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

Boris Johnson boomed from his remote screen: “Good morning, Mr Speaker. I hope very much that our connection works today. This is my last day of virtual meetings with ministerial colleagues and others before I come out of isolation. In addition to my virtual meetings and duties in this House, I shall have further such meetings later today.” Tory MP Mr Robertson asked, “Can the Prime Minister guarantee that in any agreement that he reaches with the European Union, British sovereignty will be protected for the whole United Kingdom and that the UK will exit the transition period on 31 December as a whole?” The Prime Minister, “Yes, indeed; I can make that guarantee. Our position on fish has not changed. We will only be able to make progress if the EU accepts the reality that we must be able to control access to our waters. It is very important at this stage to emphasise that.” Just over a month to go till crash-out and the Titanic Brexit iceberg still looms large!

Despite virtually ignoring Cummings’s violation of lockdown, Keir Starmer took solid aim at the latest Tory abuse of power, “Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls. On average, a woman is killed by a man every three days in this country. It is a shocking statistic; and, sadly, the pandemic has seen a significant increase in domestic abuse. I will join those marking this day, and I am sure that the whole House would agree that we need to do far more to end domestic violence. The Prime Minister may remember that in August last year, he wrote the foreword to the ministerial code. It says: ‘There must be no bullying…no harassment; no leaking… No misuse of taxpayer money…no actual or perceived conflicts of interest.’ That is five promises in two sentences. How many of those promises does the Prime Minister think his Ministers have kept?”

The Prime Minister said, “I believe that the Ministers of this Government are working hard and overall doing an outstanding job in delivering the people’s priorities, and that is what we will continue to do. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman waits a little bit longer today, he will hear some of the ways in which this Government are going to take this country forward, with one of the most ambitious programmes of investment in infrastructure, schools and hospitals for generations. If he wants to make any particular allegations about individual Ministers or their conduct, he is welcome to do so. The floor is his.” Did he fail to note Patel’s conduct?

Starmer replied, “I did not really hear an answer there, so why don’t we go through these commitments in turn, starting with bullying and harassment? The now former independent adviser on ministerial standards concluded that the Home Secretary’s behaviour was, in his words, ‘in breach of the Ministerial Code’, and, he said, ’can be described as bullying’, which means: ‘intimidating or insulting behaviour that makes an individual feel uncomfortable, frightened, less respected or put down.’ What message does the Prime Minister think it sends that the independent adviser on standards has resigned but the Home Secretary is still in post?”

Johnson acted as if the matter was beyond his control, bleated that Patel had apologized he said, “Sir Alex’s decisions are entirely a matter for him, but the Home Secretary has apologised for any way in which her conduct fell short. Frankly, I make no apology for sticking up for and standing by a Home Secretary who, as I said just now, is getting on with delivering on the people’s priorities: putting, already, 6,000 of the 20,000 more police out on the streets to fight crime and instituting, in the teeth of very considerable resistance, a new Australian-style points-based immigration system. She is getting on with delivering what I think the people of this country want. She is showing a steely determination, and I think that is probably why the Opposition continue to bash her.”

Starmer hit back saying, “The reality is that any other Prime Minister would have fired the Home Secretary and any other Home Secretary would have resigned, so I think we will chalk that up as one broken promise.” That is one with honour and decency would have resigned, so not Patel. He resumed, “On to the next: no leaking. Over the summer, we saw repeated leaks about which areas would go into restrictions. The Prime Minister’s plans to go into a second national lockdown were leaked all over the national papers, resulting in a truly chaotic press conference, and we have seen more leaking in the past 24 hours. This serial leaking is causing huge anxiety to millions of people about what is going to happen next. I know there is supposed to be an inquiry under way, but can the Prime Minister tell us, is he any closer to working out who in his Government is leaking this vital information?”

Johnson replied, “I have already told you, Mr Speaker, that as soon as we have any information about anybody leaking, we will bring it to the House. But I may say that I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman is really concentrating on trivia when what the people of this country want is to see his support, and the support of politicians across the House, for the tough measures that we are putting in to defeat coronavirus. He makes various attacks on, I think, my leadership and handling of the ministerial code. I would take them a lot more seriously, frankly, if the Leader of the Opposition could explain why the right hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) is still a member of the Labour party. Does he support the right hon. Gentleman’s continued membership of the Labour party—yes or no? Why doesn’t he answer that question?”

