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

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  • #62736 Reply

    Yes, we’re beginning to see that the EHRC is not to be trusted.

    ‘Carrie Gracie attacks BBC pay discrimination inquiry ‘whitewash’

    Former China editor says she is baffled by EHRC clearing corporation of wrongdoing

    The BBC Women group said it was disappointed with the limited nature of the investigation: “Out of over 1,000 complaints, the EHRC looked in depth at only 10 cases and accepted the BBC’s excuses for why these were not ‘likely’ to be equal pay cases … New cases are coming forward and women are still heading to court. We fight on.”’


    #62770 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    SA – cimarrón – Thanks for the heads up and enlightening articles on EHRC. The International Day of Solidarity with Palistinians came and went, as we all still hope for peace we must fight the Zionist disinformation. In the Canary Article entitled, “How to fight the witch hunt, and win,” Kerr-Anne Mendoza asserts that, “Anyone still arguing the antisemitism smear campaign is anything but a witch hunt is a liar, an idiot, or both. It is a cynical attempt to shutdown the anti-apartheid struggle of the Palestinian people and their allies. It is a horrific abuse of Jewish trauma and identity.” She ponts out that, “for a campaign claiming to act on behalf of Jewish people everywhere, it saves some of its cruellest abuse for anti-zionist and/or left wing Jews,” saying that, “Every capitulation emboldens them;” she makes a heartfelt plea, “that’s why it has to stop.” From DoubleDownNews the complaint comes that, “We are being no platformed, we are being cancelled, we are being denied the freedom to express legitimate points of view. All those people who claim to care about civil liberties & freedom of speech should be up in arms about what’s happening, so far they’re silent.”

    Mendoza examines what she refers to as, “The Corbyn Issue,” saying that, “The rise of Corbyn threatened overlapping interest groups. Zionists of all stripes; conservatives; middle class liberals who prefer working class voices on mute; all recoiled in horror at the mass movement of working class, internationalist, anti-racist socialists. What to do? First Corbyn was laughed off as a ‘Magic Grandpa’. When that didn’t work, he was made out to be a ‘terrorist sympathiser’. At one point they even alleged he was a Czech spy. It was smear after baseless smear, and none of it stuck.” She notes that, “so began a near half-decade campaign to pretend he was an ‘existential threat’ to British Jews. Anyone reviewing Corbyn’s decades-long career in parliament, and his actions outside of it, knows this is nonsense. Most of the people promoting it feverishly know it’s nonsense. But instead of confronting that directly, a policy of appeasement has put Labour back in the hands of these gaslighting smear merchants.”

    Mendoza explains how, “We can forgive anyone who was put on the back foot by this on day one. As anti-racists, our very first response is – and should be – to treat accusations of racism in good faith. But when it becomes abundantly clear that people are using the issue to wage a factional political battle, indulging it is a catastrophic mistake. It’s a failure of solidarity and strategy to reward your enemies and punish your allies.” She rightly warns us that, “anyone advising Corbyn to capitulate any further to this campaign is jeopardising the Left and the Palestinian struggle.” She highlights, “Why it matters,” by saying that, “Above all, this is a disinformation campaign. It seeks to make the simple complex. The fact that Israel is an apartheid state, illegally occupying Palestine, is simple. The role of hasbara (Israeli disinformation) is to fudge the issue.” What should also seriously concern us all is that a foreign power has discovered a very effective way to compel our Government and our loyal opposition to bend to their will.

    Mendoza points out that, “As Tanzil Chowdhury wrote for openDemocracy during apartheid Israel’s Summer 2014 assault on the Gaza Strip: The hasbara machine is most dynamic in the crescendos of the illegal occupation and blockade such as we have seen unravelling before us over the last month. But it moves beyond mere silencing tactics, equating criticism of its government with anti-Semitism or exceptionalising suffering.” Mendoza says “The witch hunt argues people oppose Israel, not because of apartheid, but because of their hatred of Jews. No evidence is required to substantiate the claim. If offered, it mostly amounts to the last five times the witch hunt smeared someone. This self-referential disinformation network picks a target, drops its payload, and hopes the pressure generated will force a reaction.” The Tory leaning BBC and our right-wing Media are more than happy to oblige this foreign power at the very same time as they keep ranting on about the threat of political interference posed by Russia, go figure?

    According to Mendoza, “An apology, a cancellation, a suspension, a hostile environment,” she warns, “every time anyone gives them that, they enable and embolden the witch hunt. Each bogus apology empowers those false narratives, giving them a weight and a credence they don’t deserve. Ultimately, it makes it more likely that they will continue to escalate their attacks,” which of course they continue to do, despite having already achieved their greatest objective, neutralizing Corbyn. Mendoza says, “This is why Corbyn is now unable to sit in parliament as a Labour MP.” However, the pressure being brought to bear on Starmer to return the whip to Corbyn goes way beyond Jeremy’s popularity as an honest, outspoken anti-racist MP, it is the final straw in a disgusting battle to villify and discredit the former Labour Party Leader and everything he stood for. To many of us it was a huge relief when Corbyn made that statement that has proved so controversial’ he cannot be forced to retract a statement of truth.

    But Mendoza then described how the censorship just got personal saying, “The witch hunt continues to attempt to shut down its critics with bogus accusations of antisemitism. On Sunday 29 November, they attempted to claim I was suspended from Twitter for antisemitism. In fact, my two suspensions were for criticism of the far-right. In one case, a literal Nazi. I shared the image of a story circulating since 2016, of a man wearing a swastika neck tattoo and a poppy at a Remembrance Service.” Mendoza had Tweeted: “The hypocrisy of the far right summed up in one image’.” Mendoza explained how, “They reported that tweet en masse, triggering an automatic suspension. It didn’t matter to them that I was explicitly condemning Nazism in the tweet, they reported it as hate speech. They risked making Nazis a protected category in order to pretend I am an antisemite. Let that sink in.”

    Mendoza reports suffering another vexatious attack, saying, “Then on Sunday, another suspension. This time, the witch hunt took full credit online, with a number of figures claiming to have reported a tweet of mine as antisemitic. What was the tweet? ‘Imagine if during a day of international solidarity with the oppressed of Apartheid South Africa, the Labour leadership opted instead to spend the day with white supremacists. That’s what Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner are doing today. #FreePalestine #PalestineDay’ What inspired her tweet? “Starmer, Rayner to mark International Day of Solidarity with Palistinians by attending Labour Friends of Israel bash.” It was a fair criticism; what were they thinking? You can bet the Zionist Lobby selected that particular day specifically to test the resolve of their Labour schill by forcing him to choose between appeasing them or respecting the will of the Labour Party majority.

    Mendoza reported, “There was a sincere attempt to claim this fair, obvious and widely-shared comparison was actually antisemitic. As Jewish former South African ANC MP Andrew Feinstein points out, this is nonsense. Thanks to an amazing response from new left media and socialist Twitter, the social media company restored my account, claiming the suspension was a ‘mistake’. It was about a tweet comparing Apartheid Israel with Apartheid SA. That is not antisemitic. In fact, Jimmy Carter wrote a book about it. It is a comparison made by, amongst many others, Mandela, Tutu, Noam Chomsky, Denis Goldberg & me. I’ve experienced both 1st hand” Tim Curtis Tweeted that he had identified one of the offending complainants as Gary Spalding who had Tweeted, “Pleased to see that Twitter took swift action against Kerry-Anne Mensoza after a number of concerned people, including myself, reported her tweets for antisemitism to the platform. This is what we need to see more of from twitter!” I think not!

    Mendoza justifiably claims that, “You cannot appease emotional terrorists. The only appropriate response to a mendacious smear campaign like this is solidarity and truth. The only way forward is to reject the false reality promoted by the witch hunt. It is not antisemitic to oppose apartheid.” She says “It is not antisemitic to compare apartheid and occupation undertaken by Israel with that undertaken by any other ethno-nationalist regime. These things are not antisemitic unless you equate global Jewry with the State of Israel, which (ironically) actually would be antisemitic. We need to do this with our chins up and our chests out. Enough of being cowed and apologetic for our very existence. Enough with the godawful attempts at optics-friendly triangulation.” She begs us, for goodness’ sakes enough with shunning new left media while embracing a toxic establishment media. These people are lying, and it’s time to say that out loud. Because, in the words of Russian revolutionary Victor Serge: ‘… after all, there is such a thing as truth’.”

    In the Skwawkbox Article entitled, “The house of the people: the change we need will only come when we have authentic working-class voices in Parliament,” guest author and working-class activist Andy Searson spells out what is so necessary to drive political change. He claims, “The systemic change we need will only come when we have authentic working class voices in Parliament. The future lies within our communities! The neoliberals within the Labour Party have declared war on their own membership and on those who identify as socialists within Parliament – an unnecessary, monumental act of self harm. Hundreds of thousands of activists drawn to the party by the authenticity and hopefulness surrounding the Corbyn leadership have been given a two fingered salute.”

    Searson shares the alarming news that, “Deputy leader Angela Rayner has now stated she will expel ‘thousands and thousands’ of members. There was not a hint of realisation that she doesn’t even have the power to do so! This is the rhetoric members and activists are faced with in the party. The feeling amongst dedicated, grassroots activists is that Starmer’s party is walking away from them. Particularly the hundreds of thousands who flocked to the party under Corbyn. They feel that they are not wanted. They’re to be replaced with millionaire donors. Sadly, the interests of millionaire donors reflect their own interests, namely the millionaire class. The interests of everyday members reflect the interests of the millions of everyday citizens whose votes Labour needs in order to govern.” In a telling map Searson shows, “Areas in purple show constituencies in which there were more non-voters than the majority of the winning candidate.” This indicates that the voters are still awaiting representation.

    Searson warns that, “It’s clear which direction that Starmer’s Labour are heading in: right back to business as usual. Yes to austerity, no to trade unions, backing the status quo and to hell with the millions who have already had to carry the burden of ten years of Tory misrule. It’s a struggle for an economy that works for the tens of millions of citizens and not just for the millionaires! It’s a struggle for social justice, morally right choices and fairness. It’s a struggle for humane values of decency, equality and egalitarianism. It’s ‘socialism or barbarism’. This is a moment of crisis and, I feel, a moment of existentialism for the Labour Party. Are Starmer’s Labour the representatives of the many or the few? I’ll admit, I didn’t vote for Starmer as I looked closely at his recent history and actions as Director of Public Prosecutions and at those who are close to him. As my mother would say, judge a man by the company he keeps. You only have to look at his campaign team, financial backers and his shadow cabinet to see what he’s about.”

    Searson states that, “Although I view the recent Starmer-made crisis as the possible end for Labour, I don’t share the pessimism of many Labour activists. I see this not as the end of the Corbyn project, but the next step in reinvigorating the movement that gave birth to the Labour Party in the first place. Reigniting its beliefs, values and its moral crusade for social justice and egalitarianism. We have thousands upon thousands of dedicated, trained activists, millions of trade union members and people who are yearning for change. We have witnessed a huge surge in people willing to help their neighbours, within communities and beyond.” Searson points out that, “Throughout this pandemic ordinary people have done extraordinary things in extraordinary circumstances; people who are concerned with the common good and willing to be active in pursuit of it.” This is obviously what gives Searson hope.

    Searson says, “Let me be clear here, I am not endorsing shifting government responsibility for our citizens’ welfare or replacing the welfare system as the coalition and subsequent Tory governments have. I am firmly of the belief that food-banks are a sign of the failures of government. As Mhairi Black put it so eloquently on the proliferation of food banks in her constituency: ‘Food banks are not part of the welfare state, they are a symbol that the welfare state is failing.’ So what is to be done? Those trade unions affiliated to the Labour Party should redirect funds from Starmer’s Labour and invest in community organising. Why fund a leadership and his political machine that is willing to work against the interests of millions of workers and everyday folk? If you doubt this just check out the voting record of those who make up Starmer’s shadow cabinet and close team. We need the focus of the Trade Unions to be on representing workers, our class, our communities and our people.”

    Searson describes a Spanish phenomenon, “The House of the People,” saying that, “In Spain you find centres in every village and town called “L Casa del Pueblo’ – The People’s or Village House. In Spain my village equates to my people. They are centres of culture, heritage, political education and support for local people eg citizens advice – advocacy and legal help. They can be found at the heart of a community – a central point of focus to gather and formulate actions of mutual support. If we developed this idea in Britain we could forge a new relationship with the people within our communities. Use this to grow Cooperatives and mutual societies to serve our own community needs. These ‘People’s Houses’ could become the social hubs that replace the diminishing welfare clubs, institutions and associations that grew from organised labour in the communal work places. We could grow micro Co-Operative shops and cafes to re-energise high streets in villages and outlying towns.”

    Searson continues elaborating on his progressive vision for the future, saying, “We could use trade union legal teams to help create local building societies and credit unions. The Trade Unions could become a platform for regeneration and engagement at local grassroots level. True Parliamentary representation for the working class will never happen via this party leadership and the shadow cabinet. The history of working class organising in our communities all over Britain can be reinvented for a modern age. A Coalition of the willing, acting collectively in their community on mutual local interests. A type of municipal socialism working towards the common good. It would mirror the emancipatory ideals of those pioneering early trade unionists and develop a ‘can do it for ourselves’ mindset.”

    Searson explains, “That’s how our great grandparents built our towns and villages from mere shanty towns built around mines, steelworks and factories to what we see today. They created communities wherein people felt they were active stakeholders. This brought empowerment and promoted self agency which was built via the ideals of self help and collective endeavour. Not small ‘c conservatism’ but everyday socialism rooted in finding solutions to people’s everyday challenges. In Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire the local activists and membership have developed a similar model. It’s a place where people can access food, support and advice. It’s socialism in action.”

    Searson appeals to, “those doubters who think these ideals are mere pie in the sky. Look no further than Spain’s Mondragon Corporation. It is a prime example of self help. It’s aims were and still are about workers and community. Their aims are stated clearly; ‘We are a dedicated group of people with a cooperative identity forming a business group that is profitable, competitive and enterprising, capable of successfully operating in global markets. Our organisation uses democratic methods in its corporate organisation, and its aims are employment, the personal and professional advancement of its workers, and the development of its community.’ It goes on; ‘Furthermore, based on the Cooperative Principles and its own experience, MONDRAGON nurtures the values of self-motivation and shared responsibility, intercooperation, social transformation.’ You can read more About Mondragon.

    Searson cites, “Workers Cooperatives are already on the politician’s radar. They realise communities all over Britain are at breaking point. It wasn’t only on the Labour Party’s agenda at the last general election. Even the Tories back worker led Cooperatives now. The Labour Party notes the value of building societies and the strength and diversity that a healthy mutual sector brings to financial services. The Liberal Democrats assert ‘mutuals, co-operatives and social enterprises have an important role to play in the creation of a more balanced and mixed economy. Mutuals give people a proper stake in the places they work, spreading wealth through society, and bringing innovative and imaginative business ideas to bear on meeting local needs.’ ‘The Conservative Party sees mutuality as the way forward within public services and pledge to support co-operatives and mutualisation as a way of transferring public assets and revenue streams to public sector workers; essentially employee-led co-operatives. Find out more here.”

    Searson says to just, “Imagine the transformative impact of Trade union funded ‘People’s Houses’ in each town or large village all over Britain. Organising local people for the common good. Helping establish self help, CoOperatives, mutuals and credit unions. This is how our movement grew via self empowerment and collectivism. We can rebuild again from community grassroots up. We must begin a program of emancipatory activism and work alongside our people in working class communities. Then maybe, if we cannot reclaim our Labour Party, we need a new party of the people.” He talks of, “A party representative of our communities, with representatives drawn from those communities. We can build a representative party as our ancestors did. Utilise those extraordinary people, the real life super heroes of community activism who are driven not by self profiteering or careers, but driven by authentic altruism. These are the people who would and will produce the real social and systemic change our people require and demand.”

    According to Searson, “We can no longer put our faith in those who cosy up to the establishment few at the expense of the many. We need our own representatives chosen from our own people, who will act in the interests of our communities and people! We stand on the shoulders of giants who showed the way. The systemic change required to radically redress the years of decline in living standards of the working class will only come about by a democratic revolution built from within our communities and from the ground up!” It is great to read a rousing campaign of come-back defiance coming from the Socialist camp. It has been a truly pathetic year of copious groveling apologies over fantisemitism that must end now. Labour needs to ditch Captain of Capitulation Starmer, build a new Socialist Party or join the Greens. Wemust challenge Starmer, challenge fantisemitism smears and challenge the Covert 2019 Rigged Election by demanding a full Investigation of the vote; it is time to expose the corruption: Get The Tories Out. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #62807 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    A quarter pound of tuppenny rice, a quarter pound of treacle, that’s the way the money goes, pop goes the weasel. The ultimate sacrifice, ‘the weasel’ was slang for an old fashioned flat iron. We should oust an evil Tory weasel! In the https://leftfootforward.org/2020/11/sunaks-pay-cut-will-speed-up-civil-servant-brain-drain/ entitled, “Sunak’s pay cut will speed up civil servant brain drain,” Mike Clancy claims, “It’s hard to run a government if your best people keep leaving because they’re underpaid.” He admits, “Delivering a spending review in the midst of a pandemic, and on the brink of Brexit, is no easy task. The immediate future is uncertain, and that makes planning a challenge. But that uncertainty puts an extra onus on government to provide a level of stability than can form the bedrock of an economic recovery.” Crucially Clancy points out why another Tory Government got it dead wrong yet again, saying, “Key to that is maintaining demand in the economy, especially as the recovery of key sectors such as hospitality, the arts, and tourism will be driven by consumer spending in 2021.”

    Clancy explains, “That is why, even setting aside other considerations, the decision to freeze (or pause, in Treasury doublespeak) public sector pay outside the NHS is just a disastrous decision for our economy.” He justifiably maintains that, “We need these workers to be spending in the economy in 2021 and 2022, and they simply won’t if they are worrying about their income falling behind inflation. It is an economically illiterate step that will harm the private sector as well as the public sector.” But he warns, “there is another dimension to this argument, which is to look at it through the prism of fairness. The Chancellor attempted to frame this freeze by comparing public and private sector pay. He said that recent rises in public sector pay had not been matched by private sector wage growth. This is an incredibly disingenuous argument. For a start, public sector wages should be set on the basis of assessments of need, reward for work, and addressing challenges such as recruitment and retention of skilled staff.”

    The big mistake Clancy claims is that, “They should not be set because of crude comparisons with averages in the private sector over a limited period of time. If the Chancellor had looked a little further back, he would see that the public sector has just emerged from an unprecedented eight years of pay restraint, including real terms pay cuts that mean the median civil service salary has lost around £6,000 against RPI inflation since 2010. If he had looked beyond the headline figures he would have seen that civil servants in particular have had nothing like the 4% pay rise he claimed this year, with most awards around 2.5%. And if he had read reports from select committees, the National Audit Office, or his own government departments, he would have seen that lack of pay progression is causing a drain of skills to the private sector that is holding back the civil service from achieving their goals in areas as diverse as defence procurement and environmental regulation.” Clearly this was not a smart move.

    We should be a lot more vocal in sharing the outrage, but the UK public are easily duped by that classic Government tactic of divide and rule, that pits one group of workers against another while both are treated unfairly. Clancy rants that, “If the Chancellor wants to talk about fairness, he should explain what he means to the thousands of frontline workers who have been going above and beyond the call of duty to help the country through the twin challenges of the pandemic and Brexit, and who will get scant thanks from the government. Like the health and safety inspector who told me: ‘Staff at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have been asked to do more this year than ever before, making sure workplaces are Covid secure and workers are kept safe, all of this after staff numbers that have been slashed in recent years. Our reward from the government is a pay cut- I may as well just leave to the private sector now’.” We must direct out utter disgust towards this Government for targeting deserving workers again.

    According to Clancy, “It’s not just about fairness either, it is also about resilience in the public sector. If this crisis has taught us anything it is that operating public services with zero slack built in makes it incredibly difficult to cope when things go wrong. Indeed, even without the pandemic resilience in areas such as HSE, Public Health England, the Environment Agency, Natural England and many more is non-existent. They are operating at staffing levels below which they cannot effectively fulfil their functions. This will only get worse in light of the Chancellor’s announcements today.” Sunak has given the first strong indication that this Tory Government has absolutely no intention of ‘levelling up’ as promised in their campaign pitch to the British electorate less than a year ago. Despite still peddling this meaningless sound bite they are getting set to revert to standard Tory tactics of forcing the working poor to suffer the greatest burden caused by their mistakes; the ‘new normal’ will not ditch austerity.

    Clancy highlighted what was missing in Chancellor Sunak’s strategy, “This should have been the spending review that funded our recovery from this pandemic rather than building in equality of misery. There should have been support for the millions of self-employed and freelance workers who have been excluded from government income support, and who won’t be able to power the recovery if they are left destitute because of arbitrary exclusions. There should have been new funding for agencies like the HSE who are vital to our ability to reopen businesses, and bespoke support for sectors such as aviation, the creative industries, and heritage that will need extra help to recover. And there should have been real action to match the government’s rhetoric on a green industrial revolution, with a green light for new nuclear projects and investment in environmental jobs in the public and private sectors. Instead we have been left with a review where major decisions have been ducked, delayed, or got disastrously wrong.”

    Mike Clancy, who is the General Secretary of the Prospect trade union, reminds us that , “The Chancellor will have a chance to put this right in his Budget in the Spring, we must all hope it is a chance he takes.” It is really important for ordinary working people, Trade Unions, Organizations and Charities up and down the country to vent their outrage right now. We simply cannot afford to be distracted by the minutiae of lockdown restrictions in our area or the gracious privileges of being allowed to relax our guard over a few days at Christmas. These issues will stuff the news media with what I call ‘handyfloss’ so that there is no bandwidth to focus on the perfectly preventable impending self-harm of crash-out Brexit or who will be expected to suffer the consequences of the growing number of catastrophic Tory errors. The 99% are being set up to collectively share the costly financial impact of Tory greed and obsession with maintaining power and wealth in the hands of the privileged one percent. There is another way…

    In the Left Foot Forward Article entitled, “How to fill the government’s financial black hole without hitting ordinary people,” Joe Lo asserts that, “You don’t have to cut teachers’ pay or help for the world’s poorest.” Lo says that, “Due to the government’s shambolic handling of coronavirus, the UK has one of the highest death rates in the world and is one of the countries whose economy has struggled the most. As a result, tax income is down, spending is up and we’re spending more than we’re taking in. That’s known as a deficit and we’re borrowing to fill the gap. By 2025, that gap will be between £21 billion and £46 billion. Now, having a deficit isn’t the end of the world. It’s pretty normal. Since 1980, there’s only been five years without a deficit, twice under Thatcher and three times with Blair.”

    Lo reminds us that, “having a deficit now isn’t as expensive as normal as borrowing is very cheap at the moment. Nevertheless, Rishi Sunak has said he wants to ‘balance the books’ and Conservative ideology holds that tax rises or spending cuts are the only way to do that. At yesterday’s spending review, he held off on a lot of unpopular decisions he’s likely to make in the next few years. But he did do enough to show whose shoulders the books will be balanced on. Most public sector workers were hit with a pay cut and aid for the world’s poorest was slashed. So here’s a few helpful suggestions of how those who pay for the crisis’s economic impact are those who can most afford it. These measures could bring in around £41.5 billion, enough to comfortably wipe out that deficit.”

    Lo lists a few suggestions an topping that list is, “Clamp down on tax avoidance” to potentially raise: “£15bn. According to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, £31bn of tax goes unpaid every year while other models put the figure far higher. This is because of legal tax avoidance and illegal tax evasion as well as honest mistakes from people failing to work out what they owe. There’s always going to be some tax which goes uncollected but if HMRC was better funded, it could claw more of this back. If it could cut the tax gap in half, that would rake in around £15bn a year. That’s enough to pay for Johnson’s ‘green industrial revolution’ with a few billion left to spare.”

    Next on Lo’s list is another crowd pleaser, “Tax the top 2% of earners” raising another, “£5.4 billion.” Lo says, “Currently, the 2% of the population earning over £80,000 pay just 40% on that income up to £150,000. And the less than 1% of the population who earn more than £150,000 pay just 45%. By increasing these figures to 45% and 50% respectively, the last Labour manifesto estimated you could raise £5.4 billion.” Lo suggested levying, “VAT on private school fees” to rake in a cool, “£1.5 billion.” Lo points out that, “The 7% of parents who send their kids to private school currently don’t pay any VAT on those fees. Changing this could raise £1.5 billion, according to analysis from the last Labour manifesto.” Some on the Socialist left believe that private education should be eliminated altogether, but I do not agree. This is the destination for thousands of children who are sent from abroad to be educated in the UK, not just the children of our overseas diplomats, but foreign children too, but either way they are not short of cash and they don’t deserve a special tax break.

    Lo believes we should, “Reform Capital Gains Tax” because this could rake in a whopping, “£14 billion.” Explaining the Tax Lo says that, “Capital Gains Tax is a tax on the profit made when an asset you own increases in value. It does not include your main home but does include any other properties you own. Only around 250,000 people in the UK pay it. According to the Office for Tax Simplification, if Capital Gains Tax rates were aligned with income tax rates, the government could make £14 billion a year more. However, they do warn this figure could be reduced by taxpayers finding ways round the rules.” Well we all know that the ultra wealthy will always manage to find loopholes in the system to avoid paying their share of the tax burden; that shouldn’t prevent our Government trying to rejig taxation rules to stop them. When so many families in the UK are either homeless or spending years in cramped temporary accommodation it is obscene that the elite aren’t even paying tax on the luxury of owning additional properties.

    Lo suggests another tax increase that would only burden those with the most money to spend, putting “More VAT on luxury goods,” to raise another: “£1.6 billion.” Lo points out that, “The VAT on luxury goods is currently the same as on standard goods – 20%. Increasing this to 30% could bring in £1.6bn a year. Of course, there would be debate and lobbying on what a ‘luxury good’ is but the line would have to be drawn somewhere.” Remember the horrendous battle it took to eliminate the scourge of a 20% tax on Tampons? I used to deliver sailing yachts on long passages to far flung destinations, but the owners of those vessels were not strapped for cash, despite haggling over the cost of paying crew to transport their boat. I am surprised that the estimated tax take is so modest considering the high cost of luxury yachts and private jets, not to mention precious ‘bling’ and unethical fur coats. Why were such luxury goods taxed on the exact same rate as everyday basics while the Tories resist paying tor free school meals?

    Last on the list is a bit more complicated, but trust Lo on this one, “Scrap entrepreneurs tax relief” to raise, “£4 billion.” Lo explains, “Entrepreneurs Relief was introduced by Gordon Brown and expanded by George Osborne. It means that people selling their stake in a business often pay less Capital Gains Tax than they would otherwise. The government claims this incentivises people to start businesses but, according to the Association of Accounting Technicians, most business-owners haven’t heard of the scheme until they’ve already decided to sell their stake. The Resolution Foundation has called it the ‘worst tax break’ as they say it helps just a few wealthy individuals. It costs around £4bn a year.” Although it might sound counterintuitive to stop a tax break designed to incentivise enterprise, the experts who fully understand these quirks in our taxation system have given it the thumbs down and we should respect their input: it is refreshing to read an alternative set of viable measures from Joe Lo, co-editor of Left Foot Forward.

    Despite rising unemployment with millions sinking into poverty, relying on savings or growing their credit card debt as they subsist on a fraction of their wages on furlough the public are being encouraged to spend like there is no tomorrow. The Canary Article entitled, “Black Friday saw flash sales in fashion, beauty, technology, and beyond, in which corporations encouraged consumers to buy products at heavily reduced prices,” encapsulates our distracted priorities and rampant inequality. They report that, “While many took part in the nationwide spending spree, others highlighted the social and environmental costs of the mass consumption these dramatic sales encouraged. Some took to social media to share their concerns; the GMB Union staged a protest outside Amazon’s London HQ highlighting ‘dehumanising’ working conditions at the company’s warehouses. This year’s Black Friday highlighted the extent of exploitative corporate behaviour.”

    We are clearly being conditioned to disregard those who are paying the price in workforce exploitation. Reporting on ‘Black Friday’ sales the Canary say that, “‘Fast fashion’ giant PrettyLittleThing attracted a great deal of attention for promoting discounts of up to 99% off thousands of items. The most shocking reductions included a 5p dress and a 25p pair of heels, as advertised on their website on Black Friday. Boohoo Group PLC owns PrettyLittleThing and other fast fashion brands such as Boohoo, Nasty Gal and Karen Millen. On 27 November, Boohoo boasted ‘up to 90% off absolutely everything’, selling dresses for as little as £1.50 and shoes for £3. One Twitter user celebrated their purchase of 56 garments from PrettyLittleThing for £28, calling it ‘the best deal ever’. Others bemoaned missing out on sales Disturbed by the brand’s sale of clothes at extremely cheap prices, other users took to Twitter to highlight the ethical costs of overproduction and fast fashion.”

    The Canary report that, “On its website, Boohoo Group PLC states: We want to operate a business that is fair to all and kind to the environment and we are working hard to live up to these big ambitions. We know that there is a lot to fix in the fashion industry and we are keen, willing and actively taking part in finding and implementing solutions.” However, the Canary say that, “it is difficult to fathom how the company, which generates in excess of £1bn, can make a profit or pursue these ambitions while selling clothes at such low price points. While Boohoo co-founder Mahmud Kamani enjoys a net worth of over $1bn, several Boohoo factories failed to prove minimum wage pay, with reports of wages as low as £3.50 per hour in August.” Thankfully, this abuse was exposed in a rare attack on Corporate responsibility; sadly, too many shady operators get away with exactly the same exploitation without being caught out. All it takes is basic logic to realize that you cannot make millions on such sales without workers having to suffer.

    The Canary report that, “An overwhelming number of large corporations encouraged the annual spending frenzy, including ASOS which advertised up to 70% off everything on 27 November, and tech giants promising huge savings. The deals are set to continue, and in some cases accelerate, over the weekend through to ‘Cyber Monday’.” The Canary advocate, “Taking the giants to task.” They say, “On Black Friday, while Amazon customers enjoyed mammoth reductions sitewide, GMB Union projected a banner reading ‘Make Amazon Pay’ outside the company’s London HQ. GMB is part of a global coalition aiming to curb Amazon’s ‘monstrous power’. Coalition members include Amnesty International and Oxfam. This follows a GMB investigation revealing that ambulances were called to Amazon warehouses 600 times in three years, and reports of ‘602 serious injuries and near misses’.” The scary thing is that these abuses are occurring despite strong EU protections for workers rights that will soon be stripped away.

    The Canary report that, “Amazon factory workers shared experiences of ‘working in constant agony, not having time to go to the toilet and a heavily pregnant woman being forced to work standing’. One GMB member said: I told them I could not walk so many miles and I could not pick from low locations. I had a meeting with a safety manager and was also told: ‘It’s not what you want, it is what we decide’. My manager told me that most women are working on picking until their maternity leave. I know this is true because I saw ladies with huge bumps picking. Another reported: It is an awful place to work, can’t breath [sic] or voice an opinion, feel like a trapped animal with lack of support and respect. Mick Rix, GMB National Officer, said: Amazon is well known for unsafe, dehumanising work practices which see our members break bones, fall unconscious and have to be taken away in ambulances.”

    The Canary report that Rix, “added: Now, during a pandemic which has made the world’s richest man even more money, they’ve been packing workers into warehouses like sardines in a tin. Enough is enough. It’s time to curb the power of this monstrous company. It is high time this Government heeded the growing chorus and held a parliamentary enquiry into Amazon’s activities. A spokesperson for Amazon told The Canary: This is a series of misleading assertions by misinformed or self-interested groups who are using Amazon’s profile to further their individual causes. Amazon has a strong track record of supporting our employees, our customers, and our communities, including providing safe working conditions, competitive wages and great benefits, leading on climate change with the Climate Pledge commitment to be net zero carbon by 2040, and paying billions of pounds in taxes globally. The Canary approached Boohoo Group PLC for comment but it didn’t respond by the time of publication.”

    The Canary warns that there is, “A long way to go” saying that, “While there is a growing appetite for sustainable fashion and alternatives to corporate giants such as Amazon, this year’s Black Friday sales demonstrate how much more needs to change before big companies are held to account for profiting from the exploitation of people and the planet.” Sadly, due to the logistical practicalities imposed by the Pandemic many people who might otherwise willingly join a boycott, feel trapped by their own vulnerability into ordering online. We rely on our Government to set appropriate rules and regulations for working environments in the UK, but under the Tories the evisceration of so called ‘red tape’ and the massive depletion in the number of inspectors in all sectors has given powerful Corporations a free ride. Things will get an awful lot worse after crash-out Brexit with the main sticking point in negotiations focused on maintaining the ‘level playing field;’ the primary Tory goal is to strip away all workers rights!

    We are perilously close to seeing this corrupt Tory Government achieve their ultimate goal: using crash-out Brexit to break the vital power of Unions by eliminating the few remaining rights of the workers poor in the UK as we lose the protections of the EU. It is impossible that so many former Labour voters did not see this coming and voted for a serial liar to take charge of negotiations that are doomed to failure by Tory design. We have precious little time to derail the Tory Dictatorship juggernaut, but we must take aggressive action immediately. We must challenge the obvious return of austerity signalled by the pay freeze, we must demand fair taxation of those best placed to pay for the obscene Tory squandering of public funds and challenge the result of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election and demand a full Investigation to expose the truth and remove this rabid Tory Government from power.DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #62838 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    In the Canary Cartoon entitled, “Vaccine 90% effective at pushing Tory coronyism from the headlines,” it epitomizes all of the core reasons for rampant vaccine hype over the last two days just used as ‘handyfloss’ to cram the airwaves with positive Tory PR spin. Certainly I was anticipating a ‘dead cat’ to detract from crash-out Brexit, but this may be only one of several grotesquely overblown news pieces we can expect in the coming week. The Canary provide an explanatory, “Image description; A scientist in a lab coat and holding a clipboard is illustrated next to a poster featuring the words ‘Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine’ and the image of a syringe with two vaccine vials. The scientist is saying ‘The vaccine has been proven to be 90% effective at pushing Tory cronyism and incompetence out of the headlines! It will also be vital in fighting the virus.” In reality it’s doing so much more in providing vital cover for ‘Empera with no clothes’ Johnson as he stumbles forward towards his absolute power finish line extricated from EU protection.

    I generally try to cover the main opposition Party pitches at Wednesdays Prime Minister’s Questions, albeit a day or so after the fact, but this week it ventured well beyond the bounds of a totally worthless exchange to the point where it was so vomit worthy it required a health warning! Instead of posing one of the serious questions that desperately requires answers, Keir Starmer sought redundant clarification on aspects of the Tier system that are laid out clearly in print; far from sounding ‘forensic’ it looked as if Sir Keir, just like the PM, couldn’t be bothered to read his brief. Johnson looked bemused and relieved as he read out the instructions verbatim across the dispatch box while Starmer looked on sheepishly like the class dullard unable to read simple text. Not content with this public humiliation Starmer squandered another question by asking for a second redundant clarification which drew an equally derisive response from the PM. We really should be relieved Johnson failed to tease Starmer over his lack of reading skills.

    A futile game of ping pong ensued, with the PM turning each and every question into an opportunity to embellish upon the vaccine news as if the technology itself was his own personal triumph of enginuity rather than a German/US collaboration to create a vaccine that is being manufactured in Belgium! It was truly astounding the amount of mileage Johnson managed to leverage out of the fact that this chaotic Tory Government was prepared to throw caution to the wind just to score a few cheap PR headlines as the handyfloss conveniently obscures all of the widespread Tory corruption and catastrophic serial failures of this Government from the second he stole office. It’s never too late to hold a Government to account or fully Investigate the result of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election; we do not yet know how urgent this will become as the Tory Dictatorship tightens its grip on absolute power after the New Year. Dictatorships endure for decades; we will need to call on former EU allies to exert pressure to help rid the UK of this scourge!

    I have come to realize that there is good reason to limit Party Political Broadcasts to just a few short minutes of true torment; any longer presentation from certain parties bears a strong risk of inducing uncontrolled vomiting! There is no doubt that the excessive cognitive dissidence produced by such high levels of fake news, empty promises and electoral lies is extremely distressing to those experiencing the reality of persecution and exploitation under Tory rule. Hearing the exact same snake oil salesmen tout the same miraculous solutions under a new brand name does not convince the public that there has genuinely been a shift of focus. A total obsession with greed and power is in their DNA and a total disregard for the working poor, vulnerable and underprivileged is an inevitable consequence; Tories never change! Can we please remove the word ‘levelling’ from the political language, as it implies an equality that Tories will never tolerate while in power; they are not ‘levelling down’ tell it like it is, they are ‘Decimating Down!’

    In one defensive parry in response to the PM’s criticism over abstensions Starmer replied, “When I abstain, I come to the House and explain. When the Prime Minister abstains, he runs away to Afghanistan and gives the taxpayer a £20,000 bill.” It was a great stunt to hide Starmer’s repeated ambivalence. In his only real question regarding jobs in the wake of yet another high street crash, Starmer urged the PM, “not deflect. As well as providing emergency support, will he work with us, the trade unions and the sector to finally bring forward a comprehensive plan to save retail jobs and to provide the sector with the much greater support it needs through this crisis? These are real people, Prime Minister, with real jobs and families, who are facing the sack…” The PM replied with the standard ‘let them eat cake’ response as he launched into an expansive nauseating PR spin on Universal Credit and more.

    The SNP leader Ian Blackford hit a real nerve when he said, “There are millions who still have not had a single penny of support from this UK Government. As others rightly received help, they received none. Prime Minister, yesterday I met ExcludedUK, which represents many of those 3 million citizens. For the past nine months, the excluded have been living without any help and without any hope. It is now, tragically, costing lives. Prime Minister, they told me something genuinely shocking. They are aware of eight people who have taken their lives in the past 10 days—eight people in 10 days. Prime Minister, we are now a little over three weeks from Christmas. These people need help. Will the Prime Minister commit to looking again at the support package for the excluded, to ensure that no one, but no one, is left behind?” The PM might as well have said we will send a truck to pick up the bodies as he waffled, “I obviously sympathise very much with those who have taken their lives and their families.”

    Blackford was not impressed, countering, “…This has been an abject failure by this UK Government, and the Prime Minister has been missing in action. The Government has U-turned on almost everything else, so why cannot the Prime Minister and the Chancellor change their minds on their support for these 3 million people? These are people working in construction, creative industries, events, education, hospitality, retail and healthcare. They have not just been left behind; they have been ignored for nine months. The Chancellor has repeatedly dodged this issue. ExcludedUK has not been offered one formal meeting with a Government Minister.” But far from agreeing to meet the campaign group the PM indignantly claimed, “We have abandoned nobody and we are continuing to support people…” Johnson then launched into another lengthy PR pitch about non-existent Tory financial support that left those watching rapidly scrambling for the puke bucket! Most of the session was not worthy of reporting.

    This hastily approved vaccine is distracting us. The MSN Article entitled, “Jacob Rees Mogg accused of spreading ‘fake news’ over claim vaccine approval was down to Brexit,” shows the depths of desperation this Tory Government will grovel to in order to deceive the public over the impending crash-out Brexit disaster. You can watch him being challenged in the Commons over his tweet in a brief video clip included in the article. They say that, “Jacob Rees-Mogg has been accused of spreading ‘fake news’ after he claimed the COVID vaccine was approved quickly in the UK because of Brexit. On Wednesday, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the jab developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, while the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has yet to do so for the EU. Rees-Mogg jumped on the news, tweeting: ‘We could only approve this vaccine so quickly because we have left the EU. Last month we changed the regulations so a vaccine did not need EU approval which is slower’.”

    However, MSN report that, “MHRA chief June Raine said the approval was made using provisions under European law, which still binds the UK until the end of the year. Speaking in the Commons this morning, deputy leader of the House, Valerie Vaz, urged Rees-Mogg to ‘take back his tweet’ in light of Raine’s comments.” The deliberately misleading Tweet stated, “We could only approve this vaccine so quickly because we have left the EU. Last month we changed the regulations so a vaccine did not need EU approval which is slower — Jacob Rees-Mogg (@Jacob_Rees_Mogg) December 2, 2020” Vas responded by saying: “We’ve had fake news. The approval of the vaccine has nothing to do with Brexit.” MSN say that, “Rees-Mogg called the approval of the vaccine a ‘British success’ and accused the European regulator of being ‘a bit sniffy about it’.”

    MSN report that, “He told MPs: ‘The UK should be really proud that our regulator got in first and we notice that the European regulator is a bit sniffy about it, wishes we hadn’t done it, and that Germany and France and other European countries haven’t managed to do the same thing. ‘We have, we’re leading, draw your own conclusions, as I’m sure the British public will.” He railed, “We are now free of the dead hand of the European Union and will be even more free from that on 1 January.” He added: “It is a huge British success of which we should be proud and pleased.” But it was all hands to the pumps to bail out the disastrous sinking Brexit ship as it slamms into the Titanic crash-out iceberg, so other Tory Brexiteers puffed up their chests to chime in with this corny unwarranted boost to British exceptionalism.

    MSN also reported that, “Brexit was also credited as the reason for the speedy approval of the vaccine by health secretary Matt Hancock, who said the Europeans are ‘moving a little bit more slowly’. Hancock told Times Radio: ‘The reason we’ve been able to move this fast, and the UK is the first country in the world to have a clinically authorised vaccine, the reason is twofold. ‘Firstly, because the MRHA has done a great job of working with the company to look at that data as it’s come through and do things in parallel, rather than one after the other as they normally would, that’s the first reason. ‘The second reason is because, whilst until earlier this year we were in the European Medicines Agency (EMA), because of Brexit we’ve been able to make a decision to do this based on the UK regulator, a world-class regulator, and not go at the pace of the Europeans, who are moving a little bit more slowly. ‘We do all the same safety checks and the same processes, but we have been able to speed up how they’re done because of Brexit’.”

    At a time when we are conducting really delicate last ditch negotiations with the EU Tory Ministers lack the basic diplomacy to refrain from urinating on respected EU partners who they are demanding must treat the UK with the utmost respect and deference. However, such derogatory language clearly demonstrates the intention of the UK to walk away from negotiations and blame the EU for the ensuing disaster that will deliver a crippling blow to the UK economy and a serious shock to our disillusioned citizens. MSN report that, “Hitting back at Hancock’s claims, German MEP Pieter Liese, a member of the European Parliament’s public health committee, said individual EU member states could have authorised the vaccine but had chosen to wait for the EMA to examine more information rather than follow the ‘hasty’ UK example. The EMA suggested that it was imposing more stringent checks than the emergency process used by the MHRA.” The real reason for the haste was to distract and bury Tory mistakes: a ‘Dead Cat!

    MSN show a picture of, “A refrigerated truck drives out of the Pfizer Manufacturing plant in Puurs, Belgium, on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British officials on Wednesday authorized a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, greenlighting the world’s first shot against the virus that’s backed by rigorous science and taking a major step toward eventually ending the pandemic.” This is meant to bring hope following the shambolic Tory mishandling of the Pandemic so far. A spokeswoman said: “The temporary authorisation of the vaccine by the MHRA is not a marketing authorisation. It differs from marketing authorisations in the level of evidence submitted and checks required.” This announcement was rushed to produce more ‘handyfloss’ than substantive logistics: this is not good. MSN say, “Downing Street did not back Hancock’s claim about Brexit. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘It is clear that we are the first country in the world to approve this vaccine and it is incredibly positive news that we will be able to start to distribute it’.”

    The Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Treating held-back communities in northern England as 2nd-class citizens” – new report accuses Tories of bias in putting London in Tier 2, saying of the PM, “Not only did he fail, but he repeated that discrimination.” They reveal, “A hard-hitting report by the No Holding Back group of northern working-class figures accused Boris Johnson’s government of repeated contempt for struggling northern communities. The report, released this morning, begins: Boris Johnson has treated held back communities in northern England as second-class citizens. His decision to keep tough restrictions for the north for longer while neglecting to place London in tier three shows that he has no regard for the difficulties faced by our constituents. Placing London in tier two will ultimately cost unnecessary lives and prolong this second wave.”

    According to a Skwawkbox analysis of the report, “With tier restrictions commencing on 3rd December, Boris Johnson had a chance to show he had learned from his blatant discrimination in trying to foist 67% furlough on Northern England while pivoting to 80% furlough when the lockdown was extended to the South of England. Not only did he fail, but he repeated that discrimination, again leaving us in no doubt of his disregard for held back communities. Like ours. The report, published by MPs Ian Lavery and Jon Trickett and former MP Laura Smith, analyses the government’s methodology for deciding tiers – and the government’s decision to ignore high and rising infection rates in the south and falling infection rates in the north to impose higher tiers in hard-hit working-class communities.”

    Skwawkbox highlight the fact that the report, “also exposes the Tories’ decision to provide inadequate testing in London to hide the high levels of infection: This decision, after the 2nd of December, to place London in tier two, whilst placing areas like Manchester, Yorkshire and Humber, and the North East of England in tier three is flawed. Infections in London are on the rise, especially among those aged sixty and over, the infection positivity rate is rising, as is the level of CV19 hospitalisations. Coronavirus is growing in London, and despite the much lower levels of testing in the capital city, it is recording 16,000 infections a week.” This begs the question, what is motivating the skewed thinking driving Tory policy on putting this tier system in place and who will be impacted? Frontline workers will carry on as instructed in the Capitol, for the vast majority of the working poor working from home is not an option. Schools continue to drive a spike in cases with children acting as vectors to infect those in multigenerational households.

    The Skwawkbox list the pertinent information relied on in this report:
    • “London’s infection rate is rising.
    • Much of northern England’s infection rate is falling.
    • The spike of London’s hospitalisations shows no evidence it is crushing the curve, in fact all evidence is that it continues to grow.
    • That infection levels in southern England more generally are on the rise, especially the South East of England whose authorities now occupy many of the top forty most infected places.
    • That London has the lowest testing level of any region in England and if its testing levels matched Yorkshire or the North East that it would show London as having the greatest number of infections of any region over the last week
    • Areas in London such as Havering & Redbridge have higher infection levels than Wakefield which is in tier three
    • Areas in London such as Bexley, Dagenham, Hackney, Havering & Redbridge have infection levels higher than Northumberland which has been placed in tier three
    • ONS show CV19 mortality impacts poor communities & Black and Asian communities worse. Thus, the decision to keep London out of tier three will cause many unnecessary deaths in London.
    • Lives of poorer communities in London and ethnic minorities are being placed second in consideration to the financial capital, The City of London.”

    The Skwawkbox continue their damning analysis saying, “The report goes on to highlight the obvious bias in the Tories’ decision-making and the racism and class bias inherent in its choices – and calls for the government to protect the health and wealth of the nation: London’s infection levels are climbing, especially among its over 60s. It’s hospital levels from CV19 patients is also on the rise. Despite low testing, its week on week levels show a marked increase in infection levels. We have shown that parts of London have worse infection levels than some held back communities who have been placed in a higher tier level. Given the worse health outcomes for more deprived communities, especially ethnic minorities, it is clear the government is putting the perceived wealth of the nation against the health of its citizens. This is a false choice. Health is wealth. The best thing the government can do for the economy is have blanket tier four restrictions for the entire country until the curve has been crushed.”

    The Skwawkbox also criticize, “The manner in which the government implemented its furlough system also provided a clue into its disregard for the North of England. 67% furlough for northerners, jumping to 80% when Londoners were included was blatant discrimination for all to see. We think that same bias is influencing the decision to keep London on lower restriction levels. This is a decision that will cost lives, especially those in London already suffering from structural racism and poverty.” This is coming from a PM still making nauseating empty boasts about ‘levelling up.’ Skwawkbox say that, “Held back communities will have watched the government’s decision making. They will have seen the double standards in the implementation of restrictions and it the awarding of furlough payments. The promises to level up the north were quickly set to the side when the first hurdles arose. This government has shown it cannot be trusted to act in the interests of the northern working class communities.” The article includes a pdf Link to the Report.

    During PMQs Johnson admitted that, “This has been a very tough time for the country,” but he has demonstrated that his rabid Tory Government will shamelessly take advantage of the Covid 19 Pandemic to destroy the economic viability of the north of England while sacrificing the health and safety of the working poor in London. The Tories have conducted a ruthless ‘Slaughter of the Sheeple’ while relentlessly plundering the public purse to divert funds to be squandered by their wealthy Tory donors. Their behavior cannot be tamed or modified to limit the ongoing damage and the worst is yet to come as they forcibly crash the UK out of the EU without a deal exactly as planned. At PMQs the PM boasted, “We are investing massively in mental health support across the country…” In truth Johnson is in a unique position to transform mental health for the better in the UK just by making one single merciful, humanitarian decision for the good of the country: immediate removal of the Tory Party from office! Get The Tories Out! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #62873 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Josiah Mortimer’s Left Foot Forward Article, “In the frame: The left is learning how to shift the political narrative,” explores how our wording can sabotage or supercharge our message. As I myself have adopted the title ‘progressive Left’ and ‘progressive Socialist policies,’ I was pleased to read of his endorsement for the term ‘progressive’ as a consciously positive description of the Socialist Left. In his piece he describes, “How progressives are wising up to the power of ‘framing’.” My chief beef right now is with the word ‘levelling;’ it is almost as damaging to claim that this Tory Government is ‘leveling down’ as it is to but into their snake oil about ‘levelling up. Why? Because the word ‘levelling,’ in and of itself, automatically implies equality so the direction of travel is entirely immaterial and redundant to the argument. I prefer to describe the perpetration of this Tory con job by exposing the Government’s real objective of ‘Decimating Down’ to destroy progressive Socialist principles and target the poor in deprived areas.

    Mortimer observed that, “When the BBC’s top political reporter suggested the UK had ‘maxed out its credit card’ last week, the broadcaster was reinforcing a dominant narrative, or ‘frame’: that the UK economy was just like a household – and is equally at risk of going under. It was nonsense of course. The UK economy is not like you and me. I cannot print money when I need it. The Bank of England, however, can. Nor is the UK is at risk of a debt crisis or going under. Borrowing costs have actually fallen for the UK while debt has risen – because the UK has huge amounts of headroom for investment. There was immediate pushback against the BBC narrative – in part because the left is increasingly aware of how the language the media chooses to ‘tell a story’ can have major impacts on public opinion. Treating the UK economy as a household reinforces austerity economics: governments must slash borrowing to avoid going under. The solution is almost always gutting public services.”

    This pervasive concept is hard to tackle because sadly the progressive Socialist Left only really started to unpick this myth when Jeremy Corbyn became Leader with John McDonnel backing him up as Shadow Chancellor. The time honored business adage, “You have got to spend money to make money” is just as relevant with regard to Government financing of everything from the new Green Deal to infrastructure projects and the building of affordable council housing. Mortimer is less clear in his explanation of why “Borrowing costs have actually fallen for the UK while debt has risen.” This should have included the dramatic fall in interest rates that make it a lot more affordable for the Government to borrow money right now. This ready access to ultra cheap lending should have prompted the supposedly business friendly Tories to borrow to invest in order to reap the rewards of increased tax returns as the economy rebounded from the shock of the banking crisis, but they didn’t, the economy and wages stagnated.

    However, I believe that it was that wage stagnation that drove the Tory strategy as much as their desire to needlessly slash the welfare budget and drive people into destitution. Their personal investments were far more wisely placed to guarantee increased personal wealth among the ruling elite. Stage two of this destructive slam dunk comes with crash-out Brexit when all of the hard earned rights of workers can be eviscerated after we lose the protection of the EU. While ordinary people speculate and try to guess what kind of a deal will finally emerge from the Brexit negotiations, the Tories already know their desired outcome and have their money invested in hedge funds to make a killing in the New Year. With the help of the compliant BBC and rightwing Media they are keeping the public distracted with the minutia of complicated lockdown restrictions and hype over the vaccine that will save us all… to wallow in poverty, enduring decades of exploitation under the unasailable Tory Dictatorship! We must act now!

    Mortimer is right to point out the crucial role of how we must cautiously choose our words in the coming fight-back. Think of the huge increase in defence spending as an example: the reality is the polar opposite with a Tory Government commitment to beefing up the military industrial complex for potential aggressive foreign interventions. Just as warheads were renamed ‘Peacekepers’ the new spending is not defending us from a viable enemy, but our arms industry, already a major export, will see greater investment and AI will invade our lives. The big arms manufacturers might well try to fill the employment void when the car manufacturers move to the continent; a workforce decimated by massive unemployment will be ripe for exploitation on minimum wage zero hours contract jobs. The enslavement of the poor was always one of the prime objectives of the Tory Government in their pursuit of Brexit, but the Covid 19 Pandemic has given their authoritarian, corrupt kleptocratic agenda an early additional boost.

    Mortimer reveals that, “The concept of ‘framing’ – the values and ideas we activate when we talk about politics – has risen in prominence in recent years, popularised by US linguist George Lakoff’s 2004 best-seller ‘Don’t Think of an Elephant’. While some of the neuroscience behind it is disputed, there’s some fairly universal communications principles at its core. One is understanding the importance of emotion and pathos in politics. It has often seemed that the right understands it more than the left. While Remainers were throwing statistics about GDP around during the EU referendum, Leave campaigners were appealing to the heart: values about independence, power and control. ‘The left have clung to the idea that facts and figures change minds,’ Dora Meade from the New Economy Organisers Network noted in this week’s episode of the Reasons to Be Cheerful podcast. ‘Humans are powered by stories and shortcuts,’ Nicky Hawkins from the Frameworks Institute added.”

    Mortimer claims that, “For the left to succeed, we don’t just have to understand your own arguments – we have to think about how it is being heard by our audience. That means flinging facts at people is unlikely to have effects we intend. ‘Myth-busting’ too is a dangerous game and one still popular on the left. The right don’t tend to bother with it: knowing it generally results in repeating and reinforcing your opponents’ messages. I was struck by a graphic being shared earlier this year about the government’s Immigration Bill. The myth-buster listed all the arguments against migration in large font…before ‘debunking’ them with far less visible text. The effect was simply to prominently re-share Tory refugee-bashing lines.” While this is true there was a huge unmet necessity to try to counter the fantisemitism myth; we need to take onboard the crippling damage that has occurred from letting this run rampant and further reinforcing the fake news with constant unwarranted apologies. This too skewed the framing of a very minor issue.

    Mortimer warns that, “Thinking about the economy, one of the most harmful frames is to divide societies into ‘contributors’ or ‘drainers’: or in the last coalition government’s spiel: ‘strivers’ versus ‘skivers’. Often the left can reinforce this by talking about ‘hard-working people’ needing support, and thereby implying that there are lazy people who are less deserving of a helping hand. We have to tell a different story. Marcus Rashford did this powerfully recently in his campaign against child hunger. Rather than basing it on an issue of deservedness, it was couched in terms of shared values: supporting each other in hard times. The policy – free meal vouchers in the school holidays, followed on from this, not the other way round. Progressives cannot go in guns blazing with the policies, without first telling the story behind them.”

    Mortimer explains that, “A corollary of this is that the left loves to self-describe it’s ideas as ‘radical’ – in turn doing our opponents’ dirty work for ourselves. Instead, it’s those who want to deregulate, to slash, burn and hack back our safety net who are the dangerous ‘radicals’. The task then, whether it’s on the economy, social policy, or migration, is to position left-wing solutions as common-sense proposals that stem from positive values. In the past few weeks I’ve been seen several progressive ‘framing’ workshops (as well as podcasts) that hope to take these lessons on board. Slowly but surely, radical progressive activists may be wising up on how to step up our communications.” The Tories have a way of using words to twist the truth and promote their toxic policies. They have harnessed jingoism, weaponized nationalism and set areas of the country aggressively competing against one another to limit the scourge of lockdowns. We have to sell a kinder more tolerant future for the forgotten majority in the UK.

    Mortimer, who is co-editor of Left Foot Forward, includes a Link to the Podcast, “The episode of Reasons to Be Cheerful” entitled, “YOU’VE BEEN FRAMED: shaping the political conversation” in his article. The intro to the Podcast says, “Hello! We all love a good story. This week we’re talking about ‘framing’ – how the stories and metaphors we use shape how people understand politics, the economy and our society. Framing experts Dora Meade and Nicky Hawkins discuss what it’s all about and what progressives can learn. Then California-based Ian Haney Lopez explains how the ‘Race Class Narrative’ can build a coalition for change.”

    So how will the Tories smooth over the next PR nightmare of crash-out Bexit? The Byline Times Article entitled, “Government’s ‘Cold Turkey’ Brexit Preparations On Same Scale as COVID Failures MPs Warn,” doesn’t contain reassuring news.” David Hencke reports that, “Despite spending £4.4 billion on Brexit preparations, the Government has no overall plan says the Commons’ Public Accounts Committee. Boris Johnson’s planned Brexit in four weeks’ time will be more ‘cold turkey’ than the ‘oven-ready’ deal he promised a year ago, according to the head of a parliamentary committee which today severely criticises the Government for not being adequately prepared for the UK leaving the EU – whether a deal is secured or not. Labour MP Meg Hillier, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said: ‘Pretending that things you don’t want to happen are not going to happen is not a recipe for government, it is a recipe for disaster. The lack of definite next steps and inability to secure a deal adds to the challenge.”

    Hencke reports that, “A year after the oven-ready deal, we have more of a cold turkey and businesses and consumers do not know what to be prepared for.’ The committee warned that it was extremely concerned about the ‘risk of serious disruption and delay at the short Channel crossings’ because new border technology is not in place and has not been properly tested and lorry parks have not been fully completed. It also said that the ‘Get Ready for Brexit’ campaign – abandoned in 2019 – has still not reached a third of the companies, which believed in October that the transition period would still be extended. The Cabinet Office also had no idea whether the remaining two-thirds of businesses which were aware had fully complied with the new arrangements, it added. Many businesses still did not know what the final arrangements would be as it depends on whether a deal is reached or not.”

    Hencke says that, “The committee found that, despite spending £4.4 billion on Brexit preparations, the Government has no overall plan. It has also cut the number of civil servants working on the Brexit project from 22,000 to 15,000 and replaced many with more expensive management consultants. The committee compared this to the lack of an overall Government plan for the Coronavirus crisis. It said: ‘The EU Exit and the COVID-19 response have shown up critical gaps in the Civil Service’s approach to planning, particularly for unexpected events or undesired outcomes. The Cabinet Office keeps a national risk register, with input from across government and particularly the Treasury, but recent events have shown up the limitations in this crucial governance system. He reports that, “Ministers specifically limited the amount of contingency planning the Civil Service was to carry out ahead of the EU Exit Referendum in 2016.” This is truly shocking when you consider the devastating impact that Brexit will inflict on the UK.

    What will be the final impact of this chronic level of unpreparedness? Hencke says that, “This meant Government only began to formulate policy, negotiating positions and preparations after the vote. In its programme of work on COVID-19, the committee uncovered the shocking lack of economic planning for a pandemic, even though that risk has been on Government’s ‘most likely’ list for years.” He says, “The committee went on to say that the Government does not know the full cost of Brexit. ‘It did not have its own comprehensive information on government spending on EU Exit for 2019-20 or any earlier period, although it is now tracking information in-year for 2020-21,’ it said. ‘It has relied on departmental processes to ensure money on EU Exit has been used as expected. Departments are expected to publish information on EU Exit spending in their 2019-20 Annual Reports, but these have been delayed due to COVID-19 and the Treasury has identified inconsistencies in what has been presented so far’.”

    Hencke reports that, “In a letter to MPs, Alex Chisolm, permanent secretary to the Cabinet Office, said that the Government had made ‘significant progress on changes needed to manage the border after the end of the transition period’. He claimed that work was proceeding fast on the lorry parks and that internal testing of IT for border checks had started. But none of the projects had reached ‘green status’ – Whitehall jargon for being ready to use immediately. His letter also revealed that projects for new customs facilities at Birmingham Airport and Warrington were still behind schedule.” I cannot believe that the PM would be so naive as to believe that the EU negotiators will crumble at the last ditch and grant all of the unreasonable concessions demanded by the UK; essentially all the perks of membership without the fees or constraints. They must know this is not possible and a serious crash-out plan will be required,It is terrifying to contemplate how the Tories will exploit such a dire national emergency.

    Newsnight focused on Brexit with Faisal Islam interviewing Bruno Bonnell, member of the French National Assembly for President Macron’s En Marche Party, the hard core Brexiteer Tory MP Peter Bone and John Shirley, the founder if an international freight forwarding company who had been 28 years in the business at Dover. Islam asked, “With 27 days to go before a new fundamental system in how we trade, are we ready, why aren’t we ready?” Shirley said, “we in the freight forwarding industry, we thought it’s going to be really difficult, it’s going back to 1992, imposing all kinds of red tape, it’s going to strangle the economy, but we thought maybe we could have enough time to get prepared, get things in place…” He spoke of paying “maybe double or triple the foreign hauliers that bring all of our cargo in to the UK by road and take out all of our cargo out by road; 99% of that cargo is on foreign hauliers.”

    John Shirley said, “If you remember a couple of years ago there were some people saying I’d rather eat grass than be in Europe. Then there was a group of MEPs who turned their backs on the European anthem. So what’s going to happen? Well those hauliers are turning their tail lights on Britain! They have decided they are not going to put up with coming to this country and sitting for weeks in customs. Formalities… certificates; they are not coming. They have told myself and my colleagues they are not coming here after Christmas: this is very alarming!” Fisal responded, “Surely this is a temporary thing, there’ll be some ripples over Christmas and things will work themselves out after a few weeks or a few months?” Shirley thought not, he said an emphatic, “No you are in a customs union or you’re not…” He gave examples; what he said made perfect sense and it doesn’t surprise me, but it should alarm us all. That is most of our food! Those people in the UK who said they would rather eat grass: they might just have to!

    The hype about food deliveries and late night sessions is all intended to give the impression that the British team are negotiating in earnest, when I believe the reality is that this is just a total sham. The final walk out could come as soon as Monday, so we should expect some really toxic anti-EU press over the weekend as Johnson’s corrupt cabal set the PR trap ready to demonize the EU for punishing the UK negotiating team. We cannot be fooled by this performance; it is time to demonstrate in huge numbers; a so-called ‘Australian deal’ is not the road to nirvana, it’s a NO-DEAL CRASH-OUT with all the catastrophic economic consequences. We must make this massive betrayal the turning point when the British people say enough, no more Tory exploitation. Why can’t the British learn to riot like the French or at least march on mass like the citizens of Belerus? The Covert 2019 Rigged Election allowed this Tory Government to take power, we need to fully Investigate the vote and their financial corruption, expose the truth: Get The Tories Out! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #62897 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    As with all serious crimes, to find the motivation it’s best to “follow the money” and with Covid 19 disproportionatly taking the heaviest toll on the elderly, the Tory Governments “let it rip” strategy to ‘Slaughter the Sheeple’ clarifies their shambolic approach to the Pandemic. On the Website PensionsAge they reveal that, “State pension payments to fall by £600m in 2020/21 amid Covid-19.” Jack Gray reveals that the, “Total state pension payments are expected to decrease by £600m in 2020/21 due to excess deaths caused by Covid-19, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). In its Economic and fiscal outlooks report, the OBR stated this was a £500m increase on the estimate in its July Fiscal sustainability report (FSR). ‘We assume that two-thirds of this year’s excess pensioner deaths are brought forward from within the next five years and the remainder from beyond the forecast horizon, informed by analysis published by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research’, the report stated.”

    Gray notes that, “Public service pension payments are expected to be £1.3bn lower in 2020/21 than estimated in its FSR central scenario before accounting for the effect of government decisions, largely due to an increase in contributions from a larger NHS pensionable paybill in response to the pandemic. The OBR stated that the cost of this in terms of higher future pension costs will be felt beyond the forecast horizon. The government’s income from annual and taper allowances will decrease by an average of £100m (14 per cent) a year, from 2022/23 onwards, to reflect lower CPI inflation and earnings forecasts, according to the OBR. Furthermore, it revealed that the Treasury was planning a consultation response and policy decision on the McCloud ruling in the new year, with the government’s latest estimate for the increase in public service pension liabilities being £17bn.”

    Although Gray says, “The government also confirmed its commitment to the state pension triple lock, with the OBR assuming a 4.1 per cent uprating in April 2022, in line with earnings growth;” we can probably count on the Tories ditching that manifesto pledge. The callous disregard for the elderly who have died in unnecessarily large numbers due to avoidable catastrophic policy blunders, and lack of PPE supplies, shows that the Tories no longer feel the need to protect this important pro Tory voting demographic. If you are wondering why, just look at the huge amount of money the ‘Holocaust in Care’ will save the Government in terms of pension payments, let alone the costly burden of care and NHS funds. But the Tory Party isn’t pivoting to a new demographic of working people in the North of England in those Red Wall seats they falsely claim ‘lent’ the Tories their votes in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election and they certainly aren’t counting on winning over the younger generation: votes are unnecessary for a Tory Dictatorship!

    The Canary Article Entitled, “The government will face court over PPE contracts after claims that £4bn is unaccounted for,” brings us up to date on “The Good Law Project is pursuing seven cases against various government departments. As part of our #FollowTheMoney series, The Canary can confirm that permission has been granted by the High Court to pursue a judicial review against the UK government over its allocation of coronavirus (Covid-19) contracts. The Good Law Project has filed and been granted permission for several cases against the minister for the cabinet office, the health secretary, as well as private companies which were awarded PPE contracts. These contracts have not been published or disclosed, which is a requirement under UK law. The legal case, called The Fight for Transparency has been granted permission on some of its grounds with an initial hearing held on 3 December.”

    The Canary report that, “The Good Law Project has welcomed the decision: Last week we learned the Court has given Good Law Project and EveryDoctor permission to bring our challenge against its decision to award contracts to Pestfix, Ayanda, and Clandeboye. The Court gave us permission on some – but not all – of our grounds of complaint. So we have asked the Court for a short oral hearing in which we will make the case to be given permission on the others. That hearing will take place this Thursday 3rd December. The hearing was a partial victory, with permission granted to add another complaint to two of the cases. The Canary’s recently reported that around £700m had been given out in undisclosed contracts. Companies awarded PPE contacts include: a US jewellery brand, an offshore property trading company, a pest control business, and a company specialising in confectionery. Everything one looks for in PPE.”

    The Canary list the highly suspicious contracts, “The contracts in question are:
    • £250m PPE contract to Saiger – owned by Micheal Saiger but branded as Miansai, a US Jewellery company.
    • £252m PPE contract to Ayanda Capital Limited – a currency trading company specialising in offshore property – contract not published.
    • £108m PPE contract to Clandeboye Agencies Limited – a confectionary company – contract published.
    • £32m PPE contract to Crisp Websites Limited (t/a Pestfix)- specialising in pest control products – contract not published.
    • 10 more contracts awarded to Pestfix – contracts not published.
    • £930,000 artificial intelligence contract to Faculty Science Limited – contracts not published.
    • £840,000 public research to Public First Limited – contract not published.
    • £56m to consultancy firms which are undisclosed and contracts unpublished.”

    The Canary highlight that, “However, The Good Law Project claims that the true figures could be much higher. The Good Law Project claims, as part of the Fight for Transparency case, that £4bn has been unaccounted for. Despite Government’s attempt to argue that we had no standing to bring the claim, the Judge agreed there is an important public interest in securing that Government abides by the law and its own public procurement policy. Government is required by law to publish contract details within 30 days of the award. But, the average length of time taken to publish COVID-19 contracts now stands at a remarkable 78 days, with over £4billion worth of contracts totally unaccounted for.”

    The Canary describe, “Waiting for justice” saying that, “The Fight for Transparency case is backed by a cross-party group of MPs including ‘Caroline Lucas (Green), Debbie Abrahams (Labour), and Layla Moran (LibDem)’. However, the full case will not be heard until later in 2021. But it’s not the only case progressing through the courts. The Good Law project stated: A few days later we heard we’ve also been granted permission to bring our challenge against the lucrative public affairs contract given to long-time associates of Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings at Public First. In the Government’s summary grounds of defence, they do not even bother to argue that their decision to award the contract without competition was lawful. ‘They are keeping their powder dry’.”

    According to the Canary, “legal experts claim that the response isn’t surprising, especially as they were issued under judicial proceedings. Stephensons Solicitors partner and head of civil liberties & public law Mike Pemberton explained: The fact that they’ve not specified that they acted within the law is not surprising- generally a defence would seldom say ‘we acted within the law’ it would be more likely to say ‘we’ve not acted unlawfully’. In regards to the content of the summary grounds of defence, it seems they are keeping their powder dry- it’s like a holding statement. The summary isn’t surprising- on the basis they wanted a rolled up hearing, but reading the permission decision and from years of legal experience, it seems that the approach has not entirely found favour with the Judge.”

    There is yet more scrutiny in line for this scrutiny averse Tory Government as the Canary warn that, “Another case filed: This one’s against Operation Moonshot. The Good Law Project has also filed judicial proceedings in a case about Operation Moonshot, the governments mass testing scheme: For weeks now the Government has refused to provide answers to simple questions around the programme for rapid turnaround testing, but its own documents reveal that work is already underway and that the programme could cost £100billion or more. The Good Law Project has various concerns, including that the government didn’t ask for consent from parliament for the project: Despite the potentially enormous commitment of public funds, the Government will not disclose any information about what contracts they have already entered into.”

    The Cannary say that, “Our challenge is to the way in which they chose some rather odd counterparties – a familiar narrative to those of you who have been following the PPE scandal – and their failure to consult their own expert body, the National Screen Committee. We also have profound concerns that consent was never sought from Parliament for this absolutely mindblowing spend. If the Operation Moonshot case is successful in gaining permission, it will be another groundbreaking step for The Good Law Project in their pursuit to hold government departments to account amidst the coronavirus pandemic. More information about The Good Law Project’s ongoing cases, along with updates;” these can be found on their site. The Canary urge you to “Get involved: You can stay up to date with this series by bookmarking our #FactOfTheMatter, or find our latest investigations.”

    In the Canary Article entitled, “Leaked testimony shows MPs knew the names of peers implicated in money laundering for years,” they expose more Government corruption. They Canary say, “Leaked testimony by Bill Browder, an expert in money-laundering investigations, to a 2016 Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) shines a light on alleged criminality by British peers and their companies. Two years later, Browder provided similar testimony to the Intelligence & Security Committee (ISC) for its report on Russia. The ISC report was eventually published in July 2020, but excluded the peers and companies that Browder named. Why does this matter? Because what’s apparent is that certain MPs have known about these allegations for years. Specifically, they have known the names of those peers and UK businesses Browder claims assisted individuals in alleged money laundering operations.”

    The Canary report on, “Browder’s campaign for justice” first identifying his connection to the case. “So who is Bill Browder? Browder is CEO of Hermitage Capital Management and also heads the Global Magnitsky Justice (GMJ) campaign. The GMJ campaigns for ‘visa sanctions and asset freezes’ against those allegedly involved in the arrest, torture, and death of Russian tax lawyer and auditor Sergei Magnitsky, as well as ‘other gross human rights abusers’. Magnitsky accused senior Russian interior ministry officials of the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars. However, it wasn’t the interior ministry officials who ended up being arrested but Magnitsky himself. He was imprisoned and allegedly tortured. His health completely broke down while in prison, where he died in 2009, a year after his arrest. In 2017, the UK parliament passed a sanctions and anti-money laundering bill that included a ‘Magnitsky amendment’. This followed the 2012 ‘Magnitsky Act‘ in the US.”

    The Canary report that, “The UK act provides for the seizure of assets of individuals believed to be responsible for human rights violations. Browder wants ‘top Putin oligarchs’ who are guilty of such human rights violations to be targeted. 25 Russians were targeted by the amendment in 2020. But as the Guardian reported: It is not clear what – if any – assets the sanctioned Russians have in the UK. With the exception of Bastrykin, most are mid-ranking government officials.” The Canary highlight, “Browder’s unpublished 2016 testimony” saying, “Browder’s confidential testimony (redacted by The Canary) to the HASC began: ‘This submission provides examples showing that Russians connected to the US$230 million fraud uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky have recently paid significant amounts of money to resist Western sanctions. Browder says they did this “using companies connected to UK politicians, past and present members of the UK Parliament and the UK Government’.”

