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Despite the mainstream media treating Keir Starmer with kid gloves, or perhaps at least partially because of it, the progressive Left of the Labour Party are getting seriously worried that their new Leader is intent on reversing all the progress of the Corbyn years and steering the Party back to the neoliberal support of Tory policy. This quest for the mediocrity of the mythical ‘centre ground’ will not rally support for Labour in preparation for an Election in five years time that is highly unlikely to materialize once this corrupt Tory Government has solidified their dictatorship following crash-out Brexit. Unless we can fully expose the fraud that facilitated the Tory stranglehold on power with the Covert 2019 Rigged Election we are destined to suffer decades of oppressive authoritarian rule with future sham votes to appease the masses. Kerry-Anne Mendoza reveals the facts in the video “Keir Starmer Unmasked;” stoking the fake anti-Semitism fire by sacking Rebecca Long-Bailey his only token Left appointment is welcome news to the PM.
Keir Starmer is enabling the Tories agenda with his crusade to destroy the Left and offer only weak or futile opposition to Boris Johnson as he takes a wrecking ball to our democracy At the last Prime Minister’s Questions Starmer began his feeble attempt at scrutiny by saying, “Yesterday, the Government announced the next stage of easing lockdown restrictions. If that plan is to work – and we want it to work–we need an effective track, trace and isolate system. The Prime Minister promised that a world-beating system would be in place by 1 June. The latest figures from yesterday’s press conference hosted by the Prime Minister show that 33,000 people are estimated to have Covid-19 in England. The latest track, trace and isolate figures show that just over 10,000 people with Covid-19 were reached and asked to provide contact details. I recognise the hard work that has gone into this, but if two thirds of those with covid-19 are not being reached and asked to provide contact details, there is a big problem, isn’t there?”
“On the contrary,” said Boris Johnson, refusing to concede there was a problem, he started to paint a fantasy picture of his ‘world-beating’ system with Starmer as an impressed cheer leader! He claimed, “I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has been stunned by the success of the test and trace operation. Contrary to his prognostications of gloom, it has got up and running much faster than the doubters expected. They are getting it done–Dido Harding and her team have recruited 25,000 people and so far they have identified and contacted 87,000 people who have voluntarily agreed to self-isolate to stop the disease spreading. I do not think the right hon. and learned Gentleman would have predicted that a few weeks ago. I think he should pay tribute now to Dido and her team for what they are doing.”
It was an elaborate ploy, but Starmer remained unimpressed, he pointed out that, “The Prime Minister just has not addressed the question I put to him. I was not asking about those who have gone into the system–the 10,000–or those who have been contacted; I was asking about the two thirds of the 33,000 with covid-19 who were not reached. That is a big gap. The Prime Minister risks making the mistakes he made at the beginning of the pandemic–brushing aside challenge, dashing forward, not estimating the risks properly. If two thirds of those with Covid-19 are not being contacted, that is a big problem. If we do not get track, trace and isolate properly running, we cannot open the economy or prevent infection from spreading, so let me ask the question in a different way. What is the Government’s strategy for closing the gap between the number of people with Covid-19 and those going into the system–not what happens to those who go into the system?”
The Skwawkbox just released a timely warning of, “R’ rate rises in every English region but one – before Johnson’s lockdown changes,” but stark reality does not deter the PM’s sick agenda to cull the most vulnerable, economically inactive, in a ruthless ‘Slaughter of the Sheeple.’ Boris Johnson dug out an obscure word to baffle those watching from beyond the Chamber, saying, “I hesitate to accuse the right hon. and learned Gentleman of obscurantism. He is misleading on the key point. The number of people with Covid in this country is, of course, an estimate.” The Speaker called “Order,” – “Inadvertently misleading,” quipped the PM, but the Speaker interjected again calling, “Order,” and then telling Johnson in no uncertain terms, “Prime Minister, one of us is going to have to give way and it will have to be you. Obviously, no hon. Member misleads or ever would, whichever side they are from.”
