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They say that “When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping;” well Boris Johnson really knows how to take that to extreme levels. Who can forget the scandal as a young football hero’s desperate pleas to rescue our poorest children from hunger during at-home learning; only for this Tory Government to enlist a profiteering private company to provide grossly inadequate ‘free school meal’ starvation ‘hampers’ for the most vulnerable kids in the UK. Then there was the ‘oh so unnecessary’ pay freeze for all public sector workers, aside from a select few categories within our NHS. Now there is a massive smack in the face for those ‘select few’ spared the wage reduction of a pay freeze; they will get just a paltry 1%, still a below projected inflation pay rise, after a decade of pay cuts! Give the Tories a round of applause for their audacity in daring to describe this exploitation as ‘levelling up!’ While the 99% are now Flat Broke the PM and his current floosie are ‘going for broke’ on a £100,000 refurb of their posh Downing Street pad.
In the BBC News Article entitled “Boris Johnson’s No 10 flat: Top level talks about cost of makeover,” the most glaringly obvious point is that, considering the extreme circumstances of a pandemic, if Jeremy Corbyn was PM, tarting up the flat would have been the very last thing on his mind. But, Boris is the ultimate ‘me-first guy.’ So “Top-level discussions have taken place within Downing Street about the cost of renovating Boris Johnson’s official flat, the BBC understands. Sources said setting up a charity to allow members of the public to donate towards the revamp has been considered to cover the cost.” Now that really is an extremely sick joke! Does the PM assume that in April, when benefits increase by 37p a week, those relying on foodbanks for their basic survival will have enough spare cash to splurge on donating to the worthy cause of redecorating the PM’s luxury, rent-free, accommodation in central London? What planet does this warped individual live on? This is a Marie Antoinette “Let them eat cake” moment!
According to the BBC “Work on the flat, where the PM lives with his fiancee Carrie Symonds, is understood to be largely complete. The PM’s spokesman declined to comment on press reports about the cost. When asked whether a charity had been set up, as first reported by the Daily Mail, he said they ‘wouldn’t comment on speculation’. A source has told the BBC the interior designer Lulu Lytle has been involved in the upgrade. Like several of his recent predecessors, Mr Johnson is living in the flat above No 11 Downing Street, the chancellor’s official residence. Mr Johnson and Ms Symonds moved into No 11 in July 2019. Their son Wilfred was born in April 2020. The four-bedroom flat, which is much larger than the one above No 10, was extensively refurbished by David and Samantha Cameron in 2011. The Camerons spent £30,000 on their revamp, the maximum annual public grant available to prime ministers for the upkeep of their accommodation.”
The BBC say that “According to the Daily Mail, Mr Johnson and his fiancee are considering options for how any expenditure over this annual limit could be covered. Sources have suggested the matter has been of some considerable concern in Downing Street, with high-level meetings taking place.” The BBC show “Designer Lulu Lytle (L), pictured here with Prince Charles on a visit to her firm’s workshop, is involved in the upgrade Interior designer Ms Lytle is a co-founder of Soane Britain, an upmarket London-based interior design firm which specialises in traditional craft methods. According to the company’s website, its furniture can be found in ‘fine hotels and restaurants,’ private members’ clubs, yachts and private houses. London’s Connaught and Claridges hotels, the Somerset Georgian manor Babington House and Shoreditch House private members’ club are listed as clients.”
Despite Boris Johnson’s millionaire status, there’s little doubt the PM will be seeking ways to offload the rest of the exorbitant cost of this refurb onto the taxpayer. Citing “Calls for transparency” the BBC say, Downing Street has said details of any work carried out on the Downing Street property would be published in the normal way later this year. On Friday, the PM’s spokesman said the Downing Street complex was a ‘working building’ where refurbishments were made periodically. Opposition parties have questioned the cost of the refurbishment, and whether conflicts of interest could arise if Conservative donors are approached to contribute. Labour MP Sarah Owen has written to the PM asking him for details of taxpayers’ contribution. She has said the British public ‘rightly expect probity, integrity and transparency when it comes to spending public money’. The SNP has said the move would be ‘grossly inappropriate’, suggesting the PM, who is paid £150,000 a year, should fund the works out of his own pocket.”
Sunak’s Budget does not include a bailout fund for those who, due to Covid, are now in rent arrears. With looming unemployment leaving many more that are now on furlough facing redundancy, spiralling debt and eviction the priority for the PM and his girlfriend is to get a designer makeover in the spacious property they live in at our expense! Well you really can’t expect the ruling elite to live in hovels like paupers; so spare no expense even in a time of crisis when money is so tight that feeding our poorest school children is unaffordable and a real term pay rise for Nurses, public sector employees and other key workers is out of the question! Where is your outrage? Why are the British people not tacking to the streets in massive protest demonstrations over such blatant corruption. Why is there so little scrutiny over the money squandered by the Tories on private contracts handed to their donors? Why did no one seriously challenge and demand a Robust Investigation into the unfathomable result or the Covert 2019 Rigged Election?
