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


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Kim Sanders-Fisher

My body clock is now very seriously out of whack, so yesterday I fell asleep, woke up groggy and made an absolute mess of my post; typos, odd bits of disjointed orphan text, one repeated paragraph and missing sections that I will post another time. Sorry about that. I should have posted my ‘ready to go’ commentary on Wednesday’s PMQs instead as it represented a really awesome performance from Angela Rayner that put both Boris Johnson and our Captain of Capitulation to shame. I doubt Starmer will give his Deputy another chance to so spectacularly outshine him again anytime soon. Starmer made a pathetic appearance on the Andrew Marr show this morning that had me ranting at my Laptop screen in exasperation. However, there is talent in the wings; I hope you enjoy this take on PMQs…

Boris Johnson opened PMQs by remarking, “Today marks 400 years since the sailing of the Mayflower, a reminder to us of the beginning of an enduring alliance between our two nations. Around 35 million Americans today trace their ancestry to a Mayflower passenger, and I am sure that the whole House will want to join me in marking this historic anniversary.” Those who left these shores aboard the Mayflower were refugees escaping religious persecution; descendants who thrived in new found liberty will not regret that desperate passage to the new world! How many Brits will want to escape the Tory tyranny after crash-out Brexit? Using the classic distraction of a non-question, James Daly started PMQs with a rousing Tory appeal for self-congratulation and bragging. Callously ignoring how despicably Teacher have been let down and exposed to unnecessary danger through the unsafe forced reopening of schools, he made a pitch for thanking our beleaguered and dispirited Teachers on National Teaching Assistants Day.

The PM deftly dodged the stark reality that over 1000 schools in the UK obviously weren’t Covid–secure, incurring outbreaks since reopening that forced closure. Gloating as he nodded approval Johnson replied, “I strongly echo my hon. Friend’s congratulations and thanks to teachers, and just say that I believe passionately in the tutoring programme we are launching.” He went on to tout his latest ambitious fantasy goal by bragging that, “We expect the first group of tutors to be supporting schools from November, with provision ramping up through the remainder of the autumn and spring term.” Standing in for the Labour Leader was his deputy, entering the fray for her first confrontation at the dispatch box. Angela Rayner defiantly refused to stroke the PMs insatiable ego, valiantly stating: “Many people in the Chamber will think that the battle of Britain is today, but actually we marked the 80th anniversary of those veterans yesterday, and I want to put on record our thanks to all those who fought for our country in the past.”

Cleverly channelling a Corbyn tactic of presenting a personalized message from the public, Rayner identified a notable MP, absent from the Chamber saying, “I want to start by reading to the Prime Minister a message that I have received from a man called Keir. Keir was not able to go to work today and his children could not go to school because his family had to wait for their coronavirus test results, despite the Prime Minister’s promise of results within 24 hours. Keir was able to do the right thing and self-isolate and work from home, but other people are not in this position, and many of them are the very people who were getting us through this crisis, such as the care workers, who I used to work alongside before I was elected to this House.” It was a brilliant start and Rayner made a bold demand for specific information about which she knew the PM would be conspicuously ignorant. Confidently displaying contempt Rainer said, “The Prime Minister once earned £2,300 an hour; can he tell us the average hourly rate of a care worker in this country?”

Johnson mumbled, fumbled and fell short, seriously taken aback by Rainer’s crisp and concise delivery as he tried to evade her points, finally he condescendingly blurted out, “I congratulate the hon. Lady on her elevation.” Boris Johnson continued to scramble for words, instinctivly wanting to stress that she was in a social and intellectual class beneath him. Seeking a way to return to his familiar tactic of bragging he said, “She speaks of the constituent Keir, and I can tell her that—allegedly, apparently—he has had a negative test, and I do not know quite why he is not here. But 89% of those who have in-person tests get them the next day, and we are working very fast to turn around all the test requests that we get. I think that most people looking at the record of this country in delivering tests across the nation will see that that compares extremely well with any other European country. We have conducted more testing than any other European country, and that is why we are able to deliver tests and results in 80% of cases where we know the contacts.”