Johnson was like a dog with a bone insisting, “The right hon. and learned Gentleman is inadvertently giving a false impression of what test and trace is doing. The 33,000 cases in the country is, of course, an estimate. NHS test and trace is contacting the vast majority of those who test positive and their contacts and getting them to self-isolate. It is a formidable achievement. Yesterday, the right hon. and learned Gentleman was kind enough to say that he supported our policy and our programme–I seem to remember him saying that loud and clear yesterday. Today–as I say, I understand the constraints of the profession in which he used to work; I know how it works–he seems to be yo-yoing back into a position of opposition. Which is it: is he supporting what we are doing or is he against it?” The Prime Minister was trying to ask the questions as if he was not the one facing opposition scrutiny at PMQs.
Starmer said, “The figures I have, which the Prime Minister says are inadvertently misleading, are the slide at his press conference yesterday and the slide at the Government’s press conference last week–the latest figures. They are the two figures. I do support the next stage of the operation, but the Prime Minister is wrong to reject challenge. Sixty-five thousand people have lost their lives because of covid-19. The Prime Minister should welcome challenge that could save lives, rather than complaining about it.”
Starmer continued by stating, “Another risk to this plan is if local councils do not have the powers and resources to implement local lockdowns. There is a report today that eight out of 10 councils face bankruptcy or cutting services, with many of those in the north-east and midlands, where, as the Prime Minister knows, there are the worst affected areas for Covid-19. The real concern among council leaders is that they do not have the powers or guidance to implement lockdowns quickly if needed. The Conservative leader of Oxfordshire County Council said it would be ‘interesting’ for central ‘Government to confirm what is meant by the local lockdown’ – including – ‘clear guidance as to those powers and what is expected of us.’ Can the Prime Minister tell us when local authorities will get the guidance that they need?” It was an omnishambles beyond the scope of a simple answer at PMQs.
Johnson was going to have to bluff his way through this, but bluffing was a skill he really excelled at, “Everybody understands,” he claimed, “we have seen it already, across the country – that when there are local outbreaks, for instance in Weston-super-Mare or in GP surgeries in north London, there have been local lockdowns and local crackdowns. We have a very effective cluster-busting operation, which is designed to ensure that we keep those outbreaks under control. Local councils understand how to do it, with the local resilience forums backed up by the joint biosecurity centre. That is how it works and that is how it is going to work, and it is a very effective way of keeping this disease under control. I am not going to pretend to the right hon. and learned Gentleman or to the House that this thing is beaten or that the virus has gone way, because clearly that is not the case. We have to remain extremely vigilant, and local councils will be supported in doing their vital work in implementing local lockdowns.”
Starmer launched his next line of attack, “May I now turn to the app? This really matters because unless someone with Covid-19 can name and identify everybody they have been in contact with, the app is the only way of tracing unknown contacts. My hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Peter Kyle) made precisely that point yesterday. He gave the example, ‘How on earth do you trace everyone in close contact at a seafront or in a park without an app?’ Up until last week, the Government maintained that the app was ‘critical’ –another of their slides– but at the weekend the Health Secretary downplayed the app, saying it was only ever additional support. So which is it: critical or not?”
Johnson wanted to start asking the questions to put Starmer on the spot, he said, “I wonder whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman can name a single country in the world that has a functional contract tracing app – there isn’t one. What we have – and what, I am afraid, has left the Opposition slightly foundering – is a very successful NHS test and trace operation, which yesterday they supported. Yesterday, they said it was good enough for this country to go forward with step 3 of our plan, but today they are yo-yoing back again and saying that it is not good enough. They need to make up their mind. They need to get behind NHS test and trace, support it and take the country forward together.”