    According to the Canary, “He elaborated: They have done so through hiring several advisory firms [names redacted] with connection to members of the House of Lords, House of Commons and HMG, including personally [name redacted]. These firms agreed to work for Andrey Pavlov, member of the Russian criminal organisation responsible for the US$230 million fraud, and/or Denis Katsyv, son of the Russian government official, who is alleged to have laundered its proceeds: the ‘proceeds of crime’. Browder also asked, ‘What is the outcome of the engagement by Andrey Pavlov and Denis Katsyv of UK firms?’. His reply to his own question was: ‘These UK-based commercial organisations have derived financial benefit from alleged Russian criminals, and have potentially received proceeds of crime as remuneration for their advisory services’.”

    The Canary say, “He added how the UK commercial firms referred to are able to influence whether or not legal proceedings are instigated. Indeed, Browder argues that there is a ‘conflict of interest’ by those firms. Browder ended his testimony with a series of recommendations to the HASC, including that ‘members of the House of Lords should be asked to explain the work of commercial advisory firms with which they have been personally associated’.” The Canary noted Responses’ saying that, “The Guardian invited responses from firms named in Browder’s ISC testimony (which were also named in the HASC testimony). Debevoise & Plimpton replied: Everyone is entitled to legal representation. Debevoise provides legal representation consistent with the profession’s best traditions of integrity and probity. We will continue fearlessly to defend the interests of all our clients.”

    They say, “The Guardian summarised CTF’s response (CTF initialises the surnames of Lynton Crosby, Mark Textor, and Mark Fullbrook): [CTF] says [Peter] Goldsmith’s law firm hired a separate entity, CTF Corporate & Financial Communications (CTFCFC), to ‘research the EU sanctions landscape’. CTFCFC advised the law firm and there was no contact with Pavlov. ‘This was the extent of our involvement and to try and claim otherwise would be utterly false,’ it said. According to Companies House records, Crosby is a CTFCFC director. The Guardian added: There is no suggestion Crosby personally worked on or was aware of the work on EU sanctions carried out by CTFCFC until it appeared in the media.”

    The Canary report that, “Separately, it should be noted that in December 2018, CTF Partners – Crosby’s “polling and market research” firm – gave Boris Johnson an interest-free loan of £20,000 which was declared and repaid and a further £3,000 donation. It’s also claimed that CTF staff ran pro-Brexit advertising via the invented group ‘Mainstream Network’, which spent £250,000 on such advertising, estimated to have reached more than 10 million voters.” They state that this is, “A matter of public interest. Browder’s 2018 ISC testimony also referred to a 2012 investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. It ‘identified’ 8,986 companies in the UK alone that were registered by just 28 individuals. Browder added that those companies ‘did not conduct genuine business activities and likely provided false filings to the UK’s Companies Houses over a number of years’. Indeed, George Monbiot wrote that the UK now ‘appears to be the money-laundering capital of the world’.”

    The Canary say that, “In his ISC testimony, Browder expressed his frustration concerning the slow response by UK bodies into allegations he raised in 2016 about money laundering and criminality. He added how he was concerned: that this lack of consequences and the ease with which they managed to infiltrate the UK financial and corporate registration systems have created the sentiment of impunity and emboldened Russian crime groups and state interests in the last decade. Several years later, and it seems little has changed. It’s also a warning that’s still relevant, given allegations that Russia-related oligarchs donated significant sums of money to the Conservative Party, Tory MPs and their constituencies.” They warn, “given that an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin donated millions of pounds to the husband of major Tory donor Lubov Chernukhin. This is a scandal that should threaten the very core of Britain’s establishment.”

    No wonder the Tory Government were so reluctant to release the infamous ‘Russian Report’ ahead of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election! This reckless Toray cabal are wallowing in corruption from the shedload of public money they are squandering to the source of their election campaign funding. We should not forget that “He who pays the piper calls the tune,” which inevitably means that the Tories have chalked up some serious Kompromat. Let’s not forget the public money that was illegally used to pay the fake Charity, ‘Integrity Initiative’ to generate defamatory material used to smear the official opposition Labour Party primarily targeting Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn. In a properly functioning democracy that alone would be sufficient corruption to jail those responsible and delegitimize the election result even without the highly suspicious results warranting extensive Investigation. On several counts this Tory Government has no legal right to be in office hemorrhaging public money while putting so many lives at risk! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #62918 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    So long and thanks for the fish! The imminent catastrophic failure of the Brexit negotiations, that in fact the Tories had committed to well over a year ago, will be blamed on the arrogance and intransigence of the EU. However, as the UK very publically scream their exceptionalism and insult the very people they are supposed to be affording the utmost diplomacy, who is really storming out in a huff and slamming the door on a deal? The amateur dramatics should not have us fooled, instead we should seriously question if the major sticking point is actually over fish or if the British public are being deliberately distracted and duped by the serial liar Boris Johnson. Through the corrupt result of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election he stole the mandate to act as our current PM with the express purpose of totally eviscerating our democratic rights. When the charred remains of Johnson’s scorched earth “oven ready deal” and the harsh consequences of crash-out Brexit finally dawn on UK voters will people take to the streets in mass protests?

    Johnson and his crooked cabal will try to stall for more time knowing that if they keep the public guessing they can minimize the opportunity for public protest while they continue to lie about their intentions until it is too late. Have the EU negotiators cottoned on to the fact that the UK has no intention of striking a deal or acting in good faith? Certainly the EU 27 should realize this by now, especially following the legislation the Tories tried to ram through Parliament declaring point blank that they could not be trusted and would break the terms of the treaty in specific and limited ways! I think the EU would be very foolish to allow Johnson to run down the clock while lying to the UK public, because the British people need to be given a chance to react. Of course Brexiteers are priming the public for the dishonest vilification of the EU as the blame game is already well underway. It will be a challenge trying to convince the public that Johnson is the bad guy while all of the right wing news Media and the BBC have his back.

    The truth is well buried in a number of crucial votes that have taken place over the past year as Johnson has taken full advantage of that massive majority he fiddled with the Covert 2019 Covert Election. These votes strongly indicate that the priority issue for the Tories is not their newfound fascination with fish, but the ability to gain a massive competitive advantage by abolishing workers rights and the protection of the high standards we are signed up to that they casually dismiss as ‘red tape.’ It was the stripping away of so-called red tape safety requirements that contributed to the Grenfell Tower disaster. We must keep those EU regulations in place because we cannot trust this corrupt Tory Government to put the safety and wellbeing of our population ahead of their own personal rapacious greed. Although it’s too late to conduct a full Investigation into the Covert 2019 Rigged Election’s warped result, there are other reasons to see Johnson and a number of his Tory MPs jailed, but certainly removed from office: we must protest!

    Back in early March, before Covid took centre stage there was already a strong hint of the Tory desire to ditch the EU Working Time Directive. Jess Miller’s Evolve Politics Article entitled, “Tory MP wants workers FORCED to work more than 48 hours a week to solve Brexit worker shortage” exposed the plan. She said, “A Tory MP has suggested that the government should allow bosses to force employees to work more days and longer hours in order to fill the gap caused by the inevitable shortage of migrant workers after Brexit. The Conservative MP for North Cornwall, Scott Mann, said on BBC Politics South West that the Government should consider scrapping the Working Time Directive – an EU regulation that protects employees’ rights, including preventing bosses from forcing anyone to work more than 48 hours a week. The Government plans to introduce a points-based immigration system when the transitional period ends – a policy which includes a minimum salary for migrants looking to live and work in Britain.”

    Miller elaborated by saying that, “Many have suggested the Tories’ new immigration policy will lead to a severe shortage of workers in key low-paid sectors such as agriculture and care work – jobs which have been largely staffed by migrant workers since Free Movement from the EU came into practice. Mann said that the impending shortage of workers will be ‘one of the biggest challenges the government will have to solve after Brexit – and his solution is one that truly shows how much the Tories really care about the average worker. Mann suggested the government should scrap one of the most important workers’ rights, saying: ‘we need to have a serious think looking at the Working Time Directive.’ Sadly the vast majority of the British public have not cottoned on to the true relevance of ‘the Level Playing Field,’ but the ability to exploit the working poor with ruthless impunity is a far higher priority for the greedy Tory elite than potential expansion of exclusive UK fishing rights; Cod be damned they expect you to know your place!

    Miller reported that, “The host of Politics South West responded by arguing that the Directive is there to protect the most vulnerable employees from being forced to work exhaustingly long hours, to which Mann replied nonchalantly, stating: ‘Indeed, but there might be an opportunity for people wanting to work over those hours, and I think you can voluntarily do that at the moment anyway, but there might be a case for the government actually saying ‘if you want do this, we could encourage it’. However, as a tweet from Ruth Fillery-Travis points out, there is a deeply insidious flaw in Mann’s suggestion. British workers already can voluntarily work longer hours by signing an opt-out form, but, if the Tories scrap the Working Time Directive, bosses would essentially be given free rein to *force* people to work as many hours as they see fit.” You can watch Mann’s comments in this Video Link. Miller notes that, “The Government originally said they did not plan on downgrading workers’ rights after Brexit, but later refused to promise not to remove key assurances in the Withdrawal Bill.”

    A July Evolve Politics Article entitled, “BBC completely silent as Jeremy Corbyn is proved right after Tories vote against protecting NHS from Brexit trade deals,” they expose the BBC’s pro Tory bias. They say that, “The UK’s public broadcaster, the BBC, have made the astonishing decision not to report the fact that Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party last night reneged on their promise to protect the NHS after voting to keep the NHS on the table for future post-Brexit trade deals. The Tories’ decision to vote against protecting the NHS yesterday evening completely vindicates Jeremy Corbyn’s use of leaked documents during December’s General Election which showed that the Tories were already negotiating away the National Health Service. At the time, the former Labour leader encountered severe criticism from his opponents for supposedly ‘scaremongering’ – with Boris Johnson repeatedly refuting the claims by falsely declaring that the NHS has never, and would never, be on the table in any trade negotiations.”

    Evolve Politics reported that, “The documents showed that the government had already engaged in at least six rounds of talks with EU negotiators on topics such as medicine pricing and the possibility of allowing private companies market access to the NHS. However, despite the documents being 100% genuine, Corbyn’s revelations were met with disdain by the majority of the mainstream media – with many suggesting that Russia had been involved in leaking the document.” Back then the said, “just last week, seemingly in anticipation of today’s release of the Russia report, the former Labour leader was confronted on his doorstep by an ITV news journalist asking him whether he regretted using the documents during the General Election campaign because of the allegations surrounding Russia’s involvement.” We can always count on the Russian boogeyman just as reliable as fantisemitism.

    In June however, “despite their repeated refutations that the NHS would be protected, the Conservative Party last night refused to put their promises into action after voting down an amendment to do just that. The cross-party amendment, New Clause 17, was a proposed addition the crucial Brexit Trade Bill which would have ensured numerous aspects of our NHS were protected, including.
    – Ensuring the ability to provide a ‘comprehensive and publicly funded health service free at the point of delivery’ was not compromised by any future trade deal
    – Protecting hard-working NHS staff from having their wages or rights slashed by any future trade deal
    – Protecting the quality and safety of health and care services
    – Regulating the control and pricing of medicines
    – Protecting patient data from being sold off
    – Protecting the NHS from so-called investor-state dispute settlements (ISDS) – clauses which allow foreign investors to sue national governments for any measures which harm their profits.”

    “Evolve Politics were the first outlet to report the story and – with no other news outlets reporting the story at the time – the article went viral and has so far been seen by more than half a million people.” Belatedly they said, “This morning, numerous mainstream outlets rightly followed suit, with The Mirror, The Evening Standard, and even the normally pro-Tory Daily Express reporting the story. Numerous tweets on the revelation have also gone viral, with the official House of Commons tweet gaining more than 12,000 retweets before, incredibly, being deleted over ‘impartiality’ rules. Despite the clearly massive public interest in the story, no BBC reporter, including their chief political editor Laura Kuenssberg, has bothered to mention it, and the BBC have completely excluded the story from both their 24-hour news channel and the official BBC News website.” The Tories can always count on ‘Auntie!’

    Evolve Politics reminded us that, “The BBC encountered widespread criticism during December’s General Election for making numerous ‘mistakes’ over impartiality, all of which just happened to benefit Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party.” They said, “just last month it was revealed that the BBC’s new Director General, Tim Davie, was literally a Conservative Party election candidate! Trust in the UK media has plummeted since the media debacle during December’s General Election, with left-leaning peoples’ trust falling the most sharply, from 38% in January 2019 to just 15% in January 2020. The BBC’s astonishing omission of the Tories’ disgraceful anti-NHS actions last night will surely do absolutely nothing to improve the corporation’s already battered reputation amongst progressive voters.” The BBC propaganda machine did not stop after the Covert 2019 Rigged Election as they prioritized interviews with crestfallen Labour PMs forcing them to explain why they lost so that Tory election lies could be sold as true fact.

    In another Evolve Politics Article entitled, “Tories vote down amendment to protect NHS from foreign control in Brexit trade deals,” they detail the devastating Commons vote. They wrote, “The Conservative Party have tonight used their 78-seat majority to vote down an amendment designed to protect the NHS and publicly-funded health and care services from being subject to any form of control from outside the UK in a future post-Brexit Trade Deal. The amendment, which was put forward by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and supported by Labour leader Keir Starmer and a number of other senior Labour MPs, was voted down by a margin of 340 to 241 thanks to the Tories’ overwhelming parliamentary majority. In addition to protecting the NHS from foreign control, the amendment also contained numerous other measures to protect the NHS, including,” and they list all of the priorities outlined in the above article.

    One of these priorities, “Protecting the NHS from so-called investor-state dispute settlements (ISDS) – clauses which allow foreign investors to sue national governments for any measures which harm their profits,” was further explained by Evolve Politics for those unfamiliar with ISDS. They said that, “ISDS agreements have been widely criticised, with The Guardian recently publishing a letter signed by numerous campaigners which states that: ‘[ISDS] cases take place in secretive private arbitration courts and can cost the taxpayer billions. Previous cases brought against governments using ISDS include a Swedish energy firm suing Germany for introducing policies to curb water pollution; US pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly suing Canada for trying to keep medicines affordable; and French multinational Veolia suing Egypt for increasing its national minimum wage’.”

    Regarding, “New Clause 17, the pro-NHS amendment which the Conservative Party have just rejected,” Evolve Politics stated that, “All of these measures designed to protect our NHS will now not be included in the crucial Trade Bill, which MPs have just passed by a margin of 335 to 243.” The had a Tweet from Luke Pollard MPL “Conservative MPs defeat Labour’s amendment to stop our British farmers being undercut in future trade deals by 251 to 337. Labour voted to protect our high food and farming standards MPs are now voting on a Labour amendment that would explicitly exclude the NHS from future trade deals. Despite all their warm words on the NHS the Government whipped Tory MPs to oppose it and it was defeated 251 to 340. NHS remains on the table for a deal with Trump.” It is devastating that the fake majority the Tories claimed in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election is taking such a massive toll and destroying our democracy; that’s why it is so important to challenge the legitimacy of this Tory Government ASAP!

    Another Evolve Politics Article is entitled, “Tories vote down amendment to protect Food and Animal Welfare standards from post-Brexit Trade Deals.” Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party have rowed back on one of their key manifesto pledges after voting down an amendment designed to protect the UK’s current Food Standards and Animal Welfare regulations from being watered down in any future trade deals. Despite a rebellion by several Tory backbenchers, Boris Johnson’s government managed to defeat the key amendment to last night’s Agriculture Bill by a margin of 332-279. Had it passed, Amendment 16 would have enshrined the UK’s current food standards and animal welfare regulations in law so that the government could not negotiate them away in any post-Brexit trade deal. The amendment had significant support from across the political divide – with a National Farmers’ Union petition garnering more than a million signatures, and even the Conservative Party’s own affiliated animal welfare organisation coming out in favour of it.”

    Evolve Politics reported in October that, “British farmers are concerned that any lowering of food and animal welfare standards would lead to inhumane and unsafe food imports, and would ultimately undermine the viability of domestic producers. The Tories’ decision to reject the amendment comes despite Boris Johnson promising to uphold the UK’s food and animal welfare standards during the 2019 General Election. The Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto claimed that, under their leadership, Britain would ‘lead the world in the quality of our food’, before promising: ‘In all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.’ The Tories’ decision to renege on their manifesto promise came as a Channel Four Dispatches investigation revealed the horrifying hygiene and welfare standards that ‘could soon be coming to Britain’ if protections are negotiated away as part of post-Brexit trade deals.”

    Evolve Politics said that, “Following the vote, the Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, tweeted that the Tories’ decision to vote down the amendment showed that their promises were ‘totally utterly & completely worthless’: Lucas Tweeted: Government just voted with majority of 53 to strip amendment 16 from #AgricultureBill, which would have safeguarded food standards in trade deals – demonstrating beyond doubt that their promises are totally utterly & completely worthless, even when enshrined in their manifesto. Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, Luke Pollard, echoed Lucas’ sentiment, saying: ‘The Conservatives have again broken their promise to British farmers and the public. No one wants lower quality food on our plates, but there is an increasing risk that this could happen because the prime minister is refusing to show leadership. Labour will always back British farmers and it is a disgrace that the Tories won’t do the same’.”

    Evolve Politics said, “Labour Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, labelled the Tories as a ‘disgrace’, adding that they were ‘letting our farmers down, letting consumers down, our high animal welfare standards in the gutter’: Rayner Tweeted, ‘Govt votes to remove Amendment 16 from #AgricultureBill result: 332 to 279. Tories are a disgrace, letting our farmers down, letting consumers down, our high animal welfare standards in the gutter, we must campaign against substandard imports undercutting our high standards!’ They reported that, “during the debate even a number of Tory MPs questioned why their own party was opposing the amendment.” One of the serious concerns that is little talked about is the prophylactic use of antibiotics in farm animals in the US. This practice contributes to the development of antibiotic resistance at a time when there is very little financial incentive for Big Pharma to invest in new antibiotics. Covid 19 really should have taught humanity that, no we are not invincible!

    Evolve Politics noted that, “The Tory Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, Neil Parish, said the government should ‘move in a more environmental way’, adding: ‘Why are we not a great beacon of animal welfare and the environment as we negotiate these trade deals? We have in our manifesto the commitment, both on animal welfare and the environment as we move forward. Would it not be right for the Secretary of State for Trade to have the armour of having the backing of Parliament to actually say ‘I can’t actually negotiate away that particular part of the deal with you because it is written down in law?’ In response, the government has dismissed concerns about the potential lowering of food standards and animal welfare protections as simply ‘unhelpful scaremongering’ and claim that critics should simply trust them to uphold their manifesto pledge on the issue. You can check how your MP voted on last night’s amendment here.

    A year old New European Article entitled, “No 10 indicates Boris Johnson could ditch promises to protect workers’ rights after Brexit,” fills in the details. “Downing Street has refused to confirm pledges made by Boris Johnson to MPs in October will be included in his amended Brexit bill this week. The promises, which focused on safeguarding workers’ rights and environmental standards, could be ditched after Brexit after the government appeared to backtrack on a promise to guarantee them in law. A Downing Street spokesperson appeared to suggest they were no longer commitments from the prime minister, alongside a promise MPs would be given a vote on whether or not the transition period would be extended by the end of 2020 to avoid a no-deal Brexit. The pledges were made by Boris Johnson’s team in October when he tried to convince MPs to vote for his Brexit deal ahead of the 31st October deadline.” But that was late last year and, “in the end Johnson pulled his deal from a vote and called a general election instead.”

    Those who were so eager to “Take Back Control” must wake up to the nightmare reality that absolute and unstoppable control is already in the untrustworthy hands of those eager to grotesquely exploit the working poor, abandon safety standards, pollute our food supply and sell off our NHS! This is not about the fish! Other European countries took advantage of a matching EU funds scheme to invest in their fishing fleet; the UK failed to take advantage of this or stip our fish quotas being sold off to foreign fleets. The UK sellas a high proportion of their catch to the EU, but with crash-out Brexit and an uncompromising fxxk you attitude towards the EU our fishermen could see high tariffs make their products too costly to be salable. The Norwegan Prime Minister is quoted as saying: “There is nothing that’s in such a hurry as a dead fish in the back of a lorry!” Johnson doesn’t care; trust me it’s not about the fish. The apathetic British public need to wise up, stop falling for the PMs endless distractions and lies: take to the streets in protest! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #62972 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    “If you are going to tell a lie, make it a really big lie,” must be the Tory mantra. But as the exposure of Tory Government PR spin over Brexit and Covid 19 morphs into ludicrously optimistic fantasy and tragically irresponsible dishonesty how will the British public react to the betrayal? It is time for protest and accountability. The Canary Article entitled, “The Johnson government’s vaccine triumphalism masks the true coronavirus death rate in the UK,” oscillated between obscene and downright childish, ignoring the most horrific statistics on the death toll so far. The Canary report, “This week, the Boris Johnson government’s PR machine went into hyperdrive to announce the UK regulatory approval of a vaccine to combat coronavirus (Covid-19). Meanwhile, government figures revealed there have been more than 60,000 coronavirus deaths in the UK. The only problem there is that the statistical agencies, including the Office for National Statistics, have produced a completely different set of figures – shockingly different.”

    The Canary reveal the shocking true death figures, “The ‘official’ government figure for coronavirus deaths across the UK, as reported on 3 December, was 60,113. But professor Gabriel Scally, president of epidemiology and public health at the Royal Society of Medicine and a member of the Independent Sage group of scientists, explained: If you want to know the actual number of deaths, well then you have to go to death certification, which is really the best data. Indeed, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the National Records of Scotland (NRS), and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) provide a figure in excess of 76,000.” While the Government have been using a convenient trick of reducing the death toll by limiting those counted to people who have died within 28 days of a Covid diagnosis, they expose the discrepancy by saying of the higher number, “that figure includes deaths where coronavirus is given on the death certificate.”

    Reporting on the vaccine announcement, the Canary say that, “Only the day before on 2 December, the Johnson government announced with great excitement that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had approved the use of a vaccine, produced by Pfizer/BioNTech, to combat coronavirus. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) released a statement on this: The vaccine appears to be safe and well-tolerated, and there were no clinically concerning safety observations. The data indicates high efficacy in all age groups (16 years and over), including encouraging results in older adults. The committee advises that this vaccine be used in the first phase of the programme, according to the priority order set out below.” There was a prioritization list of who would be first to receive the vaccine although that has changed slightly as the Government grapple with the demanding cold chain logistics, but it was very welcome news.

    The Canary were quick to ridicule the triumphalism that demonstrates the sheer desperation of this Tory Government and the need to detract from more relevant bad news. “Following the government’s announcement, The Canary reported that a number of high profile Tories had made comments about the vaccine – comments that can only be described as triumphal, if not jingoistic. For example, UK business secretary Alok Sharma commented: ‘In years to come, we will remember this moment as the day the UK led humanity’s charge against this disease’.” That was particularly over the top Tory ‘willy wagging’. They say that, “The Guardian reported how health secretary Matt Hancock even claimed it was Brexit that led to the breakthrough: In a series of media appearances on Wednesday morning, the UK health secretary, Matt Hancock, erroneously claimed that emergency authorisation had been possible ‘because of Brexit’, contrasting the UK approach with the ‘pace of the Europeans, who are moving a little bit more slowly’.”

    The Canary point out that, “MHRA head Dr June Raine went on to explain that EU law allows for regulators in member states – including the UK, currently in transition – to apply their own approval mechanisms.” They reserve particular derision for one particular awkward Tory, “there was this gem from UK education minister Gavin Williamson.” In an interview he claimed that “the UK was the first country in the world to clinically approve a coronavirus vaccine because the country has ‘much better’ scientists than France, Belgium or the US. Williamson said he was not surprised the UK was the first to roll out the immunisation because ‘we’re a much better country than every single one of them’. Asked whether Brexit was to credit for the world-first, Williamson told LBC radio station on Thursday: ‘Well I just reckon we’ve got the very best people in this country and we’ve obviously got the best medical regulators’.” He honestly sounded like a petulant school boy, what an embarrassment.

    The Canary pointed out the facts, saying, “neither Hancock, Sharma or Williamson remembered to mention that the vaccine is produced by the US company Pfizer in collaboration with German company BioNTech. Or that the latter organisation’s coronavirus vaccine programme is funded by the EU via the European Investment Bank. As to whether Brexit had a role in the vaccine’s approval, Channel 4’s FactCheck quoted the government on this matter: if a suitable COVID-19 vaccine candidate, […] becomes available before the end of the transition period, EU legislation which we have implemented via Regulation 174 of the Human Medicines Regulations allows the MHRA to temporarily authorise the supply of a medicine or vaccine, based on public health need.” No one is mentioning that the Russians are already engaged in a mass vaccination program of their citizens using the SputnikV vaccine: so no UK world-first.

    The Canary say FactCheck added: “even if we were still a member of the EU, the UK regulator would have been able to take this decision on its own because EU law already allows it. Incidentally, that legislation took effect in the UK in 2012, long before Brexit was on the cards. It further added: even if Brexit hadn’t happened, we’d still have been entitled, under EU law, to opt out of the joint system and ‘go it alone’ with the Covid vaccine. Assuming all goes well with the newly approved vaccine, that’s something to celebrate. But any attempt by politicians, or their supporters, to generate political capital from the pandemic should be condemned. For the Johnson government’s record on coronavirus deaths – even using the government’s questionable figure – when compared to other European countries, is nothing short of appalling. As to those government ministers who are triumphal about the vaccine, they should at least admit to the real number of coronavirus-related deaths. But that might be too much an expectation.”

    The Byline Times Article entitled, “Government Orders Local Areas Not to DeployNegative Brexit Ads,” peels back the lid on yet another layer of Tory Government deception. “Boris Johnson’s Government isn’t prepared to risk the reputation of Brexit, no matter what the cost,” reports Sam Bright, “The Government has instructed local areas not to use adverts that might reflect badly on Brexit,” Byline Times can reveal. “This week, the Government issued a ‘written communications toolkit’ to local administrations, with guidance about what they should say to individuals and businesses about the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December. The document contains a range of generic advice that local areas should communicate to residents, such as the need to check the validity of their passports, and for exporters to apply for relevant licenses.”

    Bright points out that, “Notably, however, the Government instructs areas not to use messages or adverts that suggest a negative outcome at the end of the transition period. ‘Focus on positive outcomes and motivate readers to act by clearly communicating what will happen if they take action,’ the document reads. An example is included, relating to exporters. It is recommended that local authorities say: To continue to trade with the EU after 31 December 2020, you will need to follow new rules for exporting, including changes to processes and licensing. As opposed to: You will not be able to continue trading with the EU after 31 December 2020, if you don’t follow new rules for exporting, including changes to processes and licensing.” Bright describes this as placing, “The Project Above the People,” with, “This emphasis on positive Brexit messaging seems to be a political rather than a practical decision – placing the reputation of the project above the interests of individuals and businesses.”

    Bright elaborates on the logic of a sharp warning message, saying that, “negative messages carry more urgency and gravity. If a business owner is told they will lose trade and money if they don’t register for an export license, they will pay attention. Take anti-smoking adverts, for example. They feature visceral, negative slogans predicting cancer and infertility, if the individual doesn’t stop immediately. They do not say, ‘You will be able to carry on living if you quit smoking,’ because that doesn’t provide sufficient motivation. I smoke yet I am still alive; so why should I stop? I don’t have an export license yet I can currently trade with Europe; so why should I register for one? In order to change their actions, people need to tangibly comprehend the negative consequences of not. This optimism stricture could therefore explain why many businesses are still not prepared for the end of the transition period.”

    Bright reports that, “The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, for example, understands that the Government has failed to reach a third of businesses that believed in October that the transition period would be extended. These firms could be set for a rude awakening on 1 January, the committee concludes, due to the Government’s failure to communicate. Indeed, research published by the Institute of Directors in October found that 45% of all firms were not prepared for Brexit, with 24% saying that they were unsure if they would be by the end of the year. This confusion has of course been compounded by a general lack of direction and clarity in Brexit negotiations. The Government infamously spent £100 million last year telling firms to prepare for a potential ‘no deal’ departure, while publicly saying an ‘oven ready’ deal would comfortably put the Brexit issue to bed.” They lied!

    Bright says that, “There have also been calls for the end of the transition period to be delayed, due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps believing this policy would be adopted by any sensible government, 43% of small firms said in October they thought an extension would be agreed.” The operative words here being, ‘responsible Government’ however, it is plainly obvious to the less trusting among us that this corrupt Tory Cabal will not act responsibly. Bright reminds us that, “The Vote Leave establishment has for years propounded a Brexit fantasy featuring vast benefits and few drawbacks. It seems the Government isn’t prepared to revise this mythology, even if it means businesses aren’t prepared for our oncoming rupture from the continent.”

    In the Byline Times Article entitled, “Sorry, But We’re Not Sorry; The Untouchable Johnson Regime,” Jonathan Lis highlights the ‘sorry’ road to dishonesty, deception and impunity. He argues that, “the British public would have more respect for the Government if it owned up to its many mistakes – a taking back of control the administration cannot bear.” Reporting on recent scandals, Lis said, “Several extraordinary things happened in Westminster at the end of last week. A senior minister was found to have bullied her staff. That same minister was found to have broken the Ministerial Code, but kept her job. The Prime Minister showed such indifference to standards in public life that his independent advisor on the Ministerial Code resigned. Perhaps most extraordinary of all, the minister who had breached the code apologised.”

    Lis points out that, “But Priti Patel’s ‘unreserved’ apology was anything but. The Home Secretary declared that she was ‘sorry that my behaviour has upset people’ – not that she was sorry for her behaviour. She even remarked that she was ‘sorry if I have upset people in any way’, echoing her notorious comment from April that she was ‘sorry if people feel there have been failings’ on personal protective equipment. These are, of course, all versions of the non-apology apology: it is not your fault for upsetting people, but other people’s fault for being upset; it is not your fault for failing at your job, but other people’s for noticing. These days, even in the rare circumstances when a minister apologises for something, it comes with qualifications and without consequences. This is not a flaw in the system, it is the system itself.”

    Lis asks, “Why, for this Government, is sorry always the hardest word? He goes on to describe this Tory Government’s growing, Culture of Impunity.” He says, “Two weeks ago, the chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Lord Jonathan Evans, delivered a speech examining the evolution of standards since the days of 1990s sleaze. He observed that a strand of political thinking declares that governments are accountable only to the electorate, once every five years, and to nobody and nothing else in between. He noted the consequences: ‘Quite simply, the perception is taking root that too many in public life, including some in our political leadership, are choosing to disregard the norms of ethics and propriety that have explicitly governed public life for the last 25 years, and that, when contraventions of ethical standards occur, nothing happens’.”

    Lis claims that, “This goes beyond a lack of transparency and accountability. Nobody in power now seems to take responsibility, resigns when they get caught out, or indeed suffers negative implications from any actions at all. The Government will not apologise for mishandling the Coronavirus pandemic, resulting in the highest death toll in Europe. It will not apologise for wasting billions of pounds of public money on failed outsourcing and on expedited contracts to its friends and donors. It will not apologise for jeopardising peace in Northern Ireland, breaking international law or smashing the economy after the Brexit transition.
    The past four years have transformed Britain’s body politic. Like America over the same period, it has replaced a culture of accountability with one of impunity. Worse even: one of deliberate recklessness.”

    Lis notes that, “The defining moment of this phenomenon – and certainly the most memorable – came in May, when the Prime Minister refused to apologise for the behaviour of his then chief advisor Dominic Cummings. Everyone could see that Cummings had flagrantly broken the Coronavirus lockdown rules but, instead of owning up to that, Johnson dug in. Cummings, he insisted, had in fact been doing the right thing all along by going up to Durham and taking his eye test drive to Barnard Castle. Johnson showered him with praise for protecting his family. It was this, rather than the trip itself, which damaged the Prime Minister most. The refusal to apologise became an act of gaslighting. It wasn’t enough not to say sorry for an obvious mistake. The mistake had to be recast as an obvious virtue.”

    Lis describes the “Lies, Weakness, Contempt,” as demonstrating, “The culture of impunity manifests in multiple ways. The first is dishonesty: refusing to explain the reality of policies to the public, pretending that everything will be alright, and fully denying egregious mistakes. This was the Government’s raison d’etre for the first seven months of the COVID-19 pandemic – from lying that the Coronavirus wasn’t a serious threat, to ‘throwing a protective ring around care homes’. But this tactic was lifted directly from the origin story of national myth-making: Brexit. Boris Johnson and his Vote Leave colleagues built Brexit around the idea that the UK could have it all: more sovereignty and more prosperity, all of the benefits of EU membership and none of the obligations. First, nothing bad could be conceded. Later, they declared that everything bad had already been made plain.”

    According to Lis, “The Brexiters, both before and after they became the Government, never told the British people what their options were and so never provided a fair chance for the public to vote on them. It may well have been that the voters would have endorsed a project which was going to shatter prosperity in the name of independence, but we will never find out.” Lis says that, “The Government’s lies earned it an 80-seat electoral majority.” I would claim that it was electoral fraud that achieved that result in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election and that we should fully Investigate that incomprehensible vote to expose the truth.

    Lis states optimistically that, “Of course, lies do eventually get exposed, in the sense that people become aware of them. At that point, the question of dishonesty becomes one of deflecting blame. In the case of Brexit, that was the EU, ‘Remoaners’, the media, Civil Service, judiciary, and opposition MPs. For COVID-19, it is the public itself. Ministers have blamed ordinary people for everything: following contradictory advice, wavering on discipline, and not self-isolating when in many cases that proves financially ruinous. People have been condemned both for staying away from shops (stifling the economy) and for frequenting pubs and restaurants (spreading the virus). The fact that the Government literally bribed them to eat out is neither here nor there. The Government denies its own guilt in direct proportion to impugning others.”

    Lis describes how, “The culture of impunity is a culture of machismo. Sorry is a sign of nuance and nuance is a sign of weakness. The Government’s over-riding obsession is with strength. It expects people to look up to their leaders and not to challenge them. Johnson has perfected this art. He treats challenges from Labour leader Keir Starmer as personal attacks, or worse, attacks on the nation itself. Sincere questions about the ‘test and trace’ service are branded defamations of the NHS. His ministers, meanwhile, have spent most of the pandemic boycotting the nation’s leading news programmes. Nobody need ever apologise for weaknesses if they don’t answer questions about them.”

    Lis writes of, “The Bursting of the Dam,” saying, “The tragedy is that this is all a trap the Government chose to build itself. It is not only easier to say sorry than to deny a self-evident fact, more people would respect it for doing so. Most people are reasonable and understanding. Certainly, they would sharply criticize a government which confessed to so many massive errors. But they would recognise the fact that ministers were being honest and treating the public as grown-ups. In the absence of this, it is not just that the Government makes a lot of mistakes – it is that it cannot acknowledge any of them. This compounds the initial sin. People understand that in a pandemic unprecedented in living memory, ministers will occasionally make poor choices. But people also have a right to expect that ministers will recognise them – and they never do. This is not just a sin of pride, but a sin of repetition.”

    Despite my US training for Surgery I was compelled to retrain in the UK. I felt that the British obsession with ‘reflective practice’ bordered on redundant, confidence destroying, self-flagellation. But, the fact that this concept of acknowledging and learning from mistakes is entirely unnecessary for those in high office is deeply shocking. Lis says, “If you cannot accept that you have done something wrong, you are doomed to re-enact it. So the Government has. If Johnson had apologised for going into lockdown so late, he might not have repeated that mistake in September, when his scientists advised him to adopt a circuit-breaker, advice he ignored. The Government’s real fear is opening the floodgates. It knows that the minute it says sorry for one thing, it will eventually have to take responsibility for everything. This is the doctrine of ‘taking back control’, and keeping it.”

    Lis concludes, “This Government has constructed its entire identity on the basis of always being right. It assumes a kind of divine infallibility: it cannot do wrong by virtue of what it is. That is dangerous as well as stupid, because it compromises both democracy and its own interests. If your claim to power rests on never being wrong, any fault at all risks destroying your authority and thus your legitimacy, eventually collapsing the whole edifice. This process has already begun. It is like pulling the curtain back on the Wizard of Oz every day and just watching him re-draw it. Like Donald Trump, the Government will eventually learn that the people have a limited tolerance for a culture of impunity. In the end, the political is the personal. The Government has misunderstood one of the key lessons of growing up: that saying sorry is not a weakness but an incalculable strength. This is a story of overwhelming contempt, but underneath it, profound insecurity.” The legitimacy of this Tory cabal is tenuous: we must protest loudly to remove them! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #62997 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Tearing up on telly, Matt Hancock put on his best stunt for the cameras as instructed by his boss the PM, but the Health Secretary had trouble containing his mirth. Was the Bard on board? The Tory PR machine managed to find a 81 year old chap, conveniently named William Shakespeare, as the second to get stuck with the British miracle vaccine; don’t mention it was made in the EU… Looking like he had just stumbled out of bed as per normal, Johnson said about Brexit negotiations, “Yes I’m always hopeful, I’m always hopeful, but I’ve got to be honest with you,” said the compulsive liar “the situation at the moment is, is very tricky….” Referring to people he has relentlessly slagged off throughout the talks, the PM said, “Our friends have just got to understand that the UK has left the European Union in order to be able to exercise democratic control over the way we do things…” So that the glorious Tory Dictatorship can solidify absolute control in the hands of the most thoroughly untrustworthy and corrupt Government in UK history!

    The Labour List Article entitled, “Whole country waiting for Brexit deal promised by PM, Reeves tells minister,” they reveal the mounting frustration. “Labour’s Rachel Reeves has told the government that ‘the whole country is waiting for the comprehensive trade and security deal that was promised at the general election less than a year ago’. Addressing MPs following an urgent question tabled by Labour this afternoon, the Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and shadow Cabinet Office minister slammed the government over its failure to secure a post-Brexit trade deal.Reeves told the government minister: ‘Last year, the Prime Minister said that to leave with no deal would be a failure of state craft. So this government must take responsibility for their failure if we are to leave without a deal…“We will hold the government to account whatever they bring back – deal or no deal’.”

    Labour List report Reeves had warned that, “With just 24 days to go until the end of the transition period, let me ask a few basic questions in terms of this government and our country’s readiness’. Reeves challenged the government on the impact of leaving the transition period without a deal and trading on World Trade Organisation terms, stressing the precarious situation of industries such as the agricultural and automotive sectors. The Labour spokesperson also pressed the minister on how many of the 50,000 customs agents, which the government itself said are needed before the UK leaves the transition period at the end of December, have actually been recruited. Reeves finished by reminding the Commons: ‘The former International Trade Secretary said that a trade deal with the EU would be the ‘easiest trade deal in human history’.’ She added: ‘Is that still the view of this government’?”

    Meanwhile the arrogant Brexiteer Tories are determined to talk up LaLa land knowing that we will not only be “cutting off our nose to sr face” we will be inviting full scale decapitation! When will the British public finally get it, that Brexit offers no “sunny uplands,” just food shortages and soaring costs while their wages could reduce by as much as a third? Labour List say that, “Conservative minister Penny Mordaunt told MPs today: ‘The only deal that is possible is one that is compatible with our sovereignty and one that takes back control of our laws, trade and waters. While an agreement is preferable, we are prepared to leave on so-called Australian-style terms if we can’t find compromises… People and businesses must prepare for the changes that are coming on 31st December.’ The urgent question from Labour comes amid ongoing Brexit negotiations, with the European Council set to hold its final summit of the year on Thursday at which it hopes to sign off a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and the EU.”

    For the Brexiteers ‘sovereighnty’ is a subtle euphemism for the impending Tory Dictatorship; no more inconvenient EU protections to get in the way of wholesale exploitation of the working poor on an industrial scale; they are laughing all the way to the bank. We are also ready to self-identify as an untrustworthy negotiator of international agreements. Labour List point out that, “It also comes ahead of a debate this afternoon on the controversial internal market bill, which contains provisions that contravene the Good Friday Agreement and overwrite sections of the withdrawal agreement signed up to by Boris Johnson. The bill passed its third reading in the Commons with a majority of 84 in September but the government suffered a large defeat in the House of Lords last month with peers rejecting clauses allowing ministers to break international law. The Prime Minister has this afternoon offered to drop the controversial clauses in the internal market bill in a bid to break the deadlock in the trade negotiations with the European bloc.”

    The Independent Article entitled, “Warning of ‘catastrophic’ no-deal Brexit impact on farmers, as minister suggests tariffs on agriculture will not be manageable,” outlines the crash-out Brexit reality. They say that the, “NFU warns of ‘savage’ consequences of failure to secure free trade agreement with EU. Farmers have warned of ‘catastrophic’ damage to British agriculture if Boris Johnson fails to secure a trade deal with Europe, after environment secretary George Eustice suggested that tariffs on foodstuffs would not be ‘manageable’. National Farmers Union president Minette Batters said that no-deal Brexit would see tariffs as high as 85 per cent imposed on British beef and 62 per cent on lamb, pricing UK products out of the export market. No-deal would cost the sector £1.36bn in new levies on exports, and would also impose ‘huge costs’ on importers which are likely to be passed on to consumers in higher prices, she warned.” Too many people in the UK are already relying on food banks to survive: they will starve!

    The Independent report that, “Meanwhile, a Conservative former cabinet minister said that food shortages were possible, as continental hauliers halt trips to the UK in order to avoid queues, disruption and Brexit red tape at the Channel ports. A lot of lorry drivers are saying they will just give Britain a miss for the first couple of months of next year,’ said Damian Green, who was effective deputy prime minister in Theresa May’s government. “That could obviously lead to a threat of shortages of parts for manufacturing and even possibly of food and so on.” His conscious Tory cruelty was on full display as he blithely glossed over the inevitable hardship that will not touch the wealthy elite while the working poor starve; his total lack understanding or empathy were obvious. For the Tories there is no comprehension that lowly truck drivers might not be prepared to remain trapped in their cabs for hours or days at a time: workers are meant to comply with even the most unreasonable demands: just strip them of their rights!

    The Independent say that, “Mr Eustice appeared to acknowledge the threat to agriculture as he tried to play down the potential impact of tariffs on the fisheries sector. ‘When we’ve discussed this with the fishing industry, the main species we export, the levels of tariffs on fish – unlike agriculture actually – are manageable,’ the environment secretary told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show.” However, Ms Batters said that “Mr Eustice was right to suggest that tariffs would not be manageable for Britain’s farmers. ‘We’ve been clear for four years now that a no-deal for agriculture is catastrophic,’ she told BBC Radio 4’s World This Weekend. ‘We (would be) priced out of the market. You’d be looking at enormous tariffs on every sector – 62 per cent on lamb, 85 per cent on beef, 51 per cent on malt and barley. It would be very savage and a total cost of £1.36 billion pounds in tariffs’.”

    According to the Independent Ms Batters had also said that, “Tariffs imposed on imports from the EU, which supplies 40 per cent of the UK’s food needs, would inflict ‘huge costs’ to traders, she said, adding: ‘What does it do to food prices as well? It will be a very precarious position to be in’.” In reality these ‘huge costs’ will be passed on to consumers in far higher food prices at a time when those subsisting on Universal Credit, on furlough or a minimum wage zero hours contracts already rely on food banks to feed their families. Sadly, food banks are at the very bottom of the supply chain and they will run out of basic provisions first. Anyone who has not been able to prepare by stockpiling a supply of food will suffer if they cannot afford the new higher prices after New Year. Meanwhile the Tories will be prioritizing military spending, because that’s where big money is to be made. Selling weapons to foreign despots will provide reliable ongoing future profits long after the Tories are no longer able to exploit the Covid 19 crisis.

    The Independent warns, “Even the kind of bare-bones free trade agreement being sought by Mr Johnson would cause difficulties for agriculture, because it would mean a mountain of new paperwork covering sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks on animal and plant products. With just 25 days to go until the transition to post-Brexit arrangements on 31 December, the UK faces massive shortages of the vets needed to carry out checks, with the threat of lengthy queues at the ports regardless of the outcome of Boris Johnson’s talks with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. ‘Farmers run long-term businesses, they want certainty,’ said Ms Batters. ‘They have no certainty on what our trading relationship is with our closest trading partner. I am besieged by many people at the moment who want to know, but I can only plan for the worst and hope for the best’.”

    The Independent quote Batters over serious concerns, she says, “Time is really running out and, while we’re living in this period, it’s very hard to get final preparations in. We need 500% more vets. We have a lot of cost with the databases and everything else that has to go in – health checks, SPS rules at ports – and a month to prepare.’ With 7,000 trucks wanting to cross the Channel short straits at Dover at any one time, additional friction from red tape and paperwork will result in delays and additional cost, said Ms Batters. ‘A thin deal doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is solved because you are still going to have friction,’ she said. ‘That’s the key point – we don’t know how much friction, but it will have to be concluded at some stage. We have to have a trading relationship with the EU’.” While the massive logistical problems have been obvious for years rather than just months, hard core Brexiteers act as if they are oblivious to reality, blinded by their rapacious greed and the promise of unlimited exploitation.

    The Week Article entitled, “What might no-deal look like for Britain?” offered a ‘fact check’ in early December with the PM eager to maintain the illusion that credible negotiations were ongoing. They said that, “Crunch talks come down to the wire as officials negotiate late into the night.” With zero progress and few hints escaping to the frustrated media there was a bizare focus on the team’s culinary choices as if this was a valued indicator, a ‘reading of the runes.’ We were told by the Week that, “UK and EU negotiating teams are understood to be in the process of finalising a post-Brexit trade deal after multiple officials said an agreement could be reached by the end of the week. According to the BBC, talks ‘went on late into Wednesday evening at the business department in central London’ as both sides seek ‘compromises in key areas before current trading rules expire at the end of December’. These include fishing rights, competition rules and how an agreement should be enforced.”

    The Week reported that, “On Wednesday, Boris Johnson’s press secretary, Allegra Stratton, said the prime minister was hopeful of a deal, but warned that a collapse in talks is still possible. ‘He is optimistic but he’s also always said that he is confident and comfortable that we would be OK without a deal,’ she said. ‘If a deal can be struck that’s all to the good, but he’s also confident that we can move towards trading on what he calls Australia terms,’ she said. This, according to The Guardian, is a reference to Johnson’s formulation for trading under World Trade Organization terms.” In reality this innocuous term is providing cowardly cover for Boris Johnson’s failure and absolute betrayal of the British public; he needs to be called out over this deliberate deception.

    The Week offer an analysis of WTO reality: “Should talks end without a deal, what might Britain’s post-Brexit future look like? Tariffs and quotas: If a deal can’t be agreed with the EU, then the UK will default to WTO terms from 1 January 2021. Every WTO member has a list of tariffs and quotas that they apply to other countries. The UK would have to apply tariffs and quotas to goods coming into the country from the EU, and the EU would apply its ‘third-country’ tariffs and quotas to the UK. That means the UK would be hit by big taxes when it tried to sell products to the EU market.” Just how big will those levies be? They say, “The bloc’s average WTO tariffs are 11.1% for agricultural goods, 15.7% for animal products and 35.4% for dairy. British car makers would be hit with a 10% tariff on exports to the bloc, which could amount to €5.7bn per year. That would increase the average price of a British car sold in the EU by €3,000.”

    What do we enjoy right now? The Week say, “Currently, trade between the UK and EU is tariff-free. But the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) predicts that no-deal would mean that 90% of the UK’s goods exports to the EU would be subjected to tariffs. Without a deal, it would have to trade with every WTO member in the world on the best terms it offered any member, including the EU.” Put bluntly all UK exporters to the EU, from the agricultural sector, fisheries and manufacturing, would be rendered seriously uncompetitive overnight as we rang in the New Year of ideological Tory post crash-out Brexit misery.

    Turning to the situation at our borders the Week report that, “In the event of no-deal, the EU would begin imposing border checks on UK products from 1 January 2021, even if the UK hadn’t changed any of its rules and regulations. The UK government has admitted it expects massive border queues and persistent delays for six months or longer in the UK if it leaves without securing a deal. France has said it plans to immediately implement post-Brexit border controls at its ports in the event of no-deal. The UK government has estimated that 50% to 85% of lorry drivers would not have the necessary documentation to enter the EU via France, says The Washington Post. HMRC has estimated that British businesses would spend £15bn extra a year on paperwork in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, reports the Financial Times.” The most distressing regression is the future curtailment of freedom of movement. As a teenager prior to the UK joining the EU, I traveled and spent many months at a time living on the continent, now this will be restricted to no more than 90 days at a time.

    In an effort to project objectivity the Week say of the Economic impact that, “A small number of pro-Brexit economists say that most trade around the world is done on WTO terms, and the UK would still have access to the EU market, says Euro News. But many other economists and academics say that crashing out and trading on WTO terms would be damaging for the British economy. The head of the WTO has warned Johnson that standard trade terms ‘would slow Britain’s recovery from coronavirus, saying that sticking closer to present arrangements would be better for jobs’, The Times reports.” That frequently pictured triumphant Brexiteer, hoisted shoulder high to rejoice the Leave victory up in Sunderland, will see car manufacturers desert her city for practical reasons to set up manufacturing on the continent. ‘Ms. Leave of Sunderland’ will soon see the catastrophic results of her ill-informed choice even if she does not work in the sector, as it will hit the entire area with the destitution of abandoned workers across the board.

    The reality looks grim. According to the Week, “Roberto Azevedo, director-general of the WTO, said while WTO terms were ‘not a catastrophe’, they ‘will impose a number of adjustments and those can be painful, particularly for some sectors’. The UK exports nearly half (46%) of its goods to the rest of the European Union, making it by far the largest UK export market. And over half (53%) of all UK imports came from the EU in 2018. The UK’s economy relies heavily on its service industry, with British service providers making up 79% of the UK economy and accounting for 45% of exports. London’s position as a global financial hub would be threatened.” I am astounded that the City of London has not put the brakes on this insanity as they have so much to lose. This harsh reality makes a mockery of the myopic focus on our fishing fleet who represent 1% of the UK economy and are of absolutely no relevance to the wealthy Tory financial speculators beyond the emotive PR value of pretending to defend our fishing grounds.

    Of trade relations with non-EU countries the Week say, “The UK crashing out of the EU with no deal at the end of 2020 isn’t just bad for UK-EU trade, it’s bad for UK trade full-stop, say some critics. The UK could lose continuity of trade relations with many of the 72 countries that have trade deals in place with the EU, including Canada and Turkey.” They say that, “Britain is in talks to continue its participation in those agreements, and so far the government has secured continuity agreements with around a dozen countries.” Great, how reassuring… Not! That will leave 60 other non-EU countries with whom we will no longer be in our current trading relationship in less than one months time. These deals take time, a long, a very long time and a sizable team of seasoned negotiators of which we are in short supply: it does not look good.

    “No-deal would set the UK free from rule-taking” say the Week in an effort to present a rare advantage. They say, “While a no-deal Brexit would mean the UK is no longer subject to EU rules, it would not mean that every rule the UK follows is made in the UK, says Full Fact.” Who gains from that advantage? Certainly not the working poor, after the Tories have eviscerated all our rights and the current protections of EU membership, so it must be the wealthy elite who conned us into accepting this yoke of misery so that they could exploit with impunity. They say, “We would remain members of international organisations like NATO and the WTO, and membership of these things means following collective rules or decision-making,’ says the fact-checking site. And the UK will still be subject to the European Court of Human Rights after Brexit. This court isn’t an EU body, and the UK will still remain a member after the transition period ends.” However, the Tories pledged in their manifesto to pull us out of the ECHR, and they will pronto!

    The EU know that if they were to back down on the ‘level playing field’ issue they would soon have a slave labour economy taking full advantage of EU access to undercut EU competitors with unregulated goods. The Tory race to the bottom will be fast and furious out of the starting blocks come January first and the huge majority stolen in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election will make this distressing process unstoppable. I have no doubt that the mid week crunch day is another false end date when Johnson will stall for more time, thus convincing those who are still gullible enough to believe this serial liar that he is doing his best to negotiate, while he sneakily runs down the clock. Why? Because no amount of happy clappy, exceptionalist Tory PR distraction stunts will totally shut down the fury of the UK public once they fully understand the trap they are being dragged into by this ruthless Government, hell bent on maximizing exploitation and absolute control over the helpless working poor being collectively driven into destitution.

    Due to the Pandemic and despite the UK demonstrating bad faith over the deal, I believe that the EU would consider it reasonable to postpone the final departure date and continue negotiating beyond the New Year. A responsible Government would be prepared to put the wellbeing of its population before any selfish factional ideology, but we do not have such a Government in power right now. The obscene level of corruption in this kleptocracy in squandering public funds, including money used to pay the fake charity, Integrity Initiative, for the illegal undermining of the official opposition in a defamatory smear campaign; this is more than enough to call the legitimacy of the electoral ‘landslide victory’ into question even without an Investigation into the Postal Votes. In a genuine democracy the people involved would be jailed and the vote invalidated, but the UK is a long way from democracy. We are about to enter what could be decades of ruthless Tory Dictatorship, but it is not too late to protest and derail this plan: Get The Tories Out! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #63044 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    In a https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-55233021 entitled, “Shakespeare gets Covid vaccine: All’s well that ends well,” they demonstrated the political capitol this Tory Government was prepared to extract from the roll out of a UK vaccination program. It was a desperately needed distraction to dull the clamour for definitive information on a Brexit, which is especially important since there is still no credible deal in sight and the PM appears to be stalling for time, deliberately running down the clock towards his prefered crash-out Brexit. The butt of corny jokes on Twitter, William Shakespeare became perfect PR prey while, “receiving his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.” The BBC proudly announced that, “Margaret Keenan has made history by becoming the first person in the world to get a Covid-19 vaccine outside of a clinical trial.” Not true; those sneaky Russians started into a mass vaccination program on Saturday with Sputnik V, but exceptionalist Tories are still trumpeting a world first over a vaccine manufactured in Belgium for a German/US Pharma Company with EU funding!

    Margaret Keenan might have preferred a less early awakening, since the BBC remark that, “…if there’s one name you’ll associate with this day, it may not be hers. Enter, pursued by puns, William Shakespeare. Not the writer, poet and playwright, but his 81-year-old namesake. This Mr Shakespeare was the second person to be given a jab and, guess what, he also comes from Warwickshire.” The poor man might have preferred not having the entire country taking the piss out of his name in the same way bullies might have done when he was a school boy. Auntie prattled on with the puns, “’Much ado about nothing?’ It doesn’t matter – ‘all’s well that ends well’. ‘Is this a needle which I see before me?’ the present-day Shakespeare could have asked, but his reaction was a little bit less, well, dramatic: he said he was ‘pleased’ to be given the jab, and staff at University Hospital in Coventry had been ‘wonderful’. So, if Ms Keenan was patient 1A, was Mr Shakespeare ‘Patient 2B or not 2B’?” Was ‘V Day’ just the perfect ‘dead cat?’

    Tory triumphalism reached fever pitch as they got as much mileage out of day one of their vaccine roll out as was humanly possible. The BBC reported that, “Theirs were the first of 800,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that will be dispensed in the coming weeks in the UK. The vaccine is given as two injections, 21 days apart, with the second dose being a booster. Immunity begins to kick in after the first dose but reaches its full effect seven days after the second dose. ‘Two doses, both alike in quantity,’ if we’re allowed another pun – but here are some others on the day ‘the taming of the flu’ began.” Poor chap should have told them to sod off! Today there was an admission that two people had allergic reactions, oops! But, it was not that serious; there is still much we do not know about this vaccine in terms of efficacy. The cold-chain logistics are formidable which is a major concern when there is so much pressure placed on delivery; would private contractors flag-up a lapse in protocol if it rendered a large batch ineffective?

    What we do know is that the powerful pharma companies are seeing their stock prices sky-rocket as being first was far more vital than being 100% ready to roll: more profit over public good again. The Skwawkbox Article including heartwarming footage, entitled, “Video: a moving reminder of what life can look like in an island nation that isn’t run by idiots and monsters (with no opposition),” exemplifies the advantages of sound governance. They say that, “New Zealand has seen twenty-five COVID-19 deaths. In total. The Skwawkbox has received a moving video of a simple time when proud parents and grandparents could pack tightly into a school hall to watch their children receive recognition for their hard work in class. The video, taken by a friend of Skwawkbox editor Steve Walker and used with permission, shows his daughter receiving an award at her school – in New Zealand: The proud young girl even receives a hug and kiss from the teachers presenting the award.”

    The Skwawkbox report that, “New Zealand has suffered just over 2,000 cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began, with 25 deaths – because as an island nation its Prime MInister seized the opportunity to close borders and ensure that the virus never took hold enough to overwhelm attempts to eliminate it, instead of boasting how well prepared her country was and sitting back while disaster arrived. As a result, life in New Zealand today looks much like it did a year ago. But to the UK, which has suffered tens of thousands of needless deaths and one of the worst economic collapses in the developed world, it looks like archive footage of a lost era, with scientists warning that even a vaccine is unlikely to restore normality for a long period yet.” While glossing over repeated failures and a shocking death toll, this Tory Government will wring ever once of publicity out of even the smallest step in the process, like the OTT boasting over rapid UK approval of the vaccine as if the PM had brewed a magic mix in his own kitchen!

    The Skwawkbox justifiably claim that, “The people of this country are still being misled enough by politicians and the media that many of them don’t properly realise what a disaster the UK has suffered, let alone how different it could have been with a decent government – or even an ‘opposition’ that actually opposes instead of approving everything the Tories are doing as if there were no better options.” They say that, “The proud dad told the Skwawkbox, ‘We won the leadership lottery’ – but New Zealand is not the only country whose government responded better to the crisis than that of the UK. Islands Japan and Iceland and peninsula South Korea also showed how different things could be when governments exploited their geographic good fortune for the good of their people. When the Tories boast, or the media tell you that the UK pandemic was unavoidable and focus on scenes from hard-hit landlocked countries, they’re lying to you.”

    The Wall Street Journal Article entitled, “Russia Begins to Roll Out Its Sputnik V Coronavirus Vaccine,” documents that, No the UK was only first in the minds of swaggering Tory exceptionalists. They report that, “Doctors, teachers and social workers in Moscow are among the first to receive the shot. Moscow: The Russian capital began rolling out the country’s homegrown coronavirus vaccine to doctors, teachers and social workers on Saturday, as the virus in the world’s fourth worst-hit country continues to spread at a record pace. Russian officials are planning to expand the vaccination campaign nationwide next week in what is expected to be a limited-scale rollout after manufacturers encountered challenges in ramping up production. Russia approved the shot, named Sputnik V, in August, despite criticism from Western scientists about the lack of large-scale clinical trial data at the time.”

    In a piece containing good news and bad, the Wall Street Journal say that, “Moscow’s inoculation campaign comes days after the U.K. authorized a vaccine by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE that is expected to be rolled out beginning next week. That shot is also being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S., where a similar authorization could come later this month and a rollout starting before the end of the year. On Saturday, Russia reported a record 28,782 new cases, with the total tally more than 2.4 million. Russia’s cumulative caseload since the onset of the pandemic is behind only the U.S., India and Brazil. In Moscow, which also registered a record number of new cases, some 70 vaccination centers located in hospitals and clinics opened their doors on Saturday morning. English teacher Oksana Shabarchina, 36 years old, whose mother spent a month in a hospital fighting the virus, got a text message on Friday that she was eligible and immediately registered for a shot on the city’s online system.”

    Wall Street Journal note that, “As wealthier countries buy up supplies of Western drugmakers’ Covid-19 vaccines that are still in development, China and Russia are offering their fast-tracked shots to poorer nations. Here’s what they’re hoping to get in return. ‘I want to protect myself, it’s a necessity,’ Ksenia Shaikhutdinova said after getting vaccinated at a clinic in southern Moscow on Saturday, ‘I really hope that it’s going to work because there’s just no other way to defeat this.’ The Kremlin has banked on Sputnik V as it has avoided introducing a second national lockdown, with the economy already pummeled by earlier quarantine measures and low oil prices. The jab is free and voluntary for Russian citizens. Data from clinical trials released last month showed that the two-shot vaccine was 91.4% effective in protecting people from Covid-19. Authorities said last month the results will be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal soon.”

    The Wall Street Journal report that, “In Moscow, home to 12 million people, some 5,000 signed up for the shot in the first few hours after registration was opened on Friday, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said. Officials have allocated nearly $130 million of the city’s budget to the vaccination effort. The procedure takes about an hour, including a checkup by a doctor before the vaccination and a post-shot examination and observation for 30 minutes, officials said. Those vaccinated then get a text message about three weeks later to get their second shot. Choreography teacher Nikolay Frolov, 41, said he was worried about getting infected as he works in close contact with children. ‘I’m thinking about my own safety and that of my relatives,’ he said after getting inoculated. ‘Besides, this is the simplest and most effective way to come back to normal life,’ he said.”

    The breakneck speed with which vaccines have competed in a race for rapid approval has spooked people in Russia just as it has done in the UK and the US. The Wall Street Journal say that, “Still, Russian authorities are facing a growing vaccine skepticism. Officials have said that some 70% of the population needs to be inoculated to halt the spread. But an October poll by independent pollster Levada Centre showed that only 36% of those surveyed would get vaccinated. Eduard Matsonashvili, a 30-year-old math teacher, was notified that he is eligible for the early rollout but said he won’t be getting a shot for now. ‘I don’t want to take risks, and it is not clear whether it works or not.’ The rollout has been delayed from earlier expectations it would begin by October. Attempts to scale up the production have proved difficult as scientists struggled with fine-tuning the technical processes and encountered issues with the equipment.”

    The Wall Street Journal report that, “On Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would soon produce two million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine. Russian officials earlier this year predicted that some 30 million doses would be ready this month. “This gives us the opportunity to start if not mass then at least large-scale vaccination,” Mr. Putin said at a government meeting. Across Russia’s 11 time zones, authorities are gearing up for a launch next week. In St. Petersburg, officials are buying freezers that can maintain ultralow temperatures needed to store the jab. In the southern region of Bashkiria, authorities are planning to include in the early rollout police officers who are helping enforce mask-wearing and quarantine regimes. The Russian military, which was involved in testing the vaccine during the summer, is looking to vaccinate some 400,000 servicemen. So far, the military has received 14,500 doses of the vaccine, officials said this week.” Don’t tell the Tories they were not quite world beating, Matt Hancock might start blubbing!

    In the Reuters Article entitled, “Cuba leads race for Latin American coronavirus vaccine,” Sarah Marsh outlines the bold Covid 19 vaccination ambitions of this plucky little wrongly demonized Socialist nation. Reporting from Havana (Reuters) she writes, “As Latin American nations test experimental coronavirus vaccines from across the globe and economic heavyweights such as Brazil and Mexico jockey for supply deals with major drugmakers, Communist-run Cuba already has two of its own vaccines in clinical trials. Should its efforts succeed, the Caribbean island could become an important supplier to neighboring countries that might otherwise struggle to access vaccine supply as wealthy Western nations rush to secure doses, regional experts said. ‘Cuba’s contribution with its vaccine could be very important for certain vulnerable groups in our region’ such as the elderly, or remote indigenous communities, Jose Moya, the representative in Cuba for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), told Reuters.”

    Marsh notes that, “If a Cuban vaccine proves safe and effective, it would become available for purchase in the region through PAHO, the Americas regional office of the World Health Organization (WHO), Moya said. Cuba’s vaccine progress is being tracked by COVAX – a program co-led by the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) to ensure global distribution of vaccines – he said. Cuba’s two vaccine candidates, known as Sovereign 1 and Sovereign 2, are not among the nine COVAX has chosen for its portfolio to date, a CEPI spokesman said. Vaccines are seen as crucial to ending a pandemic that has claimed more than 1.2 million lives and battered the world’s economy. There were 47 coronavirus vaccines in WHO-approved clinical trials as of Nov. 3, a handful in most advanced testing.”

    Marsh reports that, “Cuba has long exported vaccines to the developing world, including shots against meningitis and hepatitis B, although data on recent sales is not public. Late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro backed a home-grown biotech sector in the 1980s, partly so Cuba could become more self-sufficient in the face of a U.S. trade embargo. It has since become a major part of the economy. Cuba’s vaccine program has drawn interest from ally Venezuela, whose president, Nicolas Maduro, said in August that the ALBA bloc of eight leftist Latin American and Caribbean countries backed it. Other Latin American nations are prioritizing deals with major drugmakers and considering vaccines also in advanced testing from China and Russia. Mexico’s foreign ministry told Reuters in August it planned to approach Cuba about its vaccine. As of last month, the ministry said those talks had not advanced.”

    According to Marsh, “The Addis Ababa-based Africa CDC said Cuba has a good scientific reputation and signaled potential interest once data on its vaccines become available. Cuba will favor exports to countries with which it has existing healthcare agreements, after ensuring it has enough for its own needs, a health official told the journal MEDICC Review. ‘We are making a big effort to be able to start vaccinating all the Cuban population in the first half of next year,’ said Vicente Vérez, director of the Finlay Institute, Cuba’s foremost vaccine research center, during a visit by President Miguel Diaz-Canel last month. Scientists are hailed as heroes in Cuba, a prestige that helps limit brain drain despite low salaries and difficult conditions, as Cuban researchers contend with U.S. sanctions that hamper international collaboration and the purchase of supplies.” What amazing feats could be achieved with strong collaboration between the US and Cuba if it were to replace the long-standing, futile ideologically driven targeting from the US?

    Marsh reports that, “State-run media have run lengthy profiles of researchers working at Finlay, one of 20 research centers and 32 companies employing some 20,000 people that make up the state-run BioCubaFarma corporation. Cuba produces 8 of the 12 vaccines in its national immunization program and has exported hundreds of millions of vaccines to more than 40 countries, according to BioCubaFarma President Eduardo Martinez. Finlay’s Sovereign 1 and Sovereign 2 vaccines are being tested in hundreds and scores of people, respectively. Officials have not said when they expect to start pivotal trials involving thousands of volunteers. Both vaccines target a part of the spike protein of the novel coronavirus called the receptor binding domain, which helps the virus stick to cells. Sovereign 1 has generated antibodies blocking infection in rats and rabbits, and has so far proven safe in midstage human trials.”

    Marsh motes that, “Cuba said last week it expects to have two more experimental COVID-19 vaccines in clinical trials by year end, including one administered through the nose to immunize mucous membranes, a key entry point for the virus. A diversified portfolio would help Cuba match the best type of vaccine to the appropriate population groups, BioCubaFarma’s Martinez said.” Marsh outlines the political and financial hurdles that Cuba faces saying, Cuba’s ambitions may be challenged when researchers are ready to launch late-stage trials. Vaccines are more easily tested in places with rampant virus spread, but Cuba’s transmission rate is very low, with just about 500 confirmed active cases. Political tensions with neighbors like Brazil may make it harder for Cuban researchers to find trial sites abroad. Foreign ministry officials in Argentina and Mexico, which are hosting late-stage trials for several vaccines, said they were not aware of talks with Cuba.”

    Marsh says that, “Cash-strapped Cuba may also struggle to buy raw materials for large-scale vaccine production. It could rely on other countries to handle manufacturing, said Jose Luis Di Fabio, a former PAHO vaccine coordinator and Cuba representative.
    ‘By using prior expertise,’ said Maria Bottazzi, co-leader of a vaccine development team at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine, ‘the Cubans have created two vaccines that sound technologically quite promising’.”
    The Cuban Medical teams are respected around the globe; their concept of ‘Medical Diplomacy,’ has brought Doctors to poor developing nations all over the world and saved millions of lives. It is a seriously impressive track record that leaves the UK, and even the US with all its wealth, in the dust. If the UK could become as effective as tiny Cuba at improving the standard of global healthcare, I would be extremely proud. Imperial College is not racing to production for profit, but focusing on a vaccine that will bring relief to millions worldwide.

    While wealthy nations are buying up vaccine supplies five times that required to vaccinate all of their citizens, big Pharma is reeling in huge profits made from desperation and human misery as they routinely do. However, we cannot allow Covid 19 to continue to thrive and even mutate in abandoned developing countries: the virus must be eradicated globally. If the Labour Government under Jeremy Corbyn had taken charge in 2019 I can imagine there would have been significant positive collaboration with Cuba over a Pandemic strategy. We did not get the progressive Government we voted for, deserved and needed at the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. At some point we must seriously challenge that unfathomable Tory ‘landslide victory’ result and fully Investigate to expose the truth. However there are other aspects of their illegal conduct in the run up to that vote that render it corrupt and totally invalid. We don’t need to suffer Tory oppression any longer, we must fight hard for their criminalization and immediate removal from office. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #63106 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Boris Johnson seized an opportunity at Prime Minister’s Questions to brag of our UK ‘world beating,’ saying, “I visited Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital yesterday to see the first clinically approved vaccine being given to people in London, as it is now across the country. This is a fantastic moment for all of us in this House, and I know that everybody will want to join me in thanking the NHS, the vaccine taskforce, the scientists and all the volunteers who have made this possible.” Next Tory MP Sir Edward Laigh took aim directly at the EU with, “When I was a spear carrier in the Brexit referendum campaign, led by my right hon. Friend, we assured the British people that a trade deal was entirely achievable, so may I urge him to make one last effort? Surely that deal is achievable, because we have no intention of lowering our standards, but the EU should know this: if, consistent with national security, he cannot secure that deal for us, this parliamentary party will back him to the hilt, because strength comes with unity.”

    PMQs became the PMs Bully Pulpit of hardened resolve with Tory support for his devastating crash-out Brexit, he said, “I thank my right hon. Friend. He is entirely right: a good deal is still there to be done, and I look forward to discussing it with Commissioner von der Leyen tonight, but I must tell the House that our friends in the EU are currently insisting that, if they pass a new law in the future with which we in this country do not comply or do not follow suit, they should have the automatic right to punish us and to retaliate. Secondly, they are saying that the UK should be the only country in the world not to have sovereign control over its fishing waters. I do not believe that those are terms that any Prime Minister of this country should accept. I must tell the House and reassure my right hon. Friend that, whether our new trading arrangements resemble those of Australia’s with the EU or whether they are like those of Canada with the EU, I have absolutely no doubt that, from 1 January, this country is going to prosper mightily.”

    Keir Starmer, compelled to join the vaccine praise, said, “I join the Prime Minister in his comments about the vaccine roll-out. It was fantastic to see the first person, Margaret Keenan, receive the vaccine yesterday. It is a huge national effort, and I want to thank everybody who has been involved with it. Mr Speaker, I also want to thank you and the House authorities for enabling me to participate today, notwithstanding the fact that I am self-isolating.” Then yet again he stumbled into a redundant question by asking, “A year ago, the Prime Minister stood on the steps of Downing Street and promised the country ‘a permanent break from talking about Brexit’. Can the Prime Minister tell us: how is that going?” The PM responded, “I am delighted to welcome the right hon. and learned Gentleman here, from his vantage point of exile in Islington, his spiritual home and wish him all the best in his self-isolation.” Johnson’s response was all too predictable as he said, “His own silence on this matter has been sphinx-like. I wonder quite what it is that has kept him from asking this question for so long. We delivered Brexit on 31 January, in case he failed to notice.”

    Starmer defensively snapped, “It is Camden, not Islington. The Prime Minister starts straight away by deflecting, it is the same old, same old, whether on covid or Brexit. Twelve months ago, he told the British people that he had an ‘oven-ready deal’. He did not say he had half a deal or that the next stage would be very, very difficult. In fact, he faced the British people and told them, before the election, that the chances of no deal were ‘absolutely zero’. The Chancellor, as he is now, obviously took him at his word, because the Chancellor said in the run-up to the election: ‘We won’t need to plan for no-deal because we…have a deal.’ So a year on, why should anyone who trusted the Prime Minister when he said he had a deal, including his Chancellor, apparently, believe a word he says now?”

    Johnson reconfigured his empty pledge, saying, “I hesitate to accuse the right hon. and learned Gentleman of deliberately trying to mislead people, but let us be in no doubt that we had an oven-ready deal, which was the withdrawal agreement, which the people voted for, as he rightly points out, and by which this country left the customs union and the single market, and delivered on our promises. I can tell him, although he must know this, that whatever happens from 1 January this country will be able to get on with our points-based immigration system, which we have put into law, in fulfilment of our manifesto commitment. We will be able to get on with instituting low-tax free ports, in places where jobs and growth are most needed around the country. We will be able to honour our promise to the British people and institute higher animal welfare standards; we will be able to do free trade deals; and we will get our money back as well. I do not know what else he wants to see from 1 January, but all those things will be delivered.”