Clearly very rattled Johnson continued, “The hon. Lady asks about care homes, and I can tell the House that today we are launching the winter care home action plan. She is right to raise the issue of care homes, and we are concerned about infection rates in care homes, but we will do everything we can to ensure that care homes and their workers are protected. On the hon. Lady’s final point, I am proud that it is this Government who have instituted the national living wage to ensure that every worker in this country, including care home workers, is paid substantially more, thanks to the care and the work of the people of this country.” Rayner had announced just one of his own lavish fees in stark contrast to Care worker pay; how could he possible know what this abandoned sector of the working poor managed to subsist on while performing their vital role? It was a brutal “shame on you moment” as she looked blissfully amused savouring victory while the PM squirmed, deflated and badly mauled by the noble Labour lioness.

Unable to turn his pathetic defeat into a convincing PR pitch Johnson sank back down onto the bench; this fierce rival would not so easily be tamed! Rayner was toying with her prey as she retorted, “Ah, he’s finished,” as if she had fully anticipated a more extensive stream of boastful drivel spanning the whole gamut of Tory fantasy promises. She announced, “The whole country will have seen that the Prime Minister does not know how much a care worker earns: that was my question. The shameful fact is that the average wage in social care is barely more than £8 an hour and half our social care workers earn less than the real living wage. On his first day in office, the Prime Minister said that ‘we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared.’ Yet still there is no sign of the plan, and the additional funding to prevent infection will run out at the end of this month. So will the Prime Minister commit today to give our social care sector the funding that it needs now to get through the looming winter crisis?”

Forced to make concessions that might come back to haunt him in the near future, the PM replied, “The hon. Lady is asking an important point, and we are concerned about the rates of infection in care homes. Clearly, they have come down massively since we instituted the £600 million care home action plan. Tomorrow, we will be announcing a further winter care home action plan. It will not surprise her to know that we want to see a toughening up of the rules governing the movement of workers from one care home to another. We want to make sure that we protect care homes from further infections, and that is the right thing to do. I pay tribute to all the care home workers in this country for what they have done to help us bring down the disease. We will make sure, as we have done over the past few months, that they get the personal protective equipment that they need, that they get the guidance that they need and that they get the cash that they need, and that is what this Government are committed to doing.”

With the ferocity of an angry lioness defending her cubs Rainer had launched a furious attack on behalf of our badly neglected Care workers and won submission from the arrogant Tory beast. Rayner proudly continued by accepting the PMs defeat, saying, “I do welcome the Prime Minister’s comments, but I must say to him, get some skates on it.” Johnson still needed goading; she warned, “Those care workers are still not getting the PPE they need. They are still not getting the testing they need. I urge the Prime Minister to get on top of this problem now before the winter crisis hits. The Prime Minister has put his faith in Operation Moonshot, but, meanwhile, on planet Earth, there were no NHS tests available for several high-infection areas, including for Tameside and Oldham in my own constituency. In July, the Government promised that there would be weekly tests in care homes, and they promised this for September, so can the Prime Minister confirm—yes or no—do all care homes in this country have weekly tests?”

The PM said, “Yes, to the best of my knowledge, care homes in this country should get weekly tests for all staff members and tests every 28 days for the residents in the care homes. Of course the hon. Lady is right to express the frustration of people across this country about the massive demand there is now for tests—it has hugely increased. Everybody can see just in the past few days a colossal spike in the number of people who want tests and who want to ascertain whether they have coronavirus. What we are trying to do now is meet that demand at record speed. Just in the past couple of weeks, we have increased the capacity of our testing systems by 10%. We have four new labs that we are building in Newport, Newcastle, Charnwood and Brants Bridge. Just so she knows the scale of the ambition, we want to get up to 500,000 tests per day by the end of October. As I have said, that is a huge, huge number. I really do pay tribute to all those who are delivering it. I know that Opposition Members like to make these international comparisons, so I will just repeat that we are testing more than any other European country.”