Starmer answered, “Germany. It had its app working on 15 June and it has had 12 million downloads – I checked that overnight. Twelve million – it is way beyond. The Health Secretary said that we would have the app by mid-May – presumably that was on advice. The Prime Minister said that we would have it by 1 June, but now Government Ministers say that it will not be ready until the winter. We have spent £12 million on this. Other countries are ahead of us. When are we going to have a working app?” Keep bluffing Boris, refute what he says, “I am afraid that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is completely wrong, because no country in the world has a working contact tracing app” Johnson claimed. He needed a rapid re-spin on that app, pretend the objective was always clear…
The PM continued, “I have always been clear – we have always been clear – that the app would be the icing on the cake. If we can get it to work, it will be a fine thing, but there is not one anywhere in the world so far. What we do have is a fantastic NHS test and trace operation that is already up and running, that is going to get better and better, and that will be indispensable to our future success.” If the PM could bully Starmer into supporting it, he shares the failure, “I think that he should support it and, by the way, that he should make it much clearer that he supports our programme going forward. Since the right hon. and learned Gentleman mentions Labour councils and support for Labour councils, perhaps he might clear up the position of yesterday and say once and for all that Labour councils should now be encouraging children in their areas to go back to school. We heard some warm words from him yesterday. Can he now confirm that he wants all children who can go back to school to go back to school this month?”
The PM had laid himself open to Starmer’s attack, “Yes. The only U-turn here was the Education Secretary on 9 June, who ripped up the Government’s plans to get children back into school before the summer break. There is a theme to these exchanges. Last week, I asked the Prime Minister about two claims about child poverty. He said that absolute child poverty and relative child poverty ‘have both declined under this Government’. [Official Report, 17 June 2020; Vol. 677, c. 796.] On Monday, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner ruled that the Prime Minister’s answer was ‘mostly false’. The Prime Minister also said that there are 400,000 fewer families living in poverty now than there were in 2010. On Monday, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner ruled that that was simply ‘false’. He has been found out. He either dodges the question or he gives dodgy answers. Mr Speaker, no more witnesses; I rest my case. Will the Prime Minister do the decent thing and correct the record in relation to child poverty?”
The PM couldn’t possibly admit the truth, he just had to keep bluffing, “I am happy to point out to m’learned friend that actually, there are 100,000 fewer children in absolute poverty and 500,000 fewer children falling below thresholds of low income and material deprivation. This Government, as he knows, are massively increasing universal credit with £7 billion more to help the poorest and neediest families in our country. We are getting on with it. We are taking the tough decisions. He still cannot make up his mind.” It was utter codswallop; he’d get called out, but who expected him to tell the truth? Keep banging on about the schools, “Talking about child poverty, the single biggest determinant of a child’s success is whether he or she goes to school. The right hon. and learned Gentleman still will not say whether children should go. I think it is absolutely infamous for him to come to the House one day and say he supports the programme and then, the next day, not to confirm that he wants kids to go to school now.”
Tory Ms Nusrat Ghani had an important question on mariners, she asked, “Seafarers, global key workers, have given us goods from food to medicine during covid, but that is now under threat. Some 400,000 mariners are stuck on board their ships due to the failure of countries to agree crew changes. The United Kingdom is the world’s leading maritime nation, and we are home to the International Maritime Organisation, which gives us a unique responsibility. Will my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister agree to meet the Chamber of Shipping to marshal the global community to help to get our seafarers home and ensure that free trade continues to flow?” Johnson respectfully replied, “My hon. Friend knows a great deal about the subject whereof she now speaks. We remain fully committed to the welfare of all seafarers, regardless of their nationality. We ask all states to do the same. I look forward to discussing that in person with her.” She had given the PM the chance to look in control, magnanimous, he was grateful.
SNP Leader Ian Blackford began, “I am sure the whole House will join me in passing on condolences to the family of the three children who sadly lost their lives in a house fire in Paisley last Friday evening, Fiona, Alexander and Philip Gibson – such a terrible tragedy. This morning, we heard growing concerns from medical experts about the real risk of a second wave of covid-19. At the same time, experts at the Fraser of Allander Institute outlined the scale of the economic challenges ahead, with a raft of redundancies and business closures if financial support is withdrawn. They warned that measures that risk a second wave of the virus would delay recovery in Scotland until 2024. The health and economic emergency requires an unprecedented response. On Monday, the Scottish Government’s advisory group on economic recovery, led by independent business leaders, published its initial analysis to secure a strong recovery. Will the Prime Minister welcome those efforts to find a way forward out of this economic crisis?”
