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On Sunday morning the Tory propaganda mouthpiece that was once the respected BBC continued its new theme of presenting not just important UK News, but news from around the world. However, their concept of what now constitutes ‘news’ consists almost entirely of reports on which countries are experiencing spikes in Covid 19: the lockdown in Melbourne Australia which was declared a ‘state of disaster;’ increased cases in India and South Africa and a small cluster of cases emanating from a pub in Scotland. Yes there was news of a Tory MP arrested for rape allegations and the private Space-ex capsule returning to earth, but when will our BBC national news headlines return to earth? There was almost no clarification to justify the very sudden restrictions imposed on several Northern areas of England, except to promote the concept of keeping future lockdowns local and unapologetically targeting cities with large ethnic minority communities literally just a matter of hours before the important Muslim celebration of Eid.
In the Guardian Article, “Tory MP condemned for claim BAME people breaching lockdown most,” they reveal that Tory MP Craig Whittaker stands, “accused of baseless claims after Covid-19 comments aimed at Muslim community.” In “baseless allegations he said, “the ‘vast majority’ of people breaching coronavirus lockdown rules were from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, particularly those from Muslim backgrounds.” According to the Guardian, “the MP for Calder Valley, West Yorkshire since 2010, told LBC radio there were sections of our community that are just not taking the pandemic seriously’. Asked if by this he meant the Muslim community, Whittaker said: ‘Of course. If you look at the areas where we have seen rises, and cases, the vast majority – not by any stretch of the imagination all areas – it is the BME communities that are not taking this seriously enough’.”
The PM is now desperate to latch onto a way to scapegoat members of the public and minority groups to detract from his shameful and shambolic mishandling of Covid 19. The Guardian say, “Boris Johnson, when asked during a Downing Street press conference on coronavirus whether he agreed with Whittaker’s comments, did not distance himself from them, saying only that it was ‘up to the whole country to get this right’ and ‘I think it’s up to all of us in government to make sure that the message is being heard loud and clear by everybody across the country, and to make sure that everybody is complying with the guidance.” Despite the PM “thanking mosques and imams for spreading the message on social distancing” his targeted, divisive, racist ‘othering’ was clear. “Whittaker’s constituency is among those areas affected by new lockdown rules announced overnight which bar people from meeting others in homes or gardens. The announcement came ahead of Eid,” but he claimed “it had nothing to do with the Muslim celebration.”
In his evidence free attack on the Asian community Whittaker claimed to have been challenging local leaders for weeks, but he ignores the realities of multiple socio-economic factors as well as recognized ethnic vulnerability to Covid 19. Higher levels of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity are greatly exacerbated by the grinding poverty caused by a decade of ideologically driven Tory austerity and deprivation. Poorly paid minority workers are more likely to be forced back to work in frontline jobs or factories with minimal adherence to Health and Safety standards. But ignoring this Tory driven inequality, Whittaker then has the sheer gall to launch an attack on the cramped communal living that is a direct result of Tory cuts. According to the Guardian he said, “It’s not just the Asian community in our area. We also have areas of high multiple-occupancy that are in the same boat. When you have multiple families living in one household that doesn’t specifically have to be the Asian community, but that is the largest proportion.”
Liberal Democrat Councillor for Shadwell in Tower Hamlets, Rabina Khan, offered a stinging rebuttal to Whittaker’s assertions in an opinion piece written for the Independent. She says, “Conservative MP Craig Whittaker’s claims about the ‘vast majority’ of the black and ethnic minority community in his West Yorkshire constituency not taking the pandemic seriously are undeniably one-sided. We should not be playing the blame game, but instead trying to establish why some people believe that the virus does not pose a risk to them. While it is clear that some people in the BAME community are not exercising social distancing, the same applies to white communities.”
Khan reminded us of the fact that, “The prime minister’s top adviser Dominic Cummings broke the rules and then lied about it to the nation.” Johnson’s refusal to even admit that Cummings was guilty of bending the rules created a huge amount of wiggle-room for those intent on putting their own selfish desires above the common good. The PM choosing not to discipline Cummings in any way was disgraceful, but it took a huge risk over public adherence to future messaging. Why was Johnson so insistent that he and his Tory cabal must exonerate Cummings despite his obvious guilt? Johnsons Chief Adviser remains in control of the PM because he holds the key to all the evidence that could expose the Covert 2019 Rigged Election and bring down this Government. As I’ve said here before “Cummings is the grenade, oust him and you pull the pin!” What a shame the spineless new Labour Party Leader, Keir Starmer is so intent on enabling Boris Johnson that he has failed to see the strategic importance of demanding Cummings is fired.