“Should:” is the qualifying word that portends yet more failed promises! Rayner said, “Well, Mr Speaker, I heard what the Prime Minister had to say, but I have to say to him that, yesterday, the chief executive of Care England said, ‘We were promised weekly testing for staff. That has not been delivered.; Time and again, the Prime Minister makes promises and then breaks those promises. In June, he told this House that ‘I can undertake…now to get all tests turned around in 24 hours by the end of June.’—[Official Report, 3 June 2020; Vol. 676, c. 839.] The Government have had six months to get this right and yet the Prime Minister still cannot deliver on his promises. The Health Secretary said yesterday that it would take weeks to sort the situation out. Well, we do not have weeks. The Government’s latest figures show that there was an average of 62,000 people tested per day, not 500,000. The Prime Minister has said that testing capacity is at 300,000, but the average is 62,000 a day. How does he explain this?”

A slew of broken promises from the PM and the Tories constant failure to deliver, Rainer was well on top of her brief as the PM scrambled to cook the numbers and blame the public. Johnson defensively replied, “We have delivered on, as I say, the most thoroughgoing testing regime anywhere in Europe. We now have capacity; I think capacity has gone up from—sorry the number of tests per day conducted, not capacity, has gone up from 210,000 last week to 240,000 this week. Just to repeat the statistics, per thousand people, this country is testing 2.54, Germany 1.88, Spain 1.91 and France 1.89. In other words, we are delivering exactly what we said we would do. What is happening is that the British people, quite understandably, are responding to that system with a huge, huge surge in demand, so it is very important that everybody follows the guidance about when they should be getting a test—the guidance sent out by Public Health England, which has been sent to schools, and from NHS Test and Trace.”

Rayner was blunt, “Once again, I see that the Prime Minister says that it is somebody else’s fault—it is the public who are using up the tests. These were the Government’s own figures and own targets that they failed on. The next time a man with covid symptoms drives from London to Durham, it will probably be for the nearest covid test. I want to move on to another very serious issue. Alongside the tragic stories we have heard of relatives dying alone in care homes and people not being able to say goodbye to their loved ones, we have heard from mothers who have had to give birth without the support of their partners or their families. The Health Secretary yesterday said that the new guidance had been issued, but even under that new guidance, many birth partners will not be allowed to join until the moment of established labour, leaving women enduring difficult labours or, even worse, traumatic and devastating miscarriages alone without support. Will the Prime Minister agree to meet with me and my hon. Friends and work with us to ensure that no woman is forced to give birth without the support that they need?”

Rayner had skilfully dismantled the Boris Johnson blame game and swiftly moved to yet another new question. Why is the experienced Legal expert and professional negotiator Keir Starmer so easily stalled belabouring the same point with myopic fixation that so often accomplishes nothing but derision and duplicitous deviation to further boasts from the PM? Starmer’s technique is far from forensic, his cause-sick rants are nauseatingly frustrating to observe. Again the PM was forced to concede to Labour’s Lioness, saying, “The hon. Lady is absolutely right to raise the issue that she does, and I know that Members across the House will share her feelings entirely. I totally agree that birth partners should be able to attend the birth. That is why we changed the guidance in the way that we did. Of course, I am very happy to encourage co-operation between her and my right hon. Friends in the Health Department to take the matter forward. I perfectly understand the point that she makes, and she is entirely right.”

Rayner replied, “I welcome the Prime Minister’s comments; I think that was a yes, but I will follow it up” she warned. “Thank you for those comments. Infections are rising. The testing system is collapsing. When you are the Prime Minister, you cannot keep trying to blame other people for your own incompetence. We have the highest death toll in Europe, and we are on course for one of the worst recessions in the developed world. This winter, we are staring down the barrel of a second wave, with no plan for the looming crisis. People cannot say goodbye to their loved ones. Grandparents cannot see their grandchildren. Frontline staff cannot get the tests that they need. And what was the top priority for the covid war Cabinet this weekend? Restoring grouse shooting. I suppose that is good news for people like the Prime Minister’s friend who paid for a luxury Christmas getaway to a Caribbean island and funded his leadership campaign, and just so happens to own two grouse moor estates. So Prime Minister, is this really your top priority?”

