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


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    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    In America the Federal authorities are finally confronting how to combat having the narcissistic, mentally unstable, maniac, Donald Trump, in a position of ultimate power making insane dictates that cost lives. Meanwhile in the UK we have an equally dangerous narcissistic maniac, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is still making insane decisions that have cost thousands of lives, but we have yet to come to terms with the urgent need to remove him from office. This malevolent conduct was never more apparent than when the PM tricked parents into returning their children to school to accelerate the transmission of a highly contagious strain of Covid 19. In the Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Video: ‘Sunday Johnson’ insisted schools were safe. ‘Monday Johnson’ said they are spreading virus. The consequences are deadly,” the consequences of his cruel dictate are laid bare with the video documentation to prove his malice. How many more innocent people have to die in the Tory ‘Slaughter of the Sheeple’ before we end this tyranny?

    The Skwawkbox remind us that, “On Sunday, Boris Johnson repeatedly insisted schools were safe and must remain open and boasted of keeping schools open for a long time in high-infection areas. One day later, he said they are ‘vectors’ for COVID to spread and must close. Watch the video below to see ‘Monday Johnson’ contradicting ‘Sunday Johnson’, who repeatedly insisted that there is no doubt schools are safe. The consequences of his arrogance and misleading continue to be deadly: As well as insisting that ‘schools are safe’, Johnson also claimed there is very little risk to teachers. At least eight teachers died of COVID-19 in the last term, and the school ‘vectors’ have driven infection and death rates to horrific levels. SAGE scientists, meanwhile, say they have known for a long time that school children are seven times more likely to spread coronavirus to their homes than any other cause. Johnson should be in the dock, not in Downing Street.” When are the British going to confront the danger he poses?

    The vile Tory plan to deliberately use children as vectors to spread the infection to older members of the multigenerational families in which they have been forced to live due to lack of housing has succeeded in driving case numbers as high as one in every fifteen people in parts of London. The Tories know exactly who their ethnic cleansing of the capitol is eliminating from the census as they watch NHS Hospital staff struggle to cope. The deliberate ‘seeding’ of Covid 19 into Care Homes removed countless thousands of burdonsome pensioners through the Tory Government’s sadistic ‘Holocaust in Care.’ Assisted by the benefit cap, rapidly dwindling access to social housing and extortionate rents, the gradual gentrification of the city has been removing the poor from London ward by ward for the past decade, but Covid has acted as an accelerant on the funeral pyre. When will the public finally recognize the conscious Tory decision making driving this super high infection rate cull and crippling our NHS ready for corporate take over?

    If Boris Johnson and his toxic Tory cabal actually cared about the ability of the most deprived children in the UK being able to learn effectively, both in the classroom and at home, they wouldn’t be compelling them to attend school hungry or subsist on the brink of starvation in homes their families cannot afford to heat. Children cannot learn when they are sick, dizzy and faint from hunger, but the massive reliance on foodbanks is ample testament to our vanishing social safety net that is soon to disappear altogether as the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship solidify their grip on absolute power with post-Brexit austerity. If there are so many people incapable of buying enough food to feed their families despite working full time, what will happen when grocery prices climb precipitously due to our shambolic exit from the EU? It is vital that this new wave of oppression and annihilation is aggressively resisted with protests to demand justice, decent wages and proper support for the growing number of people being forced out of their jobs due to Covid.

    Workers can gain more leverage by banding together in Trade Union membership to resist the pay freezes and the ‘fire and rehire’ exploitation tactics. Trade Unions need to exert far greater pressure on the Tory Government, but they are also in a position to defund the Labour Party for not supporting the interests of working people. Before Sir Keir has a chance to line up new Corporate donors to fund his lurch to the right, Unions can impact the future of the Labour Party by removing funds until Starmer steps down in accordance with the demands of hundreds of CLPs now voting ‘No Confidence’ in his leadership. This country does not need to remove the dictatorship of Johnson only to replace it with the dictatorship of Starmer, equally under the cosh of the wealthy elite, and the Zionist Likud Party of Israel. The prohibition of free speech and dictatorial conduct of Keir Starmer was a serious red flag: he is a Trojan horse planted by the far right to neutralize the opposition by destroying the Labour Party from within its own ranks.

    We cannot allow Covid to muzzle our protests. A group of people gathering with due regard to social distancing and also wearing masks, pose no more Covid risk than most workplaces people have been forced to return to on overcrowded trains. When this Tory Government orders people to work from home they are referring to the comfortably well off, laptop owning elite; they are not expecting this mandate to apply to the working poor. The drive to get comerse up and running again for the benefit of the wealthy corporate bosses, pays no heed to unsafe conditions spreading the Covid virus at work, because those impoverished, exploited masses are totally expendable. There will be many thousands who will be desperate for work, unfairly driven by lack of support and cruel benefit sanctions, to accept pitance pay on zero hours contracts. The Tory commitment to ‘Level up’ is about moving money ‘UP’ from the hopelessly enslaved working poor into the bulging coffers of the already ultra rich Tory supporting Corporate bosses.

    The common Tory retort about how work is the way out of poverty is only valid when work actually pays enough to sustain a normal life free of starvation. For this Tory Government, savage cuts in the Department for Work and ‘Punishment,’ DWP, to benefits, the corrupt ‘Work Capabilities Assessments’ and a brutal Sanction Regime and fake ‘Apprenticeships’, have provided a steady stream of truly desperate unemployed people ready to accept the pitance wages offered for working hours at the convenient discretion of exploitative company bosses. The sanctimonious Tory lectures about the confected link between poverty and work are terrifyingly close to the phrase “Work sets you free” the infamous slogan known for appearing over the entrance of Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps: “Arbeit Macht Frei” in German, the translation meaning “Work sets you free” or “Work makes one free”. The combined catastrophic damage of Brexit and Covid 19 will create a worker exploitation bonanza for the wealthy Tory elite.

    Huge numbers of people here in the UK will lose their jobs, but Universal Credit remains dysfunctional. The Canary Article entitled, “The DWP is continuing with sanctions despite a national lockdown,” captures the essence of how the Tories intend to ‘Decimate Down’ by capitalizing on the desperation of the existing and newly unemployed. They say, “The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has just announced that Jobcentres will remain open during the latest coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown. While this is not new, the devil is in the detail. Because the DWP has not publicly said whether it is suspending sanctions or not, like it did in March 2020. But now, The Canary has received confirmation that the DWP will continue to impose sanctions on claimants in some circumstances. On Wednesday 6 January, the DWP issued updated guidance about Jobcentres. It said that they: will remain open, as they have throughout this pandemic, to provide essential services and support to those who we cannot help in any other way.”

    Reporting on this issue the Canary say, “The DWP also noted that: We will ensure that this support continues to be delivered in line with the latest government and PHE guidance – such as maintaining social distancing and rigorous cleaning regimes – keeping our colleagues and customers safe. This approach from the DWP is not new. The Canary previously reported at the start of the pandemic in 2020 on the DWP’s plans. At the time, the DWP said that from 19 March 2020: People receiving benefits do not have to attend jobcentre appointments for at least 3 months, starting from Thursday 19 March 2020. People will continue to receive their benefits as normal, but all requirements to attend the jobcentre in person are suspended. Now, it appears that the DWP is continuing with this approach. But compared to March 2020 other parts of its guidance are not so specific.”

    The Canary not that, “Previously it stated the following:
    • ‘people who need to claim ESA or Universal Credit because of coronavirus will not be required to produce a fit note’.
    • ‘when claimants tell us in good time that they are staying at home or that they have been diagnosed with coronavirus, they will not be sanctioned, we will review their conditionality requirements in their claimant commitment, to ensure they are reasonable’.
    • ‘claimants who are staying at home as a result of coronavirus will have their mandatory work search and work availability requirements removed to account for a period of sickness’.
    But the new guidance does not give details on the above points, most notably conditionality, which is covered in points two and three above.”
    The growing incidence of mental health problems is exacerbated by the totally unnecessary stress of conditionality.

    The Canary report that, “In July 2020, the DWP started to phase back in so-called conditionality. It said at the time: We don’t want to sanction anyone. These are difficult, uncertain times for many people and we want to do everything we can to help them find work or increase hours, where that is possible for them. No sanction will be used until the claimant has an up-to-date Claimant Commitment in place. After that, a sanction will only be used where a claimant has not provided good reason for meeting the agreed requirements in the Claimant Commitment. Claimants who are shielding, have childcare responsibilities because of COVID restrictions, etc. will have their Claimant Commitment tailored to reflect their circumstances and will not be asked to do anything unreasonable. The claimant commitment is the things people have to agree to do so the DWP will give them social security.”

    The Canary say, “As the website Turn2Us noted: failing to comply with a claimant commitment means you can be sanctioned. A sanction is where the DWP stops a person’s benefit money. Then in November, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request forced the department to publish its latest internal guidance on conditionality. It is called the Sanction Assurance Framework. The document gives DWP staff guidance on when and why to apply conditionality.” But are they, “factoring in coronavirus? For example, it states that sanctions can still be applied if a claimant doesn’t look for enough work. The guidance does state: When considering a possible sanction referral, the work coach must gather evidence and review any changes in the claimant’s circumstances taking into account… pandemic (for example, COVID-19). This suggests that, if a person can’t complete a work search due to self-isolation, then the DWP must take that into account. But this is not the same as the previous blanket ban on sanctions.”

    The Canary warn that, “it may still leave some people vulnerable to having their money stopped, even when coronavirus and the circumstances it has left them in is to blame for non-compliance with their claimant commitment. The Canary asked the DWP for further information on its 6 January announcement. We specifically wanted to know if it would reintroduce the easements relating to conditionality and sanctions that it previously put in place last March. A spokesperson would not give us a comment for publication. But they did outline that essentially the same rules it brought in in July 2020 were remaining in place. Of note is that the DWP took 22 hours to finally give The Canary a definitive response. While some restrictions in sanctions are to be welcomed, historically DWP data shows that it has to overturn nearly a third of its decisions to apply a sanction. The rates of sanctions did fall after last March, when the DWP restricted their use. But it’s own data shows it still sanctioned nearly 20,000 claimants in August 2020 alone.”

    That is an obscene number of people to be targeting with crippling punitive measures during an unprecedented Pandemic crisis! The Canary conclude that, “It seems that, much like last year, the DWP is being slow to act over an evolving national situation. But in September, a parliamentary research paper noted how: Universal Credit, and DWP staff in particular, have received praise from various quarters, including in recent reports from the Work and Pensions Committee and the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee. It has been noted that the digital and automated structure of the benefit, combined with the temporary changes made by the DWP, has enabled the system to withstand a sudden increase in demand where legacy systems may have struggled. So, you’d think the DWP would react in the same way it did last March. This is now all the more pressing, given that since February 2020 the number of people on Universal Credit has increased by nearly three million, to just over 5.8 million people.”

    The Canary alert us to potential problems with this deeply flawed system that appears more punitive than supportive. They say, “It now appears that the DWP is keeping the same sanctions regime that was in place last summer, when the country was under barely any coronavirus restrictions. This approach is dangerous, and could potentially cause catastrophe for countless claimants.” We should bear in mind that while the benefit system will come under massive strain as people try to find new jobs, many will never have experienced the conniving tricks the DWP use to deprive people of support and bully them into accepting very poorly paid jobs. Many of those trying to navigate the system for the first time will have to accept a drastic change of career, but it will focus on downgrading them to below subsistence wages. The Canary ask, “Has the DWP sanctioned you during the coronavirus pandemic? Did you feel it was unfair? Then get in touch with us. You can contact The Canary securely via our Tip Offs page, here.”

    The Tories want an ignorant and untrained workforce here in the UK because that is the key to maximizing Corporate profits. For many higher paid professionals, the most lucrative jobs will be assigned to the privileged, privately educated elite. New immigration laws will prioritize the morally bankrupt system of, ‘Scavenge – Exploit – Deport’ to reduce the need for investment in UK training by finding professionals from overseas who will work for less and compliantly accept zero benefits and poor working conditions. The major Tory accomplishments of Brexit will be accomplished by relying on cheaper foreign trained professional personnel, while breaking the power of our UK Trade Unions and nurturing an increased level of submissive ignorance and total desperation among the working poor. Singapore on the Thames will create a home grown slave state population ripe for exploitation with profits to rival the Empire days of colonization and plantation ownership.

    In the Left Foot Forward Article entitled, “Tories scramble to distance themselves from Trump after coup attempt,” Joe Lo says, “They’re trying to rewrite history. After Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to break into Congress, Conservative politicians across the UK are trying to make out they never supported the outgoing President. As Paul Goodman, a former Tory MP and editor of Conservative Home put it: ‘Conservative MPs, publications and activists will condemn the President, suggest that they’ve never had any time for him, and hint that were they Americans they would have voted for Joe Biden instead.’ But, the veteran Conservative, pointed out: ‘It is necessary for the record to point out that this is far from being the whole story. Among those finally (almost) criticising Donald Trump was Boris Johnson himself. ‘Disgraceful scenes in U.S. Congress. The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power’.”

    Will more corrupt despots be ousted and jailed in 2021, including Netinyahu in Israel and our PM? Lo reminds us that, “Johnson and Trump were political allies even before Johnson became Prime Minister. In a meeting with then PM Theresa May, Trump asked why Johnson wasn’t the party’s leader. When he did become leader, Trump told crowds of supporters unprompted that Johnson was ‘a really good man’, ‘tough’, ‘smart’ and ‘Britain Trump’. At which, Trump’s supporters cheered loudly. The praise was reciprocated. In 2018, Johnson told Sky News: ‘If [Trump] can fix North Korea and if he can fix the Iran nuclear deal then I don’t see why he’s any less of a candidate for the Nobel peace prize than Barack Obama.’ He was similarly positive with US diplomats, telling them privately that Trump was making America great again. Ben Quinn, ‘Priti Patel being challenged by @bbcnickrobinson on how close her party came to Trump. Says Michael Gove was pictured ‘gurning’ with him.”

    Joe Lo says, “Another back-tracker is Michael Gove who retweeted Johnson’s condemnation yesterday. But he was one of the first to suck up to the US President. When Trump was still just President-elect, Gove flew to New York to interview him for The Times. While Gove claimed to be acting as a journalist, the interview was fawning and The Times owner and then Trump supporter Rupert Murdoch was in the room. The post-interview photo sums up the atmosphere. It was hardly Frost/Nixon.” No surprise to see that, “Another early Trump supporter is the Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg. In 2016, Trump looked unlikely to win and most Conservative politicians diplomatically refused to say who they were supporting. Not Rees-Mogg though. Without even the excuse of sucking up to the powerful, he told the BBC he would ‘almost certainly’ vote Republican if he was American. He continued to support Trump throughout his time in power and has yet to condemn the storming of the Capitol.”

    Joe Lo reports that, “Even more moderate, Remain-voting Tories like Jeremy Hunt helped enable and legitimise Trump. Hunt may condemn him now but when it mattered he supported him. Just before Trump touched down for 2019’s state visit, he tweeted that London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan was ‘short’ and a ‘stone cold loser.’ Jeremy Hunt Tweeted: “Priti Patel being challenged by @bbcnickrobinson on how close her party came to Trump. Says Michael Gove was pictured ‘gurning’ with him.” When asked about these comments, Hunt blamed Khan for his criticism (which was political not personal) of Trump and attacked Labour for boycotting the state visit. He called Trump ‘the leader of the free world and our closest ally’.” The unruly hoard of ‘Proud Boy’ extremists and far right racists, some of whom were armed and caused significant damage incited by the President, did not project that noble ideal, but if they had not been predominantly white they would have faced violent resistance from the police.

    In reality Johnson and leading members of the current Tory cabinet have a great deal in common with the openly racist views that harnessed deprivation and discontent to fuel their wretched Brexit campaign. Many of the core support team and organizations behind putting a truly unhinged man in the White House were instrumental in using the exact same dirty PsyOps tricks to con the British public into voting against their own best interests in the EU Referendum. In any other country the insurrection in the US Capitol would have been reported as a failed coup attempt, but few have dared to ‘call a spade a spade’ in their condemnation of this dangerous attempt to thwart democracy. America needs to set an example now, but can Trump be arrested and removed from office to face prosecution or impeachment for inciting this angry mob to storm the Capitol Building? He certainly should be as this riot resulted in four needless deaths, but can Trump be charged with ‘Sedition’ less than two weeks before stepping down?

    Donald Trump has effectively eviscerated the tenuous moral authority claimed by the US as a ‘becon of democracy.’ This illusion was already a hypocritical facade, with America openly supporting brutal tyrants like Saudi Arabia and working to depose democratically elected Governments as they are still working towards in Venezuela; the veneer of respectability has worn away to expose the US deception. Johnson still enjoys the ‘Empora’s new clothes,’ but how much longer can he dupe the British public into accepIn America the Federal authorities are finally confronting how to combat having the narcissistic, mentally unstable, maniac, Donald Trump, in a position of ultimate power making insane dictates that cost lives. Meanwhile in the UK we have an equally dangerous narcissistic maniac, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is still making insane decisions that have cost thousands of lives, but we have yet to come to terms with the urgent need to remove him from office. This malevolent conduct was never more apparent than when the PM tricked parents into returning their children to school to accelerate the transmission of a highly contagious strain of Covid 19. In the Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Video: ‘Sunday Johnson’ insisted schools were safe. ‘Monday Johnson’ said they are spreading virus. The consequences are deadly,” the consequences of his cruel dictate are laid bare with the video documentation to prove his malice. How many more innocent people have to die in the Tory ‘Slaughter of the Sheeple’ before we end this tyranny?

    The Skwawkbox remind us that, “On Sunday, Boris Johnson repeatedly insisted schools were safe and must remain open and boasted of keeping schools open for a long time in high-infection areas. One day later, he said they are ‘vectors’ for COVID to spread and must close. Watch the video below to see ‘Monday Johnson’ contradicting ‘Sunday Johnson’, who repeatedly insisted that there is no doubt schools are safe. The consequences of his arrogance and misleading continue to be deadly: As well as insisting that ‘schools are safe’, Johnson also claimed there is very little risk to teachers. At least eight teachers died of COVID-19 in the last term, and the school ‘vectors’ have driven infection and death rates to horrific levels. SAGE scientists, meanwhile, say they have known for a long time that school children are seven times more likely to spread coronavirus to their homes than any other cause. Johnson should be in the dock, not in Downing Street.” When are the British going to confront the danger he poses?

    The vile Tory plan to deliberately use children as vectors to spread the infection to older members of the multigenerational families in which they have been forced to live due to lack of housing has succeeded in driving case numbers as high as one in every fifteen people in parts of London. The Tories know exactly who their ethnic cleansing of the capitol is eliminating from the census as they watch NHS Hospital staff struggle to cope. The deliberate ‘seeding’ of Covid 19 into Care Homes removed countless thousands of burdonsome pensioners through the Tory Government’s sadistic ‘Holocaust in Care.’ Assisted by the benefit cap, rapidly dwindling access to social housing and extortionate rents, the gradual gentrification of the city has been removing the poor from London ward by ward for the past decade, but Covid has acted as an accelerant on the funeral pyre. When will the public finally recognize the conscious Tory decision making driving this super high infection rate cull and crippling our NHS ready for corporate take over?

    If Boris Johnson and his toxic Tory cabal actually cared about the ability of the most deprived children in the UK being able to learn effectively, both in the classroom and at home, they wouldn’t be compelling them to attend school hungry or subsist on the brink of starvation in homes their families cannot afford to heat. Children cannot learn when they are sick, dizzy and faint from hunger, but the massive reliance on foodbanks is ample testament to our vanishing social safety net that is soon to disappear altogether as the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship solidify their grip on absolute power with post-Brexit austerity. If there are so many people incapable of buying enough food to feed their families despite working full time, what will happen when grocery prices climb precipitously due to our shambolic exit from the EU? It is vital that this new wave of oppression and annihilation is aggressively resisted with protests to demand justice, decent wages and proper support for the growing number of people being forced out of their jobs due to Covid.

    Workers can gain more leverage by banding together in Trade Union membership to resist the pay freezes and the ‘fire and rehire’ exploitation tactics. Trade Unions need to exert far greater pressure on the Tory Government, but they are also in a position to defund the Labour Party for not supporting the interests of working people. Before Sir Keir has a chance to line up new Corporate donors to fund his lurch to the right, Unions can impact the future of the Labour Party by removing funds until Starmer steps down in accordance with the demands of hundreds of CLPs now voting ‘No Confidence’ in his leadership. This country does not need to remove the dictatorship of Johnson only to replace it with the dictatorship of Starmer, equally under the cosh of the wealthy elite, and the Zionist Likud Party of Israel. The prohibition of free speech and dictatorial conduct of Keir Starmer was a serious red flag: he is a Trojan horse planted by the far right to neutralize the opposition by destroying the Labour Party from within its own ranks.

    We cannot allow Covid to muzzle our protests. A group of people gathering with due regard to social distancing and also wearing masks, pose no more Covid risk than most workplaces people have been forced to return to on overcrowded trains. When this Tory Government orders people to work from home they are referring to the comfortably well off, laptop owning elite; they are not expecting this mandate to apply to the working poor. The drive to get comerse up and running again for the benefit of the wealthy corporate bosses, pays no heed to unsafe conditions spreading the Covid virus at work, because those impoverished, exploited masses are totally expendable. There will be many thousands who will be desperate for work, unfairly driven by lack of support and cruel benefit sanctions, to accept pitance pay on zero hours contracts. The Tory commitment to ‘Level up’ is about moving money ‘UP’ from the hopelessly enslaved working poor into the bulging coffers of the already ultra rich Tory supporting Corporate bosses.

    The common Tory retort about how work is the way out of poverty is only valid when work actually pays enough to sustain a normal life free of starvation. For this Tory Government, savage cuts in the Department for Work and ‘Punishment,’ DWP, to benefits, the corrupt ‘Work Capabilities Assessments’ and a brutal Sanction Regime and fake ‘Apprenticeships’, have provided a steady stream of truly desperate unemployed people ready to accept the pitance wages offered for working hours at the convenient discretion of exploitative company bosses. The sanctimonious Tory lectures about the confected link between poverty and work are terrifyingly close to the phrase “Work sets you free” the infamous slogan known for appearing over the entrance of Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps: “Arbeit Macht Frei” in German, the translation meaning “Work sets you free” or “Work makes one free”. The combined catastrophic damage of Brexit and Covid 19 will create a worker exploitation bonanza for the wealthy Tory elite.

    Huge numbers of people here in the UK will lose their jobs, but Universal Credit remains dysfunctional. The Canary Article entitled, “The DWP is continuing with sanctions despite a national lockdown,” captures the essence of how the Tories intend to ‘Decimate Down’ by capitalizing on the desperation of the existing and newly unemployed. They say, “The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has just announced that Jobcentres will remain open during the latest coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown. While this is not new, the devil is in the detail. Because the DWP has not publicly said whether it is suspending sanctions or not, like it did in March 2020. But now, The Canary has received confirmation that the DWP will continue to impose sanctions on claimants in some circumstances. On Wednesday 6 January, the DWP issued updated guidance about Jobcentres. It said that they: will remain open, as they have throughout this pandemic, to provide essential services and support to those who we cannot help in any other way.”

    Reporting on this issue the Canary say, “The DWP also noted that: We will ensure that this support continues to be delivered in line with the latest government and PHE guidance – such as maintaining social distancing and rigorous cleaning regimes – keeping our colleagues and customers safe. This approach from the DWP is not new. The Canary previously reported at the start of the pandemic in 2020 on the DWP’s plans. At the time, the DWP said that from 19 March 2020: People receiving benefits do not have to attend jobcentre appointments for at least 3 months, starting from Thursday 19 March 2020. People will continue to receive their benefits as normal, but all requirements to attend the jobcentre in person are suspended. Now, it appears that the DWP is continuing with this approach. But compared to March 2020 other parts of its guidance are not so specific.”

    The Canary not that, “Previously it stated the following:
    • ‘people who need to claim ESA or Universal Credit because of coronavirus will not be required to produce a fit note’.
    • ‘when claimants tell us in good time that they are staying at home or that they have been diagnosed with coronavirus, they will not be sanctioned, we will review their conditionality requirements in their claimant commitment, to ensure they are reasonable’.
    • ‘claimants who are staying at home as a result of coronavirus will have their mandatory work search and work availability requirements removed to account for a period of sickness’.
    But the new guidance does not give details on the above points, most notably conditionality, which is covered in points two and three above.”
    The growing incidence of mental health problems is exacerbated by the totally unnecessary stress of conditionality.

    The Canary report that, “In July 2020, the DWP started to phase back in so-called conditionality. It said at the time: We don’t want to sanction anyone. These are difficult, uncertain times for many people and we want to do everything we can to help them find work or increase hours, where that is possible for them. No sanction will be used until the claimant has an up-to-date Claimant Commitment in place. After that, a sanction will only be used where a claimant has not provided good reason for meeting the agreed requirements in the Claimant Commitment. Claimants who are shielding, have childcare responsibilities because of COVID restrictions, etc. will have their Claimant Commitment tailored to reflect their circumstances and will not be asked to do anything unreasonable. The claimant commitment is the things people have to agree to do so the DWP will give them social security.”

    The Canary say, “As the website Turn2Us noted: failing to comply with a claimant commitment means you can be sanctioned. A sanction is where the DWP stops a person’s benefit money. Then in November, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request forced the department to publish its latest internal guidance on conditionality. It is called the Sanction Assurance Framework. The document gives DWP staff guidance on when and why to apply conditionality.” But are they, “factoring in coronavirus? For example, it states that sanctions can still be applied if a claimant doesn’t look for enough work. The guidance does state: When considering a possible sanction referral, the work coach must gather evidence and review any changes in the claimant’s circumstances taking into account… pandemic (for example, COVID-19). This suggests that, if a person can’t complete a work search due to self-isolation, then the DWP must take that into account. But this is not the same as the previous blanket ban on sanctions.”

    The Canary warn that, “it may still leave some people vulnerable to having their money stopped, even when coronavirus and the circumstances it has left them in is to blame for non-compliance with their claimant commitment. The Canary asked the DWP for further information on its 6 January announcement. We specifically wanted to know if it would reintroduce the easements relating to conditionality and sanctions that it previously put in place last March. A spokesperson would not give us a comment for publication. But they did outline that essentially the same rules it brought in in July 2020 were remaining in place. Of note is that the DWP took 22 hours to finally give The Canary a definitive response. While some restrictions in sanctions are to be welcomed, historically DWP data shows that it has to overturn nearly a third of its decisions to apply a sanction. The rates of sanctions did fall after last March, when the DWP restricted their use. But it’s own data shows it still sanctioned nearly 20,000 claimants in August 2020 alone.”

    That is an obscene number of people to be targeting with crippling punitive measures during an unprecedented Pandemic crisis! The Canary conclude that, “It seems that, much like last year, the DWP is being slow to act over an evolving national situation. But in September, a parliamentary research paper noted how: Universal Credit, and DWP staff in particular, have received praise from various quarters, including in recent reports from the Work and Pensions Committee and the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee. It has been noted that the digital and automated structure of the benefit, combined with the temporary changes made by the DWP, has enabled the system to withstand a sudden increase in demand where legacy systems may have struggled. So, you’d think the DWP would react in the same way it did last March. This is now all the more pressing, given that since February 2020 the number of people on Universal Credit has increased by nearly three million, to just over 5.8 million people.”

    The Canary alert us to potential problems with this deeply flawed system that appears more punitive than supportive. They say, “It now appears that the DWP is keeping the same sanctions regime that was in place last summer, when the country was under barely any coronavirus restrictions. This approach is dangerous, and could potentially cause catastrophe for countless claimants.” We should bear in mind that while the benefit system will come under massive strain as people try to find new jobs, many will never have experienced the conniving tricks the DWP use to deprive people of support and bully them into accepting very poorly paid jobs. Many of those trying to navigate the system for the first time will have to accept a drastic change of career, but it will focus on downgrading them to below subsistence wages. The Canary ask, “Has the DWP sanctioned you during the coronavirus pandemic? Did you feel it was unfair? Then get in touch with us. You can contact The Canary securely via our Tip Offs page, here.”

    The Tories want an ignorant and untrained workforce here in the UK because that is the key to maximizing Corporate profits. For many higher paid professionals, the most lucrative jobs will be assigned to the privileged, privately educated elite. New immigration laws will prioritize the morally bankrupt system of, ‘Scavenge – Exploit – Deport’ to reduce the need for investment in UK training by finding professionals from overseas who will work for less and compliantly accept zero benefits and poor working conditions. The major Tory accomplishments of Brexit will be accomplished by relying on cheaper foreign trained professional personnel, while breaking the power of our UK Trade Unions and nurturing an increased level of submissive ignorance and total desperation among the working poor. Singapore on the Thames will create a home grown slave state population ripe for exploitation with profits to rival the Empire days of colonization and plantation ownership.

    In the Left Foot Forward Article entitled, “Tories scramble to distance themselves from Trump after coup attempt,” Joe Lo says, “They’re trying to rewrite history. After Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to break into Congress, Conservative politicians across the UK are trying to make out they never supported the outgoing President. As Paul Goodman, a former Tory MP and editor of Conservative Home put it: ‘Conservative MPs, publications and activists will condemn the President, suggest that they’ve never had any time for him, and hint that were they Americans they would have voted for Joe Biden instead.’ But, the veteran Conservative, pointed out: ‘It is necessary for the record to point out that this is far from being the whole story. Among those finally (almost) criticising Donald Trump was Boris Johnson himself. ‘Disgraceful scenes in U.S. Congress. The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power’.”

    Will more corrupt despots be ousted and jailed in 2021, including Netinyahu in Israel and our PM? Lo reminds us that, “Johnson and Trump were political allies even before Johnson became Prime Minister. In a meeting with then PM Theresa May, Trump asked why Johnson wasn’t the party’s leader. When he did become leader, Trump told crowds of supporters unprompted that Johnson was ‘a really good man’, ‘tough’, ‘smart’ and ‘Britain Trump’. At which, Trump’s supporters cheered loudly. The praise was reciprocated. In 2018, Johnson told Sky News: ‘If [Trump] can fix North Korea and if he can fix the Iran nuclear deal then I don’t see why he’s any less of a candidate for the Nobel peace prize than Barack Obama.’ He was similarly positive with US diplomats, telling them privately that Trump was making America great again. Ben Quinn, ‘Priti Patel being challenged by @bbcnickrobinson on how close her party came to Trump. Says Michael Gove was pictured ‘gurning’ with him.”

    Joe Lo says, “Another back-tracker is Michael Gove who retweeted Johnson’s condemnation yesterday. But he was one of the first to suck up to the US President. When Trump was still just President-elect, Gove flew to New York to interview him for The Times. While Gove claimed to be acting as a journalist, the interview was fawning and The Times owner and then Trump supporter Rupert Murdoch was in the room. The post-interview photo sums up the atmosphere. It was hardly Frost/Nixon.” No surprise to see that, “Another early Trump supporter is the Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg. In 2016, Trump looked unlikely to win and most Conservative politicians diplomatically refused to say who they were supporting. Not Rees-Mogg though. Without even the excuse of sucking up to the powerful, he told the BBC he would ‘almost certainly’ vote Republican if he was American. He continued to support Trump throughout his time in power and has yet to condemn the storming of the Capitol.”

    Joe Lo reports that, “Even more moderate, Remain-voting Tories like Jeremy Hunt helped enable and legitimise Trump. Hunt may condemn him now but when it mattered he supported him. Just before Trump touched down for 2019’s state visit, he tweeted that London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan was ‘short’ and a ‘stone cold loser.’ Jeremy Hunt Tweeted: “Priti Patel being challenged by @bbcnickrobinson on how close her party came to Trump. Says Michael Gove was pictured ‘gurning’ with him.” When asked about these comments, Hunt blamed Khan for his criticism (which was political not personal) of Trump and attacked Labour for boycotting the state visit. He called Trump ‘the leader of the free world and our closest ally’.” The unruly hoard of ‘Proud Boy’ extremists and far right racists, some of whom were armed and caused significant damage incited by the President, did not project that noble ideal, but if they had not been predominantly white they would have faced violent resistance from the police.

    In reality Johnson and leading members of the current Tory cabinet have a great deal in common with the openly racist views that harnessed deprivation and discontent to fuel their wretched Brexit campaign. Many of the core support team and organizations behind putting a truly unhinged man in the White House were instrumental in using the exact same dirty PsyOps tricks to con the British public into voting against their own best interests in the EU Referendum. In any other country the insurrection in the US Capitol would have been reported as a failed coup attempt, but few have dared to ‘call a spade a spade’ in their condemnation of this dangerous attempt to thwart democracy. America needs to set an example now, but can Trump be arrested and removed from office to face prosecution or impeachment for inciting this angry mob to storm the Capitol Building? He certainly should be as this riot resulted in four needless deaths, but can Trump be charged with ‘Sedition’ less than two weeks before stepping down?

    Donald Trump has effectively eviscerated the tenuous moral authority claimed by the US as a ‘becon of democracy.’ This illusion was already a hypocritical facade, with America openly supporting brutal tyrants like Saudi Arabia and working to depose democratically elected Governments as they are still working towards in Venezuela; the veneer of respectability has worn away to expose the US deception. Johnson still enjoys the ‘Empora’s new clothes,’ but how much longer can he dupe the British public into accepting the deliberate and brutal Covid 19 cull? How soon before we are able to expose the naked truth about the Covert 2019 Rigged Election to question, challenge and Investigate the corrupt result currently validating our perilously shallow fake UK democracy? We cannot continue passively ignoring the spiraling death toll as the PM engineers new ways to slaughter the poor and most vulnerable in our society; we must rebel before we reach that shameful tipping point at which the US has just arrived: Get The Tories Out ASAP! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #64645 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    As we regress into the dystopian post-Brexit New Year it appears the new normal leaves us bereft; Britain is ready to trade heart and soul for treacherous alliances with dictators. Boris Johnson has tossed UK interests under the bus, as his chaotic last ditch ‘deal’ with the EU leaves everything from Scottish Langoustine to Northern Irland’s online basics in bureaucratic gridlock with no easy solutions in sight. The begging bowl of Brexit has already driven us into the willing embrace of tyrants with no conditionality over their abhorrent current or future human rights conduct. Desperation constrains our trade deals moving forward, now that Brexit has constructed a self-imposed logistical barricade between us and our nearest trading partners in the EU. But Johnson’s cabal devoid of conscience leading our Tory Sovereign Dictatorship can rely on its most deadly export to drive the UK economy, as we seek greater alliances with other authoritarian regimes throughout the globe to supply them with the weaponry of repression.

    In the London Economic Article entitled, “Scottish seafood left to rot with exports tangled in Brexit bureaucracy,” Henry Goodwin tells us how, “Industry figures have warned that exports could grind to a halt in coming days. Scotland’s seafood industry is in danger of grinding to a halt in the coming days, ruining thousands of tons of fresh produce, because of Brexit customs delays. Industry groups have warned that a “perfect storm” of factors has led to long delays before lorries carrying fresh seafood can leave Scotland, partly down to the paperwork now required to send goods to Europe. Under post-Brexit rules, vets must sign off on consignments and provide an export health certificate, which is needed for wild fish and farmed salmon since Britain left the EU customs union last week.” Perhaps someone should remind the PM of the words if the Norwegan Prime Minister who was quoted as having said, “There is nothing that’s in such a hurry as a dead fish in the back of a lorry!”

    Goodwin reports that, “The Scottish Seafood Association said exports to the EU are being hindered by ‘red tape’ delays in Scotland and France. It claims as many as 25 trucks were backlogged for clearance due to IT problems in Boulogne on Tuesday. Jimmy Buchan, chief executive of the Scottish Seafood Association, said: “Trucks laden with fresh seafood are being held up in central Scotland due to problems with customs barcodes and lack of veterinary service capacity. ‘Instead of representative samples being removed from trucks and checked, entire trailers are being emptied so that every box and label can be checked. Combined with computer problems on both sides of the English Channel, this is a worrying sign for the days and weeks ahead when the flow of produce will get much greater.’ He added: ‘Ministers of both the UK and Scottish governments need to get on top of the situation and resolve these issues as soon as possible’.”

    Goodwin’s article includes, “A video shared by a sea farm operating on Loch Fine was widely-shared this week, in which fishermen claimed that they have already ‘lost thousands of pounds by doing nothing wrong’ since Brexit. ‘Welcome to the modern world of Brexit and the mess it brings,’ the fisherman adds, pointing to a fresh haul of lobster and scallops that will likely go to waste because of problems at the newly-policed borders. James Withers, head of Scotland Food and Drink, said: ‘There is a big exercise happening over the next couple of days with exporters to work through the common issues arising with incomplete or wrong paperwork’. The result is huge delays in getting freshly-caught crab, lobsters, langoustines and other fresh seafood to markets across the Continent. Withers added: ‘The French authorities assure us these systems are now fixed but this will need closely monitored over the coming days. There is a major collective effort to work through all this between industry and government.”

    Goodwin notes Withers concerns, “That is critical because the knock-on effect of disruption is significant and can grind the seafood supply chain, from fishing boats to haulage, to a halt very quickly. ‘On the back of a horrendous 2020 and a nightmare before Christmas due to the French border closure, the financial impact of that would be grave for many.’ Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, said: ‘We are all learning, including businesses, how to manage the considerable burden of this new bureaucracy on exporting food products. ‘We know how frustrating, time consuming and indeed costly this is for Scottish businesses, we warned the UK government that we needed much more clarity much sooner than we got on what the export process would involve. ‘It is far better for problems to be identified and resolved here in Scotland and not have consignments being turned back hundreds of miles away or refused when they arrive at the end of their journey’.”

