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The London Ecomomics Article entitled, “‘Levelling up’ agenda questioned after Tory MPs stay away from vote on workers’ rights and council tax hikes,” starts with that deliberately deceitful oxymoron that I consciously try not to ever repeat: I abbreviate it to ‘lev…up’ Lie or just ‘LUL’. Any repetition of this sickeningly manipulative con trick, even to swop ‘up’ for the realistic ‘down,’ simply gives the fake Tory agenda oxygen while facilitating their genuine policy criteria for ‘Decimating Down.’ In reality LUL is code for a new wave of Tory austerity that is already being eased into position with measures like the planned Public Sector Pay Freeze and the removal of the £20 uplift to Universal Credit that was desperately needed and already long overdue after the benefit freeze. A chill wind of increased deprivation is about to blast through the drafty, unheated homes of the working poor who have managed to keep a roof over their head. Brace for more pay and benefit freezes, but don’t expect groceries to defy Brexit generated inflation.
Author Jack Peat has yet to realize the urgent priority for changing this fake news wording as he reports that, “On Monday MPs across the House will have a chance to vote on the side of working people and protect our key workers. Zero Conservatives turned up,” but we should hardly be surprised at their disgraceful no-show as the entire Tory Party voting platform is dictated by Boris, ‘my way or the highway,’ Johnson: that’s how Dictatorships work. Peat remarks that, “The Conservative’s ‘levelling up’ agenda was called into question last night after MPs didn’t even turn up to opposition day motions on workers’ rights and council tax hikes.” “After promising to put income and wealth inequality at the heart of their administration in 2019 many people were left scratching their heads after the Tories refused to even participate in two parliamentary votes put forward in the Commons.” Who was gullible enough to believe that, after a decade of austerity, pathological liar Boris might end a cardinal Tory mindset of punishing the poor?
Peat says, “The Labour Party tabled a motion calling on the government to rule out changes to the 48-hour working week, rest breaks at work, or holiday pay entitlement. It also called on ministers to reverse plans to force local authorities to increase council tax by 5 per cent.” Peter Stefanovic Tweeted: “Last night Labour MPs voted to protect holiday pay, paid breaks, the 48 hour weekly working limit & bring in legislation to ban fire & re-hire. Conservative MPs, voted into office on a manifesto promise to “level up” didn’t even turn up, And last week this. And it’s only January.”
Peat reports, “Commenting on the motion and the challenges facing workers in the pandemic, Labour frontbencher Andy McDonald said: ‘In the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis, ministers are considering ripping up workers’ rights. This could see people across the country worse off, losing out on holiday pay and working longer hours. Scrapping the 48-hour working week cap could mean many key workers feel pressured to work excessive hours. “The government should be focused on securing our economy and rebuilding the country, not taking a wrecking ball to hard-won rights. The government’s true colours are on full display once again and it’s clear their priorities couldn’t be further from those of workers and their families.’ The Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights and Protections added: ‘On Monday MPs across the House will have a chance to vote on the side of working people and protect our key workers’.”
Peat attacks the Tory Government’s commitment saying, “In September of last year a new taskforce was set up by Conservative MPs in a bid to launch the party’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. It says those areas that have seen the lowest growth in earnings, should see earnings rise faster than they have in recent years; areas with the worst unemployment rate should converge with the national average; and areas with the lowest employment rate should also catch up with the national average.It also calls on the government to set out geographical analysis of how tax and spending changes impact different areas.”
In the Labour List Article entitled, “Labour urges reopening of schools first when Covid restrictions are eased,” Sienna Rodgers elaborates on their call for advance planning to make schools a safe environment minimizing the risk of Covid spread between pupils and teachers. Rodgers remarks that, “Boris Johnson has continued to use Theresa May’s old tactic of ignoring opposition day votes. The government adopted this approach last week for the free school meals and Universal Credit motions, arguing that Labour was trying to make people worry unnecessarily (while refusing to offer clarity on whether the UC uplift will be kept and briefing impractical alternative ideas). On Monday, they recycled many of the same lines, suggesting that Labour activists are meanies and the party is fabricating concerns (although Kwasi Kwarteng has confirmed that a post-Brexit review of employment rights is indeed taking place). The motions on council tax hikes and workers’ rights therefore both passed with no votes against.”
Rodgers claims that, “Schools are Labour’s primary focus today. Ahead of an urgent question from Kate Green, the party has urged the government to commit to reopening schools and colleges first when lockdown restrictions are eased. This sparked a range of initial reactions, from those concerned that Labour is in favour of reopening too quickly to those criticising Labour for stating the obvious and what is already government policy. To the former, it is worth noting that Wes Streeting is not asking for a reopening date but for a plan as the government could be “acting now to make schools as safe as possible as soon as possible”. To the latter charge, Labour would say its demand was a response to the confusion created by Johnson’s pool clip yesterday, and they are seeking clarity.” The PM doesn’t do ‘clarity,’ he only does PR spin, he will say whatever sounds good in front of the cameras, but make it vague and non-committal enough that he can ignore tedious issues like logical advanced planning.