But the Tory money squandering doesn’t stop there, because this consummate narcissist PM, Boris Johnson, has hired a new Press Secretary to give regular PR spin Press Briefings from a specially revamped press briefing room at number 9 Downing Street for which the refurb will cost a truly staggering amount! According to another BBC News Article entitled, “Downing Street: Millions spent on new media briefing room,” they say “Downing Street has spent more than £2.6m on fitting out a new media briefing room, it has emerged. No 10 plans to start televised daily press conferences, like those held at the White House, to be fronted by spokeswoman Allegra Stratton.”
The BBC report that “The Cabinet Office said the spending ‘is in the public interest’ as it will increase public accountability and transparency.” Not from lying toad Boris or any the Tories! I must stress that making sure British kids survive their childhood and are not starved to death due to an ideologically driven, cruel and totally unnecessary form of rebranded Tory austerity is a far greater priority in the public interest’ of the 99%! The BBC report that “Labour said it reflected ‘Boris Johnson’s warped priorities. It comes as further details emerged about plans to renovate Mr Johnson’s Number 10 flat, including possibly asking the public to donate to it. The Cabinet Office issued a breakdown of spending on the briefing room, which totalled £2,607,767.67. The release was a response to a Freedom of Information request made by the Press Association news agency.” It took a FOI request because there was no way the Government would have let the public know about this obscene expenditure during a time of national crisis.
The BBC say that “The money had been spent to allow various news organisations to broadcast from No 9 Downing Street, the Cabinet Office said. ‘This will necessarily require one-off capital works, including audio-visual equipment, internet infrastructure, electrical works and lighting,’ a spokesperson said. They added that ‘spending on maintenance and technical facilities reflects that 9 Downing Street is a Grade I listed building.’ Labour’s Angela Rayner contrasted the spending to the government’s proposed 1% pay rise for NHS nurses. The party’s deputy leader said: ‘It would take around 100 years for a newly qualified nurse to get paid this kind of money. ‘It sums up Boris Johnson’s warped priorities that he can find millions for vanity projects, while picking the pockets of NHS workers. ‘Our NHS heroes deserve a fair pay rise after all they have done for us’.” Perhaps we should designate all of our NHS staff ‘Grade A Listed Treasures’ to protect them from being exploited and trashed by this Tory Government?
The BBC report that “The FOI release detailed spending of over £1.8m for the ‘main works’, nearly £200,000 for ‘long lead items’, and more than £33,000 for broadband equipment. The new briefings were expected to begin in the autumn, but have been delayed because of the pandemic. They will be held by the prime minister’s press secretary, Allegra Stratton. An advert for her taxpayer-funded role said the salary would be based on experience, but reports suggested pay would be around £100,000 a year. At the moment, political reporters based in Parliament, known as lobby correspondents, have daily briefings with the prime minister’s official spokesperson, but they are not televised.” This is the latest abuse of Party Political broadcasting to buff the profile of our hapless PM, with a Press Secretary to distance Johnson from any embarrassing questions during tightly controlled press scrutiny.
But wait there’s more Tory money squandering in the continued pandering to Boris Johnson’s fragile ego. In the June 2020 the Guardian Article entitled, “Paint job on Boris Johnson’s plane will cost taxpayer £900,000,” they detailed the “Cost of union jack makeover” which was touted as representing value for money according to the PM’s spokesman. They say “Boris Johnson’s red, white and blue paint job on the prime ministerial plane is costing the UK taxpayer £900,000, his official spokesman has said. The spokesman confirmed that the RAF Voyager, previously coloured grey, is in Cambridgeshire for a makeover. ‘The RAF Voyager used by the royal family and the PM is currently in Cambridgeshire for pre-planned repainting. This will mean that the plane can better represent the UK around the world with national branding, which will be in line with many other leaders’ planes,’ he said. He added that it would continue to perform its other job, refuelling military jets.”
Another shock expenditure headline that hit the news during the dark days of 2020 was detailed in the Independent Article entitled, “Queen to receive government ‘bailout’ to top up income after Crown Estate hit by economic slump.” The warned that “This royal bailout will be tough to stomach for people who love the Queen but have lost their jobs,’ says Tax Justice UK. Boris Johnson’s government has confirmed it will top up the Queen’s income following a significant slump in the Crown Estate’s revenue during the coronavirus crisis. The royal family takes in rental receipts from shops in London’s Regent Street, alongside malls and retail parks around the country, but the value of its portfolio has fallen by more than £500m since the pandemic hit.”