    In the London Economic Article entitled, “Debenhams closes Irish website as UK retailers feel sting of Brexit tariffs,” once again Henry Goodwin is elaborating on the harmful impact of Brexit. He says that, “In a message on its website, it said ‘we are currently unable to deliver orders to the Republic of Ireland, due to uncertainty around post-Brexit trade rules’. Debenhams has shut online operations in Ireland after being impacted by new Brexit tariff rules, with dozens of other firms facing disruption from trade rule changes. The department store, which started its liquidation process last month, took its Debenhams.ie website offline on Christmas Eve following the agreement of the Brexit deal, in a move first reported by ITV News. Fashion retailers and grocery chains have been particularly impacted by new tariff rules on re-exporting goods from the UK bases.”

    Goodwin reports that, “The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that ‘at least 50’ of its members face potential tariffs for re-exporting goods following the agreement of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA). ‘We appreciate that the rules of origin in the TCA were designed to be facilitative on trade in goods, but we need a solution which genuinely reflects the needs of UK-EU supply and distribution chains for goods,’ said William Bain, trade policy adviser at the BRC. We are working with members on short-term options and are seeking dialogue with the Government and the EU on longer-term solutions to mitigate the effects of new tariffs’. Following the agreement of the withdrawal deal, a raft of retailers including John Lewis and TKMaxx suspended deliveries into Northern Ireland amid uncertainty over new Irish Sea trading arrangements. Separately, Marks & Spencer is also struggling with filling shelves in its stores in the Republic of Ireland.”

    Goodwin explains that, “The retailer launched a new distribution centre in Motherwell exclusively to deal with supplying products to the island of Ireland, rather than from a warehouse that previously supplied Ireland and Britain. But seven days into the new arrangements between the EU and UK, the centre is said to be struggling to cope with the new rules. Sources close to the retailer insist the issues are only temporary as the company get to grips with the new systems and paperwork. One problem for M&S is that many of its products sold in Ireland are sourced in the UK and tend to be ready meals or prepared dishes, requiring separate paperwork for meats, dairy and vegetables. A typical M&S dish contains all three and is therefore facing more lengthy paperwork, whilst reports also suggest delays continue at ports. An M&S spokesperson said: ‘Following the UK’s recent departure from the EU, we are transitioning to new processes and it is taking a little longer for some of our products to reach our stores. We’re working closely with our partners and suppliers to ensure customers can continue to enjoy the same great range of products’.”

    In the Canary Article entitled, “Post Brexit Britain has started the way it intends to go on – with a trade deal siding with a dictator,” Tom Anderson elaborates on the type of deals that will replace the self-imposed complexity of our new relationship with our closest trading partners in the EU. He states, “The fact that the first trade deal the UK signed after Brexit was with Turkey is telling. It sets the stage for a post-EU Britain which taps into a longstanding imperial tradition of siding with dictators, despots and oppressors. Turkey’s dictatorial leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has spent the last seven years since becoming president arresting and imprisoning the political opposition and awarding himself ever-increasing powers. Since 2015, 6,000 members of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) have been imprisoned, and 16,000 detained. The party’s co-leaders, Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş have been jailed. More than 50 elected HDP mayors have been replaced by state appointed trustees.”

    The Canary reports that, “In December 2020, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) called for the ‘immediate release’ of Demirtaş, calling his imprisonment a violation of rights. Also in December, former HDP MP Leyla Güven was sentenced to 22 years in prison for her role as co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK). The DTK is the umbrella organisation attempting to sow the seeds of a radical democracy in Turkey’s Kurdish majority south east. A democracy which aims to put the power in the hands of grassroots neighbourhood and city assemblies, eroding the power of the state. Güven inspired a 7000 person strong hunger strike in 2018 which started behind the walls of Turkey’s prisons and spread worldwide, calling for an end to the isolation of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) co-founder Abdullah Öcalan, who has been imprisoned by Turkey since 1999. In November 2020, prisoners in Turkey again launched a mass hunger strike demanding freedom for Öcalan.”

    The Canary say that, “Meanwhile, students in Istanbul have clashed with police this week while protesting the appointment of a new rector of Boğaziçi University by Erdoğan. The appointee to the post is a prominent member of Erdoğan’s AKP party.” They say, “On 5 January two journalists from a women’s news agency and two freelancers were detained in Ankara, while covering protests. During 2020, 43 journalists were reportedly sentenced to a total of over 150 years in prison.” It would seem that this Tory Government is eager to be “Propping up the struggling economy of a despot. Turkey’s economy has been struggling under the pressure of the Turkish state’s unending wars of aggression, with the Turkish Lira crashing in 2018. 24% of Turkish youth are currently unemployed. “Amidst this financial crisis, Turkey has launched successive invasions of Northeast Syria in 2018 and 2019, and supported Azerbaijan’s 2020 aggression in Nagorno-Karabakh.”

    The Canary also document a wider expansion of aggression saying that, “Turkish planes and drones have also been carrying out attacks in Libya during 2020, and troops remain on Libyan soil in an attempt to extend Turkey’s influence over the Mediterranean and North Africa. Recently, Erdoğan has been using the age-old trick of trying to distract the Turkish public gaze away from the ongoing financial crisis at home by threatening to exert control over 16 Greek islands. The trade deal with the UK will serve to prop up the Turkish state’s military expansionism abroad and fuel its repression of the Left within its own borders. The agreement will benefit the Turkish economy by an estimated £1.78bn. Since the announcement of the free trade agreement, the Turkish Lira has risen to its strongest position since September 2020. In contrast, the European Union is considering sanctions against Turkey, because of its militaristic foreign policy.”

    The Canary regretfully comment on, “Self-determination’ and ‘human rights’ left ‘by the wayside,” and the impact of our morally reprehensible new ‘deals.’ They say, “The trade deal flies in the face of concerns raised by diaspora communities in the UK. In September 2020, a joint open letter was written to Boris Johnson by representatives from Cypriot, Kurdish, Egyptian and Armenian community organisations urging the government to take an ethical stance. It reads: Whilst the UK-Turkey trade talks progress, Turkey has increasingly become a destructive force in the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider region, that routinely violates international law. Nik Matheou, a London based historian of the Middle-East and activist with the Boycott Turkey campaign told The Canary: This deal was what was expected, but nevertheless remains a kick in the teeth for all those who believe in a peaceful solution to the problems in the Middle-East and human rights worldwide.”

    The Canary report that, “The rights of journalists, the rights of lawyers, the rights of activists, the rights of people to their own self-determination and their own culture. All of this was put to the wayside with this recent deal which essentially opens the UK to business with one of the most authoritarian regimes existing in the world today, the AKP-MHP regime led by Erdoğan. It just shows what role the British government is looking to play in this post-Brexit world where, on the one hand, the EU has finally and belatedly begun to put sanctions in place against Turkey because of its actions in the Aegean and because of its actions against Cyprus. On the other hand the UK government is making itself entirely open, without any safeguards, without any checks, without any standards being upheld. So it’s really very, very disappointing, and no amount of statements about how things are raised in private is going to assuage anyone’s fears here.” They claim we are, “Cementing British support for the Erdoğan regime.”

    The Canary focus on, “Thomas McClure who works with the Rojava Information Center, a volunteer-staffed organisation that has reported extensively on Turkey’s invasion and occupation of Northeast Syria. He said: We often focus on Turkish arms deals with the UK and the West, but that’s only a small part of the picture. UK companies have sold over a billion pounds’ worth of weapons and military tech to Turkey in recent years, including equipment used in their devastating attacks against the Kurds in Syria in 2018 and 2019, and subsequent forcible demographic change. But more broadly speaking, with this deal the UK government has shown it is willing to stand alongside Erdoğan’s repressive regime, with the Turkish autocrat fulsome in his praise of his UK counterparts. The UK is Turkey’s second biggest export market, and this deal cements British support for the Erdoğan regime without even cursory parliamentary scrutiny of its appalling rights record at home and abroad.”

    The Canary report that, “The EU may be about to impose limited sanctions on Turkey, but at the same time, Turkish trade with key EU states (most notably Germany) continues apace. The UK should have demanded reforms from the Turkish government as a quid pro quo for any trade deal. But with Erdoğan feeling strong and UK and EU leaders running scared, it is little wonder that Johnson’s government is willing to accept Turkish expansionism and repression as the cost of continued profits post-Brexit. Today’s support for Erdoğan’s expansionist regime will come round to bite the UK tomorrow, but by then, it may well be too late to undo the damage.” They are demanding, “An ethical stance against the exploitation, terrorization and annihilation”

    The Canary alert us to the fact that, “Campaigners are calling for a Boycott of Turkey, as a way to counter its militaristic policies and to stand in solidarity with the movements for radical democracy inside Turkey. The Boycott Turkey campaign is calling for a boycott of Turkish companies and brands, for students and staff at UK universities to support an academic boycott of Turkish universities, for the UK to stop arming Turkey and for people not to take their holidays at Turkish resorts. According to Dilar Dirik, Kurdish academic and activist: ‘Boycotting Turkey is not merely an attempt to economically disrupt a billion-dollar business empire that profits from massacre, authoritarianism and intimidation. It is also an ethical stance against the exploitation, terrorization and annihilation of the Kurdish people and other communities, targeted by the nationalist state mentality of Turkey. Boycotting Turkey means saying NO to the normalization and white-washing of dictatorship and genocidal politics’.”

    The Canary warn that, “The UK-Turkey deal shows clearly the way things are going to go in post-Brexit Britain. The British state will carry on its time-worn colonial tradition of forging alliances with dictators like Erdoğan, who are trying to crush movements for peoples’ autonomy. We need to build up our own autonomy in opposition to state policies, and stand in solidarity with those fighting oppression within Turkey, and globally.” Author “Tom Anderson is part of the Shoal Collective, a cooperative producing writing for social justice and a world beyond capitalism.” We have shown that boycotts are effective, they really must be or Israel would not be kicking up such a fuss about the Boycott, Divest and Sanction, (BDS) movement. This strategy was a valuable leverage tool that helped to end Aparthide in South Africa and we should build on that success. Now, as then, we cannot rely on our Governments to make ethical choices, but as consumers and investors we can make an immense difference with our personal choices.

    A TRT World Article entitled, “Palestine activists secure right to boycott Israel win at UK Supreme Court,” focuses on a significant victory for BDS drowned out by the Covid crisis in late April 2020. They revealed the good news of the Judges decision to reverse the, “British ban on local government pension schemes taking part in the BDS campaign over Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. Campaigners in the UK have secured a major victory for the global Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel over its treatment of occupied Palestinians. On Wednesday the British Supreme Court ruled that the government could not ban public authority pension schemes from engagement in ethical divestment policies targeting Israel. The decision reversed a 2016 government ban preventing local councils from taking part in the BDS campaign and other boycotts that run contrary to UK foreign and defence policy.”

    TRT World reported that, “Legal action against the decision by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and other groups was previously successful in the UK High Court but a Court of Appeal decision ruled in favour of the government. The Supreme Court decision is final. The initial government action came after councillors in local government authorities in several UK cities started passing motions forcing their pension funds to divest from companies complicit in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the Syrian Golan Heights. BDS is a grassroots international campaign that encourages ethical divestment from companies that financially back the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory in the hopes that it will reverse Israeli behaviour. The judges’ decision confirms the right of pension fund members to decide where their money can be invested.”

    TRT World quoted, “PSC chair Kamel Hawwash said: ‘This historic victory represents a major win not just for the campaign for Palestinian rights, but for the fundamental principles of democracy, freedom of expression and justice.’ Lawyer Jamie Potter, of Bindmans LLP, representing PSC said: ‘LGPS (local government pension scheme) members now have the freedom to pursue their own principles in respect of the role of the arms trade and foreign countries in violations of human rights around the world, when determining how their pension monies are invested’.” Bindmans LLP, is frequently cited representing Human Rights cases and quashing SLAPP suits, including those targeting the progressive Labour Left with fantisemitism. This is a formidable force capable of exposing the Likud influence on Trojan horse Starmer’s corrupt efforts to destroy Labour from within: we must oust Sir Keir!

    TRT World say, “In recent years, countering the BDS movement has become a top foreign policy priority for the Israeli government with its leader Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu describing the campaign as a ‘strategic threat’. Israeli diplomats and lobby groups have urged allied governments to enact legislation banning acts of boycott targeting Israel but such acts even when passed have run into legal issues. In the US, such attempts run the risk of violating constitutional protections on free speech and the right to protest. Israeli officials argue that their state is being unfairly targeted but boycott advocates say that the campaign is the best way of pressuring Israel to stop its abuses against Palestinians.” Netanyahu faces a new election and corruption charges when he is forced out of office; if only we could challenge, Investigate and expose the corruption of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election to force the Johnson cabal from office! Trump has fallen from grace with a crash, but other tyrants and dictators must be removed too. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #64719 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    With typical Tory fanfare the Government have announced that the BBC will be increasing their educational programming at last. The PM bragged of it in his PR spin in Parliamentary and I discovered that some thought was given to this back in April 2020. As soon as I noted the slightest risk to schools, months earlier, I started ranting about it; this should have been seriously ramped up with an influx of Government funding as an urgent priority. Despite Tory manipulation precipitating an abysmal deterioration in the value and reliability of ‘Auntie’s’ news coverage, the BBC’s reputation with regard to other program material is very high, guaranteeing a really strong potential for marketability overseas and a sound return on investment for our national broadcaster. Even children in relatively poor households still own a TV, but might struggle to pay the license free. Why not cover the license fee cost, since the TV medium is so much more ubiquitous than any reliance on online connectivity and costly devices that poor families simply don’t own.

    I would have expected Boris Johnson to trumpet this in his normal display of PR spin bragging, but the PM has barely mentioned it as if it was a state secret; one just hopes that parents were made aware of this resource. Early on Sunak should have splashed a lot more cash on the Beeb… In the BBC Article entitled, “BBC Ramps Up Educational Offer,” they elaborate on the scope of their belated catch-up. “The BBC has outlined plans for the biggest education offer in its history, bringing together BBC Two, CBBC, BBC Red Button, BBC iPlayer and online to deliver more content to children, teachers and parents as a third lockdown begins across the U.K. BBC Director-General Tim Davie said: ‘Ensuring children across the U.K. have the opportunity to continue to follow the appropriate core parts of their nation’s school curriculum has been a key priority for the BBC throughout this past year. Education is absolutely vital; the BBC is here to play its part and I’m delighted that we have been able to bring this to audiences so swiftly’.”

    Perhaps someone should remind Davie that we are close to one year int dealing with Covid 19 and lockdowns, so ‘swiftly’ is not the word I would use! The BBC have announced that, “Starting on Monday, January 11, each weekday on CBBC will feature a three-hour block of primary school programming from 9 a.m., including BBC Live Lessons and BBC Bitesize Daily, as well as other educational programming such as Our School and Celebrity Supply Teacher and titles such as Horrible Histories, Art Ninja and Operation Ouch. BBC Two will address secondary students with programming to support the GCSE curriculum, with at least two hours of content each weekday. Content will be built around Bitesize Daily secondary shows, complemented by Shakespeare and classic drama adaptations alongside science, history and factual titles from the BBC’s factual programming units. Bitesize Daily primary and secondary will also air every day on BBC Red Button as well as episodes being available on-demand on BBC iPlayer.”

    The BBC report that, “Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said: ‘The BBC has helped the nation through some of the toughest moments of the last century, and for the next few weeks it will help our children learn whilst we stay home, protect the NHS and save lives. This will be a lifeline to parents and I welcome the BBC playing its part’.” There is already a decent volume of Historical programming that focuses on the more interesting aspects of real life rather than just the ultimate privilege of the elite focused only on dates and Kings. I would like to see some of the brilliant programming contributions of David Olusoga added to the school presentations, but I fear his, ‘tell it like it is’ realism, regarding the atrocities of our bloody colonial past, would not meet the approval of out jingoistic imperialist Tory Government led by a MP unashamedly cheerleading for the genocidal racist Churchill. I doubt Johnson would want to encourage our children to feel guilty about our past colonial exploitation overseas.

    The Tory Government delayed the doable goal of increased TV learning via the BBC to focus on remote learning with devices that would exclude poor children. As we bemoan the trying logistics of establishing remote learning for British school children we should look to an excellent model still in continuous practice overseas. In the Australian outback, hundreds of miles from conventional classroom education, they created a well functioning working model decades before ‘Zoom’ was ever envisaged in the minds of tech entrepreneurs. Class was successfully conducted over ham radio for decades, with study materials sent by post to children of all ages scattered across the vast Australian outback who were rarely deprived of essential learning or held back compared with those is traditional school setting education. Starting out as ‘The School Of The Air’ relying on ham radio, modern technology has greatly improved on the, “Lessons learned at Australia’s vast Outback classroom,” as elaborated on in this Informative Article.

    Sticking with the cardinal Tory rule of ‘too little, too late,’ the Governments pledge to supply laptops is still falling short of demand. In the Canary Article entitled “‘Disappointment after disappointment’: teachers speak out about the government’s laptop claims,” they note that, “Teachers say many children still do not have the means to learn remotely, as schools close again and online learning resumes. Pupils across the country may only have access to their work through a phone or shared device. MPs and charities have written to the prime minister asking that devices be provided for students without remote access. This comes after the Department of Education (DfE) cut device provision to schools by approximately 80% in October.” In contrast to all the bold and expansive public pronouncements from Sunak and the PM, the Canary highlight the, “Insufficient provision. Ian Addison, KS1 leader and school ICT leader, told The Canary his school in Hampshire has only been provided with four laptops between 500 pupils.”

    The Canary report, “After the prime minister announced a third lockdown yesterday, he said: ‘For many, the only access that they have is through a parent’s mobile phone. We didn’t do remote learning last time and are trying to start it from tomorrow but so many don’t have devices it will be a massive challenge.’ He added: ‘we would need 100 devices for it to have a decent impact on the children and their learning. It is frustrating that the government are saying so many laptops are being provided, where are they going? So many children are going to be at home for another 6 weeks with no access to learning and I wish more could be done to help them.’ Addison said that around 20% of students in his class alone did not have their own device for remote learning. He added that 65% of their pupils receive the pupil premium. The pupil premium is funding the government gives to schools every year to help disadvantaged students. A student can be eligible for the pupil premium if they have received free school meals within the last six years.”

    The Canary report that, “Similarly, Dave Shaw, headteacher at Spire Junior School in Chesterfield, told The Canary they had only received 10 of the 49 laptops they had been allocated. Shaw also had trouble accessing the portal to order more laptops. He said his pupils are ‘struggling’, with some having to share devices in their households and others asking for paper copies of work. He said this: doesn’t give them the quality teaching face-to-face in terms of online and visually that they deserve. It still won’t be enough. What I think is that the siblings will share, so they still won’t get the full allocation of quality teaching but they will get something, because something is better than nothing at this difficult time. Shaw said his school would need around 70 devices to give their pupils high-quality online learning. He also said internet connection has been a problem for some students – to rectify this, they have ordered free SIM cards provided by Vodafone.”

    The Canary outline, “The Government Laptop Scheme,” pledge. “The Department for Education first promised laptops and tablets for schools during the previous academic year. The scheme was extended in September, with devices available for:
    • disadvantaged children in years 3 to 11 whose face-to-face education is disrupted.
    • disadvantaged children in any year group who have been advised to shield because they (or someone they live with) are clinically extremely vulnerable.
    • disadvantaged children in any year group attending a hospital school.
    • disadvantaged 14 to 16-year-olds enrolled for Key Stage 4 at sixth-form colleges and whose face-to-face education is disrupted.”

    This was intended to sound generous and comprehensive in the Tory Government’s PR spin, but this Canary article has exposed the reality in terms of the PMs typical ‘over promise and under deliver’ strategy. The Tories are probably delayed in deciding who will trouser the public funds! According to the Canary, “On 23 October, schools began reporting that their device allowance had been slashed, with one extreme case having their device allocation cut from 81 to 16. As of 18 December, the DfE reported over 500,000 devices had been provided in total, alongside over 50,000 4G routers. However, some teachers have tweeted that this is still not enough, with pupils still left offline: Nancy Fielder Tweeted: Today approx 4,500 secondary school kids in #Sheffield are at home unable to join online classes because they have no laptop. The future unfairness of the digital divide is catastrophic.” The Canary suggest a way that the public can help out, “If you have an unused device you could donate, please help”

    A Government led ‘turn in your old laptop’ program could have accomplished more with less much earlier on. The Canary describe, “The digital divide,” saying that, “In March, Ofcom estimated around 9% of children had no access to a digital device, representing over a million children. They further found that 2% of children also had no internet access at home. Disadvantaged children are less likely to have a digital device for learning online. Therefore, educators say they will be more affected by school closures and insufficient laptop provision. In the long term, this is likely to cause these children to fall behind: Vic Doddard Tweeted: I forgot to add that although we now have one year group where every child has a device 17% of that year group are using devices that other family members need to use during the day as well. The digital divide is significant.” In a strong “Public response, Several MPs, charities, and unions have written to Boris Johnson, urging him to ensure children wouldn’t go without access to online learning.”

    As usual this is down to begging for appropriate Government support for the left behind. The Canary report on, “The letter stressed the importance of providing ‘children on the wrong side of the digital divide’ with devices and a broadband connection that enabled them to learn online. This adds to calls for free broadband that have been increasing since schools first went online in March.” Schools are left frustrated as, “The Canary asked the DfE for comment but it referred us to its statement on 20 December 2020. Then the DfE said: The Government is also confirming today that, amidst unprecedented global demand, over 560,000 devices were delivered to schools and councils in 2020. The further purchase of more than 440,000 devices means that over one million will now be provided to help schools and colleges throughout the pandemic, making the programme one of the largest of its kind in the world.” I guess Gav didn’t get that important Party memo on Tory ‘Spin Speak;’ he really should have said ‘world beating!’”

    Despite their notoriously shabby track record on follow through I imagine the Canary felt compelled to report the Tory claims that, “The Government is now investing over £300 million to support remote education and social care, including providing devices and internet access to pupils who need it most. It further stated that in January, schools would be able to order devices even if pupils hadn’t been sent home to self-isolate.” It will be interesting to see what actually materializes. Shaw told The Canary: “I feel very frustrated. I feel for our families and I wish I could do more to help them. And apart from offering advice and the quality teaching that we do provide, we can’t do anything else about those laptops. Because we as a school don’t have any funds to support us in that way. We’ve had announcement after announcement and disappointment after disappointment in terms of being told one thing and there’s more U-turns than anything else. I feel they’ve let our community down, I really do feel that.”

    In a Left Foot Forward Article Prem Sikka states that. “Turing is a pale shadow of the Erasmus programme,” and he asks, “Will the funding even cover students’ living expenses?” He claims that, “The Erasmus Programme has been one of the biggest casualties of Brexit. The EU-wide programme provided exchange opportunities for UK students, trainees (on work placements, internships, etc.) and teachers to spend time in Europe. It also provided opportunities for UK institutions to receive teachers, trainees and students from the EU countries. These arrangements could last for a term, semester or a longer period of up to 12 months.” On Sunday’s Matt show, I was really disgusted when, in response to Andrew Marr’s question about trying to renegotiate aspects of the rotten trade deal Boris Jihnson struck with the EU, Starmer stubbornly refused to budge on any point; he would leave the deal as is. A pre-leadership election pledge to Labour members to restore free movement was ditched, but Erasmus wasn’t even mentioned!

    Sikka says that, “Erasmus sought to promote cultural exchanges, provide opportunities for international education and build a community. Research shows that students who go abroad get better degrees and better jobs. Students who are mobile also develop global networks and gain self-confidence. Evidence suggests that students with international exposure secure higher salaries. In 2018/19, 18,305 UK students and trainees visited another EU country and some 30,501 came to the UK i.e. a total of nearly 49,000. In addition, 3,962 UK teachers visited other EU countries and 4,693 came to the UK. The cost of travel, subsistence and course fees was covered by the Erasmus programme. The UK has been a major beneficiary of the Erasmus Programme.”

    According to Sikka, A UK House of Lords report noted that “€1 billion is expected to be allocated to the UK between 2014 and 2020 to support university student exchanges, work and vocational training placements, youth projects, and opportunities for staff working at all levels of education to teach or train abroad. Extra funding is available for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and those with disabilities or additional needs’. The Erasmus exchange also brought other financial benefits. For example, visitors spent some £440 million on living and related expenses to stimulate the UK economy. Students from Northern Ireland can continue to participate in the Erasmus programme as the cost is covered by the Irish government. The UK government has replaced the Erasmus scheme with the Turing Scheme, again without any consultation. It states that ‘The Turing scheme will be backed by over £100m, providing funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on placements and exchanges overseas, starting in September 2021.”

    Sikka reports the Tory claim that, “The new scheme will also target students from disadvantaged backgrounds and areas which did not previously have many students benefiting from Erasmus+, making life-changing opportunities accessible to everyone across the country.’ The UK government has trumpeted the new scheme but it is not that impressive. For example, the £100m for 35,000 students works out at about £2,867 per student per year. It is hard to see how students visiting many countries would be able to survive on that. The government assumption is that parents and families would provide additional funds. This will inevitably prevent those from disadvantaged backgrounds from participation in the scheme.” We need to fully expose and totally ‘lobotonize’ the fake Tory PR spin re the cruel, deliberately deceitful Tory ‘lev…up’ hoax. Sikka says, “The 35,000 students cited in the UK government announcement also need to be seen in perspective. The UK has some 2.38 million students studying at higher education institutions.”

    Sikka says that, “the UK government also states that the Turing scheme would also be available to students in schools. There are 8.89 million students in schools in England; 702,197 in Scotland; 469,176 in Wales and 334,620 in Northern Ireland. Altogether the 35,000 students will be selected from a pool of nearly 13 million. The government’s arrangements would offer students a 1 in 371 chance of securing a Turning scholarship. The Turing scheme is underfunded. It does not seem to cover the cost of visits by UK students and makes no mention of exchange of teachers. It does not cover the cost of foreign students visiting the UK. The assumption is that other countries would have similar arrangements. The UK government states that Turing students will be able to study and go on work placements in countries ‘across the world’. This presupposes that they will have the necessary linguistic skills. The government has not provided any additional resources for teaching of foreign languages.”

    Sikka notes that, “The Erasmus scheme applied to all EU countries and covered most of the educational institutions. However, the UK government expects the Turing scheme to operate on an institutional basis i.e. UK schools, colleges and universities will have to identify suitable institutions in other countries to reach an agreement. This will significantly increase administrative costs. Anyone who has ever bid for UK government money will tell you that bidding is a time consuming and costly exercise. It requires administrative structures and the bidding outcomes are that either the scholarship is secured or not. The unsuccessful institutions would find hard to justify expenditure which has not yielded positive outcomes. The Turing scheme does not provide any additional administrative funding to schools, colleges and universities. The assumption is that the institutions themselves will somehow foot the bill, but many institutions are not in a position to do so. Once again, the elite universities and schools will be the main beneficiaries.”

    Sikka, who is an Emeritus Professor of Accounting at the University of Essex and a Labour member of the House of Lords, finally concludes that, “Altogether, the Turing Scheme is a poor replacement for the Erasmus programme. The government’s act of vandalism has deprived UK citizens of opportunities for cultural exchanges and building global networks.” We are not on track to become ‘Global Britain’ any more than this Government has any genuine intention of ‘lev..up’ it’s all just a massive PR propaganda con to dupe the UK public into accepting diminished horizons, slave wages and more austerity as they ‘Decimate Down’ on the working poor. Accepting the ‘borrowed votes’ lie after theCover 2019 Rigged Election brought this misery down on us, crushing the hopes and ambitions of our young people. This damage will not end until we challenge, Investigate and expose this corrupt result to remove this Tory Government from office. We can still derail the dystopian nightmare of Tory Sovereign Dictatorship: fight back now! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #64794 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Sir Keir Starmer, the Trojan horse currently functioning as Labour Leader, has taken another giant lurch to the right in copying Tory sloganizing. Featuring once again in the Torygraph, Starmer tries to appeal to the wealthy elite by regurgitating their language. An earlier speech, and a previous foray into that bastion of the far right press, committed Labour to pride over patriotism; it was his first steer in the wrong direction. The far Right espouse ‘British Values’ and embrace ‘patriotism,’ but this is not a wholesome support of inclusion, it’s the devisive rhetoric of white supremacist ‘othering’ with the selective exclusion of certain groups in a dangerously warped coloniolist belief in British Empire superiority. Starmer’s latest affront to traditional Labour beliefs, claims a new support for ‘Family Values,’ as if the Party had never championed the vital protections needed to safely provide for a family during the past decade of brutal Tory cuts, deprivation, rampant child poverty, reliance on food banks, homelessness: the impact of Tory austerity.

    Just as with ‘British Values,’ once again the Tory concept of ‘Family Values’ is damaging, exclusionary and certainly not worth emulating as a political ideal. With Starmer choosing to write another piece for the Torygraph, he is sending a message to their right wing readers, that he is ready to align Labour with the callus Tory abandonment of family. The Canary Article entitled, “A sociologist just slammed Starmer’s new paywalled Telegraph article,” takes aim at Labour Leader Sir Keir’s poor judgement. They say, “Keir Starmer has once again written an article for the right-wing Telegraph. And once again, it’s behind a paywall. But this time, he and the Labour Party have a new catchphrase. And already a sociologist has pulled apart this new, decidedly worrying, slogan. Starmer in the Telegraph. Again. Starmer has a habit of writing for the Telegraph. He has, to date, not seemed bothered by the fact people have to pay to read his five articles. In his latest piece, the Labour leader has taken aim at Boris Johnson.”

    On one of Starmer’s arguments he would maintain the support of the Labour membership regarding increases in Council Tax, But beyond that the Labour Leader’s principals are a lot less clear as with empty Tory slogans. The Canary say, “BBC News reported that the Tory government is changing the council tax rules. It will allow local councils to increase bills by up to 5%. The government has changed this figure in the past. For example, in 2020/21 it reduced it to 4% from 5% in 2019/2020. The Labour leader isn’t happy about this. He wrote in the Telegraph that: It is absurd that during the deepest recession in 300 years, at the very time millions are worried about the future of their jobs and how they will make ends meet, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are forcing local government to hike up council tax. Fair enough. But it was something else Starmer said that caught the eye of a sociologist.”

    Sorry, what…? The Canary say that, “Gayle Letherby noted a new catchphrase from Starmer, who said in the article: ‘Under my leadership, Labour will be the party of the family. That starts with helping families through the current lockdown and protecting family budgets’. Letherby took issue with the phrase ‘the party of the family’. She Tweeted: ‘Starmer has declared that Labour will become ‘the party of the family’ (in an article for the Telegraph behind a paywall).” I take issue with the word ‘become,’ as if Labour has neglected this duty! Letherby’s concern: “Just what does he mean by family and who does this include/exclude? Historically, and to date, there has been a hierarchy of ‘family’ She continued, saying that the ‘hierarchy of family’ translated to: the most valued being heterosexual, white, able-bodied, married, financially secure, not too many children, not too few children, father as breadwinner… against which other family forms have been found wanting, even defined by some as ‘unnatural’, ‘abnormal’.”

    According to the Canary, “she noted that: This focus also excludes MANY people who do not live, either by choice or circumstance within a family. Indeed. Because the idea of a ‘family’ in 21st century UK is completely diverse. What is a family? Figures for 2019 show that in the UK there were:
    • 2.9 million lone parent families; of these, 14% were lone parent fathers.
    • 8.2 million people who lived alone; a rise of a fifth in 20 years.
    • 212,000 same sex couples living together, up 40% since 2015.
    • 297,000 “multi-family households” that consist of two or more families. Moreover, 16.3% of families with children were cohabiting (not married). Also, in 2018/19, one in seven adoptions were to LGBTQI+ couples. So, Starmer calling Labour the ‘party of the family’ seems a bit odd. Because aside from excluding millions of people living on their own, ‘family’ is a word with a now-sweeping meaning. But why did he say this? Blue Labour rearing its ugly head?”

    The Canary report, “Letherby noted that: I’m old enough… to remember [Margaret] Thatcher’s focus on ‘family values’ which translated as traditional (Victorian) patriarchal, middle and upper class (so called) morality. Yes Victorian values; when poverty, exploitation of children and abuse within households was rife.” That was ‘Thatcher, bottle snatcher,’ whose brutal Tory regime loved children so much she took away their school milk; how family supportive is that? They say, “Starmer’s use of the phrase may well be playing into this ‘traditional’ right-wing idea. The Canary has repeatedly written about his seeming affinity with the Blue Labour movement. It noted that the ideology is: a concept founded by Maurice Glasman based on socially conservative values of ‘family, faith and flag’ but more socialist economic policies. It is rooted in the values that Glasman perceived existed in the party pre-WWII.” We do not need to regress any further than we have already.

    The Canary wrote in May 2020 that: “Starmer is not the biggest socially left-wing liberal going: his muted support for trans rights has been criticised, and during the leadership election he didn’t sign a pledge card committing to expel ‘transphobic’ members. Moreover, he’s come out recently and said Labour should be ‘proudly patriotic’.” They point out that, “he even got a front page in the Telegraph. So is this more of the same from the Labour leader?” They claim he is, “Misunderstanding working class people Possibly. The idea of Labour being ‘the party of the family’ seems to build on this narrative. It’s one that may well be trying to win back so-called Red Wall, working class voters. But in doing so he’s excluding millions of people. Moreover, by doing it in the pay-to-read Telegraph, he’s intentionally speaking to middle class, right-wing Tory voters. So, Starmer is just playing into socially conservative narratives, as opposed to challenging them.”

    The Canary ask, “As Letherby said: just who is doing the research for Labour now? Whoever it is I’d advise a quick chat with any sociologist before proceeding further with an agenda likely to be limited, limiting, judgemental and open to easy critique before it begins. Happy #SocialistSunday everyone. Indeed, happy Socialist Sunday; a sentiment unlikely to appear on Starmer’s Twitter timeline any time soon.” Starmer is a fool if he thinks buying into the toxic Tory slogans of ‘devide and rule’ will do anything more than fragment and destroy the Labour Party, but perhaps that is the conscious choice of this Captain of Capitulation? If that is his intention he is doing an amazing job as a Tory Trojan horse, gutting the progressive Left with arbitrary suspensions, alienating the Unions and large swaths of the CLP membership and gaining a stack of ‘No Confidence’ votes right across the country. All of this is discreetly hidden by the fawning right wing press as Starmer remains the perfect patsy, but check out the Canary…

    The Canary were not the only ones to point out serious problems with Starmer’s divisive emphasis on family and where he sought right wink readership. In the Left Foot Forward Article entitled, “It’s time to reclaim family from the right,” Sian Norris insists that, “The Right doesn’t get to define ‘family,’ Labour’s promise to be the party of family can present a radically different offering to all kinds of families across the UK. Growing up in a gay household in the 1990s, I was, according to the Conservative Government’s Section 28, living in a ‘pretended family relationship.’ The State didn’t recognise my family, only caring about the father, mother and 2.4 kids model. So when the New Labour Government of the early-00s swept away anti-LGBTIQ legislation including Section 28, unequal age of consent and a ban on gay adoption, it felt like this was a party for the family, families that looked like mine.”

    Norris says, “In a piece for the Telegraph, Keir Starmer told readers that Labour will be the ‘party of the family.’ The comments provoked a backlash, not least because the term ‘family’ is now almost always accepted on far and religious right terms to mean anti-LGBTIQ, anti-abortion, anti-sex education and pro-smacking. As someone who has spent a lot of time researching the far and religious right’s attitudes to family (in fact, I’m writing a book about it), I understand the uneasy reaction to Starmer’s comments. For decades now, the far and religious right have sought to hide their reactionary and sometimes violent views under the moniker ‘family rights’. Take, for example, the World Congress of Families, a far right organisation designated as a ‘hate group’ by the Southern Poverty Law Centre. While claiming to be ‘for’ the family, WCF pushes an anti-LGBTIQ and anti-feminist agenda. Then there’s CitizenGO, linked to WCF via board members, who claim to be ‘pro family,’ while pushing an anti-LGBTIQ agenda.”

    In the US far Right religious ‘Right to Life’ groups fight to preserve the existence of a group pf cells while enthusiastically supporting the Death Penalty, dispite inequality of sentencung and instances where judicial mistakes are made. This is above and beyond the groups identified by Norris who points out that, “These are two of many examples,” saying, “they’re examples that demonstrate the urgency for the Left to reclaim the family narrative from a reactionary far right. So what would it mean for Labour to reclaim ‘family’ from the right? It means being a party dedicated to equality, that supports parents of whatever gender or relationship status to care for their children through welfare, early years education, and a commitment to making sure that parents are supported to have a real choice when it comes to work, flexible working and caring.”

    Norris reports that, “This is urgent. The welfare cuts instigated by Conservative austerity have led to an increase in child poverty in what surely counts as an anti-family move. The cuts to child tax credits, which limits the benefit to two children, has forced women to abort a wanted child because they simply cannot afford to support a larger family. A left idea of family means recognising that care isn’t solely about parent and child. It will focus on providing support to carers of any dependants, including parents, siblings and partners, both through direct benefits and by creating a National Care Service. A commitment to family would lead with chucking out hostile environment policies such as the income threshold for non-EU nationals to be allowed to marry and make a home together. Anti-immigrant policies have split lovers, parents and children apart, violating the human right to family and creating a hierarchical system where British nationals have greater rights than those migrating to the UK.”

    Norris says, “It, of course, prioritises equality for LGBTIQ couples and families. Equality goes beyond marriage rights and builds a safer and more equal society for all family relationships. This has to include the right for LGBTIQ couples to access IVF without having to jump through impossible hoops to have a wanted baby.” Labour must continue to fight for the removal of the two child policy and the vile rape clause; this has exaserbated child poverty and prompted some women to abort healthy babies they feared they could not afford to raise. But, in support of pro choice Norris says, “in a real rebuke to the far right, a left definition of family rights means the choice not to have a family at all, so decriminalised abortion which gives women control over their own fertility and full bodily autonomy. Similarly, making Labour the party of family would mean ensuring women (and men) always have a real choice to leave an abusive or dangerous relationship, that again involves a strong welfare state and a fully-funded refuge network.”