    MPs in the Chamber have learned to tune out the PMs outrageous pledges when he launches into a Party Political Broadcast during PMQs to evade answering a question, but Starmer has yet to learn how to ask questions that render this tactic inappropriate so he lumbered on with, “Oh, I see. Apparently, ‘Get Brexit done’ just meant the first part of it—the easy bit. I do not remember that being written on the bulldozer at the time. Last September, the Prime Minister actually hit the nail on the head when he said that leaving without a deal would be a “failure of statecraft”. It would be, it would be a total failure, and it will be the British people who pay the price. Does the Prime Minister agree with his own spending watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility, that the cost of that failure, of leaving the EU with no deal, would be higher unemployment, higher inflation and a smaller economy?”

    Johnson totally avoided addressing the matter by turning his reply into a question targeting Keir Starmer, “The more the right hon. and learned Gentleman talks about Brexit, the more I can see why he tried to avoid the subject for the past year. We did leave with a very good deal, and in any circumstances this country will prosper mightily. He talks about the possible adverse consequences for this country of a deal on Australian terms, I think that is what he is talking about, but we have yet to hear from Labour party members what their view is of that matter. Would they vote for it, yes or no? He remained totally Delphic last week about his policy on fighting coronavirus and he is totally Delphic about what to do on Brexit as well.” The BBC have endorsed the devious Tory practice of avoiding all reasonable scrutiny by constantly quizzing Labour MPs on how they would vote for a deal that doesn’t exist!

    Starmer strengthened his attack by focusing on the businesses that would be leaving the UK after crash-out Brexit and the jobs lost. He asked, “The Prime Minister talks about indecision; he is absolutely stuck, this is the truth of it, and dithering between the deal that he knows we need and the compromise that he knows his Back Benchers will not let him make. I genuinely hope that this is the usual Prime Minister’s bluster and that, like one of his newspaper columns, a deal arrives at the last minute. But for some people, and their jobs, it is already too late. Yesterday, INEOS, a major employer in this country, announced that it will not now build the new Grenadier car in Bridgend and will move production to France instead. This is a project that just two months ago the Prime Minister said was ‘a vote of confidence’. Hundreds of skilled jobs now will not go to Bridgend. Can the Prime Minister tell us how many more British jobs have to go overseas before he gets on with delivering the Brexit deal that he promised?”

    Johnson tried to turn this question into ‘but what will the opposition do,’ but the Tory majority make it redundant! He said, “I think it is a bit much of the Leader of the Opposition to criticise the Government for failure to come up with a policy on Brexit and to attack the putative consequences of coming out on Australian terms when he cannot even say whether he would vote for that deal, yes or no. If he cannot say whether he would vote for our deal, yes or no, he simply cannot attack the Government’s policy. Until he is able to come up with a position of his own, wrap a towel round his head and decide what he actually thinks, I find it very difficult to take his criticisms seriously. What I can say is that this country will be ready for whether we have a Canadian or an Australian solution, and there will be jobs created in this country, throughout the whole of the UK, not just in spite of Brexit but because of Brexit, because this country is going to become a magnet for overseas investment. Indeed, it already is and will remain so.”

    Starmer pointed out the obvious, “The Prime Minister asked me how I will vote on a deal that he has not even secured. Secure the deal, Prime Minister; you promised it. I can say this: if there is a deal, and I hope there is a deal, my party will vote in the national interest, not on party political lines, as he is doing. This is about leadership. The Prime Minister has done 15 U-turns, he has had five different plans on covid, and last week 53 of his own MPs voted against him, so if I were him I would not talk about leadership. The Prime Minister has not always wanted to listen to business, we know what his message to business is, but he should. Let me quote the CBI, which says that the message from business is this: ‘get a deal…quickly’. The National Farmers Union says: ‘Time is really running out and…it’s very hard to get final preparations in.’ These are the people the Prime Minister should be listening to, not his Back Benchers.”

    Starmer’s next inquiry was bound not to get answered, but it was not really directe at the PM it was directed at the BBC and the lame UK Media who are failing to ask this important question of the PM in interviews. However I doubt that raising the overlooked scrutiny at PMQs will prompt them to grill him on the subject. Starmer asked, “On the question of preparation, the Government knew months ago that they needed 50,000 customs agents trained and ready to go from 1 January, deal or no deal, so can the Prime Minister tell the House how many of the 50,000 agents will be in place on 1 January? That is in 23 days’ time.”

    The PMs predictably evasive response led to more bragging and bluster, “It is wonderful to get to the end of that question. I can tell the right hon. and learned Gentleman that we have already invested £1 billion in getting this country ready for whatever the trading relationship is that we have on 1 January. We have invested £84 million into supporting customs agents across the UK and £200 million into supporting our ports, and they are doing an amazing job. I want to thank business for the incredible job it is doing to get ready. We have all got to get ready, because under any view there is going to be change from 1 January, there will be change in the way we do business and there will be more opportunities for this country around the world. I am delighted by what I take is the increasing signalling from Camden, because the message from Camden seems to be that, given the choice, the right hon. and learned Gentleman would vote for a deal rather than not. Did my Back-Bench colleagues get that impression? I think I did.”

    The Speaker interjected, “Hopefully, the final question will be a little shorter.” Starmer was on notice to keep his questioning brief, but first he doubled-down on the PMs empty reply saying, “I take it that the answer is the Prime Minister has no idea whether the 50,000 customs agents will be in place on 1 January. He either does not know or he does not care. The Prime Minister said he had a deal. He did not. He said he would protect jobs. He did not. He said he would prepare for any outcome. He has not. Whatever may happen in the next few days, there is no doubting that his incompetence has held Britain back. Will he end this charade? In that uncertainty, will he get the deal that he promised and allow the country to move on?” We all fear he will not!

    Johnson made a pathetic attempt to turn this on Starmer saying, “I want to thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his final baffling question. Last week, as I have said, he sphinx-like avoided any pronouncement on how this country was going to fight covid. He refused to support the measures that we have put in place. This week, he remains deafeningly silent on what he really thinks about a Brexit deal. While he puts a cold towel round his head, lost in thought, and tries to work out what his position is, we are getting on—” a sudden interruption stopped Johnson’s tiresome drivel mid sentence as the Speaker intervened to restore discipline, “Order. Mr Bryant! I suggest the Whip has a word with him. We are not having that disgraceful behaviour.”

    Johnson continued saying, “Mr Speaker, you should summon him back, he seems to have vanished. While the right hon. and learned Gentleman tries to work out what his position is, we are getting on with the work of government.” This led into the PMs standard Party Political Broadcast of boasts and fancifull pledges, “As he says, it is a year since this people’s Government were elected and I am very proud that we are delivering on the people’s priorities: 6,000 of the 20,000 police officers; 14,800 of the 50,000 nurses already; and we are getting on with building every one of the 40 hospitals, it is about 48 hospitals, that we are going to deliver, along with the biggest programme of infrastructure investment in this country for a century. We are uniting and levelling up across the whole of the UK. Whether the outcome is Canada or Australia, we will be taking back control, we have already taken back control of our money, our borders and our laws and we will seize all the opportunities that Brexit brings.”

    Tory Andrew Jones compared the 60th anniversary of Cory on TV to the discussions on beefing up infrastructure in the north taking almost as long, but he didn’t admit Tory responsibility for abandoning the ‘Northern Powerhouse.’ As he put in a pitch for white elephant HS2 claiming that this, “would be good for jobs in the north and for connectivity with the east midlands…” He culminated with the latest Tory snow job saying, “all of which, of course, drive my right hon. Friend’s levelling-up agenda.” As always Johnson reveled in Tory ‘stroking’ responding, “My hon. Friend is a big expert in this field and a great campaigner for transport. He is right about the massive impact that these programmes can have on jobs.” There was another interruption where the Speaker found cause to scold, saying, “Mr Bryant, I think we need to have this conversation later.”

    Johnson had not yet run out of steam as he continued, “I was saying, Mr Speaker, that my hon. Friend is completely right about the power of great infrastructure projects to deliver jobs, which is why we are getting on with both the eastern leg of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail. What I have asked the National Infrastructure Commission and Network Rail to look at is how those two projects can best be integrated to boost the economy of the whole of the north of the country.” The Tory track record of follow through on their ambitious pledges for northern England is abysmal, but they offer no apologies for failure or abandoned promises from the last time they conned the country into voting for them. So week after week we have to put up with Boris’s empty bragging.

    SNP Leader Ian Blackford had his chance to pit Jogbson on the spot, asking, “Yesterday, by this Government’s own admission, it was confirmed that Northern Ireland is getting the best of both worlds: access to the EU single market and customs union. This is great news for businesses in Northern Ireland, but it leaves Scotland, which also voted to remain, dealing with the hardest of Brexits. What is good for Northern Ireland is surely good enough for Scotland. Why is Scotland being shafted by this double dealing? Can the Prime Minister explain to Scottish businesses why this is fair?” Scotland will be shafted by crash-out Brexit!

    The PM had to keep the harsh reality hidden so he started into a standard string of lies saying, “In common with the whole of the rest of the United Kingdom, Scotland will benefit. It will benefit from substantial access to devolved powers, it will benefit from the regaining of money, borders and laws, and, as I never tire of telling my friend, the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford), that, in spite of all his jeering, Scotland will take back control of colossal quantities of fish, which is something that the people of Scotland deserve to be able to exploit for the advantage of those communities.” In reality Scotland already has far greater control over their fishing grounds than the rest of the UK because Scotish fishermen did not sell off their fishing quotas to other EU competitors. Admittedly the UK Government failed to invest in our local fishing fleets when offered matching EU funds. Other EU coastal states took advantage of this funding to modernize their fleet; UK fishermen sold their quotas, but now cry foul!

    Blackford shot back with, “The Prime Minister can spin all he likes, but everybody can now see the total contempt that this UK Government have for Scottish interests. Northern Ireland gets the single market and customs union; we get nothing. Members of his Scottish branch office told him how unfair and damaging it would be to deny Scotland’s access to the EU single market and customs union while at the same time delivering it for Northern Ireland. Ruth Davidson even said that such an act would ‘undermine the integrity’ of the United Kingdom. The former Scottish Tory constitution spokesperson said that it would be the end of the Union. They, along with the former Secretary of State for Scotland, said that if this were to happen, they would all resign. Since the Prime Minister is ready to sell out Scotland’s interests with his Brexit deal, does he expect to receive these resignation letters from Baroness Davidson and her cohort before or after her travels to Brussels tonight?”

    Johnson replied that, “The only reasonable answer to that question is that I think it is highly unlikely that those letters will arrive. The right hon. Gentleman does a gross injustice to Scotland and the future of Scotland, which will be assured within the single market of the United Kingdom. In spite of the slight negativity that I detect from him, I believe that Scotland, along with the rest of the UK, will benefit from a very strong trading relationship with our friends and partners across the channel, whatever the circumstances, whatever the terms we reach tonight.”

    Our only Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, probed the PMs psido green credentials saying, “Last week, we learned that UK Export Finance has been approached to back the east African crude oil pipeline. This is a climate catastrophe that will produce emissions equivalent to all the UKs annual flights. Not only that, but a recent response to one of my written parliamentary questions confirmed that UKEF has six more fossil fuel projects under consideration. Ahead of the climate ambition summit this weekend, how can the Prime Minister claim any climate credibility while ploughing public money into dirty fossil fuel projects overseas? Are these the actions of a rogue, out of control Government Department—or, worse, does the Prime Minister actually approve of them?” The PM ridiculed Lucas’s criticism as absurd, trying to divert her attention to focus in his ambitious empty pledges, saying, “Look at the overall record and ambition of this Government; this is the first country in the developed world to set a target of net zero by 2050.”

    Tory Kevin Hollinrake hailed Patel’s recent deportation flights and the PM agreed: roll on Windrush 2! Tory Bob Blackman urged the PM to act long since, “the Grenfell fire tragedy that cost the lives of 72 people,” as 3.6 million leaseholders still live in “potentially dangerous, unsaleable and unmortgageable properties.” Labour’s Feryal Clark warned the Government of the risk of “failing a generation of children as only one in six pupils on free school meals, those who are most likely to fall behind their peers, will benefit from the programmes to help them catch up on learning lost as a result of covid?” Labour’s Derek Twigg brought up the issue of the devastating impact on the Falkland Island economy of high EU tariffs being imposed on fish as the plight of Crown territories and overseas dependencies around the world gets forgotten in the Brexit debate. True to form Tory, Sir Oliver Heald ranted about the pestilence of illegal encampments in an effort to urge the Government to fulfill its toxic manifesto pledge to target the Gypsies.

    Labour’s Richard Burgon exposed the disgraceful reality of the Government’s, “Real-terms pay cuts for millions of public sector workers, an insulting 37p increase in benefit levels and broken promises on minimum wage increases show that the Prime Minister wants to pay for this crisis on the backs of the working class. Would it not be fairer to impose a windfall tax on the wealth of the super-rich and on those who have made super-profits out of the covid crisis, including those who won contracts because of their links to top Tories?” But there is no way to shame Boris Johnson or any of his filthy rich Tory friends into paying their fair share of the tax burden; the PM ‘strongly disabreed” as he ranted about being proud of pitance increases under the new Tory vanner of ‘levelling up.’ It’s vital we continue to expose this deception, challenge the squandering of public funds and demand an Investigation into Tory corruption at the Covert 2019 Rigged Election so that we can shake loose from their yolk of misery: Get The Tories Out! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #63148 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    I was born in Hastings and spent weekends as a child playing on the historic fishing stade, the last place in the UK where sizable fishing vessels are drawn up on an open beach. I can really empathize with those fishermen, especially having spent so much time at sea myself; I know the EU has made some very serious errors of judgement with the Common Fisheries Policy that led to depleted fish stocks from overfishing and unnecessary waste. The UK Government cast fishermen adrift when we entered the EU; I doubt they will be treated as a priority now beyond the media hype. Despite posing as a ‘fisherman’s friend’ his dedication lack the strength of that namesake mint! Right before the crucial EU referendum vote the UKs most attention grabbing arch Brexiteer pulled a stunt intended to sway voters to fiercely defend the rights of our fishing fleet. In the Descier Article entitled, “Brexit: Nigel Farage only turned up to one of 42 EU fisheries committee meetings,” Berit Watkin exposed the mouthy MEPs failings.

    On June 16 Watkin wrote, “Nigel Farage sailed a boat down the Thames yesterday in an attempt to highlight the plight of British fishermen, conveniently forgetting that he did nothing to protect the industry while on the EU fisheries committee. Nigel Farage has said that the UK fishing industry has been ‘gutted due to the EU’ and that the institution was out of touch with the problems facing Britons fishermen. However, according to research by Greenpeace ‘over the three years that Nigel Farage was a member of the European Parliament Fisheries Committee, he attended one out of 42 meetings’. Farage claims that EU policies are a lead weight on UK industries, but if that was the case then he has made no attempt to improve the situation and ease the burden on British workers.” In reality his crusade to drag us out of the EU deal or no deal will cost thousands of jobs throughout the UK.

    Watkin remarks that, “If Farage really wanted to help the fishing industry it would have been Farage that organised the “Fish Fight” campaign started by River Cottage’s Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall that gained more than 870,000 signatures and convinced the EU to reform its wasteful discard policy.” This was a terrible policy that required fishermen to ditch any fish caught over the allowable quota despite the fact that these fish were already dead; sadly this helped deplete our precious fish stock for no possible gain. This was a fine example for Watkin to pick on order to demonstrate that, “Change is perfectly possible to fix some of the issues with the EU if politicians act rather than campaign. To add insult to injury, it appears that the trawler Farage used for his publicity stunt on the Thames ‘was caught up in the UK’s largest ever fraud involving illegal catches of fish and is now partly owned by one of the richest fishing barons in the country’, according to another report from Greenpeace.”

    Watkin highlights an equally disreputable and well known charlatan of Vote Leave saying that, “Another Brexit campaigner to claim to understand the problems facing British fisherman is Michael Gove, who has often repeated the claim that the introduction of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy caused hardship in his family and forced his father to sell his fishing business. However, his own father has since denied these claims in a phone interview with the Guardian. The Leave campaign seem very capable of making persuasive arguments about the faults of the European Union, but when their claims are dismissed by their own family and they do not act to solve the issue when they have the power to do so, why should the British public believe they are telling the truth about a better life post-Brexit.”

    In the In Facts Article entitled, “Farage makes a fishy claim – but he’s to blame,” Jonathan Spink was equally scathing three tears on as we careened towards another crash-out cliff edge in December 2019.The Brexit Party leader claimed at the weekend that our “gutless” civil service will be to blame for illegal fishing in our waters if we crash out of the EU. He is wrong. It will actually be the hardline Brexiters such as Nigel Farage himself, who will be the culprits. The Brexit Party leader should know that if we leave the EU with no deal, we will have no agreement over many issues, including fishing. Norway and Iceland can stop illegal fishing in their waters because they have negotiated a treaty with the EU that protects their fishing interests, something the UK will lack if we crash out with no deal. In such a scenario, we will have 12 vessels to monitor a space three times the size of the UK. An internal government email seen by Sky News says: ‘We are not on an overly strong footing to get ahead of the potential claims that could arise’.”

    According to Spink, “By promoting crashing out with no deal, without the treaty protection that Iceland and Norway enjoy, Farage is advocating a situation that will hurt the British fishing industry. It’s not surprising that his grasp of fishing law is so poor, seeing as he only turned up to one out of 42 meetings of the European Parliament’s fisheries committee in the three years he was a member. More than 70% of UK seafood exports go to the EU, while a third of the seafood we import comes from the EU. Both the UK fishing industry and consumers benefit from our relationship with the EU – allowing us to export fish such as mackerel that other countries like to eat and to import fish like tuna that we enjoy. By working together on conservation in our oceans, trade and protecting fishing rights, we gain so much more from remaining in the EU than leaving.” Clearly fishing is a complicated issue.

    In a BBC Reality Check Article entitled, “Brexit trade deal: Who really owns UK fishing quotas?” they examine and quantify why so much of the fish caught around our coast is being landed by non-UK vessels and why this imbalance is not as clear cut as it might seem from the headlines. They say, “Fishing has been one of the key sticking points in talks over a future UK/EU trade deal. As well as access to territorial waters and markets, the issue of what to do about foreign-owned boats which fish in UK waters under a British flag, has been part of negotiations. So how are these boats able to benefit from British fish quotas, how widespread is this practice – known as ‘quota-hopping’ – and what does the government plan to do about it? Half of England’s quota in foreign hands, £160m worth of England’s fishing quota is in the hands of vessels owned by companies based in Iceland, Spain and the Netherlands, according to BBC research. That amounts to 130,000 tonnes of fish a year and 55% of the quota’s annual value in 2019.”

    The BBC note that, “Quotas are used by many countries to manage shared fish stocks. They determine how many fish of each species each country’s fleets are allowed to catch. The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) sets quotas among EU member states, and similar deals are negotiated with neighbouring countries.” The article pictures one such foreign vessel with the revealing caption that reads, ‘The Dutch owners of the Frank Bonefaas super-trawler own a fifth of England’s fishing quota.’ One of the priorities of the Fisheries Act, which became law on 24 November, is that ‘fishing activities of UK fishing boats bring social or economic benefits to the United Kingdom’. Current rules say even if vessels are 100% foreign-owned, they must have an ‘economic link’ to the UK. That means they must meet one of five conditions, which include landing more than half their catch at UK ports or having majority British crews.”

    The BBC report that, “A consultation by the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra), which closed in November, outlined plans to ‘increase the landing requirements from 50% to 70% for quota catch caught by English registered vessels landing more than 2 tonnes per annum’. The consultation stated that this change ‘could result in up to £60m worth of additional landings each year’, but it did not mention any changes to rules around ownership.” They describe how such changes could be ‘Legally tricky,’ but say, “For many in the fishing industry Defra’s proposals did not go far enough. ‘If the government allows foreign companies to continue to own more than half of England’s quota, it would be a calamity,’ said Paul Lines, from Fishing for Leave, a pro-Brexit group within the British fishing industry.”

    The BBC say that, “Fishing for Leave wants to change the rules so all British fishing vessels must be ‘60% British-owned; 60% British-crewed; (and must) land, process and sell 60% of their catches in Britain’. ‘I would be absolutely over the moon if they bring an end to foreign ownership,’ added Mr Lines, ‘but it would surprise me if the government followed through on this as it wasn’t mentioned in the bill or in the consultation.’ Now, one EU source says British negotiators are insisting that boats must be majority British-owned in order to take advantage of a larger catch in UK waters. ‘It could be possible, though administratively difficult, for the government to re-allocate any newly-won quota to British-owned boats,’ says Dr Emma Cardwell from Nottingham Trent University. ‘But it would be legally tricky to try and wrest existing UK quota from the ownership of foreign companies’.”

    “Why were quotas sold off?” The BBC elaborate on the reason saying that, “Many parts of the quota were sold by English fishermen in the 1990s when fishing rights were cut dramatically. Cod fishing, for instance, was almost entirely stopped for several years. Foreign companies then bought it up as a long-term investment, and experts say the quota market has been allowed to develop in an unregulated way ever since.‘There’s a lack of clarity on the legal status of fishing rights,’ Dr Cardwell said, ‘meaning the government is very vulnerable to litigation if it tries to reallocate quota. Any foreign fishing companies that purchased UK quota in good faith would be very likely to sue if this was now taken away from them.” Is there an element of ‘cake and eat it’ here? In the lean years quotas were sold off, but now the UK demands absolute control. An in-depth Briefing for Britain Article entitled “Fishing; the great betrayal,” cronicles blunders made by the EU that seriously compromised the European fishing industry and descimated fish stocks.

    The BBC point out that, “Devolution makes a difference,” saying, “As fishing is a devolved policy, the way the quota is managed differs around the UK. England and Wales, where a majority voted for Brexit, have both allowed foreign ownership of more than half their fishing quota. In Wales, which is allocated a tiny share of the UK quota, the figure is as high as 85% of the annual value – most of it held by one big industrial trawler. But in Scotland, which is responsible for about 60% of the UK quota, only 4% of the annual value in 2019 was in foreign hands. In Northern Ireland the figure was 2%. ‘The Scottish fishing industry is largely made up of family-owned businesses,’ said Elspeth MacDonald, from the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation. ‘These businesses have developed the industry during the good times and have had the desire and resolve to hold on through difficult times, when others have not’.”

    Accompanying graphs show the relative extent of foreign fishing vessel ownership indicating that, “The figures obtained by the BBC, in collaboration with the New Economics Foundation (NEF), reveal that a fifth of the annual value of the UK’s overall quota is held by foreign-owned companies. The total annual value is just over £900m.” According to the BBC, “Elsewhere in Europe the level of foreign ownership varies. In Belgium, the figure is just over a quarter, but other EU countries have much stricter rules. There is very little foreign ownership in France and Ireland for example, and in two countries outside the EU that have big fishing fleets – Iceland and Norway – there is no foreign ownership at all. The degree of confusion over foreign ownership of UK quota was highlighted by a ministerial response to a parliamentary question back in October. Victoria Prentis, the Fisheries Minister, admitted the Marine Management Organisation, the body responsible for English waters, ‘does not hold data relating to the degree of foreign investment’.”

    In the Left Foot Forward Article entitled, “Environmental standards are key to unlocking Brexit negotiations,” Kierra Box claims that, “The ‘level playing field’ is about stopping a race to the bottom on environmental standards. Let’s face it. Almost everyone thought that Northern Ireland would be the big Brexit stumbling block. The border arrangements, or the UK Government’s continued desire to break international law through the Internal Markets Bill, would be front of the queue to torpedo a deal at the last moment. But it’s time to face up to what we at Friends of the Earth have been saying for a long time. It’s the environment, stupid! Yesterday, Boris Johnson met the European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen for (another set of) ‘last-ditch’ talks to rescue the UK-EU future relationship negotiations. Three issues were top of the agenda. Fishing rights, rules on shared standards – the so called ‘level playing field’ – and how any resulting deal will be enforced.”

    Box asserts that, “At the core of the fishing rights argument are questions of sustainable (or unsustainable) food production and marine protection.” The disruption of fishing during the squabble over quotas might provide as valuable an environmental respite as Covid! Box says, “The level playing field disagreement is, at its heart, about whether the UK or the EU should be free to weaken existing environmental protections, and if both sides can agree a way of dealing with changes to standards in the future. Clashes continue over what happens if they break these important environmental rules. What we saw yesterday was more can-kicking. Both sides can agree the negotiations are back on – they just can’t agree on an outcome. The level playing field is emerging as the real hurdle. While this is often seen as wholly focused on ensuring companies in one country don’t have a financial advantage over companies elsewhere in the EU, it’s really about setting shared minimum levels of environmental and social protection.”

    According to Box, “Compliance with these standards often costs money but if profit was the sole motivator, both sides could simply guarantee that businesses can act in any way they want to bring home the bacon. It is precisely because governments and communities across Europe think that protecting people and our natural world should come before business success that the level playing field has become such a totemic Brexit issue. The UK has moved from excluding mention of retaining existing standards to (seemingly) agreeing a guarantee that neither side will move backwards is acceptable. But it isn’t yet clear if that applies to all our environmental protections, or a heavily edited list of mutual priorities. And they’ve stopped short of EU suggestions that if one side increases protections in the future, the other should be bound to follow.”

    Box asks, “So what is the middle ground? It’s looking increasingly as if the answer lies in three things: guarantees of shared environmental ambition, mechanisms for dialogue and effective, objective dispute settlement that respects the sovereignty of both sides. The EU is clearly unconvinced of the UK’s commitment to the first of these – environmental ambition. That’s evident from recent EU-27 proposals that the deal include an ‘evolution’ mechanism, to trigger dialogue where one partner increases standards, and agree consequences for trade where the other partner does not follow suit. Despite a manifesto commitment to environmental ambition, the UK government’s flagship Environment Bill has progressed at barely a snail’s pace, and a full post-Brexit environmental watchdog isn’t expected until next summer.”

    Box reports that, “The Internal Markets Bill undermines ambition beyond Westminster, preventing the four nations from legislating to stop the sale of environmentally damaging goods in the future, as long as those goods are produced in other parts of the UK. Recent moves to deregulate the UKs planning system can’t have calmed hearts and minds either. Dialogue regarding the evolution of future environmental standards is not the sticking point here. Maybe agreeing that, and setting out a forum to share information on new higher standards and discuss mutual adoption, would be a good starting point. Right now it’s hard to envisage a compromise on the consequences of one side lagging behind on standards in the future. But back in February, when the EU first published proposals on the level playing field, the mechanism suggested involved simply ensuring the commitment not to regress remained relevant in the future.” Thankfully the key controversial clauses have now been removed!

    Box points out that, “Each time both sides independently raised their standards, a new, common, higher baseline would have been established, to support future progress. The UK may now want to go and reconsider this compromise solution, and the sensitivity it demonstrates to sovereignty and progress on both sides – but it may be too late. Further indications of practical environmental progress at home might help to settle the EU’s nerves. The UK government has removed controversial clauses from the Internal Markets Bill already – they could agree to ensure it protects environmental ambition across the UK too. The Environment Bill could be strengthened and prioritised to clear a path for effective new UK environmental governance, to hold government to account. Our leaders could take practical action to implement the UK’s net-zero commitment, rather than focusing on easing up planning restrictions that protect carbon-rich landscapes and limit polluting emissions.”

    Box emphasizes, “However, the real key will be to decide how this agreement will be enforced in the future. Both sides need to be happy that the dispute settlement mechanism will be fair, and respect the right of the UK and the EU-27 to develop independent legislation. But it also needs to lock the partners in to the ambition and progress outlined in the text of the deal. If the future relationship is to include commitments to trade fairly, to support climate action, and to maintain high standards, then these should be enforceable. Both sides will need to be mature enough to play fairly, to agree the rules that will guarantee they keep these promises, and to accept consequences if they do not. This maturity must extend to accepting that it is up to UK and the EU governments to demonstrate global leadership, by designing an enforcement process that is properly objective, evidence-driven and fit for purpose, and which focuses on ensuring both sides get what they want out of the agreement.”

    Box concludes by saying that, “We’re now facing a new Sunday, deadline for agreeing a deal, and the environment still looks set to be the central issue. And it won’t go away – whatever the final outcome, these concerns, unlike the UK, remain. To end on a prediction – the first dispute in the future relationship, whenever it is agreed, will be about our environment, and shared ambition will only become more important in maintaining that relationship in the future. Who knew?” Kierra Box is the trade and Brexit lead campaigner at Friends of the Earth, but I’m not sure that I agree with her prediction. I believe the Working Time Directive will be an early target while the Covid crisis can still be used as a covering excuse. Breaking the power of the Unions will be a priority fir the new Tory Dictatorship so we must urgently focus on derailing the projecy before the New Year. Challenge and Investigate the Covert 2019 Rigged Election, destroy Conservative Party legitimacy and support: remove this Tory Government from office ASAP!

    #63243 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Speaking with her customary haughty arrogance about the importance of “Soverignty,” Julia Hartley-Brewer demonstrated classic ignorance on Question Time by making an insulting derogatory comment about a “small Caribbean Island in the Pacific!” She failed to really define why a collaborative trade arrangement on fair terms was such an anathema to fanatical Brexiteers ultras. There’s an automatic assumption that the British people can actually trust the warped decision making of a pathological liar and his toxic Tory cabal as they rapidly regress the nation into what is most accurately described as a ‘Soverign Dictatorship!’ There’s reason for the EU not to trust the UK after the numerous times Tory MPs have bragged about stripping away all that cumbersome ‘Red Tape,’ as if safety standards are immaterial, and ditching the Working Time Directive, as an urgent first step in eviscerating workers rights before we pull out of the European Court of Human Rights! The EU could compete with a zero regulation slave state: I think not!

    Betrayal Boris just kicked the can down the road a little further, as of course we all knew he would. His game is to deliberately run down the clock until we reach the point of no return, then try to slip crash-out Brexit over the line while UK citizens are distracted by the privilege of being allowed to see family at Christmas. Have the EU fully understood how they are being played as the fall guy No-Deal is being sold to the gullible as an ‘Australia Deal’ which in reality means Australia also has no deal with the EU, but they are trying to negotiate one as WTO terms suck! Then there is “Boris’s Bait and Switch;” he enticed voters with his “Oven Ready Deal,” but he and his Ministers now claim that this only pertains to the Withdrawal Agreement, that International treaty he wanted to be able to break in “limited and specific ways!” But Conrad Duncan begs to differ, in his Labour List Article entitled, “6 times Boris Johnson said a post-Brexit trade deal would be easy,” he documents the evidence that debunks the PMs treacherous deception.

    Duncan says that, “Boris Johnson gave the strongest indication yet this week that the UK is heading for a no-deal Brexit after a series of last-ditch talks with European Union officials failed to find common ground on a number of key issues. The Prime Minister on Friday described no deal as now ‘very, very likely’ that negotiators would fail to strike a post-Brexit trade agreement. He has told ministers to prepare for no deal as the most likely outcome of the talks. Conservatives have insisted that the promise of an ‘oven-ready’ deal last year was referring to the divorce deal rather than the trade deal. But Johnson has repeatedly suggested over the years that a UK-EU trade deal would be easy to secure.” Liam Fox claimed it would be the easiest trade deal in human history!
    Duncan reports that on the 11th of March 2016, “In one of his first interventions in the 2016 EU referendum, Johnson appeared at a Vote Leave event to insist that Brexit would be a “win-win for all” and suggested that the UK could simply copy Canada’s trade arrangement with the EU. He told a crowd: “I put it to you, all those who say that there would be barriers to trade with Europe if we were to do a Brexit, do you seriously believe that they would put up tariffs against UK produce of any kind, when they know how much they want to sell us their cake, their champagne, their cheese from France? It is totally and utterly absurd.” The most hard core Brexiteers were quoted as saying they would “rather eat grass than remain in the EU.” Much as I would love to see these delusional MPs ‘chewing the cud’ in the New Year, their wealth and their privilege will leave them marginally affected by the misery and hardship they intend to inflict on the majority of the British people with their crash-out no-deal Brexit!

    Duncan notes that on the 23rd of March that same year, “At a Treasury select committee meeting on the economic costs and benefits of EU membership, Johnson was questioned on how long it would take for the UK to agree a deal for leaving the bloc and a future trade agreement post-Brexit. He replied: ‘Bear in mind we already have extensive trading relationships, we’ve been in the thing for 44 years. Our relationship with the EU is already very well-developed. It doesn’t seem to me to be very hard to do a free trade deal very rapidly indeed’.” No one was enphasizing how, if the UK were permitted to maintain such an expansive trade deal, and these privileges were made available to non-EU states, there would be no incentive to join such an exclusive club and pay the fees of membership. The British have never stopped demanding to ‘have their cake and eat it too,’ cherry-picking the benefits and ditching any and all obligation, which is why the EU will not budge as it would destroy the core principles of their entire project.

    Duncan documents that on the 11th of July 2017, “As Foreign Secretary, Johnson told MPs that the chances of the UK failing to reach a deal with the EU were ‘vanishingly unlikely’ and said there was ‘no plan’ for no deal because the government would simply get a deal. Responding to Emily Thornberry, he said: ‘There is no plan for no deal, because we’re going to get a great deal and I would, just for the sake of example and illustration, I would remind the honourable lady that there was a time when Britain was not in what we then called the common market. It is manifestly in the interests of both sides of the Channel to get a great free trade deal and a new deep and special partnership between us and the European Union, and that is what we are going to achieve.”

    Duncan reports on Johnson’s most cruel and deliberate deception on the 5th of December when, “During the 2019 general election campaign, Johnson was asked by Sky News’ Beth Rigby if he could ‘absolutely promise’ that he would be able to get a trade deal with the EU by the end of December 2020. He replied: “Well, Beth, we already have a deal and we can come out on January 31st in a state of perfect equilibrium and grace with the rest of the EU because we have a zero tariff, zero quota position now.” “And I have absolutely no doubt at all that we will be able to make sure that the EU protects its own interests and has a deal with us that ensures that that continues for the future… “ “It’s very much in [the EU’s] interest to do a trade deal with us and I have no doubt that they will. And if you say ‘can I absolutely guarantee that we will get a deal?’ I think I can.”

    Duncan notes that on the 10th of December, “Days later, Johnson was questioned again by ITV’s Gareth Owen about how easy it would be for the UK to secure a trade deal with the EU before the end of the Brexit transition period, in place until December 31st. The Prime Minister said: ‘What I think you’re forgetting is that the EU has never done a deal with an existing member as it were… 100% of the issues that you need to address in a trade negotiation are already addressed’.” He failed to consider that all of those rich trade benefits we have enjoyed with EU membership come with certain obligations that are in place to protect the interests of both parties. Boris’s Brexiteer cabal want to retain all of the zero-tarif trade benefits in perpetuity, but ditch all of the ‘Red Tape’ regulatory concessions and obligations. That would allow their Tory ‘Sovereign Dictatership’ to take full advantage, exploiting a post Brexit race to the bottom on standards and workers rights, in our slave labour isolationist utopia for the wealthy elite.

    Duncan documents that on that fateful day, the 22th of January earlier this year, “As the withdrawal agreement was approved by parliament, Johnson promised an ‘all-singing, all-dancing’ post-Brexit trade deal with the EU by December 31st. On his ‘People’s PMQs’ online Q&A, the PM said: ‘Parliament has passed the withdrawal agreement bill, meaning we will leave the EU on 31 January and move forwards as one United Kingdom. At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we’ve done it. ‘It’s massively in our interests – in the interests for both sides of the Channel – to have a wonderful, zero-tariff, zero-quota, all-singing, all-dancing FTA. I’m absolutely confident that we can do that’.” Johnson and his Brexiteer Tory Ministers will not accept that it takes two to Tango, so now that “all singing, all dancing” trade deal has fox trotted out the door in confused silence and we are being offered WTO terms to the tune of Waltzing Matilda!

    Elliot Chappell & Sienna Rodgers presented a synopsis gathered from the morning’s TV line up in a Labour List Article entitled, “Sunday shows: PM must stand up to MPs with no deal fantasy, says Miliband.” As the employment, economic and trade future of our country hangs precariously in the balance, their piece was not confined to just the Milliband interview or just the Andrew Marr Show. But statring with Marr the Labour List say, “In an energetic appearance, Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband stressed the importance of securing a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU, confirmed Labour would be “minded to support” a deal and called on Boris Johnson to “stand up to a small bunch of people in his party whose fantasy it has always been to have no deal”.

    According to Labour List, Miliband’s interview went as follows:
    • Asked whether any deal is better than no deal: “We need a deal… Our request of the Prime Minister is very simple: stand up for the national interest, don’t stand up for people in your party who’ve always wanted no deal, wrongly in my view.”
    • On giving way on fishing: “Both sides have to give way. There’s got to be give and take on both sides. We’ve got to be tough in relation to fish, we’ve got to get the best deal we possibly can for our fishing fleets.”
    • On being ‘tied to the single market in perpetuity’ for a deal: “I don’t accept that portrayal… We should maintain high standards into the future.”

    This question was very misleading as it plays directly into the hands of Boris Johnson, which is why Miliband responded as he did. The reality of what is termed as ‘ratcheting’ is that if either side were to make a significant change in one area of policy that affected market viability the other side would have the opportunity to demand renegotiate of the terms related to that specific trade item or items. What if the EU were to accept GMO crops or bee killing pesticides the trade dynamic changes just as it would if we were to eviscerate workers rights and gain market advantage through pitance pay exploitation of slave labour. The trouble is that despite the assurances of the pathological liar who is our current PM, Tories are openly bragging of ditching the Working Time Directive and stripping away the ‘Red Tape’ of EU regulatory and safety standards as soon as we are out of the EU. This is a very tangible threat to the ‘Level Playing Field’ goal of the EU who fear ‘Singapore of the Thames as its closest trading competitor.
    Still focusing on Miliband’s responses to Andrew Marr Labour List report that,

    • On whether the PM can rely on Labour support for a deal: “We’ll look at the detail. We’ve said we’re minded to support it.”
    • On Johnson’s promises: “The one thing I think we can say about Boris Johnson is he talks out of both sides of his mouth. This is a man who said at the general election… he had a deal ready to go to protect supply chains.”
    • He added: “This is a man who is cavalier with our national interest. He is playing Russian roulette with jobs and livelihoods… I think this is ideological. I say we don’t deregulate our way to economic success.”

    While interviewers constantly obsess over what Labour will do despite their total inability to overrule the Tory majority stolen in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election they very rarely quiz the Tories over the alarming indications that they intend to take advantage of no-deal Brexit to deregulate their way to prosperity at the expense of UK workers. The ‘cakeism’ question should be targeting the Tories who want to cherry-pick the advantages of tariff free trade, but ditch all of the regulatory obligations. Instead this grossly misplaced question targets Labour who aren’t in Government or negotiating the deal. This is so that the blame can be smeared over those who are least responsible while Boris Johnson and the Tories offload their accountability for the crash–out catastrophe.

    • Put to him that Labour wants to ‘have its cake and eat it’: “No, I’d say negotiate a tough deal in relation to fish, make sure the level playing field provisions are fair, but for goodness’ sake… don’t cause terrible damage to the fight against crime and terrorism.”
    • He added: “No deal is not an end point. We’ll go through all the pain, all the economic anguish. It’s not a long-term sustainable position to have tariffs with our biggest market. We’re going to have to go back into negotiations, and then where will we be? We’ll be in a weaker position. It makes no sense.”
    • On getting a deal: “The rational side of me says there will be a deal. Because the PM is not a wholly irrational man, he must see that’s in our national interest. He’s just got to stand up to a small bunch of people in his party whose fantasy it has always been to have no deal.”

    Here I think Miliband may have miscalculated Johnson’s selfish resolve. Boris just doesn’t care how many people are forced into destitution or how many children starve, just as he has shrugged off the appalling Covid death toll; he only cares about number one staying in Number 10. But Labour List missed Ed Miliband’s best line as he compared the PMs reservations to saying, “I’m worried my roof is going to leak in five years time so i’m going to go ahead and bulldoze the house!”

    Labour List then turned to the responses of the other politicians interviewed by Andrew Marr this Sunday. They report that, “On the chances of EU-UK talks continuing, Dominic Raab said: ‘The bar is quite high for us to be able to keep talking.’ He said it would required ‘political level commitment’ to movement on the key issues of the ‘level playing field, control of our laws and fisheries’.” His interview was dominated by the resistance that the EU 27 would be required to compromise while our solitary UK Brexiteers contingent would hold firm and prevail: highly unlikely! They said, “On the same question, Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin replied: ‘I don’t know but I hope so. I fervently hope so.’ He said agreement on the Northern Ireland protocol suggested there is ‘capacity’ for a deal.”

    Labour List switched to their coverage of Sophy Ridge on Sunday starting with an interview with Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary Steve Reed who, “described the current Brexit situation as ‘surreal’ and ‘just crazy’ and highlighted that Boris Johnson said a year ago he had an ‘oven-ready’ deal.” They report on Steve Reed’s responses to Sophy Ridge as follows:
    • On Brexit talks: “The last thing we need is no deal… It’s one year and one day exactly since Boris Johnson won an 80-seat majority in the House of Commons promising to ‘get Brexit done’ with an oven-ready Brexit deal.”
    • On remaining disagreements: “The situation we’re facing now is Boris Johnson claiming to have 98% of this deal done now, just 2% of it left to go. It must be possible to find a way to bridge that remaining 2%.”
    • On the UK position: “One of the sticking points seems to be Boris Johnson wanting the powers to do something he claims he doesn’t want to do… the powers to water down employment rights and environmental standards.”
    • On Labour’s position: “Labour doesn’t want to see that happen. The country doesn’t want to see that happen so there is a deal to be done here.”

    All of the recent bills going through the UK Parliament indicate very clearly that this Government intends to do just that drastically, “water down employment rights and environmental standards” as soon as possible. The EU negotiators are not naive, they do know exactly what Johnson is planning to do as they know that he is not a trustworthy negotiator acting in the best interests of the citizens of the UK. They should not have given the PM more time to run down the clock as we need ordinary working people in this country to wake up to the danger that lies ahead after crash-out Brexit and take to the streets in protest. The EU aren’t punishing the UK, but they will not enable the Tories exploitation plan. The much touted ‘Free Ports’ are an extreme example of deregulated exploitation on steroids; they do not benefit workers, they just benefit the wealthy elite tax avoiders. The UK is already the money laundering capital of the world: Free Ports will enable exploitation, dirty money and crime to proliferate in post Brexit Britain.

    • On the level playing field: “Economies are interdependent so we have to take shared decisions if we’re going to trade with each other and taking a shared decision is not a breach of sovereignty… We have to get this deal over the line.”
    • He added: “These are things he claims he doesn’t want to do anyway so it shouldn’t really be a sticking point. There is a deal to be done.”
    • On the prospect of no deal: “This is a surreal position we’ve got ourselves in… He is preparing to sacrifice the British economy over something he doesn’t even want to do. It’s just crazy.”

    I was pleased to see him hammering home this issue of Johnson going to the wall, sacrificing everything for the freedom to take actions he consistently claims he has no intention of taking. Just look at the Tory track record on pledges and commitments. They have promised that the NHS is not for sale, but we all know where that one is headed. The PMs 48 new hospitals will be built by giant private US Healthcare Corporations to exploit costly privatized care.

    • Asked whether Leave voters would find acceptable leaving with a deal meaning that the UK has “to stick to their [the EU] definition of what standards are” in perpetuity: “It would be a shared decision.”
    In reality the EU are commiting to a two way street in order to keep trade fair for both parties involved.
    • On talks today: “There’s a deal to be done. It needs to be done today. We could just be hours away from it. Let’s just end the uncertainty of the last four and a half years and move forward.”
    • Asked what Labour would do to get a deal: “It was Boris Johnson who said he had an oven-ready deal. It wasn’t the Labour Party that said we had an oven-ready deal.”
    • Asked whether it is wrong to relax Covid restrictions over Christmas: “We’ll get an assessment based on the data on the 16th of this month and we’ll need to see where we are then but the key thing is we need to follow the science.”

    Labour List reported that, “Asked whether Brexit talks could extend beyond the deadline today, Dominic Raab said he ‘can’t close the door’ on that possibility but admitted that ‘there is still a long way to go” to reach an agreement. The Foreign Secretary told those watching this morning: ‘If we’re 99% there on the outstanding issues, you wouldn’t want to leave any stone unturned, but I think it’s quite a high bar.’ He dismissed a compromise over fishing, arguing: ‘What you’re not going to do is allow a decade to go by with us only controlling a fraction of our fisheries… Some of the proposals and suggestions put to us are pretty outlandish frankly.’ Spanish foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said she is having ‘difficulty understanding’ why the UK is refusing to accept EU demands on fishing and warned that a no-deal exit would be ‘extremely negative for our economies’.” A new deadline has yet to be set, but the torment before Christmas persists casting unseasonal gloom over a troubled nation: as the PM ‘fiddles!’

    As the dis-united Kingdom paddles off into the North Atlantic, Scotland will be the first to break away. The trials and tribulations of Brexit might expedite Irish unity, but Wales will soon be clamoring for independence too. I will keep my new blue passport hidden away, avoiding the mounting shame as what was once called ‘Great Britain’ becomes ‘Groveling Britain,’ ridiculed globally for it’s folly and an easy target for exploitative trade deals. Should they have made the credential a bit bigger than our old EU passport, just to show’em we are ‘world beating?’ It doesn’t need many pages now the Prisoners of Mother England are happy to trade free movement for impoverished enslavement in good old Blighty! A dystopian nightmare of punishing austerity will follow the crash-out Brexit catastrophe. I doubt we’ll rid the nation on this Tory scourge for decades if we fail to Investigate and expose the truth of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election to delegitimize, derail and jail the perpetrators of this torturous ‘Soverign Dictatorship of little England! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #63310 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    I wasn’t holding my breath, stressed out over painfully slow progress on a non-negotiation or bracing for a final painful resolution on Sunday. I knew the PM couldn’t bully the EU into a last ditch capitulation in favour of Tory Brexit demands: it didn’t happen. Even the much dreaded, but inevitable no-deal crash–out Brexit Tories have been maneuvering towards for well over a year was unlikely to be finalized on Sunday as Johnson deceitfully bargained for a bit more time. The closer Johnson gets to Christmas, the easier it will become to drown out the horrific reality of self-harm the Tories are so eager to inflict on the disillusioned British public. Our prospects as a nation will be washed into the sewer with Xmas punch to a tune of Ho, Ho, Ho, Here comes Santa Claus. Most are blissfully unaware of the looming New Year Sovereign Dictatorship stranglehold that will put Tory boots on our necks for decades to come. The Canary Article entitled, “Tory anger over Navy no-deal threat as trade negotiations enter crunch stage,” was an opening salvo.

    The Canary claim, “Senior Conservatives have reacted angrily to Boris Johnson’s handling of the Brexit trade negotiatons and the threat to deploy Royal Navy gunboats to patrol UK fishing waters in the event of no-deal. The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that four 80-metre armed vessels have been placed on standby to guard British waters from EU trawlers in the event that there is no new agreement on fishing rights after 31 December when transitional arrangements end. Reports also suggested that military helicopter surveillance will be made available and that ministers are considering beefing-up Navy powers in legislation to authorise them to board and arrest fishermen found to be contravening post-Brexit rules. Tobias Ellwood, Conservative chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, called the threat ‘irresponsible’ while former European commissioner Lord Patten accused the PM of behaving like an ‘English nationalist’.” This was among the ramping-up of threats before Sunday’s deadline came and went.

    The Canary reported that, “UK and EU negotiators begin final push to salvage post-Brexit trade deal,” but in reality I still fear that they have no intention of doing any type of deal with the EU, just prolonging the anxiety with endless futile talks; certainly their threatening conduct speaks volumes. “They said that, ‘The decision to ready the Navy for increased territorial patrols, likely to be read as a warning in Brussels over fishing rights, comes after Johnson met senior minister Michael Gove, who has responsibility for Brexit planning, and other officials on 11 December to ‘take stock’ of government plans for a no-deal exit. The prime minister and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen have both warned that a no-deal outcome looks more likely than an agreement in the trade negotiations, with the pair having agreed to take a firm decision on the future of the talks on 13 December.”

    The Canary reported that, “Former defence minister Ellwood voiced his concern about the Royal Navy proposals and urged for the gaps in the negotiations to be bridged before the deadline. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think these headlines are absolutely irresponsible. We need to be focusing on what is already in the bag – 98% of the deal is there, there are three or four outstanding issues. Important though they are, let’s park those for the future. Let’s get this deal because economically, but most importantly, international reputationally this would be so damaging to Britain – it would be a retrograde step, a failure of statecraft.
    Patten, speaking to the Today programme, said he feared for the UK’s future under Johnson’s premiership after the Conservative leader said on 11 December it looked ‘very, very likely’ that the country was on the prospect of leaving the single market without new trading arrangements in place for 1 January.”

    The Canary noted that, “Former Tory chairman Patten said: ‘While I hope for the best, I do fear for the worst because it is very, very difficult to see what the plan is, how we’re going to do so brilliantly when we’re out of this ‘cage’ of Europe – which we of course helped to build because the main constructor of the single market was Margaret Thatcher.” The Canary claimed that, “The trade talks continue to be deadlocked over the thorny issues of fishing rights and the so-called level playing field “ratchet” that would tie the UK to future EU standards. The bid to shore up protection of British waters came at the suggestion of government backbenchers, with Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski tweeting on 11 December that naval forces should be deployed in the New Year “to prevent illegal French fishing in our waters’.”

    The Canary reported that, “Admiral Lord West, a former chief of naval staff, also said he agreed that the Royal Navy should protect UK waters from foreign fishing vessels if asked to do so in a no-deal Brexit scenario. Lord West told Today: ‘It is absolutely appropriate that the Royal Navy should protect our waters if the position is that we are a sovereign state and our Government has said we don’t want other nations there. There are complications in that you can push vessels aside, you can cut their fishing tackle but boarding these foreign ships, they’ll need to pass probably a little thing through Parliament to give authority to board and get on them. There is no doubt if you are a fisherman who has fished for years there – they are, as our fishermen are, quite stormy people – and you get a bit of a punch-up and you might need some Marines and things.” Deliberate provocation of a complete breakdown of trust, a worsening relationship with the EU and threats of use of force; do the Brexiteers want war with France?

    The Canary reported on, “Preparations are also being made at ports, with part of the M20 motorway to be shut for four consecutive nights across the weekend as Kent tests plans to tackle any disruption as a result of customs changes.” Little news today on how that experiment went! It’s beyond Tory comprehension that lorry drivers might boycott routes leading to our ports, but this is taking place already. The working poor are meant to just choke it down however unreasonable the demand; why wouldn’t they want to camp out in their cabs for days on end, backed up on the motorway while losing money on their freight. Perishable fruit and veg will rot anyway; it’s just not worth the hassle to go through such torment to feed arrogant, ungrateful Brits. Prices will soar just as those on benefits, furlough or pitance frozen wages become less able to buy food. They said, “Chief trade negotiators Michel Barnier and Lord Frost are set to talk throughout the weekend in Brussels.” The weekend has come and gone, but they are still negotiating…

    The Canary Article entitled, “Gove lets slip the truth about Brexit. The timing couldn’t be more embarrassing,” but thre is nothing that embarasses a Tory; no monumental screw-up is great enough to trigger self-awareness let alone remorse. They say, “Earlier this week, cabinet office minister Michael Gove dropped a spectacular clanger when he inadvertently revealed that the Johnson government’s Brexit dealings are nonsensical. The phrase Gove used to describe the latest agreement regarding Brexit and the north of Ireland actually describes the situation before the referendum.” This followed another Tory U-turn, this time on the Irish border, they say, “On 8 December 2020, Gove and European commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič, co-chairs of the EU-UK Joint Committee, announced that certain clauses in the Internal Market bill relating to the north of Ireland would be dropped.”

    According to the Canary, “This amounts to a huge u-turn by the Johnson government, particularly as only three months earlier Gove swore on his job that the government wouldn’t back down on the bill (and, presumably, any of its parts). This change in direction means that there will be no checks at the border between north and south Ireland. However, there will be a ‘regulatory’ border between the north of Ireland and the rest of the UK. The UK government has also issued comprehensive guidelines on what happens with goods entering or leaving the north of Ireland after 1 January. The Northern Ireland Protocol, published in 2019 as part of the EU Withdrawal Agreement, provides further details. Crucially, the protocol ‘avoids a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and safeguards the all-island economy and the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement in all its dimensions’. That protocol will only last four years, after which it’s subject to renewal.”

    The Canary report that, “Gove triumphantly announced that the changes will mean: ‘Businesses in Northern Ireland now get the best of both worlds, access to the European single market and at the same time unfettered access to the rest of the UK market.’ But as Dr Mike Galsworthy, founder of Scientists for EU, pithily remarked: ‘Gove says NI now have the best of both worlds as they’ve unfettered access to EU Single Market & UK Single Market. Hold on. This ‘best of both worlds’ scenario is exactly what we had in 2016. So WTF have we just burned £200bn on Brexit for? Some fish??’ Scottish National Party (SNP) MP Ian Blackford commented that if the north of Ireland can have the ‘best of both worlds’ then so should Scotland: ‘Northern Ireland is getting ‘the best of both worlds. Why then is @BorisJohnson denying Scotland access to the EU single market and customs union? We are being utterly shafted. Even @ScotTories warned about this, we all await their letters of resignation… #Brexit #PMQs’.”

    The Canary warn that, “if the north of Ireland remains in the EU single market, that may add to the argument for an eventual united Ireland” and the point to Gove’s admission by dredging up a “Cameron endorsed document.” They say that talk of, “this ‘best of both worlds’ when applied to Brexit is not some new notion. Far from it, for the phrase was the title of a white paper presented to the UK parliament in February 2016, with a foreword by then Prime Minister David Cameron. The full title of the white paper was The best of both worlds: the United Kingdom’s special status in a reformed European Union. It argued that the UK should remain in the EU, given certain reforms within the EU. Cameron stated: Our special status gives us the best of both worlds. We will be in the parts of Europe that work for us – influencing the decisions that affect us, in the driving seat of the world’s biggest market and with the ability to take action to keep our people safe. But we will be out of the parts of Europe that do not work for us.”

    The Canary remind us of the ambitious Tory pledges of ‘cake and eat it’ fantasy deals documented by Cameron, who claimed, “So as well as being out of ever closer union, we will never join the euro and never be part of Eurozone bailouts or the passport-free no borders area. He added: Leaving Europe would threaten our economic and our national security. Those who want us to leave cannot say if British businesses would be able to access Europe’s free trade single market, or if working people’s jobs are safe or how much prices would rise. All they are offering is risk at a time of uncertainty – a leap in the dark. I do not believe that would be right for Britain. My recommendation is clear: I believe every family, household, business, community and nation within our United Kingdom will be stronger, safer and better off by remaining inside this reformed European Union. Now that’s all history.” Tories are still touting fantasy ‘cakeism’ and the huge benefits once we reach the sunny uplands as we are swallowed by the rabbit hole!

    The Canary say, “Meanwhile, the negotiations between the UK and the EU in regard to what happens after 1 January 2021 are continuing. There may only be days to go before those negotiations cease, with only a no-deal option remaining and the consequent massive hit to the already coronavirus-ravaged UK economy.” But they contend that, “The glaringly obvious question remains: if Gove admits that the north of Ireland will get the ‘best of both worlds’, then why not the entire UK too? Indeed, Gove’s inadvertent admission arguably equates to a damning of the entire Brexit deception, exemplified by the lies sold by the Vote Leave campaign that he and Johnson fronted.”

    Another vital question looms as the Canary Article asks, “How could a no-deal Brexit affect UK healthcare? Preparations are already being made, with the stockpiling of medicines and provision of alternative freight routes aimed at ensuring as little disruption as possible to healthcare in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Here is a look at some of the main issues:– Medical supplies and equipment: Medical suppliers have been encouraged to try and stockpile six weeks’ worth of stock, with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) describing such actions as a ‘key part of contingency plans’. In a letter to medicines and medical product suppliers, the department advised that having extra stocks ‘provides a further buffer against disruption’. At the time of the letter, dated 17 November, the department said it was on course to have six weeks’ worth of stocks of ‘fast-moving medical devices and clinical consumables’, including supplies which it said are ‘vital’ to the coronavirus (Covid-19) response, by the end of December.”

    The Canary say that, “Labour call on govt to deliver promise of ‘oven ready’ deal. However, deputy chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) Dr David Wrigley raised concerns that some medicines with short shelf lives such as insulin cannot be stockpiled. The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) welcomed other preparatory measures including an announcement in October of agreements to secure freight capacity on nine routes serving eight English ports in areas thought less likely to experience disruption. The ABPI, which said 45 million packs of medicines move from the UK to the EU and 37 million come back the other way every month, has consistently argued that a ‘comprehensive trade deal’ is the best outcome for both sides.” One of the presenters on the BBC Paper Review focused on this as he expressed worry over his own insulin supply; this reckless Tory Government is playing Russian Roulette putting the lives of vulnerable patients at risk.

    The Canary report that, “Mark Dayan, policy analyst at health think tank the Nuffield Trust, warned the public against stockpiling medicines. He said: People should not stockpile medicines themselves, because I’m really worried that could lead to a shortage of some medicines that actually otherwise we would have had enough of, because it could affect medicines that actually have been stockpiled successfully, or are coming into the country, even medicines we make in the UK, so I would urge people not to act like that but I do understand that it is a worrying prospect. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – which made global headlines this month after approving the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, will leave the European Medicines Agency(EMA).”

    The Canary say, “In October, the government announced that from 1 January the MHRA will join Australia, Canada, Singapore, and Switzerland in what is known as the Access Consortium. The government has described the consortium’s goal as maximising international co-operation, reducing duplication, and increasing capacity to ensure patients have ‘timely access to high-quality, safe and effective therapeutic products’.The MHRA will also become part of Project Orbis, a programme to review and approve promising cancer treatments which is coordinated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), alongside the above countries and Brazil. The ABPI is also calling for the UK to ‘fully participate’ in the Horizon Europe €100bn (£91bn) research and innovation programme and ‘continue to influence the EU research programmes as far as possible’.”

    There are growing concerns over how the Healthcare workforce will cope. The Canary report that, “A points-based immigration system is being brought in to determine who can live and work in the UK, while the EU Settlement Scheme has been introduced so European citizens and their families already living in the UK can apply for permission to remain in the country when freedom of movement ends after the transition period. Concerns have been raised that the £25,600 salary threshold for skilled migrants to come to the UK with a job offer could cause staff shortages in social care because the industry is heavily reliant on foreign workers to fill typically low-paid positions. As for doctors, Dr Wrigley said: Since the whole referendum went through there’s been a deep, deep sense of concern from the European-qualified doctors who work in the UK and my belief is there’s around 22,000 of these doctors at the moment in the UK working in the NHS.”

    Quoting Dr. Wrigley who remarked on how, “very little progress had been made on issues around the recognition of qualifications, and is concerned this could affect things like people coming to the UK to carry out medical research.” The Canary report that, “He said: ‘If there is no deal and these aspects are not recognised I think these doctors will begin to question whether they should stay in this country. We are world leaders in medical research so they (researchers) come here to advance their research, to offer their knowledge and skills in our fantastic academic institutions.” He added that, “They’ve got visa-free travel at the moment, there’s reciprocal arrangements available. But all this again is put at risk because we’re not sure how that will stand. He also expressed worry around workers’ rights and doctors potentially having to work long hours in the absence of EU protections.” The Working Time Directive is absolutely vital to providing safe Medical care, without it Doctors in particular are grossly exploited.

    The Canary say, “Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady has said: Surely the PM can sign up to workers’ rights in Britain being at least as good as those in the EU? Dr Wrigley said: Without those protections, we may see doctors’ hours going up again, which is not good for patient safety and patient care. Dr Wrigley said a lot of NHS contracts are ‘very high value’ and that ‘other countries may say ‘actually, we want a slice of that pie’. He said the NHS’s multi-billion pound budget means ‘there’s a lot of rich pickings there’. But trade policy minister Greg Hands told MPs last month that the NHS ‘will not be for sale in any future deal, trade deal with the US or indeed any trade deal at all’. He said protecting the UK’s health service is ‘a fundamental principle of our trade policy’, adding that its services and the prices it pays for drugs are ‘not for sale and we will not agree measures which undermine the government’s ability to deliver on these commitments’.”

    The Canary report on, “Secret documents published in November 2019 seemed to show that the NHS would be up for negotiation in future trade talks with the US. Dayan said social care providers should be braced for general price increases affecting supplies the sector needs ranging from food to laundry products. He said: It’s probable that just because of the new customs barriers, the cost of getting many of these things into the UK will go up, and so far as care homes in particular need to purchase these, they will be facing an additional financial hit there. This probably is more the case for a no-deal than an exit with a deal, but either way I think you’ll also have the short-term shock to supply, with the risk of not being able to get hold of some things at all. I know the NHS, for example, has been directing trusts to think about their menus and food that they serve to make sure they are not too exposed or reliant on supplies that may be harder to get hold of, so there would be similar concerns I think in social care.”

    The Canary say, “European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC), issued in the UK to access healthcare in Europe, will not be valid after the end of the transition period, with some exceptions. Those eligible to apply for a new UK EHIC that they can continue to use from the beginning of January next year include students from the UK who are studying in the EU, some British State Pensioners who live in the EU and their families, and EU nationals in the UK. Anyone on a trip in Europe that began before 1 January 2021 can still use their UK-issued EHIC until the end of the trip. The government warns that an EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance and advises therefore that people take out insurance before a trip. Dayan said EHICs have been a ‘lifeline’ for people with long-term conditions who want to travel, who may now have to spend more on insurance. He said: For many people that’s a minor but manageable nuisance but actually if you have a condition which definitely is going to require some high-cost treatment then it may really be quite a prohibitive amount of money.”

    I can only feel a tremendous weight of guilt that I have enjoyed all of the amazing benefits of freedom of movement that will now be denied to young people in this country, due to the selfish vote of my generation hoping to secure an irretrievable isolationist past. My own life would have been very different, less exciting and less fulfilling; my own travel as a teenager on the continent predated EU membership with fewer restrictions than will be put in place after January 1st! I used to spend the best part of every year away, less than two months in the UK; now 90 days will be the limit: it’s a severe regression. Nothing short of a full scale people’s revolt with massive nationwide protests can save us from the self-harm Tories intend to inflict on this country. This is not “the will of the people!” We must challenge the legitimacy of a Tory Government that has railroaded us since the Covert 20119 Rigged Election. We must contest and Investigate that incredulous result that brought so much misery to our people: expose the truth and Get The Tories Out! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #63392 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    The British Empire enforced oppression and rapacious exploitation with their policy of ‘Devide and Rule,’ but now this rabid Tory Government have put this vile principal into overdrive, first to steal our votes and now to force through their catastrophically harmful crash-out Brexit. The film ‘Viceroy’s House’ depicts how the British engineered ripping apart the Indian sub-continent in a similar ruthlessly self-serving way: lives and livelihoods are immaterial to the ruling elite. The Tory dominance of our media has facilitated the promotion of hateful propaganda, the selection of scapegoats, with the identification of who we will be instructed to blame when both the Tories shambolic mismanagement of Covid and the fallout from crash-out Brexit drive millions nearer to destitution. We must fiercely resist being drawn into this hateful factional fray by tuning out all the fake news, resisting the Labour civil war of Keir Starmer’s fantisemitism witch-hunt and ignoring the PM’s toxic Tory lies, or we will be forced to suffer “The Will of The Sheeple!”

    The Canary Article entitled, “This Brexit front page from the Mail on Sunday sums up the abhorrent UK government,” was suficiently alarming to come with the, “Content warning: This article mentions atrocities committed against Jews in Nazi Germany that some readers my find distressing.” They say that, “The Mail on Sunday‘s front page on Sunday 13 December was nothing short of hate-inciting. Not only did it completely misrepresent German chancellor Angela Merkel, but a quote from a government source was even worse. Because that appeared to intentionally incite hate against her country.” Elaborating on the impending Brexit disaster the Canary report that, “As of 11:30am on 13 December, Brexit negotiations remained stalled. Boris Johnson previously said the chances of a no-deal exit from the EU were ‘very, very likely’.” A new deadline has yet to be announced, but we can only hope that the EU are not fooled by the PMs deliberate stalling tactics as he runs down the clock to crash-out Brexit!

    The Canary say, “The Guardian reported that there may be a last minute result. It noted that: Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, ‘pinned hopes for a breakthrough on a telephone call between the prime minister and European commission president.’ The Guardian also said that: Both sides have said they would be willing to talk for a few more days if a final breakthrough could be achieved. So the UK’s final Brexit deal still hangs in the balance. Enter the Mail on Sunday to make matters worse. The Mail on Sunday Twitter account ‘Tomorrow’s Papers Today tweeted its front page. The article was little more than a puff piece for Johnson. It stated that he: has seized personal control of Britain’s No Deal preparations as the deadline for historic talks with the EU expires today.” That we are still on this ghastly rollercoaster heading towards crash-out Brexit is now the latest news emerging from the futile UK negotiating team whose only put[pse appears to be conning the EU into thinking they still want to make a deal.

    Realistically the Canary say, “The move comes as Government sources put the chances of negotiations failing as high as 80 per cent, with… Merkel being blamed for the European Union’s hard line. But crucially, its front page quote had nothing to do with the German chancellor. Because the Mail on Sunday was actually quoting a government ‘source’: One source said that she was ‘determined to make Britain crawl across broken glass’ rather than compromise. Read the headline, though, and you’d be forgiven for thinking Merkel had said these words herself. But given Germany’s history, that would be unlikely. As Samuel West tweeted, the country has a ‘history with broken glass’: As you know, Germany has a history with broken glass, so this seemed like an odd thing for a German politician to say. Read on, and you discover that this baseless quote is an anonymous one from a UK ‘source’. #MailOnSunday, your headline is xenophobic nonsense. Please stop it.” Sadly hate mongering is the Daily Mail’s raison d’être!

    The Canary explain that, “West is referring to the Kristallnacht. Michael Berenbaum wrote for Britannica that it translates to ‘Crystal Night’, and is also called ‘Night of Broken Glass’. It refers to the: November Pogroms, the night of November 9–10, 1938, when German Nazis attacked Jewish persons and property. The name Kristallnacht refers ironically to the litter of broken glass left in the streets after these pogroms. The violence continued during the day of November 10. Britannica said that Nazis killed 91 Jewish people; attacked around 1,000 synagogues and ‘ransacked and looted’ about 7,500 Jewish businesses. And police arrested around 30,000 Jewish men. Either the UK government source knows very little about history, or they do and were being inflammatory with their broken glass comment. The Mail on Sunday then gave them a helping hand.”

    The Canary declare it “abhorrent” and include the copy of a Tweet, “As Gibbon summed it up: The xenophobia and English exceptionalism summed up in one article and surprise, surprise it’s the #dailymail #mailonsunday leading the way what a sad, sad day for our country. Quote Tweet ‘Broken glass’ on the front page. ‘Authoritarian’ on the inside. I wonder if there’s some kind of godforsaken dog whistle these people are trying to blow’.” The Canary point out that, “Xenophobic trash is nothing new from the Mail on Sunday. But at such a critical point in Britain’s relationship with the EU, this new low is about as abhorrent as it gets.” They say that, “the same applies to the disastrous UK government.” I still claim that this Tory Government wasn’t legitimately voted into office with a ‘landslide victory’ in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. We must challenge and fully Investigate that corrupt result to remove them from power ASAP before more catastrophic harm results from the rapacious greed of their ‘Soveriegn Dictatorship!’

    The Canary Article entitled, “Jeremy Corbyn announces a new, global project for peace and justice,” heralds the former Labour Leaders’s ambitious new initiative and demonstrates his ongoing life-long commitment to the real issues that impact the lives of ordinary people. They report that, “The wait is over. The announcement Jeremy Corbyn was due to make on Sunday 13 December at 2:30pm has been revealed. He’s launching a new, global initiative.” Regarding this ‘Corbyn Project’ they say, “you can get involved too. The Project for Peace and Justice officially went live on Sunday 13 December. It says its mission statement is: To bring people together for social and economic justice, peace, and human rights, in Britain and across the world. The Peace and Justice Project will back campaigns, commission reports and develop progressive networks in Britain and across the world. [It] will work with labour and social movements and provide platforms to those campaigning for change for the many, not the few.”

    The Canary article, “outlined specific areas it will be working in: Poverty; Inequality; ‘Corporate power;’ ‘Global cooperation and international peace;’ ‘Colonialism and self-determination;’ Democracy; Human rights and ‘Climate justice’. Overall, the Project for Peace and Justice will: combine anlysis, campaigning and networking. It will shine a light on injustices, offer space and hope to those driving change, and generate ideas for a future that works for the many, not the few. If you’re a like-minded individual to Corbyn, what’s not to like? Things will change. He said of the new project in a statement: We need to build solidarity beyond our borders, and across communities, to solve our common problems together. The Peace and Justice Project is there to create space, hope and opportunity for those campaigning for social justice and a future that works for the many, not the few.”

    The Canary documents the project’s goals as outlined by Corbyn, “We will work with unions and social movements to build a network of campaigners, grassroots activists, thinkers and leaders, to share experiences and generate ideas about solutions to our common problems. We will combine research and analysis with campaigning and organizing. And we can build on the popular socialist policies developed in the Labour Party over the past five years. Corbyn continued: That’s just a taster. This project won’t be a substitute for any other campaign or organization. It will be a resource and a platform to work together for progressive change. In January I’ll be able to say more, when we have our launch. I’ll be joined by some fantastic campaigners – that means you. Before we go, sign up to our launch event now, the information is just about to come on the screen.”

    The Canary reported Corbyn saying, “I hope we’re going to build something important together. This year, many of us have felt powerless in the face of forces beyond our control. It doesn’t have to be like that. Things can, and they will, change. Watch his full statement: Launching officially in 2021. The Eventbrite page for the official launch on 17 January 2021 says the project will be: a powerful network to generate ideas, share experience, build solidarity and drive change. You can book tickets to that here. Moreover, you can already sign up to be a supporter to receive regular updates. Also, follow the project’s Twitter account, here.” The Canary say, “There may be some disappointment that Corbyn hasn’t launched a new political party in the face of the continuing demise of the Labour Party. But what this new project will hopefully do is work beyond political party lines and foster cooperation and change outside of established democratic processes. And that surely must be a good thing.”

    Meanwhile Keir Starmer has continued his relentless attacks on free speech and the progressive Left within Labour, he appears a lot more tolerant regarding the racist views of a white-supremacist who called in to LBC To defend her husband’s booing at players when they ‘took a knee’ at a football game. The Skwawkbox Article entitle, “Video: white supremacist asks Starmer why she can’t have same rights to exclude others that Israel has. Starmer ‘We all have those’,” should make us question what direction his ‘New Leadership’ intends to take the Labour Party? Does Starmer approve of the Zionist apartheide oppression of the Palistinians in Israel? She asked, “Why can’t I, as a white British female, have that same right? No condemnation from Labour leader who called BLM a ‘moment’ Keir Starmer has provoked outrage with a, to put it extremely charitably, less than full-throated condemnation of the racist comments of a white supremacist who called into this LBC radio phone-in.” What was he thinking?

    The Skwawkbox report that, “The woman called in to discuss the racist booing by Millwall fans when players ‘took a knee’ before a recent football match – and began with a rant about condemnation of her husband, who took part in the booing, as a racist and about white ‘identity politics’. She then went on to ask Starmer why she can’t have the same apartheid right to exclude black people and others from ‘self-determination’ in the UK that the Israeli government uses to exclude Palestinians. The condemnation of such racism wherever it occurs was conspicuous by its absence in Starmer’s response: Heaping irony upon outrage, Starmer also said ‘of course’ he agrees with freedom of expression – even when it comes to racist booing. However, he and his acting general secretary are resorting to escalating suppression of non-racist and legally-protected freedom of expression among Labour members.” Starmer undemocratic witch-hunt of the progressive Labour Left has created a fierce backlash of ‘no-confidence’ votes!