Khan didn’t say, but this was not the only non compliance scandal close to home for Johnson to ignore and quash as he drummed home the message that the wealthy elite did not have to abide by any restrictions to their extravagant free-wheeling lifestyle. His own father, Stanley Johnson claimed he had “urgent business” to attend to at his villa in Greece; essentially preparing the property for excessively privileged wealthy people who wished to ignore the UK lockdown for a get-away in the sun! In an exuberant bout of upper class exceptionalism, Stanley Johnson very publically boasted about how he cheated the system by travelling via another country to Greece rather than being prevented from taking a direct flight. When money is no obstacle restrictions present just a minor inconvenience. Of course Boris Johnson refused to comment on the selfish exploits of his father, further reinforcing the ‘one rule for us’ privilege while quite another set of rules for the working poor restrict civil liberties and are enforced by on the spot fines.
We have had weeks of hype about air-bridges as if it was our moral duty to get on a plane and jet off for a vacation that the newly unemployed cannot afford. Now we are expected to pity those who must cancel or cut short holidays due to newly imposed travel restrictions and quarantine! Khan remarked on the hypocrisy of Whittaker’s blame and shame rant saying, “just look at the footage from Bournemouth Beach during the recent spells of hot, sunny weather and see the large number of white people failing to listen to social distancing advice, selfishly putting themselves, their families and other people at risk. On 25 June, these mass gatherings led Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council to declare a ‘major incident’.” Higher susceptibility to Covid 19 among BAME individuals doesn’t automatically make those in ethnic minority communities any more guilty of irresponsible behaviour than the thousands mindlessly flocking to UK beaches in the hope of turning from alabaster white to sun-scorched lobster red!
Solidarity is building, not just among those in the BAME community, but within the Socialist Left, enraged by the lies Williamson’s campaign to exposé EHRC is gaining support. Among certain BAME cultures I’ve noticed a far stronger bond of intergenerational respect, comradery and support than I see among families in the white British population. Unquestionably an admirable trait that the British as a whole would do well to emulate, it does have the potential to increase risk in a Pandemic situation where isolation is the best defence. However, Khan was scathing with regard to the out-of-touch Tory MP, “Adding to the offence that Whittaker has caused, he uttered his divisive remarks on Eid-Al-Adha.” She was eager to point out that, “Despite lockdown measures this year, Eid-Al-Adha and Hajj were commemorated differently to other years, but they were still celebrated. Like other religions, Muslims made sacrifices in keeping with their faith – making sacrifices makes us more compassionate in a troubled world.”
Khan made an important rebuttal to the callous Tory MP’s insults over housing arrangements saying, “Whittaker also referred to ‘areas of high occupancy being an origin’ of the spread of the virus. Does he think that overcrowded families live like this out of choice? And let us not forget that many intergenerational families choose to look after their elderly parents in their homes, thereby taking the pressure off social care. This is a sector in which the government has failed to protect our older citizens in nursing homes, with 20,000 deaths to date. This fact was left out by Whittaker.” This demonstration of responsibility towards elders is a desirable characteristic that should be encouraged by the Government who currently do so little to assist those who chose to care for their parents at home. Carers allowance should be increased to incentivise the unemployed to consider this option. I cared for my mother for the last five years of her life while I worked on design projects at home; it wasn’t easy, but it was very rewarding.
Khan noted that, “Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece said, ‘Divisive comments at a time of crisis are unhelpful. Assigning blame onto different communities does nothing to promote good community relations and MPs should behave more responsibly rather than apportioning blame’.” Khan said, “It was also inevitable that the number of Covid cases would rise again after pubs, bars and public parks reopened. If you wander into a park, or past a pub, especially on a sunny day, you will see hordes of individuals, friends and families together – of all ethnicities. Several pubs have had to close again after customers tested positive for coronavirus, and further lockdown restrictions are being reintroduced. Lord Simon Woolley, founder and director of Operation Black Vote and the advisory chair of the UK Race Disparity Unit, said, ‘When the data clearly doesn’t support the rhetoric, the rhetoric is in danger of becoming a poisonous racist rant. Haven’t BAME communities suffered enough without now being blamed for its rise?”