    According to Norris and certainly by most progressive lifestyle standards, “Of course, Labour has always been the party for the family. That’s why it’s so frustrating to see the concept of family rights co-opted by the right. After all, Labour is the party that, as mentioned above, recognised that my family wasn’t ‘pretend’. It’s the party that introduced radical pro-family economic policies such as Sure Start, child tax credits, and with women MPs who persuaded male-dominated ministries that family-centred policies mattered and should be central to any government agenda.” Sian Norris, who “is a writer and journalist specialising in women’s and LGBTIQ rights, has her book on the far right’s assault on reproductive rights, scheduled for publication by Verso in 2022. When Starmer talks about Labour being for the family, he isn’t (or shouldn’t!) be offering a dog whistle to those who believe family is a private, domestic household matter where a patriarch has ultimate authority.”

    Norris says that, “Family is about society, it’s care and welfare and education and work and choice. It’s time we reclaim family from the right’s narrative. Let’s make sure Labour continues to be the party for the family by offering everyone security, human rights, support, care and autonomy, no matter what the family looks like and who is part of it.” In a similar vein Jeremy Corbyn tried to detoxify the relentless Tory attacks on his patriotism. As a ‘Peaceful Patriot of the Planet,’ just like Jeremy, I don’t subscribe to the classic flag waving brand of patriotism. In an attempt to reframe the concept to suit socialist ideals Corbyn Tweeted: “Patriotism is about supporting each other, not attacking somebody else. It’s about loving your country enough to make it a place where nobody is homeless or hungry, held back or left behind.” In response to the hardship of lockdowns and the disgraceful gaps in Tory support for the most vulnerable, ordinary people have done an extraordinary job of volunteering and donating that puts the Tories to shame.

    There are multiple glaring examples of cruel Tory policies that demonstrate hostility towards the families of the working poor. In another Left Foot Forward Article entitled, “With the economy crashing, the two-child benefit limit is crueller than ever,” Alison Thewliss points to one of the worst. It is blindingly obvious that, “Large families need a better safety net,” but she says that, “Seven Secretaries of State have come and gone at the Department for Work and Pensions since the two-child limit and associated rape clause appeared in the UK government’s budget in 2015. Not one of them has felt it appropriate to annul or amend legislation that restricts entitlement to families, and in some cases, puts women at increased risk. That Tory ministers have continued to ignore calls from cross-party MPs, charities, religious organisations and women’s groups to do something about this pernicious policy tells a frightening story; that they will feebly submit to party dogma before giving consideration to the weakest and most vulnerable in our society.”

    Thewliss elaborates, “For those unfamiliar with it, the two-child limit restricts financial support through tax credits and Universal Credit to the first two children in a family. Where a third or subsequent child is born on or after 6 April 2017, they are deemed ineligible for support. Where a third or subsequent child is conceived as a result of rape, the Government ask that, in order to claim an exemption, the mother must disclose details of the assault and must not be living with the child’s father. Rightly so, charities and women’s rights groups have poured scorn on this approach, saying it risks retraumatizing victims and stigmatising children. The wafer-thin evidence base in which this wicked policy is grounded is slowly being chipped away thanks to the coordinated efforts of civil society. The Tory government have previously claimed the two-child limit was designed to level the playing field, and that families who receive benefits should have to make the same financial choices as those in employment.”

    Thewliss reveals that, “The inconvenient truth for the Tories, however, is that DWP statistics have consistently shown that the majority of affected households are those where adults are in work. This anomaly was of course raised with Ministers, and it was emphasised that the policy was failing in its stated aims, but no action was taken.’ Otherwise stable working families are now facing unemployment and hardship they could never have anticipated. Most recently, in the context of the pandemic and the resulting economic upheaval, analysis has shown that the two-child limit is playing a significant role in women’s decisions to terminate pregnancies. The study, conducted by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) in December, included testimony from 240 women who had had abortions during the pandemic and who already had two or more children. Chillingly, the majority said that “the policy was important in their decision-making around whether or not to continue their pregnancy”.

    Thewliss says that, “Of course, the impacts of such a policy are not only financial. Indeed, BPAS’ research showed that many women felt great sadness or regret as a result of the circumstances in which they felt forced to end their pregnancy. As the Church of England and representatives of Jewish families have repeatedly pointed out, many cannot make that choice, and face poverty as a result. A situation where policies devised by the state are fuelling this mental and emotional turmoil for women is completely indefensible. As has been said countless times by critics of the two-child limit, women and families cannot prepare for unforeseen circumstances. The policy is based on the notion that parents know all the financial challenges that may present themselves as their children grow up; a fanciful suggestion at the best of times but completely absurd and irrational in the context of the Coronavirus crisis.”

    Thewliss, the SNP MP for Glasgow Central and the party’s Treasury spokesperson asks, “What parent could reasonably predict that they would lose their job as a result of a pandemic, or be excluded from lifeline financial support by the UK Government? For many, these outcomes are completely out of their control. People have a right to expect that the state will go some way to protecting their livelihoods in their time of need. Social security should be a safety net, and far too many people are falling through it on the Tories’ watch. The two-child limit has always been a cruel and malevolent policy that has no part in a modern, progressive society. In the context of Covid-19, the misery and trauma it inflicts on women and families across the UK is greatly amplified. With new, more virulent strains appearing, and pressure on the NHS mounting, it is unlikely that we’re going to be out of this any time soon. It is incumbent on Ministers to recognise that this policy is making an already difficult situation much worse for many, and I will continue to make the case for it to be repealed in full”.

    Where were Tory ‘Family Values’ when football reto had to take to the pitch to shame this delinquent PM into providing meals for hungry school children? How did that negligent act of cruel dereliction of duty fit into the Tory ‘lev-up’ agenda? The British public must stop drinking the poisonous Tory Party propaganda dichotomy. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it’s not a giraffe! Do not allow Starmer’s Svengali tactics to continue destroying the progressive Left with divisive Tory slogans; oust this dangerous Tory Trojan horse ASAP! There is copious and still mounting evidence of serious corruption not just in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election, that has yet to be Investigated, but also in the multiple inapropriate instances of innacointable squandering of public funds including public money paid to the fake Charity, ‘Integrity Initiative’’ to create and propagate a defamatory smear campaign to deliberately sabotage the Labour electoral campaign. In a functioning democracy this is enough to remove the Tories from power. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #64872 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Tory Ben Bradley, of “Kids growing up in crack dens and brothels,” fame, who didn’t trust parents with funds to feed their children, described the constant stream of Government screw-ups, like the paucity of school lunch ‘hampers,’ as “teething problems” In reality, this is yet another grotesque example of Tories caught with their pants down once again, using public funds for Corporate profiteering. Exposed at Prime Minister’s Questions when the Government guidance on provision of what should be included in free school meals was read out; it contained even less than pictured in the press. Johnson’s trousers sank to his ankles, but then that’s where Boris’s britches are whenever we’re not looking. The standard Tory tactic is to ‘try it on’… trouser the cash and only fix the problem if you are shamed into taking action, but then feel no shame! This Tory Government’s system of relentless corruption is designed to allocate inapropriate contracts without competitive tendering to then function scrutiny free with zero accountability.

    In the Canary Article entitled, “Marcus Rashford calls out ‘not good enough’ free school meal parcels,” our persistent national hero demands swift action from the shamed Tory Prime Minister. They say, “Marcus Rashford and other food poverty campaigners have called out inadequate free school meal parcels. Several members of the public said the hampers did not contain enough food, and they would rather have vouchers. The Department for Education has since promised to investigate the parcels, saying they: should be nutritious and contain a varied range of food.” This claim of requiring the ‘hampers’ to be ‘nutritious’ and ‘contain a varied range of food’ is in stark contrast to the document Starmer waved at Johnson during PMQs as “the Government guidance for one child for five days.” He said it includes, “one loaf of bread, two baked potatoes, a block of cheese, baked beans and three individual yogerts;” he then points out that the only items added were, “a tin of sweetcorn, a packet of ham and a bottle of milk.”

    The Canary provide a “Free school meals timeline” saying that, “During last year’s term-time lockdown, the government provided families with a £15 voucher every week per pupil to spend on food. According to the Food Foundation, 1.4 million children reported feeling food insecure over the summer holidays. After MPs voted against continuing to provide free school meals during the October half-term, Rashford campaigned for a U-turn. He was partially successful, with the government extending free school meal provision. The government promised free school meals would be available for eligible children during the current lockdown. Meals can be made available through:
    • providing food parcels through the school catering team or food provider
    • providing vouchers for a local shop or supermarket
    • using the Department for Education’s national voucher scheme, which will reopen shortly”

    The Canary describe, “Accusations of profiteering,” saying that, “Some people have complained that food providers are profiting from the food hampers: One such company is Chartwells, a part of Compass Group. A Bristol headteacher previously criticised the company in March for its ‘shameful’ food parcels. Until December, Compass Group was chaired by Paul Walsh, former member of David Cameron’s business advisory group.” Warning of, ‘Children left hungry,’ they say, “Once again, this leaves many food insecure children without access to a healthy diet. This will only contribute further to the disproportionate effects of coronavirus (Covid-19) on disadvantaged children. Rashford’s campaign includes thousands of supporters around the country offering food and drink to children in need. However, his real aim is to review food poverty at its roots, with all under-16s receiving free school meals if their parents receive benefits.”

    In the Labour List Article entitled, “Inadequate free school meal parcels branded a ‘disgrace’ by Starmer,” Elliot Chappell expresses the Labour Leader’s outrage, but he couldb;t have asked for an easier target to scold our ‘naughty boy’ PM. Chappell says, “Keir Starmer has described the images of inadequate free school meal packages circulating on social media as a “disgrace” and called on the government to take action to make sure that ‘families don’t go hungry in the lockdown’. The Labour leader took to social media this morning to comment on pictures of food packages sent to households for children who qualify for free school meals but are now learning remotely from home during the national lockdown in England. He tweeted: “The images appearing online of woefully inadequate free school meal parcels are a disgrace. Where is the money going? This needs sorting immediately so families don’t go hungry through lockdown.”

    Chappell notes that, “Also commenting online, deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said today: “Into whose pockets is the money for free school meals going? Who is profiteering from our hungry children are being provided with disgracefully inadequate meals? ‘The Prime Minister must fix this today. No child should be going hungry and free school meals are not a cash cow.’ One Twitter user had shared a picture of a parcel supposedly comprising £30 worth of food, containing two potatoes, two carrots, three apples, pasta, soreen, three frubes, eight single cheese sandwiches, a tin of baked beans and a loaf of bread. © Twitter/@RoadsideMum The parcel had been provided by Chartwell, a private company contracted by the Department for Education, instead of a £30 food voucher. Parents can opt to either receive a package of food or a voucher.” Some have callously criticized ‘RoadsideMum for her input despite owning a phone capable of taking the picture she posted: a device necessary for zero hours workers to stay on call!

    Chappell reports that, “Shadow minister for children and early years Tulip Siddiq slammed the reports emerging online, saying: ‘Images circulating on social media of woefully inadequate food parcels going to families are a serious concern. The Department for Education’s investigation must happen immediately so we know where the money is going. We cannot let children go hungry during this lockdown. The government must get on and deliver the national voucher scheme it has committed to restarting to ensure that all children are able to get the food they need’. The Department for Education has responded to say it is looking into the issue and tweeted: ‘We have clear guidelines and standards for food parcels, which we expect to be followed. Parcels should be nutritious and contain a varied range of food. I will be looking into this urgently,’ the parliamentary under-secretary of state for children and families Vicky Ford told her Twitter followers shortly afterwards in response to the statement from the department.”

    But we now know what constitutes ‘Government guidelines!’ Chapprll says, Ford added: “Food parcels should cover all lunchtime meals & be nutritious, we’ve increased funding for parcels & will support local vouchers, national voucher also rolling out ASAP, working night & day on this. Hope your kids are ok.’ But local government minister Simon Clarke characterised the emerging reports on the food packages as ‘a lot of people seeking to whip a storm up’, and added: ‘Too much to hope in age of instant outrage to wait for the facts before jumping in’. Campaigning footballer Marcus Rashford, who pushed the government to provide free school meals to children during the holidays, described one package shared on social media by another recipient as ‘just not good enough’. The Premier League footballer helped to force a government U-turn on free school meals in July and launched a fresh campaign against child food poverty later in the year for free school meals to be extended over the autumn and spring holidays.”

    in the Morning Star Article entitled, “‘Parasites of the pandemic’: Chartwells condemned over meagre free school meals provision,” Lamiat Sabin, yells for the Government to, “STEP UP TO THE PLATE” She says, “A firm hired by the government to provide food bags in lieu of free school meals was branded a parasite and corrupt today after a mother revealed the meagre contents of the one she received for her child. She posted a photo of what is supposed to be enough food for 10 days’ lunches for a child studying at home while schools are closed due to the coronavirus lockdown. The purported value of the food is £30, charged to the public purse, but the mother said she calculated it to be worth just over £5. The bag was provided by Chartwells, part of British catering transnational the Compass Group, whose former chairman Paul Walsh was a member of former Tory prime minister David Cameron’s business advisory group.”

    Emphasizing that the toffs are taught from an early age the privilege of their vast wealth the disparity in food provision is laid out here. Sabin highlights how, “The food bags were compared with the gourmet-quality food provided by the company to private schools, where meals included tandoori roast pollock and Goan curry of prawns and mussels. The mother’s picture of what is provided to state-school pupils shows a loaf of bread, a tin of beans, eight single slices of cheese, three yoghurt tubes, three apples, two bananas, two carrots, two fruitcake slices, two potatoes, one salad tomato and a small sandwich bag of penne pasta. Tweeting with the handle @RoadsideMum, she wrote: ‘[This was] issued instead of £30 vouchers. I could do more with £30 to be honest.’

    Sabin says, “Commenting on the picture, Labour MP Richard Burgon said: ‘This is supposed to be £30 worth of lunches for a child? It looks like yet another case of the government helping its corporate friends become parasites of the pandemic. Hunger is being used as a financial opportunity. Squeezing extra profit from hungry kids. It must stop.’ Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson “must fix this today.’ She asked: “Into whose pockets is the money for free school meals going? Who is profiteering from our hungry children being provided with disgracefully inadequate meals? ‘It is dehumanising, humiliating, callous and cruel. Our kids deserve bette’.” Compare the Tory MPs total disregard for essential nutrition for children to be able to learn, to the hollow Tory rants about the importance of keeping schools open to minimize the negative impact on their education and future life chances. This Tory Government doesn’t even care if poor kids survive their impoverished childhood!

    Sabin reports that, “Labour called for the return of the national supermarket voucher scheme, which the government has now committed to restarting for children in receipt of free school meals. Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Geoff Barton urged the government to ‘get a move on’ with reopening the scheme. ‘Schools have been left having to piece together provision by arranging for food parcels and local vouchers. As we have seen from these images online of inadequate food parcels, this can go wrong, and we need the availability of a universal system,’ he said. Chartwells, which on its Twitter page claims to be ‘nourishing young bodies and minds with exceptional food and learning,’ wrote in response to @RoadsideMum’s original post: ‘Thank you for bringing this to our attention, this does not reflect the specification of one of our hampers. Please can you [direct message] us the details of the school that your child attends and we will investigate immediately’.”

    In an even more embarrassing rebuttal Chartwells hit back. According to Sabin, “It later released a statement which contested the mother’s claim. It said that the picture ‘shows five days of free school lunches (not ten days) and the charge for food, packing and distribution was actually £10.50 and not £30 as suggested’. Providing the excuse that the parcels were put together ‘at extremely short notice,’ the firm said it was ‘very sorry the quantity has fallen short in this instance’. It also thanked footballer and campaigner against child hunger Marcus Rashford, who had earlier condemned the ‘unacceptable’ provision of food and while calling for the system to be fixed quickly. He had posted pictures of other free school-meal bags, including one with chopped-down vegetables such as half a red pepper, a carrot stub, half a tomato, a quarter of an onion and small portions of cheese and tuna stored in banks’ coin bags.”

    Sabin reports that, “The mother who posted the photo to him said that she was unsure whether it had been provided by Chartwells, but added that the school was so ‘disgusted’ by the meagre provisions that it had switched to vouchers.’ The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: ‘We’re aware of those images circulating on social media, and it is clear that the contents of those food parcels are completely unacceptable. The Department for Education is looking into this urgently and the minister for children, Vicky Ford, is speaking to the company responsible and they will be making it clear that boxes like this should not be given to families’.” Referring to these meager rations as a ‘hamper’ of food will give people the deliberately false impression that these paltry supply ration bags actually provide a plentiful amount of wholesome food which is the diametric opposite of the truth. Tory profiteers have no qualms about stealing food from the mouths of hungry kids; they’re caught with pants down again!

    In a Skwawkbox Article entitled, “All these are by the same company. Guess which is meant to be 10 days’ food for poor kids and which are for private schools. #RightToFood,” they show pictures comparing what is on offer to the privileged as the poor starve. They report on the, “Scandal of Tories’ treatment of poor children grows as company’s Instagram images of food in private schools are highlighted. Public outrage is growing over an image of a food pack – supposedly £30 worth – supplied by a private company contracted by the government, supposedly to provide ten days’ of nutrition for children in low-income families.” Pictures tell the story of deprivation as, “Images highlighted by journalist Dawn Foster on the company’s Instagram page are only likely to intensify that outrage. The pictures show sumptuous meals provided by the same firm for the children of wealthy families in its private schools, guess which of the ‘meals’ below are for the poor children” the Skwawkbox highlights in this article.

    The Skwawkbox feature, “Jack Monroe, who teaches people to create the best meals they can on low incomes, showed what she could obtain for just £20 versus the government’s ‘£30’ packs and without any ‘bulk buy’ discounts.” Again there are reality check images. They say that, “Labour MP Ian Byrne, who is working with footballer Marcus Rashford and others on a ‘#RightToFood’ campaign, has called on people to join the campaign and to sign his petition on the government website. People need to rise up against this outrage. It can no longer be tolerated. Join our campaign to put the ‘Right To Food’ into legislation. Sign the Petition & get involved to fight the evil of food poverty which pervades our communities. #RightToFood — lan Byrne MP (@IanByrneMP)

    “The MP spoke recently to SKWAWKBOX about his campaign, along with paediatrics professor Ian Sinha, who explained how poverty and hunger harm children even down to the level of their DNA: please review the video that presents this important research data. Byrne is absolutely right: this can no longer be tolerated. Demand a #RightToFood for everyone in this country. Edit: some are reporting that the parcels are only supposed to be for five days’ food. It’s scarcely less appalling.” Please view the Skwawkbox Article entitled “Poverty Changes childrens DNA and not in a good way; Peadiatrics professor explains.”

    Back in October of 2020 a Hospitality and Catering News Article entitled, “MPs enjoy fine dining at work while depriving children of free school meals,” the disgusting abuse of public funding being squandered, pandering to wealthy MPs was horribly exposed in stark contrast to the Tory contempt for the poor. They report that, “MPs enjoy heavily subsidised fine dining and alcohol at the expense of taxpayers every day while in parliament. Treasury figures show that restaurants in the House of Commons last year, were subsidised by the public to the tune of £1.7 million. That figure is only for MPs ‘dining while working’ and does not include expense accounts. Earlier this week, 318 of the MPs that enjoy subsidised work lunches from taxpayers, voted down the motion to provide free school meals for children during holidays.”

    Hospitality & Catering News say, “These two facts almost negate any further details, as they perfectly demonstrate one rule for the privileged, who think while they feast children can go hungry. MPs as we reported recently have already awarded themselves a pay rise in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis. It seems that there is no regard by members of parliament for perception, as this cannot be interpreted any other way than, sod you we don’t care. Depriving children of something to eat, whilst enjoying millions of pounds of fine dining takes ‘sod you we don’t care’ to a whole new level, even for MPs. Any normal person with an ounce of decency would see this hypocrisy as indecent. The issue of providing for hungry children has been raised significantly recently by Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford. Growing up in circumstances that help him understand the issue, although now very privileged himself, he has not forgotten those less so.”

    Hospitality & Catering News report that, “Following the result of the vote being announced, Rashford said: ‘Child food poverty has the potential to become the greatest pandemic the country has ever faced. ‘I don’t have the education of a politician… but I have a social education having lived through this. These children matter, and for as long as they don’t have a voice, they will have mine.’ A petition to, Stop MPs entitlement to ‘free work meals,’ has been created by 38 Degrees.” The Petition now has more than 1,028,509 signatories. “…Including ours, we encourage readers to follow and stop this inhumane neglect of children. Five Conservative MPs rebelled against their party by voting against the motion. Caroline Ansell not only voted against but also resigned over it, she was the parliamentary private secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. You may be interested to know the MPs that voted against free school meals – They are listed below. There are 318 – 317 Conservatives plus one independent.” Yep, they listed em all!

    We cannot continue to condone rgus relentless Tory assault on the public purse; it represents the ruthless pilleging; our preciously reserved public resources, put in place to protect the public good in times of crisis, are being plundered and squandered by Tory profiteers. The full-scale zero accountability system is being very rapidly baked-in, with inappropriate ‘chumocracy’ Tory Government appointments in all sectors, put in place to protect this egregious profiteering for the long-term, no questions asked. We can and we must fight back or the Government enforced starvation of our children will not be the worst or the last assault on the working poor. Austerity, pay freezes and pay cuts lie ahead as post-Brexit inflation hits, but we really did not vote for this so bin the BS! The Covert 2019 Rigged Election was a massive fraud, there were no ‘borrowed votes; just stolen votes. Challenge, fully Investigate and expose the truth to remove this toxic Tory Government from power ASAP, before they cause more harm and steal more cash! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #65014 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    In the first Prime Minister’s Questions of 2021 Boris Johnson asked Members of the House to join him in offering our condolences to the family and friends of a former colleague, who died over Christmas, but the public focus as the Covid death toll soars to over 1500 a day is on the many who have lost loved ones prematurely and unnecessarily due to this inept Tory Government. Johnson also announced publication of proposals for reforming the Mental Health Act saying that, “For too long we have seen rising rates of detention that not only had little beneficial effect, but left some worse off, not better off.” Rather than offering greater dignity, choice and humanity to treatment of ‘the most vulnerable,’ I expect any Tory proposals will target ways to slash costs! The first question was from Tory Sir Gary Streeter who asked about the assessment of exams saying that, “A clear plan announced early, without last-minute changes, would help teachers and students prepare for an even more challenging experience.”

    After admitting there was “a problem of differential learning” The PM said, “We will do everything we can to ensure that exams are fair and that the ways of testing are set out in a timely way, and the Department for Education is launching a consultation with Ofqual to ensure that we get the right arrangements for this year.” After adding his condolences Keir Starmer began by “paying tribute to all those involved in the vaccine programme?” Following a visit to Newham vaccine hub he passed on a simple message from, “the NHS, the Red Cross and lots of volunteers working there: ‘if they had more vaccine, they could and they would do more, and I am sure that is shared across the country. I welcome news that has come out this morning about a pilot of 24/7 vaccine centres. I anticipate there is going to be huge clamour for this, so can the Prime Minister tell us: when will the 24/7 vaccine centres be open to the public, because I understand they are not at the moment, and when will they be rolled out across the country?”

    Eager to encourage more effusive praise the PM replied, “I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for what he says about the roll-out of vaccines. I can tell him that we will be going to 24/7 as soon as we can, and my right hon. Friend the Health Secretary will be setting out more about that in due course. As he rightly says, at the moment the limit is on supply. We have a huge network, 233 hospitals, 1,000 GP surgeries, 200 pharmacies and 50 mass vaccination centres, and they are going, as he has seen himself, exceptionally fast, and I pay tribute to their work. It is thanks to the work of the NHS and to the vaccine taskforce that we have secured more doses, I think, per capita than virtually any other country in the world, certainly more than any other country in Europe.” Regrettably the unanswered question had just elicited a torrent of self-congratulatory Tory PR spin.

    Starmer responded with, “I obviously welcome that, and urge the Prime Minister and the Government to get on with this. We are all happy to help, and there are many volunteers who are. The sooner we have 24/7 vaccine centres, the better for our NHS and the better for our economy. The last PMQs was on 16 December. The Prime Minister told us then that we were seeing, in his words, ‘significant reductions in the virus.’ [Official Report, 16 December 2020; Vol. 686, c. 265.] He told us then that there was no need for ‘endless lockdowns’ and no need to change the rules about Christmas mixing. Since the last PMQs, 17,000 people have died of covid, 60,000 people have been admitted to hospital, and there have been more than 1 million new cases. How did the Prime Minister get it so wrong, and why was he so slow to act?” The PMs decisions were so deeply flawed he has to be held to account!

    Johnson was defensive saying, “Of course, what the right hon. and learned Gentleman fails to point out is that on 18 December, two days later, the Government were informed about the spread of the new variant, and the fact that it spreads roughly 50% to 70% faster than the old variant. That is why it is correct to say that the situation today is very troubling indeed: we have 32,000 covid patients in hospital, and the NHS is under huge strain.” After point blank lying about what he knew and when, the PM used his favorite distraction tactic, “I wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all the staff, doctors, nurses, and everybody working in our NHS. They are doing an extraordinary job under the most challenging possible circumstances to help those who so desperately need it. I thank them for what they are doing. At the same time, I also wish to thank all those involved in what is the biggest vaccination programme in the history of this country.” Johnson tried to sound like Churchill during the Blitz, but he had bought this mess down on us!

    The PM hadn’t finished capitalizing on the efforts of frontline staff, “Once again, the NHS is in the lead, working with the Army and the legion of volunteers and everybody else. That programme of vaccines shows the way forward, and shows how we will come through this pandemic. I repeat my gratitude to all those involved, because they have now vaccinated 2.4 million people and delivered 2.8 million doses, which is more than any other country in Europe. This is the toughest of times, but we can see the way forward.” Starmer wasn’t letting him off the hook with this ‘human sheild’ tactic; he probed, “The Prime Minister says that effectively two days after that PMQs the advice changed, but the truth is that the indicators were all in the wrong direction at that last PMQs. Be that as it may, the Prime Minister says that he got that advice on 18 December, two days after PMQs, and we have all seen the SAGE minutes of 22 December, confirming the advice that was given to the Government.” The PMs lies were fully exposed…

    Starmer was holding the evidence and waving the papers in the air to dispel any doubt as he said, “The Government’s advisers warned the Prime Minister that the new variant was spreading fast, and that it was highly unlikely that November-style lockdowns would be sufficient to control it. That was pretty clear advice on 18 December to the Prime Minister from SAGE: a tougher lockdown than in November is going to be needed. I have the minutes here; everybody has seen them. Yet instead of acting on 18 December, the Prime Minister sat on his hands for over two weeks, and we are now seeing in the daily figures the tragic consequences of that delay. How does the Prime Minister justify delaying for 17 days after he got that advice on 18 December?” The PM never admits any guilt, “I must disagree very profoundly with what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has just said.”

    Trying to reinvent the facts, Johnson said, “He knows very well that within 24 hours of getting the advice on 18 December about the spread of the new variant, we acted to put the vast part of the country into much, much tougher measures. Indeed, we are now seeing, it is important to stress that these are early days, the beginnings of some signs that that is starting to have an effect in many parts of the country, but by no means everywhere. It is early days, and people must keep their discipline, keep enforcing the rules, and work together, as I have said, to roll out that vaccine programme. I recall that on the day that we went into a national lockdown and, sadly, were obliged to shut the schools, even on that day, the Labour party was advocating keeping schools open. That was for understandable reasons, we all want to keep schools open, but I think it a bit much to be attacked for taking tougher measures to put this country into the protective measures it needed, when the Labour party was then calling to keep schools open.”

    Starmer’s mistake in supporting Johnson over schools exposed a weakness in his argument, but he plugged on saying, “Just for the record, I wrote to the Prime Minister on 22 December, I had not seen the SAGE advice at that stage, saying to him that if the advice indicated that there should be a national lockdown, he should do it immediately and he would have our full support. I will put that in the public domain so that people can check the record. More fundamentally, the Prime Minister says, ‘We took measures straightaway; we put people into different tiers.’ The advice was that a November-style lockdown was not enough. How on earth was putting people into a different tier system an answer to the advice that was given? Is not the situation that every time there is a big decision to take, the Prime Minister gets there late? The next big decision is obvious. The current restrictions are not strong enough to control the virus; stronger restrictions are needed.” It was time for Starmer to offer a strong warning over more dithering!

    The PM and his Tory cabal were demonstrating their denial again, as Starmer remarked, “There is no point Government Members shaking their heads; in a week or two, the Prime Minister is likely to be asking Members to vote for this. Can the Prime Minister tell us, when infection rates are much higher than last March, when hospital admissions are much higher than last March, when death rates are much higher than last March, why on earth are restrictions weaker than last March?” Learning from past embarrassing mistakes had never been a Tory strong point and Johnson’s noncommittal reply was standard fare; he said, “We keep things under constant review and we will continue to do so, and certainly, if there is any need to toughen up restrictions, which I do not rule out, we will of course come to this House.” Presumably when the Scotish First Minister takes the lead on this, shaming him into acting.

    The PM, still scrambling to rewrite the chronology of his inaction and make plausible excuses, said, “But perhaps, as is so often the case, the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not listen to my earlier answer, because I pointed out to the House that actually, the lockdown measures that we have in place, combined with the tier 4 measures that we were using, are starting to show signs of having some effect. We must take account of that too, because nobody can doubt the serious damage that is done by lockdowns to people’s mental health, jobs and livelihoods. To listen to the right hon. and learned Gentleman over the last 12 months, you would think he had absolutely no other policy except to plunge this country into 12 months of lockdown. As for coming too late to things, it was only a few weeks ago that he was attacking the vaccine taskforce, which has secured the very doses, the millions of doses, that have put this country into the comparatively favourable position that we now find ourselves in.” Toss in a lie why not?

    Starmer refuting the lie said, “That is just not true. Every time I have spoken about the vaccine, I have supported it. The Prime Minister says we are balancing health restrictions and the economy, yet we ended 2020 with the highest death toll in Europe and the deepest recession in any major economy, so that just is not a good enough answer.” But a headline news story demanded Starmer’s attention as he said, “I want to turn to the latest free school meals scandal. We have all seen images on social media of disgraceful food parcels for children, costed at about £5 each. That is not what the Government promised. It is nowhere near enough. Would the Prime Minister be happy with his kids living on that? If not, why is he happy for other people’s kids to do so?” The PM reached for the defensive shield of showering praise on Mark Rashford, after admitting that, “I do not think anybody in this House is happy with the disgraceful images that we have seen of the food parcels that have been offered.”

    Distancing himself from any responsibility the PM said, “They are appalling; they are an insult to the families who have received them. I am grateful, by the way, to Marcus Rashford, who highlighted the issue and is doing quite an effective job, by comparison with the right hon. and learned Gentleman, of holding the Government to account for these issues:” feeble opposition called out! He said, “The company in question has rightly apologised and agreed to reimburse. It is because we want to see our kids properly fed throughout this very difficult pandemic that we have massively increased the value of what we are providing, another £170 million in the covid winter grant scheme, £220 million more for the holiday activities and food programme, and we are now rolling out the national free school meal voucher scheme, as we did in March, to give parents the choice to give kids the food that they need. This Government will do everything we can to ensure that no child goes hungry as a result of the privations caused by this pandemic.”

    Starmer rebuked, “The Prime Minister says that the parcels are ‘disgraceful’, but it should not have taken social media to shame the Prime Minister into action. Like the Education Secretary, he blames others, and he invites me to hold him to account, so let me do that because blaming others, Prime Minister, is not as simple as that, is it?” Starmer had laid a trap and he was waving another evidence document saying, “I have checked the Government guidance on free school meals, the current guidance, published by the Department for Education. I have it here. It sets out an ‘Example parcel for one child for five days,’ the Department for Education, Prime Minister; you want to be held to account, ‘1 loaf of bread…2 baking potatoes…block of cheese…baked beans…3 individual yoghurts.” Sound familiar? They are the images, Prime Minister, you just called ‘disgraceful’. The only difference I can see with this list and what the Prime Minister has described as ‘disgraceful’ is a tin of sweetcorn, a packet of ham and a bottle of milk’.”

    Triumphant, Starmer said, “He blames others, but this is on his watch. The truth is, families come last under this Government, whether it is exams, free school meals or childcare. Will the Prime Minister undertake, he wants to be held to account, to take down this guidance by the close of play today and ensure that all our children can get a decent meal during the pandemic?” The PM’s best defence was attack, “The right hon. and learned Gentleman’s words would be less hypocritical and absurd if it were not for the fact that the…” He was cut short by the Speaker, who said, “I do not believe anybody is a hypocrite in this Chamber. I think we need to be a little bit careful about what we are saying to each other. There was a ‘not true’ earlier and there were also comparisons to others. Please, let us keep discipline in this Chamber and respect for each other. We are tidying up how this Parliament behaves and I certainly expect the leadership of both parties to ensure that that takes place.Prime Minister, would you like to withdraw the word ‘hypocrisy’?”

    Smacked down Johnson fained contrition, “I am delighted to be advised by you, Mr Speaker. Let me confine my criticism to the absurdity, which I hope is acceptable, Mr Speaker, of the right hon. and learned Gentleman attacking us over free school meals when it was a Conservative Government that instituted free school meals, universally approved, not a Labour Government. Of the £280 billion that we have spent securing the jobs and livelihoods of people across this country, uprating universal credit and, in addition, increasing the living wage by record amounts this year and last year, as well as increasing the local housing allowance, the overwhelming majority of benefits, the bulk of the measures, fall in favour of the poorest and the neediest in society, which is what this House would expect. The right hon. and learned Gentleman takes one position one week and one position the next. That is what he does.”

    The PM ranted, “That has been his whole lamentable approach, if I can get away with lamentable, Mr Speaker, throughout this pandemic. He says he supports the vaccine now. He says he supports the vaccine roll-out, and he tries to associate himself with it because he senses that it is going well, but be in no doubt that that was the party that wanted us, this country, to stay in the European Union vaccine programme. That is absolutely true. He stood on a manifesto, which he has not repudiated, to dismantle the very pharmaceutical companies that have created this miracle of science, which is true…” The Speaker broke in again saying, “Prime Minister, there are questions and sometimes we have got to try to answer the question that was asked of you. To run through history is one thing, but in fairness, it is Prime Minister’s questions. It was the final question. We have lots of others to go through, so I think I am now going to move on…” If only he still had control of a mute button when Johnson started ranting!

    The SNP Leader Ian Blackford had just reason to be angry over Brexit chaos as he pointed out that, “My constituent in Lochaber, a producer and exporter of shellfish, is experiencing his worst nightmare. After loading a lorry of fresh local seafood on Monday, as he has done for 35 years, his driver faced bureaucracy and delays. Brexit red tape meant that £40,000 of his fresh, high-quality produce was lost, unable to be sold. That £40,000 of produce is income for more than 100 local families in many remote and fragile communities. Will the Prime Minister tell my constituent where the sea of opportunity is that he and his Scottish Tories promised?”

    Johnson hit back by throwing some big numbers out there to shut him up, “We are putting £100 million into supporting the fishing industry in Scotland and across the whole of the UK. It is the policy of the Scottish nationalist party not only to break up the United Kingdom under its hare-brained scheme but to take Scotland back into the EU and hand back control of Scottish fisheries to Brussels, thereby throwing away all those opportunities in a way that I think even the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) would say is totally absurd. I am amazed that the right hon. Gentleman continues on this track.”

    Blackford wasn’t having it, snapping back, “I am amazed that the Prime Minister continues to traduce the name of the Scottish National party. He has been told before, and he really should get it right. Frankly, that answer was an insult to all the fishermen today facing loss. The reality is that a third of the Scottish fishing fleet is tied up in harbour; some boats are landing in Denmark, rather than Scotland, to avoid Brexit bureaucracy; and Scottish seafood exporters are losing upwards of £1 million in sales a day. Seafood Scotland says all the extra red tape is an almost impossible task, it has even forced ferry operators to pause load deliveries to the continent. The European Union has put in place a €5 billion fund to support businesses with the costs of Brexit. Last night, it was revealed that Ireland will receive €1 billion of that. Will the Prime Minister tell Scottish businesses when they will get the same level of support? Where is the compensation for my constituent who is losing £40,000 today?”

    The PM was downright rude in his refusal to answer the question saying, “The right hon. Gentleman continually advocates the break-up of the Union of the United Kingdom and going back into the European Union, even though that would be immensely destructive to the Scottish economy, to jobs, livelihoods, pensions and the currency. So far as I understand it, the Scottish nationalists are already spending money in Scotland on what they call indyref2 when they should be getting on with fighting the pandemic. That, I think, is what the people of Scotland want to see. He might pay tribute, by the way, to the merits of the United Kingdom in rolling out a vaccine across the whole country. I am told that they cannot even bring themselves to call it the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Perhaps he could just say that he likes the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine?” Oh please just grow up! How many times does Johnson have to be told this is Prime Minister’s Questions and not his forum to grill and insult the opposition?

    Not only did Johnson neglect to offer any form of apology for deliberately miss-naming the SNP he doubled-down on his childish taunt knowing Blackford had no right of reply. No matter how apt, I sincerely doubt that the SNP would get away with calling the Tories the ‘Torment Party’ as this is unacceptable conduct. The PM has developed a habit of launching into a totally unrelated Party political broadcast that escalated at the point of the last opposition question he refuses to answer. Telling blatant lies in the House of Commons and making fanciful pledges, with no intention of follow through, has become a standard Tory tactic at PMQs. Instead there is a quaint prohibition on calling a fellow MP a liar! This ‘Boris Shit’ is dutifully reported as factual information by the compliant right wing Media and biased BBC. Johnson should be officially reprimanded, but his corrupt Tory Government doesn’t even belong in office. We must Challenge, Investigate and Expose the truth re the Covert 2019 Rigged Election and plundering of public funds. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #65099 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    With a toxic Tory agenda driven primarily by an obsession with political control and personal wealth that collaborates with powerful Corporations who place profit ahead of environmental impact or public sentiment on these issues, we are noyto in a good position post-Brexit. The commitment to stripping away ‘Red Tape’ is code for prioritizing the rapid removal of health and environmental protections. Hosting COP26 offers a chance to guilt the Tories into action. To be or not to ‘Bee’ proactive? I urge you all to Sign this Petition on Change.org which states that, “Now we have left the EU the British government will be allowing EU banned pesticides Neonicotinoid Thiamethoxam to be used on crops. This pesticide is lethal to bees and other pollinators which our environment desperately needs as pollinators help flora and fauna. Bees pollinate up to 3/4 of crops which makes the use of this pesticide incredibly counter-intuitive. Sign this Petition to tell the government that this is NOT acceptable and that our environment matters!”