    The Skwawkbox report that, “Starmer, who hosts the programme with Nick Ferrari – who created similar outrage when he asked black British journalist Afua Hirsch why she didn’t leave Britain if she thought it had so many problems – said at least twice earlier this year that the Black Lives Matter movement is a ‘moment’, condemned the toppling of a statue of a notorious slave-trader and, during a cosy interview with the same LBC presenter, welcomed comments by Jeremy Clarkson that he might now vote Labour. Black MP Clive Lewis’s reaction to Starmer’s response was: ‘For neither the presenter of Keir to, at the very least, explore further, unpack and robustly challenge, such an extreme statement is frankly appalling.” Owen Jones Tweeted, “there needs to be a full explanation and apology from Labour’s Leadership about this diabolical failure to challenge full-blown white supremacism on national radio.”

    Skwawkbox pointed out that , “Starmer also marked the UN’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People by meeting with a group that blamed Palestinians for their own murder by Israeli forces and failed to tweet any comment about Palestinians at all during the following week.” Parting shots in an article which also announced that, “At the weekend, Starmer’s predecessor as Labour leader launched the Project for Peace and Justice to promote equality for all.” It marked the stark difference between a man who is eager to weaponize racism for his own ends and the former Labour Leader whose genuine commitment to anti-racism is unquestionable. Much to the embarrassment and hostility of Starmer and the centrist minority, Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) up and down the country have been voting motions of support for Corbyn. Undemocratic efforts to ban such motions have largely backfired, resulting instead in an increasing number of well supported motions of ‘no confidence’ in Starmer and Secretary Evans!

    The Skwawkbox Article reporting on a recently derailed motion in support of a charity fundraiser shows the extreme lengths this arm’s-length control is taking. Entitled, “Two CLPs rule motion on bike-ride to raise funds for Palestinian kids ‘out of order’ because of David Evans’s,” begs the question why? They say, “According to the East London Palestine Solidarity Campaign (ELPSC), two local Labour parties in the area banned motions put forward by members to support a charity bicycle ride to raise funds for Palestinian children – and attributed the ban to instructions from Labour’s acting general secretary David Evans. An ELPSC statement elaborates: East London Palestine Solidarity Campaign understands that two local Constituency Labour Parties, Bethnal Green & Bow CLP, and Poplar & Limehouse CLP, have ruled motions in support of the ‘Big Ride for Palestine’, a charity event in aid of Palestinian children, as ‘out of order’ under instructions issued to CLPs by Labour’s general secretary, David Evans.”

    Does Starmer’s support of Zionist paymasters make it Labour/Likud? Skwawkbox say, “In 2019, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, received email correspondence between council officers in Tower Hamlets, following a Freedom of Information request (FOI). The correspondence revealed that officers had refused permission for the ‘Big Ride’, citing the highly controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) ‘working definition’ of antisemitism. The IHRA ‘working definition’ has no legal status. The motion in support of the Big Ride for Palestine (attached) was submitted to the CLPs in November 2019. Due to suspension of Labour Party meetings during the pandemic, the motions were referred back to the CLPs for resubmission last month. Members were assured this was merely procedural. However, hours before branch meetings were due to be held in December, members were informed the motion in support of the Big Ride, had been ruled ‘out of order’ and could not be discussed.”

    Skwawkbox explain how, “This fell under the same prohibition of motions regarding party democracy, and reinstatement of the whip to Jeremy Corbyn. East London Palestine Solidarity Campaign condemns any decision that prohibits discussion or support for a motion in support of a charity event in aid of Palestine by the Labour Party. Last year, the Palestine Solidarity campaign warned that the adoption of the non-legally binding, IHRA ‘working definition’ of antisemitism risked a chilling effect and suppression of solidarity with Palestine. Our proposed caveats, guaranteeing free speech on Palestine, were rejected by Tower Hamlets council. Our warnings and worst fears have proven justified. The debate inside the Labour Party and the adoption of the IHRA ‘working definition’ on antisemitism now appear to be the premise for prohibiting discussion and motions on Palestine solidarity campaigns.”

    Skwawkbox remind us that, “Evans committed last month to implementing in full the Labour Muslim Network (LMN) report on Islamophobia in the Labour party, though there have been no signs of any suspensions of Labour MPs and others for attacks on Palestinians’ right of self-determination, which the LMN report states is Islamophobic. It seems that Evans’s commitment is not protecting Palestinian children or activities to try to help them, either.” A Canary Article entitled, “Soldiers deploy teargas at the funeral for a Palestinian child shot dead by Israeli forces,” demonstrates how Israeli forces are emboldened by Erstern indiference to their plight. They say that, “Clashes have erupted between Israeli security forces and Palestinians at the funeral of a 13-year-old boy killed by Israeli gunfire in the occupied West Bank. Hundreds of Palestinians had gathered to mourn the death of Ali Abu Alia in Almugayer village, where he was shot in the stomach by Israeli forces. He died in hospital on Friday 4 December.”

    The Canary report that, “Soldiers intermittently attacked mourners with tear gas as they threw stones at Israeli forces. Late on Friday, the senior UN political envoy in the region said he was ‘appalled’ by the killing of the teenager. Israel should “swiftly” and independently ‘investigate this shocking and unacceptable incident’, Nikolay Mladenov wrote on Twitter. The Israeli military said soldiers and border police responded with ‘riot dispersal means’ against protesters who threw rocks at them. It denied that its forces used live ammunition. Resistance to Israeli forces entering Palestinian-controlled areas of the occupied West Bank is common from Palestinian youths. The military often raids Palestinian towns to arrest people they suspect of planning or taking part in attacks.” During his time as Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn greatly increased Labour recognitian and support for the Palistinian cause; his new Peace and Justice project will rescue that vital Palistinian support from Starmer’s right wing Zionist onslaught.

    Despite the Electoral confirmation of Joe Biden in the US the damage of reckless narcissistic populism will persist. Unlike Bernie Sanders, Biden is not committed to changing the Corporate grip on America; he will continue the Crony Capitalism dictated by the special interests, and feed the destructive beast of a US Military Industrial Complex with future unnecessary foreign interventions. Johnson is destined to willingly comply with US war-mongering ambitions at the expense of meeting the real needs of ordinary people. The American people were cheated out of their progressive Socialist alternative by the corrupt DNC, Democratic National Convention. Citizens of the UK were cheated out of our progressive Socialist Prime Minister in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election, and our future options are now limited by a pathetically weak, self-destructive ‘New Leadership’ of Keir Srarmer offering zero opposition to the terrifying reality of Boris Johnson’s Tory ‘Sovereign Dictatorship’ that will evolve after crash-out Brexit.

    But we cannot give up the fight or this crisis in leadership will progress across the globe. We cannot passively accept rigged votes, the lies, broken pledges and zero accountability for betrayal from politicians. We must eradicate genuine racism and ignore the ‘paper tiger’ of confected fantisemitism promoted by the Zionist project to defend Israel from external scrutiny over their aparthide persecution of the Palestinians. Our relentless collective outrage must prevail in the urgent need to halt the selling of UK weapons to tyrants and despots for use in their ethnic cleansing of minorities or the indiscriminate bombing of innocent civilians as in Yemen and elsewhere. The huge outpouring of community led assistance we are prepared to offer each other during Covid speaks to the prevalence of humanitarian priorities that can only be achieved by progressive Socialist policies. Hopefully Corbyn’s Peace and Justice Project will harness that great generosity of spirit with a determination to peacefully collaborate for the good of all mankind. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #63424 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    The PM is touting his glorious Empire ambitions to compete with Singapore for ship registrations, but is he still just ‘Naval’ Gazing? British ship registry has declined over the past year in response to his disastrous and myopic focus on crash-out Brexit. A Canary Article entitled, “As Johnson threatens UK’s neighbours with gunboats, we revisit the lies underpinning the entire Brexit project. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reverted to 19th century gunboat diplomacy, threatening UK’s nearest neighbours and allies over fishing rights. In doing so, he threatens the entire European Union. But we may not have arrived at this sorry state of affairs had it not been for the blatant lies that underpin the entire Brexit project. Let’s remind ourselves of some of those many falsehoods and where they began. Vote Leave, fronted by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, was the official campaign group backing Brexit. Vote Leave was examined by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as part of its inquiry into fake news.”

    The public are justifiably cynical regarding the pronouncements of a pathological liar who betrayed our trust. The Canary point to fake ads, “Some of Vote Leave’s ads were blatant lies that aimed to instil fear, such as incorrectly claiming that Turkey was about to join the EU: Indeed, Turkey first applied to join the EU over 30 years ago and it would appear it is highly unlikely that it would be accepted anytime soon. It’s understood that 45% of Vote Leave’s Facebook ads exploited fears about immigration. Another infamous lie emanating from the Vote Leave campaign concerned the claim that the UK paid £350m to the EU each week. But Full Fact made it clear that claim was ‘wrong’ and the UK Statistics Authority confirmed it was a ‘clear misuse of official statistics’. As The Canary previously reported, the DCMS report also accused Leave.EU, fronted by Nigel Farage, of publishing fake news. Leave.EU produced the infamous ‘breaking point’ posters, which were reported to the police as a ‘blatant attempt to incite racial hatred’.”

    The Canary try to “Debunking Brexit lies” as identified by, “Shout Out UK offers a list of “Brexit lies debunked”. For example:
    • “Migrants are stealing Briton’s jobs and the UK would have control over its borders”.
    • “UK Sovereignty is at stake.”
    • “The EU is undemocratic and resembles Nazi Germany. Boris Johnson made the statement that Hitler and Napoleon both failed to unify Europe, and the EU has done the same.”
    • “Poverty in the North has nothing to do with austerity, it’s the European bureaucrats’ fault.”
    • “EU forbids the UK from forming trade deals with other countries. Leaving the EU would allow the UK to form trade deals with the rest of the world.”
    • “The European Army creation”
    • “Lisbon Treaty Conspiracy Theory. This involved many lies in one document that spread around on different social media channels. Many of the tweets started with, ‘I have been reading the Lisbon Treaty’. This misinformation campaign began in March 2019 when it looked like the UK may not leave the EU.”

    But wait, there’s more… The Canary alert us to, “More false claims and media lies,” they say that, “GQ magazine offers an A-Z of Brexit lies. Brexit Lies also provides several hundred examples of media publishing fake news and downright lies about the EU. It prefaces the list, saying: brexit promised a lot of things: sovereignty, preserved -free- access to the single market, more prosperity and £350 millions extra to the NHS every week. We now know these were all lies, there is no prosperity ahead, no money for the NHS, no more EU money [sic] for farmers and no more freedom to go work, live and love in 27 other countries.”

    The Canary uncovered even more fake news material to debunk, “EU myths; The European Commission in the UK, meanwhile, put together ten examples of myths about the European Union:
    • “EU data protection rules do not ban Christmas wish lists – in Bavaria or elsewhere”.
    • EU delays have not prevented “getting safe cancer drugs to children”.
    • “Barmy EU chiefs” did not “say people should stop eating fish and chips”.
    • The “EU is acting on scientific evidence to cut lead in toys, not stopping children colouring”.
    • “EU moves to end impunity for dangerous drivers” equally across all states, with no “‘quirk of EU law” discriminating in some way against British drivers”.
    • “Ceiling flaw in suggestion EU rules behind payments to big landowners”.
    • “EU doctors in UK are not ‘a threat to patients’ as Daily Mail says. If they left, that WOULD put patients in danger”.
    • “Sun’s imperial “up yours” to Brussels falls down on the facts”
    • The Daily Express was “wrong to call green cars ‘waste’ and wrong to suggest EU is prioritising them above terrorism”
    • “Medical devices: Daily Mail misrepresents EU system and fails to mention reforms”

    The Canary is really on a roll here as it goes on, “An editorial in the Guardian on 10 December, brings us up to date: Boris Johnson got where he is today by telling lies about Europe. He made stories up as a journalist. He told fibs on an industrial scale in the referendum campaign. Now he is telling whoppers as prime minister too. There was an ‘oven-ready’ EU trade deal. Not true. The chances of no deal were ‘absolutely zero’. Same again. Britain was prepared for any outcome after 31 December. Utterly false. The prospect of EU tariffs on British goods was ‘totally and utterly absurd’. Another porkie.” What really is outrageous is that the PM and all MPs are not punished for lying in the Houses of Parliament or deliberately misleading the British people, but MPs are forbidden the right to call out a lie or suggest that another MP has lied in the Chamber. This archaic Gentlemen’s agreement is no longer workable when MPs fail to honour their duty of honesty as ‘Gentlemen’ and women as a legal obligation of public service,

    The Canary report, that, “As for the so-called Australian-style deal Johnson’s so fond of quoting, as yet there is no EU-Australia free trade agreement in place, as explained by former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull: ‘Be careful what you wish for. Australia’s relationship with the EU is not one, from a trade point of view, that Britain would want.’ Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warns the UK against relying on WTO rules for business with Europe.” He Tweeted:“Be careful what you wish for. Australia’s relationship with the EU is not one, from a trade point of view, that Britain would want.” They say, “If there’s no EU trade agreement, the UK would automatically fall back on the rules of the WTO. The government refers to this as an ‘Australia-style deal’. But if a deal between the EU and Australia does go ahead, a UK equivalent will simply mean trading on World Trade Organisation terms. That would mean tariffs and likely price rises passed on to consumers.”

    The Canary sum up by including a video, “Finally, as previously reported by The Canary, this Video narrated by Stephen Fry sums up many of the lies.” They point out the rewards of Cronyism, “In the end the Brexit lies paid off, with the guilty suitably rewarded. Johnson became prime minister and many of his Brexit colleagues were awarded ministerial positions in his government. Johnson also appointed Dominic Cummings, former head of Vote Leave, as Downing Street senior adviser (though he now ‘works from home’). It’s understood that several Downing Street jobs have gone to those who organised the Vote Leave campaign.” He has not gone…

    This Canary article includes mention of another major contributor to the Vote Leave con, now benefiting greatly with the Brexiteers in Government. They say, “Then there’s Faculty AI, previously known as Advanced Skills Initiative (ASI) and a supplier to Vote Leave. As reported by The Canary, in recent months Faculty was awarded at least 13 government contracts, worth £3m. In short, Tory Brexit, like Johnson &Co, can be described as a mammoth fraud that arguably serves only those politicians who hark back to empire, or the financial interests of a few businesses. Indeed Rachel Johnson warned in 2019 that her brother could be facing pressure from ‘people who have invested billions in shorting the pound or shorting the country in the expectation of a no-deal Brexit’. But deal or no-deal, the British public has been well and truly conned.” They conclude that, “Johnson is an out and out liar of the highest order;” I would call him a criminal who has used public office to betray the country: I say he is guilty of treason!

    Then, as if there are not enough tax dodging schemes to make the wealthy elite salivate over the new post Brexit deregulated UK, already considered the money laundering capitol of thre world, there is mega rich Rishi’s favorite project ‘Freeports.’ In a Tax Research UK Article entitled, “Freeports: the new tax havens that the government wants to create in the UK,” Richard Murphy injects a modicum of caution. He says, “One of Rishi Sunak’s big plans for the UK is the introduction of so-called ‘freeports’. He has been promoting them for a long time, and long before entering government. The government has said of their plans: The government is working to boost economic activity across the UK, ensuring that towns, cities and regions across the country can begin to benefit from the opportunities of leaving the EU. As part of this work, the government aims to create up to 10 freeports in locations across the UK.”

    Murphy reports that, “The government wants to establish freeports, which have different customs rules than the rest of the country, that are innovative hubs, boost global trade, attract inward investment and increase productivity. In doing so, the government wants freeports to generate employment opportunities to the benefit of some of our most deprived communities around the UK.
    The government has the following objectives for UK freeports:
    • establish freeports as national hubs for global trade and investment across the UK
    • promote regeneration and job creation
    • create hotbeds for innovation”

    He says that, “The government has drawn on evidence from successful freeports around the world to develop a UK freeport model. The proposed model includes tariff flexibility, customs facilitations and tax measures. We are also considering planning reforms, additional targeted funding for infrastructure improvements and measures to incentivise innovation.”

    Murphy explains his intervention in evaluating the scheme saying, “I was asked by the Fair Tax Mark to look at this issue and draft a response for then, which has now gone in. But I also wrote a much longer version, which is available here. The summary of my submission says: This submission details considerable concerns relating to the freeports that the UK government is proposing to create. These concerns relate in particular to,” and he goes on to list his principal concerns that should worry us all given this Tory Government’s propensity with feathering the nests of the ultra wealthy at the expense of the working poor. In other documents exposing the blight of Freeports they are described as totally deregulated areas where worker exploitation is completely uncontrolled among other major abuses within an ostensibly democratic society. But Murphy focuses on the tax I plications in his list outlined below,

    • “The significant money-laundering risks that they will create that are unavoidable without a comprehensive reform of the enforcement processes relating to UK company law;
    • The extensive risk of tax avoidance activity because of the uncertainties that freeports will create with regard to a range of taxes including corporation tax, value added tax, income tax and social security;
    • The inability of the freeport proposal to address the government’s concerns with regard to stamp duty land tax, business rates, research and development credits and other related issues;
    • The absence of any apparent economic need for freeports;
    • The risk to UK tax morale that they will create;
    • The threat to the UK’s international tax relationships that they will pose;
    • The challenge to the international consensus on ending the harmful race to the bottom in tax matters that they represent.”

    Murphy concludes that, “In our opinion none of these issues can be addressed by modification to the proposal made and as such we suggest that the proposal to create freeports should not be preceded with. The submission is of thirty pages and highlights a great many issues, because as became apparent in discussions I had with the Treasury and others during the submission process, it is deliberately scant as to the proposals to provide the government with maximum opportunity to introduce ideas without prior notice having claimed a consultation has already been done.” He warns that, “My fear, to be blunt, is that the aim is to introduce tax havens in the UK. It’s an issue I will come back to, but for now I offer these paragraphs from the submission on which this proposal is not needed.” His cautions are especially valid given this Tory Governments appalling track record for corruption and greed.

    Murphy questions the “Economic need” saying that, “We understand that the Government’s intention in promoting freeports is to encourage increased economic activity in the UK. It intends to do so by providing incentives through the tax system and by relaxing other regulations. There is little evidence that freeports have ever achieved this goal for a government. There is quite strong evidence that, at best, freeports relocate activity at cost to a government. In addition, there is no evidence at all at present within the UK that there is a shortage of capital available for investment purposes. There is, for example, regular and informed comment on the pages of the Financial Times and The Economist on the existence of a savings glut, which savings are not put to use by investors.”

    Murphy further explains, “What is more, that capital is available at incredibly low cost, meaning that the hurdles to be overcome before investment can take place have little, if anything, to do with the cost of finance, which is all that can be influenced by reduced taxation and a reduction in the cost of regulation within freeports. In that case there is very little economic evidence to suggest that freeport creation will address any known economic problem: it would seem that all desired economic activity in the UK is currently being funded at very little capital cost without the assistance of freeport arrangements. The economic rationale for such arrangement is, then, very hard to discern. The government has not stated what they are in the current economic environment. We would very strongly suggest that this be done before any legislation is presented to Parliament so that proper appraisal of the proposal can be made.”

    Murphy then focuses on the potential “Regulatory need” or rather the lack thereof. He says that, “We have one final observation to make. The logic of freeports is that there must be regulatory failings in the UK that requires that they exist. The consultation document does not specify these failings, but if they exist it is logical that the whole country enjoy the benefit of reform rather than just some selected areas. We would therefore suggest the government address this broader issue rather than introduce freeports if they think there are regulatory issues requiring attention. We do not need ten new tax havens in the UK. So why is the government intent on creating them?” There’s one simple answer: greed! It is the desire of this Tory Government, with its obsessive dedication to meeting the demands of only the richest one percent of our population, that these greedy scroungers are facilitated in hoarding their wealth away from the grasp of the tax man so that they never pay their share of the burden they heap on the working poor.

    Those in privileged positions close to the PM and helping to keep him propped up in power despite his repeated blunders are richly rewarded. The Canary Article entitled, “Special advisers earn almost £10m, with Cummings paid six figures,” reveals the excessive salaries paid to the people we call ‘Spads.’ They say, “Government special advisers were paid almost £10m last year, new figures have revealed, with Dominic Cummings among Downing Street staff on six-figure salaries.” There’s big money to be made advising Government. The Canary examines the massive bill to see who gets what, “A Cabinet Office report detailed the £9.6m pay bill for the 102 special advisers, known as Spads, from April 2019 to March 2020. Former chief adviser Cummings, who is in the process of leaving his government post, was paid the equivalent of £140,000-£144,999 – up from £95,000-£99,999 last year.” Obviously the public sector pay freeze does not cast its icy chill in the direction of Number 10 as the ultra privileged cozy up to the PM.

    We need to question whether such a huge wage bill is warranted during a time of national crisis when the Government wanted to deny providing school meals to hungry children? They say that, “Lee Cain was paid the equivalent of £140,000-£144,999 last year (Victoria Jones/PA) Ex-communications chief Lee Cain, who also left Downing Street last month, was paid between £140,000 and £144,999 – the same as the previous year.” Newly-appointed press secretary Allegra Stratton, who is set to front televised briefings from Downing Street in the new year, earns between £125,000 and £129,999. Number 10 photographer Andrew Parsons works part-time but earns the full-time equivalent of £100,000-£104,999, the figures show. Advisers Edward Lister and Munira Mirza both earn between £140,000 and £144,999, while the prime minister’s top spin doctor Jack Doyle earns between £110,000 and £114,999. The UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, Lord Frost, earns between £125,000 and £129,999, according to the data.”

    This was the point made by the enabling Leader of the Opposition in one of the only questions Starmer didn’t manage to squander at this, the last, Prime Minister’s Questions of the year. It was duly sidelined and drowned out by the PMs standard weekly Tory Party Political Broadcast that has been allowed to substitute for scrutiny in the House of Commons. Will the public finely take note and voice their outrage after hearing that Dominic Cummings aberrant conduct in breaching lockdown restrictions was rewarded with a staggering 40% pay rise while loyal public sector workers were punished with a pay freeze? The obscene outrages of this corrupt Tory Government are becoming more and more outrageous as the media fail in their task of providing public scrutiny due to right-wing bias by certainly aided and abetted by Starmer, the Trojan horse destroying the Labour Party from within. ASAP we must demand real scrutiny, exposing the corruption of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election: delegitimizing Johnson and ousting Starmer!

    Just like a Christmas Panto villain the Dom is lurking in the background; we should all be shouting, “he’s behind you,” but Johnson knows that, because he left Dominic Cummings in place where he can still pull the most essential strings. I wasn’t fooled by that dramatic exit through the front door of Number 10 carrying a feather-light cardboard box to incite intrigue: it was just a stunt for the UK media, and they lapped it up. No way was Cummings turfed out in disgrace, because if that were true a severe act of ruthless vengeance would have ensued. I still claim “Cummings is the grenade; oust him and you pull the pin!” No explosive facts have been mysteriously leaked to the media, no embarrassing revelations have made Johnon’s premiership untenable, but believe me there is serious Kompromat within Cummings grasp. I firmly believe that Cummings holds the key to exactly how the Covert 2019 Rigged Election was so precisely calculated to win the unfathomable Tory ‘landslide victory;’ enough to precipitate a full Investigation? Yes!

    Despite the PM fantasy of restored naval prowess as unstoppable global power as he insists we are on course for a brilliant future beyond the EU, in reality our horizons are narrowing by the day as we draw closer to the crash-out Brexit Johnson once envisaged as being such a “Titanic success.’ Boris is to blame for this entirely preventable, rapidly looming disaster as he consciously chose to desert his moral compass and steer towards that Brexit iceberg. The only resemblance to ‘Titanic’ will not signal success, but SOS, apparent when, scuttled by the Brexiteers, the project inevitably sinks like that ill-fated ship. Although they had once bragged that the Titanic was ‘unsinkable,’ their glowing accolades did not save the vessel from her watery demise, just as over-promising on Brexit will not save the UK from plunging ever deeper into an economic abyss. Uncompromising arrogance will lead to exclusionary desolation leaving us stranded without sufficient liferafts; will the EU try to rescue us from this catastrophic self-imposed peril? DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #63532 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    It would have been merciful if Boris Johnson had only secured a deal for averting the dystopian nightmare of crash-out Brexit, that was all most of us really wanted before the New Year deadline, but no, he remains determined to ramp up the stress and misery until he is ready to deliver his last ditch betrayal. After updating the House on the status of the leak investigation, there was nothing ‘merry as he rallied festive sentiments from the “whole House” to wish merry Christmas to Members of staff… armed forces in the UK and overseas…the emergency services, health and care workers…and all the other poor bastards working over the holiday, but he didn’t put it quite like that! Tory MP Michael Fabricant added to the festive wishes and then started ‘preeching’: “People must use common sense, of course: do not start hugging granny; do not go wild over Christmas…” he rambled on until the Speaker abruptly cut him off saying, “We’ve got the message!” Lindsey Hoyle was really going to miss that kill switch on the video link!

    If only it were that easy to get the PM to ‘put a sock in it’ when he abused the occasion of Prime Minister’s Questions to deliver yet another delusional Party Political Broadcast to the TV audience, but today was to be no exception, “My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He is right in many ways, but right to stress the importance of people taking care this Christmas, because although some things are unquestionably going well, I am very pleased to tell the House that we have had a good start with the roll-out of the vaccination programme and in just seven days 108,000 people in England and 138,000 across the whole of the UK have received their first vaccination, we must remember that transmission takes place asymptomatically in so many cases: one in three people are currently asymptomatic with covid. That is why my hon. Friend is absolutely right that we should exercise extreme caution in the way we celebrate Christmas. We can celebrate it sensibly but we have to be extremely cautious in the way we behave.”

    The PM was priming the British people to take full responsibility for his shambolic lockdown policy when it fails to stem the soaring death toll. Starmer said, “May I join the Prime Minister in his good wishes to all the staff, the armed forces and our emergency services, and thank you, Mr Speaker, and the House authorities for doing all that you have done this year to keep Parliament safe, and open, in challenging circumstances?” Futile prompting was never going to elicit even the slightest hint of regret from Johnson so why waste a crucial question, but he did it again! “Since this is, probably, the last PMQs of the year, I want to look at some of the decisions that the Prime Minister has made in the last 12 months. Let me start at the beginning of the pandemic, when images from hospitals in Italy and Spain were being shown on our televisions and the infection rates were rising in the UK. Does the Prime Minister now accept that his slowness to respond led to more deaths, a longer lockdown, and deeper economic damage?”

    The PM’s reply was a predictable, “No, because at every stage we followed the scientific guidance, and continue to do so. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is right to draw attention to what is happening across the whole of Europe, and indeed there are spikes now taking place across the whole of the EU. Thanks to the tiering system that we have in place in large parts of the country, and thanks to the heroic efforts of the people of the north-west, the north-east and Yorkshire and the Humber, we are seeing those rates coming down. Yes, it is true that we have spikes now in some parts of London and the south-east, but we will make sure, with our adjustments to the tiering that we conduct over the next weeks, that we will address those issues. That is the right way forward for this country, and that is how we will defeat the virus, with vaccines, with community testing and with tough tiering.” The PMs multiple failures were nothing to crow about, but he had to maintain the façade of positivity despite the chaos.

    Johnson took an extra dig, saying, “I think that what people would like to hear in this season of good will to all men is a little bit of support from the right hon. and learned Gentleman for what the Government are trying to do to beat coronavirus, and perhaps just a little less carping.” Starmer said, “If the Prime Minister will not listen to me, let me quote his own spending watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility. It said that the UK locked down later and for longer than some of its European neighbours and experienced a deeper fall and slower economic recovery. This is not bad luck. It is not inevitable. It is the result of the Prime Minister’s choices. But if the Prime Minister disagrees, perhaps he can tell us why Britain, the sixth-richest country in the world, with all our brilliant scientists and amazing NHS, ends the year with one of the highest numbers of covid deaths in Europe, over 64,000, each one leaving a grieving family, and the deepest recession of any major economy. Why does he think that has happened?”

    It was another wasted question seeking remorse that would not be forthcoming as Johnson once again turned the tables trying to put Starmer on the spot by asking, “The House will have noted the slight change of tune in the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s criticisms of the UK’s performance. But perhaps he could tell me why the UK is the first to produce a viable treatment for coronavirus in the form of dexamethasone or the first country in the world to roll out a clinically tested stage 3 vaccine. This is a pandemic that has affected the whole of Europe, and this Government have continued to take the tough decisions necessary to beat it. If I may say so, without wishing to cast aspersions on the point of the view of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, I would take his criticisms of the UK Government’s decisions a little more seriously, frankly, if he had been able to decide last week, or the week before, whether he even supported the approach we were taking or opposed it. He could not do either: he abstained.”

    The PM had Starmer on the defensive as he replied, “I said two weeks ago at this Dispatch Box that I was very concerned that tier 2 would not be strong enough to hold the virus. The Prime Minister said, ‘Don’t worry about that. Just support us. Throw away the problems.’ Two weeks later, what have we got? The virus rising in tier 2 and tier 3, and I will come back to that. If the Prime Minister thinks that the highest death numbers and the deepest recession is somehow delivering for the British people, he is a long way removed from the truth. The problem is that the Prime Minister makes the same mistakes over and over again.” Starmer is so completely absorbed with proving that he is right that he loses track of the objective in his rants; the tactic always fails.

    Starmer continued, “Two weeks ago, he unveiled the latest covid plan. He told the House, as he has many times before, that his plan would suppress the virus, but the latest figures show the opposite. The Prime Minister talked about spikes here and there. Let me tell the House that in three out of four tier 2 areas, infections are going up. In over half of the tier 3 areas, infections are going up, exactly the concern that I put to the Prime Minister two weeks ago, when he said, ‘Just back us anyway.’ As a result, this morning 10 million people moved into tougher restrictions, exactly what we said would happen: areas going up the tiers. Does the Prime Minister not recognise that his latest plan has once again failed to control the virus and protect the NHS and our economy?” All to often Starmer wastes six questions on his futile ‘who’s a naughty boy’ strategy leaving backbench MPs to demand answers.

    For the PM the pathetic rambling of Keir Starmer was tame opposition that rarely caused alarm. Johnson replied, “Once again, the right hon. and learned Gentleman criticises the Government’s plans without producing any kind of plan of his own, except I seem to remember that he was the mastermind author of the Labour firebreak in Wales. If we look at what is happening across the country, it is thanks to the efforts of the British people that we are seeing significant reductions in the virus in some of the areas where it was really surging. That is because of the hard work of the people of this country. We will, of course, continue to reflect that as we go forward with the tiering approach, and we will continue to roll out the vaccine and community testing. I think that his time would be better employed supporting those wonderful initiatives, supporting community testing, encouraging people to get a test and encouraging people to get a vaccine, rather than continually attacking what the NHS and the Government are trying to do.”

    Again Starmer was defending his own conduct, saying, “I have encouraged everybody to have the vaccine every time I have stood up and talked about it. The Prime Minister is avoiding the issue. In some places, the infection rate has gone up 70% in the last seven days. Everybody knows that this is a problem. The Prime Minister is yet again pretending that it is not. Another major mistake of the last 12 months was losing public trust. We all know what the tipping point was: the 520-mile round trip to Barnard Castle and the humiliating way in which the Prime Minister and his Cabinet chose to defend it. Now we learn that, while the Prime Minister and the Chancellor are telling the armed forces, police officers, careworkers and firefighters that they will get a pay freeze, Dominic Cummings has been handed at least a £40,000 pay rise. How on earth does the Prime Minister justify that?” This was a real question that needed to be raised as it targeted the obscene disparity between Tory greed and their neglect of public needs.
    Determined to ignore the question and move in a different direction Johnson responded, “The right hon. and learned Gentleman totally trivialises the efforts of the British people in getting the virus down. He says that none of the lockdown measures have worked. That is absolutely untrue. From 5 November to 3 December, the people of this country came together once again to get the virus under control, and they have made a huge amount of progress. We will continue with that tiering system, and we will get the virus down. That is the best way forward for this country. All he wants to do is to lock the whole country down, he is a one-club golfer; that is the only solution he has, and then, all he does is attack the economic consequences of lockdowns.”

    Starmer needed to double down on his last question, “Mr Speaker, you could script that from October and November, when the Prime Minister was saying that a lockdown was the last thing the country needed and would be disastrous. Two weeks later, he put it on the table and voted for it, ridiculous! This is exactly the problem: not learning from mistakes. Obviously, we know that for Dominic Cummings, it was not performance- related pay. I think that the British people will find it pretty hard to understand why it is one rule for our key workers and another for his advisers.” An injustice of this magnitude had to be strongly emphasized, but would the press pick up on it or offer Johnson cover? “It is now likely that the next big mistake will be over the easing of restrictions over Christmas, and it is not smarmy lawyers saying this. Let me tell the House what the British Medical Journal has said. The British Medical Journal said yesterday: ‘we believe the government is about to blunder into another major error that will cost many lives’.”

    Starmer got round to asking another question saying, “The Prime Minister should listen to that advice, not just ignore it as usual. If he really is going to press ahead with this, can he tell us what assessment has been done of the impact that it will have on infection rates and increased pressure on the NHS? What is the impact?” There were no impact assessments or if they existed they were to damning to share. So Johnson hit back with a demand for decisive action from the now entirely powerless opposition party, saying, “I wish the right hon. and learned Gentleman had had the guts just to say what he really wants to do, which is to cancel the plans people have made and cancel Christmas. That is really, I think, what he is driving at. He is looking a bit blank; I think that is what he is driving at.” He wanted to assign ‘the Grinch that stole Christmas’ title to Starmer, but the holiday wasn’t worth dying for!

    Johnson’s attack diatribe rambled on… “But I can tell him that, as of today, just this morning, there is actually, as I say, unanimous agreement across the UK Government and across all the devolved Administrations, including members of all parties, including his own, that we should proceed, in principle, with the existing regulations, because we do not want to criminalise people’s long-made plans. We do think it is absolutely vital that people should at this very, very tricky time exercise a high degree of personal responsibility, especially when they come into contact with elderly people, and avoid contact with elderly people wherever possible. That is how, by being sensible and cautious, not by imposing endless lockdowns or cancelling Christmas, as he would appear to want to do, that is the only implication I can draw from what he has said, unless he wants to announce some other idea, we will continue to work together to keep this virus under control, to defeat it and take the country forward.”

    Starmer ranted, “Here we go again: ignoring the medical advice, and we know where that leads, because we have seen what happened in the last nine months. Whatever the Prime Minister says, there is no escaping the brutal facts that Britain has one of the highest numbers of covid deaths in Europe and the worst economic damage. This is the last PMQs of the year, and I for one often wonder where the Prime Minister gets his advice from. Well, now I know, because I have here the official newsletter of the Wellingborough Conservative party. It is not on everyone’s Christmas reading list, but it is a fascinating read, because it gives a lot of advice to wannabe politicians. It says this: ‘say the first thing that comes into your head… It’ll probably be nonsense… You may get a bad headline, but, If you make enough dubious claims, fast enough’ you can get away with it. The December edition includes the advice: ‘Sometimes, it is better to give the WRONG answer at the RIGHT time, than the RIGHT answer at the WRONG time’.”

    Starmer asked, “So my final question to the Prime Minister is this: is he the inspiration for the newsletter, or is he the author?” The PM started into his standard accusatory tirade, saying, “I think what the people of this country would love to hear from the right hon. and learned Gentleman in this season of good will is any kind of point of view at all on some of the key issues. This week, he could not make up his mind whether it was right for kids to be in school or not, and havering completely. He could not make up his mind last week whether or not to support what the Government were doing to fight covid, and told his troops, heroically, to abstain. He could not make up his mind about Brexit, we all seem to remember. We do not know whether he will vote for a deal or not.”

    “He cannot attack the Government if he cannot come up with a view of his own. In the words of the song, ‘All I want for Christmas is’ a view, and it would be wonderful if he could produce one.” Dodging scrutiny the PM switched to PR spin, “This Government are getting on with delivering on the people’s priorities, with 20,000 more police, 50,000 more nurses, 48 new hospitals and, although it has been very tough and very difficult, and everybody appreciates the suffering and hardship that the people of this country have been going through, by rolling out the vaccine, by community testing and by tough tiering, which I hope the right hon. and learned Gentleman supports, we are going to defeat coronavirus and we are going to take this country forward into a great 2021.”

    Tory MP Henry Smith said, “At the beginning of this year, the Prime Minister delivered the historic British people’s votes for Brexit. Regardless of the outcome of the current talks with the EU, does he agree with me that this great outward-looking nation has a world of global opportunities ahead of it?” The PM replied, “I thank my hon. Friend, who has campaigned nobly in that cause. As he knows, already we have not only set up a points-based immigration system, taking back control of our borders, but we will ensure that, and we have already done many free trade deals, we will use the economic advantages of Brexit, coming out of the European Union, to do free ports, to make this country the most attractive place for investment for business and for enterprise around the world and, above all, to resist the depredations of the socialists opposite, who would destroy that opportunity and do everything they possibly could to take us straight back into the lunar pull of the European Union, which is the true ambition of the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer).”

    SNP Leader Ian Blackford after a few festive wishes turned to Brexit May, “I wish you, Mr Speaker, and all colleagues, staff, essential workers, health workers, and everyone in these nations all the best for Christmas? I hope everyone does their best to keep everybody safe. In the past few hours, the President of the European Commission has said that the next few days are going to be ‘decisive’ in the Brexit negotiations. With just two weeks to go, it is a disgrace that businesses and people have been left with that crippling uncertainty, and the real threat of food and medicine shortages come the new year. One year ago, at the general election, Scotland rejected this Prime Minister. It rejected this Tory Government, and it rejected their extreme Brexit. People in Scotland now need to know the price they will be forced to pay. Ahead of any vote in Parliament, will the Prime Minister commit to releasing a detailed economic impact assessment of the cost to the UK of his extreme Tory Brexit plans?”

    The PM replied. “Notwithstanding the slight uncharacteristic air of gloom from the right hon. Gentleman, there is every opportunity. and hope I have, that our friends and partners across the channel will see sense and do a deal. All that takes is for them to understand that the UK has a natural right, like every other country, to want to be able to control its own laws and its own fishing grounds , I would have thought that would be important to the right hon. Gentleman. Whatever happens in the next few days, I know that this country will prosper mightily on the terms that we agree with our European friends, and whatever those terms may be, whether they are Australian or Canadian, he can go forward with a high heart and confidence into 2021, knowing that there are great opportunities for Scotland and the rest of the UK.”

    Blackford responded, “I am not quite sure what that was, Mr Speaker, but it certainly wasn’t an answer to the question. I am not surprised, because the Prime Minister did not want to answer the question. He knows that the United Kingdom is poorer and worse off as a result of the extreme Tory Brexit, and the costs continue to soar. The Warwick study estimates that Scotland has already lost £4 billion as a result of Brexit, and Bloomberg Economics estimates that the UK will have lost £200 billion by the end of this year. Scottish Government analysis estimates that every person in Scotland will, on average, be worse off to the tune of £1,600. Scotland has been completely ignored by Westminster throughout the Brexit process, and we are now being kept in the dark over the devastating price that we will be forced to pay. People in Scotland are not willing to suffer the consequences of this economic vandalism, and 16 consecutive polls have shown a majority for independence, that is little wonder, Mr Speaker.”

    Blackford then asked, “Is it not as clear as day that the only way left to protect Scotland’s interests and our place in Europe is for Scotland to become an independent country?” The PM Replied, “Again, despite the gloom that the right hon. Gentleman seeks to spread about Scotland and the rest of the UK, the UK currently has the highest youth employment in the G7, I could perhaps have made that point to the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer), and lower unemployment than France, Italy, Spain, the United States and Canada. There is a threat to the Scottish economy, sadly, and that is the high tax regime and mismanagement of the Scottish nationalist party. That is the problem that Scotland faces, and I hope that the people of Scotland can see it.” The Tories Sovereign Dictatorship will not include Scotland for very long. Why can’t the Brits rise up challenge the corrupt Tory rule, demand an Investigation into the Covert 2019 Rigged Election, expose the truth and Get The Tories Out! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #63657 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    In the haunting gospel song “All my Trials” Joan Baez sings, “If living were a thing that money could buy, the rich would live and the poor would die, All my trials Lord, soon be over;” it seems to epitomize this corrupt Tory cabal’s philosophy on Governance and the value of life itself! Their selfish decisions will ensure that the privileged elite of this country will not only survive this Pandemic they will exploit it mightily to greatly increase their extreme wealth, thriving while the children of the working poor are abandoned to suffer and starve to death. The UK’s most notorious ‘benefit scroungers’ will be granted a secure place to hoard their untraceable plunder closer to home in newly constructed ‘Freeports’ where the exploitation of workers will likely be beyond the prying eyes of any regulators or tax auditors. Meanwhile with jobs shipped overseas, soaring unemployment: the weakest and most vulnerable in our society, those not fit enough to be trapped in perpetual servitude, will be left stranded, without support and unable to survive.

    The Canary Article entitled, “As Unicef step in to feed hungry UK kids, No 10 defends £45k pay rise to Dominic Cummings” cruely exemplifies Tory policy. They say, “Downing Street has defended Dominic Cummings’ pay rise of around £45,000 as taking him to the ‘correct level of salary’ for his role as a ‘most important’ special adviser. His salary raise to up to £144,999 provoked anger for rewarding an individual whose trip to Barnard Castle during the first lockdown has been cited as undermining public confidence in the government. The news comes on the same day that Unicef has launched its first UK operation in its 70-year history to feed hungry children. As Labour MP Richard Burgon tweeted, in the UK, ‘poverty is a political choice’. Cummings is in the process leaving his role as Boris Johnson’s chief adviser after a bitter public power struggle gripped Number 10.”

    The Canary report that, “Labour said the “bumper bonus” was an insult to public sector workers receiving a pay freeze after a Cabinet Office report showed Cummings was paid the equivalent of £140,000-£144,999, up from £95,000-£99,999 last year. On Wednesday the Prime Minister’s press secretary Allegra Stratton said: ‘It’s the case that Dominic Cummings’ revised salary reflected the fact that up until his departure he was one of if not the most important special adviser. ‘…the new salary he received was in line with the salary chiefs of staff and people of that rank receive. It was not that his new salary took him over and above what you would expect for the kind of role he performed’. Stratton, who earns between £125,000 and £129,999, added: ‘It’s the correct level of salary for the role that Dominic Cummings performed’.”

    The Canary reveal the staggering bill for ‘services rendered,’ “The overall cost of special advisers, known in Westminster as Spads, was £9.6 million in the year up to April 2020, the same as in the previous period. Former communications chief Lee Cain, who left Downing Street last month along with his Vote Leave ally Cummings, was paid between £140,000 and £144,999, the same as the previous year. Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: ‘Boris Johnson defended Dominic Cummings when he broke lockdown rules, then awarded him a £50,000 pay rise. Yet he’s freezing pay for key workers and refusing to give our care workers a pay rise to the living wage. ‘Cummings’ bumper bonus is an insult to key workers denied the pay rise they deserve. 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.”

    A Canary Article entitled, “For the first time in its 70-year history, Unicef is feeding hungry children in the UK,” exposes the stark reality of extreme poverty in the UK; hardly the shining example of thriving post-Brexit “Global Britain” we should be projecting to potential trade partners! “Unicef is helping to feed hungry children in the UK as part of the charity’s first domestic emergency response in its 70-year history. Some 1,800 families struggling as a result of the coronavirus pandemic will receive breakfast boxes over the Christmas school holidays, the charity School Food Matters said. The Food Power for Generation Covid initiative, in partnership with Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, and the Southwark Food Power Alliance, has been made possible by a £25,000 grant from Unicef UK. It represents the first time the organisation has developed a domestic emergency response. Unicef said the coronavirus pandemic is the most urgent crisis affecting children since the Second World War.”

    The Canary highlight the stunned response, “as Labour MP Zarah Sultana tweeted: ‘For the first time ever, UNICEF, the UN agency for providing humanitarian aid to children, will help feed kids in the UK. This should not be necessary in the sixth richest country in the world. Let’s instead tax the super-rich and end child food poverty for good’.” They say, “Labour MP Richard Burgon pointed out that in the UK, ‘poverty is a political choice’: “Britain is one of the world’s richest nations. UNICEF, for the first time ever, is now delivering emergency food to children here. Poverty is a political choice. The Gov’t could end UK child poverty by making the super-rich pay fair taxes. It refuses to.’ The families in Southwark, south London, will receive 18,000 breakfasts which will be distributed by schools for two weeks when they break up. ‘A longer-term solution is needed’ The programme will also provide 6,750 breakfasts to families over the February half-term break.” Where is Sir Keir Starmer’s outrage in defence of the poor?

    The Canary report that, “Anna Kettley, director of programmes at Unicef UK, said: ‘This is Unicef’s first ever emergency response within the UK, introduced to tackle the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus crisis and reach the families most in need. ‘The grant for School Food Matters will address the gap in current provision for children, providing approximately 1,800 children with breakfast bags during the Christmas holidays and February half term. This funding will help build stronger communities as the impact of the pandemics worsen, but ultimately a longer-term solution is needed to tackle the root causes of food poverty, so no child is left to go hungry.’ School Food Matters founder Stephanie Slater said: ‘The response to our summer Breakfast Boxes programme has shown us that families are really struggling and many were facing the grim reality of a two-week winter break without access to free school meals and the indignity of having to rely on food banks to feed their children. ‘By providing our breakfast boxes, families know that their children will have a great start to the day with a healthy nutritious breakfast’.”

    The Canary point out how badly, “The government has failed.” Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: “‘The fact that Unicef is having to step in to feed our country’s hungry children is a disgrace and Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak should be ashamed. We are one of the richest countries in the world. Our children should not have to rely on humanitarian charities that are used to operating in war zones and in response to natural disasters. ‘Charities and businesses across the country have done a brilliant job stepping in where the Government has failed, but it should have never come to this’.”

    The Canary Article entitled, “Foodbank use increased almost 90% this year, as benefits not covering basic survival,” highlights how the food poverty crisis is intensifying. They say, “Independent foodbanks are giving out more than 13,000 emergency food parcels a week as demand soars during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, data shows. Some 340,994 three-day food parcels were distributed by 189 independent foodbanks in the UK between April and September, according to the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN). This is the equivalent of 13,043 parcels a week – or 1,863 a day. IFAN expects the number to pass half a million before the end of the year, with demand continuing to rise and an anticipated spike expected in the run-up to Christmas. The network surveyed 134 independent foodbanks about their activity in 2019 and during the pandemic, and received data from an additional 55 foodbanks from April.”

    The Canary report that, “This represents less than a fifth of the 961 known independent foodbanks and does not include those run by the Trussell Trust, meaning the true scale of food poverty will be much higher. Recent Trussell Trust figures showed its network of 1,300 centres distributed more than a million parcels in the six months to September. The IFAN data shows that overall, 426,958 three-day food parcels were distributed between February and October by the 134 foodbanks, an 88% rise from last year. The number of emergency food parcels given out soared during the first lockdown, before falling slightly over the summer. In April and May there was a 156% and 155% rise in the number of food parcels distributed compared to the same months in 2019. This figure then dropped between July and September, but was still on average 70% higher than the same period last year.”

    The Canary point out that, “Since October, demand has crept up again with foodbank managers anticipating a steep rise before Christmas as families struggle to meet additional costs. Foodbanks are seeing more families needing help, including the newly unemployed and those on benefits who cannot afford essentials. People who managed to keep afloat during the summer are now struggling to pay high energy bills that come with heating their homes, IFAN said. Foodbanks are also seeing people who have been struggling for some time but have resisted coming forward. The most common reason for need was people’s benefits being insufficient to enable them to afford food, according to 51 organisations running 125 foodbanks which recorded reason of use. In September, 92% of these foodbanks said this had affected 10 or more people who they had helped that month.”

    Reporting on the crisis the Canary say that, “Some 63% of the foodbanks cited changes to existing benefits causing a delay to payments in at least 10 people helped that month, and 65% said demand was from people who are newly unemployed and waiting for Universal Credit. There is also an increasing need among people who are living in poverty despite being employed. More than half (51%) of the foodbanks said this was a factor in at least 10 people they helped in September.” Meanwhile they document that, “A government spokesperson claimed: We have always been committed to supporting the lowest-paid families. That’s why we have provided billions of welfare support this year, including the £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme to help children and families stay warm and well-fed during the coldest months, and a further £16 million funding for food distribution charities.” But the demand at local foodbanks demonstrate that their pathetic strategies are simply ‘not fit for purpose!’

    The Canary report that, “Charlotte White, manager of the Earlsfield foodbank in south-west London, said it is currently helping between 90-100 households per week, up from 20-25 this time last year. She said: Of this increase, the majority are people who have never used food banks before and we’ve noticed a significant increase in households with children. Many people are coming to us because of delays or problems with benefits or Universal Credit, and we’re also seeing a big increase in people with low income, often zero-hour work. We can give people food but food poverty is a symptom of the problem, not the cause. Until we tackle the underlying structural problems, the situation will worsen.”

    The Canary report that, “IFAN co-ordinator Sabine Goodwin said: Independent food banks are picking up the pieces yet again as more and more people struggle to pay the bills. There needs to be a realisation that we cannot continue to provide an emergency response to a long-term crisis. The Government’s £170 million funding has huge potential to support people through a ‘cash first’ approach and the provision of cash payments by local authorities instead of food bank referrals. But ultimately it’s the social security system and the payment of adequate wages that need our attention to end food poverty for good. IFAN is calling for the government to make the £20 uplift to Universal Credit permanent, remove the benefit cap, and end the five week wait before people can receive their first Universal Credit payment.”

    In another Canary Article entitled, “A short film made by a community is getting international recognition,” they report that, “A short film about a community project in south London during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has gone global. It’s already picked up an award at an international film festival. And the film is being screened at several others.” They say the film about surviving in Lewisham called, “Feeding Lewisham – Foodbanks In Crisis” is a short film that centres around the work of a grassroots group. The group is called We Care Food Bank, Corona Community Support Network. It works out of Deptford, south London. During the pandemic, it provided food and supplies to around 5,000 people and pets in need of support. But crucially, it did all of this without any money from government or local councils. What’s more, We Care Food Bank also extended out of its home borough of Lewisham. The team told The Canary that it supported people across another six neighbouring boroughs.”

    The Canary say, “As its co-founder Ray Barron-Woolford noted, the film was made during lockdown. He said it was created: with talented local film professionals laid off due to covid. One of these was director and producer Cara Bowen. She told East London Lines: I wanted to help out my community and was able to offer my skills and equipment, neither of which I was using! I also felt very passionate about the subject, I think the overall message we wanted to convey was poverty. Poverty is the real issue here and COVID has thrown light onto it. Money is being tossed at COVID without trying to find solutions to the systemic problems that have affected our communities for generations, especially people of colour. Without much help from the councils or government, communities have come together to provide for those in need, and that’s what Ray’s documentary really emphasises.”

    The Canary explain how, “The film documents the work that an army of volunteers did during the height of the pandemic. It also shines a light onto the situation for the people the foodbank helped. Since it was made, Feeding Lewisham has been recognised internationally. First, it won an Award of Excellence at the Canada Shorts Film Festival. Moreover, it’s been shortlisted as a finalist at the New York City International Film Festival. And the Five Continents International film Festival in Venezuela is also screening the film. In the UK, Feeding Lewisham is playing as part of the London International Short Film Festival. You can watch it online via the festival. The film was only finished in October, so to already be featured in festivals is impressive. Currently, Feeding Lewisham is only available to watch via festivals. But Woolford told The Canary that it’ll be released fully next year, hopefully in June.”

    Woolford told The Canary: “We are delighted that our film ‘Feeding Lewisham’, made out of love and with zero funds, has been selected for, and is winning, awards globally. We believe this is, in part. because the world is all facing the same Covid challenges. But our film is also different. It does not go down the misery and poverty porn route. Instead, it shows how powerful communities can be when governments and councils fail them. It shows how awesome we as neighbours can be – united in solidarity. And it shows black people as leaders not as victims. Overall, Feeding Lewisham highlights the work of the We Care Food Bank. It also gives an insight into the situation for the people it helped. Overall, the film highlights not only the awful situation so many people in the UK faced during lockdown, but the fact that these people were in that situation in the first place.”

    The Canary report more progress, “Now, We Care Food Bank has expanded its operations. It has opened the We Care Food Pantry and Kath’s Place, a community food centre, charity shop, and hub in Deptford.” They say, “You can read more about the projects here,” and Donate to Support the We Care Food Pantry and Kath’s Place. They remark on how the film has been, “Inspirational, globally; As Woolford wrote: we cannot thank enough those people who gave their time and still do to help others during this crisis and those in the film team who gave hours of time for free because what was happening in Lewisham was [too] important not to be told whilst the film also is a model for others to copy and be inspired by globally Feeding Lewisham certainly inspires. It also serves as a piece of historical evidence of a time in British history where for so many the only support they had in a time of crisis was each other. To Get Involved: Watch Feeding Lewisham via the London International Short Film Festival here.”

    This Tory Government has already been reprimanded by the UN for their Human Rights abuse of the disabled and now UNICEF is stepping in to feed the UK poor. Food poverty and reliance on Food Banks did not start with the Covid 19 crisis and the sharp rise in unemployment due to periods in lockdown, the problem has been getting steadily worse for years due to Tory imposed austerity measures. People who thought their job and their income were secure are discovering the harsh reality of subsisting on Universal Credit and waiting for that initial payment. That wait is entirely unnecessary and purely punitive, but despite the crisis it remains in place. The targeting of the north of England with the toughest lockdown restrictions and a time-lag in support funding is another conscious decision made for political reasons, so too is the planned crash-out Brexit that will knowingly force destitution on the working poor. All of this is leading up to the consolidation of a dystopian slave state ‘new normal’ under Tory Sovereign Dictatorship.

    In a Journal Article entitled, “A Political Economy of the Food Riot,” Raj Patel and Philip McMichael analyse the political dynamic that causes a starving populous to riot. The abstract states that: “This article views the food riot as not simply a demand for staple foods, but about the wider political economy of food provisioning. From a world-historical perspective, the food riot has always been about more than food, usually signaling significant transitions in political-economic arrangements. Food riots are, in other words, political, and therefore their interpretation needs to be threaded through endogenous political debates and power struggles, to see the articulation of international economic relations behind protests with local struggles and organized alternatives to existing structures of power. That is, the protests themselves are agentic moments in movement toward an alternative that is best captured in the term ‘food sovereignty.’ Accordingly, the spread of food riots has a great deal to do with a specific kind of rebellion against the political economy of neoliberalism.”

    There is a certain tipping point where the sheer desperation of starving people will overcome the fear of infection and any hesitance in rebelling against authority. The Tories were fully aware of this risk, but they have already made contingency plans to deploy the army to quell the anticipated rioting. This was outlined in ‘Operation Yellowhamer’ in response to Brexit; the Covid crisis has just provided another excuse to subjugate the population by force to solidify absolute power. The grotesque injustice of trying to deny school meals to hungry children while squandering billions on private contracts and dysfunctional schemes demands public protest and legal challenge. Ever since they managed to convince the nation their incredulous ‘landslide victory’ in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election was legit the Tory outrages have got bolder and even more obscene with soaring Covid deaths. We must Challenge the legitimacy of their majority to derail the Tories Sovereign Dictatorship and hope that our neighbors in the EU support our uprising. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #63724 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Before the Covert 2019 Rigged Election we had cause for optimism; the result dashed all hope. The Tory campaign was abysmal, candidates didn’t bother attending hustings and Boris was getting jeered and heranged by the public so frequently that his brief appearances on TV had to be tightly stage managed by the BBC; he even scurried into a fridge to hide! A Labour manifesto stuffed with positive pledges and opposition MPs especially Corbyn were ignored or attacked by the media, but the word was out and mid winter people stood in long lines determined to vote. I will never accept that a huge number of former Labour voters were willing to forgive a decade of savage austerity to vote for the guarantee of yet more pain and suffering under the Tories. I am certain that the only way Johnson could have achieved a Tory ‘landslide victory’ is by stealing the postal votes; we must Challenge and Investigate that result. That disastrous corrupt election ‘win’ has provided a soaring Covid death toll as we head for a crash-out Brexit.

    Just over a year ago, ten days before that fateful Covert 2019 Rigged Election, the Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Tories’ shame as number of homeless children rises – and rough sleepers DOUBLE,” appeared online. I know it wasn’t headline news in the right-wing tabloids, but there was a shocking Dispatches broadcast that spelled out the horrifying news of desperation was aired around that time too. I simply cannot believe that among numerous deprived communities up north, where what was shown in that documentary was part of the lived experience of destitution, but Brexit and fantisemitism took precedence over watching children starve was just not at all credible. Labour MPs were coerced into selling this fake news to the public as the PM and Tory MPs were never asked to explain the incredulous triumph. That was the stark reality I still cannot get my head around.

    At that time the Skwawkvox documented, “New research by the housing charity Shelter shows that there will be 135,000 homeless children this Christmas – an increase of seven thousand in just two years.” People have tried to convince me that it was the older generation who were hankering for the pre-EU Nirvana snake oil the PM was touting, but did they not care about their own children and grandchildren? They said, “The number of people sleeping rough has also doubled under the Tories to 5,000, and the number of people dying homeless has risen by more than half in just the last five years, to 726 last year. Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey said: It is shameful that after ten years of the Conservatives in Government, 135,000 children will be without a home this Christmas. Rising homelessness is a direct result of decisions made by the Tories: slashing investment in new low-cost homes, refusing to help private renters and making huge cuts to housing benefit and homelessness services.”

    The Skwawkbox also pointed out that, “The Conservatives’ manifesto makes clear they have no plan to tackle the crisis of rising homelessness. A Labour Government will end rough sleeping within five years and fix the root causes of rising homelessness with the biggest council and social housing programme since the 1960s, stronger rights for renters and extra funding for homelessness services. The Conservative manifesto contained no additional funding for social housing and no new measures to combat rising homelessness or rough sleeping. The Labour manifesto sets out a plan to end rough sleeping within five years, with 150,000 council and social homes a year, new funding for homelessness services and housing benefit and a charter of renters’ rights.” A Channel 4 Dispatches programme went out on Monday night showing the plight of the UK’s more than four million children living in poverty: This alarming documentary shows where the UK was at before the rising unemployment of the Covid crisis.

    But national crisis or not the Tory Party priorities never change. The Mainstream Media aren’t as vigilant at keeping Tory corruption under wraps as they were during the Covert 2019 Rigged Election campaign, so the public are discovering the extent to which the Pandemic has been exploited with public money squandered while basic support is still neglected. The Canary Article entitled “As councils could be forced to put homeless people back on the street, a property management company gets a £4.5m rent holiday,” was posted one year on from the Skwawkbox piece. They reveal that, “An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) has revealed how government policy could put thousands of homeless people back onto the streets during this pandemic. This could happen as the government is telling councils in England to treat homeless people from outside the EU differently to those from within.”

    Meanwhile, the Canary report that, “a separate investigation from BIJ reveals how Spelthorne council in Surrey gave property management company WeWork an 18-month rental holiday. This ‘holiday’ means the company won’t have to pay £4.5m rent to the council until after the 18 months end. That’s assuming of course that WeWork survives that period given its current woes. Both of these investigations come at a time when the public wants restrictions placed on corporations in receipt of cheap credit that’s funded by the taxpayer.” They point out that, “‘both highlight continued inequality under the Tories.’ Of the homelessness crisis they say, ‘280,000 people in England are homeless, with thousands more at risk. It went on to say that while ‘a lot of homelessness goes undocumented’ that the figure of 280,000 was ‘an increase of 23,000 since 2016’.”

    The Canary say, “It also stated: Shelter’s extensive analysis of official rough sleeping and temporary accommodation figures, along with social services records, shows that in one in every 200 people are without a home. For the first time, its review of government data has also exposed that close to 220,000 people in England were threatened with homelessness in the last year. Crisis on hold,” they noted, “As coronavirus spread, there were calls for action to help homeless people and rough sleepers. On 17 March, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) announced £3.2m to help rough sleepers to self-isolate. This was on the same day that chancellor Rishi Sunak announced £350bn to support business. Homelessness campaigners said the government needed to ‘go further’ to help rough sleepers because self-isolation isn’t feasible. Then later in March, MHCLG announced its ‘Everyone In’ programme to house rough sleepers. This would ensure rough sleepers had a roof over their heads during the pandemic.”

    The ‘Everyone In’ program clearly demonstrated how rapidly the problem could be solved if the Tory Government had the political will to take action. Just like the necessity for austerity measures and the neiliberal moaning about a magic money tree; the myths supporting conscious Tory cruelty are being debunked. Austerity was already coming unstuck before the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. Johnson scrambled to find a new lie to placate the masses, but we must not fall for his ‘levelling up’ con as it is already being disproven by Tory spending. Sunak conveniently discovered a magic money tree forest, but “Crisis back on.” The Canary report, “Manchester Evening News announced on 14 May that ‘ministers quietly pulled the plug on the [Everyone In] programme’. According to BIJ, following the Manchester Evening News coverage and its own coverage the government announced ‘additional funding of £105 million to carry on the work’. But yet again there appears to be another twist against rough sleepers.”

    According to the Canary, “Because, according to BIJ’s investigation: councils in England have been told to decide on an individual basis whether to accommodate people with NRPF [no recourse to public funds], without using government public funds. NRPF is a condition the government imposes on someone due to their immigration status. It doesn’t mean the person is in the UK illegally but means they are ineligible for public funds. This can happen even if they have lived in the UK for a number of years. One man featured in BIJ’s investigation has lived in the UK since 2003 and has a daughter here too.” The Canary explain the catch, “In order to qualify for public funds the person must get indefinite leave to remain. But to get this you must have lived in the UK for at least five years. Additionally, you’ll have to pass a ‘Life in the UK’ test and an English language test, and pay a fee of £2,300. NRPF status could therefore throw thousands of people back onto the street.”

    Meanwhile, The Canary highlight that, “WeWork gets a £4.5m rent holiday. Yet big businesses were bailed out through the Covid Corporate Financing Facility CCFF. This facility helps “larger firms” with cash flow problems. But at least now it seems as if the public is fed up. A recent study by non-profit research and campaigning organisation PositiveMoney showed some people are not prepared to tolerate the government’s bankrolling of big business anymore. The study revealed: 63% of respondents said large corporations should only be given financial support if they agree to certain environmental and social conditions, such as cutting carbon emissions and protecting workers’ jobs. Only 5% believe that large corporations should be given financial support with no conditions attached, while 15% answered that they should not be given financial support under any circumstances.”

    Highlighting the “Gross imbalance” in Tory spending priorities the Canary say, “Since the pandemic began and the UK government announced support measures, it was clear who would be the biggest benefactors. And unsurprisingly for a Tory government, it was ordinary and vulnerable people who were left out. As reported by The Canary, many thousands of people have been left out of the government’s furlough scheme. This scheme allows UK employers to keep their staff on payroll, even if they can’t work, during the pandemic. But the voluntary nature of the scheme meant employers didn’t have to offer it. This meant they could simply let their employees go with no pay. Moreover, some workers weren’t covered by the scheme – meaning they had no choice but to work during the pandemic, if they didn’t want to face destitution.”

    “The Canary contacted MHCLG for comment. An MHCLG spokesperson said: Our rough sleeping taskforce has one overriding objective – to ensure as many people as possible who have been brought in off the streets in this pandemic do not return to sleeping rough. That’s why we’ve ensured councils across England can support vulnerable rough sleepers from EEA countries. Councils are also able to provide emergency accommodation for foreign nationals where they are in the UK lawfully. The £105 million announced last week will mean councils are able to continue to provide safe accommodation to vulnerable rough sleepers, help break the cycle of homelessness, and continue our work to end rough sleeping for good.” Sounds like solid Tory PR spin!

    Pointing to what they describe as “Disaster capitalism” they mention an earlier article, “As reported by The Canary, Spelthorne Council was exposed due to its investment in commercial property. The investment came about as a result of Tory cuts to local councils. They, too, are feeling the pressure of meeting the basic needs of the public and the needs generated by the pandemic. This Tory practice of favouring the rich over the poor and vulnerable has been the party’s trademark. It’s not new to this pandemic. And the findings of the BIJ investigation underline how dangerous that is in the midst of a pandemic. It’s a time when we should have real solidarity, not just words. It might be a stretch to hope the Tories will ever change, but at least there is hope that some people will no longer tolerate it.”

    The Canary Article entitled, “The number of homeless people dying rises for the fifth year in a row,” provides additional shocking statistics. They say that, “The number of people dying while homeless in England and Wales has risen for the fifth year in a row, new data shows. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that there were an estimated 778 deaths of homeless people in England and Wales registered in 2019. This is an increase of 7.2% from 2018 when there were 726 estimated deaths and the highest number since the data series began in 2013. The number of estimated deaths of homeless people has increased each year from 2014 when there were 475, the data shows.”

    The Canary relay quotes from, “Shelter’s chief executive Polly Neate said the figures showed how dangerous homelessness and rough sleeping can be even before the coronavirus outbreak. She added: ‘No one should die on the streets or in a temporary bed in a hostel.” The Canary show the graph, “Coronavirus in numbers: UK death toll rises by 532.” Neate’s response, “It is awful to think so many people spent their final moments without a safe home in 2019. These figures show how incredibly dangerous homelessness, and especially rough sleeping can be, even before we had a deadly pandemic to deal with. Coronavirus has made the streets even more dangerous. At the start of lockdown in March thousands of people were offered accommodation, but with the economic fallout of the crisis resulting in thousands of job losses, many people will be facing the trauma of homelessness this winter.”

    The Canary continue with Shelter’s Polly Neate, “These are not just statistics, they are real people who have tragically lost their lives during a nationwide housing emergency. Today, it is important we remember them and we use this terrible loss as a catalyst for positive change.” They say, “London and the north-west had the highest numbers of deaths in 2019 with 144 and 126 estimated deaths of homeless people respectively. This compares to 28 estimated deaths of homeless people in the north-east and 33 in Wales. The ONS data, published on 14 December, also found that 37.1% of the estimated deaths were related to drug poisoning, while suicides among homeless people increased by 30.2% from 86 estimated deaths in 2018 to 112 in 2019. Most of the deaths in 2019 were among men with 687 estimated deaths (88.3%).”

    According to the data, “Among homeless people, the mean age at death was 45.9 years for males and 43.4 years for females in 2019, compared to 76.1 years for men and 80.9 years for women in the general population of England and Wales, the ONS said.” The Canary report that, “A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: ‘Every death of someone sleeping rough on our streets is one too many. That’s why we are investing over £700 million to tackle rough sleeping and homelessness this year alone, as part of our mission to end rough sleeping for good.” They said, “Today we have announced extra support for rough sleepers and vulnerable people to help them recover from drug and alcohol dependency.” The Tories excel at making grand ‘anouncements,’ but so often it’s just Prspin and empty pledges as their follow through is not so stellar.

    The Canary say that, “Homelessness charity Crisis’s chief executive Jon Sparkes said the rise in suicides among homeless people was ‘shocking’ and urged the UK Government to expand the safeguarding system used to investigate deaths of the vulnerable to include anyone who died while homeless. He added: ‘It is devastating that hundreds of people died without the dignity of a stable home. Every one of these human beings will have had different lives, different characters and different stories. It is heartbreaking that what unites them is the systematic failure of successive governments.’ Sparkes also called for homeless people to be given ‘prompt and equitable’ access to the coronavirus vaccine.”

    It is now obvious to the UK public that this situation is a political choice so we must not be fooled by the ‘levelling up’ lie to tolerate the lame Tory excuses for deliberately cruel negligence any longer: this is the reality of Tory ‘Decimating Down.’ The Canary note, “He added: ‘2020 has proven that with political will, change is possible. Earlier this year, hundreds of lives were saved by providing emergency accommodation to people rough sleeping to protect them from coronavirus. But the emergency has not ended for people homeless across the country, even without the threat of coronavirus it is clear that homelessness in and of itself is a serious threat to life. People experiencing homelessness still face huge health inequalities and many barriers to finding a safe and secure home. We urge the UK Government to save lives by ensuring people who are homeless have prompt and equitable access to the coronavirus vaccine and by delivering the affordable housing we need to end homelessness for good.”

    Why ‘Decimating Down’? You do not create equality by dragging all of the working poor down to the same level of destitution! The word ‘levelling’ in and of itself implies equality, the diametric opposite of the Tory agenda, so we should banish it from our reporting. Repeat that lie for the Tories often enough and it will morph from another incredulous fantasy pledge like the “oven ready’ Brexit deal and the 40 new Hospitals that then became 48, all too soon an accepted probability despite evidence to the contrary. Johnson has a sneaky habit of getting other people to reinforce his lies for him, now he has got his MPs to claim that he was only referring to the withdrawal agreement. Crash-out Brexit is being spun as a sunny Australia special, but in reality it has more in common with the fate of those shipped out to our former penal colony. Public money must be used to support community needs; it is not a Tory slush fund! Stop endorsing Tory lies and well disproven myths, take to the streets on mass to protest loudly: Get The Tories Out! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #63756 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    This Tory Government has been painfully aware of the sheer insanity of creating a five day ‘mix and match’ over Christmas, with the public at first openly encouraged to travel freely throughout the UK in order that families could get together for the holiday, then strongly advised not to do so as the PM sought to deflect blame for the inevitable consequences. Was this such a crucial holiday requiring a really special exception to be made? With little notice Muslims were forced to sacrifice Eid; Hindus and Sikhs showed restraint and ditched Diwali; Hanukkah fell on the 10th to 18th of December this year, similarly compromised, but surely Christmas must be sacrosanct? Well no; the last minute cancellation of our long promised five days of Christmas cavorting would provide the perfect distraction as another ominous Brexit deadline loomed: yes, the Tories just tossed out the manchiest of dead cats! The final Marr Show of 2020 managed to almost totally avoid mentioning the single most critical decision the UK will take in decades: Brexit!

    The new strain of Coronavirus was the fall guy, magically appearing to gain relevance between Boris Johnson’s mocking response to Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions and late Friday just two days later when the disruptive Government wrecking ball swung into action to put on the brakes. It was reminiscent of similar con tricks earlier in the year, with that desperate push to get Brits facing redundancy to splurge on a European holiday only to revert to quarantines that should have been strictly maintained throughout. Why was there such urgency over vacations? Why was gathering for Christmas such a priority? We are being played by this Tory Government as Boris Johnson continues fiddling while Rome burns! Get the children back into unprepared schools and Universities, but keep them there under pain of prosecution; Why? Young students provide the perfect vector and those BAME multigenerational households where the frontline working poor cannot self-isolate or afford to work from home will be hit the hardest!

    Meandering well behind the science, Johnson’s corrupt Tory cabal have managed to maximize the damage and the death toll while exploiting every possible opportunity to use their power to squander public money on vanity projects and dysfunctional schemes as core public priorities were ignored. Abysmal Tory Government decision making, compounded by the grinding poverty that was in place long before the Pandemic hit, have conspired to make the UK a prime example of how not to deal with a national emergency. Discovery of a magic money forest did not persuade Chancellor Rishi Sunak to allocate the funds where they were needed most. No, private sector contractors were the big winners while the working poor faced growing unemployment under Universal Credit, our ‘not fit for purpose’ benefit system. Millions of zero-hour contractors, including carers and the self-employed simply fell through the cracks, forced to continue working while they were sick, they spread the virus during this lengthy ‘Slaughter of the Sheeple.’

    We knew the virus was spreading into Europe, but despite the advantage of our island status, the UK failed to impose quarantine restrictions when we could have halted the virus in its tracks as they did in New Zealand. The vanishing small supply of Personal Protective Equipment left Hospital staff constantly anxious over their safety, while Care Home staff were excluded from the PPE supply chain. Hospitalized elderly were sent to Care Homes without bothering to obtain a negative test first; making room for Covid patients came at a preventable cost as the most vulnerable got sick and died in the ‘Holocaust in Care!’ The Tory Government then squandered billions creating ‘Nightingale’ Hospitals that they must have known they lacked the staff to man; most of these facilities were barely used and still remain empty today. Expanded morgue facilities were constructed to handle the increased body count as the Tory Government sought new ways to mismanage the inevitable failure of their ‘Herd Immunity’ containment strategy.

