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


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Kim Sanders-Fisher
Guest

Just before last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson announced that the next day he would “open the global vaccine summit; the UK-hosted, virtual event will bring together more than 50 countries, as well as leaders of private sector organisations and civil society, to raise at least $7.4 billion for Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance.” He said that the “global vaccine summit should be the moment when the world comes together to unite humanity in the fight against disease.” I would respond to his pronouncement by saying that as someone who has travelled extensively and functioned as a Medical Volunteer overseas I am seriously worried that big Pharma will try to monetize promising drugs and vaccines so that they are unavailable to poor countries in the developing world because black lives do not matter to big Corporate interests.

Labour’s, Rachael Maskell, asked an important question of the PM, “As the Prime Minister obfuscates over his adviser, the real scandal of the coronavirus pandemic has been exposed in the Public Health England report published yesterday on inequality and poverty. If you are black or Asian, if you are poor, if you have a low-skilled job, the mortality risk is up to double that of the rest of the population, with the poorest having the greatest exposure, risk and fate. Now the Government are seriously increasing that exposure and risk with their easement announcements. Why will the Prime Minister not publish a full health and economic risk assessment for scrutiny, to protect us all from this deadly virus?”

The PM responded, “I thank the hon. Lady for her question. This Government commissioned the review from PHE and we take its findings very seriously, because there obviously are inequalities in the way the virus impacts on different people and different communities in our country. The Minister for Equalities, my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Kemi Badenoch) will be looking at what next practical steps we need to do to protect all our country from coronavirus.” The reality was a fruitless debate where Badenoch response to concerned MPs was to obscure the facts, do yet another review and kick it into the long grass!

Before starting into his allotted questions Keir Starmer said, “May I start by expressing shock and anger at the death of George Floyd? This has shone a light on racism and hatred experienced by many in the US and beyond. I am surprised the Prime Minister has not said anything about this yet, but I hope that the next time he speaks to President Trump he will convey to him the UK’s abhorrence about his response to the events.” He then asked, “This morning, The Daily Telegraph is reporting that the Prime Minister has decided to take ‘direct control’ of the Government’s response to the virus, so there is an obvious question for the Prime Minister: who has been in direct control up till now?”

Boris Johnson needed to catch up, he really should have made a statement about the George Floyd incident in the US, but as committed racist himself it would not have sounded sincere, but then nothing he said ever sounded sincere so he took a stab at it offering a nod of agreement by saying, “Let me let me begin by associating myself absolutely with what the right hon. and learned Gentleman had to say about the death of George Floyd. I think that what happened in the United States was appalling and inexcusable. We all saw it on our screens. I perfectly understand people’s right to protest at what took place, although obviously I also believe that protests should take place in a lawful and reasonable way.”

Johnson has a bad habit of only starting into a reply with “Right Honourable” and “learned Gentlemen” when he intends to hit back with an insulting put down, smug comment or a sarcastic remark followed by a nauseating stream of boastful fake claims. He said, “On the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s more polemical point, let me just say that I take full responsibility for everything that this Government have been doing in tackling coronavirus, and I am very proud of our record. If you look at what we have achieved so far, it is very considerable. We have protected the NHS. We have driven down the death rate. We are now seeing far fewer hospital admissions. I believe that the public understand that, with good British common sense, we will continue to defeat this virus and take this country forward, and what I think the country would like to hear from him is more signs of co-operation in that endeavour.” He was proud of his Government’s appalling response with the world’s second highest death toll, he just needed to end his response with a slap down in the hope Starmer would return to facilitation mode…

Kier Starmer, looking surprised that the PM should even try to curtail his robust scrutiny, proceeded, “The Prime Minister asks for a sign of co-operation—a fair challenge. I wrote to him, as he knows, in confidence two weeks ago, to ask if I could help build a consensus for getting children back into our schools. I did it confidentially and privately, because I did not want to make a lot of it. He has not replied. This is a critical week in our response to covid-19. Whereas ‘lockdown’ and ‘stay at home’ were relatively easy messages, easing restrictions involves very difficult judgment calls. This is the week, of all weeks, where public trust and confidence in the Government needed to be at its highest. But as the director of the Reuters Institute, which commissioned a YouGov poll this weekend, said, ’I have never in 10 years of research in this area seen a drop in trust like what we have seen for the UK government.’ How worried is the Prime Minister about this loss of trust?”

Despite warnings before PMQs that Starmer would be more critical this time, Boris Johnson look insecure and defensive as he tried to defend himself. He must have felt relieved that this attack, stemming from his inability or unwillingness to fire Dominic Cummings, was so oblique. He said, “I am surprised that the right hon. and learned Gentleman should take that tone, since I took the trouble to ring him up, and we had a long conversation in which I briefed him about all the steps that we were taking. He did not offer any dissent at that stage—he thoroughly endorsed our approach, and I believe that he should continue to endorse it today.”