    In the Canary Article entitled, “A Brexit petition to protect bees just blew up on social media,” they say, “A petition to do with post-Brexit changes in the UK has blown up on Twitter, and a phrase from it was trending on Sunday 10 January. ‘Stop the UK’ was across people’s timelines. But ‘stop the UK’ from what, you may ask? On 10 January, the phrase ‘Stop the UK’ was trending on Twitter: It was in relation to a Change.org petition. The text of it reads: Now we have left the EU the British government will be allowing EU banned pesticides Neonicotinoid Thiamethoxam to be used on crops. So, what’s the fuss about? ‘Stop the UK’ from… using pesticides? The Canary previously reported on neonicotinoid thiamethoxam. It noted that: Neonics are ‘new nicotine-like insecticides’ used in chemical sprays to protect plants… Like nicotine, neonics affect the central nervous system of insects, causing paralysis and death. But there’s a problem. Because these insecticides don’t just kill pests.”

    The Canary wrote that: “Neonics are systemic pesticides; pesticides that are transported throughout the plant… It is also found in pollen and nectar. This is why it is particularly harmful to bees and pollinators. Here’s where the problem lies. “Stop the UK” from… killing bees? In short, neonics including neonicotinoid thiamethoxam harm bees. For example, one study found that exposure to the insecticide (referred to below as TMX): impaired motor functions, reducing the ability of foragers to walk and to climb. TMX-treated foragers fell more often (+83%), exhibited more abnormal behaviours (+138%), and were more frequently unable to ascend the arena (+280%). These bees also spent more time at the bottom (+93%) and less at the top (−43%) of the arena, as compared to control bees. In other words, bees were not able to pollinate so well. Other studies had similar findings, one noting that in Hungary worker bee numbers fell by 24%. All this will, among other things, directly hit human food supply.”

    The Canary ask, “So why is the government allowing farmers to use this insecticide? ‘Stop the UK’ from… pandering to industry? When it was in the EU, the UK voted to ban neonicotinoid thiamethoxam. But there was a get-out clause about ’emergency authorisation’. The government has now used that. It said in a statement on 8 January: After careful consideration of all the issues, the government has decided to grant an application for emergency authorisation to allow use of a product containing the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam for the treatment of sugar beet seed in 2021. This is in recognition of the potential danger posed to the 2021 crop from beet yellows virus. The government says the risk to bees will be ‘acceptably low’. But the Guardian claims otherwise. ‘Stop the UK’ from… breaking its promises? It says that the government has done this after “lobbying from the National Farmers Union (NFU)’.”

    The Canary report that, “It quoted Matt Shardlow, chief executive of the invertebrate conservation group Buglife, as saying the move was ‘environmentally regressive’. He also said: no action is proposed to prevent the pollution of rivers with insecticides applied to sugar beet. Nothing has changed scientifically since the decision to ban neonics from use on sugar beet in 2018. They are still going to harm the environment. The Guardian accused the government of ‘breaking its promise’ over the 2018 ban. While this is not strictly true, the move is certainly, as Shardlow said, environmentally regressive. Brexit-supporting Tories have a habit of dodgy actions (£350m a week for the NHS?). And allowing an insecticide to harm our bee population could have serious, long term consequences for all of us.”

    In the Left Foot Forward Article entitled, “A new way for the UK to boost its international green trade agenda,” Natalie Bennett says that, “The UK should sign up to the ‘Green Trade Deal’ as it takes on the chair of COP26. We’re continually being told that the point of Brexit was to enable us to go our own way, make our own choices, to improve life in the UK, our standards and quality of life, but the government has struggled to explain just how it plans to achieve that. It has signed ‘roll-over’ trade deals very little different from those enjoyed by the EU, and talked about improving UK rules. But it has refused again and again to write the maintenance even of current standards into UK law, most recently on the final day of the Trade Bill debate last Wednesday, where it suffered one of four defeats in the writing in of Labour’s Amendment 22 on trade standards. So today, I’m seeking to give it a helping hand, something the Trade Minister Lord Grimstone of Boscabel acknowledged in last week’s Trade Bill debate.”

    Bennett explains, “I’m suggesting one way it could deliver on the possibilities of Brexit is signing up to the Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) – known as the ‘Green trade deal’ for shorthand. There’s so much that makes it a perfect fit. On the international stage, what could be more appropriate for the chair of the COP26 climate talks than leading the way in stating that trade must be reshaped to tackle the crushing emergency that’s facing the planet, rather than continuing to contribute to it, by incentivising reductions in environmental regulation and directly through freight (7% of global emissions)? And as a ‘newly independent’ (TM Boris Johnson), relatively small, trading nation, lined up against the giants of the US, China and the EU, why not join with New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Fiji and Costa Rica in being part of a force of minnows leading the way for the giants to follow?”

    Bennett reports that, “The Green Trade Deal has specifically been structured to work within the framework of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), despite it frequently proving a barrier to international climate action, notably being used to challenge subsidies for renewable energy in the US, India, China and Italy. With the UK’s new seat at the WTO, and with the relevant minister Liz Truss, naming climate change as one of our priorities there, that is another way signing up to the ACCTS is a perfect fit for the British government. ACCTS aims to work in three key ways. The first of these is to liberalise trade in environmental goods and services. That would include obvious goods like bicycles, wind turbines and solar panels, but also services – maintenance of renewable facilities, management of pollution and waste. That’s perfect for the UK’s service-based economy, which is well-developed already in these areas, and would go some way towards compensating for loss of access to the EU market under the Brexit deal.”

    Bennett says that, “The second key action method of ACCTS is to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. Given these cost the UK government about £10 billion a year, mainly through cutting VAT on domestic fuel and electricity (defined as a subsidy by the WTO and the OECD, among many other organisations), this could be a boost to Rishi Sunak’s bottom line, hit by Covid-19 costs, and renewables, now the lowest cost source of energy, would balance the cost for households.” Bennett explains the benefits of, “the third action of ACCTS, aiming to standardise ecolabelling of products around the globe, could also be a bonus. As UK producers struggle to have to deal with two new sets of labelling requirements, the UK’s and the EU, plus those of the US, Australia and anywhere else they might export, were this to be effectively replaced by a single global standard, significant savings in red tape (surely a plus for the Tories) would be possible.”

    Bennett asks, “So would they have us? The group of countries have said they’d be delighted to welcome extra members who sign up to the ACCTS principles. And the addition of the UK as a G7 country would certainly be a boost to the grouping. With its 10-point plan announced last year, the government set out the domestic rhetoric for a ‘green industrial revolution’ in the UK. Signing up to ACCTS would be the natural trade policy accompaniment. Natalie Bennett is a former leader of the Green Party of England and Wales and a member of the House of Lords.”

    An important question is posed in a Friends of the Earth Article entitled, “Trade and climate How are they connected?” They ask, “How does what we buy and sell impact the environment? The impacts of the things we buy go far beyond profits or consumer satisfaction.
    • Was the person who produced that product paid properly and treated fairly?
    • Did its production, transportation or use cause pollution, deforestation, or climate breakdown?
    • Can it be reused or disposed of safely?”

    They say, “The decisions made by governments, businesses and individuals about which goods and services enter the country, the shops and our homes can mean the difference between sustainable, low-carbon production or increased damage to our planet.”

    Friends of the Earth ask, “What is a trade deal? Trade deals are made by governments, and set out the rules for trading between different countries. They try to make it easy for each country to let in goods and services that they need, while limiting or preventing the entry of goods and services that don’t meet standards (or are already made domestically). The decisions governments make about the rules set in these agreements can have huge impacts on our environment.” They point out that, “Businesses don’t need to rely on government trade deals to sell things abroad. They can do it anyway, although it can be more complicated and costly without the support of a trade agreement. Businesses can also sell products from far-off places, knowing consumers are often less concerned about issues like water overuse, unfair pay or air pollution if they happen miles away, or better yet, on another continent. If we’re to cut our global footprint as consumers, we need businesses to up their game and improve their supply chains.”

    Friends of the Earth explain their, “Vision for climate-friendly trade,” saying that, “What if we redefined the aims and benefits of trade so that they favoured breathable air in 50 years’ time over bigger economies? Or rich, diverse forests over our ability to access cheaper piles of stuff? What if you knew that wherever you shopped or whatever you produced or bought, you wouldn’t be exploited, or be exploiting others? Now’s the time for the UK to change its trading ways, and pioneer new, climate-positive approaches to trade and environment post-Brexit.”

    “Friends of the Earth is campaigning for:
    • The UK’s environmental laws to stay as strong as, or stronger than, those in the rest of Europe – and a strong environmental watchdog to enforce them.
    • The UK to be an international leader on climate change.
    • Any farming or land subsidies to be based on public good, for example improving biodiversity or better flood protection.
    • The UK to keep working with our European and international neighbours on our joint environmental challenges.
    • A strong future relationship with the EU based on high environmental standards.
    • An ambitious future UK trade policy, developed with full scrutiny and with environmental ambition at it’s heart.
    • No trade deals with nations not implementing commitments under the Pairs Agreement.”

    “Friends of the Earth believes passionately in democracy. We’ll continue campaigning for the best environmental outcomes for all people, in the UK and abroad. Our campaign on Brexit Brexit wasn’t a vote to cut our environmental protections. In fact, 83% of the British public think we should keep these protections. But an independent report found that environmental laws could be weakened by Brexit, leaving birds and wildlife habitats at risk. So we campaigned around Brexit to make sure our environmental laws didn’t fall through the gaps. Brexit could still have a wide-ranging impact on everything from future nature protections to food standards. Outside of the EU, the UK must also develop a new trade policy, which could mean new deals that impact on our environment. So we’re still working to make sure future protections, like the new Environment Bill, are stronger, not weaker. And we’re calling for a UK trade policy that puts the environment first.”

    “Friends of the Earth is part of the Greener UK Coalition ” they say that the, “Greener UK is a coalition of environmental groups working together to ensure that the UK’s environment is improved, not damaged, by leaving the EU. It consists of RSPB, National Trust, The Wildlife Trusts, WWF, Campaign for Better Transport, CPRE, Client Earth, E3G, Friends of the Earth, Green Alliance, Greenpeace, WWT and Woodland Trust.” Most of the UK’s environmental protections stem from EU law and so could be changed as a result of Brexit. Greener UK has created this Risk Tracker to show which policy areas are more secure, and which are most at risk. We hope the UK government will go further than simply safeguarding protections, to take advantage of the great opportunity of restoring nature and our natural resources within a generation, as set out in the Greener UK vision.

    On the Greener UK Coalition website the Risk Tracker page explains that, “Polling in December 2016 found that 80 per cent of the British public think the UK should have the same or stronger levels of environmental protection after we leave the EU. But pressure to agree new trade deals and remove regulations could lead the government to water down standards, leaving nature worse off and potentially threatening public health.” The site has, “assigned traffic light ratings to each significant policy area, to indicate low (green), medium (amber) or high risk (red).” The key areas they have listed are as follows: “Air Pollution; Chemicals; Water; Waste & Resources; Fisheries; Climate & Energy; Farming & Land Use; Nature Protection.” By clicking on the icon representing any one of these key areas of concern you can read the Greener UK Coalition, “analysis of the level of risk and to see the supporting evidence in the UK government’s statements and track record.”

    In a Concerto Plus Article examining how Brexit might impact the environment they say, “Of all the issues surrounding Brexit, its impact on environmental policy within the UK and the EU has received much less focus than the potential financial and economic fall-out of the separation. However, Brexit is certainly slated to have a considerable impact on the way in which the UK writes and enforces policy concerning environmental issues such as renewable energy, pollution, and air standards, and overall national environmental safety standards. As a transnational governing body, the European Union effectively created one of the largest legal corpuses of environmental protection law and renewable energy targets that effectively cast Europe as the global leader in environmental policy. With the UK about to embark on Brexit and begin its formal uncoupling from the EU, it is still unclear how significantly the divorce will affect the environment in the UK, as well as in broader Europe.”

    Concerto Plus examine, “The Upshot of Brexit and Environment Regulation – Ultimately, Brexit was enacted as the British were seeking to retain greater national control over economic and immigration policies. However, in leaving the EU, the UK now is also freer to pursue their own environmental policies, which some critics warn could likely be less stringent than the current EU standards. However, it is possible that the UK will retain its membership in the European Economic Area, which would effectively ensure that the UK must comply with specific wildlife, oceanic, and food production regulations should it choose to export its goods to the EU. Most students pursuing a masters in international relations are familiar with international treaties, but Brexit presents a whole set of complex issues that will likely serve as a case study in international affairs masters programs in the future.”

    Concerto Plus warns of, “Future Concerns Over the Paris Climate Accords” saying that, “The most concerning issue regarding environmental policy and Brexit is whether the populist surge of support to leave the EU could transform into a campaign for the UK to withdraw from the landmark Paris Climate Accords, an agreement nearly universally accepted and ratified across the globe. Whereas the EU crafted regionally specific environmental and energy policies designed to make Europe more sustainable and competitive in the future energy market, the Paris Climate Accords offer crucial and yet basic targets to reducing carbon emissions and pollution, while at the same time increasing renewable energy production. A potential withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords based on the populist Brexit wave would be disastrous for British environmental policy and a true blow to the global environmental movement.”

    Concerto Plus conclude that, “While Brexit does not necessarily entail environmental disaster, it is clear that Brexit will take the UK off course from moving towards a more environmentally sustainable future. The UK may now have the freedom to pursue more nationally specific and ambitious green policies, but with the pressures of the business and manufacturing industries paramount in politicians minds, it is unlikely that the UK will have the ability or the popular desire to implement environmental protection and renewable energy policies as stringent as those of the EU.” As a Green Party member and after spending several decades of my life at sea, I remain passionately committed to protecting the environment. The motto for Team Pro-Maxi mg bid to enter an international women’s team in the Whitbread Round the World Race was: “A Healthy Body & Mind on a Healthy Peaceful Planet.”

    The Tories underlying driving force behind Brexit was to facilitate increased exploitation on multiple levels; exploitation of human resources as our workers rights evaporate and exploitation of the natural environment for the profiteering of giant Corporations driven by Tory elitist greed. The British public were not made aware of the significance behind that ‘Take Back Control’ message that removed the collaboratively agreed protections gained by consensus within the EU and placed absolute control in the hands of our reckless profiteering Tory Sovereign Dictatorship. We will need to remain hypervigilant in the coming years keeping track of new regulations and deregulations that the Tories will sneak in using Statutory Instruments that require no debate in Parliament. Far from taking back control the British people have been totally stripped of any control following the Covert 2018 Rigged Election. We must Challenge, Investigate and Expose that corrupt result to derail the agenda of exploitation and remove the Tories from office. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #65263 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    The horrific ‘caught on camera’ killing of George Floyd by US police sent shock waves globally, despite Covid restrictions, such barbarism sparked large protests in the UK. Key members of our Tory Government tried hard to marginalize the British protests by pretending that this country doesn’t have a problem with race. There was an aggressive right wing push-back when our precious icons of colonialism came under attack, none more so than Boris Johnson’s favorite idol, the totemic racist Winston Churchill. The PM has never apologised for his own deeply offensive racial slurs, hiding behind the diversity of his cabinet like an un-Christian member of the church brandishing a ‘God badge;’ as the hypocrisy of Ireland’s ‘charitable’ Catholic Nuns towards unwed mothers after their cluelty was exposed. So too does the façade of Tory diversity and tolerance crumble when you examine the sentiments of their MPs. A Somali man died just after release from police custody in Cardiff, but his tragic demise was cautiously obscured.

    This event should have reignited UK wide Black Lives Matter protests. Tory MPs oppose the BLM movement by portraying these peaceful protesters as thugs as they threaten the power of our rotten capitalist system. Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer’s tokenism describing BLM as ‘a moment’ and then posing ‘taking the knee’, was drowned out by his cringeworthy speech expressing pride in his British patriotism. As a ‘Proud Patriot of the Planet’ I find the entire conventional framing of the patriotism debate fundamentally embeds the toxic ‘othering’ that will breed further racism. Boris Johnson is eager to utilize BAME Ministers as ethnic shields to hide his abhorrent bigotry and callous neglect for systemic UK inequality. The Canary expose how, “Britain has a long history of racism, which is its original sin. Its impact is still visible today. In recent years, the British government had to deal with the fallout from racial scandals like Windrush, the Grenfell Tower disaster, and racial disparities in the effects of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.”

    The Canary say, “With the scale of racism in Britain, one would have expected the ethnic minorities represented in the government to help pull down the racial structures upon which this country was built, and also to call out racism whenever it rears its ugly head. However, in most instances, they’ve taken the path of least resistance by defending the status quo. BAME Cabinet Members are ‘shipped out to defend the government’s position during racial controversies.’ Angela Davis, the African American scholar and activist, once spoke about how diversity could be used for a visual effect ‘that allows the machine to keep functioning in the same old way … sometimes more efficiently and effectively’.” While I doubt that Kwasi Kwarteng battled pangs of extreme hunger while he studied at Eton that should not leave him, and fellow BAME Tories, totally devoid of empathy for less privileged immigrants to this country; after all how many committed Socialist MPs shared the childhood deprivation suffered by Marcus Rashford?

    The Canary report that, “Kwasi Kwarteng, who is of Ghanaian heritage… is one of the most highly educated cabinet members. Kwarteng attended Eton College and studied classics and history at Cambridge University. He also studied at Harvard University and has a PhD in economic history from Cambridge.” Fiercely defending Johnson “Kwarteng said, ‘To say he is racist is scurrilous, offensive and completely wrong’,” and he claimed that “the Windrush scandal wasn’t about institutional racism.” James Cleverly, a junior Minister, of Sierra Leonean heritage, was sent on a Media tour to downplay the problem of racism in the UK, he arguing on Sky News, that, “the UK is among the least racist countries in the world.” The Canary say that “when Green MSP Ross Greer called Winston Churchill a white supremacist and a mass murderer, due to his role in the Bengal famine and his racist description of Indians and Chinese people, James Cleverly came to Churchill’s defence.”

    The Canary report how, “Sajid Javid created history in 2018 when he became the first ethnic minority to become home secretary. As home secretary, Javid stripped Shamima Begum, who was groomed as a teenager, of her citizenship, thereby relegating British citizens with dual citizenship to second class pseudo-British status. Moreover, when a group of men in Huddersfield were convicted for abusing children, he linked the ethnicity of the grooming gang to their crime tweeting, ‘Sick Asian paedophiles’.” We should all be truly sickened by Javid’s punishment of Begum, as he pandered to the worst bigotry spewed out by the tabloid press. Showing absolutely zero compassion for the British schoolgirl victim, traumatized by her naivety as a teen, who had already seen two of her children die: Javid double-down on her torment by abandoning her and condemning her innocent baby to death in a prison camp! Javid’s replacement, the first Asian woman to take the job of Home Secretary, Priti Patel has been equally inhumane in the post.

    Patel was sacked by Theresa May for conducting unauthorized talks on funnelling foreign aid cash for Syrian refugees through the Israeli Army! In denial of the welcome extended to her Ugandan Asian parents, Patel’s attitude towards Asylum Seekers is brutal. Floating proposals for prison ships and banishing new arrivals to remote islands in the south Atlantic, she expedited deportations over Christmas hoping no one would notice. The Canary report that, “Following the UK protests resulting from the police killing of George Floyd, Patel was asked in the House of Parliament to act quickly to resolve structural inequality, discrimination, and racism. She responded by narrating how she received racial slurs in the playground and street and concluded by saying: ‘So, when it comes to racism, sexism, tolerance for social justice, I will not take lectures from the other side of the House’.” Patel isn’t alone, as Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch, of Nigerian heritage, claimed race and womanhood shielded her from all opposition critique!

    The Canary report that, “In May 2020, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed that BAME people were more likely to die from coronavirus relative to white people. An official government report noted that racism and discrimination suffered by BAME communities contributed to the high death rates from coronavirus in those communities.” In response to Labour opposition claims of systemic injustice in a Parliamentary debate they say, “Badenoch was emphatic in her response, noting Britain was ‘one of the best countries in the world to be a black person’. She also said the government has a proud record on race. She later described BBC‘s coverage of the hearing as ‘sloppy’ and accused the media outfit of ‘fanning the flames of racial division’ regarding Black Lives Matter protests and coronavirus.” In another Commons Debate during Black History Month she preached the Government’s opposition to British schools teaching white privilege and similar elements of ‘Critical Race Theory’ as uncontested facts.

    The importance of Badenoch lies in her Ministerial role as the person responsible for championing racial equality on behalf of the Tory Party; in reality her abysmal record of decidedly unhelpful input on this important issue is a clear dereliction of duty to the BAME community in the UK. The Canary highlight how the, “Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson recently said that racism is ‘bone-deep’ in Britain and the US. Since racism is structurally embedded in British society, all hands must be on deck to solve it. The solution does not lie in outsourcing it to a group of select BAME politicians. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, the time has come for senior white politicians in the cabinet to shred their cloak of indifference and take a front seat in the fight against racism. BAME cabinet members should use their intelligence and experience to help usher in a racism-free society. Instead, they’re being used as pawns and puppets in a wholesale denial of racism in Britain.”

    In the Welsh Agenda Article entitled, “After Mohamud Mohammed Hassan’s Death, Wales Needs to Declare a Media Emergency,” Wales’ lack of journalistic resource is structural injustice, writes Dylan Moore. The dangers of Wales’ weak media landscape were thrown into sharp relief this week as the story broke, first on social media, and then via domino effect through Wales’ mainstream outlets to the wider UK press, of the death of Mohamud Mohammed Hassan. The 24-year-old black man from Cardiff died hours after his release from custody in Cardiff Bay police station. Arrested at his home in Newport Road on Friday evening (8th January), Hassan was released without charge at 08:30 on Saturday morning (9th) but was dead by the time officers returned to the property at 22:30 the same day. Hassan’s family, and their legal representatives, claim he had ‘no apparent injuries’ before his arrest, but returned from Cardiff Bay police station ‘with lots of wounds on his body and lots of bruises’.”

    This alarming incident could easily have motivated thousands of Black Lives Matter protesters to violate lockdown and take to the streets across the UK, but an establishment compliant press kept it under wraps so that we can all go on pretending that systemic racism isn’t a UK problem. Moore explains, “Followers of the IWA’s work on Wales’ media over the past decade will be familiar with the arguments about its weaknesses. Just this week we have hosted a series of events focused on the findings of our latest piece of research, including an event today on news. Those conversations are about policy, funding, regulation, jobs, ownership, skills, but the truly alarming weakness of the media comes sharply into focus when considering a case like this. ‘Alarming’ is one of those words that, when used in certain contexts (like reports by think tanks) has all but lost its ability to disturb. The world is weary of crises and emergencies at the moment, but generally when an alarm goes off buildings are vacated immediately.”

    Moore reports that, “Before the story of Mohamud Mohammed Hassan’s death was picked up by the BBC, Wales Online, ITV Cymru and then Nation.Cymru, South Wales Police tweeted: ‘We are aware of the extensive reporting on social media but due to the on-going investigation and referral to the [Independent Office for Police Conduct] we are unable to comment any further at this stage.’ However, this supposed lack of ability to comment did not stop them from commenting. ‘As part of our investigation CCTV and Body Worn Video has already been, and will continue to be, examined,’ they tweeted. ‘This will assist in establishing and understanding the events that took place. Early findings by the force indicate no misconduct issues and no excessive force.’ As the story broke on each of what would be considered the ‘major news outlets’, it was chilling to observe how the police statement was regurgitated, unchallenged and without qualification. The testimony of eyewitnesses was given secondary or no importance.”

    Moore claims that, “The ITV article is entirely based around the police statement with no recognition that it was put out in response to ‘extensive reporting on social media’, nor any attempt to engage with that reporting. It also makes a crucial error in reporting the date of Hassan’s arrest. The BBC did quote Zainab Hassan, the dead man’s aunt, who said she saw him after his release ‘with lots of wounds on his body and lots of bruises’ and that he ‘didn’t have these wounds when he was arrested and when he came out of Cardiff Bay police station, he had them’. To their credit, Wales Online quoted Lee Jasper, the human rights activist whose blog was largely responsible for breaking the story.”

    Moore says that, “After a social media outcry, they were forced to apologise for their misrepresentative coverage of the ensuing protest outside Cardiff Bay police station, where around 200 people gathered to demand justice yesterday. Wales Online admitted it was ‘understandable’ that the image chosen to illustrate the story could be used to ‘undermine’ or ‘discredit’ the protest. Such an apology is perhaps too little, too late when the Daily Express is already reporting the story in completely unrepresentative and sensational terms, with the tragedy of a young man’s death relegated to the footnotes of a story headlined ‘Wales chaos: Furious protests erupt in Cardiff as angry crowds hurl smoke bombs at police’. The Welsh headlines are insipid: ‘Mohamud Mohammed Hassan’s death in Cardiff investigated’ (BBC); ‘Death of 24-year-old Mohamud Mohammed Hassan referred to police watchdog following arrest in Cardiff’ (ITV) and ‘Man, 24, died suddenly after being in police custody in Cardiff overnight’ (Wales Online).”

    Moore points out that, “What is missing from all of these reports, of course, is context. All refer to Mohamud Mohammed Hassan as a 24-year-old man. It was not until the report by Mark S Redfern on Voice.Wales, a platform supported to the tune of less than £500 a month via Patreon, that a report on this death foregrounded the fact that Mohamud Mohammed Hassan was black: ‘Demands for Answers & Justice as Black Man Dies Following Detainment by South Wales Police.’ Given the global impact and prominence of the Black Lives Matter campaign, ignited by the death of a black man in police custody, this seems the obvious way to frame the story. The death of Mohamud Mohammed Hassan, however it turns out to have been caused, is set against a history of 1,773 deaths in police custody in England and Wales since 1990 and no British police officer convicted of killing someone in detention since 1971.” As a society we cannot allow such atrocities of aggressive policing to be normalized by lack of oversight.

    Moore reports that, “It took Voice.Wales to remind readers that the lawyers now assisting the Hassan family, Hillary Brown and Lee Jasper, also ‘helped the family of the young [Christopher] Kapessa… after [South Wales Police] failed to properly investigate the Black teen’s death in July 2019.’ Christopher Kapessa’s bereaved mother ‘told a press conference in February 2020 that South Wales Police were guilty of institutional racism and they had failed her and ‘continued to fail black families’.’ Lee Jasper is quoted by Wales Online, saying: ‘When it comes to suspicious deaths in custody there is no justice in this country. We continue to be treated like third class citizens in a supposed first class democracy. As a consequence we see fundamental repetition of the same scenarios and fundamental breaches of our human rights’.”

    Moore points out that, “However, with no reference to the plentiful evidence that would support Jasper’s point, this fact can be read as an opinion. Indeed many keyboard warriors immediately flooded the comment section with uninformed, unevidenced opinions on various aspects of the story that inevitably affect the public reception of the facts. Jasper’s comments are, of course, borne out by the UK Government’s Independent Review Into Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody by Dame Elish Angolini QC (2017), which called for action in tackling discrimination and recognised the disproportionate number of deaths of people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups following restraint, and the role of institutional racism and police training. It concluded that: ‘Deaths of people from BAME communities, in particular young black men, resonate with the black community’s experience of systemic racism’.”

    Moore warns that, “Journalism in Wales is suffering from global trends that have radically altered the way news is paid for and consumed. This means journalistic resources are stretched so thin that what we might call ‘proper journalism,’ eyewitness reporting, and/or journalists talking directly to those involved in the story, has been replaced by what might better be described as public relations. We are so used to listicles; slap-dash articles powered by a quick internet trawl, and hastily regurgitated press releases that we have become desensitised to our poor diet of uninquisitive articles that foreground institutional comms over the words of people who were there. When this approach is taken in matters of life and death, and justice, there is a huge problem.”

    Moore contends that, “This is multifaceted, of course, and does not solely lie with mainstream news outlets. On social media, unverified ‘facts’ and competing versions of events circulate quickly and narratives emerge that may be a long way from the truth. In this context, it is entirely understandable, and right, that South Wales Police make a statement. Healthy 24-year-old men should not be dying in our capital city in ‘sudden, unexplained’ circumstances. The family of Mohamud Mohammed Hassan, and the general public, are owed an explanation and quickly. The problem with the police statement is that it is not simply an update in the public interest, and a reassurance that the matter has indeed been, quite rightly, passed to the watchdog. It is a brazen, and largely successful, attempt to seize control of the media narrative. The explicit mention that ‘We are aware of extensive reporting on social media’ is a de facto admission that the purpose of South Wales Police’s own thread of tweets is a rebuff to ‘speculation’.”

    Moore explains, “Without the pre-emptive claim that ‘Early findings by the force indicate no misconduct issues and no excessive force’, the statement is understandable; with it, it becomes a clear attempt to put a thumb on the scales of justice that are already loaded against black people. A bold, well resourced, well trained body of journalists in Wales would be able to call this out. In the circumstances, we must be thankful for the power of social media and the existence of sites like Voice.Wales. But relying on citizen journalism to do the digging that professional reporters don’t have time for can not be an acceptable future for our country.” The UK is becoming more and more reliant on alternative media outlets due to the underlying agenda of our increasingly discredited British press. The BBC has also deteriorated from beacon of responsible reporting, to the Tory mouthpiece of the Sovereign Dictatorship.

    Moore remarks that, “The IWA and others have long been concerned about a deficit of democracy caused by a weak media. This tragedy has highlighted that a weak media can also cause a potential deficit of justice. Lee Jasper concludes his blog by saying: ‘The Black Lives Matter emphasis going forward has to be on the wholesale reconstruction of the system of enquiry and accountability surrounding policing’.” Moore’s “only addendum to this statement is that this system absolutely needs to include a robust and well-resourced media, to properly inquire, and to hold those in power to account. People need to know the truth. It’s time to press the buzzer.” Crucially placed BAME Tory Ministers whose duty is to advocate on behalf of ethnic minorities, asylum seekers and refugees, protecting them from descrimination, persecution and injustice, are not just abandoning the duties of their brief, but exacerbating such problems while no one in the Mainstream Media or our Tory compliant BBC is holding them to account.

    I try hard not to criticize those who may have been persuaded to make political choices that I personally consider disastrous, but let’s not forget how we got here. We were all far too trusting, expecting to be kept fully informed and told the honest truth. Ethical Journalists have a moral obligation to demand valid information on our behalf so that we make informed choices when voting. The lies generated by the fake Charity ‘Integrity Initiative’ were paid for by the Tories using public funds; in any respectable democracy this should have resulted in jail, not a fraudulent ‘landslide victory’ in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election! The cloak of protection the press has used to shield the Tory Party from accountability for this and their obscene squandering of public funds will inevitably be extended to vile cases of deadly force unleashed by police to keep this all powerful Tory Sovereign Dictatorship in total control. We must Protest, Challenge, Investigate and Expose the Truth, before the last glimmer of hope for our democracy is snuffed out! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #65337 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Too many critical issues are being ignored while the Tories keep us distracted with PR spin and News headline ‘handyfloss’ about miraculous vaccines. With this shambolic Tory Government even the vaccine rollout could turn into another massive disaster due to obsession over central privatized control, Tory greed, or deliberate sabotage. A Canary Article entitled, “Medical experts expose critical flaws in UK government’s flagship coronavirus operations,” alerts us to very serious potential problems with following the Government’s Covid vaccine strategy. They say that, “In recent weeks, a number of articles and papers have been published in prestigious medical journals warning of flaws in the UK government’s coronavirus (Covid-19) flagship testing and vaccination operations. Some of the warnings coincided with news that UK coronavirus cases per capita are higher than anywhere else in the world. Also that UK daily coronavirus death rates per million, when compared to US and EU rates, are approaching a new high.”

    The Canary warn of “Second dosage questions. Medical experts in the British Medical Journal have raised questions about the time gap between the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine and the second dose. They commented: ‘[the] decision to delay the second [Pfizer/BioNTech] dose to between 4-12 weeks is not based on data from the trial, but on an assumption of what would have happened if the second dose hadn’t been given at 21 days. While assumptions can be useful for generating a hypothesis, alone they are not a sufficient reason to alter a known effective dosing regimen’. The World Health Organization subsequently stated that the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can be administered up to six weeks after the first. But that’s only under ‘exceptional circumstances’.” The UK shouldn’t be following a whacky suggestion first put forward by thoroughly discredited former PM who many consider a nationally disgraced war criminal; Tony Blair knows nothing about Medical issues at all!

    The Canary add to the compelling and credible scientific evidence by reporting that, “The European Medicines Agency added: Any change to this [delay] would require a variation to the marketing authorisation as well as more clinical data to support such a change, otherwise it would be considered as ‘off-label use,’ Importantly, Pfizer has stated specifically that ‘There are no data to demonstrate that protection after the first dose is sustained after 21 days’. With regard to the low-cost Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, trials showed that “vaccine efficacy 14 days after a second dose was higher in the group that had more than six weeks between the two doses (65.4%) than in the group that had less than six weeks between doses (53.4%)’. However, both efficacy figures are notably low when compared to 95% for the Pfizer vaccine or the Moderna’.”

    The Canary alerts us to another ‘off label’ concept our Government are apparently considering, “Mixing vaccines – Another worrying development is that earlier this month the government reportedly decided to mix vaccines. So they are considering giving people the Oxford-AstraZeneca dose followed by the Pfizer one, or vice-versa. Although a Public Health England (PHE) official added that mixing vaccines in this way would only be on a ‘very exceptional basis’. But there’s no evidence that shows these two very different vaccines can work in this way. Indeed, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that the vaccines ‘are not interchangeable’. Vaccine expert John Moore, at Cornell University, commented that officials in Britain ‘seem to have abandoned science completely now and are just trying to guess their way out of a mess’.” Drug companies conduct strictly controlled double-blind trials to ascertain efficacy so why would the Government even consider wasting vaccines on an uncontrolled experiment?

    The Canary report on, “Limited immunity” by saying that, “A government announcement points to a PHE study which found that someone who’s been infected with coronavirus is likely to be immune for at least five months. However, during that time they may still transmit the virus to others. The announcement reads: ‘this means many people who contracted the disease in the first wave may now be vulnerable to catching it again’. PHE senior medical advisor Susan Hopkins commented: We now know that most of those who have had the virus, and developed antibodies, are protected from reinfection, but this is not total and we do not yet know how long protection lasts. Crucially, we believe people may still be able to pass the virus on.” This is worrying because people may enjoy a false sense of security after surviving Covid even experiencing a false strength that veterinarians report in animals they treat with dexamethasone which is now given to Covid patients; Trump bragged of this directly after he was released from Hospital.

    We know that reinfections rarely occur, but we don’t know how capable they are of infecting others? The Canary say that, “Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, warned a Commons select committee: If it [the virus] protects against transmission only for a few months then clearly we would have to reinstate measures at a later time or go back and boost everyone. In other words, we need to remain cautious well after having the vaccine.” In abysmal Tory Government shambolic mismanagement news the Canary warn we should also be concerned about, ‘Testing problems. Research also shows that students who were tested using the lateral flow method at the University of Birmingham and universities in Scotland resulted in 58% false-positives. A separate study also found that the lateral flow method ‘failed to detect three in 10 cases with the highest viral loads’. The problem with this, as professor Jon Deeks points out, is that: Clearly, there is a risk of giving false reassurance to people who get a negative result.”

    While I am sure wasting public funds is unimportant to Dido ‘Tallyho’ Harding, the Canary say, “You also have to question whether mass screening using a test that performs so poorly is the best use of our limited resources. Deeks is a professor of biostatistics at the University of Birmingham and leader of Cochrane Collaboration’s coronavirus test evaluation activities. Unless there’s a change in plan, lateral flow testing is the method the government intends to use in schools once they reopen, despite the accuracy problems.’ They point to a, ‘Lack of foresight,’ saying that, “The Johnson government is great at making promises, but less so at delivering those promises. Or as the Guardian’s Aditya Chakrabortty commented: Last summer the health secretary, Matt Hancock, boasted to parliament that ‘we have already secured 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine’. This became ‘30 million doses available by September’, which was swiftly halved to ‘aiming to deliver up to 15 million doses … in 2020’.” PM spin…

    The Canary criticize the Governments, “Lack of long term planning by the government and under-investment by the pharmaceutical companies in their UK bases are the likely causes. Indeed, Chakrabortty adds how: pharmaceutical companies, which often draw heavily on subsidies from the British taxpayer, have continued to run down their manufacturing in the UK and to stick their factories wherever they get tax breaks: Ireland, Belgium, Singapore. Overcoming vaccine supply problems and finding enough trained staff to administer the vaccines will be crucial.” The Canary say it’s, “Not all bad news – there is also some good news, though little reported. The REMAP-CAP trial, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, has found that the inflammatory drugs tocilizumab and sarilumab may improve survival of critically ill patients who have coronavirus. This is in addition to the news in June 2020 that patients on ventilators and oxygen are more likely to survive Covid-19 if administered dexamethasone.”