    Instead of investing in additional support for local Public Health test, track and trace resources it was almost completely shut down at the worst possible time when containment could have been achieved. It was another profiteering bonanza for the wealthy Tory elite as they brought in private contractors, with zero experience in the field, to set up a dysfunctional centralized system with Boris Johnson’s chum, serial loser Dido ‘Tallyho’ Harding placed in charge. The Government decided that a tracing App that worked well in other countries wasn’t good enough at stealing personal data for the Tories, so they created a ‘world beating App’ that didn’t really work. At least after wasting millions it was junked, but despite Dido’s defunct test and trace operations chronic record of consistent failure the Tories cannot let go of this cash cow and expect local authorities to play catch-up doing all the heavy lifting.

    Who is to blame for the multiple shambolic testaments to Tory folly and obscene greed? The worst insult was when Matt Hancock suggested NHS staff were being reckless with limited PPE supplies! Oh please do not blame Boris Johnson, his corrupt Ministers trousering the profits or his Tory Government for their sycophantic support of all this lunacy. Did the PM actually contract Covid and was his life in jeopardy or was that just a PR stunt? Obviously the Tory elite aren’t immune to the virus, but their selfish conduct has destroyed public trust, with the worst offence committed by Dominic Cummings without reprimand or consequences. Various sectors are being blamed for spreading Covid by not obeying strict lockdown restrictions, including young people, students and protesters, while the privileged never suffer the slightest sanction. Johnson has found multiple innocent victims to blame, the obese BAME communities and other vulnerable groups for enduring the most severe impact of Covid and suffering the worse outcome.

    I feel no shame: I’m not to blame; tis everyone else but me.
    This Covid bug – the killer thug, but danger we couldn’t see,
    So many died, don’t knock my pride, I need you to agree,
    It’s not a crime, I won’t do time, yes… i’ll get off Scot free!

    The Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Johnson’s ‘schools open’ lockdown is another sham, as NI figures show,” exposes the evidence that children are being deliberately exploited as vectors to drive up Covid infection rates in vulnerable communities. Posted a couple of weeks ago, they said that, “Northern Ireland’s data show clear timing link between closure of schools and falling infection rates. Boris Johnson is, typically, extremely late for his 4pm press conference at which he is expected to announce a new, month-long ‘lockdown’ across England. However, this new measure is said to exclude schools and universities, which will remain open. This makes Johnson’s announcement yet another scam and sham, because schools and universities between them are known to be driving almost 40% of new infections.”

    The Skwawkbox reported that, “By contrast, pubs and clubs – which will close – account for only around 4% of new cases. This reality is demonstrated in the latest numbers from Northern Ireland, which did close schools as part of its ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown: The change from red to blue marks the closure of schools – and a week later, in line with the incubation period of the virus, cases had begun to fall sharply. A ‘lockdown’ in which the biggest driver of the second wave is left running is a con. Johnson is too late – and definitely doing too little, having squandered the opportunity to incorporate the now-finished half-term holiday into a 2-week fire-break that would have had far more impact than, and reduced the need for, the half-baked measure he now proposes. His arrogance and shoddiness will put thousands more needless deaths on his already guilt-stained hands.”

    The Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Video: UK now ‘only nation sending kids to school as normal in pandemic’ – while nations like NZ have virus ‘in rearview mirror’” demonstrates that the UK is alone in refusing to ‘follow the science’. Also posted a few days ago, the article’s “>Accompanying Video shows, “Health adviser Adam Hamdy contrasts misleading government/media narrative and global reality, as Education Secretary Williamson threatens council for closing schools a few days early. The UK yesterday became ‘pretty much the only country in the world’ to keep sending its children to school almost as normal in the midst of a pandemic, and is not even doing ‘the bare minimum’ recommended by the world’s leading health experts. While the Tories and their media allies have neglected to mention it, Sweden and the Netherlands, the only nations to be ‘keeping us company’ yesterday announced new school closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.” They said, “Health adviser Adam Hamdy explained the situation and its consequences during an interview with the Skwawkbox on Socialist Telly last night: Meanwhile, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has just issued a legal threat to Greenwich council in London for closing schools a few days early for Christmas, even though London is going into the highest ‘Tier 3’ lockdown and schools in the borough have been hit by multiple outbreaks: Schools will also remain open during the new, nationwide ‘severe’ lockdown planned to begin 28/29 December.” Despite staff shortages with both teachers and children self-isolating some schools felt bullied into the meaningless two day compliance to avoid vindictive legal action. They said that, “The Tories continue to throw the lives of the UK’s people under the bus, in spite of global examples and overwhelming scientific evidence.”

    Yet another incriminating piece of evidence is documented un the Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Video: WHO – ‘no information to suggest’ ‘new’ (not really) variant spreads faster. Is Boris Johnson trying to shift blame for his lack of action and cancelled Christmas onto ‘mutant’?” The say that there is, “No evidence that ‘new’ UK variant transmits any more easily or spreads any faster, and it’s not ‘new’, WHO has been studying it for a while. Boris Johnson has blamed his Christmas u-turn on a ‘new’ ‘mutant strain’ of the coronavirus, claiming that it spreads more rapidly than the previous variants present in the UK. But according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) this week, there is nothing to suggest it actually does spread faster – and it isn’t new either: Not only is there no indication, as far as the WHO is concerned, that the new variant of the coronavirus can transmit more easily – and the WHO has been studying it for a while, so it is best-placed to know.” Check out the Video Clip.

    The Skwawkbox explain how, “Boris Johnson delayed the second England-wide lockdown, and by insisting that schools must stay open during it (making the UK the last nation in the world not to admit that schools are driving the pandemic) he ensured that its success was reduced to nothing more than a small downturn.” They say, “now, with the lockdown lifted, the virus is spreading rapidly. Is the WHO misleading the world, or is Boris Johnson trying to cover his Tory backside again? Phew, that’s a tough call…” On BBC News 3:00 PM Sunday, Dr. Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine was the first to let slip the well kept secret regarding the reduced incidence of both regular Winter Flu and Norovirus the winter vomiting virus, both of which are serious to life threatening in the elderly. This was predictable, so why isn’t Johnson trumpeting this scrap of good news? Because the pathological liar who is our current PM needs a secure way to fudge the truth about allarming Covid statistics.

    In the London Eye Article entitled, “No-deal Brexit ‘increasingly likely’ as talks continue through the weekend” Henry Goodwin reports on the pressing issue being deliberately buried in Christmas trivia and the minutia of the latest scares and adjustments to this Tory Government’s last ditch lockdown restrictions. Crash-out Brexit will dramatically change our lives for decades to come as the Tories impose their Sovereign Dictatorship on the UK, but it was barely mentioned on the Marr Show or News bulletins in a concerted efforts to suppress the bad news that has been in the planning for over a year. Goodwin says, “It is looking increasingly likely that the UK will be leaving on Australian terms,’ a source said. Brexit talks are set to continue through the weekend, as a deadline set by the European Parliament looms. MEPs have said they need to see the terms of any agreement by Sunday evening if they are going to be able to ratify it before the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31.”

    There are indications that the EU could be conned into believing that the UK negotiating team are acting in good faith, still serious about reaching a deal, they might be fooled into letting Boris Johnson take it right down to the wire before crashing out. According to Goodwin, “it is thought EU leaders could provisionally sign off on a deal if the talks go on beyond that point, with formal ratification taking place in the new year. But there is still clear daylight between the two negotiating teams – with UK sources telling the Telegraph that ‘it is looking increasingly likely’ that Britain will sever ties with Brussels without a deal. A source said: ‘As talks enter the final days and hours, it is looking increasingly likely that the UK will be leaving on Australian terms’.” This term is as deliberately deceitful as telling British orphans Australia was all ‘Sun and Oranges’ as they were set out to cruel exploitation and abuse. The so called deal is a WTO terms crash out ultimate betrayal that will pave the way for Tory exploitation on an industrial scale.

    The Tories have been briefing for the past two weeks with claims that the EU has suddenly changed the goalposts and issued new demands, when in reality nothing has significantly changed. This is part of the necessary staging for the Tories to blame the EU for the long planned breakdown in negotiations that they require to crash-out without a deal. The Torygraph cannot be trusted with honest reporting as they are dedicated to covering for Johnson and his Tory cabal, but Goodwin says,“Talks have become stuck due to unreasonable EU demands on areas such as subsidies and fisheries.” The emphasis on fisheries is little more than a ‘red herring’ to distract from the important issue of giving the Tories the ability to strip us of our rights and protective safety standards in their race to the bottom. They can sell this snake oil to the general public with bold pronouncements over sovereignty, but I believe the EU have cottoned onto their game and will determinedly hold their ground.

    Goodwin reports on UK demands where they say, “’We need to get any deal right and based on terms which respect what the British people voted for. The EU is still struggling to get the flexibility needed from Member States and are continuing to make demands that are incompatible with our independence. ‘We cannot accept a deal that doesn’t leave us in control of our own laws or waters. We’re continuing to try every possible path to an agreement, but without a substantial shift from the Commission we will be leaving on WTO terms on December 31’.” The EU is an exclusive private club and we do not get to make the rules or cherry pick which regulations and obligations we are prepared to adhere to. This is a lose, lose game for the UK in a very poor position to stand up to the united strength of the EU 27, but once we are out any future negotiations will be even tougher or totally impossible.

    Considering the EU had set a Sunday deadline it was absolutely astounding to see all broadcasters studiously avoid any mention of the subject of Brexit as if we were not facing an imminent crash-out crisis. Fear of a new strain of Covid 19 and a sudden shift in policy to impose tougher lockdown restrictions over the Christmas and New Year were planned weeks if not months ago as part of the strategy of anesthetizing the public at the Brexit crisis point: a mangy dead cat! We are all being played including the EU team. Goodwin says, “France’s European affairs minister, Clement Beaune, suggested on Saturday that Sunday was unlikely to prove to be a hard deadline. “It would be normal not to say ‘Well it’s Sunday evening so let’s wrap it and sacrifice everything’,” he was quoted as saying by the Guardian website. “It may be hard and sometimes tough to understand, but it’s necessary to take the time and, at any rate, not to sacrifice our interests under the pressure of a calendar.”

    Meanwhile, Goodwin says, “in the UK, MPs are on standby to return to Westminster from their Christmas break if an agreement can be struck in the final days of the year.” This is another smoke screen to convince opposition MP and the public that Johbson and the UK negotiating team are still in earnest talks despite having decided months ago. He says, “Both sides have acknowledged that significant differences still have to be overcome if there is to be a breakthrough. After months of sparring over the ‘level playing field’ rules on fair competition the final hurdle to be overcome appears to be fisheries.” So we are being led to believe, because if the British public started to realize the most important goal for this Tory Government is eviscerating workers rights and manipulating the self-imposed crash-out Brexit crisis to break the power of UK Unions, they would fight tooth and nail to stop it. We are already seeing a number of companies force employees into punishing compromises through fire and rehire.

    Trust me it’s not about the fish! We do not have enough fishing vessels or crew to drastically increase the size of UK fishing fleets and if we do not get a deal with the EU we will lose the largest market for our catch. A gradual shift over time buying out the fishing quotas from big EU vessels and investing in UK boats would be feasible, but it doesn’t fit the rhetoric. Goodwin points out that, “While the fishing industry accounts for only a tiny proportion of the EU and UK economies it carries huge political resonance on both sides of the Channel. While the UK says that it is entitled as an independent sovereign nation to take control of its waters, countries like France are determined to defend their fishermen who would lose their livelihoods if they could no longer fish in British waters. If there is no deal by December 31, the UK will leave the single market and customs union and begin trading with the EU on World Trade Organisation terms – with the imposition of tariffs potentially leading to higher prices in the shops.”

    Ignore the dead cat! No matter how great a stink the BBC and Mainstream Media put up to distract us with Covid fear mongering and the stolen Christmas cheer, we cannot afford to take our eye off the ball, not the glitter ball hanging on the tree the crash-out Brexit hard ball we are being conditioned to ignore. The shambolic handling of Covid to drive up infection rates rather than get the virus under control was carefully crafted to serve an important purpose: fear, distraction and confinement. If lockdown can keep protesters off the streets for the first few critical weeks while ports are in gridlock, critical supplies dwindle and the full extent of the hardship kicks in, then the Tories will have consolidated their Sovereign Dictatorship for decades to come. We must challenge their authority, Investigate the legitimacy of the incredulous Tory ‘landslide victory’ in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election and the relentless squandering of public funds. This Tory Government is riddled with corruption; we just need to fully expose it to Get The Tories Out! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #63774 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Oops! Another Brexit deadline just slipped silently by us; ships that pass in the night as we remain on course for the ‘Titanic’ Brexit iceberg that will plunge the UK into an economic abyss! But thanks to our thoroughly untrustworthy Mainstream Media and a BBC blackout regarding the subject, no doubt ordered by the Tories, the British public were kept blissfully unaware of its passing. If the super contagious mutant strain of Covid hitting London and the southeast was just an overblown Tory scare tactic to terrify us into obedient compliance it has spectacularly backfired as borders at our ports have closed and the flow of goods from the EU has come to an abrupt halt well ahead of Brexit. Perhaps food shortages will shock the UK public out of their way too trusting stupor and the public clamour will cause cooler heads to prevail. It is hard to imagine any responsible political leader continuing on a path that will be so catastrophically damaging to the entire population of the nation they govern; we must Get The Tories Out!

    Boris Johnson will try to slip crash-out Brexit through against the ‘will of the people’ using Covid and a holiday Parliamentary break as cover. In the London Economic Article entitled, “Virtual sittings ‘refused at every turn’ by Rees-Mogg as Brexiteer MPs demand Parliament recall,” Joe Mellor points to what could be yet another deliberate Tory attempt to exclude Parliamentary scrutiny. He says, “’All we need now is for Jacob Rees-Mogg and the Government to abandon their baseless and dangerous opposition to remote sittings and we can move forward without putting anyone at unnecessary risk.’ Parliament should be recalled to allow MPs to ‘hold ministers to account’ for the Government’s decision to bolster Covid-19 restrictions ahead of Christmas, a Conservative MP has said. Former Conservative chief whip, and chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, Mark Harper has led the calls for a recall, while Conservative former minister Sir Desmond Swayne has accused the Government of being ‘frightened’ of such scrutiny.”

    However, Mellor reports that, “a trade union which represents parliamentary staff has said MPs should sit virtually if Parliament is recalled in order to protect workers. In a tweet, Mr Harper said: ‘The developing serious situation arising from the Government’s announcement yesterday reinforces why Parliament should be recalled to debate these matters and hold ministers to account on behalf of our constituents.’ Sir Desmond told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘How convenient when Parliament went into recess on Thursday suddenly they were then able to produce this revelation. Let’s see the evidence then, let’s have Parliament back and show us and convince us, come clean. I want Parliament to be recalled so we can scrutinise properly in a democracy decisions that are being made which affect our economy radically and our liberty.”

    Mellor said Harper continued, “The recall of Parliament requires a request by the Government to the Speaker, why would the Government be so reluctant to recall Parliament? ‘Is it that it’s not sure of the evidence that it has and that its case isn’t as convincing as it ought to be, what’s Government frightened of? Frightened of its Parliament?” He added: “The arrangements for Christmas were explicitly voted on by Parliament. If they’re to be changed then in my view, Parliament should vote again. Parliament voted explicitly for a certain set of arrangements, it seems to be perfectly proper therefore that Parliament should be consulted when those are changed, irrespective of the Government acting in an emergency, nevertheless it’s perfectly proper to recall Parliament at the beginning of this week to at least ratify those changes. Explain to us – we are after all a democracy, explain to the elected representatives the evidence that they have and why they’ve reached this decision.”

    Mellor reported, “Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, said: ‘Prospect and the other parliamentary staff unions have been calling for months for Parliament to move to a fully hybrid system before the situation in London got worse, (Commons Leader) Jacob Rees-Mogg refused at every turn. We are now in the situation where London and much of the South East have been effectively forced back into lockdown, yet staff are facing the potential full recall of Parliament either in relation to Covid or to approve a Brexit trade deal, if one is reached. Democracy must be allowed to continue but it must not be at the expense of the safety of parliamentary staff. Any recall must be done on a fully remote basis so that the numbers of people entering Westminster can be kept to an absolute minimum. Our professional staff have already proven that they can manage the technological challenge well.”

    “All we need now is for Jacob Rees-Mogg and the Government to abandon their baseless and dangerous opposition to remote sittings and we can move forward without putting anyone at unnecessary risk.” Mellor reported that, “PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “If Parliament is recalled, it must be run as a fully hybrid system. Parliamentary staff have been doing an incredible job making sure our democracy functions during this unprecedented Covid pandemic. “However, they should not have to risk their health in order to oversee an unnecessary full re-opening of Parliament. Jacob Rees Mogg should reflect on unions’ concerns and if he fails to protect staff, we will not rule out balloting PCS members for industrial action.” To me the Mogg stubbornness is possible more about creating an extra stumbling block so that Parliamentarians do not have an opportunity to block crash-out Brexit.

    There was ample warning that the PM was making the wrong decision, but his seemingly last ditch u-turn appeared equally pre-planned. In the Canary Article entitled, “Hospital bosses warn Boris Johnson that relaxing restrictions could ‘trigger third wave,’ they voiced concerns over the Christmas holiday reprieve. It’s worth noting that the customary socializing associated with non-Christian religious holidays, like Eid, Diwali and Hanukkah have required considerable sacrifices in diverse ethnic communities. They say, “NHS bosses have warned the prime minister that relaxing restrictions could trigger a third wave of coronavirus (Covid-19) at the busiest time of year for hospitals. In a letter to Boris Johnson, NHS Providers urged ‘extreme caution’ in moving any area of England to a lower tier, according to reports by the BBC. The first review of England’s tier allocation is due take place on Wednesday 16 December. This would be two weeks after the three-tier system was brought in after the end of lockdown.”

    The Canary had reported that, “Areas should be moved into the highest tier of restrictions ‘as soon as this is needed, without any delay’, according to the letter from NHS Providers. The letter represents hospital trusts in England. Chief executive Chris Hopson told the BBC: We’re about to hit our busiest time of year so people are really worried that if we relax the restrictions now the NHS simply won’t be able to cope with all of the work that it needs to do in late December, January and February. While the letter didn’t call for a review of the temporary relaxation of measures over Christmas, NHS Providers said it was ‘vital’ the public understands the risks of extra social contact during the festive period. On Saturday 12 December, the government said a further 519 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus in the UK. There were a further 21,502 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus.”

    It was only last week that the Canary outlined the proposed plan that, “Social distancing rules will be relaxed for five days between 23 and 27 December.” This would have allowed multiple “households to mix over the Christmas holidays.” Not a good idea with regard to containing the spread of Covid; it was a relief when the plan was abandoned. They had said that, “A government spokesperson said ministers won’t ‘hesitate to take necessary actions to protect local communities’. She added that decisions are made based on the latest available data, going on to say: We have introduced strengthened local restrictions to protect the progress gained during national restrictions, reduce pressure on the NHS and ultimately save lives… On top of our record NHS investment, this winter we are providing an extra £3 billion to maintain independent sector and Nightingale hospital surge capacity and a further £450 million to upgrade and expand A&Es.” Which is ‘fxxk all’ good if you do not have the staff available to run them!

    But as soon as the plan was announced there were serious concerns. The Canary reported that, “Meanwhile, mayor Sadiq Khan has urged Londoners to follow social-distancing measures and wear face coverings while Christmas shopping this weekend. Crowds descended on the shopping districts of major cities, including London’s Regent Street, on Saturday 12 December. This was the case for the second weekend in a row. Increased infection rates have led to fears the capital could be headed for Tier 3 restrictions. These would see hospitality settings closed except for takeaway.” The tide turned on Friday with leaked information on a tightening of restrictions including the possibility travel plans would need to be cancelled, that led to a panicked exodus from the capital in advance of the official call. London terminals became potential super-spreader events and dispersal of the new mutant strain is now guaranteed to have spread all over the UK on those outbound trains due to poor press management from the PM.

    In the previously highlighted Skwawkbox Article, “Why does the new C19 strain matter? How do coronaviruses mutate?” Health adviser Adam Hamdy explains in this short video. Behaviour of coronavirus means government’s decision to ignore ‘zero COVID’ strategy increases UK’s risk of new strains.” I noted how, “Health adviser Adam Hamdy explained the significance of the new virus strain discovered in the south of England, how coronaviruses mutate as distinct from flu viruses – and why the Tories’ appalling handling of the crisis has put the people of this country at greater risk of new and more virulent variants.” This was the inevitable result of the ‘let it rip;’ strategy, but now other countries are closing their borders to us to contain the variant to the UK!

    Byline Times describe the UK being “Herded out of immunity” saying, “The more the Coronavirus was allowed to run riot through Britain’s densely populated and highly mobile regions, the more likely an adaptive mutation was to occur.” For anyone who is not as passionately concerned about the welfare of people in the developing world as I am, this is an extremely important reason why vaccines must be readily available and affordable for entire populations in poorer nations as eradication must be global to eliminate the possibility of further mutations. This goal will be damaged by a disgraceful and vile Tory Government decision to slash our UK foreign aid budget commitment as it reduces the resources to accomplish mass vaccination. This budget was already less due to our lower GDP without dropping from .7% to .5%. This is especially damaging at a time when this reduction in funding is further compounded by the poverty of diaspora in Western Industrialized nations causing a drop in remittance money being sent overseas.

    The unconscionable Tory selfishness, greed and lust for power is manifested closer to home in tough restrictions imposed with inadequate support in deprived northern areas. In the Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Exclusive: UK into ‘severe’ lockdown before New Year – Wales earlier – as new variant spreads faster and Tories aim to seize back devolved powers,” it explains how they intend to take advantage. They warn that the, “Tory planned power-grab will outrage independence parties…” They also claim that the breweries have been, “told to refuse orders for delivery before 1 Feb as Tories continue to target English pubs and ignore schools. Senior Whitehall sources say that the Tories are preparing to re-impose a ‘severe’ England-wide lockdown before New Year, with Wales entering a similar state a day earlier – and that Boris Johnson will try to exploit the situation aggravated by the emergence of a new coronavirus variant that appears to spread more rapidly, to seize back powers devolved to Scotland and Wales.”

    The Skwawkbox report that, “The Tories also intend to continue to target the hospitality sector and to keep schools open, even though schools are by far the bigger driver of the spread of infection. The planned measures include:
    • ‘Severe’ lockdown across the U.K. from 29 December
    • Lockdown a day earlier for Wales
    • Breweries have been informed they must not accept any orders until after 1 February
    Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants the lockdown to last until 31 March, but the Tories have been trying to blame Sturgeon and her Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford for increased cases in their nations. Johnson aims to remove devolved powers and hopes to win back seats in Scotland and target Labour in Wales.”

    In the London Economic Article entitled, “Top Tory joins Sturgeon’s call to extend Brexit transition over Covid chaos,” Henry Goodwin reports that, “A top Tory MP has joined Nicola Sturgeon in calling for an extension to the Brexit transition period, so that ministers can fully focus on tackling the coronavirus crisis. Simon Hoare, chair of the Commons’ Northern Ireland select committee, added his voice to growing calls to ‘stop the clock’ on post-Brexit trade talks with Brussels, claiming that it was ‘time for maturity’. His intervention comes after Sturgeon, the First Minister, said it was ‘imperative’ that Boris Johnson seeks an extension. ‘The new Covid strain – and the various implications of it – means we face a profoundly serious situation, and it demands our 100 per cent attention’ she tweeted on Sunday night. She added: it would be unconscionable to compound it with Brexit’.”

    Goodwin continues, “With worsening Covid situation & time of the year I’d really like to see the clock temporarily ‘stopped’ on Brexit talks,’ Hoare said on Monday. ‘There’s no [parliamentary] time to scrutinise & agree a deal & daily clarity of the dangers to our already pressured economy of No Deal is alarming. Time for maturity,’ he added. ‘Talks on a post-Brexit trade deal look set to continue through to Christmas after another weekend of tense negotiations failed to achieve a breakthrough. The source said ‘significant differences’ remained over the key issues of fisheries and the so-called ‘level playing field rules’ on state aid for business. ‘Teams have been negotiating throughout the day and expect to continue tomorrow. Talks remain difficult and significant differences remain,’ the source said. ‘We continue to explore every route to a deal that is in line with the fundamental principles we brought into the negotiations’.”

    Goodwin warned that, “The European Parliament had said the talks needed to be concluded by Sunday evening if it was to ratify any deal before the current Brexit transition ends on December 31. However, if there were to be a deal, under EU rules it could be provisionally signed off by leaders of the 27-member bloc with ratification delayed until 2021. Earlier Mr Barnier warned that Britain must be prepared to respect the EU’s sovereignty if the talks were to succeed. He said the EU remained committed to achieving ‘a fair, reciprocal and balanced agreement’ but said both sides needed to be able to act when their interests were at stake.” Barnier is catching on, the EU also has a unique sovereignty to protect so he too can dance the ‘Sovereignty’ tango! So where are we now that deadline has passed? Tories cannot wait to throw up their hands and say the EU abandoned negotiations and we were forced out of the EU by default and they are not to blame for the catastrophe, despite knowing it’s been a Tory goal right from the start.

    This severe lockdown scenario will facilitate Tory Government control of the population during the anticipated period of maximum pushback from their catastrophic crash-out Brexit. Any hints of minor UK concessions will have been offered as ‘teasers’ to coax the EU team into thinking Boris Johnson was negotiating in good faith and should be allowed as much time as possible to arrive at a deal. Whatever he might have tossed into the talks will vanish as soon as he has met his ultimate goal of running down the clock till New Year. The EU has exposed the PMs concession, knowing he will be forced to confirm or deny it to the public: it’s gone. Any chance to gather at Christmas must be resisted as this offers the opportunity to both spread the virus and then get blamed for reckless behaviour, enabling the PM to inflict severe consequences. The Covid 19 mutation, if it actually exists, is the consequence of this Government’s chaotic handling of the Pandemic so far, but the British public are being set up to take the blame as usual.

    We are losing the freedom to protest on mass now, but there is sufficient evidence already to challenge the legitimacy of this Tory Government even without a full Investigation of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. Their use of public funds to pay for creation of defamatory smears fed to the media to destroy the reputation and trust in the Leader of the opposition to steal an election victory is serious corruption for which politicians are jailed in credible democratic countries. Evidence of Tory payments to the fake charity, ‘Integrity Initiative’, for this express purpose has already been exposed and documented. British people just have to care enough to want restored democracy for our outrage to translate into legal action that will add to the scandal of billions in squandered public funds as a reason to urgently ‘Get The Tories Out.” If our protests are large enough, loud enough and persistent enough, we stand a chance of having the EU halt Brexit talks and offer to help protect our human rights before our descent into the Tories ‘Sovereign Dictatorship!” DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #63794 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    The BBC are still committed to using trusted ‘Auntie’ status to cover for this Tory Government in their shambolic mishandling of the Covid crisis by feeding us a carefully choreographed UK review that conveniently excludes reporting the massive failures, as if they simply never happened. The BBC News Compilation was entitled, “The Coronavirus Pandemic Review 2020;” yes it featured a number of heartbreaking stories, but it was the news they omitted that was so conspicuous in its absence. They reported on how, “Covid-19 dominated our experience of 2020. The BBC’s health editor, Hugh Pym, tells the story of the pandemic across the year and its impact on the many different aspects of people’s lives.” There was no mention of the distressing shortages of Personal Protective Equipment, the ‘profits over people’ Tory priorities, the disgraceful scandal when Dominic Cummings broke the lockdown he helped design, but still remained in post. A few test provision anomalies were mentioned; the failed ‘world beating’ App was not.

    Tory opportunists are tenaciously clinging to their top money spinners: a totally dysfunctional centralized privately contracted test and trace service placed in the incompetent hands of serial loser, ‘Talyho’ Harding; enormously costly Nightingale Hospitals that are barely used due to lack of staff and billions in public money being squandered on dodgy private contracts with no competitive tendering or scritiny. They’re still shooting for the moon! Who will dare expose the truth to write an honest history of this appalling national disaster of gross negligence and rapacious greed? To the winner go the spoils and ultimate control of the narrative. The Covert 2019 Rugged Election gifted the Tories a fake ‘landslide victory’ with unstoppable power to wreck the future destiny of the UK at a critical time: we must Challenge the Legitimacy of this result or suffer dire consequences. If this Tory Government isn’t promptly derailed to avert the crash-out Brexit disaster they will solidify their Sovereign Dictatorship to remain in power for decades to come.

    The Byline Times Article entitled, “Mainstreaming Fringe Science on COVID-19 Puts Lives At Risk,” highlights the dangers of our passive acceptance of Tory Government manipulated data and fake news PR spin. They say, “Epidemiologist Deepti Gurdasani and neuroscientist Hisham Ziauddeen warn against the false narrative of the ‘two views’ on how to tackle a second Coronavirus wave, which undermines the almost unanimous consensus that does exist on the most serious pandemic in living memory. As the UK enters its second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become evident that a clear public health strategy is required in response. At this crucial point, when clarity is urgently needed, a troubling narrative has emerged: that there is a ‘schism’ within the scientific community, with two very divergent scientific views about how the second wave should be handled.”

    Byline Times report that, “On 21 September, a group of scientists, led by Professor Trisha Greenhalgh of Oxford University, published an open letter to the UK’s four regional Chief Medical Officers and the Chief Scientific Advisor, in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The letter advocated for a strategy of continued suppression of the Coronavirus, through multiple interventions. The group warned against pursuing ‘herd immunity’, given that there is no evidence of long-term immunity with COVID-19. The letter also argued that it was practically impossible to separate a group of ‘vulnerable’ people from the ‘non-vulnerable’ and that such a strategy had not worked in any country so far. It seems unusual that a group of scientists should argue against taking measures that would save lives during the most serious global pandemic in living memory.”

    The Byline Times say that, “Professor Greenhalgh is well known for her extensive work on synthesising current evidence on face coverings and COVID-19 transmission and has co-authored 14 papers on the disease this year. The letter was co-signed by 23 experts in this area, including 15 in public health or epidemiology, three in social and behavioural sciences, and several members of the Independent SAGE group.” This was a highly credible, well informed cohort of scientists. But the say, “On the same day, another group of scientists led by Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Carl Heneghan, both of Oxford University; Professor Karol Sikora, of the University of Buckingham; and Sam Williams, of the consultancy Economic Insight also wrote to the four UK Chief Medical Officers, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor suggesting that the Government’s current strategy of suppression of the Coronavirus was ‘infeasible’ and was ‘leading to significant harm across all age groups, which likely offsets any benefits’.”

    Byline Times report that, “In the letter, which was published in the Spectator magazine, the authors essentially argued against general restrictions, suggesting that these be limited to older and vulnerable members of society, to minimise the impact on society. In the footnotes, they appeared to deny that lockdown had any impact on reducing cases or deaths and suggested that deaths from COVID-19 would have decreased anyway, meaning that the restrictions had been unnecessary. Of the letter’s 32 co-signatories, only six appear to be epidemiologists or public health scientists, with one sociologist and several economists. None of the four lead authors of the letter have any peer-reviewed publications on COVID-19.” Authors Gurdasani and Ziauddeen warn that, “The narrative that these two views reflect a rift within the scientific community provides a false sense of legitimacy to what is a fringe view among scientists, espoused largely by individuals who do not work in this area.”

    According to Gurdasani and Ziauddeen, “In the public health community, there is an almost unanimous consensus: that COVID-19 is a serious illness with high infectivity and mortality. Certain groups are more at risk from it (such as older people) but none are spared by it.” The point out that, “A significant subset of people develop chronic complications of the infection and it is still unclear if it confers long-term immunity in most people. Managing this pandemic requires either a suppression strategy, with restrictions and mitigation measures, or an elimination strategy. Every country is implementing at least one of these strategies in some measure. Any strategy involving infection of vast swathes of the population in the hope that this will confer immunity and bring an end to the pandemic, ‘herd immunity,’ is deemed unacceptable given the high mortality rate, the poorly understood long-term effects of the disease, and the lack of evidence for long-term immunity with COVID-19.”

    Byline Times say, “The fringe view is that COVID-19 is not as serious as we have been made to believe, that ‘herd immunity’ is possible without huge costs, and that only the elderly and vulnerable get seriously ill. Such arguments appear to rely on discredited narratives about increases in cases being false positives, or due to increased testing, and that deaths due to COVID-19 are low relative to other causes. Sweden is repeatedly held up as an example of a country that controlled COVID-19 without the need for major restrictions, despite this being demonstrably untrue. Sweden has the highest mortality rate among the Nordic countries, with cases now rising again. The proponents of this fringe view argue that the Coronavirus cannot be suppressed or eliminated, despite clear evidence from the successes of several south-east Asian countries that have started to return to near-normal life.”

    Byline Times further analysis of their views reveals that, “They also treat controlling COVID-19 and its economic impact as dichotomous, when the evidence broadly suggests that countries that controlled the virus are doing better economically, even when restrictions are imposed. They point to long NHS waiting lists and patients being unable to access care, ignoring the fact that the best way to normalise health service capacity is to control the virus so that it is not overwhelmed (and reverse over a decade of underfunding that has contributed to this). It seems unusual that a group of scientists should argue against taking measures that would save lives during the most serious global pandemic in living memory that has resulted in almost a million deaths to date.”

    Byline Times make a well founded claim that, “There has clearly been a concerted effort to promulgate this view and bring it into the media spotlight and it is now appears to being considered seriously by the Government, with Professors Heneghan and Gupta recently invited to brief Boris Johnson personally ahead of the press briefing on the UK response to the second wave. It has also recently emerged that some of the major proponents of this view in the UK may have ties with Government contractors, the ‘Nudge Unit’ and funding links to organisations with ties to the inner circle of US President Donald Trump.”

    Byline Times emphasize the fact that, “The risk that COVID-19 poses is not a matter of opinion or perspective. It is a reality grounded in overwhelmingly clear evidence. The presentation of these as opposing views by the media feels increasingly reminiscent of ‘balance’ in the climate change ‘debate’. Indeed, like climate change deniers, the proponents of the fringe view do not provide alternative models or explanations for the real world data. Instead, they selectively misinterpret the data to support their view and dismiss, criticise and question the legitimacy of any data that contradicts their position. Including these views in the mainstream media without critical analysis risks making them mainstream and polarising the public at a point where we need collective action to control infection.”

    According to Byline Times, “The inconsistent messaging by the Government and the lack of evidence-driven policy has created a ripe environment for such fringe views to thrive and gain traction in the UK. Unsurprisingly, we are now seeing vocal factions in the UK, and other countries, protesting against the very measures that have been demonstrated to be necessary to control the pandemic. We are now in grave danger of repeating history and making the same mistakes that led to one of the highest mortality rates in Europe during the first wave. Our Government, the mainstream media and the scientific community must act responsibly to avert this. Divisive rhetoric may attract public attention but can also cost lives.”

    Of the authors Byline Times say, “Deepti Gurdasani is an epidemiologist and Senior lecturer at Queen Mary University of London. Her research focuses on epidemiological and genetic factors that influence global health. Hisham Ziauddeen is a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge.” The authors do not delve into the political motivations for the Tory support of such an ill-conceived strategy, but they are likely to be predominantly commercial and profiteering. Sadly, the fact that in reality ‘Herd Immunity’ is a legitimate scientifically recognized phenomenon in populations where a significant percentage have been successfully vaccinated, serves to muddy the waters and cause public confusion. This allowed the Tories to reinvent an earlier statement of whole-hearted support to divert media attention from their warped underlying intentions as they drove the agenda forward in less obvious ways. Dominic ‘Herd Nerd’ Cummings even tried to rewrite sections of his monolithic blog to keep the agenda discreetly hidden.

    The Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Video: the Tories are still pursuing herd immunity – just using a new graph,” shows how they planned to, “surpress and release the virus … on and off like a tap,” now seems eerily prophetic. ‘Suppress and release’ plan still means letting virus spread, with huge loss of life – just in a series of peaks instead of one. Earlier this week, spooked by public outcry and a university report telling them that their plan would kill hundreds of thousands of people, something the Skwawkbox warned weeks ago, the Tories claimed that achieving ‘herd immunity‘ was not their policy. Herd immunity would mean simply managing the spread of the virus but allowing it to continue until almost everyone has been infected and those who recover have antibodies against the virus. At current mortality rates, vast numbers of people in this country would die.”

    Skwawkbox say that, “The Tories and their advisers have not abandoned their plan. As a BBC presentation of the government’s strategy made absolutely clear last night, all that has changed is the chart and language they are using to describe it: Even the new language used still makes clear that the plan is to allow the virus to infect people – to ‘suppress and release’ it. To “turn it on and off like a tap”. The Tories claim they can do this with enough control to prevent NHS intensive care units being overwhelmed. But even if they were right, the death rate of the virus even under ideal treatment circumstances would mean a strategy of deliberately allowing huge numbers of people to die each time they ‘turn on the tap’. They’d just do it over a longer period – instead of ‘taking it on the chin’ all at once, as Boris Johnson described it originally.” Back then they said, “A vaccine is at least a year away, the total numbers involved will still be huge. The Tory ‘herd immunity’ plan has not gone away. Anything but. It has just changed its clothes!”

    This Tory Government is leading us by the nosem but we cannot afford to continue falling fir their shallow con tricks because it is costing too many lives. First there was the selective cull of the elderly with the ‘Holicaust in Care.’ Then there were Super Spreader events that could have been halted. There was the drive to get the working poor taking risks returning to their minimum wage jobs on overcrowded public transport while the Government dithered over the need to wear masks. They promoted a weird obsession with going on holiday only to force last ditch cancelations and hit people with quarantine penalties when they returned: what did they expect? We were indoctrinated into thinking it was our duty to eat out to help out, but after pubs spent thousands making their premises ‘Covid compliant’ the Tories pulled the plug initiating new restrictions. University students were fed a line about ‘blended learning’ only ro find themselves confined and trapped in costly halls accomodation paying full tuition and racking up student debt.

    Pubs were forced to close at 10PM for no apparent reason, but the crusade to get children back to school was so aggressive it trampled on Teachers Union requests for test and trace to be up and running; the battle for safe sanity was lost when the Captain of Capitulation ‘New Leadership’ Keir Starmer got behind the Tories. He threw Rebecca Long-Bailey under the bus and ramped up a ruthless purge of progressive Socialists. Robust Labour opposution was slaughtered by this Tory Zionist Trojan horse decimating the Party by weaponizing fantisemitism to remove competitors in true Stalinist style. The numbers, graphs, genuine statistics and data are all being manipulated to match the Tory agenda: ignore the high infection rate in schools and the poorest children will spread Covid to the susceptible people they are forced to cohabit with in cramped multigenerational households. Many will die in this ‘Slaughter if the Sheeple’ the survivors will become the subservient, desperate slave labour of the new Tory post Brexit normal!

    But now are we seeing yet another round of highly suspicious ‘Bollocks from Bellingcat?’ The highly dubious investigative company was started by former underwear salesman Eliot Higgins and credited with conveniently uncovering multiple ‘Dead Cat’ revelations in timely targeting of the Russian Government. Back on June 12th 2018, in a Twitter response to an earlier incredulous revelation of Bellingcat Bollocks, Sharmine Narwani @snarwani commented, “What happens when mainstream media manufactures ‘experts’ to support their narratives. False confidence eventually reveals a ‘novice’ bug and the whole project implodes. This guy now thinks a major power needs to answer to him, lol. #Russia.” What prompted her to respond to Eliot Higgins? He had Tweeted, “Just so I’m clear the Russian Federation and their representatives can either put up the evidence we’re using fake #MI17, or they can ‘suck my big Bellingcat balls’ is my official statement as the founder of Bellingcat, so feel free to report that RT, Sputnik, etc.”

    Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins, who undoubtedly has really impressive credentials in… ‘smalls,’ just revealed that the Novichok that failed to successfully ‘take out’ Russian opposition politician Alexi Navalni was planted in, drum roll… his underpants! There is no explanation of how the murderous team managed to gain intimate access to Navaln’s underwear, but we are invited to believe this far-fetched tale. You couldn’t make this up without top level support from our duplicitous neocon global Leaders directing the fabrication of fake news in parallel with their secret service operatives, in order to fool gullible individuals in our ‘free western democracies.’ With this ‘dead’ kinky deed you have to ask, does this guy have a serious lingerie fetish or is he too moronic and myopic to come up with a more credible plot? A call set up between Navalni, posing as a top Russian agent, and an alleged suspect claims to have captured his full confession; how amazingly convenient or too much of a stretch for your mental elastic?

    Despite it’s vintage the witty Article on RT entitled “‘Suck my balls’: NATO-funded blogger Eliot Higgins checkmates critics with watertight argument,” is a classic takedown of this arrogant dick! RT report that, “Eliot Higgins, praised by Western media as a bulwark against sinister Russian disinformation, has a persuasive, Atlantic Council-fellow retort for those who take issue with his Google Earth investigations: ‘Suck my balls.’ Higgins gave up his lucrative career as a payments officer at a women’s underwear company to create Bellingcat, a celebrated internet blog that specializes in using open-source information to blame Russia for every crime against humanity – real or imagined – committed so far this century. Now a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, and a self-declared specialist in ‘social media & digital forensic research,’ Higgins recently teamed up with NATO-funded compatriots to create DisinfoPortal, ‘an interactive online guide to track the Kremlin’s disinformation campaigns abroad’.”

    RT’s cynical, but well deserved dig at Higgins credibility continues by describing his online exchanges. “Valiantly fighting on the frontlines in the information war with Russia, Higgins has already shown himself to be a persuasive wordsmith with razor-sharp wit: Indeed, an invitation to moisten his scrotum has become Higgins’ go-to argument for those who dare to question his ironclad Instagram investigations. For example, his expertise on MH17 shines in the following Twitter exchanges: Yes, suck my balls.- Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) June 11, 2018 lol pic.twitter.com/flilBYkHSc – Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) June 13, 2018. No wonder Higgins refused to debate Theodore Postol, professor emeritus of Science, Technology and International Security at MIT regarding Syrian chemical weapons attacks, Postol would have withered under Higgins’ underwear salesman oratory skills.” How many times do we need to blow this panty peddler’s hype wide open as totally fake news? No Higgins, we’re not going for your gonad lolly!

    While yes, we certainly do have bigger fish to fry here in the UK, we still need to debunk such ‘pants on fire’ bollocks as the real ‘Fake News.’ I still maintain the Brexit deadlock is not about the fish, but, the British public are being fed a steady diet of toxic Tory lies, unobtainable pledges of prosperity and we are literally choking on the Governments outlandish propaganda. Tory squandering of public money to support the devious clandestine undercover work of fake Charity ‘Integrity Initiative’ (II) for the express purpose of fabricating defamatory propaganda discrediting Jereny Corbyn and the Labour Party in the run up to an election was criminal. This high level of serious political corruption would have seen the protagonists jailed in any credible democracy, but despite fully exposing this illegal use of public funds to swing the Covert 2019 Rigged Election the Tories remain in office. Both II and Bellingcat are fake news generating tools of this corrupt Tory Government. We have enough evidence we just need to: Get The Tories Out! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #63820 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    In the Byline Times Article entitled, “The Sick Man of Europe Again – The Mutant Etonian Variant Of English Exceptionalism,” Peter Jukes and Hardeep Matharu remind us of the derogatory tag associated with the UK before we joined the EU, a failing governance to which we now seem destined to return. They “argue that the Coronavirus itself is the main beneficiary of Boris Johnson’s neo-imperial policies leading to the inevitable ‘cordon sanitaire’ around Britain even before a hard Brexit.” I only hope that the shock reality of goods no longer heading into the UK will galvanize minds and spur public protests to call for an extension. Brexit was such an obvious act of self-sabotage even before Covid now it will initiate a total meltdown! They warn that, “Having initially joined the European Union as the ‘Sick Man of Europe,’ as Britain’s dire financial straits were characterised throughout the 1960s and 70s, the metaphor of a diseased nation has turned into a cold, hard clinical reality as Britain prepares to leave the EU this winter.”

    The Byline Times say, “Boris Johnson’s announcement on Saturday of tier four restrictions for London and the south-east and stricter Christmas gatherings due to a much more infectious variant of the Coronavirus spreading through the population triggered the closing of many borders in Europe and beyond to British travellers. Days from Christmas and Brexit, Britain is cut off. The end of free movement has arrived and the dreams of a self-isolating nation longed for by Brexiters have been achieved. Johnson’s announcement may have been sudden, but the British Government’s laissez faire attitude to lockdowns, poor tracking and tracing and its late ramping-up of testing, infused with a deadly exceptionalism, always ran this risk. While you can’t sing Rule Britannia to a virus, as Musa Okwonga observed early on in these pages, this is precisely what Boris Johnson and his Brexiters saw fit to do by citing our ‘world-beating’ innovations.”

    The Byline Times highlight how, “It now seems that the virus did listen to the absurd siren calls of an Empire ruling the waves – and took advantage of the combination of arrogance and ignorance.” Joking that we were, “Herded out of immunity” they say, “The more the Coronavirus was allowed to run riot through Britain’s densely populated and highly mobile regions, the more likely an adaptive mutation was to occur.” For anyone who is not as passionately concerned about the welfare of people in the developing world as I am, this is an extremely important reason why vaccines must be readily available and affordable for entire populations in poorer nations as eradication must be global to eliminate the possibility of further mutations. This goal is damaged by a disgraceful and vile decision to slash our foreign aid budget commitment at a time when this reduction in funding is further compounding the poverty caused by a drop in remittance money being sent from Western Industrialized nations.

    Byline Times report that, “The highly infectious new variant, one of thousands, was initially sampled in September when it was named ‘Variant B.1.1.7’. However, it wasn’t deemed significant enough to be tracked until late October and a full investigation into its genomic sequencing began in early December until the name ‘VUI-202012-01’. According to a report on Sunday by the Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, it ‘demonstrated exponential growth during a period when lockdown measures were in place. By the second week of December, more than 60% of all cases in London were ascribed to the new variant and around half of all cases in the south-east. Though there is no sign that this variant is more deadly, the rate of mutation has taken scientists by surprise. Of the 23 mutations, 17 were acquired all at once.”

    Byline Times say that, “This variant could have arisen in a chronically infected patient undergoing antibody therapy, but there are also reports that the prison system in Kent was a catalyst for the rise of infections. Whether the source was Britain’s overstretched, underfunded and dehumanising prison system or not, the reality of neglect and negligence in Johnson’s Coronavirus response made some such mutation mathematically much more likely. Byline Times has spent the past eight months cataloguing the failures of Britain’s pandemic response which led to the highest death toll in Europe, the largest number of health and care worker deaths, and the worst economic performance of the G7. Its lax approach was evident from the very beginning, with the first lockdown in mid-March introduced late, after a ‘herd immunity’ approach towards the virus was explored – including by the Government’s Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance who spoke of it on national television.”

    When this wholy unscientific approach was debunked, the PM appeared to publically distance himself from the plan, but it just went underground. There is disturbing TV footage of a Scientific Adviser suggesting the Covid will be turned on and off like a tap which is what has happened. Byline Times report that, “Johnson himself had already told the Italian Prime Minister that he wanted herd immunity – a fact that only emerged after an investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches many months on. When it seemed as if this dangerous idea, which is not advocated in epidemiology except in the context of a vaccine, had been put to bed, it emerged again. Reports suggest that Johnson dismissed a recommendation from the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies to introduce a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown in September after meeting three proponents of herd immunity: Anders Tegnell, the man behind Sweden’s disastrous COVID-19 approach and academics Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Carl Heneghan.”

    Byline Times justifiably ask, “Why during a serious health emergency have such fringe views taken hold in the highest positions of Government?” Saying that, “The Rule of Exceptionalism is Exceptionally Bad.” They say that, “Britain has one of the most efficient healthcare systems in the world and is a global centre of both pharmaceuticals and genomics. Along with the US, its ‘pandemic preparedness’ was rated highly by the World Health Organisation. So there was no lack of prior capacity or medical knowhow in the UK. The failures have been of policy and attitude, and – as the twin disasters of Brexit and our Coronavirus response collide – there is a clear pathological path for this new British disease: the Etonian variant of English Exceptionalism.”

    According to Byline Times, “From Johnson’s early suggestion that Britain could take on the Coronavirus by being ‘ready to take off its Clark Kent spectacles and leap into the phone booth and emerge with its cloak flowing as the supercharged champion’ to his more recent claims that Britain’s COVID-19 rates are higher than those in Italy and Germany because its people are too ‘freedom-loving’, a delusional sense of supremacy has reigned. But this is just ideology. In the same way that the closed minds of Soviet ideology led to the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl, the propaganda and libertarian obsessions of Johnson’s Vote Leave Government have exacerbated every wrong – from the herd immunity anathema to the scandal of procurement contracts handed out to Conservative Party donors. However, the Coronavirus doesn’t care about the phantoms of a vanished imperial past.”

    The Byline Times report that, “What Britain was actually once renowned for – a pragmatic attitude to fact and an empiricist emphasis on evidence and science – would have been the greatest threat to the propagation and persistence of the Coronavirus. But, as with our exit from the EU, the voices of reason have been drowned out by bigotry and arrogance. We have only become ‘world-beating’ by beating ourselves up. We are only exceptional in our failures. And, as the country faces a hard Brexit more physically isolated than at any time since the Second World War, with no real enemies to blame but ourselves and having alienated all our allies, a final reckoning has come.”

    The harsh reality of the Tory Governments shambolic lack of preparedness came crashing down om nieve Brits when the French closed the border and the lorries started backing up at the port in Dover. Trucks snaking back for miles and an entire runway at Manston chock full of more vehicles parked there for days. Perhaps Dominic Raab now realizes the importance of this vital port and has finally ‘got’ the full significance of Dover through his Brexiteer dazed head! The EU drivers forced to camp out in their cabs with sparse toilet and shower facilities, will be missing out on a proper night’s rest, a decent hot meal and family Christmas. This is not a test run, it’s the brutal reality of how dramatically unprepared this Tory Government is for the self-inflicted harm that crash-out Brexit will cause. Any hauliers who were considering making one last run to the UK with fresh produce will be reconsidering their options; I think inbound freight, our vital food supplies will stop coming well ahead of the PM’s planned crash-out Brexit.

    In a London Economic Article entitled, “Brexit: Public urged not to panic-buy as retailers ‘have no choice’ but to pass on price rises to customers,” Joe Mellor says, “’With many people’s finances already strained by the economic impact of coronavirus, households can ill-afford a significant rise in food prices.’ There are due to be price rises next year due to Brexit as British shoppers have been urged to avoid stockpiling food in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The British Retail Consortium said retailers are increasing stocks to ensure a ‘sufficient supply of essential products’ and that any impact to the food chain is likely to affect fresh produce like fruit and vegetables, which cannot be stored for long. Without a deal, after January 1 the public will face more than £3 billion in food tariffs and higher prices throughout 2021, the trade body said, adding that the uncertainty is making it harder for businesses to prepare.”

    Mellor reports that, “Chief executive Helen Dickinson said: ‘Retailers would have no choice but to pass on some of these additional costs to their customers, who would see higher prices filter through during 2021’.” In terms of the burden she says,“Moreover, new checks and red tape that will apply from January 1 will create an additional burden for retailers and their customers. Retailers are doing everything they can to prepare for all eventualities, increasing the stock of tins, toilet rolls and other longer life products so there will be sufficient supply of essential products.” She says that, “While no amount of preparation by retailers can entirely prevent disruption, there is no need for the public to buy more food than usual as the main impact will be on imported fresh produce, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, which cannot be stored for long periods by either retailers or consumers.”

    According to Mellor, “Ms Dickinson warned that the public will ‘pay the price’ of a failure to ‘agree a zero-tariff agreement’. ‘With many people’s finances already strained by the economic impact of coronavirus, households can ill-afford a significant rise in food prices. For the sake of customers and businesses around the UK, we need a deal in the next three weeks’,” she said, but that was over a week ago and the losing team are still threatening crash-out Brexit and regularly hurling insults to disrupt the negotiations. The UK isn’t in a strong position facing a united EU, but, still deluded by British Empire exceptionalism, so many people trust that there will be a deal. Mellor says, “Earlier, British Chambers of Commerce president Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith told Sky News the UK needs a deal ‘as soon as possible’, adding: ‘We need to understand how we are going to trade and what the rules are’.”

    The massive build-up of freight vehicles in Dover offers a hint of the chaos yet to come, because even as rapid testing dissipates the current logjam, new paperwork will create another bottleneck at Dover. This is partly due to lack of information. Mellor reports, “I think it’s very difficult to be ready because there are a number of areas where we don’t have any detail at all. We don’t understand anything around quota tariffs or quotas. We don’t understand anything in detail about rules of origin. We’re not going to know what tariffs are going to be imposed on any goods leaving or coming into the country, meaning we won’t know the price.” Beyond just food basics, she said, “’What we’ve seen in the pandemic is huge amounts of support given but we still have a significant number of industries shut down. On top of this we don’t know how we’re going to be trading from January 1.’ She added that there ‘could be some significant job losses’, compounded by a “lack of Government support after March as we come out of the pandemic’.”

    In another London Economics Article entitled, “No-deal: Nissan source warns there is no Plan B as 60% of Kent businesses not prepared,” Joe Meller says, “We have got the pandemic where people are hanging on by their fingertips in some areas. We have had four years to get a deal and, yes, businesses are cross.” Nissan has repeatedly said its Sunderland plant would not be viable in the event of no-deal, with a source this week warning: “There is no Plan B.” It comes as many as 60% of Kent businesses are not prepared for a no-deal Brexit. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has told CNN that she thinks the chances of a trade deal with the EU is now ‘almost vanishingly small’. In an interview with Christiane Amanpour, Sturgeon said: ‘I think the chances of a deal now are almost vanishingly small. They’re not non-existent, and I remain hopeful I guess, because no deal would be catastrophic. But I’m starting to worry not just that no deal is now the overwhelming likelihood, but that Boris Johnson is actually now almost planning for that’.”

    Reporting on Nissan Mellor says, “The car giant which directly employs around 6,000 people in the North East has already spent £400 million on machines and preparing suppliers to build the new model of the popular Qashqai next year. But 10% trade tariffs on the models it builds, including the electric-powered Leaf, would make the plant unviable, bosses have warned. Europe chairman Gianluca de Ficchy told a news conference at the plant in October 2019: “If a no-deal scenario means the sudden application of WTO tariffs, we know in that case our business model won’t be sustainable in the future. Our industry works with lower margins and if we are in a situation in which tomorrow we have to apply 10% export duties to 70% of our production, the entire business model for Nissan Europe will be in jeopardy.’ In several interviews since then, global chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta has maintained that remained the case.” How could any responsible Prime Mininster put so many jobs in jeopardy? Johnson just doesn’t care!

    Mellor reports that, “A Nissan source said: ‘We have been planning the whole time on the basis that there will be a deal. Look at the money we are putting into the new Qashqai, we are already in trial production for it. ‘There’s no Plan B.’ ‘We have already spent the best part of £400 million on all the machines and tooling the suppliers, reconfiguring the line for the car.’ The plant is in Labour MP Sharon Hodgson’s Washington and Sunderland West constituency. She said: ‘It has always been clear that a no-deal Brexit would be devastating for the automotive industry in the UK, and Nissan, who have a manufacturing plant in my constituency, will be no exception to this rule and Nissan have been vocal on this point themselves. The Government must take securing a deal seriously. We are just weeks away from the end of the transition period and manufacturers still have no certainty or clarity of what will be expected from them on 1st January.’ The plant will shut down for Christmas from December 19, reopening on January 4.”

    Mellor reports that, “As many as 60% of Kent businesses are not prepared for a no-deal Brexit, it is feared. Concerns have been raised that companies already ‘hanging on by their fingertips’ after a year of pandemic disruption may not be ready for the ‘seismic shift’ in trade. This is despite Britain being just weeks away from the end of the transition period without a deal being struck. The warning from a group representing businesses in Kent comes as a deadline on UK-EU trade talks looms this weekend. Kent has been a focal point as the end of the Brexit transition period approaches, with a huge lorry park constructed by the M20 amid fears of miles-long queues of HGVs stacking up on the motorways. The county council announced on Thursday that it has been given new powers to clamp HGVs and fine drivers if lorries are parked illegally. Later on Friday, a live test of plans to keep traffic moving on the M20 in the event of cross-Channel disruption will be carried out.” That was last weeks ‘stress test;’ we now have reality!

    Mellor says, “There are concerns that hundreds of businesses are unprepared for what is to come because they have not done their ‘homework’, according to the deputy chief of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. Speaking to the PA news agency, Tudor Price said he expects some disruption to Kent’s highways after December 31 but that ‘it’s not going to be gridlock’. Where the problem will lie will be the businesses that have failed to address their paperwork requirements and the goods won’t be able to move. ‘That confusion and logjam will obviously have an impact on other parts of the movement and flow of goods through the county where we have got vehicles turning up and being turned away (at the border).’ Mr Price estimated that as many as 60% of Kent businesses are not prepared. He said those 60% are ‘hoping that the problem is going to go away because of a deal’.” Blame delays on Hauliers and the drivers not preparing their paperwork, not the Tory Government keeping them clueless till the last ditch!

    Mellor reported that, “Mr Price said businesses that have been left ‘battered and bruised’ by the pandemic are frustrated at the Government’s delay in reaching a decision. He said: ‘We have got the pandemic where people are hanging on by their fingertips in some areas. We have had four years to get a deal and, yes, businesses are cross.’ Mr Price called on the Government to make an ‘absolute decision’ soon and then to allow businesses time to get used to any new rules.” Sadly I strongly believe that the PM made a decision months ago, possibly last year before the Covert 2019 Rigged Election, that he fully intends to crash-out without a deal and blame the EU. This Tory Government is deeply corrupt on many levels including that unfathomable fake ‘landslide victory; that still requires challenge and a full Investigation. Also placing the legitimacy of their win into question; relentless squandering of public funds including paying ‘Integrity Initiative’ to manufacture defamatory smears against the Labour Leader to swing the Election.

    Did the people of Sunderland really believe there would be a deal to protect their jobs despite voting to leave the EU. Would they have still voted to Leave if they had known back then that they would not only jeopardize the viability of thousands of local jobs, but that the PM would push that known catastrophic impact on their northern city while they struggled, devastated by the impact of a global Pandemic? Wouldn’t they expect him to back down or ask for more time due to their hardship? Many who are on furlough, zero hours contracts or subsisting on Universal Credit cannot afford to buy food right now; how will they fare when foodbank stocks are hit by the supply chain problems that put them dead last? How many of those who will be most severely impacted know already that there will be no deal? Even if they do they cannot afford to stockpile food. Why do so many people blindly trust Britain’s most notorious pathological liar to act in the best interests of our people? We must demand Johnson’s resignation: Get The Tories Out! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #63831 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    To my amazement, strong hints of the imminent Brexit deal talked up on BBC news, actually became reality. Possibly the French border closure was at least partially a bit of last ditch brinkmanship from the EU side to demonstrate to the Brits that all of the PMs saber rattling over walking away had very severe real world consequences. Not that any dire consequences for the majority of the UK population would really bother Johnson, just how well he could manage to spin it. That very visible build up of lorries on the M20 and at Manston had the PM ‘spinning’ down the drain fast, clearly demonstrating that he was too incompetent to organize a piss-up in a brewery. Not a good look, but, along with threats of hauliers refusing to deliver food to the UK after the New Year, did all those rightfully furious lorry drivers tip the balance? I thought the latest rumours would amount to no more than that as the PM careened towards crash-out Brexit; I wasn’t at all hopeful as it seemed far too much like that’s exactly what Boris Johnson wanted.

    Meanwhile there’s further evidence that the supposedly new, more easily transmissible strain of Covid was just a scare tactic and a means of explaining away the high increase in infections caused by the Tory Government’s reckless refusal to close schools, take adequate measures to protect pupils and staff as well as other shambolic last ditch or ineffective infection control policies including test and trace failures. Macron may have recognized the PMs ruse, called his bluff and reacted as he did because it served a vital illustrative purpose: the UK was demonstrably unprepared for crash-out Brexit; it was an emperor in the buff moment for Boris! In the Skwawkbox Article entitled, “‘New mutant’ C19 strain has been in Italy at least 9 days. Italy’s cases are going DOWN,” they offer an alternative, logical reason for the rapid increase in the UK infection rate that doesn’t fit the Tory narrative. They explain by saying, it “Seems ‘new’, ‘virulent’ virus strain doesn’t like school closures.” Skwawkbox have been highlighting this fact for months!

    The Skwawkbox report that The ‘new’ ‘UK strain’ of coronavirus that the government is blaming for the rocketing rate of coronavirus cases and deaths in this country has been in Italy for at least nine days, as it was identified by 14 December in that country, as the ‘Nextstrain’ site notes. However, infection rates in Italy have been falling and continue to fall sharply, even though the 5-6 day typical incubation period of the virus would allow new cases to show well within those nine days.” Skwawkbox have included the data and graphics to support this logical conclusion. They say that, “Italy imposed a new school shutdown in November. The Tories squandered a chance to time the last England-wide lockdown to coincide with the half-term holidays and insisted, with Labour leader Keir Starmer’s enthusiastic backing, that schools must remain open as normal, even when England’s second and far less stringent ‘lockdown’ eventually came. School-children of all ages now suffer the highest levels of infection of the whole population.”

    According to the Skwawkbox, “that situation began to emerge long before the supposedly-new ‘mutant’ strain became the Tories’ excuse for rising numbers of cases, hospitalisations and deaths, and scientists continue to say that it is too early to conclude that the new strain spreads faster. They also say that the current rates are primarily attributable to the Tories’ failure to take the right steps to contain it, rather than any new characteristics of any new strain.” They say that, “the government’s own scientists continue to avoid confirming and even directly contradict the claims of Johnson and Hancock, such as in Hancock’s press conference just this afternoon: ‘We have no evidence that this virus is more transmissible in children yet. No evidence and the presence for, at the very least, the last nine days of the virus in Italy, while the number of cases in Italy continues to fall, further suggests that whatever the capabilities of any new strain, they have little or nothing to do with the current rampage of the virus.”

    The Skwawkbox have reached the damning conclusion regarding our rapidly increasing infection rate, “Which makes it very much the fault, yet again, of the Tories and their helpers and the supposed ‘70% more transmissible’ claims look very much like ‘cover our arse’ spin.” All spin and fxxk-all substance best describes the Tories lamentable level of support offered to hungry children in needy households, despite Marcus Rasford’s valiant efforts appealing to this tight-wad Tory Government on their behalf. With classic Empire willy-wagging, Chancellor Sunak is far more willing to splash the cash on ramping up British military spending, as if right now that was a major priority in the midst of a Pandemic! Seemingly large numbers announced in Parliament might sound impressive, but the Canary has been busy counting the beans and for the poorest families in the UK they just don’t make five.

    In the Canary Article entitled, “The DWP just sent a Christmas ‘f*ck you’ to millions of hungry kids,” Steve Topple says that, “The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) may as well be trolling millions of hungry children. Because two days before Christmas, it sent a effective ‘fuck you’ to all of them.” So while this Tory Government is squandering public money by the shedload, what has Topple so understandably incensed? “The Covid Winter Grant Scheme and the DWP; The Covid Winter Grant is a scheme for low-income households. The DWP’s Twitter account is currently promoting it: DWP @DWP – The Covid Winter Grant Scheme is ensuring children are warm and well fed this winter. To find out what your local council is doing, visit http://gov.uk/coronavirus-lo.”

    The Canary report that, “Back in November, the government noted that: Building on the significant support given to the most vulnerable during the pandemic, a new £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme will be run by councils in England. The funding will be ring-fenced, with at least 80% earmarked to support with food and bills, and will cover the period to the end of March 2021.The Guardian reported that the Tories put it in place after a campaign by Marcus Rashford.” Yes the PM had to be shamed into taking action by a 22 year old football star! “Bowing to pressure?” The Canary point out that, “The footballer had been speaking out about the lack of government support for children on Free School Meals during the holidays. But his campaign was broader than this. It was ultimately calling for measures to end child food poverty altogether.”

    The Canary report that, “Following the government’s announcement on the Covid Winter Grant scheme, Rashford said: ‘I very much welcome the steps that have been taken to combat child food poverty in the UK,’ But he noted that: ‘There is still so much more to do, and my immediate concern is the approximate 1.7 million children who miss out on free school meals, holiday provision and Healthy Start vouchers because their family income isn’t quite low enough. But the intent the government has shown today is nothing but positive and they should be recognised for that.’ Sadly, the reality of the Winter Grant isn’t quite what is now being trumpeted by the DWP. Back in the real world the Canary’s Steve Topple notes, ‘I live in Bromley, London. I know that the Winter Grant’s value is £45 in our borough. This is being explained to families via their child’s school. The grant will cover Christmas and the February half term only’.” So what did the cheery message from the Department of Work and Punishment say?

    “Dear Parent/Guardian, We are pleased to confirm that the local authority is supporting the provision of supermarket vouchers for pupils eligible for support under the Covid Winter Fund grant. The purpose of the Covid Winter Fund grant is ‘to provide support to vulnerable households and families with children particularly affected by the pandemic throughout the winter period,where alternative sources of assistance may be unavailable.’ We will be issuing one voucher for the Christmas and February 2021half term period, to the value of £45 per eligible child, this is £15 per week for the Christmas period and one week for February 2021 half-term. Voucher distribution will be by email; therefore, it is essential we have an up-to-date email address for you.”

    The Canary response? “Hmm. As I tweeted: Steve Topple @MrTopple – £45 to cover both Christmas holidays and February half term, with some schools being closed for the week commencing 4th January? That’s £2.14 a day per relative school days; including days when a kid wouldn’t be at school this is £1.55 a day. Do people live in the real world?” Well said Topple who started crunching the numbers noting that, “£1.55 a day is just based on the school holidays for our son’s school, plus weekends at Christmas and in February. If, like the DWP said, you were to spread it out from December 2020 to the end of March 2021 it would be 37p a day. I’m not sure what planet the DWP and the Tory government live on. But even with my high-end calculation of £2.14 a day, in the real world this doesn’t stretch very far.”

    Topple spells it out for us, “Reality check one: Take my pre-payment meter-based gas and electric. The combined cost of these per day is around £2.20. And that’s with us limiting our use of the gas (I’m currently sat writing this in multiple layers of clothing). So, if like the DWP says I can use the Winter Grant to ‘ensure’ my child is ‘warm,’ clearly it depends on your definition of this. At best, £2.14 wouldn’t cover my utilities for a day. Extra layers of clothes it is, then. What about the DWP’s claim the grant is to keep my child ‘well fed’? Our son is 14 years old. He’s nearly 5′ 11″, wears an adult size medium – although to be fair he is slim. Oh, and he eats as much as I do. So, based on averages – his food costs would be around £5.41 a day. Crudely divide that across three meals, and that’s £1.80 per meal. So, the DWP’s generous £2.14 would cover the lunch he would get at school if he was on Free School Meals. That would leave us 34p a day for utilities. In other words, about 3.7 hours worth of gas and electric.”

    Topple continues his critique, “Reality check two, So, thanks to the DWP I can either give my son: Nearly a full day of gas and electric; One meal and maybe a bag of crisps; One meal and 3.7 hours of gas and electric. This is best case scenario. At worst, my bottom end calculation of 37p a day would go unnoticed in most families’ budgets. Moreover, schools give it to you in the form of a supermarket voucher. Technically, you should probably divide the voucher up between the equivalent number of shops you’ll do while your child is off school. In reality, most people will use it on one shop and that’s it. People don’t have the time to be budgeting to that level of detail. Herein lie the problems with the Covid Winter Grant Scheme.”

    Topple is rightly angered by the warped Tory Government priorities: “Money for bombs but not for hungry kids. Firstly, it would be easy to think that it’s designed by people who don’t live in the real world; those whose intentions are well-meaning, but don’t really have a clue. I don’t think this is the case. What we’re seeing with the Covid Grant, as we’ve seen with (for example) the £20 a week increase in Universal Credit, is political spin. The DWP announced that it was spending £170m ‘to support children, families and the most vulnerable over winter’. To many people, £170m would sound like a lot of money. But in terms of government spending, it’s tiny; 0.09% of the DWP’s total spending on pensions and welfare in 2019/20, for example. Or to put it another way, 0.7% of the increase in the defence budget over the next four years. So, as always – we’ve got the money to pay for bombs and technology capable of killing people. But we can only afford a fraction of that to support millions of hungry children in the UK.”

    According to Topple, “£45 is nothing to many families in the real world. We should stop accepting the meagre scraps off the Tory government’s plate, and start demanding proper wages, proper social security, proper housing, and ultimately a right to a fair and decent life for all. Because all it’s offering is lip service.” I heartily agree, we have got to stop sucking it up and that starts with the type of painful embarrassment Rashford inflicted and instead of keep repeating the ‘levelling up’ lie, tell it like it is, this corrupt Tory cabal is ‘Decimating Down’ with their austerity under a deceitful new banner. In another Canary Article entitled, “My wish for 2021? We all start fighting back, now,” Drillminister sums up his plan for the future. He says, “Boom. Bam. You know who it is. Yung Drilly, aka Drillminister – writing for The Canary. I’m running for London Mayor in 2021. And with the mess that our politicians have made in the past 12 months, we need radical change and quickly. So, here’s my message as we head towards the New Year.”

    Drilly asks us to consider, “Black Lives Matter. But do they really? This year has laid bare the open corruption and political violence in our society. It held a magnifying glass to the hate. And even though it’s obvious for all to see – nothing has changed. The UK saw the reverberations of George Floyd’s murder echo across the streets of London. I stood shoulder to shoulder with Stormzy in the ‘Battle of Trafalgar‘.” He says, “I watched Patrick Hutchinson save the life of a racist former police officer. I shouted ‘no justice, no peace’ outside Downing Street: But what did we get?” That picture of Hutchinson carrying a yob to safety was iconic and, as he would have faced ridicule from his tribe, probably did more to teach the oaf a hard lesson than any punch. The BLM protests were racially mixed and inspiring, but I worry that this Tory Government have used Covid to shut down protests of all kinds at this most critical juncture in our political history.

    Drilly describes the, “Institutional racism and prejudice,” pointing out that, “In London, nine out of ten children on remand are still from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background. We are still statistically more likely to be unemployed or homeless. We’re more likely to be stopped by police and searched without committing a crime, more likely to be arrested, imprisoned or die in custody when use of force, restraint or mental health issues are involved. 3,000 people have died in police custody since 1969. That was the last time a police officer was convicted of murder/manslaughter in relation to this. So, if we do die in custody, it’s unlikely a cop will face the consequences. I’m one of countless Black men whom the police have stopped and searched, despite not having committed a crime. I know first hand how this form of government harassment robs you of your basic human rights.”

    Drilly makes his Mayoral pitch, saying, “My campaign for mayor will be addressing the politically driven poverty that is the root cause of violence in London. It won’t be punishing those most affected by it. Stop and search is a prejudiced and ineffective policy. It targets poor people, and People of Colour, and as London mayor, I will end it immediately.” Drilly highlights, “a political choice,” saying, “We have seen more than ever that poverty and homelessness are political decisions. The government finds money for firearms but not for food; hellfire missiles but not homes. As part of my campaign, I worked with Streets Kitchen: a grassroots group that provides people in need with food, clothing and help. I handed out hot drinks to a woman living on the streets. She must have been eighty years old. I spoke to an Iraq war veteran who US forces blew up in friendly fire. The government left him to fight for survival when he returned home.”

    Drilly reports that, “Elodie from Street’s Kitchen told me ‘If the government doesn’t do something, hundreds will die this Christmas.’ I spoke to reformed drug addict Kevin Dooley about sleeping rough metres from parliament. He showed me the queues of people lining up for food in Central London. A line that grows everyday: I wanted to understand the root causes of homelessness. So, I interviewed the former UN rapporteur on the right to adequate housing Leilani Farha. Her organisation The Shift looks to change housing from a commodity to a human right. She told me that we must make it harder for tax-avoiding, so-called shell companies to buy up London homes. We can turn the capital into an inhospitable environment for the private companies causing homelessness.” One potentially positive post Pandemic change is that I believe fewer people will need to commute to work in London offices; more people will continue to work from home. Less prime real estate used for offices could mean space liberated for affordable homes.

