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

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

Kim Sanders-Fisher

SA – Thanks for the heads-up on Cadwalladr; I had once thought she might champion our Investigative Journalistic cause, but perhaps not. Your post prompted me to do more probing; you may be interested in this World Socialist Web Site Article entitled, “Britain’s secret propaganda ‘Integrity Initiative’ targets Russia,” where Cadwalladr is outed. In the run-up to the Russia Report release, and in anticipation of possible legitimacy claims over Brexit, I am currently looking into a number of articles that divulge more about the monster in the midst of the Tory Government, the master puppeteer Dominic Cummings. Meanwhile, I want to post my not so brief account of Starmer’s stumbling at last Wednesday’s PMQs dispatch box as, once again, he failed to focus on the poorest and most vulnerable citizens abandoned by the Tory Covid support strategy or articulate a particularly strong opposition.

Of all the gaping holes in the Swiss cheese Tory support package I would not have zeroed in on the airline industry as topping the list of most urgently deserving causes or the most seriously in need of help; Why? Realistically aviation will need to very seriously downsize for us to meet climate crisis objectives: fewer flights or radically redesigned plains still years away from taking to the sky! However, that was where Keir Starmer began his questioning at this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions. He said, “Over the past few months, we have supported many of the economic measures announced by the Government, but the decision last week not to provide sector-specific support to those most at risk could end up costing thousands of jobs. One of the sectors, aviation, has already seen huge redundancies: BA has announced 12,000 redundancies; Virgin 3,000; and easyJet 1,900. If the Government’s priority really is to protect jobs, why did the Chancellor not bring forward sector-specific deals that could have done precisely that?”

The PM replied, “No one should underestimate the scale of the challenge that this country faces. That is why the Chancellor has brought forward a range of measures, which, by the way, the right hon. and learned Gentleman supported last week. They include the job retention bonus and the kick-starter programme for young people. We are also doing a huge amount to support the aviation sector. One of the companies that he mentions, Virgin, has now come out of the Birch process after extremely difficult, but in the end productive conversations. That is the work of this Government: getting on, helping companies through it and helping our people through it. If I may say so, Mr Speaker, the right hon. and learned Gentleman has to work out whether he will support or oppose the Government’s programme to get people back into work. Last week, the shadow Chancellor said here in this House of Commons that she supported our programme. This week, he says that he opposes it. Which is it?”

Johnson’s “now he supports me now he doesn’t” ploy, was getting old and increasingly annoying. It was as if both MPs were locked in a perpetually repeated dance, destined to fulfil specific roles and stick to exactly the same script week after week without the slightest variation. Starmer responded, “This is just such rhetorical nonsense. It is perfectly proper and right for the Opposition to set out the parts of the package that we support the Government on and to highlight where there are problems. The problem with the Prime Minister’s dismissal of this is that, since the Chancellor set this out last week, around 10,000 people have lost their jobs. The Prime Minister should focus on them, not the rhetoric. The Office for Budget Responsibility yesterday projected 3.5 million unemployed next year.”

But BA got a second question as Starmer asked, “I want to press the Prime Minister further on the situation at BA, which is a huge employer and the national flag carrier. Alongside the 12,000 redundancies already announced, BA is trying to force through the rehiring of the remaining 30,000 workers on worse terms and conditions. That is totally unacceptable and it is a warning shot to millions of other working people. The Prime Minister sent an email to BA staff in which he said: “I have already made it clear that firms should not be using furlough to cynically keep people on their books and then remove them or change their terms and conditions.” That was on 2 June. It is now six weeks on. Will the Prime Minister now personally intervene and make it clear that actions such as those at BA cannot be allowed to stand without consequences for landing slots?”