Rainer had saver her most brutal savaging until last with an assault on Tory privilege and opulence in the height of a Pandemic contrasted by the real needs of ordinary people so meaningless to the wealthy elite. The PM tried to muster a defence by trotting out a well worn criticism. Totally failing to comprehend the hypocrisy of his words he replied, “While the Labour Opposition have been consistently carping from the sidelines throughout this crisis and raising, frankly, issues that are tangential, if not scare stories about what is going on, we are getting on with delivering for the British public.” Sure access to testing, lack of PPE the plight of Care workers a young mothers giving birth alone might seem “tangential” to the PM, but no the majority of the “British Public” were not pining for the return of blood sports! The public want to know that they will not be prosecuted for “mingling” if they dare to chat to friend the bump into while away from work; the grouse shoot is not a priority of the working poor, so get real Johnson.

His massive misstep might have dawned on him as Johnson tried to bait the Labour Lioness now she could no longer maul him in the Chamber. Johnson defensively continued, “We are not only massively ramping up. She has not contested any of my statistics today about the extent to which this country is now testing more than any other European country. She has not disputed the massive acceleration in our programme.” He belatedly remembered she had posed a telling question, replying, “I will answer the substance of her question, thank you very much. We are getting on with delivering on the priorities of the British people: getting us through this covid crisis; delivering on making our country safer…” The PM then rambled on about questions never asked because it was time for his standard weekly Tory Party Political Broadcast to the nation from his pulpit in the House of Commons. Did we ask for this compulsory Tory PR spin? No! Should we have to suffer the PMs empty promises and boasts each week? No!

Short of duct taping Johnsons mouth closed we are forced to suffer this onslaught week after week. Johnson continued his diatribe, “…bringing forward measures to stop the early release of dangerous sexual and violent offenders, which I hope she will support…” was this an answer to a question asked? No, but Boris Johnson blathered on in PR mode… “strengthening our Union, which in principle Opposition Front Benchers should support; and building more homes across this country and more affordable homes across this country, which she should support. That is in addition to recruiting more doctors and more nurses, and building more hospitals. I do not think anybody is in any doubt that this Government are facing some of the most difficult dilemmas that any modern Government have had to face, but every day we are helping to solve them, thanks to the massive common sense of the British people, who are getting on with delivering our programme and our fight against coronavirus. It is with the common sense of the British people that we will succeed, and build back better and stronger than ever before.”

It was Tory Anthony Mangnall’s turn as cheer leader, chiming in with undeserved praise, “The Prime Minister is rightly levelling up across the country, giving that issue both barrels, but I know that the south-west has often been overlooked.” There was a price to pay for such homage and he wanted investment in digital and transport infrastructure for his patch to, “turbocharge opportunity and we will provide the growth that they need…” The PM, still licking his from the Labour Lioness’s savage mauling, needed ‘stroking’ to sooth his eviscerated ego. He rallied to say, “It is precisely because we believe in my hon. Friend’s vision, which I share…” and continuing with talk of “allocating considerable sums…” offering a hint of pay-back coming to this loyal MP, as he pledged to pencil in a visit.

SNP Leader Ian Blackford broke the Tory back-slapping revelry: “In his previous life as a Daily Telegraph journalist, this Prime Minister wrote: ‘Devolution is causing all the strains that its opponents predicted, and in allowing the Scots to make their own laws, while free-riding on English taxpayers, it is simply unjust.’ So let me ask the Prime Minister two specific questions, which need two specific answers. First, does he still think that devolution in Scotland is unjust? Secondly, where does he believe full spending and decision-making powers over our NHS, education, infrastructure, economic development, culture and sport should be held—is it with Scotland’s Parliament or with Westminster?”