    The Canary offer us another glimmer of hope reporting that, “AstraZeneca has developed an antibody treatment, currently under trial at University College Hospital London. This treatment can: offer immediate and long-term protection to people who have been recently exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, to prevent them developing Covid-19. A separate study, but also applying antibody treatment, is to be trialled with people who are ‘older or in long-term care, and who have conditions such as cancer and HIV which may affect the ability of their immune system to respond to a vaccine’. If approved, the treatment could be available as early as March or April. Meanwhile, Germany-based GNA Biosolutions has reportedly developed a testing method that claims 96.7% accuracy, with results available within 45 minutes. The company is aiming for approval by EU regulators in March.”

    The Canary warn that, “whether it’s about virus testing, the periods between vaccine doses, or mixing vaccines, the Johnson government’s approach seems to be all about cutting corners for political gain. Or, worse, just making it up as they go along. Such an approach is inherently dangerous, not only in terms of deaths from coronavirus but for the politicians themselves, who will and are being exposed for their spectacular failures.” Your Doctor issues a prescription and insists that you should ‘take as directed’ and complete the whole course of an antibiotic treatment even if it doesn’t seem necessary. There’s good reason for that sound advice, half kill off an infection and it can rebound. Nature’s response is Darwinian: natural selection will try to find a way around a Pharma challenge and render former reliable treatments ineffective. We have created multi-drug resistant superbugs with such tampering and now this Tory Government wants to vaccinate the UK population with an off-label vaccine regimen!

    This follows on from the insane ‘let it rip’ strategy of Diminic ‘Herd Nerd’ Cummings who thought it would be a great idea for the entire population to become infected, thereby solving the burdensome problem of paying for pensioners as the elderly would be mercilously culled by the ‘Holocaust in Care.’ While some younger people were dying, others were developing the ongoing health problems of ‘Long Covid,’ but we weren’t acquiring reliable long-term Herd Immunity to Covid 19; we were also providing the perfect environment for viral mutations. But while the scientists warned of the consequences, the Tories were hoping that their ‘Slaughter of the Sheeple,” targeting the most vulnerable, elderly, disabled, the working poor and minorities, would still allow the survival of the fittest workers to survive for future exploitation. While more humane regimes in industrialised countries paused their economies to save lives, the greedy Tory elite would climb over the corpses to romp ahead with their newly streamlined, efficient slave state.

    Although the Covid crisis has provided a bonanza in corrupt financial deals with massive payoffs, the Tories have been caught out a few times. The PPE cash cow still pays high enough dividends to buy any electoral challenges that occur before voting totally shut down. People forgot about the money wasted setting up the Nightingale PR stunts, but Dido’s test and trace scam still remains under siege. A Skwawkbox Video: “Sky warns single vaccine doses promote new mutations, 2 days after Socialist Telly told you Sky News has announced that COVID experts are warning that giving only one vaccine does, as the Tory government is now doing, will drive the emergence of new and potentially far more dangerous mutations: But on Monday, Socialist Telly and SKWAWKBOX‘s Skwawk Talk had brought viewers the same information two days earlier: Watch the full Socialist Telly/Skwawk Talk episode here. As so often, the new left media were ahead of the game and for once, at least one part of the ‘mainstream’ media eventually caught up.”

    The Canary Article entitled, “UK to face short-term delay in delivery of the Pfizer vaccine,” warns of another potential glitch in the Tory vaccine rollout prestige race, that is more about PR spin than safety or efficacy. They say, “The UK is set to face short-term delays in delivery of the Pfizer coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine as the pharmaceutical company upgrades its production capacity. Pfizer is upscaling production at its plant in Puurs, Belgium. This is in an to produce more doses than originally planned for 2021 – temporarily reducing deliveries to all European countries. Shipments of the vaccine, produced in partnership with Germany’s BioNTech, to the UK are set to be affected during January. But the overall number of doses due to be delivered between January and March will remain the same, according to the US firm. In response, a spokesperson for the government said that it’s still working to its plan of vaccinating all four priority groups by 15 February.”

    The Canary remind us that, “The vaccine from Pfizer is not the only candidate available in the UK, with the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca jab also currently being rolled out.” In terms of progress the Canary report, “Quarter one – A Pfizer spokesperson said: We understand a change to deliveries has the potential to create uncertainty. However, we can confirm the overall projected volumes of delivery to the UK remain the same for quarter one (January to March). We continue to liaise with the UK Government and the Vaccines Taskforce to work through short-term impact of these changes to our January deliveries and support the goals of the UK Covid-19 vaccination programme. The UK has secured 40 million doses of the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech. A government spokesperson said: We are in the process of understanding the implications of Pfizer’s announcement today to our plans. However we continue to plan to hit our target of vaccinating all four priority groups by February 15.”

    The Sky News Article entitled, “COVID-19: Single vaccine dose leads to ‘greater risk’ from new coronavirus variants, South African experts warn,” should concern us all. They say, “The variant is thought to be responsible for 90% of infections in South Africa, and has already been found in the UK. Britain is putting vulnerable people at risk from mutant variants of the coronavirus by delaying the second dose of the vaccine, according to South Africa’s top adviser on immunisations. South Africa is suffering a sharp spike in cases, driven by a new variant that may reduce the effectiveness of vaccines. That threat has been underlined by new lab tests showing that antibodies may be at least 10 times less effective against the new variant, which is separate to the mutation that was originally identified in England.

    Sky News describe the, “Second new COVID variant ‘highly concerning’ UK health secretary Matt Hancock has described the variant as ‘incredibly worrying’ and transport links with South Africa were severed after two cases were identified in London and the North West of England. Professor Barry Schoub, chair of the South African government’s vaccine advisory committee, told Sky News that border controls won’t stop the virus and that giving just one dose would reduce protection in the most vulnerable. ‘There is greater risk,’ he said. ‘It is more transmissible, and your immunity is only half what it should be, so that will increase the risk transmission. ‘I’d think the variants would be a motivation to go for the double dose as much as you can’.”

    Sky News report on, “Prof Schoub’s warning came as new research suggested that a key mutation in the virus allows it to evade antibodies taken from some people who have recovered from COVID-19. It suggests COVID vaccines could be less effective against the variant – and some people who’ve recovered from the disease may be at risk of re-infection. Researchers from the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle describe the finding as ‘worrying’. The research has been published as pre-print on bioRxiv and hasn’t been peer reviewed. The researchers tested the ability of antibodies taken from people who have recovered from the disease to kill a range of new variants of the virus. All had mutations in what’s called the receptor binding domain of the spike protein, which the virus uses to latch on to human cells.”

    Sky News say that, “A mutation called E484K, which is found in the variant from South Africa and another in Brazil, was strongly associated with reduced antibody effectiveness in some, but not all, of the 11 samples tested. Tests on the UK variant, which doesn’t have the same mutation, showed there was no reduction in the ability of antibodies to kill the virus. Associate Professor Jesse Bloom, who led the research, tweeted: ‘E484K (South African lineage) worrying for immune escape. Mutations in UK lineage less so.’ We mapped how all mutations to #SARSCoV2 receptor-binding domain (RBD) affect recognition by convalescent polyclonal human sera (https://t.co/fCJvAnXhs8). Among implications: E484K (South African lineage) worrying for immune escape; RBD mutations in UK lineage less so (1/n). — Bloom Lab (@jbloom_lab) January 5, 2021”

    Alarmingly Sky News report that, “Professor Schoub agreed. There seems to be significant reduction of the neutralising ability (of antibodies),’ he said. ‘This is lab work, so how does that translate to patients? ‘It doesn’t necessarily mean the lab finding will mean infections in those who have been vaccinated. ‘We need ongoing studies in countries where we have rolled out vaccination programmes to see if there are breakthrough infections.’ Cases in South Africa have surged past 1.1 million, with 90% now due to the new variant. Research suggests it is 70% more transmissible than previous versions of the virus, but it doesn’t appear to cause more serious disease. Further research is now being carried out to gauge its impact on vaccine effectiveness. The Department for Health has been approached for a comment.”

    I found this December 30th Science Media Centre Article entitled, “expert reaction to the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine being approved for use in the UK by the MHRA” rather interesting. They reported that, “It has been announced this morning that the UK government has accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for use.” What I found interesting was “Prof Sheila Bird, Formerly Programme Leader, MRC Biostatistics Unit, University of Cambridge” description of the rollout.

    Prof Bird said, “Bookings for a person’s first dose of the Pfizer vaccine are not accepted unless the person can guarantee to return for the second dose within a specified time-window during which booking for their 2nd dose is assigned. Those who are first to receive the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine should do so on the basis of agreement to return for their second dose within a specific fortnight during the period 4 to 12 weeks after their first dose. Hence, I support the suggestion by Prof Sir Jeremy Farrar that major tranches of the first recipients of the Oxford/AstraZeneca be randomised to receive their second dose during weeks 4-6; 7-9; 10-12. Initially, randomisation might be unequal, for example [30%; 40%; 30%] to favour the longer delays between doses, as occurred inadvertently in the randomised controlled trials. Alternatively, the choice might be [40%; 30%; 30%] to learn more about the shorter interval, including in older citizens who may have most to gain from their second dose.”

    Prof Bird added that, “UK has excellent major Clinical Trials Units who could assist in delivering a rigorous protocol which could include adaptive randomisation, whereby the randomisation-ratio is adjusted, say by age-group, on the basis of emergent information about SARS-CoV-2 diagnoses and hospitalisations of those randomised to different dosing-intervals. Effective randomisation of the large numbers initially vaccinated will ensure efficient, unbiased learning.” This is not strictly speaking a standard vaccination program, but essentially a third phase randomized trial, although not double-blinded. This may be appropriate under the extreme circumstances of a spiraling out of control Pandemic, but how well informed are the participants? The UK Media were quick to ridicule the Russian Sputnik Vaccine being rolled out ahead of any UK approved jab accusing them of still trialing their vaccine. But here it turns out the new protocol for the UK roll-out is itself a randomized trial: ‘pot calling kettle black!’

    This also does not excuse the first Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine recipients giving consent to the drug company approved schedule for their two shots only to have that changed after the fact without their consent. There is no guarantee that it will function in exactly the same way as the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and the US drug company have not approved this scheduling. If there are any problems the recipients do not have a leg to stand on as the used the vaccine in a non approved way, ‘off-label.’ The US Pharma position on this could be economically driven as they know their vaccine will become less competitive once less costly alternatives that only require simple refrigeration hit the market. It could be simply a cautious liability issue. But where does the NHS stand if there is a problem due to deviation from the USPharma protocol?

    I would feel more confident if this vaccination program were not under the direction of this dodgy Tory Government who pursued ‘Herd Immunity’ based on the toxic eugenics ideology of Herd Nerd Dominic Cummings. Are we heading down another rabbit hole on the dubious advice of Bush’s poodle, the war mongering, ‘they have WMDs’ B’liar’? Look at the toxic mess his last screw-up embroiled us in. Does Boris Johnson actively seek the company of dangerous whack jobs like Trump, cumings and Blair or do they just spot a buffoon the second they meet our PM? Will Johnson slither out of office when his atrocities are exposed or will he stay in the suspended animation of permanent denial as he hangs on ny his toe nails? The seriously corrupt result of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election got us in this mess; we must Protest, Challenge, Investigate and Expose the Truth to get Johnson and his rabid Tory cabal out of office before he costs more UK lives and misappropriated more public fund to squander: Get The Tories Out! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #65440 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Back in my youthful past, when I was a lot stronger and fitter than I am today, I delivered sailing yachts across oceans for a living. It might not sound like a ‘job,’ but there were challenges as well as exhilarating highs, surfing down following seas driven by a stiff trade wind. You cannot spend as much time on the ocean as I did without feeling deeply connected to and dependent on your glorious natural surroundings, so I was fired up about protecting the planet in the very early days of GreenPeace. The huge amount of traveling I did in those days took me all over the world where I was welcomed by generous and humble people from all walks of life, learning a mutual respect for their beliefs and cultures along the way. A long-term goal of competing as crew aboard one of the yachts in the Whitbread Round the World Race was finally realized when I joined the 89/90 race as sailmaker/medic on the leg between Punta del Este, Uruguay and Fremantle Australia, which proved to be the most dangerous of that race.

    In mid 89 I joined the US Women’s Challenge, but when, after sailing to the UK, we still failed to get funding, I joined a vintage maxi, former Great Britain II, ‘With Integrity’. I was undeterred by the extremes of a race leg where I saw my best friend tossed into the Southern Ocean; a total of six crew were washed overboard, most were recovered alive, but one was buried at sea on that deadly leg. I returned to the US where I started organizing my own team for the next race, but I didn’t want to lead a National team; I selected talent from around the globe for an International female racing crew for Team Pro-Maxi. When Hurricane Andrew decimated South Dade, all of a sudden it would have been obscene to pitch for twelve million dollars for a yacht race with a team based next to the Florida epicenter of a disaster! We wound down the project, our team members pitched in to help with relief efforts and, as a newly qualified Wilderness EMT, I did my first stint as a Medical Volunteer, discovering a new passion for Medicine and Disaster Relief.

    By then although we were a fully registered racing team, I was already battling with the race organizers after seeing Whitbread promotional video footage that included dumping a huge Kevlar sail into the Southern Ocean! As if the dumping of plastic waste were not enough, after early pledges from Whitbread not to allow any cigarette sponsors to join the race they reneged on their word and the race goals no longer fit our ideals. Our Team Pro-Maxi motto was: “A Healthy Body and Mind on a Healthy Peaceful Planet” it summed up the sentiments I still cling to today. Jeremy Corbyn is welcome to steal my motto for his project that embodies these important ideals: the “Peace and Justice Project” that was formally launched this Sunday the 17th of January. What I find so truly inspiring about this project is that it too is international and collaborative, with the input and full support of today’s key Socialist thinkers.

    Just after New Year 2021, when so many in this country sank into the deepest of depressive thinking over the future, Jeremy Corbyn announced the Project. He said, “Today I’m announcing a new project for the New Year. I’m very excited about it, and I hope you will be too. Next month, we’re kicking off the Peace and Justice Project. We’re going to bring people together, for social justice, peace and human rights, in Britain and across the world. I’m telling you about it now, because I want you to be part of it. It’s been a difficult year for all of us. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed and deepened the scale of injustice and inequality in our society. Its mishandling and devastating human consequences have shown the inability of our privatized, hollowed-out system to meet the challenges of our time. The Black Lives Matter movement has fuelled a global response to the scourge of racism. Wildfires across Australia, Russia, and the US have driven home the fact that none of us are safe from the climate crisis.”

    Corbyn continued, “After years of endless wars, economic crisis, increasing inequality and insecurity, it’s become clear that our politics and economic systems have failed, and are in fact part of the problem. Injustices and threats at home and abroad cannot be separated. What’s happened this year has shown us how connected we all are. 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. 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.”

    Corbyn explained how, “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. Whether it’s Rolls-Royce workers defending their jobs in Barnoldswick, or the huge protests in India, whether it’s children going hungry here in one of the world’s richest countries, or languishing as refugees from war and crises, we will support those campaigning for peace and justice. 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.”

    Corbyn finished his introduction to the project by reminding us to, “sign up to our launch event now, the information is just about to come on the screen. 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.” The Project has been steadily gaining support in the build up to yesterday’s official launch, but don’t hold your breath waiting to hear about this on the BBC or see an article in the tabloids… On the Peace and Justice Project’s Website their “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. The Peace and Justice Project will work with labour and social movements and provide platforms to those campaigning for change for the many, not the few.”

    Elaborating on what the Peace and Justice project aims to accomplish under the heading, “What we do” they say, “We bring people together to tackle the causes of injustice and build a decent society. We produce research and analysis, build networks and coalitions, and lead people-powered campaigns. The world we live in is more connected than ever; and we recognise that working for peace and justice at home and overseas cannot be separated. Our work fits broadly in the following areas.” The Peace and Justice Project is seperated into four broad goals.

    The first under the heading, “Economic security,” pledges to, “We challenge the skewed distribution of wealth and power at home and overseas, and the ways it manifests including tax dodging, privatisation, low pay, and restrictions on workers’ rights. We build practical solidarity with the people and communities this economy is rigged against, whilst making the argument for a new and just system.” The second goal under the heading of, “Global justice,” pledges to, “We campaign for a peaceful world, where nations and international institutions end, not uphold, systems of exploitation. We highlight and tackle issues including the arms trade and militarism, human rights, refugee protection, global inequality and resource extraction.”

    The third goal covers, “Democratic society,” pledging to, “We campaign for a society in which power as well as wealth is shared. We work for a world where people are free from oppression, can exercise the right to self-determination, and possess genuine control over the social, political and economic institutions and technologies that shape our lives.” The fourth main topic focuses on, “Climate justice” pledging to, “…Campaign for urgent action on the climate emergency and highlight how climate change exacerbating existing injustices including class, race, the global division of power, conflict and refugee crises, and the treatment of indigenous peoples.”

    This was Jeremy Corbyn’s full speech at the Peace and Justice Project launch. It was delivered during an online rally held on Sunday the 17th of January; Jeremy Corbyn, speaking at the launch of the Peace and Justice Project in this online rally said:

    “I want to start with a huge thank you. Thank you to everybody taking part today. People have tuned in from all across the UK, communities big and small, and from countries all over the world. Our coming together across borders, backgrounds, and experiences has never been more important. That’s what we want to do with this project: unite the local, the national, and the global. So welcome and thank you, all of you, for your endless determination to make a more peaceful and just world, for the many, not the few. It is your hope, your commitment, your passion that powers our movement.

    You, those who came before you, and those who will come after you in the struggle for peace and justice, are the motor of change in history. It may not always seem that way, in the face of defeats and setbacks. But movements transform the world. Look at those movements that fought for liberation from slavery, the vote, equality for women, civil rights, freedom from colonialism, for the eight hour working day, for the right to organise, for our NHS, for socialism. They were scorned. They were beaten back. They often thought they had lost and they were defeated many times. But look who changed the world. Who do we remember? Do you remember Sylvia Pankhurst, or the Home Secretary who put her in prison for demanding votes for women? That’s why we are all here. Because the struggle for peace and justice is needed today more than ever. Things can and they will change, and it’s our job to do it.

    As we live through the second major global crisis in a dozen years we see the scale of the task but also know that we have the solutions and are better organised and prepared than when the financial crisis hit in 2008. The pandemic is intensifying three deep, connected, and global crises: the climate emergency, an economy that generates inequality and insecurity faster than prosperity and freedom, and a global order that holds back the vast majority of our planet’s people, and is dangerously breaking down. 2020 was the hottest year on record. The wealth of the richest rose astronomically while the majority suffered. And a global response to the pandemic was held back by authoritarian nationalist leaders, and the drive for corporate mega profits.

    But we have both the ideas and the power, when we come together, to overcome these crises and build a world of peace and justice. What our movement does today will be felt for generations to come. Our role in the Peace and Justice Project will be to champion those ideas and support the movements that can turn those ideas into reality. Because if you refuse to argue for your side, our opponents win by default. Many of the ideas we need to make the 2020s better than the 2010s were developed in and around the Labour Party in recent years, by outstanding thinkers but more importantly by demands of our movements, and the skills, knowledge and needs of the communities affected. We will build on those policies and ideas, taking them further, adapting them to the post pandemic world, alongside movements, experts, and with you, so that our movement can turn the dial away from conflict and inequality, and towards peace and justice.

    As we launch today, we will focus on four areas of work and we want you and the movements you’re involved in to take part. First, a Green New Deal, paid for by the wealthy and big polluters, that supports our planet, and a new economy that produces good quality unionised jobs as standard. Labour’s 2019 manifesto programme is arguably the most developed Green agenda in the world, combining radical decarbonisation with an enormous good jobs programme in every part of the UK and we will take it further, because that’s what the future of our planet demands. We will commission new research, thinking, and policy that can be used by movements, communities, and parties around the world to build a Global Green New Deal. But we won’t do this to movements, we will do it with movements. So we will convene regular meetings with climate activists, with community groups, and with trade unions to develop our programme of work.

    If your organisation wants to help shape our work and join our meetings, please get in touch with us. And if you want to be part of the campaign we will build in the run up to the vital COP26 meetings in Glasgow in November. Please go to our website at thecorbynproject.com/action and sign up. The second area of our work is economic security, with the immediate task of supporting people in the pandemic recession. We will advance the policies that would make the effects of a recession so much less severe for millions of people. Policies that give people things they can always rely on; publicly owned and properly funded public services, high quality, affordable transport, cheap bills from public providers, a huge expansion of social housing, security of tenure for the private rented sector, protections against fire and rehire to drive down wages and conditions, rights at work from day one for all workers.

    But the most important thing is to help people now. So we are asking our supporters, you, to link up locally and address this economic emergency together. That may involve working with food banks, mutual aid groups., social organisations, or trade unions to support communities in this difficult period while campaigning for a more decent and just economy. Please go to our website and sign up. In the coming days we will put you in touch with other supporters in your area with concrete actions you can take together to help people get through this difficult, isolated time.

    The third area of our work is international justice. I’ve spent my life campaigning for peace and for justice and human rights all over the world. And this Project will carry on that work. We will campaign against the merchants of death in the arms trade and against war. The UK government is complicit in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen, through its arming, training, and support for the Saudi-led coalition. We will do all we can to help bring this already six year long war to an end and support the people of Yemen who have been so brutalised. And we will continue to be utterly committed to the support and protection of the victims of war, refugees seeking a place of safety. Peace and diplomacy is the answer to war and conflict.

    But as with economic security, an urgent priority is to address the injustices and iniquities of Covid. Some rich countries have acquired enough doses to vaccinate their entire populations nearly three times over, while nine out of ten people in poor countries will not receive a vaccine this year. If the Covid emergency has taught us anything, it is just how connected we all are and that global problems can’t be fully addressed by local solutions. If vaccines are to end the pandemic, 60% of the world must be inoculated to achieve herd immunity. Yet a combination of vaccine nationalism, and the irrational placing of profit ahead of public health is thwarting the global solidarity and coordinated action needed to roll out Coronavirus vaccines to the entire world.

    There are already a number of excellent organisations working in this area, and we will add our weight to them to speed up global roll out, to reduce the costs for people around the world, and argue for a more rational system, where public health comes before profit or beggar thy neighbour nationalism. Please go to our website and sign up to this campaign to find out more as it develops. And while you are there, please add your name to an incredibly important petition to the UK government that we’ve created. It calls on the UK government to use its power in the World Trade Organisation to support Indian and South African efforts to allow poorer countries to access vaccines without paying enormous mark ups to big pharmaceutical companies. Please go to our website, or check social media, and sign the petition.

    The fourth area we are working on is building a truly democratic society. Democracy is so much more than voting once every four or five years, and sometimes with the choice restricted to parties which agree on many fundamental things. We want to see democracy dramatically extended into our communities, our workplaces, our public institutions. There’s a simple principle: if something has significant power over our lives, we should have some collective say over it. One vital area, and the one this Project will start with, is the media. We want a powerful and influential media, but one that puts power and influence in the hands of the majority, not hoards it in the hands of the few. A truly free media would expose truth and challenge the powerful.

    But right now, much of the media isn’t very free at all. The influence of billionaires and their interests is huge, and the power of the tech giants has mushroomed. And it might be about to get worse, with two new TV stations being set up with the backing of enormous private wealth, competing to out – Fox News each other. The media isn’t something just like the weather that we complain about but can’t change. To advance peace and justice, we need to democratise the media so that real journalism, that seeks truth and challenges power, is supported over misinformation and falsehood.

    The Peace and Justice Project will work with academics, experts, journalists and media workers, to develop research and policies for change that our movement can rally around. I laid out some ideas in a speech to the Edinburgh TV festival in 2018 but there’s much more we can do. We are going to start by taking on Rupert Murdoch and his plans to re-enter the UK television market. Unlike his last attempt to buyout Sky, this time there’s no one stopping him. We need an urgent Parliamentary commission to protect our news media from oligarchy and monopoly control. We have started a petition for this Parliamentary commission on our website. I hope you’ll go to our website and sign up to our campaign for media democracy and sign the petition.

    As you can see, we have so much to do. We might look around us now. and think things look bleak with the climate crisis, the pandemic, the continued rule of billionaires and their political playthings, and the frightening rise of the far right and renewed racism. But history is a funny thing. It doesn’t flow in straight lines. And movements can give us hope like the incredible Black Lives Matter movement did last year and will continue to do. Because they show us that the rule of the Few over the Many rests on very shaky ground. Those with a grip on power fight harder to make it seem inevitable that they will be in charge forever than they do trying to make the system work.

    A dozen years ago, the financial crisis began to expose their weakness. Now it is all of us, the many, that are assembling the ideas and the movements to change the world. The Peace and Justice Project is part of that effort, alongside so many others. Because it isn’t just about one organisation, one movement, one group of people. Our greatest strength is that we are many but we come together in unity, in hope, in love, to demand peace, and social justice, for all. I hope you’ll join us. Thank you.” There is a Link to Join; it says: “We’re building a community of campaigners for peace and justice. Join our network and you’ll get access to news and new research, invitations to our events and campaigns, and opportunities to connect with leading campaigners across the world.” Alternative Media is increasingly giving voice to the progressive Socialist Left and the Green agenda, but we spent an entire decade cowered by the Tory austerity cosh, so we must work hard to purge Tory buzzwords and PR spin phrases from popular use!

    We cannot repeat that damaging mistake as we will not eradicate Boris Johnson’s ‘Lev…up’ lie, (LUL) with a persuasive argument disproving this shallow con trick; far more effective to change the narrative, creating an honest and accurate phrase that represents the reality of the Tory agenda of, ‘Decimating Down!’ To combat the divisive far-Right obsession over Nationalism; assert tolerant values as a, ‘Peaceful, Patriot of the Planet’ to eliminate toxic ‘othering.’ If the progressive Left had promoted a fair democratization of ‘Freedom of Movement,’ not based on Corporate access to cheap labour, but offering equal opportunities through Collaborative Circular Migration on a global scale, in mutually beneficial partnerships, the principal argument for Brexit would have evaporated. We lost so much ground buying into the ‘borrowed votes’ lie in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election, but now we must pull together, Protest, Challenge, Investigate to Expose the Corruption that stole our Democracy: I hope this Peace and Justice Program will help. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #65532 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    As disturbing details of a custody related death emerge, we must continue the fight for racial justice. In a Left Foot Forward Article entitled, “HOPE not hate: What we need to remember from the Civil Rights Movement, Nick Lowles says, “With the fight for racial justice being far from over, lessons taught to us by civil rights pioneers are more important than ever.” Yesterday was, “Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States. The commemoration marks the anniversary of King’s birth with a public holiday in honour of one of the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement. After the recent storming of Congress by hundreds of Trump supporters ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration, remembering King is more important than ever. Drawing on the successes of the Movement will help us map out a more racially-equal future. Against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter protests last year, the United States appears more divided than ever and the cause for racial equality, which ultimately cost King his life, appears far away.”

    Lowles reports that the, “Fight for racial justice and equality continues. As is clear from the events of the past year, the fight for racial justice and equality in the United States, the UK and around the world is far from over. Indeed, many of the gains made in the mid-1960s have been clawed back and the criminalisation of America’s Black community from the 1970s onwards has had profound political, economic and cultural consequences. The murder of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests clearly illustrated the anger and frustration of America’s Black communities, just as the right-wing backlash illuminated the resistance to change of many. African Americans today still face a great deal of structural racism, poorer employment opportunities, poorer health outcomes and a tribalised political system, which too often does not serve them well.” BAME Ministers in Johnson’s Tory Government are trying hard to use their influence to pretend the UK doesn’t have any problem with racial issues.

    Lowles advises, “Learning from Civil Rights Movement successes,” saying, “Looking at the successes of the Civil Rights Movement can help us in the fight for racial equality, including here in the UK. One such lesson is the importance of being media-savvy. The civil rights activists in the South were shrewd when it came to the media, understanding that they needed to have a clear understanding of how to frame their narrative and actions to appeal to their intended audiences. Rosa Parks was not the first to physically resist bus segregation when she boarded a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955, but her character, demeanour and the campaign preparations built around her in advance, meant that she would be both a sympathetic person with which to appeal to white America’s conscience.”

    In another example Lowles says, “Martin Luther King held a demonstration in Selma, Alabama knowing it was likely to be attacked under the orders of the local racist sheriff. He just happened to have TV crews on hand to beam the assault into the homes of millions of Americans, including the President. We can also learn a lot from the Movement’s commitment to non-violence. Taking the moral high-ground and refusing to be baited into retaliation, not only preventing the media the ability to frame them as violent extremists, but it only highlighted the brutality of the haters.” Although it appears his actions were instinctive and spontaneous, when Black Lives Matter protester, Patrick Hutchinson carried an injured far-right combatant to safety, he created a really powerful iconic image by refusing to engage with violent resistance saying, “That’s not what we do!”

    Lowles acknowledges that, “Another lesson is the importance of tactics. The Civil Rights campaigners worked hard to try and ensure that they, and not their opponents, shaped the narrative. Today, we campaign against online hate and hate speech, but we’ve become complacent into believing that everyone will understand our rationale and understand why we seek to de-platform extremists and get extremist content removed. Without taking the public on the journey with us, and explaining our actions, we risk appearing as the intolerant suppressors of free speech, thus allowing the far right can paint themselves as free speech martyrs.”

    Lowles also says that, “A further key lesson of the Civil Rights Movement is the importance of positivity, and framing struggles as a hopeful expression of freedom and equality. This is something which HOPE not hate believes in strongly, and why we are called what we are. It is too easy to be ‘anti’, to be against something, but it is so more powerful and inspiring to be positive and for something. This also has the added benefit of appealing to a broader audience, especially people who do not normally identify with political campaigns. As the world looks ahead to the end of the shameful Trump presidency later this week, the lessons taught to us by the civil rights pioneers are more important than ever.”

    Nick Lowles, who is CEO of ‘Hope not hate,’ reports that, “Racism and racial injustice remain deeply engrained in society, but the courage and imagination of Martin Luther King, and the thousands of others who took part in the Civil Rights Movement, make us better equipped to face these challenges today. The HOPE not hate Charitable Trust is marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day by producing the Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement as a magazine and a website, an extensive commemoration and celebration of all those who took part in the Civil Rights Movement, the great many sacrifices and its legacy in the decades that followed.” Hope not hate has made an important contribution to detoxifying the current volatile environment that is being stocked up by our toxic tabloid press. The fact that the PM has never demonstrated the courage to apologize for any of his disgraceful hateful messaging remains a serious impediment to progress; the public must shame Boris Johnson into acknowledging the harm of his racist insults.

    In the Canary Article entitled, “This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let’s not whitewash what he stood for,” they said that, “As we approach Martin Luther King Jr. Day on 18 January, it’s important to challenge the dominant narratives that surround him. His history as a radical, anti-racist, anti-war, anti-capitalist leftist has been whitewashed to produce something more palatable for the mainstream. However, the iconic civil rights leader posed a legitimate threat to America’s white supremacist, militaristic, imperialist, materialistic status quo. King stood firm against the ‘Three Evils of Society’: militarism, materialism, and racism. His non-violent resistance has been misrepresented as colour-blind passivity. But he was committed to fundamental revolutionary change.’ As a true visionary King realized that the struggle for equality wasn’t just about defeating racism, but ending the grinding poverty that subjugated the entire lower strata of American society with discontent manipulated to drive animosity between the races.”

    The Canary say, “Liberal and conservative commentators alike have co-opted King’s memory to discredit the aims and actions of today’s Black Lives Matter movement. Others have used his words to support harmful ideologies of colour-blindness and false unity. These are total misrepresentations of the man who sought to disrupt and dismantle systems of racial, economic, and militaristic oppression. King’s famous ‘I have a dream’ speech has been watered down beyond recognition. In the speech, he praised the ‘marvellous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community’. Regarding events in 1963, when members of Birmingham, Alabama’s Black community rose up against white supremacist attacks, King warned the establishment: ‘This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.”

    The Canary continue the I have a dream speech quote, relating how King had insisted that, “1963 is not an end, but a beginning.
    And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. … The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.’ They say that, ‘Recognising that the establishment didn’t intend to relinquish power, King posited that Black people must seize it. And King’s confrontational politics led the FBI to label him the most dangerous… Negro leader in the country’.”

    But the Canary stress that King was, “Anti-militarism – King was a forthright opponent of American militarism and imperialism. He described the US government as ‘the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today’. In the face of increasingly militarised law enforcement agencies and expansive military campaigns, King’s prophetic words that ‘a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death’ still ring true. In 2018, academic Cornel West highlighted the hypocrisy of warmongering imperialist powers summoning King’s memory.”

    The Canary highlight the fact that, “The history books tend to overlook King’s strong anti-capitalist stance. The minister saw capitalism for what it is, a system that produces a ‘gulf between superfluous wealth and abject poverty’. His Poor People’s Campaign called for the ‘total, direct, and immediate abolition of poverty’. Moreover, his goal was to create a multiracial working-class movement that would pose a serious threat to the establishment. King saw America for what it was, and still is. As Cornel West stated: The radical King was a democratic socialist who sided with poor and working people in the class struggle taking place in capitalist societies… The response of the radical King to our catastrophic moment can be put in one word: revolution – a revolution in our priorities, a re-evaluation of our values, a reinvigoration of our public life, and a fundamental transformation of our way of thinking and living that promotes a transfer of power from oligarchs and plutocrats to everyday people and ordinary citizens.”

    The Canary ask, “Could it be that we know so little of the radical King because such courage defies our market-driven world?
    As the fight against white supremacy, militarism, and economic inequality continues, it’s important to remember that while King stood for hope, he also stood for action. Today’s Black freedom movement stands firmly in King’s legacy, and should be recognised as such. This year, we must challenge the selective amnesia that renders King a passive leader.” They say that, “we must incorporate his holistic, revolutionary approach to change-making in today’s fight against society’s ills.”

    In the Canary Article entitled, “Police chief leaps to defend his force before any investigation into Mohamud Hassan’s death is carried out,” they say that, “The funeral of 24-year-old Mohamud Mohammed Hassan took place on Sunday 17 January.” They remind us that, “Mohamud died suddenly on 9 January after being arrested and held overnight in police custody. Witnesses say that he had been released from Cardiff Bay police station with blood on his clothes and bruises all over his body. According to a close friend, he said: ‘Look fam, the police have beat the shit out of me.’ Before he died, Mohamud told his family that the police had tasered him twice. His cousins said: [Mohamud] stated that he was brutally kicked in the head and suffered injuries to his face and knee- it was dislocated, and he struggled to walk. Witnesses say that he was covered in blood with significant injuries to his mouth. Hundreds of people attended three days of protest last week outside Cardiff Bay police station.”

    The Canary report that, “Chief constable is quick to defend his police force. After mounting pressure from Mohamud’s loved ones and from the public, the chief constable of South Wales Police, Jeremy Vaughan, finally released a statement on 15 January. Mohamud’s case has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to investigate. But Vaughan was quick to defend his force. He said: ‘We did this not because we thought that police officers had done anything wrong, but because it was the right thing to do, to give an independent view on the decisions that we made and the actions that we took. Vaughan also said: The death of Mohamud Hassan was a tragedy and we will continue to offer our deepest condolences to his family.”

    The Canary say, “These empty words must particularly sting Mohamud’s family and friends. Lee Jasper, vice-chair of BAME Lawyers 4 Justice, argues that: [Vaughan’s] sympathy and concern statement is exposed and undermined by the fact that neither he nor anyone else from South Wales Police made any effort to contact family in the immediate aftermath of Mohamud’s death.” They claim that the, “IOPC not reporting the facts,” highlighting the fact that, “A statement released by the IOPC on 12 January stated that: Preliminary indications are that there is no physical trauma injury to explain a cause of death… But Jasper points out that this is unbelievable. He says: ‘This in spite of the fact that they had sight of the interim post-mortem examination report that confirmed Mohamad’s body was battered and bruised.”

    The Canary agree that, “This is selective reporting on their part as the report confirmed that Mohamud had, as his family has consistently stated, suffered some physical trauma including a split lip and numerous bruises consistent with being slammed against ‘hard surfaces’. So why didn’t the IOPC statement report all the facts? The IOPC’s stance is, perhaps, not surprising. A Guardian report on 18 January revealed that: Fewer than one in 10 British police officers found to have potentially committed gross misconduct by the [IOPC] are dismissed. Jasper argues that: ‘On this occasion, it looks like [the IOPC] have conspired to construct a version of events, designed to mislead the public. If that is the case, and it appears to be so, then that is a very grave mistake indeed.’ Chief Constable Vaughan spent at least a third of his statement talking about Covid regulations, and how we should all ‘follow the regulations and guidelines’, presumably in an attempt to guilt us all into not protesting Mohamud’s death.”

    The Canary say, “Jasper argues that this is: a classic divide and rule tactic and attempts to gaslight the black community. Vaughan went on to say that: ‘I need my police officers to be working hard to protect the public, to respond to incidents of domestic violence and abuse, to respond to sexual violence, knife crime and all other forms of violence and hatred.’ Jasper responds by saying: It would seem to me that the simple insertion of knife crime is a either a subliminal or a consciously none-too subtle attempt to use that issue as a dog whistle reference, to conjure up racial stereotypes. At the same time as Vaughan and the IOPC denying any police misconduct, the police are refusing to hand over their bodycam footage to Hassan’s family. Jasper argues: Ironically, the reason why police body cams were introduced in the UK was to provide public reassurance concerning critical policing incidents.”

    The Canary reiterate Jasper’s serious concerns saying that, “It makes no sense in the context of a case causing tremendous anger and anxiety that the Police should withhold video footage from the family. Campaigners are urging everyone to Sign a Petition, demanding the release of bodycam footage immediately. We all need to make our voices heard and make sure South Wales police are held accountable.” In a warped tabloid perspective on the world the Daily Mail misdirected public attention with multiple pictures of a very small group of five London protesters being arrested by police as if they posed a major national threat. Buried in this sea of inciteful images is a brief mention of Hassan. Omni present in all of the featured Media links in a recent Google search, the typical ‘nothing to see here’ police statement: “Early findings by the force indicate no misconduct issues and no excessive force” deliberately detract from the real crime of the horrific cause of Mohamud Mohammed Hassan’s death.