When all the evidence shows that public support for the Government had tanked – black is the new white – just fake that public backing as if everyone is onside with the exception of Starmer in backing your point of view. He said, “I think that he is on better and firmer ground when he stands with the overwhelming majority of the British people who understand the very difficult circumstances we are in and who want clarity across the political spectrum but who believe that we can move forward, provided that we continue to observe the basic rules on social distancing, on washing our hands and on making sure that when we have symptoms, we take a test and we isolate. I think everybody understands that. That is why the incidence of this disease is coming down, and his attempts to distract the public from that have not been successful, because they continue to pay attention to our guidance.” Keep telling it like it isn’t!

Keir Starmer responded by saying he would put it in the public domain saying, “The Prime Minister challenges me on the offer I made to him. This was a confidential letter. I think the best thing I can do is put it in the public domain, and the public can decide for themselves how constructive we are being.” He then asked, “Two weeks ago today at the Dispatch Box, the Prime Minister promised: ‘we will have a test, track and trace operation that will be world-beating, and yes, it will be in place by 1 June.’ But it is not, and a critical element—the ability of local authorities to respond to local spikes—is missing. As one council leader put it to us, ‘We are weeks away from having this fully up and running. We simply were not given enough warning.’ …The Prime Minister mutters that it is not true. Dido Harding, the Prime Minister’s own chair of the track and trace system, has said that this element will not be ready until the end of June. The Prime Minister must have been briefed on this problem before he made that promise two weeks ago, so why did he make that promise?”

Boris Johnson responded by suggesting that Starmer’s scrutiny of the Governments shambolic roll out of the system was in some obscure way insulting those who had been recruited to do the job. He said, “I am afraid that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is casting aspersions on the efforts of the tens of thousands of people who have set up the test, track and trace system in this country from a standing start. We now have 40,000 people engaged in this. As he knows, thousands of people are being tested every day. Every person who tests positive in the track and trace system is contacted, and then thousands of their contacts—people they have been in contact with—are themselves contacted. I can tell the House that at the moment, as a result of our test, track and trace system—which, contrary to what he said, was up and running on 1 June as I said it would be—and the efforts of the people who set it up, thousands of people are now following our guidance, following the law and self-isolating to stop the spread of the disease.”

Unfazed, Starmer responded with, “I welcome that news from the Prime Minister. He did not put a number on those who have been traced, but, as he knows, the number of people testing positive for covid-19 every day is only a fraction of those actually infected every day. According to the Office for National Statistics, the number actually infected every day is between 7,000 and 9,000. Assuming that up to five contacts need to be traced for every infected person, the system probably needs to reach 45,000 people a day, so there is a long way to go; and I am sure that if it is 45,000 a day, the Prime Minister will confirm that in just a minute.”

Starmer then attacked the truthfulness of the fake news statistics according to the Government that vary widely from ONS figures.
He said, “But the problem when the Prime Minister uses statistics is that the UK Statistics Authority has had concerns on more than one occasion. In a strongly worded letter to the Health Secretary yesterday, the chair of the UK Statistics Authority said that the statistics ‘still fall well short of…expectations. It is not surprising that given their inadequacy data on testing are so widely criticised and often mistrusted.’ Can the Prime Minister see how damaging this is to public trust and confidence in his Government?”

This level of scrutiny was really starting to bother the PM and his efforts to get Starmer to tone down his attacks fell on deaf ears. He said, “I must say to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that I really do not see the purpose of his endless attacks on public trust and confidence, when what we are trying to do is to provide—I think this is what the public want to hear from politicians across all parties—clear messages about how to defeat the virus. Test and trace is a vital tool in our armoury, and, contrary to what he says, we did get up to 100,000 tests a day by the end of May and to 200,000 by the beginning of this month. That was an astonishing achievement, not by the Government, but by tens of thousands of people working to support the Government; I think that he should pay tribute to them and what they have achieved.” It was vital he just doubled-down on the lies and kept talking confidently of the non-existent public support as if Starmer was trying to attack the public.

Starmer clarified the reality of the situation by saying, “The Prime Minister is confusing scrutiny for attacks. I have supported the Government openly and I have taken criticism for it—but, boy, he has made it difficult to support this Government over the last two weeks.” He continued, “Another critical issue on trust and confidence is transparency about decision making. On 10 May, the Prime Minister said on the question of lifting restrictions: ‘If the alert level won’t allow it, we will simply wait and go on until we have got it right.’ At the time that he said that, the alert level was 4, and the R rate was between 0.5 and 0.9. We are now three weeks on and some restrictions have been lifted, so can the Prime Minister tell us: what is the alert level now and what is the R rate now?”