The PM replied, “Obviously, there is a very considerable, and has been a massive, devolution of powers to Scotland, and the Scottish people had the opportunity to vote for more in 2014, as the right hon. Gentleman will recall, in a once-in-a-generation event. They chose decisively to reject that. I think he said it was a once-in-a-generation event as well. They now have the opportunity to vote to support the further devolution of powers in the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill, and I hope that he will join us in the Lobby in support of that.”

Blackford was not standing for such false assumptions as he replied, “My goodness, what nonsense. I never once talked about ‘a once-in-a-generation’, and the Prime Minister should withdraw that.” That wasn’t likely: he continued, “As usual, the Prime Minister is all over the place. He does not remember what he has written, he does not understand his own Brexit deal and he does not even know what is in the Internal Market Bill—I will tell him. Clause 46 allows this Tory Government to bypass Scotland’s Parliament and take decisions on the NHS, education, infrastructure, economic development, culture and sport—it is a blatant power grab. We all know what the Tory Back Benchers are saying behind closed doors: that the Prime Minister is incompetent, that he cannot govern and that they want him away before the next election. Scotland’s legacy will be in a being a fair, decent, law-abiding, independent nation state. Will the Prime Minister’s legacy be leading the UK to break international law and break this failing Union?”

The PM tried to confuse, “I am not quite clear from that question whether the right hon. Gentleman is in favour of the Union or not. I take it from his hostility to me that he wants to support the Union. So do I. The best thing he can do is to support the UK Internal Market Bill, which buttresses a surge of powers transferred to the devolved Administrations in more than 70 areas. I should just remind him that in the recent coronavirus crisis £5.4 billion has been transferred to be spent in Scotland as a result of Barnett consequentials, and I am proud to say that 70% of the testing that has taken place in Scotland has been supported by the UK Government. If he is a convert to the Union, which is what I take from his question, that is just one of the reasons he should back it.” Tory Mark Logan stroked the PMs ego, “Please allow me to push back against what has just been said. The Prime Minister has done a stellar job in fending off economic depression right across the United Kingdom, including Scotland…” The PM replied with yet another round of empty boasts.

Lib Dem Leader Ed Davey voiced concern: “Research by the Disabled Children’s Partnership shows that three quarters of families with disabled children had their care support stopped during lockdown. The Coronavirus Act 2020 is partly to blame, as it relaxed the duties to assess and meet the needs of disabled people. As the father of a disabled child and a patron of the Disability Law Service, I have seen legal advice that suggests that the Prime Minister’s Government broke international law when the Coronavirus Act reduced the rights of disabled people. So before the House is asked to renew the Coronavirus Act, will he meet me to discuss how we can protect the right to care of disabled people and act lawfully?” The ill-informed PM conceded, “First, I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on securing the leadership of his party. I must say that I am not aware of that particular allegation about the legal effect of the Coronavirus Act, and I would be only too happy to write to him very shortly to clarify the matter.”

If Johnson had hoped to humble and humiliate with his standard routine of bluster, bragging and bullying he was caught seriously off-guard by the ferocity of his eloquent and articulate opponent, who displayed no nervous reservation despite her rawness at the despatch box. Finally, the opposition asking real questions that put the PM on the spot with ‘shame on you’ regularity instead of the pathetic, ‘who’s been a naughty boy then,’ ignored whining of the failed Labour Leader. My message to the Captain of Capitulation: pull another sickie Starmer and let our fearless and righteous Rayner ‘Labour Lioness’ roar. PMQs clearly highlighted the gross incompetence of both major party Leaders, but Rayner’s quip re going to Durham for testing reminded us that Starmer should have demanded the PM sack Cummings months ago. Until an Investigation or a Whistleblower exposes the truth about ‘fantisemitism’ smears and the Covert 2019 Rigged Election we must endure the pathetic Starmer v Johnson, Tweedle-Dum, Tweedle-Flee show. DO NOT MOVE ON!