He was doing it again, that annoying habit of turning the focus back on the questioner, but the Speaker caught him short with a curt reminder, “I think I will just answer that with the fact that it is actually Prime Minister’s questions, not Leader of the Opposition’s questions.” The PM snapped defensively, “It is a perfectly reasonable question, Mr Speaker.” Hoyle was having none of it he barked, “I think I will make that decision, Prime Minister.” Then he offered a veiled threat that he might resort to the mute button, quipping, “Thankfully we have got the sound—we do not want to lose it…” which drew Laughter from MPs in the Chamber! What a great pity Speaker Hoyle would soon lose that precious curtailment of the PM’s fatuous drivel as he emerges from self-isolation.

“Thank you, Mr Speaker,” said Starmer, “The difference, of course, is that I am tackling the issues in my party and the Prime Minister is running away from the issues in his. I take it from his answer that he has no idea who is leaking from his Government, so I think we will put that as another one in the ‘no’ column. Moving on, to perhaps the most serious of the promises under the code: no misuse of taxpayers’ money. For weeks, I have raised concerns about the Government’s spraying taxpayers’ money on contracts that do not deliver. The problem is even worse than we thought. This week, a Cabinet Office response suggests that the Government purchased not 50 million unusable items of protective equipment but 180 million, and a new report this morning by the National Audit Office identifies a further set of orders totalling £240 million for face masks for the NHS that it cannot use. So will the Prime Minister come clean: how many hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been wasted on equipment that cannot be used?”

Johnson cannot have felt comfortable with this attack, but he could drown out the concern with his standard bragging, “Actually, to answer the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s question directly, 99.5% of the 32 billion items of personal protective equipment that this country secured conformed entirely to our clinical needs, once we had checked it. Of all the pathetic lines of attack that we have heard so far, this is the feeblest, because if you remember, Mr Speaker, we were faced with a national pandemic on a scale that we had not seen before and the Government were being attacked by the Labour party for not moving fast enough to secure PPE. I remember the right hon. and learned Gentleman saying that we needed to unblock the blockages in the system and that we needed to shift heaven and earth to get it done. That is what he said at the beginning of the pandemic. Then he complained that we moved too slow. Now he is saying that we moved too fast. He has got to make up his mind what his attack is”.

Starmer knew this was a weak spot so he hacked away, responding, “It is obvious that either the Prime Minister does not know how much taxpayers’ money has been wasted, or he does not care. So far, we have bullying, harassment, leaking and the misuse of taxpayers’ money. I must say to the Prime Minister that it is not looking good so far, but let us press on. The next one is ‘no actual or perceived conflict of interest’. Where do I start on this one? Last week, we learned that suppliers with political connections were 10 times more likely to be awarded Government contracts, and this week The Sunday Times reports that the Health Secretary appointed one of his closest friends to a key advisory role. This friend also is a major shareholder, as it happens, in a firm that specialises in lobbying the Government on behalf of its clients, and some of those clients have secured tens of millions of pounds of Government contracts during the pandemic. Was the Prime Minister aware of this apparent conflict of interest?”

The PM replied, “In so far as there are any conflicts of interest, they will be evident from the publication of all the details of all the contracts. Again, the right hon. and learned Gentleman just seems to be attacking the Government for shifting heaven and earth, as we did, to get the medicines, the PPE, the equipment and the treatments that this country needed. What it reveals really is a deep underlying Labour hatred of the private sector, and it is actually thanks to the private sector and the Government working with the private sector that the UK was able to produce the world’s first usable treatment for the disease in dexamethasone and has worked hard to secure huge numbers of doses of the world’s first usable room-temperature vaccine. That is the private sector working to deliver for the people of this country and it is this common-sense Conservative Government working with the private sector, rather than abominating it and relying exclusively on some deranged form of state control. How else does he think we could possibly have done it?”