    Drilly insists that, “We need to fight back,” saying, “The UK saw our classist and classless politicians vote against feeding society’s poorest and most vulnerable children. Still, hundreds and thousands of kids will go hungry this Christmas. It is shameful Unicef is now working in the UK.” He is obviously disgusted by, “the reaction to this from miscreant MPs like Jacob Rees-Mogg is just as shameful too. Instead of being a playground for the rich, we are going to build playgrounds for children. Right now there’s no justice. Just us and the government.” He drums home the message that, “we need to start fighting back. Let’s make 2021 the year we do that.” I cannot vote in the London Mayoral election anyway, but my only concern over his bid is that as usual the progressive Socialist agenda could be split between a couple of decent candidates, like Drilly, the Green Party’s Sian Berry and Sadiq Khan will probably run again: even with the supplementary vote system I fear this might still allow another rabid Tory to prevail.

    The single greatest obstacle to fighting back right now is the curtailment of our right to protest under the guise of Covid restriction necessity; we cannot trust this Tory cabal to tell us the truth or act in our best interests. If we are not extremely careful this highly restrictive state will become the new normal for the entire time it takes for the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship to rewrite our laws to strip us of all our workers protections and human rights. We could coordinate loud individual protests from our homes right across the country, but a visible public figure needs to set that up. Labour members must fight the right-wing Zionist takeover of the Party initiated by Tory Trojan horse Keir Starmer with the weaponizing of fantisemitism; how many CLP ‘No Confidence’ votes does it take to oust him? We already have enough evidence against the PM and the Tory Party to get them removed from power without Investigating the Covert 2019 Rigged Election with the illegal squandering of public funds to swing an election and pay off chums!

    Barnier said “the clock is no longer ticking” Johnson has apparently done a deal with the EU. No doubt on the ERG understanding that it can be broken in “limmited and specific ways.” Why else would the PM finally do that deal against the express wishes of hard core Brexiteers? Because they are totally confident Johnson will cross that line, entail the wrath of the EU, but probably cling on to current status through bullshit, bravado and brinkmanship. What pushed Johnson to tell the EU we would finally sign? He had already demonstrated to Parliament he was prepared to ‘wing it,’ breaking any signed agreement he saw fit. The EU took him on his word, knowing, that when it comes to screwing the public he really does know how and that the British people will always come dead last. What pushed the PM to the brink? What would the inevitable gridlock at the ports look like, well now we know, not so pretty! Who cares that on paper the EU appears to have us duped? No matter it’s a deal… that will come undone when necessary!

    My only wish for 2021 is that it is not quite as unmitigatingly miserable as 2020! Small ask, but probably too much to hope for under the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship that lies ahead. This has to be my worst ‘festive season’ since the yacht I was delivering down to St Thomas suffered a 180 degree capsize in a north Atlantic storm on Christmas day; it left us terrified, frantically bailing water for our lives, still four days from safe landfall in Bermuda. My life is a lot calmer now; I’m not experiencing any real hardship beyond confinement, but I feel riddled with guilt. Although I took responsibility seriously and worked hard when I was at sea, I was lucky to do a job I really loved, sailing thousands of miles and visiting places all over the world. A young person who might wish to pursue that same adventurous lifestyle now will be blocked from doing so by new EU restrictions on British passport holders, who, for the first time, will be limited to no more that 90 days within the EU in any 160 day period: it wasn’t that strict before we joined the EU.

    My mother was 42 when she decided to go live in Spain where she became a tour guide and spent the next twenty years. I too left for the continent, even as an unaccompanied minor I had more freedom to travel at 17 before the UK became a member state. Both my mother’s and my own life would have been dramatically different without that unique opportunity to travel and see the world while still young. In his targeted assault on the youth of this country the PM decided to remove the UK from the Erasmus student and apprentice training program. We have slammed the door shut for young people, after years of exploiting and abusing them, we have just removed another tantalizing option to escape pitance pay on zero hours contracts, student debt and living with parents well past the age of thirty. I can only say I’m really sorry that my selfish generation did this to you; I have never been more deeply ashamed to say I’m British, but I will fight tooth and nail to turn things around because I genuinely feel I owe you that much. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #63838 Reply

    Goodness me.. it will take all year to go through all your input.. But I ain’t starting tonight…

    Have a pleasant Christmas evening.

    #63855 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    BrianFujisan – You will find a lot of my posts focus on articles from progressive writers or sites that deserve extra attention, enjoy. You might be thinking, hasn’t she got better things to do over the festive holiday than make lengthy Forum comments? Yep, my life really is that bereft of colour, meaning and excitement right now. I certainly wasn’t ready to dutifly listen to the patronizing words of our ‘noble Queen’ as she broadcast to her subjugated throng on Christmas day. Confining herself to a modest celebration in her castle, she might look like a delightfully dignified old lady, but she is guaranteed the protection of her vast wealth. Meanwhile ordinary hard working families across the UK will not be spared extreme hardship as the Tories ‘Decimate Down’ on the destitute, homeless and desperately poor with harsh austerity under a deceptive new banner. That sympathy and understanding she seeks to exude doesn’t stretch to prioritizing the impoverished starving children of her realm over the expectation that, even during a time of national crisis, it was considered appropriate for her Tory Government to top-up the diminished income of her royal estates!

    While my most terrifyingly stressful ordeal one Boxing Day was spent struggling for survival following a Christmas Day capsize, my all time happiest seasonal memory was also spent offshore. Sailing a Swan 65, on passage from Mallorca we caught a magnificent Dorado, a Christmas day treat consumed fresh within the hour with fair winds and following seas driving us at speed through the sun drenched Atlantic towards the Canaries. Spending so much of my working life at sea, so dependent and engrossed in the challenges of the natural world, I have always felt passionately about the green agenda to protect our planet. For the skeptical, yes, delivering sailing yachts offshore really is a job; it has its risks and its rewards. My fist major reality check over Brexit appeared so obvious, but has remained largely ignored: trade deals with places close to home require far less carbon heavy shipping by air and sea, so our post Brexit trade deals with countries on the other side of the world will drastically increase our carbon footprint.

    I created a poster to graphically depict this myopically destructive thinking, a giant ‘Monty Python’ foot with the message, “There is No Green Brexit, Stomp on the Dirty Carbon Footprint of Global Trade,” and “Bin Brexit, Think Local – Think Green.” I was really surprised that this obvious Brexiteer discrepancy wasn’t picked up by the Extinction Rebellion protesters, if it was then I saw little evidence of this message. While I am relieved that the UK has not severed all ties with our closest trading partner, Brexiteers are still keen to access more distant markets in the relentless search for a better deal on cheap goods, environmental concerns will be ignored, where is the reality check? Back in September, former Green Party Leader, Natalie Bennett contributed to the debate with a Left Foot Forward Article entitled “The Tory trade bill is bad for people and planet — we need to fight for sustainable trade,” She said that, “The major social and environmental costs of trade have been ignored for too long and a new approach is needed.”

    Bennett reminded us at that time, “Next week, the House of Lords starts considering the Trade Bill (again). We will be hearing from most sides of the House an automatic paean to the “virtues” of trade, an assumption that more is better, a focus on creating rules to make it easier. As the Liberal Democrats told us in the Second Reading debate, trade is ‘the bedrock of our political movement’. For the Conservative Lord Astor of Hever, ‘trade is the best route to prosperity’. For Labour’s Lord Grantchester, trade will ‘secure growth and prosperity’. To point out the absurdity in praise of trade coming from the Brexit sides of the House is easy. What is also needed, however – in this age of climate emergency and nature crisis in a world gripped with inequality and poverty – is deeper questioning.”

    Bennett explained a potential solution, saying, “A Zero Carbon Trade and Investment Toolkit being launched today makes that case. I’ll be at the event with the Green House thinktank and Green European Foundation. In the introduction to the Toolkit, Ellie Chowns, Green Party International Spokesperson, lays out how the ‘major social and environmental costs’ of trade have been ignored for too long.” She emphasized how, “The Toolkit highlights many absurdities,” and went on to list a few of the most glaring examples. Ironically it includes Scottish Salmon with a full twenty export lorries a day, with drivers now trapped at the port of Dover spending Christmas in their cabs.

    • “Salmon accounts for 74% of our fish-trade carbon footprint. In 2019 we exported 125,000 tonnes of salmon, over half of which was flown to the USA and China. We imported almost as much from overseas: 101,000 tonnes. If we supplied domestic first and shifted exports from air to sea we could reduce transport emissions by 300-400,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions(CO2e).
    • Four-fifths of UK scrap is exported. Were that to be remelted in the UK, in a regionally dispersed group of renewables-powered electric arc furnaces, our islands could be self-sufficient in steel, and local economies boosted.”

    Bennet also listed, “In 2019 over a million tonnes of fresh bananas came by sea, with a carbon footprint of 127,000 tonnes CO2e. We flew in 20,500 tonnes of mangoes, with a carbon footprint of 250,000 tonnes CO2e – 25 times more carbon-intensive than bananas. Bring that mango as dried, canned or juice, by sea, and emissions are slashed.” While I cannot see the Brits cutting down on Banana consumption or settling for ‘dried, canned’ or mango juice, we have the technology to consider a more creative alternative. The Eden project has simulated a vast area of tropical environment here in the UK; wouldn’t it be feasible to try growing some tropical produce here in combination with resort facilities to temp holiday makers away from jetting abroad to escape our dreary climate? The potential for Hydroponic and Aquaponic growing have yet to be really embraced by the Brits, but the time is now!

    Bennet reports that, “The Toolkit sets out a new approach to trade, one that acknowledges it should be beneficial to all partners, and not damaging to people or planet. That’s very different to what we have today. Business as usual is ‘locking in harm’ – building infrastructure (like airports and sea ports) that will cause environmental damage and social destruction far into the future. We are “buying dirty”: the pollution, the exploitation of workers, the destruction of nature is invisible on the other side of the world as a product is presented to us, plastic-wrapped, pristine, in store. Business as usual is ‘rubbish in, rubbish out’ – huge amounts of what is traded is poor quality, ‘cheap’, products that will very soon become waste. Much trade is pointless. As well as salmon, we’re also swapping roughly equal quantities of shellfish with the rest of the world, when we could eat our own.”

    According to Bennett, “The Toolkit focuses particularly on carbon emissions: the climate emergency is pressing in on us, the damage is easily measurable. Yet even here, the British government is failing to even do the basics, the work that the Toolkit does for it. I hear endlessly the claim that the UK is world-leading in its 41% cut in national emissions since 1990, yet have to drag from the government admissions that emissions we import show far less of a drop. We are surely as responsible for the emissions in a washing machine we import, as for one made on our shores. But the Toolkit is not primarily about critiquing the current approach, which might be summed up as ‘yeah, trade, bring it on. Let’s all swap icecreams!’ It is suggesting a considered approach to what trade we want, and what we want to substitute with home production that will produce jobs, business opportunities and a chance for a real, sustainable ‘levelling up’ of the massive regional inequalities.” Oh please Natalie don’t say ‘levelling up’ it helps the Tories sell their lie!

    Bennet says that, “What’s needed is government investment and direction, public money going into public goods rather than to boost private profits, and ensuring that products are made to last, not made for landfill. In next week’s debate I’ll be pointing UK lawmakers towards the report, and it is good to know that today we’ll be joined from their compatriots across Europe (the Toolkit is part of a broader project also involving partners from the Netherlands and Ireland). We’re right at the physical limits of this planet. We cannot continue with trade as usual, and there’s growing numbers of people and nations that recognise that fact. The UK needs to join them. Natalie Bennett is” described as “a contributing editor of Left Foot Forward, a former leader of the Green Party of England and Wales and a member of the House of Lords.” She is a strong progressive voice standing up to the growing influx of newly appointed Tory predators that Johnson has now stacked the second chamber with to ram through his toxic policy agenda.

    In a more recent Left Foot Forward Article entitled, “To achieve zero carbon, Britain needs to rethink its trade policy,” Ed Sawyer elaborates on the importance of adopting a progressive environmentally friendly trade agenda. He points out that, “To achieve net-zero targets, the UK needs global trade to be smaller, shorter, and slower. As Brexit negotiations continue and the UK makes trade agreements with countries such as Vietnam, Japan and Singapore, it’s an important time to reflect on UK trade policy in the context of achieving zero carbon trade. There is no doubt that trade can be beneficial. It has, for one, helped lift many people out of immediate poverty. However, the social and environmental costs of trade are often overlooked.”

    Sawyer explains the, “Climate hit,” saying that, “While domestic emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have fallen in some EU countries (including the UK), global emissions due to industrial processes, transport and manufacturing and construction have increased by 174% – 71% and 55% respectively. Additionally, roughly one-third of global emissions are embodied in goods and services that are traded internationally. Transport associated with trade equates to 36 million tonnes of carbon emissions, and UK exports are twice as likely to be air freighted compared to Germany. Shockingly, Ireland is the only country in the EU which exports a higher percentage via air. It is not difficult to realise that trade agreements with countries further afield, outside of the EU, will contain more ‘embedded’ emissions through longer journeys.”

    Sawyer reports that, “The UK’s overall trade carbon footprint is estimated at 20 million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year for imports and 10.6 million tonnes for exports. This figure is far more significant with the rest of the world than with the European Union.” He is cynical about what he calls the PM’s, “Jet zero delusions,” saying that, “While Boris Johnson’s race to “jet zero,” zero carbon flights, would have huge implications on the UK’s trade carbon footprint, experts have called jet zero “severely underfunded” and long-haul electric or hydrogen planes are unlikely before the middle of the century, which will be too late. Despite the direct impact of trade on carbon dioxide emissions, it is excluded from negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and is not included in the Paris Agreement.”

    Sawyer reinforces the positive proposal raised by Bennett, “Highlighting the issue, the Green House Think Tank has proposed a Zero Carbon Trade and Investment Toolkit which suggests three trade policy interventions to achieve zero carbon: reducing the scale of trade and material consumption; localising supply chains; and, when possible, shipping goods rather than airfreighting.” I have yet to read through the Toolkit, but I would be surprised if it failed to mention our future options with regard to a return to sailing vessels. While we will not see the return of the impressive, but labour intensive, tea clippers except as training ships, the new age of sail is high tech. There are vessels being designed and built to be driven with enhanced fuel efficiency provided by giant foil sails. A futuristic cruise ship design EOSEAS by STXEurope caught my attention. Thinking of a growing number of elderly who have traded the retirement village for shipboard life, I envisaged a highly efficient floating care facility sailing at a slow pace…

    Sawyer also focuses his attention on, “Eliminating ‘pointless trade,” and the need to start by addressing this issue, describing the, “like-for-like trade” that, “does little for wellbeing – which is bereft of environmental considerations. The tendency to ‘buy low, sell high’ in exports and imports is driven by a consistent trade deficit. As it stands, the UK exports more scrap steel to Turkey than it re-melts each year. Evidence suggests that the UK would likely meet its steel demand from domestic scrap. If blast furnaces were replaced by regional electric arc furnaces, the UK could be self-sufficient in steel which would decarbonise one of the UK’s largest polluters. Similarly, 125,000 tonnes of salmon were exported last year compared to 101,000 tonnes which were imported. This made up some 74% of the UK’s fish-trade carbon footprint. If Britain could supply domestic markets first and move exports from air to sea, we could reduce transport emissions by 300-400 thousand tonnes for salmon alone.” This seems like the most glaring folly.

    Sawyer points out that by, “Eliminating pointless trade and ending the airfreight of fish would reduce our fish-trade carbon footprint by 90%. By the same token, the UK imported over 430,000 more tonnes of apples and pears than it exported in 2019, despite having a perfectly capable climate for growth.” He says that, “To reach zero carbon in the food sector we must stop airfreighting fruit and vegetables by changing the types of products we import or import them as juice, dried or canned so they can be shipped.” However, as stated before I think we can retain fresh options by employing novel technologies for growing that offer commercially viable, exciting new possibilities to avoid being trapped by the vagaries of our climate and its limitations; we just need to think outside the box and start embracing new technological solutions. Places like Singapore, cramped for space are experimenting with vertical farms and roof gardens are ‘cropping up’ in cities like New York reducing transport costs to almost zero.

    Sawyer targets, “Reforming clothing trade,” saying, “The UK’s clothing’s trade footprint is another area that needs to be looked at. Sourcing textiles for disposable fashion is incompatible with a zero-carbon world. We must therefore encourage fewer, higher quality garments produced locally or imported by shipping. As such, clothing should be designed to modify, repair and adapt which could be achieved by introducing mandatory five, ten, or 15-year guarantees or introducing a ‘Right to Repair’ with manufacturers obligated to repair. If we are to be successful in tackling climate change, we must also stop constructing things which will burn fossil fuels, such as gas power stations or gas heating systems. This could be achieved by only approving planning applications which are zero-carbon compatible, offering state support for a transition of workers and retrofitting high carbon assets.”

    Sawyer highlights the need to, “Replace GDP with wellbeing.” He says that, “In addition to transforming business, the government must change the rules of the game by replacing GDP with wellbeing, reforming the UK Treasury’s Green Book to compare greenhouse gas implications and cost, and require businesses with a turnover above £1m to have a carbon audit and ‘Road to Carbon Zero Plan’. Lastly, government subsidies to aviation must be phased out and emissions taxed to discourage consumers and incentivise manufacturers to offer low-carbon alternatives. The current global economic, trading and material system strengthens the inertia of ‘business as usual’. However, to achieve net-zero we must advocate a shift to smaller, slower and shorter global trade.” Left Foot Forward describe Ed Sawyer as, “a campaign and communications professional, podcast editor and part-time MSc student in Public Policy.”

    There is far too much emphasis in this country on profits that benefit the obscenely wealthy while the poor are abandoned to suffer and die in a crisis. Some might think me unpatriotic for not tuning in for the Queen’s speech; I consider myself a “Peaceful Patriot of the Planet” and I did not approve of ‘Betty’s bailout’ announced back in September. In the Independent Article entitled, “Queen to receive government ‘bailout’ to top up income after Crown Estate hit by economic slump,” they commented that, “This royal bailout will be tough to stomach for people who love the Queen but have lost their jobs,’ says Tax Justice UK.” They said that, “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.”

    “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 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. 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’.”

    Andrew Adonis Tweeted: “On the fall in royal income this year under the Sovereign Grant paid from the Crown Estate, it is important to note that those same arrangements led to a big profit for the monarchy every previous year in the last decade. There is no case for a bailout this year.” The Independent report that, “Any profits made by the Crown Estate are passed to the Treasury which, in turn, hands 25 per cent of the profits back to the Queen through the sovereign grant. However, the Crown Estate announced last week a fall in the value of its rental portfolio by £55m to £13.4bn – a drop of 1.2 per cent. An agreement with the Treasury means the estate has begun making ‘staggered’ revenue payments to the government. Dan Labbad, the Crown Estate’s chief executive, said: ‘The current economic and market disruption has led us to take the precaution, with the agreement of the Treasury, of implementing a staged process for the payment of the whole of our net revenue profit’.” I’ll fetch my violin!

    For this Tory Government, despite her vast residual wealth, bailing out the Queen during this time of national crisis was prioritized while hungry children were left to starve. Food for thought as you tune in to watch that speech: there’s good reason her majesty has made it to the ripe old age of 94, she hasn’t had to suffer the grinding poverty experienced by an ever growing number of her ‘subjects.’ Life expectancy in deprived areas of the UK is considerably lower than for our privileged monarch, but rough sleeper’s die at less than half her age. Bail-out for the Queen, rent arrears and foodbanks for the masses; when are the British people going to demand an end to this obscene inequality? The Brexit shambles spells more disaster, ‘lev…up’ I will not utter that vile lie. The shockingly corrupt use of public funds is enough to demand prompt removal of this Tory Government from office, even without an Investigation to expose the fraud of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. Covid has exacerbated cruel extremes so we must reset our priorities: Get The Tories Out! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #63870 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Those who now have access to our ‘deal’ with the EU are judiciously scrutinizing the document the PM produced in a flurry of effusive PR spin on Christmas Eve. The London Economic’s Jack Peat sums up our, “Reaction as Boris Johnson says trade deal is his Xmas present for the country ‘Well, in that case, I’d like to return it’. Boris Johnson has used a festive message to the nation to urge people to read the new Brexit trade deal after Christmas lunch on Friday. The Prime Minister posted a video on Twitter in which he brandished the document, which has not been released in full yet, and at one point punched the air with enthusiasm at its contents. Mr Johnson said: ‘Tonight, on Christmas Eve, I have a small present for anyone who may be looking for something to read in that sleepy post-Christmas lunch moment, and here it is, tidings, glad tidings of great joy because this is a deal. ‘A deal to give certainty to business, travellers, and all investors in our country from January 1. A deal with our friends and partners in the EU’.”

    Did he really have to make us feel so ill before we had the chance to become well ‘braced’ with celebratory plonk? But he had to bring it up, “You remember the oven ready deal by which we came out on January 31, that oven ready deal was just the start, this is the feast, full of fish, by the way.” He tried hard to project his delusional positivity saying, “I believe it will be the basis of a happy and successful and stable partnership with our friends in the EU for years to come. So, that’s it, that’s the good news from Brussels now for the sprouts, and a happy Christmas to you all’.” It hit us with a thud, cold, hard, Brexit, like stale leftovers lurking at the back of the fridge; not at all appetizing. Peat reported that, “Before posting the video, Mr Johnson hailed the deal as a new beginning after securing the agreement before the UK’s final break with Brussels on New Year’s Eve.”

    Peat reported that “Reaction elsewhere has hardly been complementary,” and he shared a few of the best. Peter Stefanovic Tweeted: “At the risk of repeating myself it’s cost the country £200bn, robbed British citizens of free movement, stripped our youth of the enrichment of Erasmus & made every one but your millionaire chums poorer for years to come. That’s some ‘gift’.” But my favorite Tweet was from, Remoaning Myrtle #FBPE @TheAndyMaturin “This is the shittest Christmas gift I’ve ever received, and my brother once gave me a toilet brush.” Well that probably sums up the disgust of half the country so why are we prepared to choke down more Tory pain and suffering? The extreme level of corruption over the squandering of public money including to pay for defaming the opposition in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election has already been exposed even before an Investigation into how the Tories stole a ‘landslide victory’ after an abysmal election campaign. We cannot continue ignoring illegal practice scandals!

    In the London Economic Article entitled, “Brexit trade deal ‘isn’t far off a no deal’ think tank warns – There is no country in the world that will be subject to as many export rules to us as the UK,” Jack Peat relays the dismal news of our last ditch reprive from crashing-out if the EU on WTO Terms. He says the, “Think tank IPPR has warned that the Brexit trade deal struck at the 11th hour ‘isn’t far off a no deal’ and will introduce major barriers to trade. Boris Johnson hailed the historic trade deal struck with the EU as a ‘new beginning’ for Britain that resolves the European question that has ‘bedevilled’ British politics for generations. Following months of negotiations, an agreement was finally struck on Christmas Eve between the two sides with the Prime Minister subsequently announcing the UK had ‘taken back control’ of its future. But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer branded it a ‘thin’ deal – even though he admitted his party would back it in a vote, which is expected to take place in the Commons next week.”

    Peat reports that, “Marley Morris, IPPR Associate Director for Immigration, Trade and EU Relations, said: ‘For a deal with the UK’s closest neighbour and largest trading partner, this agreement is remarkably weak. In many respects this agreement isn’t far off a no deal. Crucially, this deal will not prevent the introduction of major trade barriers between the UK and the EU in one week’s time. While undoubtedly better than a no deal outcome, this deal offers little in critical areas of trade, including on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, on financial services, and on technical barriers to trade. Despite the Prime Minister’s claim that there will be ‘no non-tariff barriers to trade’, new customs and regulatory controls are set to kick in on January 1st which are likely to cause considerable disruption. ‘Even where the deal offers benefits through maintaining tariff-free trade, it is not clear whether businesses will have time to prepare to meet ‘rules of origin’ requirements and so may end up being forced to pay tariffs in any case’.”

    Peat notes that, “Scrutiny of the Brexit trade agreement with the European Union has begun after the full document was published less than a week before it is due to be implemented. Both sides published the treaty running at up to 1,255 pages on the morning of Boxing Day, as Boris Johnson works to persuade Eurosceptic Tories to back it as the ‘right deal’ for the country. The Prime Minister acknowledged “the devil is in the detail” but insisted it would stand up to inspection from the European Research Group (ERG) of Brexiteers, who will assemble a panel of lawyers to examine the full text. His message to Tory MPs came as the EU’s 27 member states indicated they will formally back the deal agreed by the UK with Brussels’ officials within days.”

    Peat reports that, “EU ambassadors were briefed on the contents of the deal by Michel Barnier, who led Brussels’ negotiating team in the talks with the UK. After a highly unusual meeting on Christmas Day – with at least one diplomat wearing a Santa hat and another in a festive jumper, they agreed to write to the European Parliament to say they intend to take a decision on the provisional application of the deal. The timing of the Christmas Eve deal forced politicians and officials in the UK and Brussels to tear up their plans. MPs and peers will be called back to Westminster on December 30 to vote on the deal, but MEPs are not expected to approve it until the new year, meaning it will have to apply provisionally until they give it the green light. The agreement will almost certainly be passed by Parliament, with Labour supporting it, as the alternative would be a chaotic no-deal situation on January 1.”

    Peat says that, “Mr Johnson is keen to retain the support of the Eurosceptics on his benches who helped him reach No 10. On Saturday, Conservative former Cabinet minister Theresa Villiers told BBC Breakfast: ‘I very much hope this treaty stands up to scrutiny and I hope to be able to support it. ‘But I was elected on a manifesto which promised to get Brexit done so I need to read (the document) before I can work out whether this actually enables us to do that or whether it traps us in the regulatory orbit of the European Union. I truly believe this is the right deal for the UK and the EU’ Mr Johnson messaged Tory MPs on WhatsApp as he tried to get them all on side. ‘I truly believe this is the right deal for the UK and the EU’,” he wrote. “We have delivered on every one of our manifesto commitments: control of money, borders, laws, fish and all the rest. “But even more important, I believe we now have a basis for long-term friendship and partnership with the EU as sovereign equals.”

    According to Peat, “He added that ‘I know the devil is in the detail’ but the deal will survive ‘ruthless’ scrutiny from the ‘star chamber legal eagles’. The ‘star chamber’ is the nickname given to the panel assembled by the ERG, including veteran Eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash. Cabinet minister Michael Gove, writing in The Times, said the deal will create a new ‘special relationship’ – a term usually used to refer to UK-US links – and end the ‘ugly’ politics since the 2016 Brexit referendum. No country in the world will be subject to as many export rules to us as the UK. Officials in Brussels and the capitals of EU states are also beginning to scrutinise the deal, with another meeting of ambassadors expected before the new year, possibly on December 28.”

    Peat reports that, “The European Commission has also announced a £4.5 billion fund to help regions and industries within the bloc which will be hit by the UK’s withdrawal from the single market and customs union – including fishing communities who face losing out as the UK takes a greater share of stock in British waters. French Europe minister Clement Beaune said it was a ‘good agreement’ and stressed the EU had not accepted a deal ‘at all costs’. He told broadcaster Europe 1 ‘we needed an agreement less than the British’ as ‘for them, it was a vital need’. Mr Beaune said British food and industrial products entering the European single market after January 1 will not pay customs duties ‘but will have to meet all our standards. There is no country in the world that will be subject to as many export rules to us as the UK,’ he said.”

    Peat said that,“Mr Johnson used his Christmas message to sell the deal to a public weary of Brexit after years of acrimonious wrangling since the referendum. ‘Glad tidings of great joy’ Brandishing a sheaf of papers he said it offered ‘glad tidings of great joy’. The deal covers trade worth about £660 billion and means goods can be sold without tariffs or quotas in the EU market. The share of fish in British waters that the UK can catch will rise from about half now to two-thirds by the end of the five-and-a-half-year transition. At a Downing Street press conference on Christmas Eve, Mr Johnson said ‘we will as a result of this deal be able to catch and eat quite prodigious quantities of extra fish’, with £100 million for the industry to modernise and expand. But Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, said there will be ‘frustration and anger’ across the industry, telling the PA news agency: “In the end it was clear that Boris Johnson wanted an overall trade deal and was willing to sacrifice fishing.”

    In the London Economic Article entitled, “Army drafted in as thousands of hauliers remain stuck in Kent,” Jack Peat reveals the Irony as, “Barry Sheerman said it was a shame that the PM nor any members of his cabinet didn’t have the courage to pay them a visit. Thousands of international lorry drivers will spend Boxing Day in their cabs after almost a week of disruption at the English Channel border. Around 3,000 hauliers were still waiting to cross into France from Kent on Friday evening despite hundreds of troops being drafted in to help clear the backlog. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said, while 4,500 lorries had crossed the channel since French authorities eased restrictions on Wednesday, more vehicles were continuing to arrive ‘every hour’.”

    Peat reports that, “France closed its border last Sunday following the discovery of a fast-spreading mutant Covid-19 strain in the UK, causing severe disruptions at the Port of Dover. Drivers wishing to enter the country from the UK must now show proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken in the past 72 hours. Some 1,100 military personnel have since been deployed to Kent to help test hauliers queued at the nearby Manston Airport, on a closed section of the M20, and in the town of Dover itself. Some drivers have already spent nearly a week stranded due to the diplomatic impasse.”

    Peat relays the mammoth task ahead, saying, “Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said more than 10,000 Covid-19 tests have been carried out so far, of which 24 returned a positive result. He said: ‘The British Army is again showing why it is world class, ramping up testing and feeding hauliers stranded by the Covid restrictions, while helping oversee the operation in Kent. ‘But let’s not forget the tireless effort of the police, civilian testers, council planners and port and ferry workers. These thousands of people, military and civilians, have given up their Christmas to help drivers separated from their loved ones through no fault of their own’.” The PM and his Tory Ministers are great at praising those who step in to clear up their repeated shambolic messes… as long as they don’t expect a pay rise! “However Labour MP Barry Sheerman tweeted: ‘Thousands of truck drivers stranded in dire circumstances at Dover & the Prime Minister nor any member of his cabinet with the courage to pay them a visit on Christmas Day #ShameonYou’.”

    Peat continues saying, “Army personnel had tested more than 6,200 drivers as of Christmas Day, while also being tasked with distributing food and water, the MoD said. Traffic was moving smoothly through Dover on Friday, with French firefighters and the Polish military’s Territorial Defence Force also drafted in to help with testing. Poland has codenamed its operation Zumbach, after the Polish Second World War pilot Jan Zumbach, who fought for the allies in the Battle of Britain, the country’s UK embassy said. Germany’s ambassador to the UK, Andreas Michaelis, said some German hauliers had managed to make it home for Christmas, while others remained in Kent. He tweeted: ‘Some of the German lorry drivers we’ve been in touch with are on their way home or at home already. Others sadly remain stuck. “I sincerely hope things will start moving for them soon. This is a difficult Christmas. Our thoughts are with them’.”

    Peat reports how, “Various individuals and organisations have volunteered to help the stranded drivers by providing them with food and drink. Mubashir Ahmad Siddiqi, 60, and his two 20-year-old sons Qasim and Hamza, from Barking in east London, spent six hours helping to prepare 1,000 portions of chicken biryani on Friday for those stuck in Kent. Mr Siddiqi said: ‘Ten of us from the Ahmadiyya Muslim community and the Ahmadiyya Muslim youth association managed to drop off over 1,000 meals, 1,200 chocolate bars and drinks for the lorry drivers.’ He added: ‘It’s a great feeling to be able to help those who are alone at the moment and we hope that through our humble efforts we were able to cheer them up with the food packages.’ HM Coastguard said its teams in the Dover area had also delivered 3,000 hot meals, 600 pizzas, 2,985 packed lunches and 17 pallets of water to those waiting. The MoD said 800 additional soldiers were deployed on Friday as part of Operation Rose to support the 300 personnel already there.”

    In another London Economic Article entitled, “Polish forces and French firefighters muck in to clear Kent lorry backlog,” Jack Peat notes ironically how, “The day after the UK decided we don’t need Europe we get French firemen and Polish territories to assist with Covid testing.” He says, “French firefighters and the Polish military’s Territorial Defence Force have been drafted in to help clear the backlog of lorries at the border in Kent. In a show of international solidarity more than 10,000 coronavirus tests were carried out in a bid to clear the hauliers waiting to cross the English Channel on Christmas Day. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said about 4,500 trucks had crossed the channel as of Friday afternoon, but added that more vehicles continue to arrive ‘every hour’. Drivers are required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test before entering France, resulting in long queues.”

    The Tweets were scathing, Jason J Hunter (Not a noble Lord) @JJHTweets “Quite crazy that @BorisJohnson only announced his great new deal last night and less than 24 hours later the UK has Polish troops and French firemen providing humanitarian aid to thousands of people in Kent.” Polish Embassy UK @PolishEmbassyUK, “Military personnel of the Territorial Defence Force @terytorialsi arrived in the to support #COVID19 testing of stranded track drivers at the border & assist with food distribution. #StrongerTogether.” Mike Bazaluk @mbazaluk “brilliant the day UK decided we don’t need Europe, we get German food air lift, French firemen and polish territorials to assist covid testing, baling out the Dover farce, rubbish government #thankyo.” A fine example of how the plucky Brits “took back control,” but I doubt it will embarrass the PM or his Brexiteer chums, they are too busy squandering public funds. One person said, “They received cereal bars from local authorities…shocking! Thanks to EU partners!”

    But other desperate people all over the UK were also quing for enough food to get their impoverished families through Christmes. In the London Economic Article entitled, “‘Dickensian’ pictures show long queues at food banks over Christmas,” Jack Peat weighs in saying, “I don’t know how to describe it – it took the wind out of your sails. It’s just shocking to see so many people really in such deprivation.” He says, “Pictures of long queues outside food banks this Christmas have been labelled ‘Dickensian’ by social media users. People waited in the rain outside Newcastle’s West End Foodbank to make sure they had enough provisions over the festive period.”

    Peat says, “Saddened by the scenes, branch CO CEO John McCorry asked for one of the volunteers to take a picture of it, later talking to the Chronicle to express his dismay. ‘I came up the road to work and it was just shocking to see the numbers coming out of Benwell. I don’t know how to describe it, it took the wind out of your sails. It’s just shocking to see so many people really in such deprivation. When I saw the number of people in the rain I just thought, oh my God. I just felt sorry for the people who needed to come here to queue to make sure they have a decent Christmas meal.’ He said another sobering thought was that people hadn’t just turned up there but had been referred to them by another charity or organisation and given a voucher for an emergency food parcel. It was the biggest queue he had seen at the foodbank, McCorry said, adding that the Coronavirus pandemic had contributed as it has had a disproportionate impact on low income households and families living in poverty.”

    Peat reports that, “In November the foodbank, run by the Trussell Trust charity, honored 1,600 vouchers and issued food parcels that fed 4,404 people. This number is up significantly on the same period last year and December is proving even busier, he said. In all 32,000 people were beneficiaries of food parcels issued in the 12 months to March 2020.” The British public better get used to queing as even as the backlog of trucks clears hauliers may be seriously reluctant to take on more deliveries to the UK until the Brits get their post-Brexit act together and there could be shortages. All of this chaos and extreme hardship was avoidable with proper governance so why scandal after money squandering scandal are we ignoring the obvious: this corrupt Tory Government must be removed from office ASAP before more people die due to their shambolic handling of the Covid crisis. We must demand a complete reset in this country or its poorest citizens will again be forced to pay through austerity for repeated Tory mistakes. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #63911 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    It seems this rotten Tory Government just cannot resist taking yet another malicious swipe at the youth of this country; does Boris Johnson and his corrupt cabal have a personal vendetta against young people? The opportunities stolen, the colossal hardship that lies ahead, the immense suffering levied on even the very youngest and most vulnerable in our society who go to school hungry: with their unconscionable decisions the Tory legacy of greed and shame should hang around their necks like the Ancient Mariner’s albatross. The compliant media habitually repeat his disgusting, deliberately dishonest lie; this vile PM has no intention of ‘lev…up’ so I will not repeat his words here. The horrendous impact as Tory policy starts their real agenda of ‘Decimating Down’, that has begun already with selective targeting of lockdowns, a renewed ‘harrowing of the north;’ it is destined to continue with the public sector pay freeze a clear demonstration indicating who will be forced to pay for all the relentless Tory squandering of public funds.

    The Acadamization of our schools has already transformed our UK education system into a network of dysfunctional privatised profiteering conglomerates that syphon off vital education funds with obscene salaries paid to CEOs while parents are expected to ‘chip in’ to cover the basics. The devolved administrations still cover the cost of ‘EMA’ the Education Maintenance Allowance of £30 a week, a scheme to encourage children to stay on at school, but in England this was axed by the Tories who still prioritize total ignorance for the working poor. It was recently announced that the highly successful Union Learning Fund, that’s advanced the careers of millions of ordinary workers throughout this country for decades, will be scrapped; Tories don’t like the word ‘Union!’ Now with Brexit comes another crippling blow for our young people as the UK is wrenched out of the Erasmus program that not only supports academic further education in other EU countries it is continuing to expand to include multiple areas of skills training.

    While some apprentice programs in this country are extremely well run, lumped in under the same general category of apprentice are a massive number of fake training programs that are little more that a shallow excuse to extort slave labour out of young people who can be paid as little as £4.15 an hour, even less than the already diminished minimum under 20 youth wage of £6.45. This relies on the support of parents, and the necessity to sacrifice independence and remain living at home, as such low wages do not allow any other option. Where such ‘trapped dependency is not possible due to lack of support, training cannot be considered. However, job roles that in the past never required a period of ‘training’ for shop assistant and serving ‘skills’ now qualify for this ‘exploitership scam.’ A study by think tank EDSK found that, “£235 million of levy funding has been used to deliver various ‘low-skill and generic jobs’ that are now counted as an apprenticeship, including working on a shop checkout and serving drinks in a bar.”

    The BBC News Article entitled, “Warning over ‘fake’ apprenticeship courses” they say that, “Half of apprenticeship courses in England have been accused of being ‘fake’ by an education think tank. The EDSK report says the apprenticeship levy – paid by big employers – is being used on low-skilled jobs or relabelling existing posts, rather than training. Tom Richmond, the think tank’s director, said the apprenticeship scheme was ‘descending into farce’. But a Department for Education spokeswoman defended apprenticeships as becoming ‘better quality’. The apprenticeship levy is paid by large employers, who contribute 0.5% of their salary bill into the training fund. But since 2017, the report claims £1.2bn from the levy has been spent on jobs “offering minimal training and low wages” or on “rebadging” jobs already offered by employers as apprenticeships. In its first full year of operation, the levy raised £2.7bn and this is expected to rise to £3.4bn by 2023-24.”

    BBC News say that, “Apprenticeship spending is too often used on ‘existing adult workers instead of supporting young people into the workplace’, the report warns. The education think tank says there is an insufficiently clear definition of what an apprenticeship should offer, so much so that the ‘brand itself has arguably become a meaningless concept’. It describes 50% of apprenticeship courses since 2017 as ‘fake’, saying they do not ‘relate to helping young people get started in a skilled job or occupation’. The think tank’s analysis says that £235m of the levy has been used to support ‘low-skill’ roles, such as bar staff, shop checkout workers and those in ‘basic office administration’. A further £551m has been used by firms for management training, with the report claiming this was often used for experienced staff rather than new recruits and could include the ‘rebadging’ of existing schemes.” The DfE said to meet compliance an apprenticeship must last “for a minimum of 12 months with at least 20% off-the-job training.”

    This corrupt Tory Government have abandoned the very highly regarded Erasmus student exchange program claiming it will be replaced by a new scheme, which no doubt they will be heralding as “world beating.” Following the abysmal Tory track record in other ventures for squandering public funds on obscene private profiteering and gross mismanagement, this scheme is likely to cast shame on the brilliant man it will be named after: Alan Turing. In the Guardian Article entitled, “UK students lose Erasmus membership in Brexit deal, they say the, “Europe-wide scheme will be replaced with UK scheme named after computing pioneer Alan Turing. 1,890 Students and young people from Britain will no longer take part in the Europe-wide Erasmus exchange programme after the UK failed to reach agreement over its post-Brexit membership. Boris Johnson said the UK would instead establish its own scheme with ‘the best universities in the world’, to be named after the British computing pioneer Alan Turing.”

    The Guardian report that, “Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said the government ‘decided not to participate in the Erasmus exchange programme’ after the two sides were unable to agree on the cost of Britain’s continued membership. The omission of Erasmus from the UK-EU deal ends a scheme that had offered student exchanges as well as school links, work experience and apprenticeships across Europe since 1987. Under the latest version of the scheme, Erasmus+, around 200,000 people have taken part including around 15,000 British university students each year. Adam Tickell, the vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex, said: ‘Leaving Erasmus is a real sadness, a scheme whose original foundations were laid at Sussex. Over the years the Erasmus programme transformed the lives of thousands of young people’.” But Boris could’t see the profit it it for his chums so he just threw it under the bus.

    According to the Guardian, “In January, Johnson assured MPs there was ‘no threat to the Erasmus scheme.” Nine months ago in the Guardian Article entitled, “Quitting EU Erasmus scheme would ‘blow a hole’ in UK economy,” they warned that, “Education and business leaders point to lost income for country and opportunities for students.” They stated that, “Quitting the EU’s Erasmus student exchange programme would ‘blow a hole’ in the UK’s economy, taking away income of £243m a year and depriving 17,000 British young people of valuable work experience, according to a group of education and business leaders. The group, including further education colleges and universities, is calling for the British government to make clear that continued Erasmus membership is a high priority in its talks with the EU. Britain’s membership of the EU-wide exchange scheme known as Erasmus+ is to expire at the end of this year, alongside membership of the EU.” Sadly our ‘tin eared’ Tory Government simply wasn’t listening.

    According to the Guardian even back then, “The government’s negotiating outline offered scant hope of continued full membership, saying only that it ‘will consider options for participation in elements of Erasmus+ on a time-limited basis, provided the terms are in the UK’s interests’. Universities UK International (UUKI), the umbrella group representing higher education providers, said membership of Erasmus gave a bonus to the British economy worth £243m a year, after subtracting membership costs from the £420m generated by EU students visiting the UK under the programme. It also said the 17,000 British students and young people who use Erasmus for work placements and study would also lose out, particularly students from disadvantaged backgrounds who would struggle to fund their travel and expenses without it.”

    The Guardian report, “Joe Fitzsimons, the head of education and skills policy at the Institute of Directors, said: ‘Many employers deeply value the kind of international experience the Erasmus scheme helps foster. Given the benefits it can bring students and businesses, maintaining access to Erasmus and wider EU research and education partnerships has been a priority for the IoD from the off.’ Emma Meredith, international director at the Association of Colleges (AoC), representing further education, said its data showed 85% of colleges were using Erasmus+ to find work placements that were not available with local employers, particularly for students in vocational subjects such as construction and social care. ‘For college students in some of the most deprived parts of the country, Erasmus+ helps to level up opportunity, experience and aspiration as well as ensuring that we are viewed as an open, tolerant and welcoming country to the rest of the world,’ she said.”

    But the decision to bail on Erasmus will hurt the PMs favorite target, ‘Decimating Down’ on the poorest and most deprived young people in the UK. The Guardian revealed that, “An AoC survey found more than 90% of colleges would be unable to fund work placements for further education students if Erasmus is not extended or replaced. The director of UUKI, Vivienne Stern, said: ‘We know that disadvantaged and disabled students have the most to gain from an international experience. They will be the students who will lose the most if Erasmus+ falls by the wayside. ‘Yet I am worried that government isn’t committed to keeping the UK in Erasmus. Now is the time to commit to this unique programme that boosts not only students’ prospects, but those of businesses and the economy.’ The Department for Education has previously said the government ‘is committed to continuing the academic relationship between the UK and the EU, including through the next Erasmus+ programme if it is in our interests to do so’.”

    Back then the Guardian warned that, “The UK’s post-Brexit membership of Erasmus is likely to hinge on the EU’s stance on the cost of continuing membership, and whether the EU ties it to another top priority: continued access for UK universities to the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme, which is worth billions of euros. Losing access to either the Horizon or Erasmus programmes would be a further blow for universities struggling with student recruitment difficulties, including potentially huge losses in international tuition fees caused by the coronavirus disruption.” Ultimately this shortfall in revenue will result in yet another increase in tuition fees for UK students who already pay some of the highest tuition costs in the world.

    The Guardian revealed that, “A new report by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) also suggests that the UK government will struggle to meet its targets for national research spending if universities suffer cuts to domestic or international fee income. ‘If the UK university sector is to continue thriving, then it is crucial that the chancellor recognises the interdependencies between teaching and research in the budget and subsequent spending review,’ said Nick Hillman, the HEPI’s director and the author of the report. ‘Universities roughly break even on teaching home students but make a big loss on research. They fill in part of that gap from the surplus on teaching international students. But they now face a looming large loss on teaching home students, for example because of tweaks to tuition fees in England. If that happens, they will have to use international student fees to subsidise home students and there will be less money for covering gaps in research funding’.”

    For those seeking higher education, the LibDem Leader’s broken promise of ‘Free Tuition’ morphed into a huge burden of student debt as tuition fees soared under the Coalition Government. They are now over £9000 a year and rising, but Scottish students are spared this expense. Student Halls run by powerful property management companies add to the massive debt incurred just to get a degree. In 2020 the average rent was £126 per week, or £547 a month, but for students in London it was £182 a week, or £640 a month. Multiply that monthly amount by the six students who will be paying to share, so, £3282 or £3840 in London, and you can see why this cost is extortionate for what is very basic communal accommodation with a shared kitchen, but not a shared lounge. When students, offered “blended learning” at Universities all over the country, were then trapped in Halls due to Covid, but unable to break their 39-week contract to complete their remote learning at home, they felt very angry about being conned and exploited.

    Tories removed the NHS Bursaries, creating a disgraceful situation where training to become a Nurse, Midwife, Paramedic or ODP required taking on that huge student debt while working an intensive 37.5hour a week totally unpaid apprenticeship! Study is on top of that work commitment in placement, which leaves zero time for earning money to supplement living expenses. A Government Petition was posted to, “Ensure Student Nurses are paid whilst on placement.” It requests: “Provide pay whilst student nurses are working on placement to earn a living for their family and increase mental well-being as working with covid19 for free is detrimental to the future nursing workforce. Without pay, nursing students are giving up, they don’t feel valued and barely have any time to work around the course to support their children or families. They have so many assignments on top of work life that they need payment during placement just to earn a living. To increase mental well-being and to ensure the nursing workforce remains stable.”

    When the NHS refused to recognize my US qualification I was expected to retrain as an Operating Department Practitioner (ODP). At that time tuition fees were paid and you could just about squeak by on the NHS Bursary that was then around £6500 a year. The NHS Bursary, for which certain healthcare students were eligible, was what the Tory Government decided to eliminate despite the shortage of staff in all NHS specialty areas. However, due to intense pressure on staffing caused by Covid they had to relent. “The Government has announced that from September 2020 new and existing students studying this course will be eligible to receive a non-repayable grant of at least £5,000 each year. Further information is available on the Government’s website.” The clinical hours required for ODPs vary over the course, but average out at 1061 hours per year, so that £5000 grant represents a concession to paying students £4.71 an hour during their 37.5 hour clinical practice weeks. The Government’s full response to the Petition was:

    “The Government recognises and fully appreciates the challenges that those studying to be nurses face. The Covid-19 pandemic has been unprecedented and healthcare students have been a key part of the phenomenal NHS response. Back in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic, the Government anticipated a reduced NHS capacity to support students on clinical placements and a need to increase the workforce capacity. As a result of this, arrangements were quickly made to give all nursing students the choice to opt-in to a paid placement. The response to this initiative was overwhelming, and the Government is truly grateful for the efforts and sacrifices made by healthcare students in these challenging times. Since the initiation of the opt-in paid placements, the Government was clear that this was a temporary arrangement, and that at the appropriate time, non-paid placements would resume. As planned, most paid clinical placements have now concluded, and the appropriate transition arrangements have been agreed for all students.

    The Government greatly values healthcare students and fully appreciate that students need the opportunity to learn and develop their skills in a safe clinical environment. As part of their education programme, all nursing students are required to complete practice placements. Students are a valuable part of their teams and make a real difference to the patients that they care for, and this has been even more true during this pandemic. That said, students in clinical placements are required to be ‘supernumerary’. This means that there should be protections in place for student nurses so that they are an addition to the normal team and not employed to provide care. This ensures students have the time and support necessary to learn. The Government acknowledges and appreciates the unique characteristics of healthcare courses and greatly values the contribution that student nurses make to the NHS.

    That is why the Government introduced the new, non-repayable, training grant of at least £5000 per academic year in September 2020, for all eligible new and continuing pre-registration nursing, midwifery and most allied health profession students studying at English universities. A further £3,000 is available to support eligible students studying in hard to recruit areas or those studying a specialist’s subject as well as support for childcare costs. This new grant of between £5-£8k is in addition to maintenance and tuition fee loans provided by the Students Loan Company. An additional £1000 for parental support allowance, Travel and Dual Accommodation Expenses (TDAE) and support for students facing financial hardship is also available through the Learning Support Fund grant introduced in 2017.This generous support package enables healthcare students to focus on their studies and placements and contributes to alleviating financial pressures students might be facing.

    We want to ensure that the NHS employment offer continues to attract, retain and reward the dedicated and compassionate staff our NHS needs and that is why, nurses and other ‘non-medical’ NHS staff are employed on the Agenda for Change (AfC) national contract. Upon completion of their studies, newly qualified nurses are usually employed on Agenda for Change Band 5, with a starting salary of nearly £25,000. We recognise that no matter the measures put in place to ensure safety and quality of learning; the nature of this virus is that it will cause inevitable disruption. The government is keen to minimise disruption and have taken a range of steps to put in place specific measures for healthcare students. These measures include ensuring that students on placement have access to broadly equitable support as for NHS staff, including being classed as essential workers for the purpose of testing, access to appropriate PPE for placement duties and access to NHS mental health support. – Department of Health and Social Care.”

    Initially this was to be limited, with the NHS Employers Website outlining an exception being made during the Covid crisis. It said, “Health Education England has issued a statement today (17 June) to provide some clarification around paid placements for student nurses and midwives who stepped up to help during the pandemic. Mark Radford, Chief Nurse, Health Education England. ‘We would like to thank all those students who were able to come forward to support the NHS at this challenging time. It has been hugely appreciated. To be clear it is absolutely untrue to suggest that student nurses and midwives are being made redundant, all student nurses and midwives are required to complete placements during their training. These placements are normally unpaid but to recognise the special circumstances and as part of the response to Covid-19 these hours have been paid and will be until the end of summer. NHS England has been provided with the funding for student salaries as part of the response to Covid’.”

    Having received comprehensive training in the US as a Surgical Tech, I felt that the University component of UK NHS programs was cursory and haphazard. Well equipped clinical practice areas on campus were barely used, leaving students unprepared for practical aspects of the training relying far too heavily on overstretched NHS staff to teach on-the-job. It will be a rude awakening for students as Covid will not allow time for ‘gauk and learn’ training. We need a serious revamp of training as well as investment, but this is not a Tory priority because their immigration agenda will accelerate the morally bankrupt policy of, ‘scavenge, exploit and deport’ to access cheap labour trained in the developing world. That is the legacy of Brexit, trample on the ambitions, hopes and dreams of our young people by killing off opportunities. This destruction and exploitation has to end, we must challenge this corrupt Tory Government and fully Investigate the Covert 2019 Rigged Election that gifted them power. Act now to: Get The Tories Out! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #63965 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    For me one of the worst consequences of Brexit will be an end to the ‘Free Movement of People,’ with the severe regression to a state of more restrictive travel than ever existed before we entered the EU. I don’t travel so much any more, but we have trapped our young people, who have literally become ‘Prisoners of Mother England,’ with greatly diminished options for any escape to the continent. They now face a dystopian nightmare situation of extreme exploitation in an economically crippled post-Brexit Britain where they cannot afford to live independently due to insecure zero hours contracts and soaring rents. I feel guilty for the part that the selfishness among many in my generation contributed to this catastrophe so I’m determined to campaign for a brighter future. Erasmus remains a shining example of what can be accomplished, but there are other avenues for democratizing free movement expanding possibilities for young and old, both rich and poor alike, through a concept I call: ‘Collaborative Circular Migration!’

    Sadly EU free movement is polluted by Corporate greed with labour moved around to maximize profits, this angered Brits as there were few examples to demonstrate how this EU policy might enrich the lives of the working poor in their struggle for survival. In the Byline Times Article entitled, “Labour Must Confront the Conservatives’ Immigration Lies Or Continue to Lose. The likes of Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and Nigel Farage will continue to capitalise politically on Labour’s unwillingness to portray immigration as a benefit to Britain,” argues Mike Buckley. “In the Summer of 2018, the commentator Stephen Bush argued that pro-Europeans were in crisis because no one would argue in favour of immigration. ‘While Labour’s Remainers sound cautious about defending the rules of the club”, he wrote, “they will struggle to make the case against Brexit and for European engagement.” Buckley agrees, noting that, “Remain’s failure to argue for the benefits of immigration and rebut Leave’s lies ceded a key issue to the populist right.”

    Buckley says that, “By the time of the EU Referendum in 2016, public concern about immigration was at an all-time high. What was true for Remainers is true for Labour now. Just as Remain allowed the Leave campaign to own the immigration issue, so Labour cedes it to the Conservatives, with the result that their narrative wins by default. The Conservatives consistently poll as the party best able to handle the country’s asylum and immigration system. Their narrative shifts the blame for poor public services, low wages and job insecurity away from the true culprits, deindustrialisation, the financial crisis and austerity, to an easily identifiable and powerless surrogate: immigrants and all that can be tied to them, including the EU, the elected elite, lawyers and judges.”

    Buckley reports that, “The Home Secretary Priti Patel’s new immigration system is the logical conclusion of this. She will restrict immigration from people without certain qualifications or below an income threshold. The pitch is that by restricting immigration to what she terms ‘skilled’ workers, the UK will benefit from the ‘brightest and the best’.” This is the morally bankrupt system I refer to as ‘Scavenge, Exploit, Deport;’ qualified professionals will be recruited from developing countries that could not afford to train them. They will come here on limited visas to work for lower salaries with no covered benefit obligation or workers rights, exploited, but uncomplaining due to the constant fear of deportation to assure their compliance with poor working conditions. This strategy is why the Tory Government little or no incentive to invest in UK training, it is just cheaper to scavenge disposable workers from overseas. Brits will learn the hard way that competing in the job market against EU Citizens with equal rights offered us far better prospects.

    Buckley sticks to the economics in faulting Patel’s immigration system, saying that, “The problem is that her system is based on lies and will fail to meet the needs of the economy. Restricting migration to skilled workers will hamper economic growth and create labour shortages in key sectors. ‘Everyone suffers when migration is switched off,’ writes Sean O’Grady, ‘higher taxes, less cash for public services, fewer people there to work in them. You will simply wait longer for the nurse to turn up, because he or she will have gone back to Portugal or Slovakia.’ This matters for our economy and public services, all the more so as the Coronavirus pandemic endures. It matters too for the Labour Party. Consistently polling behind the Conservatives on this issue hampers its ability to win power and makes it harder to give its own explanation for Britain’s crises. If Labour cannot bring itself to explain that migrants are not the culprit, it will find it hard to explain the Conservative failures of austerity, Brexit and under-investment.”

    I totally agree with Buckley on, “Creating A New Narrative,” although it shouldn’t just be limited to the immigration issue. The ultra Zionist fantisemitisim ‘rabit hole’ massivly plays into the destructive Tory nutralization of all credible Labour opposition with Captain of Capitulation, Sir Keir Starmer leading the charge! Buckley says that, “The sad truth for Labour is that failing to defend migrants is a longstanding habit. As Nesrene Malik writes, just as the right ‘exploited immigration for cynical ends’, Labour ‘made its own cynical compact with this sentiment, using it, when needed, to show its own ‘toughness’ against the devious migrant’. Under New Labour, migration became a ‘legitimate concern’ and the Government pledged to look out for ‘the indigenous population’. Gordon Brown spoke of ‘British jobs for British workers’; Ed Miliband campaigned with ‘controls on immigration’ mugs. Jeremy Corbyn accepted the premise that immigration was at best a hardship to be endured, refusing to commit to keeping free movement.”

    Buckley warns that, “The party fails to realise that if accepted wisdom is that immigration is bad for Britain only one party benefits: the Conservatives. A new narrative would be honest about the contributions migrants make to our economy and society, one that explains our need for migrant workers if public services and businesses are to thrive. There is no lack of evidence. ‘Migrant workers will be critical to the UK’s economic rebirth’ writes Personnel Today. ‘Without migrants,’ says Sean O’Grady, ‘there are fewer workers to support the old, lower tax revenues, fewer people willing to work in hospitals and care homes at affordable wages, and a generally lower level of spending in the economy, which is bad for economic growth.’ Economist Philip Inman writes how ‘study after study has shown the UK is a net gainer from migration, even the uncontrolled version courtesy of EU membership’.” This has led to immigration being referred to as a “shot in the arm for the local economy.” But an exodus of people, where we cherry-pick ‘the best and the brightest,’ has a severely detrimental and destabilizing effect.

    Buckley reports that, “COVID-19 has further highlighted how dependent the UK is on migrant labour. Our hospitals, nursing homes and farms depend on a regular supply of so-called ‘unskilled’ labour. Numbers have been dropping in anticipation of new rules, causing sectors to cry for help. Farmers describe an ‘unsustainable’ shortage of workers. Health and social care faces shortages of nurses and care workers. ‘EU nurses no longer feel welcome in Britain,’ found the London School of Economics. 22,000 had left the NHS by December 2019, a number that will only have grown since then, contributing to this year’s fears of staff shortages as we head into Winter.” Costly Nightingale facilities are closing due to lack of staff! Buckley who is director of the campaign group ‘Labour for a European Future’ says, “The alternative to forming this new narrative is to continue to allow Nigel Farage, Priti Patel and Boris Johnson to set it. Fifteen years of that has contributed to four Conservative election wins and a hard Brexit. Labour needs to step up.”

    While all of these economic realities are totally valid, sadly, I think that Buckley, along with so many other supporters of ‘EU Free Movement of People’ fail to accept; the ‘what’s in it for me’ factor. When untrustworthy, conspicuously wealthy, politicians touted the importance of immigration to our economy, those living in seriously deprived areas up north just equated their enthusiasm to more of the same ‘rich getting richer;’ policies that never benefited them. Well before the EU Referendum, as the toxic atmosphere towards ‘migrants’ was being stoked by the media, I had started looking at the whole issue in an entirely different way. My work on ‘Collaborative Circular Migration’ began following observations on a ten country ‘needs assessment of Anaesthesia care in sub-Saharan Africa’ in 2009. I saw first hand the damage that our scavenging of trained Medical personnel was doing to poorly funded Healthcare systems in struggling developing countries and I knew there had to be a better, more collaborative way forward.

    A Nurse Anesthetist I met in Blantyre helped me to formulate a workable concept. She had trained in Malawi, spent time in the UK working within our NHS and then returned home. The core principle of ‘Collaborative Circular Migration’ is that it does not create winners and losers; it’s designed to be mutually beneficial to both people and Governments, both here and overseas. If we consider foreign Medical personnel adequately trained to join our NHS, then why not sponsor the training of UK students in stable countries overseas where it is cheaper to live and more affordable to train. We could use funds from our Foreign Aid Budget to improve the Hospital facilities where they would be trained by local practitioners who had spent time working in our NHS. The student cohort would be 50/50 British students paired with local students during training to create a strong bond that might endure throughout their professional careers. Local students could be sponsored with Foreign Aid funds with a commitment to a number of years service.

    You must be thinking, why would that matter a hoot to an unemployed lad from Sunderland? Well, that was just the very start of my concept for ‘Collaborative Circular Migration.’ How do you demonstrate any tangible benefits of the free movement to people in depressed areas where jobs are scarce, cash is tight due to Tory austerity and they can’t even afford a package tour to Benidorm? They voted for Brexit. It is entirely possible, and eminently affordable, to create mutually beneficial programs that do not just move cheap labour into this country, but offer opportunities for all, rich and poor alike, beyond the borders of the UK. Our young people should not be trapped unable to afford to leave home, while exploited by companies in slave labour fake ‘apprenterships’ that teach nothing, but common sense service skills. Foreign competition offering real skills with an opportunity for independent living, room and board plus a stipend would be more attractive, thus forcing UK exploiterships to shut down due to lack of participants.

    Just as the Erasmus program is expanding from University tuition to a more comprehensive set of skills training options we must embrace the potential for training overseas. If it’s more cost effective to train plumbers in Poland why aren’t we setting this up? But what if little Johnny doesn’t speak Polish? He might be a UK born son of Polish parents, but if that’ not the case, despite the disaster of Brexit, it’s not too late for our Government to sponsor training abroad and if it’s properly funded there will be people ready to set up worthwhile programs even if that requires teaching our trainees in English. If you doubt that this is possible, I can report that the Medical school in Lviv in the Ukraine has been successfully training foreign Medical students in English to meet UK and US Medical qualifications for well over two decades! Beginning in 1961 the University provided education to foreign citizens. In1997 teaching of foreign students in English was launched and now 70% of the University’s foreign students study in English.

    If there is Government approval and adequate funding to meet genuine training requirements, businesses will develop to supply that demand. Why should a ‘Gap Year’ be the exclusive privilege of wealthy college students? If a school leaver has few prospects beyond the perpetual insecurity of zero hours contracts subsidized by our benefit system, surely a stint overseas would offer an inspirational option? The programs already set up in developing countries bring much needed revenue to impoverished regions of the developing world. For young people, there is the enticement of independence and adventure, but some Gap year students go on to design new products or set up their own business. It would be more cost effective to support an out of work person overseas and it allows a valuable time to reset and realize that there are people who are a lot worse off in this world. Again this needs to be constructed as a win, win program where all participating countries and applicants benefit and there are no victims or losers.

    When our Government encouraged EU migrants to come to the UK there was a distinct and very concerning age imbalance due to our rapidly increasing elerly population. The influx of foreign workers helped to even out that imbalance so that new contributors were paying into our tax system. But understandably, you cannot increase the size of the population without also increasing the services to support them. Not that they have ever demonstrated a disproportionate burden on the state, in fact quite the opposite, but they do need access to a doctor and of course they wanted to send their children to school. Instead of using their contributions in taxes to increase the capacity of local services, the UK squandered their input on an illegal foreign war that these new migrants had no say over. As we oust more EU nationals to appease the Brexiteers, our ageing society with fewer taxpayers to support the elderly will become a problem, especially if those now living in Spain feel forced through economic necessity to return to the UK.

    Thankfully there is a ‘Collaborative Circular Migration’ alternative to combat this dilemma, supporting pensioners who wish to retire abroad to encourage them to do so. Right now there are significant disincentives that make no financial sense at all, like the frozen pension payments that apply to most countries outside the EU. Even if the pension is uprated, other benefits that a pensioner may be entitled to in the UK, like housing benefit, pension credit, disability benefits and PIP, are removed if they move abroad, despite the fact that these benefits would cost less overseas. If the UK could set up an arrangement with foreign countries, both within and beyond the EU, that guaranteed UK responsibility for all eligible pensioners, many nations would be competing for the opportunity to care for our elderly. Why? This would provide secure revenue and local jobs. For struggling EU countries like Greece it would provide a no penalty financial bailout; in Spain it would provide occupancy for complexes abandoned during the financial crash.

    I want people to visit the UK to experience life here, not to escape destitutation in their own country; jobs created abroad reduce the poverty that drives migration, but what would be the benefit to people here in the UK? While not all pensioners would want to move abroad, it would be a truly universal benefit if the choice to do so didn’t require wealth or a really fat pension pot. For those who were liberated to make this choice, aside from freeing up much needed housing space, their departure would take logistical pressure off our NHS and Care services and, although our Government would still be responsible for paying for these services overseas, it would probably cost less than here in the UK. The Covid crisis will leave huge numbers of people unemployed and we should take this opportunity to reevaluate job roles and retirement. No doubt more people will continue working from home, but our retirement should be a gradual step down from more active roles to more experienced mentorship roles working fewer hours.

    For this next component of Collaborative Circular Migration it is necessary to consider the fundamental purpose of our Foreign Aid. A priority objective should be to stabilize Developing nations by helping to decrease poverty and increase financial independence. We often fail to accomplish this task. A large amount of Foreign Aid money is totally wasted on supporting highly paid functionaries who produce assessments that are never actioned. I witnessed this first hand out in Indonesia after the Boxing Day tsunami where so much of the relief funding was squandered on pampering Aid workers. Seconded to Cut Nyak Dhien Hospital, I was impressed by a thorough WHO funded assessment, but it was produced, filed then ignored while I had to beg NGOs for basic Medical supplies and equipment for the only Hospital left standing in Meulaboh, Aceh. Whether it was my influence or not, I just discovered online that one of the teams I approached, the Singapore Red Cross, did finally step in to totally renovate and upgrade that Hospital.

    Although I think a good deal of Foreign Aid money is misspent, I was deeply saddened by the ruthless Tory Government decision to reduce the percentage of our GDP committed to this important priority. Since Covid has reduced our GDP it would already have amounted to less just when the diverse foreign diaspora working in this country to send Remittance money overseas will be too cash strapped to make such payments. This Remittance money far outstrips what we spend on Foreign Aid and it filters into the homes of impoverished families where it can achieve the maximum positive impact. This observation is perhaps key to spending our overseas Aid budget more wisely in future. Money paid to a family is spent wisely; it pays for a child to go to school, funds vital medical care or buys necessary tools for farming or work. The funding of agencies in developing countries allows their Government to divert money from a priority sector, like Healthcare or education, into defence spending or it might be partially lost to corruption.

    There are ways in which our funding can target individuals, filtering down into communities to provide the security that eliminates the need for a desperate escape from the relentless poverty that spurs social unrest. Migration from developing countries is more beneficial to that country if it’s a temporary departure for an opportunity to work and acquire capital that is then invested back into that country. There are work sectors here in the UK where we still require unskilled labour, so why not create a special type of ‘Earn, Learn and Return’ (ELR) visa for temporary periods of work. The purpose of ELR is to maximize the total benefit gained during time spent working here, with a compelling obligation to return to a country of origin. A guarantee of return is accomplished with a dedicated ELR bank account and incentives. Providing room and board to migrant workers allows them to prioritize saving money, with funds deposited in the ELR account topped-up on the condition that the money isn’t accessible until they return home.

    Remittance money to family could be sent home via the ELR account, removing costly transfer fees and topping-up the amount. Since this money isn’t paid in the UK, all top-up funds count as legitimate Foreign Aid spending. Funded short courses could focus on skills that are useful in the worker’s country of origin. Basic math and English for those whose schooling was lost due to conflict, solar panel set up, vector control, fixing bikes or a community Health outreach course, with paid weekend or evening attendance topping-up that ELR account to further incentivise training. It is our moral duty to offer refuge and to make the passage of escape from tyranny safe for asylum seekers, but during the period of their evaluation they could be accepted to work under the same conditions as ELR visa migrants. If an asylum claim failed they could be considered for resettlement elsewhere; they wouldn’t arrive destitute and they might also have acquired new skills. If a crisis or conflict is resolved refugees may decide to return home.

    Our reckless foreign interventions have created the most significant driving force motivating refugee migration. The desperation is so great that no barricade or deterrent is significant enough to stop them coming, including the huge risk of crossing the Channel in an open boat! There should be safe ways to seek asylum, but we must focus on eliminating the desperation that drives migration; I believe that aspects of Collaborative Circular Migration can help accomplish that goal. In reality this toxic Tory Government has us ranting about migrants to detract from the devastation caused by a decade of austerity, squandering of public funds that amounts to embezzlement and their multiple chronic failures in office. I am convinced that the Tories stole postal votes to secure the Covert 2019 Rigged Election and I still hope that one day this will be exposed via a full Investigation, but there are multiple other corrupt practices that warrant immediate removal of this Tory Government or ousting the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship could take decades. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #64052 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Johnson is fearful of certain words; he will not say “Shutdown” because that would signify yet another failure of his shambolic Tory Government, so we suffer the ‘Tiers of a Clown’ as he ratchets up the restrictions that are now very strict and almost universal. The relief that the Vaccine Cavalry are riding to the rescue hides his most recent blunder when, well beyond common sense, he at first encouraged people to get together for five days over Christmas, then waited for us to make travel plans, and restricted celebrations to just one day… with warnings not to hug grandma! Each tightening of the rules is leaked with enough early warning to create an exodus among those eager to escape confinement, thus ensuring that infected individuals carry the virus throughout the country to help maximize the impact of the Tory cull. But the children represent the Tories most deadly weapon, kept in school to pass round the infection they will function as vectors in the multigenerational homes of the impoverished to deliver a ‘Slaughter of the Sheeple!’

    Good news of the Oxford AstraZeneca will drown out the goings on in Parliament where MPs will be offered ‘Hobsons choice;’ to accept Johnson’s abysmal deal with the EU or reject it and crash-out with no deal at all. Boris Johnson is gloating, very pleased with himself that the fake 80 seat Tory ‘landslide victory’ majority gifted to him in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election has delivered the worst possible outcome for the vast majority of the British people and a bonanza for the wealthy elite. If he had not had the BBC and Mainstream Media on-side to spin the incredulous result as a legitimate reality by bullying Labour MPs into reinforcing their fake news failure, the public might have mounted a challenge and demanded an Investigation of the result. Keir Starmer, the PM’s loyal Trojan horse, is tearing the Labour Party limb from limb; the Captain of Capitulation offers zero opposition as Johnson sees his end goal in sight: MPs will be compelled to vote for this hellish extrication from the EU paving the way for Tory Sovereign Dictatorship!

    Has old faithful ‘Auntie,’ our BBC, become emblematic of a failed state? A Skwawkbox Video/Article entitled: “Labour parliamentary candidate on the importance of new left media,” makes that case by stating that, “If the UK were another nation, this country’s so-called ‘mainstream’ media ‘would be calling it a failed state’, yet instead it is complicit. During Sunday night’s Cornish Damo round-up of the year on Socialist Telly, the topic turned to the dishonesty and corruption of the UK’s supposedly ‘mainstream’ media, and Labour’s candidate for Truro and Falmouth in the 2-19 general election, Jenn Forbes, hit the nail on the head: She said that if the situation in the UK was happening in another country, the ‘MSM’ would be calling it a ‘failed state,’ and highlighted the essential role of the left independent media if this country is ever to hear the truth about what’s really happening. It’s time we all tuned in to Socialist Telly to hear the real news.

    Democracy would require such a momentous decision to be properly debated in our Parliament, but in our corrupt ‘failed’ state it will be little more than a rubber stamp formality so that we can pretend to the British public that there was unanimous support for the hard Brexit no one wanted except the wealthy elite. Politicians have barely had time to read the lengthy document let alone prepare for a cursory five hour debate. It is being rushed through both Chambers in a single day by the necessity of Johnson’s last ditch decision at a time of maximum public distraction, over Christmas and during a Pandemic lockdown disguised by seemingly arbitrary separation into tiers. No one is paying attention to the dirty deal being rammed through Parliament, despite the fact that today’s decisions will impact our lives for decades, causing untold harm and misery especially among the working poor. The EU 27 will be glad to be rid of the oafish British tyrant and I doubt they would ever allow us back due to the severe harm we have caused.