    The Panorama Documentary entitled “I can’t breathe: Black and Dead in Custody” aired on Monday night and it could not be more timely given the recent Hussan incident in Cardiff. This Panorama report was not about Goeorge Floyd or another American tragedy; it focuses on two of the cases here in the UK.. The BBC write up says, “Panorama investigates why black men in the UK are more likely than white men to have force used on them by police and to die in police custody. Reporter Mark Daly follows the family of Kevin Clarke on their search for justice. Mr Clarke repeatedly said, ‘I can’t breathe’ as he was restrained by police on the ground for 14 minutes during a mental health crisis. He died soon afterwards, his words mirroring those of George Floyd, whose death in the US triggered a global debate on race and policing. The programme also reveals fresh evidence in Scotland’s most high-profile death in custody. Sheku Bayoh died in 2015 after being restrained by up to six officers.”

    George Floyd’s death was caught on camera in a shocking piece of video footage that went viral and caused global outrage. All too many US minorities realize that their lives are at risk in situations where police interventions over the most minor suspicion can lead to summary execution at the hands of bigoted officers. These incidents will rarely cause the offending, overly aggressive, police officer’s to risk losing their job, let alone face prosecution, but it’s no better here in the UK where officers close ranks and exaggerate the conduct of their unfortunate victim. While we should all remain committed to non-violence we cannot abandon the necessity to protest and resist oppression. The humanity of Hutchinson who said, “That’s not what we do” as he carried a man to safety beyond the racist brawl the far-right had instigated, should serve as a lesson to us all. While we cannot afford to be goaded into violence we must be allowed to continue protesting injustice. Those critical protest rights are being rapidly eroded here in the UK.

    The manipulation of Covid restrictions is being used to block all types of legitimate protest and this presents a very serious danger to the public. Death in custody is being normalized while protesting violent atrocities is banned and those who dare to protest such gross injustice are being criminalized for doing so. This is a powerful tool in the hands of the dangerous authoritarian regime that the Tory Party has now become. Due to corrupt practices, including use of public funds to pay fake Charity the ‘Integrity Initiative’ to generate defamatory propaganda to sabotage the opposition in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election, the Tories should never have been allowed to come to power. Once the evidence was exposed in a functioning democracy the offenders should be jailed for this offence, quite asside from the highly suspect postal vote scandal yet to be Investigated. Claiming a ‘landslide majority’ of ‘borrowed votes’ there’s now nothing to prevent Boris Johnson from employing deadly force to keep his Tory Sovereign Dictatorship in power! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #65577 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    When the Democratic Party in the US decided to cheat Bernie Sanders out of his rightful place as the Democratic candidate for the second time, once again it was more than just idealistic loyalty that stopped me from voting for the brazen usurper, it was this toxic political track record. I already felt cheated by my Obama vote with his actions as President; I did not want to deal with the guilt of having supported yet another neoliberal warmonger into the whitehouse. One of my concerns about the new US administration is reflected in the Canary Article entitled, “Will Joe Biden’s inauguration launch a new beginning for Israel and Palestine? The Israeli organisation Physicians for Human Rights has issued a statement criticising the Israeli health authority for ignoring the Palestinian people’s increasingly desperate need for the coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine. This is yet another concern adding to the enduring litany of crippling circumstances affecting the lives of Palestinians existing under the stranglehold of Israeli occupation.”

    The Canary ask, “When president Biden enters his, hopefully vandalised free, Oval Office on the 20 January, will he continue on his pre-election well-trodden course that reflects his and Barack Obama’s Middle-East legacy? Having now reached the apex of his political career, he can reside in the comfort of managing the status-quo or go down in history by attempting to resolve the Israel/Palestine issue. Biden has said he is proud to be an ‘Obama-Biden Democrat’ and given their close friendship and political alignment, Obama appointed him as vice-president. This was also due to Biden’s prolonged experience and participation in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations which he chaired. Their Middle-East strategy was illustrated by the appointment of their top Middle-East advisor Dennis Ross, an experienced former advisor to both Bush and Clinton and who was also a stalwart of AIPAC, the leading pressure group in the Israel lobby.”

    The Canary report that, “It has been suggested that such was the influence of Ross on Obama that the diplomat George Mitchell resigned in protest over Ross’ support for Israel’s sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. Ross himself later resigned in support of Netanyahu over the Iran nuclear deal (he is also one of the names associated with the nomination for Biden’s US ambassador to Israel). Obama began his presidential honeymoon period enthusiastically and optimistically by underlining the importance of applying international law to global conflicts. He followed this up in June 2009 with his ‘New Beginning’ speech in Cairo which was seen as a pivotal change from Bush’s American foreign policy edicts and was auspiciously welcomed by many states in the MENA region. But it soon became apparent that it was a lipstick embellishment on his lip service of calling for an end to the illegal construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and for a just solution to the plight of the Palestinian people.”

    The Canary point out that, “This was manifested in 2011 when Obama used his first UN Security Council veto against a resolution opposing Israeli settlements. That decision came as no surprise given that on nine previous occasions since 2000 the US used its veto in defending Israel’s actions. Contradictions continued when the long-standing demand on the Palestinians to reject armed resistance and take the diplomatic route was upended in 2012 when the Obama/Biden administration voted against the UN General Assembly resolution which admitted the Palestine Authority (PA) to the status of a ‘non-Member Observer State’. But perhaps the most egregious action of Obama occurred in 2014 during ‘Operation Protective Edge’ when Gaza suffered an immense military attack by Israel which destroyed much of Gaza’s infrastructure, killing over 500 Palestinian children. During this attack, the US replenished Israeli munitions enabling the continuation of the bombardment.”

    After the failure to close Guantanamo I already felt betrayed by Obama and I would go further than the Canary claim that, “Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded, prematurely,” to say it should never have been awarded at all. The Canary highlight the fact that, “The Obama/Biden school further enhanced Israel’s dominant presence in the Middle-East by rewarding it with an increase in military aid to $38bn over ten years making it, by far, the world’s biggest recipient of US military aid. When Egypt’s first democratically elected government of Mohamed Morsi was overturned in 2013 by a military coup headed by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, this led to violations of human rights with scores of people executed and hundreds imprisoned and tortured for their political opposition. Obama’s initial reaction was to suspend the US’s annual $1.3bn of military aid, but as political pressure mounted in supporting the regime that ended the Muslim Brotherhood leadership, military aid was resumed two years later.”

    The Canary say that, “This in effect was an unwritten agreement for Egypt to protect Israel’s southern border and enhance the siege of Gaza. Obama refused to acknowledge that it was a ‘coup’ as military aid payments would have been an infraction of US congressional law. It was only at the end of his term in 2016 (for fear of a political backlash had it been done earlier) that Obama abstained in the successful UNSC resolution 2334 condemning Israeli settlements. This symbolised his falling gravitas and supine approach throughout his term of office in dealing with Netanyahu. In the 8 years of his presidency, no diplomatic protocol was created whereby any sustainable progression could be made in bringing to an end the escalating Palestinian despondency owing to the draconian occupation by Israel.”

    The Canary report that, “As Biden prepares to enter the White House, will the lessons learnt help lay the foundation for a new Middle-East approach for his forthcoming presidency? While his immediate aim is to eliminate the nuclear ‘threat’ from Iran, it’s ironic that the US refuses to acknowledge the existence of Israeli WMDs but strives for a unilateral solution rather than a bilateral/multilateral approach as practised by East/West diplomacy. In the Middle East, Biden will likely prioritise the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in maintaining Israel’s nuclear weapons hegemony. Biden’s electoral victory was welcomed internationally including by Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority who saw it as a step forward in advancing a peaceful solution. But apart from accepting Trump’s embassy move to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, it would appear that Biden’s support for the Palestinians is more charitable than political.”

    Thankfully the Canary do say of Biden that, “He aims to reverse Trump’s abandonment of humanitarian aid to the Palestinians by recommencing funding to UNRWA, and from USAID, re-open the PLO office in Washington and espouse the platitude of aiming for a two-state solution. While many see this as a step forward, it is a step back, back to square one where he and Obama left off. The Biden administrative appointments are indicative of the direction in which he wants to go. Despite Trump’s support for Israel, his ephemeral administrative appointments generated a fear of mercurial unpredictability for Israel as opposed to Biden’s sedentary well-established team on Capitol Hill with whom Israeli diplomats had long been associated. This includes his proposed secretary of state, Anthony Blinken who served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security advisor in the Obama administration, and worked with Biden on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He is also sympathetic to Israel.”

    The Canary report that, “Likewise, with vice-president elect, Kamala Harris is the standard mode of many US politicians that pay homage to Israel in their address to AIPAC conferences. Here, she gave an anachronistic speech saying that Israel, ‘has truly made a desert bloom’. Because of the right-wing portfolio that Trump had built up, it came with a concomitant progressive reaction and demand from within the Democratic party and a rapidly changing awareness of the American Jewish community on the Palestine narrative. Biden’s appointed team so far does not reflect this growing left-wing influence as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were not invited into his cabinet. In addition to the Abraham Accords, the existing peace treaties between Jordan, Egypt and Israel, the pan-Arab demand for Palestinian justice is seemingly taking a back seat effectively releasing Biden from the pressure to prioritise this in his foreign policy agenda.”

    The Canary report that, “However, this normalisation process is increasingly belittling Israel’s relentless objection to a Palestine state for ‘security reasons’ In 2002, Israel rejected the Saudi promoted Arab Peace Initiative base upon UN resolution 242. The normalisation between Israel and Arab states was conditional on Israel relinquishing their control of the West Bank and Gaza and creating a Palestinian state. Now, with the expanding adherents to the Abraham Accords, the normalisation has no such demand other than a verbal objection to Netanyahu’s threat of annexation in the West Bank. After a meeting between Mahmoud Abbas of the PA and al-Sisi in Cairo in November of last year, it was agreed to hold an international peace conference, supported by the Arab League and the Munich Group (Egypt, Jordan, France and Germany), early in 2021. Netanyahu reportedly plans to meet up with al Sisi in Cairo to discuss it.”

    The Canary say, “There would only be one issue to discuss at such a conference – the two-state option. Israel will never agree to the one-state plan and, for a viable two-state solution, that will depend solely on how much ‘stick and carrot’ Biden will use in getting Israel to agree. With the exception of Eisenhower, every other US president has been debilitated when faced with Israeli intransigence on the question of an agreed two state solution. The US has both unrivalled hard and soft power but does Biden have the will power? As Obama’s Middle-East aims ended in failure, his secretary of state, John Kerry, feeling politically freed, said in his valedictory foreign policy speech in 2016: But here is a fundamental reality: if the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic – it cannot be both… How does Israel reconcile a permanent occupation with its democratic ideals? How does the U.S. continue to defend that and still live up to our own democratic ideals?”

    The Canary point out the hypocrisy, “As the Trump hordes assaulted Washington, those ideals of US democracy were being praised and defended by Biden. How much of this admired sentiment will be universally applied by him especially given his support for a state which enforces the disenfranchisement of a whole people, the Palestinians?” In my estimation the direction of the new President does not look good in other areas as signalled by his top picks so far as Sophie Squire, points out in the Socialist Worker Article entitled, “Biden picks ‘diverse’ cabinet of warmongers and Wall Street’s friends.” She says that, “Joe Biden is stuffing his cabinet with warmongers. President-elect Joe Biden’s first slate of cabinet choices this week was heralded as inclusive and diverse in the liberal press. In reality they show that Biden is trying to turn back the clock to the pro-corporate ‘business as usual’ politics of the Barack Obama years.”

    Squire explains her concerns saying, “Former Democrat presidential nominee John Kerry has been selected to play a new role as the US climate envoy. As Obama’s secretary of state from 2013, he played his part in the extension of imperialist bloodshed across the world. He helped heighten tensions between the US and rival states, including Russia and China.” She says, “Kerry was also instrumental in the escalation of military intervention in Syria. In 2013 he said that ‘the risks of not acting over Syria outweighed the risks of taking action’. Biden has picked Anthony Blinken to be his secretary of state. He became the deputy secretary of state in 2014 during Obama’s presidency, assisting in Kerry’s imperialist sabre-rattling. Blinken is also a consistent supporter of the state of Israel.”

    According to Squire, “He said reversing Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem would ‘not make sense practically and politically’. Blinken, along with others tipped to take up places on the cabinet, is a co-founder of WestExec advisors. The firm gives political advice to clients in big business about making investments across the world. Those who work with WestExec in government don’t call themselves official lobbyists. This means they don’t need to divulge the goings-on of the company or who their clients are. But it has been reported that clients include a major US defence company and Google billionaire Eric Schmidt. Connections.” She says, “another one of Biden’s cabinet picks also has connections to WestExec. Avril Haines was named as director of national intelligence and is also a principal WestExec adviser. Haines is a former CIA deputy director, and backed the Obama drone assassination programme, which killed thousands of people.”

    Squire reports that, “Other picks include Alejandro Mayorkas as US secretary of homeland security. Mayorkas served as deputy secretary at the department under Obama from 2008 to 2013. There he presided over mass deportations and caging children. Obama’s administration saw a record number of deportations. The shattering of hopes in Obama helped clear the way for the vile politics of Trump. So too did Obama’s response to the financial crisis which transferred huge sums of money from workers to the banks and the multinationals. Reinstalling so many of that era’s leading figures will prepare the ground for a further right wing resurgence unless there is a strong left movement. Biden is only a part of the way through naming his whole cabinet. He has confirmed that he is considering picking Republicans to fill spaces on his team. But he won’t need to add Republicans to make this a cabinet of warmongers and supporters of big business.”

    In another Socialist Worker Article entitled, “Biden heralds return to US ‘forever wars,”’ Alex Callinicos points out that, “Biden has voted time and time again in favour of ‘forever wars’.” Written at a point where the outgoing President still had a couple of months to throw his weight around it says, “Donald Trump’s decision last week to cut back US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq was roundly denounced by what Barack Obama called the ‘blob,’ the mainstream national security establishment, whether Republican or Democratic. The same was true on this side of the pond. A very pompous retired general tut-tutted on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme, somehow omitting to mention that the British Army was roundly defeated in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The clever liberal columnist Edward Luce was more honest when he wrote in the Financial Times, ‘Whatever else can be said about Mr Trump’s foreign policy, he did not start new wars (though there are still 60 days to go)’.”

    At the time the US has been braced for a final act of lunacy from the man-baby so Callinicos wrote that, “Luce is right to qualify his remark, Trump is perfectly capable of capping his scorched-earth refusal to accept defeat by starting a war with Iran.” Thankfully that did not transpire, but the assault on the Capitol prompted a joke on Twitter: “Due to Covid travel restrictions the US are holding their coups at home!” Callinicos remarked back then that, “Nevertheless, Trump campaigned against what he called the ‘forever wars’ waged in the Greater Middle East by his predecessors both Republican and Democrats. His successor, Joe Biden, is a ‘forever wars’ man, who voted for the invasion of Iraq and devised a plan to partition the country to quell the resistance to the US and British occupation. He supports the policy, pursued especially by the younger Bush, to use US military power to promote ‘democracy,’ in reality, neoliberalism, around the world.”

    Callinicos reported that, “Gathering around the cabinet Biden is assembling are the kind of hawks who sought to shape Obama’s foreign policy. They include Samantha Power, US ambassador to the United Nations 2013-17, a consistent advocate of ‘humanitarian’ military intervention. She was an architect of the disastrous Nato intervention in Libya in 2011 and tried to persuade Obama to do the same during the Syrian civil war. So did Antony Blinken, a former Biden aide who is expected to become secretary of state or national security adviser. An ex-Obama official says he ‘would be visibly tougher on Russia and more receptive to the idea of ideological competition with China, cranking up a few notches the democracy promotion and human rights dimension of foreign policy’. All this ignores the reality that Trump came out of the failure of the neoliberal imperialism of the preceding decades.”

    Callinicos highlights that, This is brought out by Luce in another column where he laments the US’s lack of ‘strategic thinkers’. He gives the example of the Democratic Party policy intellectual Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was national security adviser to president Jimmy Carter 1977-81 at the beginning of what is often called the Second Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union. Brzezinski made a number of initiatives aimed at weakening Russia. The most important followed the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. He devised the policy of arming and funding Islamist guerrillas to create Moscow’s own Vietnam. The USSR did lose, but out of its defeat came al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and, eventually, ISIS. In a 1998 interview Brzezinski boasted of ‘drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap’. Asked whether he regretted promoting radical Islamism, he retorted: ‘What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire?’”

    According to Brezzinski’s logic the choice was down to “Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?’ Historians now query whether Brzezinski did actually devise this cunning plan. But what matters today is the mentality that the interview reveals. The immense suffering of the people of Afghanistan for more than 40 years now is less important for ‘strategic thinkers’ such as Brzezinski than advancing the ‘world-historical’ interests of the US imperialism. Biden plans to convene a ‘summit of democracies’ next year. The aim here is patently to brigade together Washington’s traditional Western allies, plus additions such as Narendra Modi’s India, to push back against China and Russia. These two rivals, who undoubtedly have taken advantage of Obama’s caution and Trump’s incoherence, will be branded as ‘authoritarian’ threats to liberal democracy. The result could be something closer to a real Cold War. Brzezinski would feel quite at home.”

    I was not cheering when Biden and Harris were sworn in today as I noted all of the disastrous implications months ago when Biden stole the nomination from Bernie. We were left with a bad choice between an unpredictable nutcase and a consistently reliable neocon warmonger, so I chose not to cast a vote. Critically weakened by the twin fallout from Brexit and the impact of Johnson’s shambolic handling of the Covid crisis, the PM will be eager to please the new President, even if that requires following the US into yet another unnecessary round of imperialist aggression. With Sanders in the US and Corbyn in the UK we could have escalated all the major global conflicts, while focusing on a green recovery from the Covid Pandemic to establish Social justice and equality thus setting a shining example of genuine democracy. We cannot passively accept the ongoing corruption of this Tory Government since their fake ‘landslde victory’ in the Covert 2019 Rugged Election; we must Challenge, Investigate and Expose the Truth. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #65632 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Usually the day after Prime Ministers Questions I try to devote my post to what was presented at PMQs, but Trojan horse Starmer squandered four questions nit-picking the police data loss, leading a particularly worthless exchange banter that helped the PM dodge critical responsibility. This was heartily praised by Tory shill Laura Kunnesberg on Politics Live. Tories have got manipulation of this ego-driven Labour Leader down to a fine art, to the point where I can imagine that the Priti Patel ‘leak’ was deployed to deliberately distract ‘forensic’ Starmer, sending him off into the redundant critique woods: the trap worked! The working poor desperately need the opposition parties to exert intense pressure on this selfish, elitist led, Tory cabal to shame them into maintaining the temporary £20 uplift to Universal Credit beyond the fast approaching end date in March. Frozen benefits and a decade of austerity have driven millions into poverty and destitution in the UK.

    There are other legislative priorities over which the Captain of Capitulation has failed to apose this Tory Government. In a Left Foot Forward Article entitled, “Three proposed laws make a mockery of the PM’s claims about ‘Global Britain’,” former Green Party Leader, now a member of the House of Lords, Natalie Bennett elaborates on how, “Three proposed laws are going to see further damage to the UK’s global reputation.” She says, “A year ago, the government initiated the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, the largest of its type since the Second World War, and the way in which Boris Johnson can take the term ‘Global Britain’ deeper than a slogan. It has, inevitably and essentially, been delayed by Covid. That the author, historian John Bew, has a difficult job is a statement of the obvious. But he brings in his background the hope at least of some deeper thinking, some greater historical and evidence-based perspective, than we see in many government efforts at analysis.”

    Exposing that fragile ‘past empire never foggotten’ ego of the UK Tory Government, Bennett elaborates on, “What the rest of the world thinks of us, when it thinks about us at all, is crucial as to what is possible in reshaping our place in the world. We’re not starting from a great place, a point powerfully made by Johnson’s predecessor on the front page of the Daily Mail today. From today, Boris Johnson is vying with Jair Bolsonaro as the most prominent remaining global leader of Trumpism, with the PM’s plan to reverse election promises on international aid. Plus, we have the continuing chaos of Brexit and the world-leading disaster of our Covid-19 death rates. The National Brand Index already has us ranked relatively low for governance.” Unlike the BBC and general Media hysteria over the newly anointed ‘Saint’ Biden I am not anticipating any radical policy making from the new US President who is a hawkish arch neo-con; I worry that he will drag us into another unnecessary war of aggression at some point.

    With this new administration, I wish I could honestly believe that peace, equality and justice will overcome the global challenges we all face. Bennett paints a far more accurate picture of the UK’s place in the modern world, saying of Theresa May’s intervention that, “It presents an unduly glowing view of the UK’s historic position.” Bennett reveals that, “the reality is military adventurism in Afghanistan and Iraq, massive sales of arms into a world already choked with them, City corruption and tax-dodging, the failure to provide reparations for slavery and the treatment of the Windrush generation. All of that will come into new focus in the world of President Joe Biden. That makes it a particular pity that the delay in this review means we can’t be debating and engaging with the Integrated Review, as crucial Bills that will affect profoundly the world’s view of the UK are at or approaching the sharp end in parliament. Three proposed laws, if human rights and rule-of-law campaigners are defeated, are going to see further damage.”

    Bennett focuses on three key pieces of Tory Government legislation, the first is the controversial “Spy cops bill.” She says, “To put them in order of state of progress towards law, I’ll start with the Covert Human Intelligence Sources bill, which has its Third Reading in the House of Lords on Thursday. My fellow Green peer Jenny Jones has described it as allowing police and intelligence spies to break the law with impunity. The Scottish Parliament, to its great credit, yesterday voted to refuse to allow it to apply there. The Lords have inserted some extremely modest improvements to the Bill, but that in no way rescues it from casting ignominy on the UK, and any place in the world as a bastion of the rule of law. Jenny Jones, backed by a handful of crossbenchers, Labour and Lib Dems, but not their parties, has set down a ‘fatal amendment’, to stop the Bill in its tracks. But that parliamentary action won’t succeed, unless Labour and Lib Dem parties line up to back her. This is blow number one to our international reputation.”

    The second to come under Bennett’s eagle eyed scrutiny, “Next up is the Trade Bill. This legislation, and exactly what our trade policies will be, is something the Integrated Review must surely address. We could, as I suggested to the government through an Oral Question last week, line up with the New Zealand-led Agreement on Climate Change and Sustainable Trade.” Bennett points out with hopeful optimism that, “We could become a leader on this, with a highly respected group of countries, in line with our position as the chair of COP26, and show the way towards trade that makes life better rather than trashing the planet and building poverty and inequality.” Bennett wrote about the goals of the “Agreement on Climate Change and Sustainable Trade” in an earlier Left Foot Forward Article. It offers real promise for a sustainable future, but will probably be rejected by this Tory Government.

    Bennett highlights another point, “the immediate issue is with a proposed clause in the Bill, known as the genocide amendment, that aims to create a mechanism by which trade deals with countries engaged in genocide can be ended. It would be an innovative way to stand up to China’s treatment of the Uighur minority. It was beaten, very narrowly, on Tuesday night in the Commons, with more than 30 Conservative rebels. But the Biden administration has now lined up behind the classification of what’s going on in China as genocide. With it now entering ‘ping pong,’ potentially swinging between the Lords and Commons. There’s still a real chance of a victory here, something that would send a message about the UK’s attitude towards Chinese abuse of human rights and the rule of law, in Xinjiang province, in Hong Kong, and around the world. It would be a win for ‘Global Britain’.”

    Lastly Bennett says, “Then there’s the Overseas Operations Bill, which has its Second Reading (first substantive debate) in the House of Lords today. No lesser body than the Equality and Human Rights Commission has described it as ‘harming the UK’s reputation as a global leader on human rights, and weakening our compliance with universal standards’. My inbox is full of briefings: cries of great distress from pretty well every human rights and rule-of-law campaign group you can imagine, and even many military sources opposed to this Bill. We’re at a crunch point. There’s a real risk that even should the Integrated Review come out with a truly transformatory, visionary plan for the UK to become a leading force for peace, democracy and living within planetary limits, we’ve already so badly fouled our own nest, damaged the world’s view of us, that it isn’t possible.”

    Bennett points to, “The House of Lords, as the centre of political resistance in Westminster, is crucial in the coming days.” She rightly describes it as, “a strange situation, and a reminder that if we truly want global security, getting our own house in order, by making the UK a democracy, has to be high up the agenda.” While we seriously need the well informed input of certain extremely knowledgeable people appointed to the Lords to exercise a corrective balance preventing the Sovereign Dictatorship from warping UK legislation, this corrupt PM is fighting back by stacking the second Chamber beyond reasonable limits with his wealthy donors. The sheer scale of new appointees has swelled the House with the PM’s self-serving elitist supporters compliantly rubber stamping the agenda the Tories claimed with their fake ‘landslide victory in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. We must Protest, Challenge, Investigate and Expose the Corruption that produced this result and now allows the Tories to squander public money with impunity.

    In the Canary Article entitled, “Contrary to what you might have read, many people in Cornwall oppose the G7,” Tom Anderson of the Shoal Collective, a cooperative producing writing for social justice and a world beyond capitalism, explains why growing local resistance is hardly surprising. He says, “It’s recently been reported in the mainstream media that the G7 summit will be held in Cornwall this June. The G7 leaders, of UK, US, Germany, France, Canada, Italy, and Japan, will be hosted at the four-star Carbis Bay hotel, complete with spa and beach access. Rooms cost up to £2,500. Media reports have, so far, uncritically focussed on how great the summit will be for Cornwall. But many local residents are angry that the summit has been dumped on their doorstep. The summit will be held just a mile away from St. Ives. Parts of St. Ives have the highest rate of child poverty in the country, with a staggering 36% of children in the town living below the poverty line. Cornwall faces some of the most extreme poverty in Europe.”

    Anderson highlights the fact Cornwall, “…prior to Brexit received European funding due to the levels of deprivation residents face. Meanwhile, local people are priced out of the property market due to the prevalence of second homes and holiday lets. In fact, Cornwall has the highest number of empty and second homes in the country. The business media is already crowing about how the summit will be good for the local economy. For example, the Proactive Investors website wrote earlier this week: Boris Johnson bringing the leaders of the industrialised world together on Cornish soil will no doubt be a temporary shot in the arm for the local economy, and present an opportunity for local businesses to sign banner deals. However, it seems likely that this supposed ‘shot in the arm’ will only be for elite venues like the Carbis Bay hotel. For ordinary people in Cornwall, the summit means a potential occupation by thousands of police and military personnel. Freedom of movement is likely to be significantly restricted for locals.”

    Anderson reports that, “As an event that, in the past, has boasted of 2,400 delegates from all over the world, the summit will clearly bring significant additional risks of spreading coronavirus (Covid-19). The area, having previously had a low infection rate, is now struggling with increasing transmission rates that rival London in some areas. The Canary spoke to a local resident living a matter of miles away from the Carbis Bay hotel who is dismayed at the proposed summit: Contrary to what you might have read in the local and national press, many people in Cornwall oppose the G7. This has been dumped on our doorstep without community consultation and we’re the ones who’ll have to live with the consequences, including a massive police and security operation on our doorstep; an operation which will undoubtedly cause massive disruption to local people.”

    Anderson points out the huge wealth disparity that will be overlooked by this event, saying that, “Cornwall is one of the poorest places in Europe. Behind the facade of beautiful vistas, there is deep poverty. Residents are supposed to be grateful that the G7 will bring money into the area. But it won’t bring investment that will make any meaningful difference to people’s lives. It won’t make a difference to young people who are priced out of the area by second home owners or households struggling to pay the bills or feed their kids. There is no infrastructure in Cornwall. There is one hospital with ICU capacity that is struggling with the pandemic and struggles in the summer. The last thing we need is the world descending on Cornwall, especially in the middle of a pandemic.” This could present a real problem by increasing the spread of Covid in an area particularly ill equipped to deal with it.

    Anderson warns of, “An army of police” descending on the area to deal with the required security. They report that, “The 2005 G8 (which was the current G7 plus Russia) summit at Gleneagles in Scotland cost £90m, with £72m spent on a massive police presence at the event. 10,000 police officers from all over the UK were drafted in to provide security for the event. The military was deployed too, with riot police flown in on Chinook helicopters. Undercover police were deployed to spy on anti-capitalist protesters. Similarly, the 2013 G8 summit in Northern Ireland saw 8,000 police officers deployed, together with mobile water cannons. A four mile long fence was erected around the summit venue. The costs of the 2013 summit totalled £82m, less than half of which was spent within the local economy. Local businesses in Fermanagh, where the 2013 summit was held, said that the event was ‘devastating’ for local tourism, and complained about restrictions on their movement during the summit.”

    Anderson and the Canary offer an accurate description of these sumits as, “A forum for domination by the most wealthy and powerful, saying that, “In the late 1990s and early 2000s, summits like those of the G8 drew the attention of global anti-capitalist movements. Meetings like the 1999 Seattle World Trade Organization meeting became flashpoints between anti-capitalist rioters and the police. In 2005, the G8 came to Scotland, and UK anarchists and anti-capitalists mobilised against it. The Dissent network wrote at the time: G8 stands for group of eight nations. It is an exclusive grouping of the political leaders of eight specific countries. It is not an institution, it has no constitution or charter, and it has no permanent secretariat or headquarters. These are of course the world’s most industrialised, wealthy and powerful States.”

    Anderson explains how, “The G8 began as a group of six countries at a time of significant global economic insecurity in the 1970’s. The leaders of these countries would argue that they gathered, as the leading nations, in order to manage this crisis in the interests of global stability. A stability that of course ensured that they retained their power, with their interests at the heart of the global agenda and this has meant the nudging of the global economy in a direction which reinforces the supremacy of private and corporate interests over democratic and collective ones. (e.g. favouring privatisation, deregulation, capital mobility and the erosion of sovereign control over domestic economies) The membership of the g8 has evolved over time to include the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia [until 2017], Canada and the president of the European Union.”

    Anderson further reveals how, “The scope of the topics of discussion have also evolved from the first, supposedly one-off meeting that focussed on macro-economic policy. Now issues of security, trade, relations with developing countries and other transnational issues and even domestic issues, such as employment have been discussed. It is important to be clear that the G8 Summits are not a policy-making forum. They are a time for the leaders of these states to network and build relationships. They are a time to discuss complex international issues and crises, to allow for a more powerful collective response. The co-ordination of these nations and their unequal influence over international institutions such as the WTO, IMF and G20 ensures that their interests dominate the world order.” In essence the summits are heavily focused on sustaining control of the levers of excessive profiteering at the continued expense, subjugation and exploitation of struggling developing countries in the global south.

    Anderson points out that due to this ongoing injustice, “As such the G8 Summits have always been a focus for protests and counter summits. The G7 stands for exactly the same thing as the G8 did back then. It’s a meeting of the leaders of the world’s most powerful nations, designed to maintain our unequal global capitalist system, where a handful of leaders in the Global North dominate the Global South, as well as the rest of us. The local resident we spoke to said that people have started organising against the summit, although any protests will be dependent on the situation with the pandemic: Local people will resist and we are mobilising against the summit. The fightback is just beginning. Any protests will be pandemic dependent, but as local people we will make sure that it is known loudly and clearly that the G7 is not welcome here. The way the G7 summit has been forced upon the people of Cornwall, during a global pandemic, is a microcosm of our unjust global capitalist system.”

    According to Anderson this is, “A system where the most powerful can turn people’s lives upside down without consultation. Where the police and military are drafted in to protect the few, while ordinary people are forced to navigate security checks and police checkpoints. A system where the fact that extreme poverty exists alongside wealth and luxury is seen as normal. All of this is just another reminder that we need to build a truly democratic alternative to our current system, one where ordinary people have autonomy over their own lives. This democracy does not exist within the walls of Westminster, and it certainly won’t be found at the four-star Carbis Bay hotel. The seeds of it can be found right now in the ways that our communities support each other and continue to defend themselves against capitalism, and it can be seen in the revolutionary struggles being waged globally. If we are ever to move beyond this unjust global system, we must build our power from the bottom up, until it can truly challenge theirs.”

    The facade of respectability allowing Boris Johnson to parade in the ‘Emperors New Clothes’ to impress the most powerful world leaders in the exclusive G7 club ignores the stark reality of the Tory austerity agenda that’s punishing the poor to an even greater extent during the shambolically managed Covid crisis. If Bernie Sanders had taken the position he rightfully deserved as President of the US, he would prioritize eliminating the grotesque inequality that cripples the lives of 99% of Americans just as it exploits the equivalent population here in the UK. The truly shameful criticism from the UN Rapporteur following his analysis of our vanishing social safety net with regard to the disabled and most vulnerable, the fact that UNICEF has needed to intervene to feed children in one of the richest countries on earth, must be urgently addressed. Instead the worthless BBC and alt-right Media tout elite preening events like the G7, while propogating the ‘lev…up’ lie as the PM ‘Decimates Down’ with his Tory boot stomping hard on our necks! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #65727 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    The turmoil of the Covid crisis offers us a chance to select a new future, embracing equality for all throughout the UK, but will the Tory Party destroy that opportunity with renewed austerity under their fake ‘lev…up’ lie banner? In the Left Food Forward Article entitled, “Exclusive: Tory appointments to new Build Back Better Council ‘beggar belief,’ Josiah Mortimer reports on a shameful list; “Members include firms accused of tax avoidance, anti-union practices and fuelling climate chaos. Campaigners have rounded on the Government’s new ‘Build Back Better Council,’ a body entirely made up of business figures, including bankers, oil giants and aviation firms. Trade union figures, social justice campaigners and environmentalists have challenged the total exclusion of worker representatives and climate experts on the new body, intended to ‘unlock investment’ and ‘level up the UK’. The appointments have triggered fears that the post-pandemic recovery could be based on deregulation and handouts to corporations.”

    Mortimer reports that, “The progressive Build Back Better campaign, not linked to government, has been calling for a ‘new deal’ after the pandemic, one which ‘protects public services, tackles inequality in our communities, provides secure well-paid jobs and creates a shockproof economy which can fight the climate crisis.’ But the membership of the Government’s own Build Back Better Council, launched this week, has set alarm bells ringing. The official government press release announcing the launch of the council on Monday led with a quote from BP, despite being ranked as one of the world’s biggest polluters. The UK is hosting the COP26 climate summit this November and Johnson has previously said there’s ‘no time to waste’ in tackling the climate crisis.”

    Mortimer asks is this an “Anti-union government? Tony Burke Unite AGS told LFF it ‘beggars belief’ unions are being excluded from bodies like the Better Business Council: ‘The TUC has proposed a joint National Recovery Council, which the Government has ignored. We have significant expertise in industry and business and I know many employers who agree that it is not just foolish to exclude unions from these bodies, many see it as the Government adopting an anti union position.’ ‘It’s indicative of how they see unions, look at the way they ended the Union Learning Fund,’ he said. He added that the Treaty with the EU refers to a duty to establish ‘social dialogue’ involving unions, as well as in International Labour Organisation Conventions contained in the treaty. ‘There are many precedents for a social dialogue procedure, notably after times of crisis, including national bodies after the wars of the last century, the National Economic Development Council in the 1960s and EU social dialogue in EU treaties’.”

    Mortimer reports that, “Yet unions still have no guaranteed places on the Domestic Advisory body that will deal with the Trade Agreement with the EU,” Burke said. Mortimer describes the, “Recovery for corporations,” saying, “Nick Dearden, Director of Global Justice Now, said: ‘Choosing an oil multinational to front a green industrial revolution suggests that the prime minister has a different definition of ‘building back better’ than the rest of us. ‘British society is coming apart at the seams, the result of decades of deregulation, privatisation and austerity. The pandemic, not to mention the impact of climate change, will make this much worse. We need a green new deal to completely refashion our economy…A mix of toxic trade deals, crony capitalism and further deregulation are as far away from what we need as it’s possible to get,’ Dearden added.”

    Mortimer says that, “Prof Prem Sikka, a member of the House of Lords, told LFF the business council was a ‘gimmick’: ‘The Build Back Better Council has representatives of organisations associated with non-payment of the statutory minimum wage, tax avoidance, illicit financial flows and other anti-worker practices. ‘There is no presence of trade unions and local community organisations. The danger is that the Council will become just another mouthpiece of the right-wing Tory policies… ‘We need radical policies which invest in social infrastructure, new industries, public services, democratise the workplace, advance human rights and redistribute wealth and income to eradicate poverty and improve people’s life chances. Sadly, none of these are on the government’s agenda’ Prof Sikka said.”

    Mortimer says on, “Climate chaos, Connor Schwartz, climate lead at Friends of the Earth, said: “This is a far cry from just two months ago when the Prime Minister announced the need for a green industrial revolution. Instead of listening to fossil fuel companies and airports, the government should turn their ear to the majority of the public who want climate change prioritised in the economic recovery to coronavirus. ‘A great start would be scrapping the £27bn still earmarked for roads, multiplying investment in green technologies, and creating good green jobs in every corner of the country,’ Schwartz told the site. Challenged by Left Foot Forward, the Prime Minister’s spokesman defended the new council, telling journalists that the Government had ‘ongoing engagement with trade unions’.” Josiah Mortimer is co-editor of Left Foot Forward.