Johnson responded, “We have been absolutely clear that we want our great companies across the country to support their workers and keep them in employment where they possibly can. I have made that point clear on the Floor of the House just in the past couple of weeks. Let us be absolutely clear: British Airways and many other companies are in severe difficulties at the moment, and we cannot, I am afraid, simply with a magic wand ensure that every single job that was being done before the crisis is retained after the crisis. What we can do—and what we are doing—is encourage companies to keep their workers on with the job retention scheme and the job retention bonus, as well as a massive £600 billion investment programme in this country to build, build, build and create jobs, jobs, jobs. That is what we are doing.”

Starmer wanted to highlight the callous fiddle BS were perpetrating as it was a loophole other Corporate giants would also exploit. He asked, “The Prime Minister knows exactly what I am talking about: it is the rehiring of 30,000 people at BA on worse terms and conditions, and he should call it out. Yesterday, the Government’s expert advisory group published a report on the challenges this autumn and winter. It was asked to do so by the Government Office for Science. The report assessed the reasonable worst-case scenario for this autumn and winter, including a second Covid spike and seasonal flu, and it set out strong recommended actions to mitigate the risks. The report was clear: July and August must be a period of intense preparation—i.e., now. Could the Prime Minister make it clear that he intends to implement the recommended actions in the report in full and at speed?”

The PM responded enthusiastically, it was great that the public had accepted the need for a new ‘Boris Spike’ as there were so many more to be culled from the worthless masses. He said, “Not only are we getting on with implementing the preparations for a potential new spike but the right hon. and learned Gentleman will know that the Government are engaged in record investments in the NHS of £34 billion. The House may not realise that, just in the last year that the Government have been in office, there are now 12,000 more nurses in the NHS and 6,000 more doctors. It was thanks to their hard work, and the hard work of the entire NHS, that we were able to prevent our health service from being overwhelmed this spring. We will take steps to ensure that it is not overwhelmed this winter either.” These were mostly the retired NHS staff who had been coaxed back to work to help deal with the crisis; they certainly did not represent any new Tory Government investment, but he was cashing in on their pluck.

Starmer questioned preparedness, the necessary expansion and improvements in track and trace. He asked, “That is the whole point of this report, which sets out the reasonable worst-case scenario and tells the Government what they need to do about it, so I am surprised that the Prime Minister is not committing to fully implementing it. It is vital that the Government learn the lessons from the mistakes that have been made and act now to save lives for the future. One of the key recommendations in the report, commissioned by the Government Office for Science, is that testing and tracing capacity should be significantly expanded to cope with increased demands over the winter. The reality is that trace and track is not working as promised, as it stands today, and the report makes it clear that it needs to be significantly expanded to cope with the risks of autumn and winter. What assurance can the Prime Minister give that the system will be fit for both purposes in the timeframe envisaged in the report—i.e., by this September?”

Vacuous Boris bragging was in order when he replied, “Once again, the right hon. and learned Gentleman attacks the test and trace operation, which is working at absolutely unprecedented scale: 144,000 people across the country have now agreed to self-isolate to stop the spread of the virus. He keeps saying that the test and trace operation is failing to contact enough people and failing to get enough people to self-isolate. Actually, it is doing fantastic work: 70% or 80% of contacts are found, and it is getting through to the vast majority of people who have the disease. I can certainly give the House the assurance that our test and trace system is as good as, or better than, any other system anywhere in the world and yes, it will play a vital part in ensuring that we do not have a second spike this winter. Instead of knocking the confidence of the country in the test and trace system, now is the time for him to return to his previous script and build it up, that is what he needs to do.” He craved praise why didn’t Starmer comply?

Starmer was picking holes in the worthless outsourced Government Track and Trace program; not difficult it’s like Swiss cheese! He said, “The problem with the Prime Minister quoting the 70% of people who are contacted and asked to self-isolate is that that has gone down. It was 90% just a few weeks ago and every week it has gone down, so I would not quote the latest figure, looking at the trend. But I have to ask, in the light of the last few questions: has the Prime Minister actually read this report that sets out the reasonable worst-case scenario and tells the Government what they need to do about it in the next six weeks? Has he read it?”