    In the London Economic Article entitled, “Brexit deal means ‘protections for workers,climate and the environment at serious risk of being eroded,” warns Joe Mellor. He says, “Given it is notoriously difficult to prove that any lowering of protections affects trade or investment, the deal is unlikely to prevent the UK Government from weakening EU-derived labour and environmental policies if it so chooses. The post-Brexit trade deal with the EU leaves workers’ rights and environmental protections at risk of erosion and will slow the economic recovery, an early analysis has warned. The IPPR think tank’s assessment, published on Sunday, says that the bar for proof of breaches of the ‘level playing field’ to safeguard the issues is so high that it will be rarely enforced.” In one of his classic PR spin ‘pledges’ soon to be broken, “The Prime Minister has insisted that the UK will not regress on the issues and instead has vowed to use the ‘legislative and regulatory freedoms to deliver for people who felt left behind’.”

    Analysing the deal Mellor reports, “As Tory Eurosceptics pore over the 1,246-page treaty to see if they can give their backing, the IPPR added to criticism of the deal from the fishing industry. A senior member of the UK negotiating team has defended the trade deal after the Prime Minister was accused of ‘sacrificing’ fishing rights. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also said the industry had been ‘sold out’ over the agreement, which includes a transition period allowing EU and UK fishing vessels access to each other’s waters for another five years. Claims from officials at the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) that Boris Johnson had only secured ‘a fraction of what the UK has a right to under international law’ prompted a response from a senior person involved with the talks.” The reality is that the UK Fishing Industry does not have sufficient boats and crew ready to take on a vastly increased fish quota immediately and we still want to be able to sell our catch within the EU.

    Mellor points out that, “Marley Morris, a director focusing on trade and EU relations, warned that the commitment in the deal not to decrease current standards in a bid to gain an unfair competitive advantage is ‘considerably weaker than expected’ and sets ‘a very high bar for proof’. ‘Given it is notoriously difficult to prove that any lowering of protections affects trade or investment, the deal is unlikely to prevent the UK Government from weakening EU-derived labour and environmental policies if it so chooses,’ his report says. He later added: ‘This leaves protections for workers, climate and the environment at serious risk of being eroded’.” We should all have known that the Tory Party could not be trusted on this point which is why I am so certain there was not a massive swing to the Tories in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. I do not accept that so many Labour supporters were confused and turned off by the logical decision of the Labour Party to proceed in the best interests of workers basic rights, environmental and safety concerns.

    Mellor remarks on the minimal Market access concessions we secured in the deal, saying that, “The IPPR also said that by the UK having ‘watered down’ the level playing field requirements to secure ‘only limited benefits in market access’ there will be a blow to trade. There will likely be disruption to trade flows, including at the border, in the short-term while barriers to trading with the nation’s biggest partner will ‘likely lead to slower growth and a more prolonged economic recovery’ from the coronavirus pandemic, the analysis says. ‘This thin deal is better than no deal at all, but still creates major trade barriers with our closest neighbour, which will inhibit growth and slow the economic recovery,’ Mr Morris added.” Also there may still be considerable reluctance for hauliers to continue transporting goods into the UK at least in the initial few weeks into the New Year. Lorry drivers have experienced first hand how we deal with delays and backups in the port of Dover and they may want to steer clear until we get our act together.

    Mellor focuses his concerns on the fate of Erasmus, saying, “Speaking after the announcement of a trade deal between the UK and the European Union, Boris Johnson said the UK had made a ‘tough decision’ to pull out of the programme for financial reasons. The Erasmus exchange programme, which the UK joined in 1987, allows students to study and work across Europe. The move to leave the Erasmus scheme has been criticised by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who called the decision ‘cultural vandalism’. She tweeted: ‘There will be lots of focus, rightly, on the economic costs of Brexit. But ending UK participation in Erasmus, an initiative that has expanded opportunities and horizons for so many young people, is cultural vandalism by the UK Government.’ Labour and Co-Op MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle also criticised the scheme, tweeting: ‘As someone who lobbied & drafted parts of last scheme this will not work. UK gains from students coming to UK & Brits gain personally from going abroad’.”

    In the London Economic Article entitled, “High profile Labour MPs rebel against Starmer’s decision to back Johnson’s EU deal,” Jack Peat reports on the objections of certain MPs who say, “We are witnessing an act of vandalism against our livelihoods, our rights and our horizons,” the statement reads. He says, “Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is facing a high-profile revolt over his decision to back Boris Johnson’s EU trade deal in this week’s Commons vote.Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell and ex-cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw are among the signatories to a statement calling on opposition parties not to support the “rotten” agreement, The Guardian reported. Sir Keir has said that he will call on Labour MPs to support the ‘thin’ post-Brexit free trade agreement, despite misgivings that it would fail to protect many key economic sectors.”

    Reporting on the flawed agreement Peat said that, “Sir Keir has said that he will call on Labour MPs to support the ‘thin’ post-Brexit free trade agreement, despite misgivings that it would fail to protect many key economic sectors. He argued, however, that the alternative of ending the Brexit transition period on December 31 without a deal in place would be even worse for the economy. However, his stance has upset some pro-Europeans in the party who say they should not support a flawed agreement and should abstain instead. The statement has been organised by Another Europe is Possible and Labour for a Socialist Europe – both on the left – but has attracted support from both wings of the party, according to The Guardian. As well as Mr Bradshaw, the paper said the signatories included ex-cabinet minister Lord Adonis from the Blairite wing of the party.”

    From the left, Mr McDonnell is joined by another former shadow cabinet minister Clive Lewis. John McDonnell Tweeted, “Johnson has achieved the unique success of negotiating a Brexit deal that in the cold light of day over the next weeks and months is likely to brass off both leavers and remainers but will go through Parliament warts and all as a result of political exhaustion & inertia.” Although this significant group of rebel MPs will not overcome Johnson’s corruptly acquired huge Tory majority, just like the Iraq War vote, this decision will become an iconic milestone in UK Parliamentary decision making and MPs of strom conscious will want to be on the right side of history.

    Calling it a rotten deal, Peat said, “The statement warns that it is the duty of the opposition to provide proper parliamentary scrutiny and to set out an alternative. ‘That task gets harder if opposition parties fall into the trap of rallying around this rotten deal,’ it said. ‘We are witnessing an act of vandalism against our livelihoods, our rights and our horizons. We call on Labour, the Labour movement and other opposition parties not to support the Tories’ Brexit deal when it is put to a vote in the House of Commons.’ Other signatories are said to include former MEPs, councillors and local activists. Labour is alone among the opposition parties in saying it will support the deal, with the SNP and the Liberal Democrats having said they will vote against it. The DUP, which backed Brexit, has also said it will oppose the deal because the Brexit divorce settlement imposes customs checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.”

    Peat reports that, “Meanwhile, the self-styled ‘star chamber’ of lawyers led by veteran Eurosceptic MP Sir Bill Cash and assembled by the European Research Group of Tory Brexiteers is expected to deliver its verdict on the deal. Despite some reported misgivings over elements of the package, it is thought the group will be broadly favourable – although some are unhappy at the way the agreement, which runs to more than 1,200 pages, is being rushed through Parliament in a single day. However, with Labour backing the agreement, it is expected to be passed comfortably on Wednesday.”

    In the London Economic Article entitled, “MPs approve post-Brexit trade deal, 521 votes to 73,” Henry Godwin reports that, “The House of Commons has given its overwhelming approval to Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union, passing the bill at its second reading – by 521 votes to 73. The House of Commons has given its overwhelming approval to Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union, passing the bill at its second reading, by 521 votes to 73. With Labour voting with the government, and Johnson winning over the self-styled ‘Spartans’ of the European Research Group, the result was never in doubt, with the only question how large the prime minister’s majority would be. In the end, a long and tortuous saga, that has taken up more newsprint and dominated broadcast packages more than any political happening in modern British history, finished with a whimper, in a socially-distanced chamber with the eyes of the nation elsewhere.”

    Godwin notes that, “The legislation has been hurried through parliament in record time, with the UK’s transition period with the EU set to expire tomorrow night. It will be instigated within hours. A number of Labour MPs, including Diane Abbott and Clive Lewis, defied Sir Keir Starmer’s whip, with the majority abstaining. Two of those MPs, Tonia Antoniazzi and Helen Hayes, have resigned from Starmer’s Shadow Cabinet as a result of their opposition to the bill. Conservative Brexiteers John Redwood and Owen Paterson also abstained, citing concerns with the impact the agreement will have on Northern Ireland, as did Jeremy Corbyn, the former Labour leader currently sitting as an independent.” Jeremy Corbyn has Tweeted: “I cannot vote for this deal, which this Government will use to drive down rights and protections, and step up the sell-off of our vital public services. We need instead to break with failed race-to-the-bottom policies and build a Britain that puts people before private profit.”

    In the Skwawkbox Article entitled, “No Holding Back’s Trickett gave up Christmas to read the entire EU-UK deal,” they provide a glimpse of this dedicated MPs analysis of Johnsin’s shabby deal. They present his report saying, “New report by working-class Labour MP exposes Tory give-away in Brexit deal, but highlights agreement itself has provision for future Labour government to change it, but Keir Starmer has just rejected the option. The No Holding Back (NHB) group of Labour working-class MPs and activists has published its analysis of the Tories’ agreement with the European Union, and it exposes the Tory give-away of the nation’s public assets that the report bakes in. The NHB report highlights the ‘competition’ rules that are set to open up all the UK’s public sector to privatisation, and make it hard for any future left-wing government to enact real change. Hard, but not impossible.”

    Skwawkbox report that, “NHB also points out that the UK/EU agreement itself contains a provision that entitles the UK to review and agree changes to the agreement every five years, meaning that Labour’s next general election manifesto could include a commitment to do just that, for the sake of the nation and the services the UK public relies upon, and NHB calls on Labour to do it.” They provide a copy of the relevant section that reads: “Article FINPROV.2: Relationship with other agreements This Agreement and any supplementing agreement apply without prejudice to any earlier bilateral agreement between the United Kingdom of the one part and the Union and the European Atomic Energy Community of the other part. The parties reaffirm their obligations to implement any such agreement.”

    I Don’t pretend to understand the relevance of FINPROV.2, but there must have been a reason for its inclusion in this Skwawkbox Article. The section Skwawkbox copied continues with what appears to be really the most important ‘get out of jail’ provision depending on how it is used by political parties in future. It says, “Article FINPROV. 3: Review The Parties shall jointly review the implementation of this agreement and supplementing agreements and any matters related thereto five years after the entry into force of this Agreement and every five years thereafter. Article FINPROV.6: Classified information and sensitive unclassified information. Nothing in this Agreement or in any supplementing agreement shall be construed as requiring a Party to make available classified information.”

    But in typical Captain of Capitulation form, according to the Skwawkbox, “Keir Starmer has just publicly thrown away the chance. The Labour leader has said that Labour will not try to make any major changes to the UK’s agreement with the EU: Many Labour MPs representing working-class, leave-supporting constituencies will feel obliged to vote for Boris Johnson’s deal, but will do so on the basis that a future Labour government can and must change it to something that will not tie its hands from restoring the UK’s public services to their proper state and status. But Keir Starmer is determined to ignore the opportunity to make any real change to the status quo, because he is too closely identified with the Establishment that has agreed to entrench and enlarge it.” The Skwawkbox provide a link to download the full report. This provision offers a glimmer of hope if the Labour Party can remove Trojan horse kuer Starmer and derail his vendetta sabotage of the main, presently totally dysfunctional, opposition Labour Party.

    We are faced with a very serious uphill battle on both sides of the isle, but both require exposure of an insecure egotist manipulating crony loyalty and heavily reliant on corruption to maintain undemocratic dictatorial power. There is an urgent need for us to get the Labour Left witchhunt stopped in its tracks; how many more votes of no confidence can Starmer endure without facing a serious challenge from the left to restore the party’s progressive Socialist principles? The PM is like the Emperor with no clothes how soon before his naked ambition for absolute dictatorship is exposed? How long before the public realize they have been sold down the river again to enrich the wealthy elite? How long before the ‘Lev…up’ lie is exposed as the new banner for austerity and further Tory exploitation? How long before rising prices and stagnant wages can no longer be disguised by Covid or blamed on the EU and we see a serious Brexit backlash? Boris Johnson is glaringly corrupt and the British need to realize that fact and remove him from office ASAP! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #64127 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    What a difference genuine Leadership makes in combating Covid. We jealousy look on at images of celebrations in New Zealand and Taiwan as they see in the New Year in style, with their people liberated from the worst restrictions of Pandemic containment due to the decisive and intelligent actions of good Governance. How different 2020 could have been and how many people would be alive to join our celebrations tonight without the shambolic rollercoaster of catastrophes inflicted on us by Boris Johnson and his toxic Tory cabal? It really didn’t have to be this way; we could have fared so much better with a progressive Socialist Government, under strong Leadership, putting people before profits. Health and wellbeing for ordinary people must be prioritized over renewing ghastly nuclear weapons and building a stronger military to fight a potential enemy that has not yet dared to even threaten let alone attack us! The most deadly enemy of the British people is poverty, hunger, homelessness, desperation and now disease.

    The BBC News broadcast a stern warning from Professor Hugh Montgomery, an Intensive Care Doctor in London who was urging people not to congregate in festive New Year gatherings because of the threat to their already overwhelmed units from the rapidly increasing number of Covid 19 cases. He cautioned that we should not blame the disease for the rising infection rate as people were no longer adhering to the necessary precautions. However, the most glaring weakness in the system has been ignoring the threat that children mixing in schools pose to adults in multigenerational households. The lack of affordable housing, pitance pay in insecure jobs or on zero hours contracts have forced so many families to cram in together in living situations where any type of separation is impossible and the children act as vectors. All the data points to schools functioning as the breeding ground driving an increase in infections, but this Tory Government have arrogantly ignored the science while test and trace has totally failed.

    There’s really nothing to celebrate at New Year in the UK beyond having survived 2020. There was no valiant fight-back from the progressive Left who meekly conceded, reinforcing the deception of an impossible ‘landslide victory’ that never actually happened in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. Johnson was never asked to explain or justify his miraculous win; it was bullied out of Labour MPs day after day until the fake news became the new vile reality. If only we had challenged that unfathomable result, demanded an Investigation and clear verification, the truth would have been exposed and the worst misery of this past year could have been averted. The Nightingales feathered a few wealthy donor nests; barely used they are now being dismantled. PPE contracts fueled a constant gravy train of cash for the Tory elite until ‘Tallyho Harding’ led the hunt for more lucrative spoils under the guise of test, trace and isolate, starting with an App that didn’t function and was ditched. Serial failure Dido is still bleeding the system dry.

    The corrupt result of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election sealed our fate; an 80 seat Tory majority annihilated the precarious balance of our antiquated and dysfunctional democracy. The pathological liar who had broken the law to prorogue Parliament in order to force through his wretched Brexit crash-out was now in full command under the watchful eye of his psychopathic minder, Dominic Cummings. The ‘Herd Nerd’ didn’t care if a few old people died; Covid could be used to cull the elderly and reduce their burden on the state so we suffered a ‘Holocaust in Care!’ What else could possibly go wrong? Corbyn stepped down; Tories got their dream candidate Keir Starmer to concede all opposition. Their loyal Trojan horse began his Zionist inpired purge destroying Labour from the inside using their favorite weapon ‘fantisemitism.’ The Captain of Capitulation is destroying progressive Socialism at this crucial time as one last refuge of the British people the EU departs at midnight, and we usher in decades of Tory Sovereign Dictatorship.

    In the London Economic Article entitled, “’Race-to-the-bottom’ – Jeremy Corbyn won’t vote for Brexit deal, full statement,” Joe Mellor quotes him saying, “I cannot vote for this deal, which this Government will use to drive down rights and protections, and step up the sell-off of our vital public services.” Mellor says, “Sir Keir Starmer has claimed MPs who oppose Boris Johnson’s ‘thin’ Brexit deal are hiding ‘in the knowledge that others will save you from the consequences’. The Labour leader issued a warning about the consequences of not supporting legislation to enact the post-transition period agreement between the UK and EU, as he faces a rebellion among his MPs. Sir Keir told the Commons that Labour would vote to implement the treaty to ‘put in place a floor’ from which the UK can build a ‘strong’ future relationship with the EU. But these orders are not universally supported among his MPs, with some expected to vote against the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill at second reading, and already there have been dissenting voices.”

    Mellor reports that, “Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) was the first Labour backbencher to signal during the debate their intention to rebel, explaining he will not be supporting the deal as it is ‘a failure’. He said: ‘This is a thin deal, it is a failure even on the Government’s own terms, in short it is a bad deal and I won’t be voting for it.’ Nadia Whittome has decided to abstain, yesterday she Tweeted: ‘Thank you to all constituents and members who have sent me your views on tomorrow’s Bill. Having read them carefully, I have decided to abstain. While I understand and respect colleagues who reach a different conclusion, I cannot vote for Johnson’s damaging deal.’ Diane Abbott said: ‘I have the greatest respect for the result of the 2016 referendum. But this shoddy deal falls short.’ Labour MP Diane Abbott gives her view on the Brexit trade deal.”

    Mellor said, “Now Jeremy Corbyn has joined announced he will not back the deal.” He Tweeted: “I cannot vote for this deal, which this Government will use to drive down rights and protections, and step up the sell-off of our vital public services. We need instead to break with failed race-to-the-bottom policies and build a Britain that puts people before private profit.” Corbyn prepared well to deliver the input of a true statesman, real leader of the Labour Party and our rightful PM. Mellor included Corbyn’s full statement: “I cannot vote for Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal today, which this Government will use to drive down rights and protections, and step up the sell-off of our vital public services. The Prime Minister appeared in parliament today to present a fait accompli to MPs with no opportunity to amend or scrutinise a major piece of legislation. Not for the first time has he treated democratic accountability with contempt and covered up the inadequacy of his agreement with the EU with bluster and obfuscation.”

    “Whilst the public debate has been dominated by issues of fishing, and in the end there is a five-year extension on that matter, other matters however have received no scrutiny or debate, despite being crucial to the society we wish to be and the country we must build over the coming years. Of particular importance from a progressive perspective, is that far from protecting workers rights, and environmental standards, they apparently are dependent on whether or not they have any effect on ‘trade or investment’. Indeed, Johnson confirmed this morning there would be no keeping up with any future alignment with the EU. We know what the Conservative agenda on these rights mean – they have never missed an opportunity to further exploit workers and our environment, and they have sought to create an opportunity for themselves in what they have negotiated.”

    “Additionally, there is no positive news for the 1.6m European nationals who live in Britain and have children or relationships as part of our local communities. What of their future? The government has failed them. There is no agreement on qualifications being transportable between the EU and the UK in the future. How will this impact on our education system, our research links and our public services? There is no answer. And this is a ‘thin deal’ which leaves open the potential of damaging tariff wars in the future over agricultural and manufactured goods. There has also been a claim that Johnson wanted to be free from the EU State aid rules, briefing that they were restrictive of Government intervention to support economic development.”

    “My belief has always been that these are restrictive and would hamper a progressive Labour government trying to regenerate the most left behind parts of Britain, but this deal does not break free of state aid or public procurement restrictions, or of commitments to competition and privatisation of public services. They are baked into the deal. Just over a year ago, in the Sheffield TV debate during the General Election, Boris Johnson challenged my views on public spending, and on handling future relations with Europe by gaily telling the world that we couldn’t afford Labour’s spending plans and that he would “get Brexit done”. I gently pointed out to him that not only could we as a country afford the spending plans that we put forward, but as a country we could not afford to not apply them. One year on, the Coronavirus crisis has shown that when the will is there, the Government can spend more, and also why the public investment we argued for was, and is, so desperately needed.”

    “Predictably, rather than focussing on getting the best possible Brexit done in terms of our economy and rights, and in a way which would allow scrutiny and democratic input, the shambolic Johnson Government wasted time with an attempted trade agreement with Trump and the United States, which would have put standards and jobs at risk in Britain, and damaged trade with the EU. The reality now facing us is that we have a Tory government that has shown throughout the crisis its real agenda of privatisation of our public services and redistribution of power and wealth to the already super rich. This Government worships a failed neo-liberal system which has created Covid billionaires, and the Tories consistent failure to put people and health first has led to thousands of needless deaths, and an NHS which is on the brink of being overwhelmed after being so so undervalued and underfunded by the Tories over the last decade.”

    “This deal should not be supported because it does not give the protections claimed, and it does not secure trade or conditions for our future outside the European Union. It paves the way in the future for very disadvantaged trade deals with other countries, particularly the United States. It gives a Right-Wing Tory government a chance to cut privatised deals, and re-balance our economy in favour of the Tories and their allies. There is a better way. We need instead to break with the failed race-to-the-bottom policies of the past and build a Britain that puts people before private profit.” No doubt Boris Johnson will have been greatly relieved that his cheating in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election produced a fake ‘landslide victory’ that removed this genuine statesman from his place as Labour Leader. When the unfathomable result went unchallenged, still not Investigated to expose the Tory corruption he found a more compliant sparring partner with Trojan horse Keir Starmer leading Labour into self destruction.

    While Corbyn stands out as a beacon of hope with his democratic agenda and strong leadership, the Tories under Boris Johnson remain determined to drag us into a deeper pit of desperation, misery and despair. The Skwawkbox have long been sounding the warning about the Covid infection rate in schools and this Tory Governments flawed policy for directing pupils to attend. In the latest Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Epidemiologist: ‘very narrow window’ to save UK, and world, from Tory ‘negligence’ still seen in failure to close schools,” sends a strong warning. It reports that, “Spread of virus and government stubbornness on schools set to put us all in peril and push up level of immunisation needed to 90% or more, An epidemiologist has accused the Tories of missing ‘a very narrow window’ to react to the threat of spiralling infection rates and contain the COVID-19 coronavirus – and in doing so, of putting not just the UK but the rest of the world in greatly increased danger.”

    The Skwawkbox have featured the comments of Dr. Deepti Gurdasani, who “published her reasoning in a detailed Twitter thread;many of her posts are printed in the article. “Gurdasani points out that the current rate of spread means that even a national lockdown will struggle to contain the pandemic’s growth, and that the government will need to achieve almost universal immunity among the population to achieve any effective ‘herd immunity’ to push the infection rate below the level where it is still able to grow. Gurdasani is very clear that the failure to close schools, despite months of warnings from experts, has ‘directly’ put the UK in such a precarious position that even a national lockdown is unlikely to cause a downturn in infections unless schools are closed now.” They say that, “she warns that the Tories’ delays mean that even if the government closed all schools and locked down right now, the failure to hit vaccination targets means that the UK is almost out of options to get on top of the latest surge.”

    According to the Skwawkbox, “Gurdasani points out that the ‘zero COVID’ success achieved by nations such as New Zealand was entirely possible for the UK and that the Tories’ continually slack response has fuelled the rise of the new mutations that are now said to pose such a threat, and that the Tories have known this was the consequence for ten months. So central is the role of schools and the Tories’ failure to react appropriately in the ongoing disaster, that Gurdasani stresses again that they are the key, before concluding by warning that just having a vaccine may not solve the problem even in the long term, making the Tories’ approach ‘deeply negligent.’ Tragically for this country, Boris Johnson and his cronies show little sign of heeding the warnings any more than they have for the past year, at a cost of tens of thousands of lives, and their fiddling around the edges by delaying the opening of some schools is unlikely to be cause for hope that they might finally get it.” Sadly this is not the only Tory catastrophe.

    The Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Leading medic says BMA and Pfizer agree: Hancock’s decision to issue single vaccine doses will do little but destroy its effectiveness,” they say, “Prof Kailash Chand takes apart Matt Hancock’s new desperation-driven ‘plan’ that will destroy vaccine roll-out’s effectiveness. The Government’s joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI) today recommended a single dose of either vaccine should be given to as many vulnerable people as possible, rather than sticking to the original two-dose strategy. This in no way is a scientific decision, it is political expediency. Pfizer said in a statement: Data from the phase three study demonstrated that, although partial protection from the vaccine appears to begin as early as 12 days after the first dose, two doses of the vaccine are required to provide the maximum protection against the disease, a vaccine efficacy of 95 per cent. There are no data to demonstrate that protection after the first dose is sustained after 21 days’.”

    The Skwawkbox report that, “Further, the trial data said that after a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine coverage was 52%. But six days after the second dose that rose to nearly 91%. Outrageous. What use is 52% to someone over 80 or 90 who is extremely vulnerable? Delaying the second shot to 12 weeks means they will have to continue to shield three months extra, until next jab, unacceptable at that age, particularly those beginning cognitive decline after already being in isolation for 10 months. By not allowing the 2nd Pfizer dose within the recommended time frame by the manufacturer is nothing less than clinical negligence. Pfizer has explicitly said there is no data to suggest the first dose is effective beyond three weeks. This is incredibly distressing for older people who thought they were going to be protected. Surely the researchers and scientists who designed and manufactured the vaccine are the ones should be listening to, rather than politicians.”

    Dr. Katrina Farrell Tweeted: “Just received this email cancelling my 2nd dose of the Pfizer vaccine. On the basis of UK government guidance yesterday. This means that the vaccine is not being delivered as licensed. I DID NOT consent to receive an off-label drug with NO evidence of benefit with a single dose.” This is the email; she received: “Heelth and Care staff who have received a first dose of the Covid 19 vaccine and were due to receive a second dose on or after 5 January 2021 will be contacted to reschedule these appointments. Please do not attend for your second appointment in January 2021 as you will be given a new date to attend within 12 weeks of your first appointment.” Although I am no legal eagle I would think this conduct might be illegal, due to the fact that it violates the terms of the consent form signed by the patient that I believe is legally binding. This deviously brilliant suggestion was first proposed by infamous war monger Tony Blair, a past master in Government sanctioned slaughter of the innocent.

    Skwawkbox say, “The government has already begun cancelling second-dose vaccinations. The British Medical Association (BMA) General Practice Committee chair, Richard Vautrey, says, ‘The decision to ask GPs, at such short notice, to rebook patients for three months hence, will also cause huge logistical problems for almost all vaccination sites and practices. For example, to make contact with even just two thousand elderly or vulnerable patients will take a team of five staff at a practice about a week, and that’s simply untenable. I agree with the BMA, it is ‘grossly unfair’ to elderly patients to cancel their second dose appointments next week and is right in supporting doctors who will defy the NHS advice. I appeal to Health Secretary Matt Hancock to urgently reverse his instructions to vaccination hubs and to ask them to stick to the original protocol. The stakes are too high and it’s not the time to experiment or play politics with vaccines. Read the BMA’s response to the government’s decision to delay the follow-up dose of the Pfizer vaccine.”

    It seems that this Tory Government will stop at nothing to maximize the kill rate in their nationwide ‘Slaughter of the Sheeple.’ They tenaciously cling to their disastrous, costly, private centralized test and trace system under the chaotic mismanagement of serial loser Dido ‘Tallyho’ Harding, despite repeated warnings about failure. They arrogantly refuse to change policy on schools to make the situation safer and reduce the spread of infection from children to adults in overcrowded multigenerational homes. Now just as the promise of several vaccines offers our people genuine hope in the New Year the Tories have decided to ignore the science once again with potential deadly consequences by sabotaging the urgent roll out of our vaccination program. These vaccines have been tested and approved for use in a specific regimen with proven clinical results. No medication or vaccine is guaranteed to work unless administered as directed, but we will see a worsening of this crisis until we get this ‘wing it’ Government out of office. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #64131 Reply

    I never looked at the winning margins behind the conservative victory, but after the wholescale election fraud in US to topple Trump, facilitating coronavirus as smokescreen to do so, I can believe the UK general election was rigged too to topple Corbyn, both in their own ways deemed enemies of the deep state.

    But this would rest on an examination of the postal votes. Is it true counting machines were used, and if so could votes be distributed to marginal constituencies to provide small winning margins, which is all that’s need in a FPTP system. However if counting machines weren’t used I’m not sure how the election could be rigged, as counting paper ballots by hand with observers is mostly secure.

    #64154 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Dave – The situation on both sides of the pond is more complex than just a single avenue of attack. The American voting machines, that are so unreliable, are used for in person voting which was the personal choice for the majority of Trump’s supporters in this election. Democrats were voting by post more than in any previous election due to taking the Covid 19 restrictions a lot more seriously. Trump tried to disrupt the postal votes by having postal sorting machines removed in some Democrat strongholds. There has been a concerted effort in the US to disenfranchise voters sometimes by removing voters from the registration rolls or by enacting new requirements for voter ID and also by closing or moving voting stations to leave voters stranded in lengthy queues. All of these tactics have been used to favour the Republican Party for well over a decade. The highly credible Investigative Journalist Greg Palast has been on the case and he has exposed evidence of this in his new book ‘How Trump stole 2020.’

    It’s important to understand that some of the Republican backers were turning against Trump and actually supporting Biden. Why? While Trump energised the Republican base and still kept the money flowing to the wealthy, he was not into foreign engagement; no lucrative wars were initiated while he was in office. Although he was a loose cannon, he was not great for the Military Industrial Complex; sadly I think Biden will not hesitate to go to war! However, while there is no better way to hide voter fraud than to make a huge fuss about your opponent, the Democrats also played dirty. Their dirty tricks were focused on keeping Bernie Sanders from getting the Democratic nomination. It was better to have a mentally compromised hawk who would protect dirty money interests on the ticket than a Democratic Socialist fired up about free Healthcare, college tuition and workers rights; so they clubbed together to burn Bernie.

    Here in the UK we do not use those electronic voting machines yet and I hope they do not get brought in by the Tories. The Tories are strongly committed to bringing in voter ID on the pretext of eliminating the type of voter fraud that is incredibly rare. They will try to introduce other forms of disenfranchisement that have worked well to cull the progressive vote in America. However, our wide open back door in the UK centres around the postal vote system, which is why Boris Johnson wanted a midwinter election and heavily encouraged voting by post as it worked well for them. One private company, Idox, with powerful ties to the Tory Party has control over a Postal Vote Management System that covers huge swaths of the UK. They have your name, address, date of birth and your signature on file; they have also created a handy App for Party canvassing, so they even know which party you vote for! Rigging is possible in a number of ways and the unfathomable Tory ‘landslide victory’ result made this a very strong possibility.

    Send postal votes out late or not at all; there were valid complaints of this with overseas votes arriving far too late and students not getting their vote at all. Verification and possibly replacement of your ballot is all handled in house and since this is all privatized now there is zero oversight from Returning Officers or the Electoral Commission. For no logical reason regular and postal ballots are all mixed in together before counting so you cannot tell if the postal ballots for one particular area were stuffed. Cummings had a very acurate picture of exactly where extra votes were needed and how many were needed so that any ballot stuffing would not arouse too much suspicion. The accuracy and precision of his 80 seat promise that was miraculously delivered and the people like Raab and Kunnesberg who blurted out predictions they should not have known about were a dead give away, but this was drowned out by the confected credibility provided by Tory chums in the BBC bullying Labour MPs into endorsing their own fabricated defeat!

    Only by Challenging and Investigating the Covert 2019 Rigged Election will we expose the gross insecurity of this privatised system. “A Watchdog that cannot Watch is just a Dog:” Sign this Petition to “Rescue our Watchdog” as “All Votes Must Count!”

    What would have salvaged New Years Day as a joyful new beginning rather than a painful half century regression and the start of the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship? Astounding News of an arch greedy capitalist commiting to donate a record billion dollars towards ending global poverty with other equally selfish capitalist exploiters, not wishing to be outdone, competing to match or exceed that donation! But of course, that didn’t happen. For billionaires like Jeff Bazos who routinely exploit workers to rake in huge profits, the Covid crisis has presented a bonanza, massively accelerating their obscene wealth, but giving back to the community is not in their stone cold hearts. Globally there are a few super wealthy select individuals who are capable of ending global poverty in our lifetime by donating a fraction of their wealth, but they will choose to go to their graves clutching every last scrap of cash they can extort from the less fortunate. With that greed they have the blood of millions on their hands; that’s some legacy to exit the planet with!

    When the first few New Year celebrations kicked off on the other side of the world New Zealand and Taiwan put on quite a show with their citizens liberated from Covid restrictions through the providence of wise leadership and smart governance. ‘Celebrations’ became a lot more muted and remote elsewhere with deserted streets and little to crow about. The UK was subjected to additional regretful tragedy as this wretched Tory Government finally managed to drag us out of the EU to begin their unfettered destruction of our democracy with no recourse to future justice. The only glimmer of hope I see was promoted in the Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Thirty thousand people sign up for live launch of Corbyn’s Peace and Justice Project.” They trumpeted the, “Huge popularity of former leader’s move will stick in craw of his attackers” saying that, “Jeremy Corbyn’s new Project for Peace and Justice has met with a huge welcome, with widespread support on the left, and local Labour parties already planning to affiliate.”

    The Skwawkbox report that, “It has also met with bile and vitriol from his enemies, who remain eager to rewrite history and bury the memory of the movement he led and galvanised and its popularity. So the news today will come as bitterest gall to his enemies that tens of thousands of people have already signed up for the project’s live launch event, with almost three weeks still to go before it happens. The announcement was made on the PJP’s Facebook page: As well as Corbyn himself, the event will feature Zarah Sultana, one of the stars of Labour’s 2019 intake of MPs, Unite head Len McCluskey, leading Jewish ANC member Ronnie Kasrils, former NUT head Christine Blower, Yanis Varoufakis and climate campaigner Scarlet Westbrook. Those who have not yet registered for the event, which takes place from 3-4.30pm on Sunday 17 January, and wish to you can still do so” Register Here.”

    The Left Foot Forward Article entitled, “Prof Prem Sikka: With their Brexit deal, the government has broken its promises to voters,” contains more sobering news. Sikka notes, “Johnson said we’d stay in the single market. The 85 page European Union (Future Relationship) Bill was rushed through the UK parliament last night, barely 24 hours after its publication. The Bill (now Act) relates to 1,246 pages of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) struck between the EU and UK and was published on Christmas Eve. The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 empowers governments to sign treaties. However, their incorporation into domestic law requires an Act of Parliament and hence the Bill. But this does not give Parliament the power to approve, reject or amend the treaty itself. Of course, parliamentary scrutiny may encourage governments to seek revisions to treaties.”

    Sikka has anylized the daunting implications of the document he says, “The Act goes beyond the TCA. For example, clause 29 gives government powers to enact future laws without parliamentary approval.” We have known for some time that this was the single most dangerous component as it places supreme power in the hands of a thoroughly untrustworthy PM with absolute power over Parliament: this is the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship! Sikka says, “The government pushed the Bill through parliament without detailed scrutiny.” He elaborates on the broken promises of our deceitful PM and all of the things we will not be getting from the agreement. He says that, “In 2016, the UK electorate voted to leave the EU. It did not vote to come out of the single market. The two are not the same thing. For example, there are specific agreements with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, which permits them to be part of the single market even though they are not part of the EU. However, the UK government chose differently.”

    Sikka outlines the minimalistic hard Brexit, saying, “The government reneged on many of the promises made over the years. For example, in 2016, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that after Brexit ‘British people will still be able to go and work in the EU; to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes and to settle down … there will continue to be free trade, and access to the single market’. The TCA and the EU Act betray the promises. The TCA enables the UK to leave the EU with a deal. The alternative was to leave with no deal. The TCA enacts trade barriers, especially for the services sector which accounts for 50% of the UK exports. It reduces UK citizens’ mobility and restricts cultural exchanges amongst young people by withdrawal from the Erasmus programme. It damages livelihoods by failure to secure recognition of UK professional qualifications and will increase costs for everyone. Significantly, the TCA and the Bill were not accompanied by any sectoral or regional analysis of the impact of the EU Agreement.”

    Sikka reports that, “The TCA commitment to fair competition and level-playing-field requires consideration of worker rights, taxation and other matters. Articles 6 and 9 of the TCA states that the EU and the UK workers’ rights will be aligned.” Sikka warns that, “This may be problematic as the UK is becoming a low-wage economy and is competing on cost and anti trade union sentiments rather than cooperation with workers. So the EU and the UK economic trajectories will differ and exert pressure on workers’ rights. The TCA calls for further negotiations of the issues and a ‘rebalancing’ which may culminate in termination of this part of the agreement. Tellingly, the UK government commentary on Labour and social standards states that ‘retained EU law will not have a special place on the UK’s statute books’.” This was the massive bear trap that I refuse to believe so many Labour voters willingly waked into: they did not vote Tory in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election, their votes were stolen and it still needs to be Investigated.

    Sikka has more warnings for us saying that, “Taxation would be another point of friction. The level of taxes depends on the social settlements and democratic rights. Many EU countries spend more on social welfare. There is a concern that the UK is on the road to becoming a tax haven and attracting footloose capital with low tax rates. It may further shift taxes away from capital to workers and consumers or may remove some of the hard-won social rights altogether, a way of subsidising corporations. The TCA only commits the UK to minimum OECD tax standards on exchange of information, anti-tax avoidance and public country by country reporting by credit-institutions and investment firms. There are no provisions to constrain domestic tax regime or tax rates. So there is a potential for tax wars and the EU redesigning its tax laws to negate the UK impulses.” Potentially the EU could block this ‘race to the bottom’ by using an agreement over Financial Services as leverage.

    Sikka reminds us that, “The Brexit project has invoked the emotive issue of sovereignty and independence. Sovereignty is essentially a resource used to achieve some goals. All international trade and security agreements require compromises. In that sense, no country prevails. The EU never reduced the UK’s sovereignty, any more than it affected the capacities of France or Germany. In fact, the UK enjoyed a veto on many issues. Now it will have to accept some EU rules without any say in approving them.” The whole concept of ‘sovereignty’ has been deviously manipulated by this Tory Government to imply that the EU was controlling the UK rather than the reality that we EU member states negotiated and collaborated on to agree a common set of policies that were mutually beneficial. However, we have now traded that diplomatic normality for what the British people were led to believe was a democratically elected Parliament consisting of MPs who represent us. With a fake 80 seat majority and a worthless opposition the Tories under Johnson who, with zero tolerance for descent, has absolute supreme power: a Sovereign Dictatorship.

    Sikka notes that, “Brexit is based on the claim that it would enable the UK to control its territory and borders.” He warns, “That is also problematic. For example, Northern Ireland is subject to the full EU rules whilst the rest of the UK is not. Northern Ireland is set to become a state within a state. The TCA and the Act forms the basis of future relationship with the EU, but much is still to be negotiated. They contain numerous provisions for joint Committees, Councils and arbitration Panels to resolve disputes. These disputes may result in one or both sides terminating some part of the agreement and then possibly facing sanctions from the other party. In such matters, the UK will be in a weaker position as its economic and diplomatic resources are considerably less the EU’s.” Left Foot Forward report that, “Prem Sikka is an emeritus professor of accounting at the University of Essex and a Labour member of the House of Lords.”

    In another revealing Left Foot Forward Article entitled, “These Tory ‘free port’ plans are just another handout to corporations and tax dodgers,” once again Prem Sikka warned us of problems ahead. On 14 February, 2020 they said that, “As the new Chancellor Rishi Sunak prepares to roll out up to ten new so-called ‘free ports’, Prof Prem Sikka breaks apart the arguments behind them.” Sikka paints a really grim, but realistic picture of the state our country has descended to. He said that, “The UK economy is stagnant. Wages are depressed, and the number of workers living in poverty has risen for third consecutive year. Some 14 million Brits are in poverty, more than one in five of the population, including four million children and two million pensioners.”

    Sikka offered us a dire warning based on Tory policy so far, saying that, “The government’s response is not to end wage freezes, control rents and profiteering, restore local authority cuts or shackle tax avoidance by corporations and the rich. It has instead opted for deregulation and is proposing to create 10 so-called free ports across the UK. Free ports, similar to free trade zones or enterprise zone, are geographical locations, usually closer to seaports, riverports and airports, within the jurisdiction of a country, but outside the normal application of laws about customs duties, import/export, planning, construction, tax, business rates and labour. The claim is that tax concessions, deregulation and lower standards of rights/laws would attract investment, especially manufacturing, create high-skilled jobs and stimulate the economy by facilitating exports. There are approximately 3,500 freeports worldwide, employing 66 million people across 135 countries.”

    Sikka explained that, “Free ports effectively function as a state within a state, and are supported by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has claimed that the EU somehow prevented the UK from having free ports. This is untrue. The EU permits freeports within defined parameters so that they do not fall foul of the state-aid rules and fuel a race-to-the-bottom. There are about 80 free ports in EU member states. The UK government has been able to create free ports under section 100A of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979. Seven free ports operated in the UK at various points between 1984 and 2012. In 2011, the government created 24 new enterprise zones, which became operational in 2012. Then in July 2012, the government let the enabling Statutory Instrument lapse. Currently, the UK has 61 enterprise zones.”

    Sikka further explained that, “After Brexit, the UK can set its own rules on free ports, but these will be circumscribed by trade agreements as no country will permit another to undermine its economic base through unfair state-aid. The UK may trade in accordance with the World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations, but they too impose rules to limit state-aid. Considerable claims are made about the creation of new jobs, but the Centre for Cities notes that by 2017, the total new jobs in the enterprise zones were only around one-quarter of the estimates produced by the Treasury. At least one-third of the jobs created came as a result of the move of businesses from elsewhere, rather than the creation of new posts in new businesses. Some 95% of the net new private sector jobs were low-skilled. So free ports and enterprise zones did not transform the UK economy into a higher-skilled economy.” Slave labour, working zero hours contracts, for pittance pay has always been a prime Tory objective!

    Sikka warned that, “Free ports are not exactly a bonanza for new inward investment either. Investment tends to get shifted from elsewhere to take advantage of discounts, low taxes and regulation. It is possible for individuals and companies resident in the UK to route investment into freeports via offshore entities to exploit tax laws and retain anonymity. Despite the existence of ‘enterprise zones’, the UK has languished near the bottom of the EU table for investment in productive assets.” Tories hate this type of sound evidence as it can potentially scupper their planned exploitation of the system. Sikka warned, “The lax checks on the movement of money and goods make freeports a haven for smuggling, forgery, tax dodging and money laundering.” The ‘London Laundrymat’ is about to get a lot more dirty dhoby from around the globe and UK is already considered the money laundering capital of the world,

    Sikka highlighted, “An EU report noted that ‘Free ports are conducive to secrecy. With their preferential treatment, they resemble offshore financial centres, offering both high security and discretion and allowing transactions to be made without attracting the attention of regulators or direct tax authorities’.” The report added: “Goods entering free ports are not subject to customs duties. Goods sold in the free ports are not subject to value added tax. No withholding tax is collected on capital gains, though sellers may need to report to the tax authority in the country where they are tax resident’. Free ports create huge cross-subsidisation. Individuals and businesses located outside free ports pay taxes which fund the social infrastructure such as roads, railways, education, healthcare, pensions, security, legal system and clean air. But the entities located within the free ports pay little or nothing towards the use of such infrastructure. Unsurprisingly, free ports are attractive to corporations.”

    Sikka said that regarding free ports the report concludes, “they lead to unfair competition. The entities residing in free ports benefit from subsidies whilst their competitors located in the main economy do not receive the same inducements.” Sikka remarked that, “Free ports are part of the government’s obsession with deregulation and are unlikely to deliver durable economic stability or prosperity. They deflect attention away from the need to invest in all regions and sections of the economy. Given the Tories’ record, it’s no surprise that many fear a Johnson administration would use free ports to erode workers’ rights.” This component of Tory policy is all about maximizing exploitation of ordinary citizens with the working poor driven into destitution while the wealthy elite create new tax havens closer to home, beyond the prying eyes of the EU. The hard Brexit, forced on us with a last ditch Bill there was no time to scrutinize and no options, will further enable gross exploitation by our empowered Tory Sovereign Dictatorship. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #64158 Reply

    Its not clear from you response what happened to the postal votes up-north. How were they counted?

    How should Labour have voted on the Deal? I’ve read Labour couldn’t vote against the Deal because it would result in No Deal! Except Parliament wouldn’t support No deal! And so this means if the vote against the Deal was won, it would result not in No Deal, but an extension of the transition period, until a Good Deal was obtained, unless the EU refused.

    #64198 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Dave – The counting process isn’t as wide open to “industrial scale fraud;” it’s the Postal Vote Management System, that has been outsourced to a totally unaccountable private company, over which there is zero oversight from either the Returning Officers or the Electoral Commission! Warnings signs of this type of rigging were exposed following the Independence Referendum in Scotland were they discovered a phenomenally high return rate of postal ballots sent out was statistically not credible, due to the fact that normally in any given year a number of people will move, die or simply fail to return their ballot. Read the ‘Dunoon Unit Report,’ that analysed serious anomalies, eg: “Postal Ballot turnouts of a staggering 96.4%.” By the time of the observed opening of ballots the fix was already in: Tories were openly boasting of winning with postal votes that they shouldn’t have had any data on! For the Covert 2019 Rigged Election the Tories just upped their compliant BBC/Media propaganda output to drown out any challenge.

    As far as the House of Commons vote on the deal goes, voting against it was probably going to be a symbolic gesture at best due to the huge Tory majority following the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. I believe it was still worth voting it down on principle, as Jeremy Corbyn did, as to not do so will invite future Tory jibes about how the whole country supported his rotten deal. Unfortunately, the prohibition against crashing-out without a deal was removed by the Tories, who used it for leverage and also to put the entire country through months of unnecessary anxiety. We wouldn’t automatically have gained another extension, but I believe that weary as they are of our shenanigans, the EU 27 would have granted another extension due to the challenge of Covid 19. I still hold out hope that there is a Whistleblower who can expose the details of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election result, but they are not likely to come forward until a huge backlash against the Tories makes investigating this corruption possible; perhaps then the EU will offer us a chance rejoin.

    A trio of London Economics articles, all written by Joe Mellor, that appear to be addressing two different subject areas highlight this Tory Government’s heavily warped prioritization of ‘commerce over kids,’ but it never had to be this way. The PM and Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, have systematically ignored consistent and copious evidence of the growing Covid infection rates in schools, arrogantly ignoring the demands of the Teachers Union for greater safety measures, to aggressively force children to return to unsafe classrooms under threat of legal action. At all points along the way, it’s been too little too late with the Government coaxed into repeated embarrassing U-turns. In stark contrast the Lorry Drivers really grabbed public attention when they spent a miserable Christmas confined to their cabs in a rapidly expanding tailback through Kent and at Manston, awaiting the clearance at Dover to cross over to France. Our precious exports were stuck in gridlock at ports so the Government took much faster action.

    Now I am not suggesting that frustrated Hauliers should have been ignored to languish in lorry parks, a prompt resolution to this growing catastrophe needed to be rapidly implemented to reduce the backlog of trucks in Kent, but why wasn’t similar urgency applied to securing the safety of our children in schools? The Government had all Summer to plan safety measures for the return to school after the holiday break, but this priority was ignored; instead to this day UK children remain more exposed than in any other country. In an earlier post I highlighted a Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Video: UK now ‘only nation sending kids to school as normal in pandemic,’ while nations like NZ have virus ‘in rearview mirror’” that demonstrated that the UK was alone in refusing to ‘follow the science’. There was also an accompanying Video of, “Health adviser Adam Hamdy contrasts misleading government/media narrative and global reality, as Education Secretary Williamson threatens council for closing schools a few days early.”

    It is worth reiterating what was reported by Skwawkbox who have been ‘banging the drum’ on this issue for months now. In the video interview Handy pointed out that, “The UK yesterday became ‘pretty much the only country in the world’ to keep sending its children to school almost as normal in the midst of a pandemic, and is not even doing ‘the bare minimum’ recommended by the world’s leading health experts.’ While the Tories and their media allies have neglected to mention it, Sweden and the Netherlands, the only nations to be ‘keeping us company’ yesterday announced new school closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.” They said, “Health adviser Adam Hamdy explained the situation and its consequences during an interview with the Skwawkbox on Socialist Telly last night.”

    Astoundingly, despite growing concern at that time, Williamson had, “issued a legal threat to Greenwich council in London for closing schools a few days early for Christmas.” This edict seemed pedantic and authoritarian given the situation where London was going into the highest ‘Tier 3’ lockdown and schools” which soon morphed into tier 4 as the borough was, “hit by multiple outbreaks.” But at the time it was announced that, “Schools will also remain open during the new, nationwide ‘severe’ lockdown planned to begin 28/29 December.” This was shere insanity from the PM and his Tory Education Minister, aggressively dictating an unsafe learning environment, despite staff shortages with both teachers and children self-isolating. However, some of the targeted schools felt bullied into this totally meaningless two day compliance just to avoid vindictive legal action. Skwawkbox is outraged as “the Tories continue to throw the lives of people under the bus, in spite of global examples and overwhelming scientific evidence.”

    What could have been done a whole lot better to protect school children from being used as vectors to spread Covid 19, especially among vulnerable multigenerational households? The increased risk among poor and ethnic minority families working in frontline jobs and living in cramped conditions with elderly or co-morbidity risk grandparents should have been recognized with a solution found early on. The rapid shift to online learning should have been matched with the provision of the equipment needed for remote learning donated to poorer students to prevent disadvantage. However, if the Government had tasked the BBC with increasing the volume of educational TV programing and funded this accordingly they could have reached a far greater number of children in all age groups, even in poorer homes, but they failed to do this. While the battle over wearing masks presented an unnecessary risk, removing Test, Trace and Isolate from local authority control and handing it over to an incompetent, centralized private company was a deadly disaster.

    Predictably under the Tories, commercial interests fared a little better after thousands of lorries backed up at our busiest port; despite earlier ignorance, for Dominic Raab the importance of Dover became visually apparent. Still if this shambolic Tory Government was hoping to simply detract from schools, as the most significant driver of Covid 19, by blaming the exponential spread of the virus on a new more highly contagious strain they really should have predicted the sudden response from France as the border slammed close! In the London Economic Article entitled, “Covid: Testing sites set up for hauliers to help flow of goods to France,” Joe Mellor outlined the heroic effort to get the port moving again; if only the safety of school children were that important to the Government! He said, “Drivers wishing to enter France from Britain must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken in the previous 72 hours.”

    Mellor reported that, “In the hope of not repeating the chaos in Kent, over Christmas, the Government is to set up testing centres, to try and ensure lorry drivers can enter France. 20 new Covid-19 testing centres for hauliers heading to the continent are being set up in the next few days, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said. Mr Shapps revealed that 10 of the sites would open on Saturday, with a further 10 on Sunday, and more being added during the week.” But wait there’s more… Mellor noted that, “The Government is also offering help to firms that wish to set up a testing location at their own premises. Testing kits will be made available to companies free of charge under the initiative. The move comes after restrictions were put in place on hauliers by the French government following the identification of a new strain of coronavirus in the UK. Drivers wishing to enter France from Britain must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken in the previous 72 hours.”

    Mellor explained that, “HGVs using Dover and Eurotunnel will get fast-tracked past queues if they get tested before arriving in Kent, the Government said, in a bid to reduce delays. Military personnel will be at some of the test sites to help with the operation.” He reports that, “Mr Shapps said: ‘As a result of the heroic efforts of hundreds of military and civilian personnel who have worked hard over the past 10 days, we have made incredible progress in clearing the queues of drivers left stranded as a result of the French government’s actions. If we are to keep traffic flowing in Kent, it is essential drivers are tested before they travel down to the area and that they have a Kent Access Permit before heading to the border, and these new testing centres both at service stations and inside businesses will help reduce delays’.”

    Mellor reports that, “Armed forces minister James Heappey said: ‘The armed forces are once again demonstrating their flexibility, redeploying to new testing sites to ensure quicker access and minimal disruption on the approaches to Dover and the Eurotunnel.’
    Staff at the testing centres will also be able to provide hauliers with guidance on new border procedures in place since Britain exited the Brexit transition period on New Year’s Eve, the Government said.”
    Admittedly, crisis scenes of irate drivers at Dover were generating really bad headlines due to the visual impact of thousands of parked lories, but why so little mention in the press of the reasonable demands of Teachers that could have made such a difference if they had only been listened to earlier on? When our exports were at risk the Government sent in the Army… For Tories, economic considerations, the continued flow of commerce was prioritized, but the health and safety of Teachers, school children and the working poor can be thrown under the school bus!

    In the London Economics Article entitled, “‘Utterly chaotic’ – Head teachers slam Government over ‘frustrating’ school reopening plans,” Joe Mellor documents their palpable frustration. They said they were, “half expecting some kind of change of policy but by the time it gets to 5pm on a Bank Holiday Friday, you kind of think they might have stuck with a decision.” He says that, “The Government have come under heavy criticism over their handling of school reopening plans. Headteachers have labelled it ‘utterly chaotic’ after a decision to close some primary schools was announced at short notice.” However, this latest decision is just like so many previous haphazard decisions affecting UK schools; ‘what plan? There is no plan!’ As always the thoroughly incompetent Tory Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, consistantly ignored ‘the scienc’ until each situation gets out of hand and refuses to listen to any advice from the Teachers and their Unuin. In is a cast iron Tory rule to defy the Unions on all occasions.

    Mellor reports that, “This feeling is shared by the GMB union, Stuart Fegan, GMB National Officer said: ‘Gavin Williamson is at sixes and sevens over the re-opening of schools. His shambolic approach is a recipe for chaos and danger. It’s causing huge stress. As infection rates rise, we need a consistent approach, not a postcode lottery. The Education Secretary now needs to apply some common sense, make a full U-turn, and delay re-opening all schools in England until proper safeguards are in place. No one wants to disrupt any child’s learning but action is needed to protect people and make schools safe. This must include ensuring priority vaccination of all support staff in schools, key workers who are all-too-often forgotten’.”

    Mellor elaborates on the latest decision saying, “Education Secretary Gavin Williamson on Friday confirmed that all London primary schools will remain shut next week as the capital battles with high levels of coronavirus infections. Most other primary schools are expected to still open on Monday while secondary schools will reopen on a staggered basis, with exam year pupils returning on January 11 and others returning a week later. While the London move has been welcomed as the “right decision”, the Government was also accused of making another U-turn just days after it told some schools to reopen for the new term. Unions have also called for all schools in England to remain closed amid the spread of the new Covid-19 variant. Tom Prestwich, a head teacher of a primary school in south London, said he learned about the change in policy on Twitter on Friday afternoon.” This appalling level of communication is disgracefully unprofessional, inconsiderate and disrespectful, but it is becoming the Tory norm.

    Mellor reports that Prestwich, “told BBC Breakfast: ‘We’d actually just sent a letter out to parents saying that we were still opening next week, and then after that the story broke pretty much straight away.’ Mr Prestwich added: ‘I was half expecting some kind of change of policy but by the time it gets to 5pm on a Bank Holiday Friday, you kind of think they might have stuck with a decision, although I am glad that they’ve changed this one.’ He said the timing was ‘really frustrating’, adding: ‘We appreciate it’s a fast-moving situation, the Government must be getting different health advice all of the time, but schools do need to plan. ‘We will be opening for quite a few pupils next week, we’ll need two rotas of staff, one to deliver to vulnerable pupils, pupils without decent internet access, pupils with SEN (special educational needs), and another to deliver high-quality online learning. ‘All of that takes time and this decision could have been made two weeks ago’.”

    It is typical of this Tory Government to make unworkable, totally unrealistic demands, but refuse to supply the funding, personnel or indeed any of the practical support necessary to carry out their latest dictates for mass testing. According to Mellor, “The Government has also been criticised over its plans to run mass asymptomatic testing in secondary schools. Test supplies are due to be delivered to schools on Monday, with education union leaders estimating a secondary school with 1,000 pupils will need approximately 21 trained volunteers to carry it out. Dave Lee-Allan, the head teacher of Stowmarket High School in Suffolk, said the rollout has been ‘frustrating’, and that it would take at least a week for his school to be operational. He outlined problems with space in the school building, as well as training and vetting the volunteers that have come forward to help.” Unlike with the stranded Hauliers, Army assistance to schools is limited to a team of remote advisors to oversee the chaos!

    Melor reported that, “The head teacher told BBC Breakfast: ‘Senior leaders in the school have now got a huge extra weight and challenge given to them as to how we operate this and, I have to say, this has been utterly chaotic, that’s the headline being used today, this whole process’. Mr Lee-Allan said he would not open his school if he felt it was not fully prepared, adding: ‘It’s got to be safe. Previously, the Government has been saying it would take legal action but I think in these sorts of circumstances, it should be left to the head teachers on the ground to make the right call.’ Sam Williamson, a head teacher in Bristol, told BBC Breakfast her secondary school was prepared for the rollout of mass testing after senior staff had ‘three or four’ days off for Christmas. She said: ‘The basic plan is in place and we will actually be ready to go as long as tests arrive on time and we’ve got enough volunteers, which we think we have’.” Nationwide this will require a huge number of volunteers to accomplish such a mammoth task; where are they?

    In another London Economic Article on schools entitled, “‘Legal right to protection,’ Leading union to tell staff of right not to return to classrooms,” Mellor again takes this Tory Government to task over gross mismanagement of our education system and shirking their primary duty to keep our children safe. He says, “The fault, however, is of the Government’s own making and is a result of their inability to understand data, their indecisiveness, and their reckless approach to their central duty, to safeguard public health.’ On Friday, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed that all London primary schools will remain shut next week as the capital battles with high levels of coronavirus infections. Now a leading teaching union will inform its members of their legal right not to return to classrooms due to unsafe conditions amid the pandemic. Most other primary schools in England are expected to still open on Monday while secondary schools will reopen on a staggered basis, with exam year pupils returning on January 11 and others returning a week later.”

    Mellor reports, “Unions representing teachers and support staff have since called for delays to the reopening of schools across the country. On Saturday, the National Education Union (NEU), which represents the majority of teachers, said it would be informing its members of their legal right not to work in unsafe conditions as it called for all primary schools to move online. The union’s joint general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: ‘Whilst we are calling on the Government to take the right steps, as a responsible union we cannot simply agree that the Government’s wrong steps should be implemented. That is why we are doing our job as a union by informing our members that they have a legal right to refuse to work in unsafe conditions which are a danger to their health and to the health of their school communities and more generally’.”

    Quoting Dr Bousted Mellor notes, “’We are informing our members of their legal right to protection to be guided by the science.’ Dr Bousted said this means teachers can be available to work from home and work with vulnerable children and those of key workers, but not to take full, in-person classes from Monday. She continued: ‘We will be informing our members that they have the right to work in safe conditions which do not endanger their health. We realise that this late notice is a huge inconvenience for parents and for head teachers. The fault, however, is of the Government’s own making and is a result of their inability to understand data, their indecisiveness, and their reckless approach to their central duty, to safeguard public health.” Mellor said, “The general secretary of the NASUWT union, Dr Patrick Roach, called for an immediate nationwide move to remote education due to safety concerns. Dr Roach said: “There is genuine concern that schools and colleges are not able to reopen fully and safely at this time.”

    According to Mellor, Dr Roach said, “The NASUWT remains of the view that schools, colleges and other settings should only remain open to all pupils where it is safe for them to do so. The NASUWT will not hesitate to take appropriate action in order to protect members whose safety is put at risk as a result of the failure of employers or the Government to ensure safe working conditions in schools and colleges.” Mellor says that, “Guidance is also expected from the union NAHT, which represents school leaders, regarding the return to work. In an update to members on Saturday, general secretary Paul Whiteman said: ‘The Government’s current approach is too simplistic and is damaging education.’ It is time to properly respond to what professional educators need rather than how attractive a headline may read.” He said, “The Government is alienating the profession, failing children and being reckless with the safety of the whole school community.”

    Unlike with the Hauliers, there is no well coordinated practical support team to help actually administer mass testing as demanded by the Government. Mellor reports, “Mr Whiteman also said the union had started preliminary steps in legal proceedings against the Department for Education and is awaiting the Government’s response. He said: ‘We have asked the Government to share the evidence justifying distinctions drawn between primary and secondary schools, the geographical distinctions they have made and the evidence justifying the compulsory introduction of mass testing’.” The call to delay the reopening of schools was supported by Unison, as the union’s head of education Jon Richards said: ‘The Government must end its bitty, piecemeal approach and act decisively by delaying the start of term for all schools by two weeks because of spiralling infection rates.’ Signs outside Bonner Primary School in Tower Hamlets, east London, give advice about necessary precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus.”

    Strong criticism of the Tory Government’s approach came thick and fast as Mellor reports that, “The GMB union, which represents school support staff, said it will take action to defend the safety of its members unless the Education Secretary delays the reopening of schools in England. Stuart Fegan, GMB national officer, said: ‘Gavin Williamson is at sixes and sevens over the reopening of schools. His shambolic approach is a recipe for chaos and danger. It’s causing huge stress. ‘As infection rates rise, we need a consistent approach, not a postcode lottery. The Education Secretary now needs to apply some common sense, make a full U-turn, and delay reopening all schools in England until proper safeguards are in place. ‘No-one wants to disrupt any child’s learning but action is needed to protect people and make schools safe. ‘This must include ensuring priority vaccination of all support staff in schools, key workers who are all too often forgotten’.”

    Due to my past medical training, I identified the Covid risk and my own possible susceptibility very early on and was in a position to cautiously begin precautionary self-isolation that I have maintained from early March onwards. As someone who might be higher up the priority queue I don’t feel a need to blast forward, elbows out, demanding vaccination. In a safe environment working from home, I would much rather see, not just the NHS, but other frontline staff like Teachers get the jab first; a diabetic BAME bus driver living in a multigenerational household, is a far greater priority than someone like me who can patiently seclude in safety. I worry about the people like my dearest friend in London, an adult education teacher mostly working with refugees; despite her age she is passionate about her job and refuses to quit. I hope we can be logical about the vaccine rollout, but with the track record of this abysmal Government I hold out little hope unless they are removed from office; we must challenge, Investigate, expose and oust the Tories ASAP. DO NOT MORE ON!

    #64301 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    The Skwawkbox Article entitled, “SAGE scientist: ‘We KNOW school children 7 times more likely to bring virus home than other household members’,” reinforces vital information that this particular progressive News Site has tirelessly focused on presenting repeatedly for months now. They include a BBC Video Clip taken from Prof Sir Mark Walport’s interview on the Andrew Marr Show this past Sunday where the professor adds that, “closing schools and distancing children is the only measure known to bring down transmission rates, something that can’t yet be said even for vaccines. Sage scientist and former Chief Scientific Officer Professor Mark Walport dropped a coronavirus bombshell on yesterday’s Marr programme that seems, unsurprisingly, to have been ignored by the so-called ‘mainstream’ media in their analysis of the Boris Johnson’s resistance to teaching unions’ calls to close schools as part of a national lockdown, a resistance shamefully matched by Labour leader Keir Starmer.

    Skwawkbox insist that, “Walport was emphatic, and stated frankly that the government and its scientific advisers know that older school pupils are seven times more likely to bring the virus home to infect their family than any other household member. And he added that it was clear that school holidays bring down infection rates and keeping people apart, which means closing schools, is the only thing currently known to do so, something that can’t yet be said even about the new coronavirus vaccines: Boris Johnson is wrong to stubbornly insist schools remain open. Keir Starmer is equally wrong to support him. Teachers and their unions are right. ‘The science’ says so, and the government knows it. That obstinacy is costing thousands of lives, and will cost many thousands more, if it is not abandoned immediately.”

    In a Sky News Article entitled, “COVID-19: Boris Johnson leaves viewers with more questions than answers,” Kate McCann evaluates the PM’s Sunday interview on Andrew Marr. Sky’s Political correspondent says that, “Boris Johnson recognises the gravity of the situation, but it is unclear how he will tackle it.” Sky News claim, “Boris Johnson’s position on a potential new Tier 5 has not been made clear. The prime minister knew, walking into his first broadcast interview of 2021, that he would face some difficult questions. In the last 24 hours alone, teaching unions have warned their members not to take classes face-to-face because of fears over the rate at which COVID-19 is spreading, a record number of new cases has been announced, and the government has been forced to change its mind on primary schools opening in London this week.”

    McCann said, “It was unsurprising then that Boris Johnson’s message on schools appeared to be confusing.” With regard to schools The PM had insisted that, “The risk is small.” She reported that, “During an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr he clearly stated that schools were safe, and parents should send their children back if their school is open. But when asked to guarantee closed schools will welcome pupils again by the middle of January, the deadline he set, the prime minister could not say yes. Nor could he guarantee that exams will be held as normal this year, or rule out further changes to the school system, despite his strong desire to keep everything up and running. He cited advice from public health officials about the safety of schools, but this was written before the spread of the new coronavrius variant, which has been rising rapidly in younger age groups, though is still not causing serious illness.” Citing out of date data in a fast moving national crisis does not inspire confidence.

    In McCann’s opinion, “The prime minister’s message, coupled with his repeated assertion that coronavirus restrictions will get tougher in some parts of the country, left viewers with more questions than answers. There was no timetable for when changes could be made, or an explanation about what a potential new Tier 5 could entail.” While it is a relief to hear that the, “Oxford vaccine is now ready for roll-out,” the lack of clarity from the PM was most disconcerting. Each full announcement of each new decision is promoted in advance like a tantalizing or traumatizing sneak preview, often supplying just enough information to prompt a swift exodus as it did right before London went into tier four. Such ill advised early warnings of increased local restrictions have helped to spread the new strain of Covid 19 all over the country.

    In another of his confusing contradiction in the Marr interview viewers were left wondering, “With rising infections and deaths across the country, it isn’t hard to see why such measures might be needed.” But, she said, “Mr Johnson also made the case that lockdowns do not work and are a blunt tool which will not solve the rapid spread. Speaking on the vaccine roll-out, he pledged to vaccinate tens of millions of people over the coming months. Yet experts have warned two million people a week need to be vaccinated for the current wave to be curbed. Mr Johnson apologised for his inability to be more specific. It was clear from the tone of the interview that the prime minister understands the gravity of the situation the country now faces. But it was unclear how he and his government will tackle it.”

    McCann concluded by saying that, “The vaccine and testing regimes will eventually be the key to suppressing the spread enough to return to normal life, but these could take months to get there. Until then there will be some difficult decisions for ministers to take – on schools, and on everyday life for people around the country.” In stark contrast to the Bumbling bullshit of Boris Johnson, Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon recalled the Hollyrude Parliament to make a clear, firm, and serious, but compassionate set of new restriction announcements to the people of Scotland. She was countered by a set of concise, logical and practical questions for further clarification put forward in a professional, non-combative manner by Tory Ruth Davidson. This informative and civilized exchange was designed to leave the Scottish public crystal clear about what they should do and when, while definitely outlining the reasoning behind the latest decisions made regarding further restrictions and what will be strictly prohibited until further notice.

    We now await Boris Johnson belatedly following Nocola Sturgeon’s strong leadership. The conduct between Boris Johnson and the new Labour Leader, Keir Starmer during debates in Parliament and at Prime Minister’s Questions is like watching two young boys square off for a school yard brawl. It is a woefully unprofessional performance from both of them and, just like the PMs shoddy interview style, it leaves the public with more questions than answers. Boris Johnson is vague, contradictory and indecisive, preferring showmanship and grandstanding with elaborate promises and grossly inaccurate information or downright lies. Starmer is no better as his preferred tactic of scolding and trying to coax an admission of guilt out of the PM is doomed to failure, irritating, irrational and accomplishes nothing. Instead of his pathetic “who’s a naught boy…” approach he needs to follow Ruth Davidson’s lead and try to pin the PM down to specific evidence and timeline commitments that put him on the spot and inform the public.

    When our hapless Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared on that Marr Show on Sunday he looked as if he had just stumbled out of bed with a bad hangover, but he was there to crow about his success in wrenching us out of the EU with the most damaging of deals imaginable. He wanted to arrogantly brag about British achievement with regard to the newly approved AstraZeneca vaccine as if he had been personally instrumental in creating it. He was characteristically over promising about the roll-out giving few details beyond his usual bluster and vacious PR spin; it was ‘handifloss’ for his compliant Media to feed to a Covid 19, battle weary, British public. But the PM didn’t spare us his customary dose of sanctimonious preaching to remind us that the escalation in the infection rate was ultimately all our fault for not adhering to his shambolic, ever changing, dictates. His emphatic denial of the unnecessary risk posed by children returning to poorly prepared, understaffed schools was particularly nauseating to choke down.

    His determination to keep children in school, faking genuine concern regarding the damage caused by neglecting their education was just rank hypocrisy. The Government could have allocated additional funding to the BBC to drastically increase televised learning programs for school children across all age ranges while halting the payment of the TV licence fee for poor families. If this tasking had been initiated early on, as a precautionary measure in case it became necessary to close schools, all that TV learning content could have been marketed overseas if it was not needed here. TV learning would have reached a far greater proportion of children than online learning requiring computers and internet access they know is unavailable to a large number of poor children. The Government made impressive announcements about providing Laptops, only to drastically scale the program back as soon as public attention had shifted to the next crisis. Children in school despite the Covid risk isn’t due to concern over their ability to learn.

    Subjugation of the working poor is accomplished through the deliberate perpetuation of ignorance with the starvation of children during the years of learning. Starvation doesn’t just debilitate the body and stunt growth, it’s first impact is on the brain where it causes a critical drop in blood sugar, the vital fuel for a properly functioning mind. The compulsory milk at first break in the morning raised blood sugar, kick-starting the ability to think properly in class, until ‘Thatcher bottle snatcher’ crueley removed this important resource. “Feed kids and they will learn” was also the principal behind the ‘Sure Start Program.’ that was able to successfully boost the life chances of children, since a healthy breakfast combated malnutrition and the resulting dip in blood sugar levels. Although school dinners suffered a significant drop in quality at one point, the efforts of Jamie Oliver to improve their nutritional value made a really positive difference to the poorest children who were so heavily dependent on this as their most significant meal of the day.

    During the war strict rationing of food was necessary, but it was calculated to ensure that the entire population had recourse to a least the bare minimum of the available provisions. Rationing applied to everyone and, meager as it was, it allowed the entire population an equal chance of survival, plus it was nutritionally sound. This was an effort by the Government of the day to act in the best interest of the population as a whole and people cooperated, because at the time they felt assured that they really were all in it together. The constant battles with this Tory Government over trying to ensure that the poorest children in our population do not go hungry, represents a complete denial of their core responsibility and a total abdication of their essential duty to protect the British people from harm. Why are the Tories so fanatical about the denial of food in the full understanding of how starvation will cripple the ability of children to learn? An ignorant and desperate workforce will be readily compliant with perpetual Tory exploitation!

    It is obvious that Boris Johnson must now be fully aware that children remaining in school are functioning as vectors, spreading Covid to more susceptible family members who will get sick and die. In the Byline Times Article entitled, “’Journal of the Plague Year & What to Expect in 2021,’ Byline Times’ chief medical officer, Professor John Ashton, looks back on the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic and warns that without radical change, next year will be even bleaker.” He says, “The metaphor of the perfect storm may be overused, but the events of recent days make it an inadequate one. Far from understanding and learning from the mistakes of the first nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Boris Johnson and his Government have been repeating them and adding more for good measure. As we go into the Prime Minister’s ‘Merry Little Christmas’ the immediate prospects for the New Year are bleak. It seems increasingly likely that, in the UK at least, the Coronavirus crisis may now extend well past the spring.”

    Ashton reports that, “The reality of escalating infection rates coincides with the latest evidence of over-promising and under-delivering with the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination programme. This is combined with deteriorating staff sickness and morale across the public and private sectors in general, and the NHS and schools in particular. The main charges against Johnson have been well-rehearsed: his superficiality, short attention span, lack of attention to detail and unwillingness to take responsibility for matters when things go wrong. There is a tragic symmetry to his distraction from the pandemic by Brexit. Four-and-a-half years after the EU Referendum, the catastrophic consequences of leaving the EU have been exposed by one of nature’s smallest and most powerful forces.”

    Ashton describes the Tory Governments overall strategy as “Centralised and Out Of Control” saying, “There was a chance of getting a handle on the Coronavirus after the first lockdown in the Spring, but it has now been given a new lease of life by the failure to decentralise the response and fully resource local public health teams. Local teams have always been the custodians of the expertise to control local and regional outbreaks in concert with their communities. This has belatedly happened in Liverpool with the advent of mass, lateral flow testing and an empowered public health team, in stark contrast with the private sector companies without such expertise which have squandered billions of pounds of public money.”