    In an Update: “On Tuesday afternoon, Business Sec Kwasi Kwarteng admitted in front of the Business Select Committee that he is reviewing regulations on employment protections, which could include scrapping protections on maximum working hours. Full list of Build Back Better Council members: Isabel Dedring, Arup; Leo Quinn, Balfour Beatty; Stephen Welton, BGF; Rachel Lord, Blackrock; Bernard Looney, BP; Sean Doyle, British Airways; Philip Jansen, BT; Poppy Gustafsson, Darktrace; Penny James, Direct Line; Ronan Harris, Google; Emma Walmsley, GSK; Lord Deighton, Heathrow; Mark Tucker, HSBC; Dame Carolyn McCall, ITV; Thierry Bolloré, Jaguar Land Rover; Dame Sharon White, John Lewis Partnership; Robert MacLeod, Johnson Matthey; Cressida Hogg, Landsec; Nigel Wilson, Legal & General; Vivian Hunt, McKinsey & the CBI; Ron Kalifa, Network International; Karen Jones, Prezzo; Laxman Narasimhan, Reckitt Benckiser; Liv Garfield, Severn Trent; Carl Ennis, Siemens; Martin Murphy, Syncona; Ken Murphy, Tesco; Alan Jope, Unilever; Charlotte Hogg, Visa; Sir Ian Wood, Wood.”

    In the Labour List Article entitled, “Labour movement vows to fight Tory plans to rip up workers’ rights,” Sienna Rodgers says that, “The Labour Party and trade unions have come out today declaring that they will fight reported Conservative government plans to rip up UK workers’ rights now that the Brexit transition period has ended.” She points out that, “The Financial Times has reported that a proposed package of deregulatory measures likely to please many Tory MPs is being put together by the Department for Business, though has not yet been approved by ministers. It includes ending the 48-hour working week, ‘tweaking’ rights to rest breaks at work, not including overtime pay in holiday pay entitlement calculations and scrapping the need for businesses to log detailed daily reporting of working hours.”

    These proposals are what the Americans refer to as a ‘busisness friendly’ work environment that will be transported across the pond and inflicted on our workforce to maximize profit through exploitation. Take just one of these measures, the right to break periods at work. When I worked in the OR at Johns Hopkins, considered America’s top Hospital, I would be left stranded in the scrub position in Surgery for 8, 10 and in the worst case 12 hours solid without a break until I nearly passed out. That was 12 straight hours performing a critical role in transplant surgery without water, food or a chance to pee, let alone sit down; I couldn’t touch anything that wasn’t sterile, so I couldn’t even scratch my nose for 12 hours! You cannot even demand such extreme work conditions of a prisoner of war under the Geneva Convention, but, when I complained about the abuse, I was targeted for removal and, due to ‘At Will Firing’ laws, I was fired as a Whistleblower for protesting negligence that put my unconscious patient at risk.

    As this Tory Government move closer towards their goal of selling off our NHS to powerful US Healthcare Corporations it will throw the door wide open to their extremely exploitative business practices, like the one described above and we can expect the laws on dismissal to be relaxed too. Rogers reports that, “Saying ‘the mask has slipped’ and vowing to ‘fight tooth and nail’ against the proposals, Labour has asked the government to rule out moves that would row back on these specific protections from which UK employees currently benefit. ‘Crucially, while the government speaks in platitudes, there has been no real denial that the specific proposals reported are on the table,’ Ed Miliband said. He added that the policies ‘should not even be up for discussion’. ‘The pandemic has imposed huge hardship on workers and families in our country. We owe it to them to build a better, and more secure future for Britain. The way to do that is not to take a wrecking ball to their hard-won rights, but to build on them.”

    Rogers reminds us that, “The Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady highlighted that the Tories had promised in the 2019 general election to implement ‘the largest upgrade to workers’ rights in a generation’. She said: ‘The government promised that it would strengthen workers’ rights, not weaken them. Working-class voters rely on their precious paid holiday, and safety measures like rest breaks and limits on working time.” The example outlined above recounting my ordeal in the OR occurred during a lengthy Liver Transplant case where my patient was on veno-veno bypass; it clearly demonstrates how dangerous it is to remove these critical workers rights as they increase the likelihood of human error mistakes that can cost lives. Rogers quotes O’Grady saying, “Rather than threatening hard-won rights, the Prime Minister should make good on his promises to his voters. And the best way to do that is to bring forward the long-awaited employment bill, to make sure everyone is treated fairly at work.”

    Rogers reports that, “Unite’s Len McCluskey also joined the criticism, saying: ‘There is immense loss, sadness and uncertainty in our country just now. No decent government would pick this moment to launch an attack on the rights of its citizens. The people who have kept this country fed, safe and supported under unimaginable pressures deserve so much better than to be threatened with the loss of their basic rights. This is a huge mistake by this government.’ GMB acting general secretary Warren Kenny described the changes under consideration as ‘unforgivable’ and pointed out: ‘If ministers are serious about building back better, then that means levelling up on rights at work’.” There is little doubt that the PM and Tory Ministers want us to conform to the so called ‘business friendly’ US model that maximizes Corporate profits. When I was fired without cause, in retaliation for exposing Hopkins Management for not calling in their on call team to stand by for trauma and give me a break, I was a Union member: it didn’t help!

    Rogers reports that the, “Progressive think tank IPPR has called attention to its analysis of the Brexit trade deal last month, which warned that the agreement gave ministers ‘considerable scope to roll back workers’ rights and environmental protections’. IPPR’s Marley Morris has stressed that the measures reported by the FT ‘would risk retaliation from the EU for breaking the ‘level playing field’ commitments in the UK-EU trade agreement,’ including, potentially, tariffs on UK exports. ‘While the agreement does not prevent reductions in labour standards in all instances, it does so where it can be proved that there is an impact on trade or investment between the UK and the EU. This flagrant act of deregulation could meet that test.”

    Rogers says that, “Labour shadow cabinet members Ed Miliband and Andy McDonald have written to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to seek reassurances that he will not adopt the proposals and to apply pressure on the government. The opposition party is emphasising that scrapping the 48-hour working week cap ‘could seriously risk the safety of key workers including hauliers and delivery drivers’ as well as NHS staff who could feel pressured to agree to excessive hours. Below is the full text of Labour’s letter to Kwasi Kwarteng. It begins, Dear Kwasi” alerting him to the, “Workers’ rights regulation” and highlighting the “report in today’s Financial Times states that the government plans to ‘rip up’ worker protections, including the 48-hour week, as part of an overhaul of UK labour markets. It has been reported that the package of measures is being put together by your department.”

    Rogers reports that the letter reminds Mr. Kwarteng that, “Ministers have repeatedly promised that there would be no dismantling of workers’ rights after leaving the EU and Labour will hold them to that promise. We note your response to the piece on social media on 14 January, in which you reiterate this promise and say the Government is ‘not going to lower the standard of workers’ rights’ and further ‘We want to protect and enhance workers’ rights going forward, not row back on them’. In that case, it should be straightforward for you to ease the anxiety that many workers will be feeling as they read about your plans and specifically rule out the proposals to erode workers’ rights on which the FT says your department plans to consult. We would therefore appreciate your response to the specific questions below to provide reassurance to workers and their families across the country.” The list is as follows:

    1. Will you rule out ‘rowing back’ on the 48-hour weekly working limit which keeps workers and citizens safe in key professions?
    2. Will you rule out ‘rowing back’ on the inclusion of voluntary overtime in holiday pay entitlement?
    3. Will you rule out ‘rowing back’ on other changes which might undermine rights to holiday pay?
    4. Will you rule out ‘rowing back’ on any changes to legal rights to breaks at work?
    5. Will you confirm whether there will be a consultation on changes to any workers’ rights derived from the Working Time Directive; and if so when this consultation will be published?”

    Rogers says that the letter concludes by saying that, “Businesses and workers across the country have faced one of the most difficult periods of their life. Many businesses are still deeply anxious about surviving the crisis and many workers are struggling to make ends meet and worried about their health too. Stripping back workers’ rights would reduce living standards and damage our economy. We hope you agree that the government’s priorities must be focused on rolling out the vaccine, securing the economy, protecting jobs and livelihoods, and supporting the safety of workers, not taking a wrecking ball to workers’ rights. Given the worry this will cause people across the country, we request an urgent response.” It is signed. “Yours sincerely, Ed Miliband MP, Shadow Business Secretary; Andy McDonald MP, Shadow Employment Rights Secretary.”

    It has been said throughout history that “An Englishman’s word is his bond,” so just how patriotically British are the Tories when it comes to their promises? In reality the devious elite have propagated this sporadically honoured myth regarding trustworthiness to grease the wheels of negotiation, but the Tories have publicly stated a commitment to breaking a signed treaty! It is easier to ‘Decimate Down’ on the working poor if you can convince them of the opposite! In the Labour List Article entitled, “Ministers must not break their promise to protect and enhance workers’ rights,” Tim Sharp reminds us that, “This government went into the last election having promised to protect and enhance workers’ rights. But reports in today’s Financial Times suggest that rules around holiday pay and working time could be ditched as part of a labour law overhaul. Make no mistake. This is not minor tinkering. Hard-won protections relied on by workers for years, particularly those in insecure jobs, could be in jeopardy. So what is at risk?”

    According to Sharp, “Holiday pay appears to be at the top of the chopping list. Under EU law, workers are entitled to four weeks’ holiday pay a year, which UK law bumps up to 5.6 weeks by adding bank holidays to the count. But workers have had to take court cases to force employers to include overtime and commission payments in their calculations. Judging by today’s leaks, these protections, which are particularly important for those working shifts or irregular hours, could be among the first to be rolled back. Other working time rules designed to protect workers’ health and safety are also under threat. These ensure that workers can rest between shifts, receive meal breaks and should have a working week of now more than 48 hours. They are crucial for health and safety. Despite these safeguards, there is still evidence that UK workers put in more hours than elsewhere in Europe. It’s completely bogus to say that removing them will boost productivity.”

    Sharp warns that, “Agency workers are another vulnerable group. Rights based on EU law aim to ensure such workers receive equal treatment on pay, holidays and working time after 12 weeks in the job. They are also granted equal access to facilities like toilets and canteens. Last year the government finally closed a loophole that allowed some employers to pay agency workers less than permanent staff. Watering down these rights would be a sop to bad employers who want cheap labour. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was quick last night to reiterate his commitment to ‘protect and enhance’ workers’ rights. But workers have a right to be wary. Kwarteng was also a co-author, with others now in government of the notorious Britannia Unchained pamphlet that proclaimed: “Once they enter the workplace, the British are among the worst idlers in the world.”

    Sharp claims that, “The public want stronger rights at work. After the last election, the TUC conducted a 3,000 poll of voters. The findings on workers’ rights were crystal clear:
    • Nearly three-quarters (73%) of voters said the government must protect and enhance current workplace rights guaranteed by the EU, like paid holidays and rights for temporary and agency workers.
    • This was supported by two-thirds (65%) of people who voted Conservative in 2019, and by eight in ten (79%) of those who switched from Labour to the Conservatives.
    • The vast majority of voters (71%) also wanted new rights for gig economy workers, including the majority (65%) of Conservative voters and those who moved from Labour to the Conservatives during the election (78%). There is clearly no public appetite – especially among ‘Red Wall’ voters – for any watering down of rights at work.”

    Sharp calls this a, “Time for action.” He demands that, “To allay workers’ fears, the government needs to back up his fluffy rhetoric with action. The Queen’s Speech straight after the last election promised an employment bill. It is time for the government to bring this legislation to parliament. If it is short of ideas, the TUC has a few:
    • Ban zero-hour contracts
    • Make flexible working a day one right
    • Ten days’ paid carers’ leave
    • Ethnic minority pay gap reporting
    • Trade union access to workplaces”

    Tim Sharp, who is senior policy officer at the TUC, says that, “The country is going through the worst crisis in generations. Many insecure workers, including care workers, delivery drivers and shop staff, have been at the forefront of keeping society going. Ministers need to put a marker down that the country won’t repeat the mistakes of the last downturn in 2008 and allow insecure, bad jobs to spring up in the place of good ones. Some ministers might want to forget the government’s promise about enhancing workers’ rights. But trade unions will not let them.” We need to fight tenaciously to maintain workers rights while our Unions still have the power to make a difference; in the US Unions have few powers to protect workers when ‘At Will Firing’ means loss of all job security and Healthcare tied to employment is instantly removed. The Covert 2019 Rigged Election gifted the Tories a majority to implement ‘business friendly’ laws in the UK; we must Protest, Challenge, Investigate and Expose the truth: Get The Tories Out! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #65839 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    The other day there was a hopeful sign of realism from this Tory Government who appear so determined to strangle the life out of ordinary working people in this country, but it was soon discounted as a costly delusional fantasy. Whoever had boldly floated that balloon of bailout, it was soon burst by Ministers griping about how an unconditional payment of £500 to those who test positive for Covid, allowing them to isolate, would simley encourage fraudulent claims. We, the British public, are not entitled to question the squandering of grotesque amounts of unaccountable public funds paid out to the real benefit fraudsters in the UK by this Tory Party with their billions in bribes to buddies: payback, rewarding the donations and support that enabled this corrupt cabal to secure their highly suspicious ‘landslide victory’ in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. Still ‘no questions asked;’ when will we finally Investigate that dubious result, that has led to so much more corruption? The Tories now feel free to function beyond scrutiny and the law!

    The hastily denounced ‘mad’ idea of that £500 payment was investigated by Ben Chu in the Independent Article entitled, “Should everyone with a positive Covid test be given £500 to self-isolate?” He says, “The government has rejected the idea of giving automatic payments to Covid sufferers to encourage them to self-isolate. But what other financial options are there, if not this, for minister to encourage adherence to the rules? In response to the concerns that many people are failing to self-isolate for 10 days when they get Covid, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, has apparently been pushing for the government to give a one-off and automatic £500 payment to everyone who displays a positive test. The prime minister’s spokesperson says the government has ‘no plans’ to adopt the policy and sources at the Treasury seem to think it is a ‘mad’ idea.” But, Chu asks, “should ministers be resisting the proposal? What other financial options are there, if not this, for the state to encourage self-isolation?”

    Chu says, “It’s important, first of all, to consider whether a lack of money is the reason for the lack of compliance with the isolation requirements, or (just as dangerous) a hesitancy among some to get tested in the first place. We have no definitive evidence to support this, but a large-scale study by researchers at King’s College London in September 2020 did find that low adherence to isolation requirements (just 18 per cent reported doing fully self-isolating) was associated with financial hardship. And it’s a reality that our Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) regime is among the least generous in the world at just £95.85 a week, only a fifth of average earnings. A survey by the Trades Union Congress also published last September found 43 per cent of workers saying they would not be able to live on the current levels of SSP for 10 days. And that’s assuming they would qualify for it. SSP is only available to those who earn an average of £120 per week and to those who are formally employed, leaving out the roughly 14 per cent of the UK workforce which is self-employed.”

    Chu reports that, “The government did introduce special Test and Trace Support Payments worth £500 last September, but they are only available to people on benefits and who cannot work from home. Councils have been given discretionary pots of money to distribute to those formally ineligible for the £500 payments on a case-by-case basis, but these pots have not, in many cases, been large enough, meaning that in parts of the country a majority of applicants have been turned down. Indeed, information from councils shows three quarters of all the 49,877 applications in England were rejected in the final two months of 2020. ‘The amount of money local authorities got was not dependent on the number of infections in their area, it just depends on the typical formula for giving out money,’ explains Mike Brewer of the Resolution Foundation. So it’s at least highly plausible, if not likely, that a lack of state financial support is discouraging self-isolation and, indirectly, exacerbating the spread of the epidemic.”

    Chu asks, “But is this particular £500 automatic scheme proposal the right way to change the balance of incentives? Some have noted the cost, which could run into hundreds of millions of pounds a week at the current rates of positive tests (more than 280,000 over the past week). But it’s vital to consider the benefits too. If the payments helped the state to suppress the virus sooner, these payments would be dwarfed by the economic benefits. In the Office for Budget Responsibility’s downside scenario from November long-term UK economic scarring from high economic restrictions until the middle of this year is 3 percent of GDP or around £60bn. Medium restrictions until Spring would result in no scarring at all. If isolation payments help the government suppress the disease more rapidly and reopen the economy sooner this will almost certainly be an investment that will pay for itself many times over.”

    Chu then raises the point Tories, obsessed with the meager potential for benefit fraudsters, simply cannot bear to contemplate. He writes, “However, some have wondered whether a one-off £500 payment could create perverse incentives. Given the size of the payment relative to average wages (the median weekly average salary was £585 in 2019), some low earners might, conceivably, be tempted to deliberately expose themselves to the disease to secure it. Whether this would be a large problem, given the serious health risks, is debatable. But if we accept, hypothetically, that it is a danger, what other options are there?” In a typical stubborn Tory refusal to accept reality, driven by selfish elitist greed, the very thought of assisting the undeserving poor is anathema to them. The PM would rather squander all of that borrowed Covid cash on ‘Tallyho Harding’s’ dysfunctional Test and Trace program, that still doesn’t work, or he could announce another ‘world-beating’ moonshot fiasco: Tories will ‘cut off their nose to spite their face!’

    Chu examines an alternative saying, “One possibility, as recommended by the Resolution Foundation, is allowing firms to put workers required to self-isolate on the furlough scheme, where the government picks up 80 per cent of the wages up to a £2,500 a month cap. Yet the problem here is that a minority of employers seem to be unscrupulous. Research by the Royal Society for Arts found that many workers had been pressured back into their workplace, and one in 10 of those doing insecure work, such as zero-hours contracts and agency or gig economy jobs, reported they had been to work within 10 days of a positive Covid test. So relying on employers might in itself be hazardous. There’s also the problem that only formal employees can be furloughed, leaving out the large population of self-employed.” To this Tory Government, unconditionally shelling out more money to employers would be far more palatable, despite the risk of fraud or the possibility that they will further exploit their staff through ‘fire and rehire schemes.’

    Chu reports that, “The trade unions have been calling for most of the past year for the level of SSP to be considerably raised. This would help improve financial incentives, but it would probably not be sufficient on its own as this scheme too is administered by employers. A comprehensive scheme to support self-isolating workers would clearly need to support both employees and the self-employed. The simplest method of reaching the latter, in the end, might be simply to make the Treasury funds available to councils to distribute £500 to those deemed to be in need unlimited. ‘It must be possible to devise something between the current very restrictive [system] and payments to everybody’, says Mr Brewer. What frustrates analysts is that it’s taken the government so long to start addressing what has been a glaring weakness in the system for almost a year. ‘The annoying this is that it’s January now, it’s been going for 10 months and the government hasn’t given this any more thought than they did in the first week,’ says Mr Brewer.”

    The Tories will never stop skimming off the cream while leaving the rest of the milk to sour. The reality of the Pandemic, not just Covid, but any pandemic, is that those deemed unworthy of care and support will establish a fertile breeding ground for a resistant highly infectious mutant strain capable of decimating the entire population. That has always been the Achilles heel in the US with its lack of access to affordable Healthcare, compulsion for forcing people to work while sick, threadbare social safety net and high levels of poverty, homelessness and destitution. The decade of Tory austerity sought to emulate the US by instituting all of the most serious critical flaws that leave their population so vulnerable; luckily Covid hit before they could manage to fully privatize and sell off our NHS! Forcing people to work while sick remains a driving force in the UK crisis; the Tories have yet to complete the dismantling of our social safety net, but they had certainly prioritized this agenda before the pandemic disrupted their plans.

    Early on in the Covid crisis, the elderly in Care Homes were deliberately exposed, a vulnerable sector of the ‘economically inactive’ population was considered ‘expendable’. While the PM lied about ‘putting arms around’ our seniors in reality they were left trapped, neglected and abandoned by the state, because the Government knew their ‘Holocaust in Care’ would cull this sector of pension collectors from the benefit roster! Younger people struggling with disabilities, still in receipt of legacy benefits like Employment and Support Allowance, represented another ‘expendable’ prime target for the Tory ‘Slaughter of the Sheeple’ as these benefits were not uprated. Not that it wasn’t necessary and long overdue – it’s still a mystery to me why the Tories hiked Universal Credit by £20 a week. I think they were concerned that their dirty little secret about the amount not being sufficient to live on was about to be felt by a much broader segment of the population and they feared a huge backlash, but they still retained the five week waiting period.

    This sounded like uncharacteristic generosity when Rishi Sunak was first splashing the cash, but it barely compensated for the years of frozen benefits while the cost of living continued a steady climb. Now it’s proving harder to shake loose from a temporary uplift as it would plunge recipients into greater poverty than is already proving unsustainable; under intense pressure from all sides the Government have begrudgingly allowed piecemeal extensions to the increase. In the Labour List Article entitled, “Labour to force vote on Universal Credit as PM hints planned cut will go ahead,” Sienna Rodgers reveals that, “Labour is set to force a vote in the House of Commons on Monday over the impending cut in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits that will cause families to lose over £1,000 a year amid an ongoing pandemic.”

    I have never bought into the ridiculous ‘borrowed votes’ lie that the Tories used to con the British public into believing that former Labour voters were so fixated on Brexit that they had forgiven the hardship of a decade of hardship, deprivation and neglect to vote for Johnson. Rodgers reported that, “Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: ‘Under the Conservatives, families come last. The government’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic means Britain is facing one of the worst recessions of any major economy. ‘Boris Johnson’s decision to cut Universal Credit will hit millions of families who are already struggling to get by. There cannot be another repeat of the government’s indecision and mismanagement of the free school meals scandal. ‘The government must put families first during this lockdown and act now instead of waiting until the last minute. If ministers refuse, Conservative MPs have the opportunity to vote with Labour and give families the support they need to get through this pandemic’.”

    According to Rodgers, “The plan for a vote comes after Boris Johnson hinted on Wednesday that the cut would go ahead. He told the parliamentary liaison committee: ‘I think that what we want to see is jobs. We want to see people in employment. We want to see the economy bouncing back. I think most people in this country would rather see a focus on jobs and a growth in wages than focusing on welfare. But clearly we have to keep all these things under review.’ He did not acknowledge that Universal Credit is received by people in work. There were 5.7 million people in receipt of the social security payment in October last year, of which 2.2 million – 39% – were employed.” In essence a significant proportion of Universal Credit is actually supporting Corporate giants in their exploitation of the workforce who subsist on pitance pay working zero hours contracts that do not provide a living wage.

    Rodgers also highlighted another neglected sector, saying, “When Labour’s Stephen Timms raised the issue of legacy benefits not being uprated in line with UC during the pandemic, Johnson replied: ‘We want everybody to move on to Universal Credit. It’s a successful system.’ Timms had to point out that disabled people can receive a severe disability premium that is not taken into account by Universal Credit. For many people, moving to UC voluntarily would entail significant losses in income. As highlighted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, those who opt to make the switch instead of being moved by the government via ‘managed migration,’ which is paused during Covid, would miss out on transitional payments. The Department for Work and Pensions has repeatedly claimed throughout the pandemic that changing legacy benefits in the same way as Universal Credit was altered would be ‘more complex’ due to ‘old’ IT systems.”

    Rodgers reports that, “UC was increased by Rishi Sunak in March due to Covid. Although the pandemic is not over, the uplift is set to end in April and the Chancellor will not confirm whether this will go ahead or not until the Budget in March. The Child Poverty Action Group has said the uplift is essential to ensure ‘low-income families with children receive the support they need’. The JRF has warned that another 200,000 children could be pushed into poverty. Polling in December showed that a majority of the British public support the policy of keeping the Universal Credit uplift introduced amid the Covid crisis and would like to see claimants continue receiving an extra £20 a week. According to the poll conducted by Survation for Unite the Union, 54% of UK adults believe that the increased standard allowance in Universal Credit should be extended beyond April, while 28% disagree.”

    Rodgers says, “The research suggested that 40% of those who voted Conservative in the last general election back the policy of keeping the uplift and 70% of 2019 Labour supporters are in favour of the increase remaining in place. Labour demanded five urgent changes to the social security system in April, from converting Universal Credit advances into grants instead of loans to removing the savings limit and suspending the benefits cap.” Rodgers has included a list of who is sponsoring the Bill: Keir Starmer; Jonathan Reynolds; Anneliese Dodds; Angela Rayner; Bridget Phillipson and Mr Nicholas Brown. The full text of Labour’s opposition day motion reads: “Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit – That this House believes that the government should stop the planned cut in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit in April and give certainty today to the six million families for whom it is worth an extra £1,000 a year.”

    In the December 2020 Labour List Article entitled, “Labour demands action as report shows ‘appalling’ rise in destitution,” Elliot Chappell details this shocking problem. He says, “Jonathan Reynolds has called on the government to provide more support for families struggling over the winter this year following the publication of a new report showing an ‘appalling’ rise in the number of people facing destitution. Responding to a report released by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Labour frontbencher reiterated the party’s demands for urgent changes to be made to welfare to better support families facing hardship in the pandemic. The analysis by the charity found that destitution rose by 54% between 2017 and 2019 and that 2.4 million people, including over half a million children, were experiencing ‘extreme hardship’ before coronavirus hit the country.”

    Chappell says, “Commenting on the report published by the organisation today, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary declared: ‘No child in Britain should be hungry or without essentials. The government must do more to support struggling families who are facing real hardship this winter. They must see sense and scrap the planned cut to Universal Credit, which will take £20 a week from six million families.’ According to the analysis from the JRF today, one in seven people – 14% – experiencing destitution were in paid work, and the phenomenon became more concentrated in the northern regions over the two-year period. The report identified inadequate benefit levels and debt deductions, particularly the repayable Universal Credit loan many people are forced to borrow to cover the five-week wait for the benefit, as key drivers of destitution.”

    Chappell says, “Reynolds added: ‘We urge the government to end the disastrous five-week wait, which is pushing people into debt, as well as increase support for those on legacy benefits, such as carers and disabled people, who have had no additional support throughout this crisis.’ Claimants can apply for a Universal Credit loan to see them through the five-week waiting period for the benefit payments to begin. But this is repayable via deductions to the subsequent payments that an applicant receives. The number of people on the benefit has more than doubled over the course of the pandemic, with 5.7 million people in receipt of Universal Credit in October. Around 1.3 million claimants were issued with loans between March and June. Labour urged the government to make five changes to the social security system earlier this year, including scrapping the five-week wait. Food bank network Trussell Trust has called for a freeze to the deductions from payments.”

    Chappell reports that, “Labour warned that recent figures, showing that half of all households visiting food banks have struggled to afford essential goods as a result of repaying debt accrued through the benefit, is a sign that Universal Credit is ‘clearly failing’. Commenting on the research released by JRF this morning, director of the organisation Helen Barnard said: ‘It is appalling that so many people are going through this distressing and degrading experience, and we should not tolerate it.’ She added: ‘We can and must do more. The pandemic has shown just how much we want to look out for each other in difficult times, but the sobering truth is that even before Covid-19 hit, the number of people in destitution was rising sharply.’ Barnard said the current welfare system is not doing enough to protect people and called on the government to confirm that the £20 uplift to Universal Credit, granted by the government in March, will not be cut from April next year.”

    Chappell reminds us that, “The government raised the standard allowance for the benefit by £20 a week for a year. This resulted in an income rise of just over £1,000 per year, with the rate for a single claimant over the age of 25 up from £317.82 to £409.89 per month. But the measure is only set to last for 12 months and the increase is due to be cut next year. Despite calls from charities and Labour to retain the uplift, Rishi Sunak remained silent on the benefit during his spending review last month. The report released by the charity this morning is the third in a series of ‘destitution in the UK’ studies, published every two years by the foundation and undertaken by Heriot-Watt University. It consists of a survey taken at the end of 2019 and interviews with 70 people in spring 2020. A household is considered destitute when it cannot afford two or more of the essentials needed to survive, such as food and shelter.” We all pay into the system, but far too many are denied access to the benefits they have paid to sustain.

    People tend to forget about all the time spent in work and paying taxes, that our benefit system is built on those funds, intended to function as an insurance policy that pays out when we require support for whatever reason including retirement. Lifting the tax free allowance doesn’t eliminate the universal burden of VAT, levied across the board on groceries and bills, that the poor are least able to pay. Due to ruthless austerity cuts and the cruel work capabilities assessments of Tory Governments this vital social safety net has been manipulated to inflict eternal poverty on the exploited working poor by trapping them in perpetual debt and destitution, regardless of how hard they work. While an appeal might claw back support money that should rightly have been paid, it remains a grueling process that some claimants sadly do not survive. We have allowed the alt-right to enlist the tabloid press in demonizing the deserving destitute as worthless scroungers, while obscenely wealthy ‘Elite Cheats’ trouser our society’s collective wealth!

    Meanwhile powerful Corporate tax dodgers and the corrupt wealthy elite, who blatantly defraud the public out of billions, are able to negotiate a settlement that reduces the amount they have managed to cheat or embezzle from the system over a period of years. Why doesn’t the Government go after these really serious ‘Elite Cheats’ to recover huge bonuses paid out to CEOs right before they abandon their subcontractors, workers and pensioners? Infamous pension-pot pilferer, Philip Green will not be paying off his debt in full, but the people whose retirement fund he plundered will suffer the loss. The Government was still awarding lucrative contracts to Corporate giant Carilion right up to the point where it collapsed under the weight of excessive greed: a much needed Hospital languishes awaiting completion. The public funds this Tory Government continue to siphon off, to lavish on dysfunctional projects and corrupt supply chains, will cement their ruthless authoritarian regime in power for decades; we must derail that gravy train! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #65940 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    In the Canary Article entitled, “Assaults on democracy come in many forms – not just storming the Capitol,” they say, “The storming of the Capitol in the US by a white supremacist mob, egged on by the white supremacist-in-chief Donald J. Trump, has rightly seen calls for concern around the state of US democracy. However, some of these concerns also have legitimacy closer to home in the UK. Some threats to democracy are far more subtle and insidious than recent events in Washington, D.C. As part of our #factofthematter series, The Canary has been monitoring policy reviews and changes of electoral processes in the UK. As we’ve already covered, the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) is currently reviewing the financial regulation capabilities of the Electoral Commission. The Commission is also under review by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC). These reviews, while presented with much political jargon, are very important for the work of free and fair elections.”

    The Canaty explain, “The Nolan Principles” saying that, “The CSPL has recently turned its attention to the importance of the Nolan principles to maintaining public trust and understanding in politics. The principles are a guideline in the ministerial code and involve: Selflessness; Integrity; Objectivity; Accountability; Openness; Honesty and Leadership. In a recent blog post, the chair of the CSPL lord Jonathan Evans outlined that the Nolan principles are a guideline for public life and contribute to maintaining high standards of integrity: Imagine a democracy without ethical standards. A political system where there are free elections, but where those elected make decisions solely in the interests of their supporters or paymasters; where public funds are systematically diverted to private purses; or where policy is sold to the highest bidder. Such a corrupt system is not democracy in any real sense. Democracy means more than just an elected dictatorship.” Sadly te UK now has a fraudulently elected ‘Tory Sovereign Dictatorship.’

    The Canary point out, “But political cronyism has seen just that, government contracts handed out without tender, ministers’ friends benefiting from their associations, and peerages handed out to associates.” I cannot for the life of me think of a single one of the Nolan principals that this Tory Government hasn’t already violated in spades and with growing impunity. “The Canary spoke with campaign group Unlock Democracy’s director Tom Brake, who cited problems with enforcement of the Nolan principles: ‘I would say that the Nolan principles are very hard to enforce and unfortunately there is evidence that the Nolan principles are not being observed. The Nolan principles are, in effect, reflected in the ministerial code of conduct, for instance, which quite clearly states that things like transparency, integrity, honesty, and so on, are things that all ministers should observe at all times.”

    The Canary focus on Brake’s observations exposing key flaws in what is essentially an honour system, saying, “But the ministerial code recently has become something that is simply not enforced. The enforcement rests solely with the Prime Minister, and he has chosen not to enforce it. If the principles are difficult to enforce, their use must be questioned. Brake continued: ‘There is another weakness with the ministerial code, and that is the ministerial code, of course, applies to the Prime Minister, but the Prime Minister is responsible for enforcing it. So if the Prime Minister breaches the ministerial code, it seems unlikely that he or she would enforce it against themselves. I think that’s a fundamental flaw in the ministerial code and there are strong arguments in Unlock Democracy’s view that that process should be something that has an independent element to it in terms of the enforcement.”

    The Canary highlight that, “Enforcement of the Nolan Principles doesn’t currently rest with an independent regulator. Instead, the principles are an ethical code of practice which governments can choose to comply with or not. The structure of the UK Parliament makes this issue more complex. In his blog post, Evans claims that standards of behaviour are important but: it’s more complex for those in elected office who owe their positions to the democratic choice of their electors,” admitting that, “’I suppose I should add that it is even more complex for Members of the House of Lords like me who are neither employed nor elected…’ The House of Lords is the second chamber of UK parliament and features unelected officials who gain entry by appointment. The tail end of 2020 saw renewed criticism of Boris Johnson with accusations of ‘chumocracy’. Analysis from the Guardian found that: Almost a quarter of peerages awarded this year have been to Conservative party donors, close associates or former colleagues of Boris Johnson.”

    Brake told The Canary that: “We are now unique in the world in terms of having a second chamber that legislates that is unelected, and it continues to grow. It’s now bursting with people placed there. Most recently, as you’ll know, someone placed there who the Prime Minister was advised not to put forward, but chose to anyway. We have a House of Lords which is bursting to the seams with people who have supported the different political parties and is an anachronism that most people think should have been dealt with 50 or 100 years ago, if the storming of the Capitol portrayed a negative impression of US democracy, then I’m afraid that the House of Lords continues to do the same for UK democracy. Evidently, erosions of democracy don’t always come in the form of domestic terrorists invading government buildings. The Nolan Principles could be useful standards for ensuring fairness in the UK electoral system. But, as Brake argues, more work is necessary to ensure a robust democracy in the UK.”

    “What can we do? The Canary has been following the CSPL’s review of the Electoral Commission (EC), and has seen that several campaign groups laid out their concerns in the public consultation. Fair Vote UK, an NGO campaigning for fair elections, and Open Rights Group (ORG), an NGO campaigning around freedom and digital rights, told the consultation that: The laws creating the Electoral Commission were written in the pre digital age and a time of different campaigning norms. Campaigning innovations incubated in the USA are now commonplace in the UK. Regulation must evolve to meet them. For example, we live in the era of ‘permanent campaigns’, with political parties advertising on social media all year round. As a result the current rules narrowly defining election periods and corresponding spending limits are outdated. They should be replaced with per-annum spending limits, with fresh spending limits imposed again once an election has been called.”

    The Canary report that, “Fair Vote UK and ORG suggest: ORG and Fair Vote UK support the creation of a body, the Office for Election Integrity, that would coordinate the work of the relevant regulators. It is clear from the elections of recent years that not only do the responsibilities of several regulators overlap in this space, no single regulator can currently sufficiently regulate it.
    Such a suggestion is indicative of the growing calls to give more investigatory and regulatory power to the EC. The Brexit Referendum from 2016 and the 2017 and 2019 general elections were all beset with allegations of disinformation.”
    They report on, “Threats to electoral regulation,” saying that, “The Conservative position on the EC, however, is somewhat different, as Brakes argued: When the vice chair of the Conservative Party submits evidence that says there are circumstances in which we will abolish the Electoral Commission if it doesn’t do what we say it should do, then that means there is a threat to the Electoral Commission.”

    The Canary report that, “We know that even though the Electoral Commission has acted impartially and it has fined all the political parties, not just the Conservative Party, for their breaches of the rules…it seems to be the Conservative Party in particular that has an apparent grievance against the Electoral Commission. Now the EC may well need reform that equips it to deal with digital campaigning. But nonetheless, any threat to its independence is grave. Indeed, Brakes warned: If we needed any evidence of the need for there to be a very strong, impartial, independent body able to oversee our elections we can go across the pond and see what’s happened in the US where what we may need in the UK in the future, and I hope this isn’t the case, but what we may need is an independent body like the Electoral Commission that can…provide evidence that our elections are fair and have been conducted properly, because that is clearly the Electoral Commission’s role.”

    “An EC spokesperson told The Canary: As the regulator of political finance, the Commission’s role is to provide assurance that there is a level playing field for all parties and campaigners, and that political finance is transparent and consistent with the law. Our independence is paramount to this work and to ensuring fairness, trust and confidence in our democratic processes. The EC’s full response to the public consultation can be found here. Its spokesperson did emphasise that it was open to reform in view of a commitment to democracy: The functions of the Commission are vital to the integrity and transparency of elections. We are always open to feedback from our stakeholders and keen to build and maintain trust and confidence. We are receptive to change, including where reforms can deliver greater oversight and scrutiny of the Commission on behalf of parliaments and voters, while maintaining our independence.”

    The Canary point out that, “These campaign groups and their current work reveal much about the state of democracy in the UK. Independence and reform of the EC, according to campaign groups, are vital to a free and fair democracy that works for all. Let’s hope the Tories don’t get in the way of that.” The privatization of the Electoral process, coupled with zero possibility for EC oversight of the companies involved with this operation, now means that the integrity of our Elections can no longer be guaranteed; it is wide open to industrial scale fraud. Idox, the same company who exert almost total control over the Postal Vote Management program used throughout the UK, also created a Canvassing App to help political parties target their supporters. You must be blind as a bat and way too trusting not to recognize the inherent danger in placing so much unaccountable power in the hands of a Corporation with strong links to the Tory Party! But when the Tories claimed a miraculous ‘landslide victory’ no questions were asked!

    In the Byline Times Article entitled, “Blinding Exceptionalism The Insidious Attacks on British Democracy Are No Less Dangerous than Trump’s America. Security forces respond with tear gas after President Donald Trump’s supporters breached the US Capitol on 6 January 2021. Hardeep Matharu explores why the attacks on the rule of law and accountability by Boris Johnson and his Government are not interpreted to be as alarming for the UK as the more overt destruction being waged by Donald Trump in America. No one thinks it could happen here. Britain is not America, India, Brazil or China. Authoritarianism and fascism are the ideologies we fought against and won two World Wars over. We are the mother of Parliaments, the cradle of the rule of law. Our justice system is second-to-none. In this heroic and exceptional formulation of ourselves lies the key to why Britain’s democracy is so vulnerable, by Boris Johnson and forces beyond.”