A simple request, Johnson was relived to say, “Yes, indeed. I would be only too happy to study the documents to which the right hon. Gentleman refers.” Blackman had another request, saying, “I am grateful to the Prime Minister for that answer, and I am glad that he agrees that we need to take every action to study and aid the economic recovery. I am sure he is aware that the Scottish advisory group has called for an accelerated review of the devolved fiscal framework. Crucially, it has supported a significant increase in access to capital to stimulate an investment-led recovery in Scotland. Scotland can make different choices and invest in a strong recovery, but we can only do it with the necessary financial powers. Our First Minister and our Finance Secretary have already made a request for more borrowing powers. Will the Prime Minister implement the recommendations of those business leaders and give the Scottish Parliament the economic powers it needs to fuel a recovery in the wake of the pandemic, or will he put Scotland’s economic recovery at risk?”
More money, he could start bragging about impressive sums announced that might never materialize, more bluffing was needed. The PM said, “I respectfully remind the right hon. Gentleman that, as part of our UK campaign against the Coronavirus, Scotland has so far received £3.8 billion in Barnett consequentials – a fact that I am sure is seldom off his lips in his discussions with SNP colleagues. We will continue to invest massively in Scotland because Scotland, like the whole of the UK, benefits from being part of the oldest and most successful political partnership anywhere in the world. I congratulate the SNP, by the way, on its U-turn –which could be copied with advantage by our friends on the Opposition Front Bench – on education and getting all kids into school.”
Liz Saville Roberts speaking for Plaid Cymru raised the problem of Covid 19 outbreaks in three Welsh food factories and the paltry sick pay offered to UK workers compared to similar incidents in Germany where “employees get sick pay worth 100% of their salary.” She asked, “Will the Prime Minister now commit to local furlough-like schemes for self-isolating workers?” The PMs was evasive in his answer, bragging of existing schemes and saying “if we have to move back—obviously we do not want to—to local lockdowns, or indeed a national lockdown, nobody should be penalised for doing the right thing. So there is the right hon. Lady’s answer.”
Labour’s Jessica Morden revealing that, “In order to access benefits quickly, people with unpredictable terminal conditions, such as motor neurone disease, are having to prove that they have six months or less to live, and they risk losing their benefits altogether if they live longer than three years. A year has now passed since the Government announced their review into access to benefits for terminally ill people, but there is still no progress. When are the Government going to act?” How can you remove the desperately needed benefits from a person who, just like Steven Hawking, beat the cruellest of odds? The PM bragged about the Tories most discredited benefit saying, “We have massively increased our spending on Universal Credit, but the hon. Lady raises an important point about access to benefits for terminally ill people,” but pledged a written reply. Such perverse situations should never arise in the first place, but in too many instances they are a conscious part of the Tory agenda to torment, abandon and cull the disabled.
The Skwawkbox Article with a Video: “Starmer’s response to Johnson’s lockdown easing – no mention of 65k deaths or high virus incidence” demands a more robust opposition belting out, “The clue is in the job title, Keir. People are still dying, for God’s sake oppose!” They report, “Labour leader Keir Starmer responded to Boris Johnson’s declaration that the coronavirus pandemic is basically over – with a well-done for trying his best and a promise of support.” No wonder Starmer is winning accolades from the fawning Right-wing press; he is a welcome gift at a challenging time. If Starmer had been emphatic that Cummings warranted immediate removal the PM would not have had such an easy time retaining his toxic puppet master, but instead he has unleashed ruthless unwarranted discipline on Long-Bailey. Starmer’s scrutiny is badly misdirected to harm progressive Labour; there will be no investigation of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election on his watch unless there is a major revolt on the Labour Left; we need it now!