Johnson was immediately on the defensive, saying, “I am of course aware of the report and we are of course taking every reasonable step to prepare this country for a second spike. I may say to the right hon. Gentleman that it is up to him, really, to get behind what the Government are doing or not. He has previously supported our plan. He has previously come to this House and said that he supports our measures. He now says, I think, that he does not support them. I think what he needs to do is build up the confidence of the people of this country cautiously to get back to work and cautiously to restart our economy, which is what we are trying to do, instead of endlessly knocking the confidence of the people of this country: knocking their confidence in test and trace, knocking their confidence in the safety of our schools and knocking our confidence in our transport network. Now is the time for him to decide whether he backs the Government or not.” Being aware of it isn’t necessarily reading it, but that’s semantics!

Starmer was reverting to his standard line of questioning; “who’s a naughty boy then?”He said, “It is perfectly possible to support track and trace and to point out the problems. Standing up every week saying, ‘It’s a stunning success’ is kidding no one. That is not giving people confidence in the system. They would like a Prime Minister who stands up and says, ‘There are problems and this is what I am going to do about them,’ not this rhetoric about ‘stunning success’ when it is obviously not true. This afternoon, Prime Minister, I am meeting the families of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, a group of hundreds of families who have lost loved ones. They say this: ‘We won’t let the deaths of our loved ones be in vain. And we won’t allow the Government to risk a second wave of deaths without learning from their mistakes.’ They will be listening to the Prime Minister’s answers today, so what would the Prime Minister like to say to them?”

Johnson replied with more vacuous bluster, bragging and expansive numbers in an effort to convince the House and the UK public that he was excelling at his job despite the horrific reality of his failure. He said, “I join with, I think, every Member of the House in mourning the loss of everybody who has died in this epidemic. I can assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and through him the victims and their families, that we will do absolutely everything in our power to prevent a second spike in this epidemic. That is why we are taking the steps that we are. That is why we have set up, as I say, an unprecedented test and trace operation. That is why we are investing massively in our NHS and our frontline staff, as I say, in the last year, recruiting 12,000 more nurses, as part of a programme to recruit 50,000 more, and preparing our NHS for winter. We will do absolutely everything we can to protect our country and to stop a second spike.”

It was always worth ending his sparing with Starmer but demanding praise, unqualified support and full cooperation while objecting to any criticism or scrutiny. He said, “What the right hon. and learned Gentleman has to decide is whether he wants to back that programme or not. One day he says it is safe to go back to school. The next day he is taking the line of the unions. One day they are supporting our economic programme. The next day they are saying our stamp duty cut is an unacceptable bung. One day they are saying they accept the result of the Brexit referendum. The next day, today, they are going to tell their troops to do the exact opposite. He needs to make up his mind which brief he is going to take today. At the moment, it looks like he has got more briefs than Calvin Klein. We are getting on with delivering on our agenda for the country, getting this country through this pandemic and taking it forward.” Considering the grave tone of the question he was responding to the ‘briefs’ quip was sick and insensitive.

The Speaker, was probably offended by the PM’s disgraceful ‘Calvin Klein briefs’ sick joke in response to Starmer’s request for a respectful message to pass on to bereaved families; he cautioned Johnson over the Commons requirement for him to face and address the Speakers chair not grandstand like a clown in a PR stunt aimed at tabloid headlines. Speaker Hoyle furiously called “Order. Can I just say to the Prime Minister that we are going to work through the Chair? The audience is not that way, it is this way.”

The SNP’s Ian Blackford asked about devolved Governments powers, he said, “Tomorrow, this Tory Government will publish legislation for their biggest power grab since the Scottish people voted overwhelmingly for the Scottish Parliament in 1997. Westminster’s plan to impose an unelected, unaccountable body to rule on decisions made by the Scottish Parliament will not be accepted. The decisions of the Scottish Parliament must and will be decided by the Scottish people. We also reject any attempts to impose lower standards from one part of the United Kingdom on Scotland. Knowing that this Tory Government are prepared to sell out the food and agriculture industry to his pal, Donald Trump, will the Prime Minister confirm that his Tory Government are once again ignoring the wishes of the Scottish people and launching their hostile agenda against devolution?”