According to the Independent “The Treasury said it would provide the estate with extra money to meet any shortfall in profits and make sure the Queen’s sovereign grant remains at its current level. ‘In the event of a reduction in the Crown Estate’s profits, the sovereign grant is set at the same level as the previous year,’ a spokesperson said told The Independent. ‘The revenue from the Crown Estate helps pay for our vital public services, over the last 10 years it has returned a total of £2.8bn to the Exchequer. The sovereign grant funds the official business of the monarchy, and does not provide a private income to any member of the royal family.’ More details on the next sovereign grant are expected to be set out on Friday, but legislation governing the formula prevents the overall amount given to the Queen from ever being allowed to fall.” So austerity doesn’t touch the Monarchy!
The Independent report that “Graham Smith, of the anti-monarchy campaign group Republic, described it as a “golden ratchet”, adding: “Once the grant goes up it can never come down, and the taxpayer loses out.” Nurses, other hardworking public servants and our key workers just get plain ‘rat shit!’ It would be greatly appreciated in this time of crisis, if the royal ‘we’ could manage to get by on a little less profit so that the NHS staff, on whom we all rely, could earn the decent pay rise they deserve and funding free school meals for poor hungry children didn’t take the herculean intervention of a football player now a national hero. The televised speeches to boost morale are as much an empty gesture as the ‘Clap for Careers’ when the elite 1% cannot make any sacrifice at all. While I hope that Prince Philip makes a speedy recovery from his heart surgery, the Queen should remember who cared for him in Hospital and perhaps also spare a thought for the homeless whose life expectancy is less than half that of her husband!
But perhaps the most galling obscenity in Tory money squandering was detailed in the December BBC News Article entitled “Dominic Cummings: PM’s former aide got £45,000 pay rise.” They noted that “Boris Johnson’s former chief aide Dominic Cummings, who left No 10 last month after an internal power struggle, enjoyed a bumper pay rise earlier this year, new figures have revealed. His basic salary rose by about £45,000 to between £140,000 and £144,999. The PM stood by Mr Cummings this summer when he was embroiled in controversy over a trip to Durham during lockdown. Labour said the rise was an ‘insult’ to millions of workers whose pay is being frozen due to the Covid crisis.” The BBC reported that “Keir Starmer says Dominic Cummings lockdown breach journey was the ‘tipping point’ for a loss of trust over Covid.” Cumming should never have been in post after refusing to appear and give testimony before a Parliamentary Committee; just part of the Tories zero accountability culture.
The BBC claim “Separately, it has emerged that Boris Johnson ignored the advice of the chief of the civil service in relation to a legal case brought by a special adviser sacked by Mr Cummings. Sir John Manzoni urged the PM to reach a negotiated settlement with Sonia Khan, who was led out of No 10 by police in August 2019 following a reported row with Mr Cummings. No reason was given for her sacking as an adviser to Chancellor Sajid Javid and before that Philip Hammond. In a letter to the PM in March 2020, Sir John raised concerns about the cost to the taxpayer of fighting the case. He sought a written instruction known as a ‘ministerial direction,’ a specific order sought by civil servants in instances where they have reservations over a particular course of action.” It is interesting to note that a massive overspend of public money on an unwinnable case just landed the SNP in hot water in Scotland. Sadly, Governments have a bottomless pit of public cash to throw at legal defence, but victims must crowdfund to seek justice!
The BBC say “In response, the PM said he fully understood concerns over the use of public money but he believed ‘wider considerations’ took precedence in the case.’ He said he wanted to ‘test in litigation’ his belief that individuals should not receive more compensation than they are entitled to under their contract. ‘The legal position is clear that the prime minister can withdraw consent for the appointment of any special adviser,’ he wrote. ‘That is the reason for the termination of employment.’ Ms Khan settled her case last month, shortly before it was due to go before an employment tribunal.” Sajid Javid was not even consulted before Khan was fired without cause, but she was also publically humiliated with what I call ‘the walk of shame’ She was marched out by armed police officers, an extreme scare tactic common in the US where it is used to ostracize an employee so that former colleagues treat them like a criminal. I experienced the ‘walk of shame’ as a Whistleblower; it is a deeply traumatizing event.
I am convinced that the ‘Herd Nerd’ is still pulling Johnson’s strings; the BBC report that “Mr Cummings is still on the government payroll but is working his notice at home, having left Downing Street in November following a bitter row over the running of Mr Johnson’s office. Figures released by the Cabinet Office show his salary rose during 2020 from between £95,000-£99,999 to £140,000-£144,999, making him among the highest-earning special advisers in government. It is not clear when the increase, revealed in an annual report on the pay of special advisers, came into effect. While Mr Cummings was in the highest salary band when he was first taken on by Boris Johnson in July 2019, his pay was considerably lower at the time than other senior political advisers in Downing Street. The pay rise brought Mr Cummings, whose Brexit strategy was credited with helping Mr Johnson win a thumping victory in the 2019 election, into line with other key figures such as Sir Eddie Lister, Lee Cain and Munira Mirza.”
