?” Raab says we did listen, but of course he was referring to their own very select group of scientific “yes men” Tory stooges who have enabled the Government to grossly mislead the country under the pretence of adhering to valid scientific input. Tory MP Nick Fletcher followed with a question that invited a stream of fanciful claims about securing NHS supplies; it was a golden opportunity for Raab to start into another nauseating party political advertising pitch.

Naz Shar demanded to know if they could rely on the Government to keep to their word and meet their promise to compensate the local Councils burdened with huge additional expenses. Without confirming the pledge this question just gave Raab another opportunity to boast of tossing another 1.6 million towards Councils that we know will heavily favour Tory constituencies as it always does. Matthew Vicars launched into his resounding praise for the Government’s willingness to write off the debt incurred by NHS Trusts; he sought a commitment to the continued fantastic Tory funding for the worlds greatest health service. He failed to mention that those NHS Trusts had been crippled by a decade of Tory austerity and should never have been burdened with so much debt if the Tories had not decimated the NHS with privatization! Undeterred by reality the Raab advertising campaign trundles on.

Steven Kinock raised concerns over the Steel industry who would be excluded from Government help by the 50 million cap, just a tenth of the need to allow steel to recover. Raab claims they have made funding quicker to access in the round. Another Tory offering a convenient scrutiny vacuum by praising public, private and volunteer sector workers, commending the very people the Tories have exploited unmercifully for the past decade, but the blatant invite for an additional advertising pitch was not to be wasted by Raab like a cat lapping up the cream.

Another Labour MP that failed to understand how the Tories manipulate the format of even the most carefully worded questions, she wanted to know when will they learn from the successes of other countries to deliver solutions to fit their promises. Like most Tory MPs, Raab is great at mouthing off empty sentiments about “lessons learned” while remaining tone deaf to the reality of their catastrophic ongoing failures. He started into a big pitch about the Nightingale Hospital, heroic Tory success amid an overwhelming sea of failure on every aspect of dealing with this crisis. Opposition MPs need to understand that it is pointless discussing lessons learned with any Tory MP as they are incapable of ever learning from their mistakes as they never acknowledge making mistakes.

A Tory MP opened up yet another line of advertising by saying that over 100 of their constituents had been stranded in India. Like so many Tory MP interventions it was phrased in such a way that it could not possibly be mistaken for even the slightest degree of criticism, but is intentionally worded to launch another nauseating round of crowing and self0 congratulatory hype. This is not scrutiny! Raab started his next pitch by boasting that over a I million nationals had been returned to the UK, 10.000 in charter flights, failing to mention who bought them back or how it was paid thus allowing those listening to assume it was at Government expense.

Sir Ed Davey personalized the crisis saying that his local Dr. Anton from Sri Lanka who had worked in NHS for decades had died of Covid 19 would the Government commit to an inquiry into the deaths among NHS staff? Raab tried to steal his thunder by claiming that the Doctor was from his local Hospital; there was no commitment to an inquiry due to zero Government accountability as usual. Another Tory enabling Welsh MP started heaping praise on the efforts of the army in Wales leading Raab to start into another shallow advertising pitch the comfort zone of Tory stroking at PMQs that neutralize any constructive criticism of the Tory Government.

A Labour MP was concerned that easing of lockdown restrictions across the country would be staggered according to infection prevalence in certain areas as this might encourage people to move around if lockdown is lifted area by area. This was a chance for Raab to demonstrate that this Tory Government had a total stranglehold on power throughout the UK, but he phrased it as if there was remarkably consistent cooperation. Tory Dr Luke Evens appealed to our universal love of animals in the UK by pitching for support for a local Zoo asking for money for animals. This was a real crowd pleaser of a pitch as Raab announced a new Zoo Support Fund; it was bound to go down well on all sides of the house and he knew it: great timing Evans.

The final question was from Labour MP Angela Eagle regarding a universally adopted global action plan that was vetoed by the US. She wanted an assurance that when the PM spoke to Trump in their upcoming phone conversation that he will tell the President that the UK believes the WHO is important and we will not be drawn into Trumps vendetta.