Starmer wanted to draw a shocking contrast, “No one is knocking the private sector; the Government are knocking the taxpayer, and that is not trivial. So I think it is a clean sweep: bullying, harassment, leaking, wasting public money and obvious conflicts of interest. It is the same old story: one rule for the British public and another for the Prime Minister and his friends. Just look at the contrast between his attitude to spraying public money at contracts that do not deliver and his attitude to pay rises for the key workers who kept the country going during this pandemic. If you have a hotline to Ministers, you get a blank cheque, but if you are on the frontline tackling covid, you are picking up the bill. Will the Prime Minister finally get his priorities right, stop wasting taxpayers’ money and give police officers, firefighters, care workers and other key workers the pay rise they so obviously deserve?”

The PM said, “It is this party and this Government who have given key workers and public sector workers above-inflation pay rises this year, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows, whether that is the police, the Army or nurses, who are now getting 12.6% more than they were three years ago. It is this Government who will continue to increase the living wage, as he will discover if he can just contain his impatience for a few minutes. Indeed, it is this Government who have not only delivered free school meals and a vast increase in spending on development around the world but have looked after the poorest and the neediest. One of the most important facts about the £200 billion coronavirus package of support that the Chancellor has devised for lives and livelihoods across the country is that the benefits overwhelmingly prioritise the poorest and neediest in the country.’ (In Tory marginal’s!) The reason we can do that is because we have a Government who understand how to run a strong economy and who ensure that they take the tough decisions now that will allow our economy to bounce back, that is what this Government are doing.” Total crap!

The Leader of the SNP, Ian Blackford, focused on the latest source of extreme Tory shame, saying that, “Protecting the foreign aid budget has long been a source of unity and agreement across this House and across the four nations of the United Kingdom. At the last general election, every major party recommitted to that moral mission of helping the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. Indeed, a senior Government Minister said that it ‘paved the way for Britain to meet the UN target of spending 0.7% of national income on aid…and that remains our commitment.’—[Official Report, 16 June 2020; Vol. 677, c. 667.] Does the Prime Minister agree with that senior Government Minister?” Chancellor Sunak had yet to deliver his Spending Review, but this was known.

The Prime Minister was defensive, signalling the cut was indeed planned, “Mr Speaker, listening to Opposition Members talking about the 0.7% commitment, you would think that they invented it. It was a Conservative Government who instituted it, and this country can be incredibly proud of what we have delivered for the poorest and neediest people in the world. That will continue. On any view, this country is one of the biggest investors or donors overseas in all its forms, I think we are the second biggest in the G7, whether in percentage terms or cash terms, and that will continue. We have seen a massive increase, as the House will know, in spending on our collective overseas commitments. By the way, as the right hon. Gentleman will know, that is also of huge benefit to Scotland, where there are people in East Kilbride who do a fantastic job in development overseas.”

Blackford sprung his trap saying, “I am glad that the Prime Minister seemed to agree with the quote, because the words I quoted were his—it is exactly what he told the House of Commons less than six months ago. I take it that the briefing that has gone on is not true and that the 0.7% commitment will remain in place. We need to recognise that covid-19 is a global pandemic, and while we are all in the same storm, some nations have better life rafts. The World Bank estimates that the pandemic will push 88 million to 150 million people into extreme poverty. In the world’s poorest countries, hunger and cases of malaria are rising, and the UN projects that as many as 11 million girls may never return to education after school closures. The UK Government cannot eradicate the threat of covid-19 if there is still a threat around the world. Does the Prime Minister agree that keeping the 0.7% commitment is not only the right thing to do morally but is the sensible thing to do in helping with the eradication of covid-19?”

Johnson was evasive saying, “Of course I agree that the UK should be playing a leading role in eradicating covid-19 around the world. That is why one of the wonderful features of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, if it is approved, is that it is going to be sold at cost to partners around the world. I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman knows quite how much the UK has already given to COVAX—to the global Vaccine Alliance. I can tell him. It is more than virtually any other country in the world. We should be proud in this country of what we are doing: I think about the $800 million to support COVAX, to say nothing of what we are doing with Gavi and CEPI—the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and other organisations. We are in the lead in promoting and in inventing vaccines, but also in making sure that the poorest and neediest around the world get those vaccines. I think the people of this country should be very proud of what they are doing, what you are doing.”