Rodgers reports that, “Labour’s education team is not willing a speedy and unsafe full reopening right now, but instead criticising the lack of preparations. Will the key be testing, prioritising staff for the vaccine, or some other measure? Forward-thinking is clearly needed: there was none when the government ordered the return of schools after Christmas, then ordered their closure the very next day. But Labour may be considered more constructive in its criticisms if it emphasised its favoured solutions to allow ventilation, social distancing, small classes and bigger classrooms. While that requires a slightly more risk-taking approach from the opposition party, the rewards of stressing the more imaginative answers required to meet the challenges presented by the pandemic would be worth a little risk.” This is a welcome change from Captain of Capitulation Keir Starmer’s, zero opposition ‘no ifs or buts’ rant, firing his Shadow Education Secretary for demanding similar cautious preparatory measures at the end of summer!
In the Labour List Article entitled, “employment rights motion ignored by Tories and passed by MPs,” Sienna Rodgers echoes the sentiments expressed by Jack Peat in Left Foot Forward. She says that, “The House of Commons has approved, by 263 votes, Labour’s expression of support for protecting holiday pay entitlements and safe working limits after the government confirmed that it is reviewing workers’ rights. The main opposition party forced a vote in parliament today to draw attention to Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, confirming last week that the government is looking at UK employment law. The minister admitted wanting to look at the whole range of issues relating to our EU membership and examine what we wanted to keep’, but claimed the government is ‘committed’ to high standards for workers. Ed Miliband responded by saying Kwarteng had ‘let the cat out of the bag’, adding: ‘A government committed to maintaining existing protections would not be reviewing whether they should be unpicked’.”
Rodgers noted, “But the government tonight continued Boris Johnson’s new policy, adopted last week for the motions on free school meals and Universal Credit, of ignoring opposition day motions and telling Tory MPs to abstain. Conservatives argued against the motion in the chamber this evening, denying that the government would roll back workers’ rights, but ultimately none chose to express a view on the motion tonight. The motion said all existing employment rights, the 48-hour working week, rest breaks at work and including overtime pay when calculating holiday pay, ‘must be maintained’, and ‘fire and rehire’ tactics should be outlawed. Labour’s Andy McDonald told the Commons: ‘The government has drawn up plans to end the 48-hour working week, weaken rules around rest breaks and exclude overtime when calculating holiday pay entitlement’.”
Rodgers reports that, “The Shadow Employment Rights Secretary added: ‘If the government has its way, these changes would have a devastating impact on working people. Quite simply, it will mean longer hours, low wages and less safe work.’ Kwarteng replied: ‘We will not reduce workers’ rights. There is no government plan to reduce workers’ rights. As a new Secretary of State, I have been extremely clear that I do not want to diminish workers’ rights.’ He specifically told MPs that ‘we will not row back on the 48-hour weekly working limit’, ‘we will not reduce the UK annual leave entitlement” and “we will not row back on legal rights to breaks at work.’ The minister also told the Commons that he shares Labour concerns about reports of ‘fire and rehire’ tactics being used. He did not answer Andy McDonald’s question on whether the government would outlaw them.”
Rodgers points out that, “Addressing TUC Congress last year, Keir Starmer said: ‘Fire and re-hire’ tactics are wrong. They’re against British values. They should also be illegal. These tactics punish good employers, hit working people hard and harm our economy.’ The Labour leader added: ‘I’m calling on the government to act now. Introduce legislation to end fire and re-hire, and give working people the security they need. If you do that, you will have our full support.’ Unite’s Len McCluskey has demanded that the government conducts an equalities impact assessment of any roll-back of workers’ rights and discloses how it would affect women, vulnerable and minority workers. The TUC called on the government to “bring forward the long-awaited employment bill”, while GMB described the potential changes as ‘unforgivable’ and said ‘building back better’ must mean ‘levelling up on rights at work’. Sadly each time the LUL oxymoron is repeated it is reinforced as a true commitment in peoples minds: change the narrative!
Labour List has identified those who brought forward this motion and also printed the full text of the Labour motion: “Keir Starmer; Andy McDonald; Ed Miliband; Angela Rayner; Lucy Powell; Nicholas Brown.” It states, “That this House believes that all existing employment rights and protections must be maintained, including the 48-hour working week, rest breaks at work and inclusion of overtime pay when calculating some holiday pay entitlements, and calls upon the government to set out to parliament by the end of January 2021 a timetable to introduce legislation to end ‘fire and rehire’ tactics.”
In another of this trio of pieces Sienna Rodgers writes the Labour List Article entitled, “Labour motion against planned council tax hikes passes as Tories abstain.” She says, “Tory MPs abstained on a motion put forward by Labour today against government plans that the opposition party says would “force local councils to increase council tax in the middle of a pandemic’. The opposition day motion was approved in the House of Commons this evening as the government did not instruct its MPs to participate in the vote. It passed with 210 votes in favour and none against. Opposition day votes are non-binding on the government. Boris Johnson has begun ignoring the motions as Theresa May did as Prime Minister, though Johnson has a majority of 80 in the Commons.”