Johnson replied, “On the contrary, what we are doing is possibly the biggest single act of devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in modern memory. The right hon. Gentleman should be celebrating the 70 or more powers that are going to be transferred to the elected people in Scotland. What he wants, by contrast, is trade barriers between England and Scotland, and nobody being able to use sterling in Stirling. He talks about unelected and unaccountable people, but what he wants to do is hand the powers that we would give back to Scotland from this Parliament to Brussels, which is neither elected nor accountable.”

Ian Blackford pressed his case, saying, “Of course, the document that we will see tomorrow is going to talk about the benefits of the single market. It is a pity that the Prime Minister does not understand the economic value of the European single market and customs union. This Prime Minister often states the need to respect referendum results. He should respect the decision taken by the Scottish people in 1997. We know that this Government are undertaking a full-scale assault on devolution: a Brexit settlement that Scotland rejected is being imposed on Scotland; an immigration system that Scotland rejected is being imposed on Scotland; and a decade of Tory Government that Scotland rejected has been imposed on Scotland.”

Blackford said, “It is no wonder that the First Minister’s approval rating is three times that of the Prime Minister. Effective leadership and respecting the will of the people, contrasted with the bumbling shambles coming from Westminster. Scotland has the right to have our decisions made by those we elect, not by bureaucrats appointed by Westminster. Will the Prime Minister guarantee that his plans will not be imposed on Scotland, and that Scotland will have the chance to choose for ourselves?”

The PM repeated his initial denial, saying, “First, I must repeat my point. It is extraordinary for the right hon. Gentleman to attack unelected bureaucrats for any role they may have in Scotland when his proposal is to hand back the powers that this place is going to transfer to Scotland back to Brussels, where they are neither elected nor accountable to the people of Scotland. So I really do not know what he means. As for his point about respecting referendum results, the House will recall that there was a referendum on the issue of Scottish independence and breaking up the Union in 2014. They said at the time that it was going to be a once-in-a-generation event. I think they should keep their promises to the people of this country and to the people of Scotland.”

Lib-Dem Sir Edward Davey, was calling for accountability when he stated and demanded, “Under this Prime Minister, we have suffered one of the worst death rates in the world and Europe’s worst death rate for health and care workers. Previously, he has refused my demand for an immediate independent inquiry, saying that it is too soon, even though, back in 2003, he voted for an independent inquiry into the Iraq war just months after that conflict had started. If he still rejects an immediate inquiry, will he instead commit in principle to a future public inquiry: yes or no?” The PM offered one of his empty pledges, saying, “As I have told the House several times, I do not believe that now, in the middle of combating the pandemic as we are, is the right moment to devote huge amounts of official time to an inquiry, but of course we will seek to learn the lessons of the pandemic in the future, and certainly we will have an independent inquiry into what happened.”

Tory Katherine Fletcher had the sheer gall to claim her constitutes had said, “Thank God that other lot didn’t get in, because I can’t imagine how much trouble we’d be in right now.” She asked the PM to confirm that he will continue the Tories shambolic pretence at “throwing the kitchen sink at fixing it?” The Speaker quipped, “Come on, Mr Plumber” before her typical Tory ‘stroking’ elicited a barrage of vacuous Boris bragging, “…not only the kitchen sink, but every part of the kitchen. We are going to build, build, build…” Considering the shocking death toll and the fact that Tory failures cost the lives of more Healthcare workers in the UK than any other country, Johnson’s unjustified crowing was a sickeningly distasteful reminder of the appalling cost of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. We must continue pushing for an Investigation to restore justice and democracy to the UK and end the ongoing carnage of Cummings eugenics ‘Slaughter of the Sheeple’ by ejecting him and this Tory Government from office. ‘Pull the pin!’