Strange how those two names sounded familiar: where had I heard of Baroness Hussein-Ece and Lord Simon Woolley recently? Both are former members of the EHRC; both considered too loud and too outspoken on racial issues, so ousted from the team in favour of white business heavy-hitters. I wrote only the other day that, “Newsweek report that Baroness Hussein-Ece, ‘described the decision not to reappoint herself and Lord Woolley at the time as an ‘appalling’ thing to do.” But are we hearing from the EHRC Chair or any of the current EHRC Commissioners on this very obvious controversial stoking of racial tensions during the Pandemic in a disgraceful effort to scapegoat the BAME community over their alleged lack of responsibility? No, Sir David Isaac and his now ‘bleached’ board are far too busy picking through the outlandish and obscure fabricated accusations of fake ‘far-Left anti-Semitism’ in the hope of sinking the Labour Party for daring to offer genuine equality, justice and Socialist hope to the British people.
In defence of those under unfair attack Khan said, “They are disproportionately exposed to the virus – despite BAME communities making up only 13 per cent of the British population, 12.3 per cent of NHS staff are from BAME backgrounds and many have jobs on the front line.” Khan had rounded out her rebuttal by insisting that “Maintaining social distancing is not a BAME issue; it is a national and global issue. She warned that, “The MP believes that by speaking out he could try to prevent excess deaths in BAME communities. Perhaps what he needs to consider is the use of his words in preventing deaths: as the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 guidance states, ‘words matter’ and that certain words could ‘fuel stigmatised attitudes’. He, and everyone else, should take this guidance seriously. If not, as the WHO warns, we risk perpetuating negative racial stereotypes, creating fear and even dehumanising people who have the disease.” It’s such a pity Tory Ministers are so arrogant in ignoring the advice of the WHO.
The Tory assault on the BAME communities is not just confined to blame and shame or the extra punishment of incomprehensible restrictions that can be liberally interpreted by police forces eager to penalize ethnic minorities; there are penalty fines too. Tories fail to comprehend why people are taking to the streets in Black Lives Matter protests as their racist ideology support s targeting of minorities. According to a Guardian Article entitled, “BAME people fined more than white population under coronavirus laws,” they reveal that, “Police in England issue at least 22% of fines for contravening lockdown to 15.5% of population. Black, Asian and minority ethnic people in England are 54% more likely to be fined under coronavirus rules than white people, it can be revealed. Analysis by Liberty Investigates and the Guardian shows that BAME people received as many as 2,218 of the 13,445 fixed-penalty notices (FPNs) under distancing regulations recorded from 27 March to 11 May, while white people were given about 7,865.”
In the article, “The analysis shows BAME people were fined at a rate of 26 per 100,000, while the rate for white people was 16.8 per 100,000. Experts and campaigners said the disproportionality called into question whether the fines were issued fairly, after the Crown Prosecution Service found that scores of people had been wrongly charged and convicted under emergency coronavirus laws. ‘For years there has been extensive evidence that police powers are used to disproportionately and unfairly to target black and Asian communities, so it comes as little surprise that these figures indicate racial profiling has continued and even accelerated under the lockdown,’ said Kevin Blowe, the coordinator of the Network for Police Monitoring.” These statistics are being presented all the time, but Johnson just pledges yet another worthless inquiry to uncover the painfully obvious. Token gestures like removing a few offensive statues is not enough; BAME communities just want the racial profiling, scapegoating and persecution to stop ASAP.
In the Skwawkbox Article condemning, “Tory and centrist MPs covered in shame as north forced again into lockdown. You were warned and rushed ahead anyway,” they say, “Unions, left MPs, media, scientists and mayors warned against haste to re-open schools and force people back to work – and MPs rushed ahead anyway. Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock, Rishi Sunak and their whole party, along with Keir Starmer and his pliant front-benchers are all covered in shame this evening after the government announced a renewed tightening of lockdown across a swathe of the north because of rising coronavirus rates. Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and West Yorkshire will all be subject to increased restrictions from midnight, with Hancock feebly blaming the people for the consequences of political errors. But union leaders, left MPs and media and elected mayors and council leaders have all warned for months that the Tories’ undue haste would lead to a new surge in infections – and in avoidable deaths.”