Rodgers reports that, “Labour used its latest motion to highlight the issue of council tax rises expected to take force in many places across the country from April, and to urge ministers to provide funding to local authorities instead. It was announced last year that English local authorities would be allowed to raise council tax by an extra 5%, including 3% for adult social care. Labour highlighted then that the hike was over twice the rate of inflation. Under the proposals in the comprehensive spending review, Labour says families in Band D will face an average rise of £93, and the rises will hit people hardest in the North West and North East of England. While local authorities are not directly obliged by central government to up council taxes, they are under significant pressure due to social care and have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.”
According to Rodgers, “The opposition has argued that council tax hikes this year will hit families at the worst time, as Britain experiences the worst recession of any major economy and the coronavirus furlough scheme is withdrawn. In the debate this afternoon, Labour’s Steve Reed said it was ‘economically literate to push up taxes while the economy is in crisis’ and ‘dishonest to trumpet the end of austerity’ as councils will be forced to cut services. The former Lambeth council leader and current Shadow Local Communities Secretary argued that the running costs of social care outstrip any increase in revenue and the Tories have ‘done nothing about that crisis’. Polling by Savanta ComRes revealed today that 48% of English adults oppose councils being able to up council tax by 5% in April, while just 25% support the move, 22% said ‘neither’ and 5% ‘don’t know’.”
Rodgers reports that, “Keir Starmer has described it as ‘absurd’ that local government in England will need to ‘hike up council tax’ when ‘millions are worried about the future of their jobs and how they will make ends meet’. The Labour leader urged the Prime Minister to ‘make good’ on his promise to support councils during the pandemic by helping local authorities and offering security to families ‘by dropping your tax increase’. Local Government Association Labour leader Nick Forbes wrote in a piece for LabourList that ‘ministers are now refusing to cover the full cost of fighting Covid’ despite promising to help them do ‘whatever it takes’ during the crisis. ‘That means most councils have no choice but to make cuts to services this year,’ Forbes said. The Labour Newcastle City Council leader added: ‘Pay more, get less. That is the Conservative plan for 2021’.”
Rodgers explains that, “There are 20 opposition days per parliamentary session, which allow opposition parties to set the agenda. Labour used opposition day debates last week to table motions on free school meals and Universal Credit.” Again Labour List has identified those who brought forward this motion and also printed the full text of the Labour motion regarding the “Government’s proposed increase in council tax: Keir Starmer; Steve Reed; Angela Rayner; Anneliese Dodds; Kate Hollern; Nicholas Brown.” It states: “That this House calls on the Prime Minister to drop the Government’s plans to force local councils to increase council tax in the middle of a pandemic by providing councils with funding to meet the Government’s promise to do whatever is necessary to support councils in the fight against covid-19.”
The Tory tactic is to avoid attendance, not engage in debate on any of these issues in the Chamber, abstain from voting and pretend the issue was never raised. Shamefully when these issues are covered on BBC Newsnight the presenter repeatedly, time after time, the response is that the Minister responsible simply ‘could not attend.’ As if accountability to the public who voted them into office is totally unnecessary. This is not acceptable; public scrutiny is a solemn duty of office and it should have started with probing interviews and debates before the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. Those who were foolish enough to believe a pathological liar like Boris Johnson when he made his meticulously controlled PR pitches, should not be too surprised when he reneged on his word. They say that “An Englishman’s word is his bond,” but Johnson is no honorable man of true and noble character, he is a deceitful trans-Atlantic mongrel with pretentious ‘old Etinian’ aristocratic affectations.
Despite an attempted far-right coup in the US, the Trump man-baby has been removed from office and impeached for a second time, setting a new record for disgrace; he may yet be permanently banned from holding future office. Meanwhile, Lekud Party leader Benjemin Netentahu faces serious corruption charges if he fails to get reelected in Israel after having to call new elections; can the Israelies oust another bigoted nationalist tyrant? Idera Modi is facing massive protests in India from the farming sector as he tries to rollover to privatization and Corporate interests. Now there are strong runours brewing of another meglomaniac who could face empeachment and removal from office in Brazil; Jiar Bolsinario is now tetering on the brink, due to his massive failure in dealing with the Covid Pandemic that borders on ‘Genocide.’ I can think of another global leader who could be similarly charged in the UK: Boris Johnson our thoroughly corrupt Prime Minister! Will the era of the bigoted man-babies come to an end?
We cannot allow complacency or a rigid adherence to a defunct gentleman’s agreement that elitist Tory rogues fail to honour. Our country is in severe crisis, with children suffering starvation while the Tory Government rants about their life chances if we do not force them back into schools however safe they may or may not be. If you failed to learn as a child, as I did due to dyslexia, you can still choose learning as an adult. If you suffer malnutrition as a child, it can very seriously inhibit your learning and your health throughout your life. I really hate football, but I am in total awe of Marcus Rashford and his simple straight-talk message to this dysfunctional Government; it should not take a football icon to tell it like it is to heartless Tory MPs. We the people need to call out the LUL and demand an equal society post Covid. If we fail to Challenge, Protest abd Investigate the grotesque corruption of this Tory Government the UK will be left with the last dangerous narcissist man-baby in charge of the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship. DO NOT MOVE ON!