LibDem Leader Ed Davey pitched for Carers, “Three weeks ago, I asked the Prime Minister to support unpaid carers, who are facing extreme hardship during covid, by raising carer’s allowance by £20 a week. It is very disappointing that Ministers have not found that money for carers, but have found hundreds of millions for contracts handed out to Conservative party cronies. It is Carers Rights Day tomorrow, so can I ask the Prime Minister again: will he raise carer’s allowance by £20 a week, as Liberal Democrats are campaigning for, or will he explain why Conservatives think unpaid carers do not deserve extra help?”

Johnson said, “I would be happy to look at that specific grant again, but I have to say that if the right hon. Gentleman looks at what we have done so far with supporting universal credit and the substantial increases in the living wage, we are doing our best to support families who are the neediest across the whole of the UK. As I say, one of the stunning and one of the most remarkable features of the package that we have given to support lives and livelihoods is that the benefits do fall disproportionately, and quite rightly, on the poorest and the neediest.” The main opposition questions over, Johnson was starting into the ‘Spin cycle!’

But then I was truly gobsmacked by Tory MP Dehenna Davison, who asked, “I am sure that, like me, the Prime Minister welcomes the incredibly valuable contribution of our essential workers in keeping our supplies actually moving, our economy turning and keeping us safe, but we know that many of our constituents are facing challenges through covid. So, on that note, does the Prime Minister agree with me and many colleagues that, as we are having intense discussions on how to balance the nation’s finances, now is not the time for an MPs’ pay rise?” The PM than actually agreed! “Yes, I do agree with that, and that is why we have frozen ministerial salaries this year, as indeed they have been frozen by successive Conservative Governments since 2010. I know that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority will have heard my hon. Friend and I would encourage it not to proceed.”

Labour MP Ellie Reeves made a pitch for the poor, “Food bank use in my constituency has been increasing steadily as working families, including public sector key workers, struggle to make ends meet. Can the Prime Minister therefore tell us whether he thinks the median pay of teaching assistants of just under £14,000, and of nursing auxiliaries of £18,000, is enough to live on? I will ask him again: instead of delivering a public sector pay freeze later today, will he give those key workers a well-deserved pay rise?”

The PM had to sell this resumption of austerity or the public might expect the wealthy elite to start paying down the debt! “The hon. Lady is right to value key workers and the amazing job that they do—particularly teachers and teaching assistants, who have done fantastic work in getting our kids back into school over the last few months and continue to do an amazing job. I am proud not just of the work we have done to increase public sector pay, with an inflation-busting package in July for the third year running, but of what we are doing to support the record increases in the living wage—delivered by a Conservative Government, invented by a Conservative Government. Conservative Governments can do these things because we understand how to run a strong economy.”

But the shocking Tory betrayal of the poorest was also well exposed by Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi, who said, “In the summer, we stood on our doorsteps and clapped for all our key workers; today, they will be hit once again with a real-terms cut to their wages by the Chancellor’s pay freeze. I really do wonder, does the Prime Minister actually realise that claps do not pay the bills?” Tories will target all workers… The PM replied, “The hon. Lady will recognise, at a time when the private sector, when the UK economy, has been so badly hit, and when private sector workers have seen falls in their income, that it is right that we should be responsible in our approach to public finances, and that is what we are going to be. She should be in no doubt that the commitments we have made have been outstanding so far: above-inflation increases for public sector workers just in July; a 12.6% increase for nurses over the past three years; the biggest ever increase in the living wage and more to come in just a minute if she will contain herself.”

The reality of what the Tories mean with their ‘levelling up’ lie is becoming clearer by the day, money moves up from the pockets of the working poor to the bulging trousers of the wealthy elite. Austerity mark 2.0 under a more deceptive, but palatable name. The new “levelling up fund” will be carefully allocated between Tory MP pork-barrel projects to benefit Tory corporate interests and grow the party slush fund. No one can convince me that huge swaths of former Labour supporters ‘lent’ their vote to these sadists in the full knowledge that they would be driven into destitution and their families will now starve. The Covert 2019 Rigged Election must be fully Investigated ASAP; it simply does not make any sense at all. The lockdown restrictions are being manipulated to cripple the north financially, while sparing London and pain; this is another tool of austerity. The working poor will be so desperate for jobs that they are rendered ripe for exploitation just as their EU protections are stripped away by crash-out Brexit. Get The Tories Out! DO NOT MOVE ON!