Skwawkbox report that, “Leicester was a case study in the consequences, with Hancock forced to admit the school return had played a central part in creating the city’s hotspot. Yet Johnson and co continued to speed ahead anyway – and Starmer’s shame is not limited to a mere lack of resistance. The Labour leader played an active role in welcoming and promoting measures to ease the lockdown, particularly the rush to re-open schools. School outbreaks have rocketed, just as the so-called ‘leaders’ were warned.” The Skwawkbox include a graph depicting the evidence supporting their valid criticism. They say, “Even though studies have shown how fast the coronavirus can spread in – and from – schools, only this morning Starmer’s education spokesperson was agreeing with the Tories that there is no need for masks for school staff or pupils. Likewise, when Johnson rushed working people back to their workplaces with barely 12 hours notice.”
Starmer targeted Rebecca Long-Bailey for standing with the Teachers Unions regarding safe school returns and he weaponized an unjust anti-Semitic charge to oust her from her post, the Left is really angry! Skwawkbox report that, “Starmer and his team were near-silent – and Starmer himself answered ‘We’d have to look at it’, when asked on radio whether he would support unions trying to protect workers from avoidable exposure. So when Starmer wanted to make what passes for an attack in centrist minds on the Tories’ actions this evening, he could only focus on the lack of notice given of the changes. He could hardly attack much else when he has been all but in lock-step with Johnson on the substantive measures he and his health secretary have taken. Now, as predicted, infections have risen – and people who needn’t have died will die, while the economy and family life of the north suffers compared to Tory heartlands. Shame on all those who pushed for this and on those who enabled them. Shame on them all.”
In a Skwawkbox Article they report, “Labour’s biggest donor Unite to review funding of party as left continues to rally.” Union Leader Len McCluskey, “warns union’s funding must not be ‘taken for granted’.” They note that, “The Unite union, the biggest single donor to the Labour Party, is to review the funds it provides to the party, in what can only be seen as a warning shot across Keir Starmer’s bows.” Reporting that, “McCluskey has also confirmed he intends to stay in post until the end of his elected tenure in 2022, dashing the right’s hopes of replacing him earlier with someone more pliable or an outright right-winger. McCluskey had been expected to retire next year. The news, both of the review and McCluskey’s stickability, will come as a further boost to a Left already re-energised by the huge success – in spite of right-wing attempts to remove it – of a fundraiser to cover Jeremy Corbyn’s legal costs if he is attacked further in court.” Many of us seriously want this to go to Court to expose the truth regarding the smears.
As I have warned in earlier pieces, the recent initiatives first to tackle obesity and to determine why Covid 19 poses a higher risk to ethnic minorities, are not driven by a principal led PM who cares about the welfare of the public in the UK. These are callous fishing expeditions to identify the best way to spread the blame and exonerate this Tory Government, which, like all other far-right Fascist Parties, benefit from a country whose citizens remain distrustful and divided looking for someone to blame for their distress. The growing social unrest is weaponized by encouraging enraged citizen to direct their anger towards vulnerable minorities to deflect from Government policy failures; while fabricated external enemies detract from the dismantling of democracy and establishing of authoritarian dictatorship. In the mayhem and rioting that the Tories seek to precipitate, creating an excuse for tougher crackdowns on public demonstrations, more military force will be turned against ordinary citizens just as Trump is doing in the US right now.
We must maintain a laser-like focus on removing this Government from office as there will be worse atrocities coming down the pike. It is crystal clear that the Tories do not approve of scrutiny or accountability. They pledged in their 2019 Manifesto to remove Judicial Review and make Judges political appointments in future. They also pledged to abandon the International Court of Human Rights in order to “redefine” what Human Right might still be permitted by their toxic Tory Government that has consistently failed to recognize that the disabled and other vulnerable members of British society are even ‘sentient beings!’ Delegitimizing the Covert 2019 Rigged Election by whatever means must remain a top priority while we still have recourse to Judicial Review, the potential for impartial legal judgements, protected Human Rights and final recourse to EU intervention. A massive public outcry to demand a full investigation of the stolen vote will grow driven by the exposure in our Courts of the corrupt Tory disinformation campaign. DO NOT MOVE ON!