Boris Johnson continued to confuse, “The right hon. and learned Gentleman knows perfectly well that the alert level does allow it. Indeed, he did not raise that issue with me when we had a conversation on the telephone. He knows that the reason that we have been able to make the progress that we have is that the five tests have been fulfilled. Yes, the alert level remains at 4, but as the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies will confirm, we have managed to protect the NHS, and we have got the rate of deaths and the rate of infections down. The personal protective equipment crisis; the difficulties in care homes; the question of the R figure – they have been addressed. The question for him is whether he actually supports the progress that we are making because at the weekend he was backing it, but now he is doing a U-turn and seems to be against the steps that this country is taking.” Begging for fealty wasn’t going to work, but he tried to reframe the situation as if Starmer was being inconsistent and unreasonable.

Starmer replied, “I have supported the Government in the gradual easing of restrictions. That is why I wrote to the Prime Minister two weeks ago, because I could see the problem with schools and I thought it needed leadership and consensus. I privately offered to do what I could to build that consensus. That is the offer that was not taken up.” Starmer would need everything in writing or why not record phone conversations; how else do you deal with a compulsive liar! Lastly he needed to deal with the latest ludicrous attempt to make Parliament unworkable and discriminatory by not continuing to work around the Covid 19 lockdown.

Starmer then asked, “Finally, may I turn to the question of Parliament? Mr Speaker, I know you feel very strongly about this. The scenes yesterday of MPs queuing to vote and Members being unable to vote were, frankly, shameful. This should not be a political issue. Members on all sides know that this is completely unnecessary and unacceptable. If any other employer behaved like this, it would be a clear and obvious case of indirect discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, so may I urge the Prime Minister to stop this and to continue to allow online voting and the hybrid Parliament to resume?”

Boris Johnson was still trying to be annoying and insulting as he enlisted the non-existent support of ‘ordinary people’ the ones he had treated as expendable throughout the Covid 19 crisis. He said, “Again, I do think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman needs to consider what is really going on throughout the country, where ordinary people are getting used to queuing for long periods to do their shopping or whatever it happens to be. I must say I do not think it unreasonable that we should ask parliamentarians to come back to this place and do their job for the people of this country. I know it is difficult, and I apologise to colleagues for the inconvenience.” This made no sense as this decision could create a loyal band of MP super-spreaders taking the virus from the Westminster hotspot to the farthest flung regions of the country: it could put rocket boosters under his Herd Immunity scheme!

Parliament was about to ignore Health and Safety workplace guidelines and trash the right of vulnerable MPs to stay safe. But he blasted on, “I apologise to all those who have particular difficulties with it because they are shielded or because they are elderly, and it is vital that, through the change we are making today, they should be able to vote by proxy. But I have to say that when the people of this country look at what we are doing, asking schools—the right hon. and learned Gentleman now says he supports schools going back—our policy is test, trace and isolate; his policy is agree, U-turn and criticise. What I can tell him is that I think the people of this country on the whole will want their parliamentarians to be back at work, doing their job and passing legislation on behalf of the people of this country, and that is what this Government intend to do.” Johnson should realize that it is too late to enlist public support after treating them like trash by not firing Cummings, zero self-awareness. It was time for Tory stroking…

The SNP Leader Ian Blackford started speaking. “Watching events unfold across America in recent days, and the actions and rhetoric from the American President, has been distressing and deeply worrying. We cannot delude ourselves into believing that we are witnessing anything short of a dangerous slide into autocracy. It is at times like these that people look to those they elect for hope, for guidance, for leadership and for action. However, in the seven days since George Floyd was murdered, the UK Government have not even offered words. They have not expressed that pain. They have shuttered themselves in the hope that no one would notice. The Prime Minister skirted over this earlier in Prime Minister’s questions. May I ask him what representations he has made to his ally Donald Trump? And at the very least, Prime Minister, say it now: black lives matter.”

Boris Johnson, whose past openly racist remarks have never been retracted or apologised for, looked and sounded thoroughly insincere and shallow as he said, “Of course black lives matter, and I totally understand the anger and the grief that is felt not just in America but around the world and in our country as well. I totally understand that, and I get that. I also support, as I have said, the right to protest. The only point I would make to the House is that protests should be carried out lawfully and, in this country, protests should be carried out in accordance with our rules on social distancing.” The tail end of his comment was directed at his hero Donald Trump who had helped expand the parameters for acceptable racial abuse. He wanted to pretend that US heavy-handed police tactics were justified to restore law and order; it does not bode well for our future here in the UK.