    According to many including Ashton, “This is aggravated by the breakdown of trust between the governors and the governed. The tipping point came in May when the Prime Minister’s chief advisor Dominic Cummings broke lockdown rules by driving to Barnard Castle. Before he left his Government role, he was reportedly rewarded with a £40,000 pay rise. The consequences of such a breakdown of trust could be seen most vividly last weekend with the mass escape from London. Railway stations were reminiscent of the escape from the Martians in War of the Worlds. The past few days will go down in the history of the pandemic as significant as Boris Johnson’s lost month of February. Or the week beginning 9 March which saw the Cheltenham Festival and the Atletico Madrid-Liverpool football match going ahead, both potentially ‘superspreader’ events.”

    Ashton points out the blindingly obvious Tory mistake saying, “When it comes to the limitations of a centralised response, the special place of London and the ‘home counties’ (aptly named as an indication of the lingering colonial mindset that still dominates Whitehall) deserves to be highlighted. The first wave of the virus in the Spring began among the February half-term returning skiers who lived predominantly within the M25 and along the M4 and M40 corridors, who then took it to their weekend cottages. If London and the south-east of England had been locked down early this Spring, the same fate may have been spared the rest of the country. Instead, the virus moved steadily from the wealthy to the more disadvantaged areas where it became entrenched, extracting a dreadful price on those with health vulnerabilities. The reluctance to place the capital in tier three of the special measures this Autumn has now allowed the virus yet another wind, with a so-called third wave in prospect.”

    Ashton’s predictions are realistic but dire, he says, “Looking forward to 2021, we are facing the perfect storm: an alienated public, a revivified virus, a chaotic Brexit, and the seizing up of commerce and transport between England and Europe, food shortages and perhaps even rationing to come. ‘Normal’ UK winter deaths shame our reputation and are not to be found in other northern European countries. These have barely started and will create a backlog of the dead in mortuaries and gymnasia, waiting weeks for funerals. Shortages of personal protective equipment are once again likely to become an issue, stranded in lorries unable to come in from the continent. Mental health issues will become ever more pressing. Though a lid has been held tightly down on prisoners, held in their cells for 23-and-a-half hours a day, this may finally blow.”

    Ashton would not be the first to anticipate civil unrest as the Government have already figured it into the Brexit planning under ‘Oppoeration Yellowhammer.’ Yes, Brexit that other bombshell dropped on us by this hapless Tory Government, a recklessly induced act of self-harm enacted in the most brutal of ways at the worst possible time in order to force through Tory power and personal wealth ambitions and the expense of the majority of the British population. Ashton warns us that, “Civil disturbance is a distinct possibility with shortages of foods and essential goods and anger over access to the vaccine programme. The distasteful rush to lay claim to the first administered vaccines (which were Belgian-produced in conjunction with American pharma) was equalled by the by now familiar boasting and blagging about the number of vaccines to be administered by Christmas. Johnson’s claim of 10 million vaccinations by Christmas dwindled to perhaps two million.”

    Ashton spells out the harsh reality reporting that, “The fact that 350,000 first doses had been given in one week was acclaimed as a vindication. At this rate, with a population of 65 million, it will take more than two years to achieve a substantial level of immunity across the community. The private sector-led computer programme to record vaccinations doesn’t talk to the NHS’ computer, so vaccinations must be recorded manually. This hardly inspires confidence. Where does this leave us? Not in a good place. The public has been failed by the Government and must now lead from behind. How that will happen is very hard to predict but if it doesn’t, and if the Conservative Party fails to find competent replacements for an inadequate Prime Minister very soon, 2020 may just turn out to have been a taster of some very dark days ahead.” The copious evidence of ongoing corruption should be enough to demand the removal of the Tory Party from office, even without Investigating the result of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election.

    In breaking news it was announced earlier today that Julian Assange’s extradition was rejected by the British Court. Although this is an encouraging move, it’s important to decipher the motivation behind this decision as the Judge was so clearly biased and totally devoid of compassion. This could be another attempt to manipulate the media as she has ruled in agreement with the US charges demonizing Assange as guilty, and distracting with the faux concern over his welfare in a US Supertmax jail. It is certainly not as if she can honestly claim his treatment here in the UK at Belmarsh Prison has been significantly more humane! They will deny bail, as I think the US are stymied and directing the Brits to stall for time, knowing Asange could win an appeal against his conviction. The essence of this persecution of Assange is to gag other like-minded conscientious Whistleblowers and Investigative Journalists. Might we see a gross injustice corrected this New Year? We all wish you well Julian; may you soon move on with your life as a free man…

    #64391 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    The Prime Minister’s latest combination of conflicting assurances to encourage children to mix in school after a period of cautious protected isolation over Christmas followed by a very strict lockdown, ordered at the end of the first day back at school, can only be judged as a conscious decision to spread the virus using school children as vectors. The extremely rapid timing of the PM’s U-turn leaves no other conclusion, but an intention to cause deliberate harm to the most vulnerable members of the UK population with his cruel ‘Slaughter of the Sheeple!’ This Tory Government fully realizes that extreme poverty and the dire housing crisis that they created has forced many families to move in with grandparents in multigenerational households where the children are functioning as vectors for Covid 19. These are the people that Johnson contemptuously deems so worthless as to be considered expendable. Our PM is among global leaders who have manipulated the Pandemic to comit Genocide, or perhaps we should call it ‘Covicide.’

    In the Skwawkbox Article entitled, “One of most irresponsible, disgraceful public health things I’ve ever seen,” they say, “If you only watch one thing on Johnson’s new lockdown, make it this expert’s take.” They included Video footage of an interview with, “Health expert Adam Hamdy, who has provided numerous reports and analysis to the government on the pandemic and the steps needed to fight it and who is in constant contact with other leading health experts and epidemiologists.” He was featured, “live on Socialist Telly on Monday evening as Boris Johnson made his announcement of England’s new lockdown.” Regarding the stricter lockdown he stated that, “It was no surprise to anyone, as the change had been thoroughly leaked by Downing Street to the media. But Hamdy spontaneously tore into Johnson, when the news was confirmed, in a way you will rarely if ever see on the so-called ‘mainstream’ media.”

    Skwawkbox remark that, “Hamdy zoomed in on the fact that only yesterday Boris Johnson had been encouraging parents to send their children into school this morning, and that in doing so, he shattered the period of isolation that would have made grandparents and other vulnerable relatives safe to care for them, only to reverse that position on Monday evening and expose them to the greatest risk.” This was unforgivable, but it was no harmless error of judgement on the part of this Tory Government, it was a well calculated and maliciously conceived intentional population cull. Why? Hamdy explains that, “in shattering that safety, he has fuelled the lethal spread of the virus that is already so far out of control by World Health Organisation standards that it is barely imaginable.” Skwawkbox urge, “If you only watch, and share, one thing about Johnson’s announcement, make it this. You will not see its like elsewhere.”

    In promoting the broadcast Skwawkbox say, “Hamdy was joined on the programme by front-line teachers, teaching union representatives and parents, in an unmissable discussion that also laid bare the stress and anguish of teaching staff. Watch the whole Skwawk Talk episode.” This was posted in tandem with another excerpt from the Presentation, “Video: teacher describes stress he and his teacher wife feel about dangerous classroom conditions. He spent Xmas preparing for online classes.” Boris Johnson’s calously tricking the public into using their own children to act as vectors in his nation wide cull of our most vulnerable citizens, with his shallow pretence about concern over the academic harm of school closures on disadvantaged children. This is truly despicable from a Tory Government who don’t give a toss about whether those same children starve, or go to school so hungry they are unable to function properly or learn. How does childhood starvation during the years of learning impact their life chances?

    Skwawkbox are cranking up the fight-back with regular interviews broaching subjects you will not see aired on the BBC. An earlier Skwawkbox Article promoted, “Tomorrow on Skwawk Talk on Socialist Telly at 7.30pm: professor’s ‘mind-blowing’ revelations of the effects of poverty on children,” they said, “In a Socialist Telly first, live questions will be taken from the channel’s Twitter feed.”

    They reported that, “Tory policies have inflicted such hardship and hunger on millions, one in three, of the UK’s children that the UN’s special rapporteur Philip Alston condemned them as a ‘disaster for the poor’ and the UN’s humanitarian agency for children, UNICEF, has been forced to feed UK children for the first time in the organisation’s history.” This should be enough to shame this Tory Government into taking immediate action, but they are far too busy trousering the bonanza in profits to be made on obscure private contracts loosely related to their shambolic mishandling of the Covid 19 crisis.

    In the run up to the worst and most deprived Christmas in living memory, the Skwawkbox had announced. “Tomorrow night’s Skwawk Talk on Left Media TV (Socialist Telly) will feature what Liverpool Labour MP Ian Byrne has described as a ‘mind-blowing’ presentation by professor of paediatric health Ian Sinha on how that poverty and hunger impact poor children’s development and life prospects, even down to a cellular level: Byrne, who has seen the presentation and will also participate to talk about his ‘Right to Food’ campaign, and in a new step for Socialist Telly, both will take questions that viewers can submit to the Socialist Telly Twitter feed. Millions of children in the UK are living in poverty and will face a bleak Christmas, so don’t miss the chance on Monday evening to find out more about what they face and how to help them.” You can still access, “Socialist Telly on Twitter or the SKWAWKBOX Facebook page – make sure to follow the accounts on all platforms and share this article to raise awareness.”

    I quoted McCann’s confusion over the PM’s assertion on Sunday when he insisted with regard to schools that, “The risk is small.” I relayed how Sky News had reported that, “During an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr he clearly stated that schools were safe, and parents should send their children back if their school is open. Boris Johnson had cited advice from Public Health officials about the safety of schools, but this was written before the spread of the new coronavrius variant, which has been rising rapidly in younger age groups, though it’s still not causing serious illness.” But the warning was apparent as McCann pointed out, “The prime minister’s message, coupled with his repeated assertion that coronavirus restrictions will get tougher in some parts of the country… …no timetable for when changes could be made, or an explanation about what a potential new Tier 5 could entail.” Then, directly after encouraging children to mix in school, after isolation over the holiday, he ordered a lockdown later on Monday!

    The Morning Star Article entitled, “The NEU shows what a fighting union looks like,” marks another positive step in the progressive left’s fight-back to elevate people, especially children, over profits. “When teaching trade unionists realised that the government was ignoring the advice of its own scientific advisers, they stepped up to defend pupils, staff and communities, says Robert Poole. The latest U-turn, I’ve lost track of how many we’ve had now, sees primary schools switching to remote learning. This dramatic about-face comes only a day after the government refused to heed the calls of scientific advisers, doctors and teachers. This victory should be laid at the feet of brave National Education Union trade unionists who made the decision to refuse to attend unsafe workplaces on Monday morning.” With the Labour Party ‘under new management,’ why wasn’t Sir Keir Starmer outspoken in support of these key workers who had sacrificed so much. The Captain of Capitulation was still loyally supporting the Tory PM!

    Poole reports that, “Teachers and support staff up and down the country invoked their individual right to protect themselves, their families and the NHS.” He said, “This can’t have been an easy decision, especially as it had to be made as an individual rather than collectively as is the case with strike action. This was, though, the correct decision and one that only needed to be made only due to the government’s chaotic handling of the situation. Bringing all pupils back into classrooms when the rate of infection is so high was a reckless decision. Even though the Prime Minister went on the Andrew Marr Show to order parents to send their children to primary school in England (except London of course), reiterating that it was safe to do so, schools very clearly were not safe. When you look at the statistics, it is obvious that schools are the engine of disease transmission, and Johnson finally admitted this in his announcement on Monday night, saying that schools were ‘vectors of transmission’.”

    Poole rightfully asserts that, “Schools are not safe, they never were and until we have a vaccine they cannot be. It is also almost impossible for the government to make this claim as the Department for Education has admitted that it ‘does not hold information related to the number of deaths as a result of Covid-19.’ In fact I sent a question months ago asking what its predictions were and received a response that it did not hold any information on this. So it has not only not modelled the disease but also not collected any data it would seem. Thankfully children still seem to be less affected than adults, but we must remember that schools also have teachers and support staff in them and that pupils can also take the virus home with them. The question is what damage did the government do with it’s dither and delay? Three million primary schoolchildren were ordered back to school on Monday. That is three million little vectors mixing with numerous households before returning home.”

    Poole describes how, “When trade unionists realised that the government was ignoring the advice of its own scientific advisers, they stepped up. Rosa Luxemburg is quoted as having said that ‘the most revolutionary thing one can do is always to proclaim loudly what is happening’.” He said, “that is what the National Education Union did with a mass meeting online viewed by hundreds of thousands of people, suggested to be the largest union meeting ever. The NEU proclaimed to the country that the government was ignoring its own advisers and putting the nation at risk and if the government wasn’t going to do anything then it would have to. The place I want to be right now is in my classroom with my pupils. I don’t know any teacher who relishes the thought of a full day of Zoom lessons.” People who do not have close friends who are teachers fail to realize the immense volume of work expected of teachers outside the classroom quite aside from the burden of providing online lessons.

    Poole justifiably claims, “We should not have been forced into this situation. We must not rest on our laurels but think now about the challenges going forward. We can be certain that we will need the collective pressure of trade unionists across the country to ensure that the working class does not lose out. That’s why the NEU has put forward a 10-point recovery plan to ensure this doesn’t happen. Among other things, the government has said that GCSE and A-level exams will not go ahead. We must ensure that pupils receive a fair grade and there is not a repeat of the debacle of last summer. The government has also said it will provide more laptops to pupils. We must ensure that every pupil can access remote learning. We must also ensure that free school meals will be given to pupils who qualify.” All of these issues are really important considerations that require union solidarity. It is time to expose the reality that debunks the PM’s ‘lev…up’ lie and brace against the harsh truth of Tory ‘Decimating Down’ with austerity.

    Poole optimistically reports that, “The NEU’s proposals are far reaching. These are ambitious suggestions which will require significant investment if we are to meet the challenges of an uncertain future. The union added 16,000 new members over the past few weeks, 6,000 of them this weekend alone. Hundreds of members have expressed interest in becoming reps. By looking closely now at how well different districts, branches and workplaces organised will be invaluable in the coming period. Our current situation should be seen as a stress test. An opportunity to find strengths and weaknesses and plan for our next struggle; this is what a fighting union looks like and it is about time.” The NEU have set an impressive example of solidarity, plus the massive increase in Union membership is very encouraging. If this growing strength and bold vision can be emulated in other sectors then perhaps the working poor can be rescued from the increasing exploitation the Tories have planned for our post-Brexit future.

    Back at the very beginning of June 2020, Byline Times Chief Medical Officer wrote an article entitled, “Blinding Science Boris Johnson is Unravelling a 200-year-old Tradition of Public Health” Byline Times said, “Dr John Ashton, a former director of public health, argues that the Prime Minister’s handling of the Dominic Cummings scandal is a tipping point in the politics of the COVID-19 pandemic.” He said that, “Since COVID-19 made its appearance in January the language of epidemiology and public health has dominated the mass and social media alike. Arguments over numbers, the meaning of Ro and Re, trend lines and histograms have competed for headlines on a daily basis with speculation over the vicissitudes and moral failings of the Prime Minister, Dominic Cummings and other government advisors.”

    Ashton complained that, “Evidence-based politics has become a thinly veiled disguise for politically manipulated science. We have been invited to accept that the arcane machinations of statistical modellers from Imperial College, Oxford University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine represent ‘Science’ of the highest order; perhaps to be seen as on a par with Albert Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, where the equivalent to E=MC2 might well have been brought down from the mountain by Moses himself. For the past three months opinion has been dressed up as solid facts the provenance of which is too complicated for the comprehension of other scientists, never mind the media or, God forbid, the public at large.” Ashton goes on to list some of the ridiculous ‘facts’ that didn’t stand up:

    On TESTING AND CONTACT TRACING. In a country with such a robust and resilient public health system, it was said that the WHO Director General’s instruction to ‘test, test, test’ was an irrelevance, applicable only to underdeveloped countries. The truth was that we no longer had the capacity to test and trace because Andrew Lansley’s disastrous NHS reforms of 2013 and the centralisation of Public Health England had stripped bare the capacity of local and regional public health teams to fulfil their historic mission.

    • On PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT. Unique to this country it was decided to downgrade the risk of the virus from a ‘High Consequence Infectious Disease’ requiring full personal protection for those in clinically exposed roles to ‘ Haz Group 3’. This enabled the government to pass off the failure to maintain supplies of personal protective equipment for major incidents as irrelevant in the face of a less serious viral threat.
    • On the DISCHARGE of thousands of INFECTED HOSPITAL PATIENTS to CARE HOMES, starting a second epidemic that would kill thousands. This was dismissed as a misunderstanding and a misrepresentation — that no clinician would have knowingly done that — just one of many such examples of outsourcing the blame for decisions by sleight of hand.

    • On allowing MASS GATHERINGS to take place in Bristol, Cheltenham and at Anfield in the week of 9 March, on the grounds that people at such gatherings are only in close contact for a short time, insufficient to spread the virus.
    • On the DELAY in instituting a LOCKDOWN in March on the grounds that the public will tire of it and it will be difficult to make it stick. Despite treating the public like children from the beginning of the emergency the level of compliance was extremely high but sadly too late to prevent thousands of deaths. These could have been avoided if it had been implemented earlier, according to former Chief scientist, Sir David King.”

    That was when Ashton commented, “The Gloves are Off” saying that, “From early in February, when it first became apparent that the Government was failing to get a grip on the emerging public health disaster and that its advisors were failing to provide the informed challenge that was their responsibility, those of us who tried to raise the alarm were first written off and disparaged as ‘ranting’ and somehow deranged. Later, as the emperor’s clothes came into clearer sight, became the object of a politically orchestrated campaign as being political, left-wing loonies, unrepentant ‘remoaners’ and worse. However, the public has become increasingly suspicious that, in setting up the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientist together with a confusing array of deputies as a Praetorian guard, we have been led down a rose garden path in which evidence-based politics has become a thinly veiled disguise for politically manipulated science.”

    Ashton had reported that, “If the week beginning 9 March 2020 was the one in which the UK epidemic spiralled out of control, the last week of May, the week of the Dominic Cummings’ rank hypocrisy is another; political intimidation of the BBC to control an independent-minded Emilie Maitlis; desperate attempts to divert attention from the meltdown of government support by a reckless abandonment of lockdown; the humiliating put-down of the Chief Medical and Chief Scientist by the Prime Minister at a press conference. Last week will surely stand out as a tipping point, not only in the political management of the COVID-19 emergency but also in a reappraisal of the place of public health, its representatives and its institutions in national life.” Boris Johnson’s fierce protection of his wayward Special Advisor, insisting on keeping him in post as if he had committed no wrongdoing, seriously enraged the British public, some of whom had refrained from visiting dying relatives to adhere to restrictions for the greater good.

    Ashton describes, “Two Centuries of Policy Undermined,” saying, “The roots of public health run deep in the UK. The origins of the study of epidemiology ( literally ‘the study of that which is upon the people’) lie in the urban slums of the industrial revolution and the poverty studies begun by Rowntree and continued until today by Marmot. The tradition goes back 150 years to the epidemics of cholera that led to Liverpool appointing William Henry Duncan as the world’s first Medical Officer of Health in 1847; John Snow famously confronting the select vestry in Soho to remove the handle from the Broad Street pump in 1854. The scope of this calling was first describe by Charles Winslow, in 1920, and subsequently revived by our former Chief Medical Officer Sir Donald Acheson in the 1980s:”

    “The science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting physical health and efficiency through organised community efforts for the sanitation of the environment, the education of the individual in principles of personal hygiene, the organisation of medical service for the early diagnosis and treatment of disease, and the development of the social machinery which will ensure to every individual in the community a standard of living adequate for the maintenance of health.”

    Seven months ago Ashton warned that, “Now is the time to remind ourselves of our proud history of public health over that almost two hundred year period, and to be aware of the cul-de-sac of treating it as a purely technical rather than a political endeavour.” Sadly the PM is still not listening as he remains driven by his own personal priority to ‘spin’ the headlines rather than keeping the public appropriately safe and well informed. As we face the duel crisis of Covid 19 and dealing with the negative fallout from Brexit, the British public deserve more than bluster and lies from the incompetent showman who slithered into Downing Street after the dubious result of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. We will need courageous Trade Unions like the NEC to gain strength and show their muscle, byt the only way to set the UK on track for a meaningful recovery is to correct injustice by challenging the legitimacy of the result with an Investigation to expose the truth thereby removing Boris Johnson and his corrupt Tory cabal from office.

    #64442 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Anybody who hasn’t yet twigged that Sir ‘under new management’ Keir Starmer, is a Trojan horse functioning on behalf of the Tory Party, and acting at the behest of the Zionist Israeli Likud Party, rather than Labour Party members and the working poor isn’t alert to reality. During a national crisis is when it is most important that we have robust opposition in Parliament to fight for the rights of ordinary people against the powerful Corporate entities and the wealthy elite. Under the Captain of Capitulation we no longer have an effective opposition, but what we do have is a malevolent force from with the rabid right, proactively destroying the Labour Party and the progressive legacy of Jeremy Corbyn, brandishing weaponized fantisemitism, gagging free speech and banning all open democratic debate. Multiple CLPs all over the country have passed ‘No Confidence’ motions targeting Starmer and his wayward General Secretary David Evans; despite the Media silence, this groundswell of intense distrust cannot be ignored: they must go!

    The ‘missing in action’ Labour Leader further enraged his dwindling support base with his lackluster response to the intensified lockdown requirements, but signaling that he is not expecting extra support measures to be put in place by the Government. The Canary Article entitled, “People are outraged at Keir Starmer’s lockdown response,” they say that, “Members of the public have expressed their frustration with Keir Starmer’s failure to advocate for increased safety net measures in the new lockdown. On the evening of 4 January, the Labour leader appeared on BBC News and was asked whether Labour thought there was a ‘notable absence’ from the government’s lockdown measures. Starmer replied: Not an absence. I think the most important thing is the messaging about ‘stay at home’ and going back to the spirit of March, because a lot is now going to depend on the willingness of people to comply and I urge everybody to comply with the package that the prime minister has just outlined, to follow the guidance.”

    The Canary report that, “Meanwhile, organisations like the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), and the Renters’ Reform Coalition have urged the government to introduce measures such as increasing sick pay and lengthening the eviction ban during the new lockdown.” Numerous Tweets highlight the reaction of so many who feel abandoned by Starmer’s pathetic failure in leadership to remind him of his duty to the public. Laurie Macfarlane Tweeted: “Asked if anything is missing from the PM’s measures, Starmer says no Nothing about fixing the giant gaps in the safety net. Nothing about ensuring people can afford to self isolate. Nothing about helping firms at breaking point This is piss poor, frankly” John Smith (son of Harry Leslie Smith) Tweeted: “Someone, should hand Keir Starmer the note that tells him that cheerleading the present Tory government isn’t what the leader of a government in waiting should be doing, during this shambolic, deadly handling of a pandemic by Boris Johnson.”

    The Canary note that, “The TUC is currently urging the government to increase sick pay for workers in self-isolation to help control coronavirus (Covid-19) cases. It conducted a poll that found 40% of workers said they would go into debt if they were placed on statutory sick pay, while 20% said they would receive no wages at all. Statutory sick pay is currently £95.85 per week. The TUC is calling on the government to increase this to £320 per week, as well as making sure all workers receive it. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: The government must do everything possible to slow down the spiralling rise in Covid-19 cases. With the virus becoming more infectious, it’s more important than ever that people self-isolate when they develop symptoms. But the lack of decent sick pay is undermining Britain’s public health effort and is forcing workers to choose between doing the right thing and being plunged into hardship.”

    “Ministers must stop turning a blind eye to this problem and raise sick pay to at least the real living wage of £320 a week. And they must ensure that everyone has access to it” O’Grady insisted. The canary pointed out that, “This view was also echoed by social media users.” Jack Turner Tweeted: “When Keir Starmer was asked on BBC news if anything is missing from the latest measures, he said no… Erm, maybe how sick pay is only £96 a week which no one can live on, and therefore people with covid will have to choose between poverty or risk spreading the virus at work?” While providing a short list of what should have been prioritized in Starmer’s Labour opposition brief, Miriam Brett Tweeted: “Just some of the measures that should be taken now: – Freeze rent – Ban evictions – Increase sick pay – Support for carers – Scrap the two child cap – Support for single parents – Provide internet connection for all.”

    The Canary focused on the response of, “Several campaign groups have called for the eviction ban to be extended. The ban on ‘no-fault’ (section 21) evictions is due to end on 11 January. This will allow landlords to evict tenants without having to prove any faults. According to a poll in November by the JRF, more than 350,000 people have either been served eviction notices or discussed eviction with their landlords. In December, housing organisations came together to form the Renters’ Reform Coalition, to press for an extension to the ban as well as more protection for private renters.”

    Again people on Twitter were on hand to highlight what Starmer missed: Helen Barnard Tweeted: “Prime Minister’s address tonight had a lot right with it and showed learning from previous experience. A few glaring omissions, need rectifying fast. 1. Confirm the £20 extra on Universal Credit will continue + extend to the sick, disabled people: carers on legacy benefits. 2. Confirmed access to free school meals will continue but not how. Cash grants are the best & most dignified way to ensure families can afford essentials. 3. Evictions: we must have a watertight ban for the next few months and deal with rent arrears before it’s lifted…” While James B Tweeted: “Is there anything you’d like to see in there? Sick pay? Eviction protection? Furlough structure? Pupil provisioning funds? Vax roll out to key workers? A crumb of opposition, please?”

    This was in response to the BBC News report of Starmer’s bland comment where the BBC quoted Sir Keir as saying, “We’ve all got to pull together now to make this work over the next few weeks and months.’ Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says he backs the English lockdown and demands a Covid-19 vaccine roll-out ‘at speed’.” According to the Canary, “Several MPs have since called for increased safety net measures during the new lockdown, including supporting small businesses, uplifting Universal Credit, and housing rough sleepers: Nadia Whittome MP had her priority list ready when she Tweeted: “A national lockdown is necessary to save lives, but it must be fully funded. – Raise Statutory Sick Pay and Universal Credit; – Provide support for small businesses and self-employed people; – Suspend No Recourse to Public Funds; – Ban evictions and house rough sleepers.” Keir Starmer’s input was conspicuous in its absence while other Labour MPs listed their concerns on Twitter.

    lan Byrne MP Tweeted: “The national lockdown must be accompanied by full financial support. We need to protect the most vulnerable. – A Minimum Income Guarantee; – Sick pay at Living Wage Levels; – A bailout for the 3m excluded self-employed; – Ban evictions and house rough sleepers.” The Canary note that, “At least Labour’s deputy leader appeared to have a better handle on the situation: Angela Rayner Tweeted: ‘Only a government as useless and incompetent as this would announce months of lockdown without any support for people to get through it – sick pay and support for those isolating, business support, the millions who have been excluded from support, Universal Credit, home learning’.” The Canary say, “Starmer’s response was shameful. At a time when millions of people on low incomes and in precarious work will be scared and anxious about the future, Starmer chose to cheerlead the government rather than doing his job and advocate for the solutions that so many people desperately need.”

    Until progressive activists in the Labour Party manage to eject Trojan horse Keir Starmer the voice of the people will remain muted and the basic priorities for the majority of the UK population will continue to be neglected by this Tory Government, which is why his removal is such an urgent priority. Until the Captain of Capitulation can be successfully extricated from his position of supreme unaccountable power, how can we compensate for the critical void in leadership? Trade Union Solidarity! Just recently the NEC Union clearly demonstrated that we do have the wherewithal to combat insane Tory Government rulings by acting in defiant unison to oppose their dangerous dictates. As reported by Robert Poole in the Morning Star in response to Teachers refusing to return to schools when it was considered unsafe, he wrote, “We should not have been forced into this situation. We must not rest on our laurels but think now about the challenges going forward.”

    Poole highlighted the certainty that, “we will need the collective pressure of trade unionists across the country to ensure that the working class does not lose out” and he outlined the NEU’s 10-point recovery plan. He listed a fair grading system if exams were cancelled again, the promise of more Laptops must be fulfilled so that all students have equal access to remote learning and the continued provision of free school meals for pupils who qualify cannot be abandoned. Union solidarity can demard that all of these really important considerations and provisions are met by this failing Tory Government even at a time while we can no longer count on the advocacy and support of this dysfunctional Labour Leadership. It is time to expose the reality that debunks Boris Johnson’s ‘lev…up’ lie by shaming Keir Starmer into challenging this fake pledge before we are all overwhelmed by harsh Tory austerity as they ‘Decimating Down’ on the poorest and most vulnerable in our nation.

    Poole was right to admit that the NEU’s far reaching proposals, “are ambitious suggestions which will require significant investment if we are to meet the challenges of an uncertain future.” He revealed that, “The union added 16,000 new members over the past few weeks, 6,000 of them this weekend alone,” Saying, “hundreds of members have expressed interest in becoming reps.” Poole wrote, “This is what a fighting union looks like and it is about time,” but the impressive level of Union strength is not just ‘invaluable’ to the NEU, as it has proved to be over the past week, it will be vital to workers in all sectors of our damaged economy. We must encourage Union membership as we brace for uncertain times ahead, it’s worth emphasising that as I have already pointed out, “If this growing strength and bold vision can be emulated in other sectors then perhaps the working poor can be rescued from the increasing exploitation the Tories have planned for our post-Brexit future.”

    The Canary Article entitled, “New Year’s resolutions: Here’s why I’ll be joining a Trade Union in 2021,” gives this recruitment drive a seasonal twist worth noting. Lily Russell-Jones writes, “I think it’s fair to say that the UK is glad to see the back of 2020. While exercising more, eating healthier, or quitting smoking might seem like more typical resolutions to put on the list for lockdown in 2021, this year I plan to join a Trade Union. In the unlikely event that, like me, you have spent the past week pouring over the 1,200-page trade deal that the UK has agreed with the EU, then you may share my concern that it contains scant protection for workers’ rights. If there’s one thing that’s clear from the mammoth document, its that the trade and cooperation agreement will prove a poor substitute for the protections currently afforded to workers within the EU. Everything from limits on working hours to maternity rights are supplied by European law and supported by the legal infrastructure of the European Court of Justice.”

    Russell-Jones points out that, “In place of hard-won legal guarantees covering health and safety, discrimination, and paid leave, the trade agreement lacks clear guidelines and is missing strong enforcement measures.” She says that, “Article 6 of the trade agreement guarantees ‘fair working conditions and employment standards’ to workers without defining what fair looks like, leaving the Conservatives, who count the introduction of zero-hours-contracts among their proudest achievements, free to lower the bar.”
    Focusing on the Tories favorite dodge on accountability, zero enforcement, she notes that, “the promise that workers’ rights should not ‘weaken or reduce’ after the transition period ends lacks a robust enforcement mechanism. Although the agreement requires the UK to conduct an internal review every few years to ensure that current standards are maintained, there is no requirement for it to be carried out by an independent body or for its recommendations to be legally binding.”
    We all know how well that works!

    Russell-Jones reports that, “There’s little hope that the EU will step in to enforce non-regression as Brussels typically shies away from imposing sanctions on bilateral trade partners when labour or environmental standards are breached. All-in-all, with the UK facing pressure to compete at the international level and suffering the worst economic fallout from the coronavirus of any G7 nation, the likelihood of workers facing harsher conditions in 2021 is high, particularly for the young. Put simply, widespread job insecurity opens the door to exploitation by employers.” We can count on this Tory Government to use the massive spending during the Covid crisis to introduce more fiscal ‘belt taightening’ targeting the working poor; they have signaled as much already with the Public Sector Pay Freeze. Austerity will return with avengeance as the wealthy elite cling on to the purse strings while the PM’s vacuous PR spin manipulates the Media into reporting that the resulting hardship and deprivation is just their ‘lev…up’ lie!

    Correctly identifying the most vulnerable age group at risk, Russell-Jones claims, “Workers under the age of 25 have been hit the hardest by the pandemic with 1 in 10 losing their jobs and 6 in 10 experiencing a loss in earnings. That’s why I’m planning to join a trade union in 2021: the power of unions will likely prove an important antidote to the further deregulation of Britain’s labour market. Currently, although 16-25 year olds are among the most vulnerable workers, less than 5% are union members. Unions have seen a dramatic decline in membership across Europe since the end of the Cold War. I think apathy towards trade unions stems from their inability to shake a damaging association with the communist era, which has led to a dramatic decline in membership across Europe since the end of the Cold War.”

    Russell-Jones insists that, “Nonetheless, unions offer workers crucial bargaining power at the level of national policy, when organising for better pay and conditions with employers and when protesting mistreatment in the workplace. As such, they are poised to be an important check on power both by ensuring that workers are aware of their rights and preventing further slippages of labour standards. Stepping up to the plate will require union activists to make clear to the public that unions are a strong voice for workers, including young people whose confidence they must win. One thing I don’t want to wave goodbye to in 2021 is workers’ rights. Collective action and communitarian politics is the best way to safeguard progress in the troubling months ahead.” The Canary urge you to “Get involved: Ask colleagues at work if they are in a union or use the TUC find a union portal. Even if you’re not in work, you can become a community member of Unite or join a grassroots union like Acorn.”

    Following Boris Johnson’s presentation of the new Covid restrictions Keir Starmer immediately reverting to his standard rant ‘Who’s a naughty boy then!’ Perhaps due to the really embarrassing volley of negative online Twitter comments he belatedly called for an appropriate financial safety-net. He listed a number of issues he had been harshly reminded of including the void in support for the self-employed, which was met with denial by the PM. He demanded continuation of the higher Universal Credit payments and an extension to the eviction ban, which the PM claimed were both “under review!” Tories latch on to the Mental health implications of extended lockdowns, but ignore the unnecessary stress of ‘down to the wire’ reprieves. Starmer did call for proper financial support for all who required statutory sick pay and he said it was the worst possible time to freeze Public Sector pay. However, these points hit a brick wall again with more waffle, denial and lies from the PM.

    On Education Starmer should be ashamed of abandoning the Unions to follow the PM with his unforgivable drive to get children back to school on Monday morning only to announce a strict lockdown on Monday evening. Just like the PM, Keir was too arrogant to admit any error and swiftly moved on to asking when all those promised laptops were going to actually arrive; he also insisted on no delay in providing internet access. The PM waffled, denied and lied some more to divert attention from the exposed scaleback on Laptop delivery he had hoped no one would notice; he just made another expansive pledge that will doubtless be watered down soon enough. Instead Johnson hastily took personal credit for managing to get Internet providers to agree to provide free service for disadvantaged children. Questioned on whether exams were going ahead he redirected to Gavin Williamson. Johnson then announced that the BBC would be launching a whole raft of educational programming for children that was needed nine months ago.

    The last point raised by Starmer was with regard to securing our borders by putting strict quarantine measures in place as he said the system wasn’t working, but he got the usual vague non-committal response from the PM. Despite the risk of new mutations, like the one just discovered in South Africa, the PM was content to maintain a ‘too little, too late’ haphazard piecemeal approach that still leaves the UK vulnerable. Johnson couldn’t resist taking a few childish digs at Starmer for his past criticism over the vaccine program; it was a terse reminder that he was expected to stick to his Trojan horse role of unquestioning support for the PM. There has been concern over Nurseries remaining open after the Government belatedly recognized the need to close all primary schools, but this issue wasn’t raised. The plight of rough sleepers and the suspension of ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ was not mentioned by Keir Starmer, or for that matter by any of the other opposition Leaders, so ‘Everybody In’ is out of favour.

    The SNP Leader, Ian Blackford called for greater clarity and appropriate financial support announcing he expected answers to four questions. He asked about the vaccine and what action was being taken to ramp up supplies, to which the PM gave no definitive answer. He too demanded the closure of borders to all but essential travel, to which the PM reiterated his piecemeal approach. The question of support for the abandoned self-employed was raised and virtually ignored again as the PM waffled and just lied about grants and loans. Blackford wanted financial support for Scottish businesses, but his request was met with waffle about the Barnett Formula and Johnson took a swipe at him with a comment that amounted to ‘Why aren’t you polishing my haylow?’ LibDem Leader Ed Davey called for an emergency budget and an extension of furlough till summer, but the Tory Government refusal to support the self-employed hit its third rebuff and denial as the PM threw these abandoned workers under the bus yet again.

    Boris Johnson’s talk of removing restrictions “brick by brick” hinted of a return to the area by area Tier System that had proved so successful in targeted persecution of his constituencies within the Labour heartlands. None of these ‘Red Wall’ seats really ‘lent’ the Tories their vote in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election, so if they were never ‘on-side’ the PM has no hope of keeping them ‘on-side.’ If Johnson can no longer block an election he always just acquires their votes exactly as he had done in December and it didn’t require ‘borrowing!’ Why should the PM bother trying to win voters over with progressive policies, when his propaganda machine had them convinced renewed austerity was ‘lev…up’ to eliminate inequality? If we continue accepting that black is the new white, fail to challenge the Tory squandering of public funds or Investigate the fraudulent Covert 2019 Rigged Election to expose the truth, just as with the disease of fantisemitism, we will have weak, inept opposition facing an all powerful Tory Sovereign Dictatorship! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #64502 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Some still religiously cling to the unfathomable Covert 2019 Rugged Election result, blaming a dire confected Labour defeat on supporters of a confirmatory vote. Sadly, the Labour Party in its current state, under the destructive leadership of Trojan horse Keir Starmer, is no longer fit to take office! But, in a London Economic Article entitled, “Labour on track to reclaim red wall, Johnson to lose seat and majority at next election,” Joe Mellor says, “It isn’t looking good for the PM… The PM promised to level up the economy and help out the north after winning Labour seats in the Red Wall. According to a new poll, these constituencies are turning their back on his Government, after only a year. Additionally he could lose his own seat, according to this data, but there is a long way to go until the next election. This news comes as the planned reopening of schools in England has descended into disarray, as unions advised teachers not to return to the classroom, heads took legal action over the government’s plans.”

    Mellor announced, “Tories ‘ majority was wiped out. The research, carried out by Focaldata, will set alarm bells ringing in central Government. Over 22,000 people were surveyed in a closely watched constituency-by-constituency poll over a four-week period in December, published by The Sunday Times. According to the poll the Tories would lose 81 seats, destroying their current 80-seat majority. In this situation Labour would win 282 seats and the Tories would have 284. This would leave the SNP as potential kingmakers as they are predicted to win 57 or 59 seats in Scotland. However, pressure continues to mount for a new Scottish referendum, which has been soundly rejected by Johnson. But as support grows, the public may force his hand. In the findings Tories manage to cling on to just eight of the 43 ‘Red Wall’ seats that they won at last year’s general election – Bassetlaw, Bishop Auckland, Colne Valley, Dudley North, Great Grimsby, Penistone and Stocksbridge, Scunthorpe, and Sedgefield.”

    Mellor reports that, “Back in November Liverpool City Region mayor Steve Rotheram said: ‘This morning millions of people woke up knowing the Prime Minister of this country believes the North is worth less than the South.’ He said voters across ‘red wall’ areas would not be ‘fooled’ into electing the Conservatives again. The Labour politician said: ‘Apparently all votes count equally, but all voters demonstrably don’t, to this Government and the support you get from the Chancellor of the Exchequer depends on a horizontal line drawn across the country and on which side of it you sit.’ The poll suggested the PM would lose his own Uxbridge and Ruislip South constituency, where he is defending a majority of 7,200’.” This fails to take account of the fact that predictions were not good for the Tories before the Covert 2019 Rigged Election where they almost certainly failed to win tha 80 seat majority as claimed. However the Labour Party is being torn apart right now by the Trojan horse who conned his way into leadership.

    In mid October of last year Dr John Ashton wrote another Article for Byline Times entitled, “COVID-19 And the Second Harrying of The North,” with a scene from the Bayeux Tapestry of Normans burning Anglo-Saxon Buildings to illustrate the parallel he was drawing. This harsh comparison is intended to alert us to the deliberate and vindictive nature of the political choices being made by this Tory Government as they relentlessly target the most deprived areas in the north of England. The reality of their selective persecution of the poor makes a mockery of their deceitful ‘lev…up’ PR spin by exposing the true to form Tory ‘Decimating Down’ agenda of perpetual austerity! The “Byline Times’ chief medical officer, John Ashton, looks at how the Government has lost popular support for its unequal tier system.”

    Ashton allerted us to, “A new wave of COVID-19 is making its way relentlessly through the country. Track, Trace and Isolate is in disarray and on the verge of being overwhelmed. The numbers of daily new cases are escalating more steeply than in the worst days of the spring accompanied by steadily rising numbers of hospital admissions and transfers to intensive care. Barring a miracle the numbers of deaths are set to follow the same trajectory over the next two weeks. Boris Johnson and his coterie are still not listening. His failure to use the powers at his disposal in February to get ahead of the pandemic and make good the neglect of ten years of austerity policies and the chaotic reorganisation of the NHS in 2013, has landed us here. Nothing less than a full-blown repeat of the spring lockdown has any chance of bringing the pandemic under control but it must be fully funded.”

    Ashton reported that, “The ordinary people of this country, have had to stand by whilst an increasingly chaotic administration has allowed tens of thousands of its most precious senior citizens to die prematurely and alone. Meanwhile an infatuation with private sector solutions to the neglect of over 130 local public health teams with a 170 year tradition of sorting out pandemics and epidemics has led to a chumocracy and enrichment on a vast scale. The breakdown in trust between the governed, the citizens of the country, and now their local political leaders, mortally damaged by Dominic Cummings in his May escapade to Durham, has endangered solidarity in the battle against the virus.” This blatant transgression is a recurrent theme that pervades all assessments by those analyzing serious mistakes made by the PM and his shambolic Tory Government.

    Ashton pointed out that, “With extreme irony, a Government whose repertoire of slogans includes ‘Taking Back Control’ and being the ‘Party of the United Kingdom’ has driven a series of wedges across the country. An unwillingness to act in an open and transparent manner, to engage fully with the public through social mobilisation rather than erratic top-down edict, a lingering hope for the absurd notion of ‘herd immunity’ and a clear belief that the economy trumps the public health (when they must march in together if we are to protect either) has brought us to a dire place.” The sad reality is that ‘Take Back Control’ was very strictly limited to removing the influence and protections of the EU to enable the Tory Government to consolidate absolute control after the New Year Brexit deadline, to establish the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship.

    Ashton reminds us of a savage event in our history in a shocking comparison to the present day. Back then he wrote, “As we head into autumn and winter with the worst still to come, it is time to remind ourselves of previous episodes in our island history when hubris and unaccountable power led to social fracture with resulting violence and death. During the Harrying of The North in the winter of 1069-70, as many as 100,000 people are believed to have died as a result of the famine that followed in the wake of the devastation wrought by William the Conqueror. He laid waste to the northern counties, starving out and slaughtering of the rebels using scorched earth tactics to impose the will of the Norman ascendants from the south in a genocide that reduced the population by 75%.” Tory Government policies deliberately abandon the poorest in our society and once again disproportionately inflict the worst hardship and deprivation on the north of England.

    Ashton cites another example when, “Three hundred years later, the events of 1381 that came to be known as the Peasants Revolt had their roots in the impact of the 1348 pandemic of plague and the subsequent struggle of peasants and yokels to free themselves from the bounds of serfdom. The straw that broke the nation’s back was the imposition of three poll tax levies on the peasants over a three year period. In the ensuing insurrection led from Kent and Essex by the visionary preacher and rabble-rouser John Ball and his ally, one-time soldier and adventurer, Wat Tyler, the centre of London was invaded by thousands of disaffected ordinary people over the Corpus Christi Festival weekend in June. The next few days saw the paralysis of Government, the collapse of public order and hundreds of revenge beheadings in the streets of the capital before the imposition of military rule restored order and instigated a counter-terror.”

    Turning to modern times Ashton described, “Tiers That End In Tears,” saying, “The most recent belated efforts by Johnson’s Government to respond to the rapidly deteriorating COVID-19 situation through the central imposition of a three-tier system of lockdown is already in turmoil.” He notes that, “It has been apparent the reckless ‘Independence Day’ on 4 July was a recipe for the virus to continue to circulate through the summer months and the return of the schools and universities has resulted in massive amplification that is now cascading into vulnerable populations. Matt Hancock’s finger in the dyke will not be enough to prevent a further unacceptable toll of death and long term ill-health and the lukewarm and hostile response from northern political leaders to the proposal for a three-tier approach to lockdown is both understandable and rational.”

    Ashton warned that, “Nothing less than a full-blown repeat of the spring lockdown has any chance of bringing the pandemic under control but it must be fully funded if the massive untoward consequences of large scale poverty are to be avoided in addition to the devastation wreaked by the virus. When the virus first struck a three-tier system would have been in order if we had had a fit for purpose system of Testing, Tracing and Isolating. Seven months later with the privatised testing and tracing system in ruins, the only immediate option is to move all but the low virus areas on to the highest level for the immediate future.” Despite the numerous complaints about the dysfunctional centralized system set up by serial failure, Dido ‘Tallyho Harding’ and copious evidence of the need to rely on local public health authorities and fund them accordingly, nothing has changed as we enter the New Year.

    Ashton compliments Manchester Mayor for taking a stand, noting that, “In providing strong leadership on behalf of the northern region and demanding a properly funded economic package together with full decentralisation of the COVID-19 response, Andy Burnham seems to be walking in the footsteps of John Ball and Wat Tyler. Johnson’s Government team have only got themselves to blame. If we are to avoid the dreadful consequences prefigured all those centuries ago it is time for all good people of whatever political stripe to save the government from itself and really ‘Take Back Control’ for democracy and for England.” Byline Times plugged more expansive writing from their Chief Medical Officer by saying that, “John Ashton is the author of Blinded By Corona, How The Pandemic Ruined Britain’s Health and Wealth. Gibson Square Press ( 2020).”

    In the Byline Times Article entitled, “The North Will Soon Be Calling Last Orders on Boris Johnson,” Jane Thomas said, “The Government’s contempt for the North has been exposed, and we won’t forget in a hurry. To put the pandemic in terms of the classical references so adored by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson faces a herculean task. The pandemic that arrived so soon after his general election victory was the first for more than 100 years; a truly frightening situation that required, more than anything else, good, decisive governance, and leadership that earned the people’s trust. It’s therefore hard to understand why he has decided to alienate a large section of the country – the very people whose support he needs right now.”

    Back in mid October Thomas reported that, “First it was the devolved nations. His relationship with the oft-ignored legislatures in Holyrood and Cardiff has been terse, at best, with leaders in both Wales and Scotland continuing to see Brexit legislation as a ‘power grab’ by the centre. The recent Internal Market Bill has just made things worse. But confirming that this really is just a Government for England, and not just England, but southern England, Johnson has now taken his battle to everywhere North of Birmingham. There is a strong sense that we in the North are being played. Played in the interests of those who really haven’t got a clue where Barnsley is, and have no intention to visit. Played by those whose lives are so different from ours that we may as well come from a different planet. Played in the pretence of caring about devolution, by giving us city mayors, but not the powers nor the responsibilities that should come with it.”

    According to Thomas, “The Coronavirus pandemic has thrown into sharp relief the staggering centralisation in Westminster, at the expense of the nations and regions. Early on, mayors were crying out to have not just more resources, but more powers to respond to the pandemic. Voices from Independent SAGE were saying the same thing. Quietly, so were our directors of Public Health England. If you want to play whack-a-mole then actually give the hammer to those on the ground who know the rules of the game, and who know their people. The news last Thursday, shared via newspapers rather than direct briefings, that the Government intended to undertake further lockdowns in the North, lit the fuse to a firework that has been waiting to go off. The anger is palpable and should come as no surprise, particularly when there’s no evidence that the decisions are evidence-based. There are Labour areas in the North in lockdown, with far lower rates of infection than many Conservative areas in the South.”

    Thomas said, “The anger felt is not just about the lack of caring for the North. It’s also about a lack of trust. Dominic Cummings’ little trip to Barnard Castle was just the start of a downward journey for the Government on this metric. Track and Trace, the ‘world-beating’ service that was going to turn around tests in 24 hours, is an abysmal failure. There is more than a sniff of corruption around the handling of most of the contracts issued for the services and equipment needed to deal with this pandemic – Test and Trace. Each week brings a new scandal. This week is the news that Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick allocated £25 million of Government funding to his Newark constituency from the Towns Fund, a hardship fund that is part of the Government’s levelling-up initiative for areas with multiple levels of deprivation. Ranking as only the 270th most deprived area in the country, Jenrick allegedly said the funds could be used to restore the town’s 12th Century castle gatehouse. Of the 61 towns selected to receive money, 60 are in constituencies won by the Conservatives at the last election.”

    Thomas reported, “Comments by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer indicated that the rise in Coronavirus cases in the North was because the ‘disease level in the North never dropped as much’ as in the South. This confirmed what many of us had suspected: that the lockdown was lifted to suit conditions for London and the South, not the North. It rankles that we continue to be a country dominated by a square mile in Westminster and Whitehall. What’s happening here is in large part due to the failure of a London-centric Government to engage with the North. Johnson needs to recognise that the co-operation of the North is necessary to respond to the pandemic, and that means he needs to work collegiately. In the immediate future, this means handing Track and Trace over to local authorities or mayors. ‘Johnson calls last orders on the North’ said one paper over the weekend. The sense of having something done to us, not by us, or never for us, continues and it is wearing thin. We may yet be the ones calling last orders on Johnson.”

    The Scotts may have celebrated a more sober Hogmanay than usual, but their First Minister’s New Year message was at least hopeful about an independent future. In the London Economic Article entitled, “Nicola Sturgeon tweets ‘Scotland will be back soon, Europe’ as leaders see in the New Year,” Jack Peat says, “MEP Terry Reintke also sent out a sobering tweet, saying ‘tonight so many rights and freedoms come to an end’. Scotland’s trading and travel relationships with EU countries will now be governed by the agreement announced by the UK Government on Christmas Eve. Ms Sturgeon reiterated the SNP’s call for an independent Scotland to join the EU. Just after the Brexit transition period formally ended at 11pm on December 31 Nicola Sturgeon Tweeted a picture of the words Europe and Scotland attached by a loveheart, she said: ‘Scotland will be back soon, Europe. Keep the light on.’ The image had previously been projected on to the side of the EU Commission building in Brussels.”

    Just a few days later on Monday, as School children were dutifully returning to unsafe classrooms in highly infection ridden areas of the UK on the orders of our hapless PM, ‘Bungling Boris,’ the Scottish First Minister, recalled the Hollyrude Parliament. Her announcements were as somber and firm as they were compassionate, delivering a new set of restrictions for the Scotish people regarding exactly how they should behave in response to the escalating Covid risk. As I highlighted before, “She was countered by a set of concise, logical and practical questions for further clarification put forward in a professional, non-combative manner by Tory Ruth Davidson. This informative and civilized exchange was designed to leave the Scottish public crystal clear about what they should do and when, while definitely outlining the reasoning behind the latest decisions made regarding further restrictions and what will be strictly prohibited until further notice.” Later Boris Johnson belatedly followed Nicola Sturgeon’s strong leadership.

    The PM appears unembarrassed by repeatedly being forced into abrupt U-turns following Nicola Sturgeon’s lead, he has no shame! He may gloat over his power to prevent IndyRef2, but he is building a formidable enemy in Scotland in addition to hostility south of the border. Peat reported, “Scotland’s Constitution Secretary Mike Russell also said the separate Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland and Gibraltar show independence is the ‘only alternative’, as the transition period ended. He was reacting to news that a draft agreement had been reached between the UK and Spain to keep the border with the Rock open on January 1 and beyond. While Scotland has the same trade arrangements with the EU as England and Wales, there is a separate Northern Ireland Protocol to avoid a hard border with the Republic. Additionally, on December 31 it was announced that Gibraltar would be covered by a separate treaty. In December 2016, the Scottish Government proposed keeping Scotland in the single market post-Brexit.”

    Peat noted, “Mr Russell tweeted on Thursday evening: ‘The NI & Gibraltar deals make clear that the 12/16 @ScotGov proposals could have produced a Scottish deal but were never pursued in EU negotiations by UK. ‘Consequently the UK has itself created the circumstances in which independence is the only alternative for Scotland.’ The Scottish Parliament earlier refused to give legislative consent for the Prime Minister’s Brexit agreement. MSPs voted by 92 to 30 to say the deal would ’cause severe damage to Scotland’s environmental, economic and social interests’, following a debate on Wednesday. A Scottish Government report released earlier modelled that GDP would be 6.1% lower by 2030 compared to remaining a member of the EU. However, the Conservatives accused the SNP of hypocrisy for refusing to back the Prime Minister’s deal when it had opposed a no-deal Brexit.”

    According to Peat, “On Thursday, they said the Scottish Government had been spreading ‘propaganda’ about the agreement on its official channels. Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said he had written to civil service chiefs seeking an apology for the ‘bad deal for Scotland’ video shared on social media.” Despite the accurate description of Scotland being, “Dragged out against our will,” which is blatantly obvious given the overwhelming majority of Scotts voted to reject Brexit, the Tories want to label this fact ‘propaganda!’ Mr Ross claimed: “This video is a work of shameless propaganda and it’s incredible that a politically neutral civil service would think it is in any way appropriate. For taxpayers to be bankrolling a work of one-sided Nationalist distortion is not on. The government is supposed to represent everyone in Scotland.” Talkabout ‘the pot calling the kettle black,’ I don’t know how Tories have the gall to make such a spurious accusation given their own shameful track record with regard to generating fake news propaganda.

    The Tories certainly know how to generate fake news stories to damage their opposition. The Tories ‘bankrolled’ the disreputable Scotish based fake Charity, the ‘Integrity Initiative,’ illegally funded by UK taxpayers, to create a vile defamatory smear campaign targeting Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party to help them steal the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. Sadly the disgusting factoids they produced were amplified by the compliant BBC and Mainstream Media, perpetually resurfacing like unhealthy turds that refuse to exit the toilet bowl! This deliberate sabotage of the Labour election campaign represents a serious criminal enterprise for which, in a functioning democracy, the perpetrators would not only be removed from office they would be jailed for corruption. Evidence of this corruption is sufficient to bring down this Tory Government even without an Investigation into a multitude of significant postal vote irregularities. That’s right: we have the evidence to challenge the legitimacy of this rabid Tory cabal right now to get them out!

    According to Peat Ross had insisted that, “Scottish business groups had welcomed the trade deal between the UK and the EU.” More than likely because the alternative crash-out Brexit was a whole lot worse: Hobson’s choice! Peat described, “Demonstrators gathered outside Holyrood on Thursday afternoon to protest against the end of the transition period. Around 12 people took part in the socially distanced Yes for EU event. Morag Williamson, from the group, said: ‘We are very sad and very angry at the same time. We don’t want to leave the family of Europe, but we are being dragged out against our will.’ Elsewhere Green MEP Terry Reintke tweeted that this would be a ‘hard day for millions of citizens in the UK’. Andrew Adonis posted that the ‘campaign for Britain to rejoin Europe’ starts today, while Owen Jones looked ahead to 2021 with a call to arms.” I felt totally devastated. Things would have been very different, but for the Covert 2019 Rigged Election: we must correct this injustice and Get The Tories Out! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #64555 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    It took an angry mob and five deaths for the US to finally realize the devastating impact of their dangerous tyrant Commander in Chief. They must now decisively deal harshly with Trump and his MAGA Cult to quell the global humiliation of being viewed as the ultimate corrupt ‘bannana republic!’ As Trump desperately hung onto power, Americans were already braced for the damaging death throes of his Presidency, and, despite pardoning criminals and murderers, he has left one poor soul languishing in Britain’s harshest jail. The Canary present the outrage over this latest cruel twist in the Assange extradition case, “Furious reaction as judge refuses Julian Assange bail” as, “Supporters of Julian Assange were met with force and arrests outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court today, as judge Vanessa Baraitser refused to grant Julian Assange bail. The Canary’s Pablo Navarrete spoke with Rebecca Vincent from Reporters Without Borders outside the court.” Just two days earlier there had at least been a glimmer of hope.

    In the Canary Article entitled, “WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange must be released after ‘inhumane’ bail refusal,” they report that, “WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s hopes for freedom have been dashed after a judge refused him bail despite a decision to block his extradition to the United States. District judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected an application for Assange’s release with strict conditionals over concern he would abscond. It follows a decision that he should not be extradited to the US on mental health grounds due to the risk of suicide. Assange will have to remain in custody as the US government is appealing against Monday’s extradition ruling. Announcing her bail decision at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Baraitser said: ‘As a matter of fairness, the US must be allowed to challenge my decision and if Mr Assange absconds during this process they will lose the opportunity to do so. ‘Mr Assange still has a huge support network available to him should he again choose to go to ground’.”

    On Twitter, many people expressed outrage at the decision. Canary journalist John McEvoy who’s been reporting on the case tweeted: ‘The decision not to grant bail to Julian Assange is callous and cruel. Not only is he a mental health risk, but he suffers from a chronic lung condition while Covid-19 is rampant in Belmarsh prison. Shame on the British legal system.’ Matt Kennard highlighted the need for a public inquiry: ‘We need a wide-ranging public inquiry into the British legal system’s handling of the Assange case. Nothing has been normal from 2010 onwards. From the CPS to Westminster Magistrates Court, we need the truth.’ And MP Richard Burgon demanded his release: ‘Julian Assange must be freed from prison today. It would be inhumane for him to be held in jail while the US again tries to extradite him for exposing war crimes.’ Meanwhile, outside the court, The Canary captured the reaction from Assange’s supporters.”

    In stark contrast to this grotesque injustice the Byline Times Article entitled, “Trump Rewards Loyalists & War Criminals While Whistleblowers Are Hounded,” Steve Shaw looks at Donald Trump’s decision to grant freedom to his close allies, and the two people the President should consider pardoning instead. Shaw describes a brutal atrocity, “A sniper’s bullet tore through the windscreen of a car which had allegedly failed to stop. Moments later a launched grenade caused the vehicle to burst into flames. Then all hell broke loose. Gunfire hit almost 40 civilians, ending the lives of 17 people who were trying to flee. The gunfire came from American mercenaries, or “contractors” as they are commonly referred to, working for a private military firm known as Blackwater. Their convoy had been speeding to the scene of a car bomb which had exploded earlier that day. It had stopped at the intersection in Nisour Square, Baghdad, to halt the traffic so that they could pass. It resulted in a bloodbath.”

    Shaw says that, “The 2007 incident deeply strained relations between the US and the Iraqi Governments and led to a series of investigations, including one by the FBI that concluded at least 14 people had been shot without cause. Seven years later, four employees of Blackwater were tried and convicted, one of murder, and the other three of manslaughter and firearms charges.
    But their punishment was not to last long. At the end of December, all four were pardoned by outgoing President Donald Trump.
    The decision was condemned by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Marta Hurtado, who said that it ‘contributes to impunity and has the effect of emboldening others to commit such crimes in the future’. A UN panel of experts later added that the pardons ‘violate US obligations under international law and more broadly undermine humanitarian law’. They went ahead anyway.”
    The Blackwater pardons will encourage other mercenaries to function beyond the rules of engagement and commit war crimes.

    Shaw reports that, “Two weeks earlier, Trump had been accused of pulling American troops from the war-torn east African country of Somalia in order to replace them with mercenaries run by Erik Prince, the former CEO of Blackwater. In unverified claims, New York Times columnist Marie Myung-Ok Lee, tweeted: ‘Trump is withdrawing troops from Somalia not because with his loss [of the 2020 US Presidential Election] he’s become a peacenik, it’s so he can monetise the last gasp of his presidency with private contractors like the odious Erik Prince’.” This is a growing trend for supposedly ‘civlized democracies’ to use mercenaries to distance their Governments from any accountability for war crimes and keep the Military Industrial Complex well oiled with expendable men of zero conscience working for cash and ‘kicks.’ The British are no exception, employing the so called, ‘Keenie Meenies’ to unleash brutal oppression on the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. Mercenaries, paid by our Government, got away with committing war crimes!

    Shaw says that, “Along with the mercenaries, Trump has also used his final days to let two of his most high-profile advisors, those linked to the investigation into Russian election interference, walk free. On 23 December, Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and ex-advisor Roger Stone were both pardoned. Manafort, who said ‘words cannot fully convey how grateful’ he was for the pardon, was convicted in 2018 during an investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US Presidential Election. Meanwhile, Stone claims to have been the subject of a ‘Soviet-style show trial’ and was convicted of lying to Congress. Another man to walk free was Charles Kushner, father of Ivanka Trump’s husband Jared Kushner, who is also a White House advisor.”

    Shaw highlights the gross injustice, “As these Trump loyalists are granted freedom, it is the people who have arguably acted most in the interests of the American public who have been left to suffer, most notably, WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange. Assange spent Christmas in a jail cell in Belmarsh Prison in the UK, counting down the days before a judge’s verdict on whether he should be extradited to America to face trial. His crime is exposing American war crimes during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, including publishing the controversial video which he titled ‘Collateral Murder’. Taken from the cockpit of a US Apache helicopter in July 2007, this video shows an air crew slaughtering Iraqi civilians, including two journalists working for Reuters. In grainy black-and-white, it shows the gunship’s 30mm machine gun cutting down the men on the ground as the Apache gunners are repeatedly told to ‘keep shooting’.” The US doesn’t want anyone knowing the truth about such atrocities so Assange has been silenced.

    Shaw reports that, “Assange is facing prosecution under the Espionage Act of 1917, marking the first time it has ever been used to prosecute a media organisation for publishing classified information. It would be a trial in which Assange would not be able to defend his actions using a defence of public interest. Reporters Without Borders has warned that it would ‘threaten the work of all journalists’. Daniel Ellsberg, who went on trial under the Espionage Act following the publication of the Pentagon Papers, wrote in 2014: ‘When I finally heard my lawyer ask the prearranged question in direct examination, why did you copy the Pentagon Papers? I was silenced before I could begin to answer. The Government prosecutor objected, irrelevant, and the judge sustained. My lawyer, exasperated, said he ‘had never heard of a case where a defendant was not permitted to tell the jury why he did what he did’. The judge responded, well, you’re hearing one now. And so it has been with every subsequent whistleblower under indictment’.”

    Shaw reveals that, “The day before Trump pardoned the Blackwater employees, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, warned the President that not pardoning Assange would be the equivalent of ‘shooting the messenger’. ‘I visited Mr Assange in Belmarsh High Security Prison in London, with two independent medical doctors, and I can attest to the fact that his health has seriously deteriorated, to the point where his life is now in danger,’ Melzer wrote. ‘I ask you to pardon Mr Assange, because he is not, and has never been, an enemy of the American people. His organisation, WikiLeaks, fights secrecy and corruption throughout the world and, therefore, acts in the public interest both of the American people and of humanity as a whole.’ While a judge this week blocked Assange’s extradition on mental health grounds, saying that the US Government is incapable of preventing the whistleblower from attempting to take his own life, the Trump administration is expected to appeal the decision.”

    Shaw reports that, “Further away, living in exile in Moscow, is another whistleblower that has not been afforded the same privileges as Trump’s mercenaries and convicted campaign allies. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden sacrificed his life in America to expose the illegal US and British surveillance apparatus created to spy on the public without their consent. Almost every revelation dropped by the Snowden files revealed that governments had acted illegally, yet he continues to face arrest and prosecution if he returns to the US. The people behind the mass surveillance, including former director of national intelligence James Clapper, who lied to Congress about the programme’s existence, have not faced any repercussions. Meanwhile, Mike Rogers, a former member of Congress who served as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee when Snowden exposed wrongdoing, has been allowed to write baseless claims about how pardoning Snowden would ‘embolden the enemies of America’.”

    Shaw continues, “In an article for the US political publication The Hill, Rogers accuses Snowden of fleeing to Russia, yet Snowden only ended up in Russia because the US cancelled his passport as he was about to board a connecting flight. Rogers also says that Snowden is responsible for ‘releasing’ the classified documents taken from the National Security Agency, which is also false as Snowden has not personally published any of the material. He goes on to say that ‘if Snowden truly believes in his actions and that what he did was both patriotic and right, he is welcome to present his case in the American judicial system’. But, like Assange, he would be prosecuted under the Espionage Act and his intention, the public interest, would be seen as irrelevant.”

    Shaw says, “Rumours have been abounding on social media about whether Trump will ultimately pardon Snowden or Assange, but the chances remain bleak. “Earlier in the year, the President said he would be willing to ‘take a look’ at a pardon for Snowden, yet it seems likely that this idea would be rebuffed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. While serving as director of the CIA in 2016, Pompeo publicly called for Snowden’s execution and urged the then President Barack Obama not to pardon him at the end of his term, calling the whistleblower a ‘liar and a criminal’ who deserves ‘prison rather than pardon’.” Trump is highly unpredictable, hurt, angry, and embarrassed by his humiliating election defeat, he could act out of spite. Trump might see pardoning Assange as the ultimate ‘fxxk you’ to the incoming administration, his parting salvo as he runs out of toys to throw out of his pram! It’s a long-shot…

    Shaw warns us that, “Trump’s stance on Assange has been erratic. During the 2016 presidential campaign, he publicly praised him after WikiLeaks published a series of leaked emails which damaged Hillary Clinton’s chances at the polls. But, once elected, Trump claimed to ‘know nothing of WikiLeaks’ adding it is not his ‘thing’. Making matters more complicated, at the beginning of 2020, Assange’s barrister claimed that the former Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher had been sent by Trump to visit Assange in 2017, offering a pardon on the condition that Assange would say that the emails did not come from Russia. The motive was apparently to undermine allegations made of foreign interference in Trump’s campaign. However, Rohrabacher has denied the claim and Assange has continually refused to give any information on his sources.”

    According to Shaw, “Most recently, Snowden has even sided with calls for Assange to be pardoned rather than himself. He tweeted: ‘Mr. President, if you grant only one act of clemency during your time in office, please: free Julian Assange. You alone can save his life.’ As Trump enters his final weeks in the White House, it is likely that he will pardon as many of his allies as possible. The New York Times has even reported that Trump has asked advisors whether he can preemptively pardon himself – and is even considering giving immunity to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a lawsuit accusing him of attempting to kill a former Saudi intelligence official. In an interview with the Associated Press, senior US District Judge Robert Pratt of the Southern District of Iowa, said: ‘It’s not surprising that a criminal like Trump pardons other criminals… Apparently to get a pardon, one has to be either a Republican, a convicted child murderer or a turkey’.”

    In the London Economic Article entitled, “Four dead following US Capitol riots,’ Jack Peat says, “The dead included a woman who was shot by US Capitol Police as well as three others who died in ‘medical emergencies’. Angry supporters of President Donald Trump have stormed the US Capitol in a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power. The attack, which left four people dead, forced politicians to rush from the building and interrupted challenges to Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. President Trump issued a restrained call for peace well after the protests was under way but did not urge supporters to disperse. Earlier he had seemingly egged them on to march to Capitol Hill.” It was like the Tories Bullingdon Club with Trump assuring them that the grown-ups would pick up the tab for the damages!

    Peat reports on, “Wednesday’s ordinarily mundane procedure of Congress certifying a new president was always going to be extraordinary, with Republican supporters of Mr Trump vowing to protest over the results of an election that they have baselessly insisted was reversed by fraud. But even the unusual deliberations, which included the Republican vice president and Senate majority leader defying Mr Trump’s demands, were quickly overtaken. In a raucous, out-of-control scene, protesters fought past police and breached the building, shouting and waving Trump and American flags as they marched through the halls. Police said four people died in the protests. Washington DC police chief Robert Contee said the dead included a woman who was shot by US Capitol Police, as well as three others who died in ‘medical emergencies’. Police said both law enforcement and protesters deployed chemical irritants during the hours-long occupation of the Capitol building before it was cleared by law enforcement.” Since this was posted a Police Officer has also died of injuries sustained in the violence.

    Report on the chaotic scene Peat says, “The woman was shot as the mob tried to break through a barricaded door in the Capitol where police were armed on the other side. She was hospitalised with a gunshot wound and later died. DC police officials also said two pipe bombs were recovered, one outside the Democratic National Committee and one outside the Republican National Committee. The protesters abruptly interrupted the congressional proceedings in an eerie scene that featured official warnings directing people to duck under their seats for cover and put on gas masks after tear gas was used in the Capitol Rotunda. With the crowds showing no signs of abating, President Trump tweeted: ‘Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!’ Earlier, at his rally, he had urged supporters to march to the Capitol. Senators were being evacuated. Some House politicians tweeted they were sheltering in place in their offices.”

    I note that in so many reports including this one there is an effort to downplay the criminality of these rioters; they were not docile demonstrators conducting a peaceful protest and if the crown had contained a different racial mix they would have encountered violent resistance from police and been labeled ‘domestic terrorists.’ Peat says, “‘Demonstrators’ “fought with Capitol Police and then forced their way into the building, not long after a huge rally near the White House during which Trump egged them on to march to Capitol Hill. Politicians had convened for an extraordinary joint session to confirm the Electoral College results. Though fellow Republicans were behind the challenge to Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College victory, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sought to lower tensions and argued against it. He warned the country ‘cannot keep drifting apart into two separate tribes’ with ‘separate facts.’ Mr McConnell declared: ‘The voters, the courts and the states all have spoken’.”

    Peat notes that, “other Republicans, including House GOP leaders among Mr Trump’s allies were acting out the pleas of supporters at his huge Wednesday rally up Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House to ‘fight for Trump.’ ‘We have to fix this,’ said Rep Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the GOP whip. The last-gasp effort is all but certain to fail, defeated by bipartisan majorities in Congress prepared to accept the November results. Mr Biden is to be inaugurated on January 20. Still, Mr Trump vowed that he would ‘never concede’ and urged the massive crowd to march to the Capitol where hundreds had already gathered under tight security. ‘We will never give up,’ Mr Trump told his noontime rally. Vice President Mike Pence was closely watched as he stepped onto the dais to preside over the joint session in the House chamber. Mr Pence has a largely ceremonial role, opening the sealed envelopes from the states after they are carried in mahogany boxes used for the occasion, and reading the results aloud.”

    Peat reports that Pence, “…was under growing pressure from Trump to overturn the will of the voters and tip the results in the president’s favour, despite having no legal power to affect the outcome. ‘Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!’ Mr Trump tweeted. But Mr Pence, in a statement shortly before presiding, defied Mr Trump, saying he could not claim ‘unilateral authority’ to reject the electoral votes that make Mr Biden president. As darkness began to set in, law enforcement officials worked their way toward the protesters, using percussion grenades to try to clear the area around the Capitol. Big clouds of tear gas were visible. Police in full riot gear moved down the steps, clashing with demonstrators. The Pentagon said about 1,100 District of Columbia National Guard members were being mobilised to help support law enforcement at the Capitol.”

    The Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Video: here’s Boris Johnson calling for US death riot instigator Trump to receive… a Nobel Peace Prize,” it reminds us of “when Boris Johnson was sucking up to Donald Trump because he desperately needed a trade deal as a PR ‘victory’ in the midst of his Johnson’s interminable bungling? So abject was his grovelling that he even stood in front of the US Capitol Building, the scene of this week’s violent riots, and called for Trump – the instigator of the violent, deadly anti-democratic protests this week in Washington DC, and demanded a Nobel Peace Prize for the Orange one. Of course, Trump didn’t ‘fix’ North Korea or Iran and has done huge damage internationally with his US exceptionalism and arrogance. But even if he had, his actions throughout the presidential election and afterward make him more a criminal than a peace-maker. Johnson is a buffoon and everything he does ages badly at best. And he has equated himself with Trump in attitude, delusion and the appalling cost in lives and economic damage inflicted by his lethal, Trumpian handling of the coronavirus crisis. He is an embarrassment to this country.”

    Skwawkbox say of Johnson, “he has equated himself with Trump in attitude, delusion and the appalling cost in lives and economic damage inflicted by his lethal, Trumpian handling of the coronavirus crisis. He is an embarrassment to this country.” In any other country the insurrection in the US Capitol would have been reported as a failed coup attempt; few dare to ‘call a spade a spade’ in condemnation of this dangerous attempt to thwart democracy. Can Trump be arrested and removed from office to face prosecution or impeachment for inciting this angry mob to storm the Capitol Building? This resulted in four deaths, but will he be charged with ‘Sedition’ less than two weeks before stepping down? I didn’t share Craig’s optimism that Assange would be released on bail, but then as a persecuted Whistleblower myself I have long since abandoned any faith in the Justice System either here or in the US. If Johnson and the Tories were Investigated and the Covert 2019 Election fraud exposed, I doubt they would ever face justice either! DO NOT MOVE ON!

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