Although his menacing presence is no longer disrupting Number 10 I’m convinced that the ‘Herd Nerd’ still maintains a powerful hold over Boris Johnson as his ‘weapons-grade PsyOps’ warper minds in favour of Brexit plus I think he masterminded the fraud needed to take the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. The BBC note that “Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said the pay increase was a slap in the face to the public. ‘Dominic Cummings’ bumper bonus is an insult to key workers denied the pay rise they deserve,’ she said. ‘It’s another example of how under this government it is one rule for the Tory Party and their friends and another for the rest of us.’ The figures show that while the overall pay bill for special advisers remained the same at £9.6m, having risen sharply the year before, the number of advisers earning more than £100,000 doubled on the year before. Those earning six-figure salaries included Allegra Stratton, the PM’s new press secretary and Dan Rosenfield, the newly appointed No 10 chief of staff.”
In the August 2020 London Economic Article entitled “MPs get 8 pay rises in 10 years while nurses salaries are slashed,” Henry Goodwin points out that the “Average pay for all nurses, regardless of which salary category they fall into, has fallen by 7.4 per cent since 2010. Members of Parliament have been handed eight pay rises in the last ten years, while nurses have seen their average salary slashed by more than 7 per cent across the decade. Since the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) took control of MPs’ pay in 2010, salaries have been linked to average changes in public sector pay. In 2010, an MP’s annual salary was £65,738. It stayed at the same level until 2013, when it rose to £66,396.”
Goodwin says that “It has climbed steadily since then and, in April this year, was hiked by an inflation-busting 3.1 per cent, meaning MPs now earn £81,932 per year.” Take a look at this MP Pay Chart that was included in this article to see the increases. He says that “The likes of Yvette Cooper or Jeremy Hunt, who chair select committees, earn an additional £16,422 each year on top of their standard salary. Announcing the changes earlier this year, Richard Lloyd, the interim chair of IPSA said that the salary spike would pay for; staff training and welfare, security and changes to the salary bands and job descriptions for MPs’ staff to bring them into line with the jobs they actually do’.”
Goodwin claims that “Nurses and teachers suffer” saying “While there have been real-terms increases in nurses’ pay in recent years but, according to fact-checking charity FullFact, they haven’t balanced out the real-terms decreases that took place in the early and mid-2010s. Average pay for all nurses, regardless of which salary category they fall into, has fallen by 7.4 per cent since the year ending August 2010, when the NHS started publishing such statistics. All newly-qualified nurses start at Band 5, which pays £24,907 per year. The Band 5 starting salary has increased by 6.7 per cent since 2017/18 but, since 2010/11, has fallen by a total of 3.2 per cent, FullFact said.”
Goodwin reports on the fate of Teachers salaries too noting that “A survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2017 found that teachers’ salaries in England had plummeted by more than a tenth in the last decades, despite earnings rising in comparable countries. Last month the Department for Education announced that salaries for new teachers are set to rise to £26,000 this autumn, as the government tries to stem the tide leaving the profession. It has pledged to raise teaching starting salaries to £30,000 by 2022-23. The latest report by the OECD found that statutory salaries for teachers in England and Scotland are yet to recover to ‘pre-Great Recession highs’. Salaries in England in 2018 were 10 per cent lower than in 2005, and 3 per cent lower in Scotland, despite the UK being one of the few countries seeing class sizes rise at the same time.”
When the Bank of England decides to essentially print more money for Quantitative Easing (QE) to infuse into circulation in order to stimulate growth, the strategy will fail if funds are squandered on overpriced vanity projects that do not provide worthwhile long-term investment, training or properly paid jobs. Money syphoned off by the wealthy elite to be hoarded in offshore Tax Havens will deliberately sabotage QE; these are the unscrupulous low wage paying, exploitive zero-hours contract employers, the slum lords who charge exorbitant rent for run-down flats, and other greedy, opportunistic scroungers who rake in huge profits and bonuses, but manage to pay less tax than the staff who clean their fancy office! Funding of both paid work and even benefits, from Furlough to Universal Credit to Pensions, unilaterally expands the virtuous circulation created by QE for ongoing spending that will stimulate growth and eventually return to the treasury in taxes. This circulation of funds is vital to our economic recovery and trust the Canary and Richard Murphy, there’s no £300Bn debt to pay! DO NOT MOVE ON!