Blackford scolded in vain, “I am afraid the Prime Minister did not answer the question of what representations he has made to his friend Donald Trump. It is imperative that the UK is vocal on human rights, freedom to gather and protest, freedom of speech and upholding press freedom in other parts of the world. It would be nothing short of hypocrisy if we were to turn a blind eye to events unfolding in the US. However, actions speak louder than words. [Interruption.] The Prime Minister can shake his head, but the UK exports millions of pounds worth of riot control equipment to the US, including tear gas and rubber bullets. The Prime Minister must have seen how these weapons are used on American streets. With the Government’s own guidance warning against equipment being used in such way, will the Prime Minister urgently review such exports?” No chance… Too much profit at stake!

Boris Johnson responded saying, “I am happy to look into any complaints, but as the right hon. Gentleman he knows, all exports are conducted in accordance with the consolidated guidance, and the UK is possibly the most scrupulous country in that respect in the world.” I couldn’t help thinking of how we supply so many foreign despots and global tyrants who turn British made weapons on civilians, despite our protests and attempts to ban these exports. Tories condone the sale of riot control gear for targeting the internally displaced and ethnic minorities… the Palestinians, the Kurds and so many more. Death and destruction is already one of our biggest exports earning huge profits, Johnson will not let anyone put a dent in that.

Labour’s Lloyd Russell Moyle asked an important question regarding the ongoing Tory cuts to the Fire Service. He asked, “Our fire-fighters have been assisting in this Covid crisis. They have taken 12 additional areas of work supporting our NHS, and while they are busier than ever, they are about to face another round of devastating cuts. My local fire authority in East Sussex is planning to remove 10 fire trucks from the county, with the loss of frontline fire-fighters. Is the Prime Minister planning to respond to the Fire Brigades Union letter sent to him on 22 May calling for a moratorium on cuts? Clapping on Thursdays is well and good, but will he put his money where his mouth is and ensure that no fire authority needs to cut frontline fire-fighters when they have been helping to save our country?”

The PM’s reply was to say, “I will certainly respond to his letter.” You would have thought that the Government would have learned from the Grenfell disaster that massive cuts to the Fire Department can end up costing lives, but since Grenfell there have been no ‘lessons learned;’ the inquiry is just a distraction that postpones action that was urgently needed well before the disaster. Johnson managed to distance himself from any responsibility for decimating London’s Fire department during his time as Mayor and the Tory agenda of eviscerating all that ‘Health and Safety Red Tape’ has been effectively decoupled from its role as a contributing factor. Just like the Windrush scandal targeting Caribbean migrants; after a few news cycles the compliant press moved on and the Tories could get back to their Hostile Environment and more deportations. Zero accountability leads to more of the same, another disaster, another scandal, more lives destroyed Move On…

The investigations and reports just whitewash and exonerate the guilty who are never held to account. Theresa May should have resigned over Windrush, but the new normal is never admit wrongdoing, you can rely on the BBC and right-wing press to cover your back, the public will Move On when pushed! Boris Johnson’s reckless damage to the London Fire Department and its impact on the Grenfell tragedy should have prevented him taking over as PM, but there was no scrutiny. The vile things he has repeatedly said about ethnic minorities, women and the less fortunate should have prevented him from taking office, but there was no scrutiny. The same toxic woman whose clandestine collusion with an Israeli Government responsible for the brutal slaughter of Palestinians is reappointed to preach to the British public about curbing their unlawful behaviour! Total hypocrisy; zero accountability. Tory foreign policy supports the continued sale of arms to regimes like Israel and, despite a ban, to Saudi Arabia as they target civilians in Yemen.

How can this Government claim that “Black Lives Matter” after installing an openly racist PM and with so many gaping wounds of the recent past still unresolved? He deliberately decides who within our population is expendable, how many will die and how to bribe to keep the media on side as this catastrophe unfolds. Justice requires a national uprising as this Tory Government has already committed crimes against humanity that has innocent lives. Tearing down of Colson’s statue and tossing it in the harbour was a totally appropriate political statement to signal that UK racism must end now. Boris Johnson has never even apologised for his racist remarks, but he too needs to be ripped from his pedestal. An Investigation of the Covert2019 Rigged Election could destroy his legitimacy, but the pain of his manipulation of this crisis will be exposed as other countries recover just as the UK is hit with a second wave. Whatever it takes to remove them from power; the Tories cannot be allowed to remain in office. DO NOT MOVE ON!