    Matharu says, “To forget one’s vulnerabilities is to stare at the shadows in the cave, convinced that whatever fallibility touches others cannot touch us. In a way, it is a vital act of survival, the distractions and delusions that get us through the day, what T.S. Eliot summed up aptly with: ‘Humankind cannot bear very much reality.’ But it is also a dangerous myopia, blinding us to the darkness within and ahead. That we think it really couldn’t happen here, is exactly why it could. It won’t look or feel the same as elsewhere, but it will be there, as the beginnings already are, hidden in plain sight.” The UK is rendered far more vulnerable than the US, by our lack of a written Constitution. Reckless maneuvers are only prevented by convention, a poorly defined ‘Gentlemans agreement’ that is easily trashed by an unruly authoritarian bold enough to break with both tradition and honour. The so-called, “Henry VIII powers’ refer to ‘Statutory Instruments:’ changes to UK laws that do not even have to come before parliament!

    Brexit removed the last remaining constraints on an already seriously out-of-control Government after they had already claimed an undemocratic dominance over Mainstream Media and our state broadcaster, the BBC, became a Tory propaganda mouthpiece. The Covert 2019 Rigged Election result gifted the Tory Party unassailable power in the House of Commons, but post-Brexit the UK is now less able to curb the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship than Germany was to derail Hitler before he assumed absolute control as a Fascist Dictator! Matharu comments that, “Nothing less than fascism entered the heart of American democracy yesterday, as Donald Trump-supporting insurgents stormed the Capitol, spurred on by the President’s incitement: ‘You will never take our country back with weakness.You have to show strength.’ After they entered the corridors of power, halting a vote affirming Joe Biden as the country’s next President, he told them ‘we love you, you’re very special people’. Four had lost their lives.” Now five!

    Matharu reports that, “On the same day, in India, Narendra Modi continued his country’s march of authoritarian Hindu nationalism. Following 150,000 deaths from COVID-19, the writing into law of the ‘Love Jihad’ conspiracy theory and attacks on the income of rural farmers leading to widespread protests, the Prime Minister pressed on with his controversy. India’s Supreme Court has given him the go-ahead to replace the country’s Parliament building in Delhi, built during the British Raj by Edwin Lutyens, with one of his own design. In an attempt to pull down its imperial history and replace it with a nationalistic one, one architect commented: ‘It will remind us of Mussolini’s Rome and Speer’s Berlin’.” Somehow the British are able to recognize the rise to power of authoritarian despots overseas in Brazil, Turkey, Hungary and elsewhere, while remaining oblivious to the extreme danger here in the UK.

    Matharu shares, “Speaking to my Mum last night about developments in America, she was alarmed by what was happening in the world’s two largest democracies, the US and India. A British immigrant who grew up in post-partition India, having voted for Brexit and Boris Johnson’s Conservatives, she doesn’t agree with the Government’s handling of the Coronavirus crisis or Johnson’s leadership. But it is hard to convince her that something, structurally, is badly amiss in the British state, just as she believes it to be in India and America. Why this is the case, I believe, is due to that most English of traits, so English that you can hardly see it: insidiousness.” He describes it as, “’Hidden from view, but in plain sight.’ The appearance of order, a polished authority, prosaic diction, a leadership bred to believe it can lead. This is the image many still have of Britain’s ruling class: an internalised belief in noblesse oblige which has arguably contributed to the deaths of more than 80,000 people during the Coronavirus pandemic.”

    Matharu explains how, “Under this almost effortless image lies immense inequality, structural racism and class discrimination, all completely embedded in who we are, yet hard enough to pinpoint with precision. But the ‘cover-up’ is the old imperial way and always has been. As Britain’s colonies gained their independence one by one, ‘Operation Legacy’ ensured that the blushes of the British establishment were spared with this Government-authorised destruction and concealing of thousands of documents relating to the country’s colonial exploits. Unlike the US, a country which seems to at least know when it is at war with itself, Britain’s denial of its truth through appearances, myth and pomp acts as the ultimate defence mechanism to stop any discontent bubbling up over the surface and being seen for what it is. Under Boris Johnson, the norms that Britain’s democracy is built on have been shockingly subverted in ways not seen before.” He asks, “yet, do we see things for what they are?”

    Matharu points to the clearly allarming examples set by Boris Johnson and this Tory Government, listing the most obvious first: “See that the Prime Minister unlawfully prorogued Parliament in an unconstitutional attempt to avoid parliamentary scrutiny of the Government’s plans for Brexit? See that the Government admitted that its changes to customs rules for Northern Ireland would ‘break international law in a very specific and limited way’? See the obliteration of accountability which allowed Dominic Cummings to drive to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight and Priti Patel to break the ministerial code through her bullying behaviour? See the cronyism and corruption at the heart of the awarding of Government contracts during a public health crisis? See the Vote Leave lies, scapegoating, ‘divide and rule’ and racism weaponised in the ‘culture wars’; the emotional answers served up which will fail to improve people’s lives in any material way?”

    Matharu questions why his, “…Mum doesn’t see that Britain under Boris Johnson should be concerning, just as India under Modi or Trump’s antics in America are, isn’t so surprising. The mainstream media and the BBC seldom label his Government’s actions as the assaults on democracy and the rule of law that they are.” Referring to our British ‘Trump-baby’ Boris Johnson he says, “In his upper-class bonhomie and language of ‘folks’, nothing seems amiss in the extreme or in advance of his consistent incompetence. Democracy, as a system of governance based on plurality, is inherently vulnerable. It requires nurturing and safeguarding. Combined with the modern threats of dark money, social media radicalisation, disinformation and the monetisation of hate, it is teetering precariously in the 21st Century.’ Yesterday’s scenes in the US Capitol were horrifying and should never have happened. The Trump era has, however, seen American society starting to confront the darkness which created them.”

    Matharu points out that, “At every turn in Trump’s term, there has been alarm and horror voiced at his actions,” warning that, “Here in Britain, we think it can and will never happen to us, even as it continues to right before our eyes.” His statement is demonstrably true as highlighted by our former Green Party Leader now sitting in the House of Lords, Natalie Bennett. In her Left Foot Forward Article, “Three proposed laws make a mockery of the PM’s claims about ‘Global Britain’,” she elaborates on how, “Three proposed laws are going to see further damage to the UK’s global reputation.” She explains very serious concerns over the Internal Markets Bill, the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill or ‘Spy Cops Bill,’ and the Overseas Operations Bill. Further she describes how, “Boris Johnson is vying with Jair Bolsonaro as the most prominent remaining global leader of Trumpism, with the PM’s plan to reverse election promises on international aid.” The Tory Sovereign Dictatorship is a festering swamp filled with vicious crocodiles!

    The Tory controlled UK Media are the greatest perpetrators of hate speech manipulating the truth in shock headlines to stoke racial tensions; there must be greater efforts to curb their self-serving agenda. The public have already discovered that they were lied to by Brexit politicians who ramped up fears of a Turkish invasion and made false promises of huge sums being channeled into the NHS after we left the EU. Under the repression of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Turkey gets further and further from joining the block and this Tory Government couldn’t even manage to keep NHS staff supplied with sufficient Personal Protective Equipment to keep them safe on the job. Why is no one holding Boris Johnson his Tory cabal responsible for these appalling lies? Instead we just signed a trade deal with Turkey and I am sure there are other despots eager to sign lucrative deals to accelerate the most highly valued UK trade in weapons and the equipment of repression which is one of our rapidly growing, no questions asked, exports.

    The Tories should never have been allowed to come to power due to corrupt practices in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. In any properly functioning democracy the use of public funds to pay fake Charity, the Integrity Initiative, to generate defamatory material targeting a legitimate opposition political party would be considered corruption sufficient to jail the perpetrators. I raise this issue because the evidence to support this clandestine operation has already been exposed and could be used in a court case, but no one is taking action. This is totally aside from the Psyops targeting of voters using illegally obtained contact data and the highly suspicious result from outsourced postal votes that still requires robust Investigation. Our Electoral Commission in the UK is totally worthless to protect the public from electoral fraud and the Tories will make sure it stays that way if they don’t decide on a whim to abolish the EC altogether: “A Watchdog that cannot watch is just a dog;” “All Votes Must Count:” Please Sign the Petition. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #66093 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    In that wondrous ‘Sunny Uplands’ as we revel in the promised bonanza of Boris Johnson’s ‘Titanic success’ we are just coming to terms with the added ‘perks’ of “Get Brexit Dung.” What a massive foul smelling pile of steaming dung it is now that we are forced to deal with Boris’s horse shit! From the highpoint of our ‘Sovereign’ euphoria, bringing us down to earth with the latest unforseen Tory turd piling poop on our parade, is the London Economics Article entitled, “Brexit: Reactions as Mastercard to increase fees for UK purchases from EU” Joe Mellor warns us that, “The fall-out from Brexit is beginning to filter through to every day lives. Now Mastercard is set to increase charges to merchants, five fold, when UK users make purchases from the European Union. The EU brought in a cap in 2015 amid fears over hidden fees costing companies hundreds of millions of euros, meaning higher prices for consumers. “It has sparked fears that consumer prices could rise if merchants choose to pass on those costs to the end user.”

    Mellor says that, “This is likely to occur on items not available from UK retailers. For example, transactions with airlines, hotels, car rentals and holiday firms based in the EU could fall foul of the new increase. The credit card giant attributed the move to the UK’s decision to leave the EU. In response Daily Mirror associate editor Kevin McGuire Tweeted: ‘Taking back control to increase prices: Will mobile roaming charges return now credit card costs are up because Britons are no longer protected by an EU cap? Well done, Brextremists’. Chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Fair Business Banking, Kevin Hollinrake, said the change was ‘alarming’. He added: ‘This smacks of opportunism and I would urge the regulators to step in as a matter of urgency to ensure that financial institutions do not use Brexit as an opportunity to hike up costs that consumers will ultimately bear.’ The change affects the ‘interchange’ fees Mastercard sets on behalf of big banks, so that its customers can use their payment networks.”

    Mellor reports that, “From October, Mastercard said it would increase these fees to 1.5% on every transaction, up from 0.3%.” That is clasic opportunistic price gouging, but I doubt this Tory Government will do anything to protect the public from this mighty banking giant. Naomi Smith Tweeted: “More proof that costs rise because of Brexit. ‘Mastercard will increase fees more than fivefold when a British shopper uses a debit or credit card to buy from an EU-based company’.” Danial Thomas of the Financial Times Tweeted: “Post #brexit MasterCard @Mastercard raises fees fivefold in EU-U.K. transactions (0.3% to 1.5%) now freed from EU-imposed cap on intra EU sales. Cue fury. @Visa not moved yet, but not ruled out.” Edwin Hayward Tweeted: “Mastercard is raising its fees on EU purchases made by holders of UK credit cards from 0.3% to 1.5%. Another Brexit dividend, because we no longer fall under the EU-wide Interchange Fee Regulation that used to cap the fee at 0.3%.” Chris Giles Tweeted: “Onwards and upwards* * for fees and red tape.”

    In another London Economic Article entitled, “Relocate to EU to dodge Brexit bureaucracy, officials tell firms,” Henry Goodwin says that, “British businesses are being encouraged by government trade advisers to set up separate companies inside the EU to dodge new charges. British businesses struggling to export to the continent are being encouraged by government trade advisers to set up separate companies inside the European Union to get around extra Brexit charges, paperwork and taxes. UK small businesses are reportedly being instructed by officials working for the Department for International Trade (DIT) that the easiest way to circumvent mounting border issues and VAT problems is to register new firms within the EU single market, which Britain left on 1 January. The heads of two businesses left in disarray by Brexit told the Observer that they were following DIT’s advice, and had already decided to register new companies in the EU in the coming weeks. Many others reported receiving the same advice.”

    Goodwin reports that, “Andrew Moss, head of Horizon Retail Marketing Solutions, based in Ely, Cambridgeshire, is registering a European company in the Netherlands in the coming weeks on the advice of a senior government adviser. That means his firm, which sells packaging and marketing displays to customers in the UK and EU – will begin laying off staff in the UK, and taking on people in the Netherlands. Referring to his discussions with a DIT official, Moss said: ‘This guy talked complete sense. What I said to him was, have I got another choice [other than to set up a company abroad]? He confirmed that he couldn’t see another way. ‘He told me that what I was thinking of doing was the right thing, that he could see no other option. He did not see this as a teething problem. He said he had to be careful what he said, but he was very clear’.”

    Goodwin says that, “Another businessman has decided to follow suit, setting up a new company in the Netherlands for the same reasons. Geoffrey Betts, managing director of Stewart Superior Ltd, a Marlow office supplies firm, said: ‘When the government said it had secured free trade, it was obvious it was nothing of the sort.’ New charges on moving goods, VAT problems and more bureaucracy had created an ‘administrative nightmare’, he added. Relocating operations into the EU will mean British companies can avoid cross-border delays and costs on every consignment they send, and avoid VAT problems plaguing post-Brexit trade. ‘Totally avoidable increase in cost’ With the impact of leaving the single market becoming increasingly clear, it emerged on Saturday that British boozers could end up paying up to £1.50 extra per bottle on many European wines while choosing from a reduced range because of post-Brexit paperwork.” That will go down well as Brits try to drown out their Brexit blues with plonk!

    According to Goodwin, “Importers said the cost of new customs declarations combined with higher haulage prices would hit UK drinks in the pocket, while flat-rate costs per shipment would push wholesalers to offer a narrower variety of wine. ‘We are looking at a totally avoidable increase in the cost of wine across the board,’ Jason Millar, a director at wholesaler Theatre of Wine, told the Financial Times. ‘Many importers will cut wines, not because they don’t believe in them . . . but because they don’t feel they are able to muster enough volume.” Daniel Lambert, a wine wholesaler who imports two million bottles a year, said he believed Brexit bureaucracy would add up to £1.50 to the price of a £12 bottle of wine.” No point crying of spilt, well anything… Just smile as you take a selfie with Farage, but don’t say ‘cheese’ cos that’s another casualty delivered by that infamous con artist who promised a vision of untold prosperity after Brexit.

    Goodwin elaborates on how, “Meanwhile a cheesemaker in Cheshire has been left with a £250,000 Brexit-shaped hole in his business after the UK formally severed ties with Brussels. Simon Spurrell revealed that he has lost 20 percent of his sales overnight, after discovering that he would have to prove a £180 health certificate on retail orders to EU consumers, including those buying £30 personal gift packs of his award-winning wax-wrapped cheese.” In a separate London Economics Article entitled, “Brexit blows £250,000 chunk in Cheshire cheesemaker’s business,” he reveals the problem as, “Simon Spurrell said he would now have to switch a large part of his business to France.” He says of Spurrell, “A cheesemaker in Cheshire has been left with a £250,000 Brexit-shaped hole in his business after the UK formally severed ties with the European Union earlier this month.”

    Goodwin reports that, “Simon Spurrell revealed that he has lost 20 percent of his sales overnight, after discovering that he would have to prove a £180 health certificate on retail orders to EU consumers, including those buying £30 personal gift packs of his award-winning wax-wrapped cheese. He told the Guardian that he had hoped to take advantage of the ‘sunny uplands’ promised by Boris Johnson, but instead has seen his online retail business come to a ‘dead stop’. ‘Our business had high hopes of continued growth in the EU market, after seeing the avoidance of the no-deal and announcement of a free trade deal,’ he said. ‘What has only become clear in the last week is that our successful B2C [business to consumer] online sales to EU consumers is now impossible to operate’. In a desperate effort to save his business, Spurrell will now switch a £1 million he had planned to make in a distribution centre in Macclesfield to France, with the loss of 20 jobs and tax revenue in the UK.”

    Goodwin quotes Spurrell, “‘It is a real shame because that means I’m now going to invest in France, provide French employment, and then contribute to the EU tax system, which was pretty much going against the whole reason that we were meant to be leaving,’ he said. While Spurrell was aware that he would need vets to sign off customs declarations and health certificates for wholesale customers, he did not realise that the same stipulations would be required for smaller, private buyers. ‘It’s as if someone forgot to negotiate this part of the deal, they forgot that there needed to be an exemption or allowance for the direct consumer sales. ‘We ship to the USA, Canada, Norway, etc, all non-EU countries; we have never had a problem with at all. It is an oversight in the agreement that does not affect EU producers at all, but is a dead stop for all UK producers selling into the EU via online sales,’ he added.”

    Hitting UK consumers where it hurts, the Guardian say, “Yesterday, as the impact of leaving the single market and customs union on 1 January became ever more clear, the Financial Times reported that the cost of a £12 bottle of wine in UK shops could rise by up to £1.50 a bottle because of the extra bureaucracy and charges affecting imports. In a further blow to the government’s idea of ‘global Britain’ after Brexit, the chances of signing a swift UK/US trade deal also appeared to be ebbing away after President Joe Biden’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, made clear the president had other more pressing domestic economic priorities than international trade deals. Rachel Reeves, shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “Once again we see this government’s sheer incompetence and lack of planning holding British businesses back and slowing our economic recovery. ‘They’ve got to get a grip on this now and stop leaving our businesses out in the cold’.”

    In the London Economic Article entitled, “Lord Darroch: UK-US trade deal in Biden’s first term would be ‘a stretch’,” Jack Peat reports that, “He said there are two bigger deals the president could potentially do, an EU-US free trade deal and taking America into the transpacific partnership. The UK would be ‘lucky’ to strike a trade deal with Washington in Joe Biden’s first term as president, the former UK ambassador to the US has said. Ahead of Mr Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, Lord (Kim) Darroch, who was forced to quit in 2019 after frank diplomatic cables referring to current President Donald Trump were leaked, said he doubts a UK-US trade agreement will be completed within the next four years. He told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour on Sunday: ‘Biden has said in the last few weeks that doing trade deals is not a priority for him for at least the first part of his presidency, and my guess is that certainly covers the next 12 months, it may cover the next 24 months’.”

    Peat quotes Darroch saying, “I have my doubts about whether a UK deal will be a priority. When he comes to do one, there are two much bigger trade deals that he could potentially do, rather than a deal with a medium-sized country of 65 million people. One is he could resume the talks that never finished in (Barack) Obama’s time on an EU-US free trade deal and the other is that he could take America into the transpacific partnership, which is potentially a huge advantage for America and would start to counter Chinese influence in that region. ‘So, honestly, I have my doubts about whether a UK deal will be a priority. I think it’s a stretch to imagine it actually happening in a Biden first term, but we might strike it lucky, we’ll see’.” I do not view this as lucky; it’s almost a relief to know that there will be a delay before Johnson is able to force through a trade deal with the US. Greedy US Corporation will want to inflict their toxic ‘business friendly’ employment practices on the UK and destroy the dwindling power of our Unions.

    This delay in negotiating a trade deal might just allow our NHS precious time to recover from the Covid onslaught that has been manipulated by the Tories to accelerate the demise of free access to healthcare by making state provision untenable. Costly Health insurance tied to employment in the US cripples the Trade Unions and gags Whistleblowers by eliminating the ability for workers to act in the public’s best interests. According to Peat there are other considerations in play, namely the Good Friday Agreement. “Mr Biden briefly touched upon the prospect of a UK-US trade deal in the run-up to last year’s presidential election, tweeting in September that Brexit must not jeopardise the Northern Ireland peace process.The 77-year-old, who has Irish roots, wrote: ‘We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit. ‘Any trade deal between the US and UK must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period.”

    In the London Economics Article entitled, “MEPs vote to add British overseas territories to tax haven blacklist after Brexit,” Henry Goodwin explains another hidden consequence the Tories overlooked. He says that, “Britain’s membership of the European Union had afforded it some protection, and allowed it to protect its overseas territories from scrutiny. The European Parliament wants to add UK overseas territories, including the British Virgin Islands, Guernsey and Jersey, to its tax havens blacklist now that Brexit is done. Seeking to send a tough message on tax avoidance, MEPs last week voted overwhelmingly in favour of adding more nations and territories to a growing list of non-cooperative jurisdiction. The resolution, passed with a majority of 537, included measures calling for the automatic inclusion on the blacklist of countries with 0 per cent tax regimes – including the UK’s overseas territories, which transparency campaigners consider havens for tax avoidance.”

    Goodwin elaborates on how, “Britain’s membership of the European Union had afforded it some protection, and allowed it to protect its overseas territories from scrutiny. The text of the vote explicitly mentioned the Brexit deal, suggesting that the UK’s departure from the EU was based on ‘mutual values and geared towards common prosperity, which automatically excludes aggressive tax competition’. Robert Palmer, the director of the Tax Justice UK campaign group, told the Guardian: ‘Post-Brexit the UK tax havens have lost their protector within the corridors of Brussels. I’d expect to see the EU to ramp up pressure on places like Jersey to clean up their act. ‘The UK itself has been warned that if the government tries a Singapore-on-Thames approach, with a bonfire of regulations and taxes, then the EU will act swiftly’.”

    Goodwin also reveals that, “Meanwhile, elsewhere in Britain’s remaining overseas territories, more than one in 10 adults on the Cayman Islands, widely regarded as a tax haven, have been protected against coronavirus after a gift of Pfizer vaccine from London. Despite many over-80s in Britain are still waiting to receive their jabs, the Caribbean islands have inoculated most over-70s, and will soon move on to its younger population, the Sunday Times reported. Despite having had just 38 people with Covid-19, the Caymans were the first of Britain’s overseas territories to receive jabs. The UK has pledged to vaccinate all British overseas territories for free. The Caymans have had just two deaths from the virus in a population of roughly 65,000. The islands have no corporation, income or capital gains tax. “The relationship we have with the United Kingdom is paying massive dividends, the islands’ premier, Alden McLaughlin, said.”

    Goodwin reports that, “The Foreign Office said it had a duty to look after its overseas territories, affirming its commitment ‘to supply them with a proportionate share of the vaccines that it procures’.” While this commitment is admirable it defies logic to start into the vaccination program so wholeheartedly in a place where the incidence of infection is relatively miniscule and the ability to police entry points offers extra protection to the residents. Many of our island territories recognized how devastating the threat of Covid was, not just to their economy, but also to their limited Healthcare resources; they took full advantage of their island status, closed borders and promptly restricted entry under quarantine. Notably the far larger islands of New Zealand used the same strategy to protect their people from Covid and are successfully returned to near normality. In contrast, despite our island status, the Tory Government left our borders wide open and encouraged hundreds of Madrid football fans to fly in with the virus: look where we are now!

    When Boris Johnson or one of his rabid Tory Brexiteer Ministers is asked to point out one of the benefits of out departure from the EU they struggle to name a solitary advantage beyond gaining access to Covid vaccines earlier than other countries in the block, at least partially due to the vaccine produced here in Oxford. This is just as well after Johnson’s shambolic handling of the Pandemic has taken case numbers through the stratosphere, resulting in a staggering death toll unmatched anywhere else in Europe! While ‘bullshit Boris’ brags about the AstroZanika achievement, as if he knocked it up over the weekend with a home science kit; the only thing truly ‘world-beating’ in the UK is our soaring death rate, to be shortly followed by the most seriously catastrophic economic downturn anywhere in the EU! The Tories will follow through with their agenda to bleed the country dry, syphoning off public funds into the hands of Corporate profiteers, while the British public suffer aggressive austerity glossed over with the ‘lev…up’ lie (LUL).

    The push-back from neglected and abandoned citizens and embattled Trade Unions must be robust and relentless or we will suffer decades with the Tory boot on our necks. We cannot combat the ‘LUL’ oxymoron by keep referring to it in debates; this is exactly how ‘austerity’ became an accepted norm that was branded necessary to bring down the deficit. The cruel policy destroyed many lives and we cannot fall for the same horrific mistake again, as too many have died in this ongoing Tory ‘Slaughter of the Sheeple.’ We are already being primed for wage freezes and benefit cuts that will be sold as necessary in order to pay down the debts of Covid. Rishi Sunak has never even hinted at a tax increase on the wealthy, while he contemplates how soon he can snatch that £20 a week back from those subsisting on Universal Credit. There is no shaming the Tories as they are devoid of human empathy, but as other countries take note of UNICEF feeding hungry families in London the overseas embarrassment might just take hold.

    There’s a reason that the Tories want all children back in school and it has nothing to do with the widening academic attainment gap or concern over the mental health of our kids. If these were genuine Tory concerns they wouldn’t simultaneously expect children to try to learn while starving hungry or traumatized by the constant stress of eviction and destitution; we must challenge them on this cruel reality. Children have been used as vectors to spread Covid in poor communities where multigenerational households cram people into temporary housing in conditions where they cannot self-isolate even if they were able to work from home. The frontline workers on zero-hours contracts cannot afford to stop working, but to the Tories this sector of the population is expendable. There is no other explanation for the Tory strategy regarding this Pandemic as there have been too many devastatingly harmful decisions to imagine this is not a warped part of the Cummings ‘Herd Immunity’ eugenics program as Johnson ‘let it rip’ throughout the UK!

    In other countries people who are as severely exploited, oppressed and subjugated by their Government take to the streets in protest, but the British people just suffer in silent punishment, reveling in their stoicism and whatever meager help the community can try to provide. We will only put an end to the deliberate persecution inflicted on us by the wealthy elite by relentlessly protesting against the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship. They are manipulating Covid restrictions and using scare tactics to prevent demonstrations. If we gather in large enough groups they could be overwhelmed, but they have already anticipated this escalation in their Yellowhammer planning; they will use force. The Spycops Bill will allow private mercenaries to infiltrate our ranks to target those who attempt to organize; we can expect this surveillance to increase exponentially. We must Challenge, Protest and Investigate to Expose the Tory Corruption in order to remove them from power; international pressure may help, but not if we fail to take to the streets on mass. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #66267 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    The London Ecomomics Article entitled, “‘Levelling up’ agenda questioned after Tory MPs stay away from vote on workers’ rights and council tax hikes,” starts with that deliberately deceitful oxymoron that I consciously try not to ever repeat: I abbreviate it to ‘lev…up’ Lie or just ‘LUL’. Any repetition of this sickeningly manipulative con trick, even to swop ‘up’ for the realistic ‘down,’ simply gives the fake Tory agenda oxygen while facilitating their genuine policy criteria for ‘Decimating Down.’ In reality LUL is code for a new wave of Tory austerity that is already being eased into position with measures like the planned Public Sector Pay Freeze and the removal of the £20 uplift to Universal Credit that was desperately needed and already long overdue after the benefit freeze. A chill wind of increased deprivation is about to blast through the drafty, unheated homes of the working poor who have managed to keep a roof over their head. Brace for more pay and benefit freezes, but don’t expect groceries to defy Brexit generated inflation.

    Author Jack Peat has yet to realize the urgent priority for changing this fake news wording as he reports that, “On Monday MPs across the House will have a chance to vote on the side of working people and protect our key workers. Zero Conservatives turned up,” but we should hardly be surprised at their disgraceful no-show as the entire Tory Party voting platform is dictated by Boris, ‘my way or the highway,’ Johnson: that’s how Dictatorships work. Peat remarks that, “The Conservative’s ‘levelling up’ agenda was called into question last night after MPs didn’t even turn up to opposition day motions on workers’ rights and council tax hikes.” “After promising to put income and wealth inequality at the heart of their administration in 2019 many people were left scratching their heads after the Tories refused to even participate in two parliamentary votes put forward in the Commons.” Who was gullible enough to believe that, after a decade of austerity, pathological liar Boris might end a cardinal Tory mindset of punishing the poor?

    Peat says, “The Labour Party tabled a motion calling on the government to rule out changes to the 48-hour working week, rest breaks at work, or holiday pay entitlement. It also called on ministers to reverse plans to force local authorities to increase council tax by 5 per cent.” Peter Stefanovic Tweeted: “Last night Labour MPs voted to protect holiday pay, paid breaks, the 48 hour weekly working limit & bring in legislation to ban fire & re-hire. Conservative MPs, voted into office on a manifesto promise to “level up” didn’t even turn up, And last week this. And it’s only January.”

    Peat reports, “Commenting on the motion and the challenges facing workers in the pandemic, Labour frontbencher Andy McDonald said: ‘In the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis, ministers are considering ripping up workers’ rights. This could see people across the country worse off, losing out on holiday pay and working longer hours. Scrapping the 48-hour working week cap could mean many key workers feel pressured to work excessive hours. “The government should be focused on securing our economy and rebuilding the country, not taking a wrecking ball to hard-won rights. The government’s true colours are on full display once again and it’s clear their priorities couldn’t be further from those of workers and their families.’ The Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights and Protections added: ‘On Monday MPs across the House will have a chance to vote on the side of working people and protect our key workers’.”

    Peat attacks the Tory Government’s commitment saying, “In September of last year a new taskforce was set up by Conservative MPs in a bid to launch the party’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. It says those areas that have seen the lowest growth in earnings, should see earnings rise faster than they have in recent years; areas with the worst unemployment rate should converge with the national average; and areas with the lowest employment rate should also catch up with the national average.It also calls on the government to set out geographical analysis of how tax and spending changes impact different areas.”

    In the Labour List Article entitled, “Labour urges reopening of schools first when Covid restrictions are eased,” Sienna Rodgers elaborates on their call for advance planning to make schools a safe environment minimizing the risk of Covid spread between pupils and teachers. Rodgers remarks that, “Boris Johnson has continued to use Theresa May’s old tactic of ignoring opposition day votes. The government adopted this approach last week for the free school meals and Universal Credit motions, arguing that Labour was trying to make people worry unnecessarily (while refusing to offer clarity on whether the UC uplift will be kept and briefing impractical alternative ideas). On Monday, they recycled many of the same lines, suggesting that Labour activists are meanies and the party is fabricating concerns (although Kwasi Kwarteng has confirmed that a post-Brexit review of employment rights is indeed taking place). The motions on council tax hikes and workers’ rights therefore both passed with no votes against.”

    Rodgers claims that, “Schools are Labour’s primary focus today. Ahead of an urgent question from Kate Green, the party has urged the government to commit to reopening schools and colleges first when lockdown restrictions are eased. This sparked a range of initial reactions, from those concerned that Labour is in favour of reopening too quickly to those criticising Labour for stating the obvious and what is already government policy. To the former, it is worth noting that Wes Streeting is not asking for a reopening date but for a plan as the government could be “acting now to make schools as safe as possible as soon as possible”. To the latter charge, Labour would say its demand was a response to the confusion created by Johnson’s pool clip yesterday, and they are seeking clarity.” The PM doesn’t do ‘clarity,’ he only does PR spin, he will say whatever sounds good in front of the cameras, but make it vague and non-committal enough that he can ignore tedious issues like logical advanced planning.

    Rodgers reports that, “Labour’s education team is not willing a speedy and unsafe full reopening right now, but instead criticising the lack of preparations. Will the key be testing, prioritising staff for the vaccine, or some other measure? Forward-thinking is clearly needed: there was none when the government ordered the return of schools after Christmas, then ordered their closure the very next day. But Labour may be considered more constructive in its criticisms if it emphasised its favoured solutions to allow ventilation, social distancing, small classes and bigger classrooms. While that requires a slightly more risk-taking approach from the opposition party, the rewards of stressing the more imaginative answers required to meet the challenges presented by the pandemic would be worth a little risk.” This is a welcome change from Captain of Capitulation Keir Starmer’s, zero opposition ‘no ifs or buts’ rant, firing his Shadow Education Secretary for demanding similar cautious preparatory measures at the end of summer!

    In the Labour List Article entitled, “employment rights motion ignored by Tories and passed by MPs,” Sienna Rodgers echoes the sentiments expressed by Jack Peat in Left Foot Forward. She says that, “The House of Commons has approved, by 263 votes, Labour’s expression of support for protecting holiday pay entitlements and safe working limits after the government confirmed that it is reviewing workers’ rights. The main opposition party forced a vote in parliament today to draw attention to Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, confirming last week that the government is looking at UK employment law. The minister admitted wanting to look at the whole range of issues relating to our EU membership and examine what we wanted to keep’, but claimed the government is ‘committed’ to high standards for workers. Ed Miliband responded by saying Kwarteng had ‘let the cat out of the bag’, adding: ‘A government committed to maintaining existing protections would not be reviewing whether they should be unpicked’.”

    Rodgers noted, “But the government tonight continued Boris Johnson’s new policy, adopted last week for the motions on free school meals and Universal Credit, of ignoring opposition day motions and telling Tory MPs to abstain. Conservatives argued against the motion in the chamber this evening, denying that the government would roll back workers’ rights, but ultimately none chose to express a view on the motion tonight. The motion said all existing employment rights, the 48-hour working week, rest breaks at work and including overtime pay when calculating holiday pay, ‘must be maintained’, and ‘fire and rehire’ tactics should be outlawed. Labour’s Andy McDonald told the Commons: ‘The government has drawn up plans to end the 48-hour working week, weaken rules around rest breaks and exclude overtime when calculating holiday pay entitlement’.”

    Rodgers reports that, “The Shadow Employment Rights Secretary added: ‘If the government has its way, these changes would have a devastating impact on working people. Quite simply, it will mean longer hours, low wages and less safe work.’ Kwarteng replied: ‘We will not reduce workers’ rights. There is no government plan to reduce workers’ rights. As a new Secretary of State, I have been extremely clear that I do not want to diminish workers’ rights.’ He specifically told MPs that ‘we will not row back on the 48-hour weekly working limit’, ‘we will not reduce the UK annual leave entitlement” and “we will not row back on legal rights to breaks at work.’ The minister also told the Commons that he shares Labour concerns about reports of ‘fire and rehire’ tactics being used. He did not answer Andy McDonald’s question on whether the government would outlaw them.”

    Rodgers points out that, “Addressing TUC Congress last year, Keir Starmer said: ‘Fire and re-hire’ tactics are wrong. They’re against British values. They should also be illegal. These tactics punish good employers, hit working people hard and harm our economy.’ The Labour leader added: ‘I’m calling on the government to act now. Introduce legislation to end fire and re-hire, and give working people the security they need. If you do that, you will have our full support.’ Unite’s Len McCluskey has demanded that the government conducts an equalities impact assessment of any roll-back of workers’ rights and discloses how it would affect women, vulnerable and minority workers. The TUC called on the government to “bring forward the long-awaited employment bill”, while GMB described the potential changes as ‘unforgivable’ and said ‘building back better’ must mean ‘levelling up on rights at work’. Sadly each time the LUL oxymoron is repeated it is reinforced as a true commitment in peoples minds: change the narrative!

    Labour List has identified those who brought forward this motion and also printed the full text of the Labour motion: “Keir Starmer; Andy McDonald; Ed Miliband; Angela Rayner; Lucy Powell; Nicholas Brown.” It states, “That this House believes that all existing employment rights and protections must be maintained, including the 48-hour working week, rest breaks at work and inclusion of overtime pay when calculating some holiday pay entitlements, and calls upon the government to set out to parliament by the end of January 2021 a timetable to introduce legislation to end ‘fire and rehire’ tactics.”

    In another of this trio of pieces Sienna Rodgers writes the Labour List Article entitled, “Labour motion against planned council tax hikes passes as Tories abstain.” She says, “Tory MPs abstained on a motion put forward by Labour today against government plans that the opposition party says would “force local councils to increase council tax in the middle of a pandemic’. The opposition day motion was approved in the House of Commons this evening as the government did not instruct its MPs to participate in the vote. It passed with 210 votes in favour and none against. Opposition day votes are non-binding on the government. Boris Johnson has begun ignoring the motions as Theresa May did as Prime Minister, though Johnson has a majority of 80 in the Commons.”

    Rodgers reports that, “Labour used its latest motion to highlight the issue of council tax rises expected to take force in many places across the country from April, and to urge ministers to provide funding to local authorities instead. It was announced last year that English local authorities would be allowed to raise council tax by an extra 5%, including 3% for adult social care. Labour highlighted then that the hike was over twice the rate of inflation. Under the proposals in the comprehensive spending review, Labour says families in Band D will face an average rise of £93, and the rises will hit people hardest in the North West and North East of England. While local authorities are not directly obliged by central government to up council taxes, they are under significant pressure due to social care and have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.”

    According to Rodgers, “The opposition has argued that council tax hikes this year will hit families at the worst time, as Britain experiences the worst recession of any major economy and the coronavirus furlough scheme is withdrawn. In the debate this afternoon, Labour’s Steve Reed said it was ‘economically literate to push up taxes while the economy is in crisis’ and ‘dishonest to trumpet the end of austerity’ as councils will be forced to cut services. The former Lambeth council leader and current Shadow Local Communities Secretary argued that the running costs of social care outstrip any increase in revenue and the Tories have ‘done nothing about that crisis’. Polling by Savanta ComRes revealed today that 48% of English adults oppose councils being able to up council tax by 5% in April, while just 25% support the move, 22% said ‘neither’ and 5% ‘don’t know’.”

    Rodgers reports that, “Keir Starmer has described it as ‘absurd’ that local government in England will need to ‘hike up council tax’ when ‘millions are worried about the future of their jobs and how they will make ends meet’. The Labour leader urged the Prime Minister to ‘make good’ on his promise to support councils during the pandemic by helping local authorities and offering security to families ‘by dropping your tax increase’. Local Government Association Labour leader Nick Forbes wrote in a piece for LabourList that ‘ministers are now refusing to cover the full cost of fighting Covid’ despite promising to help them do ‘whatever it takes’ during the crisis. ‘That means most councils have no choice but to make cuts to services this year,’ Forbes said. The Labour Newcastle City Council leader added: ‘Pay more, get less. That is the Conservative plan for 2021’.”

    Rodgers explains that, “There are 20 opposition days per parliamentary session, which allow opposition parties to set the agenda. Labour used opposition day debates last week to table motions on free school meals and Universal Credit.” Again Labour List has identified those who brought forward this motion and also printed the full text of the Labour motion regarding the “Government’s proposed increase in council tax: Keir Starmer; Steve Reed; Angela Rayner; Anneliese Dodds; Kate Hollern; Nicholas Brown.” It states: “That this House calls on the Prime Minister to drop the Government’s plans to force local councils to increase council tax in the middle of a pandemic by providing councils with funding to meet the Government’s promise to do whatever is necessary to support councils in the fight against covid-19.”

    The Tory tactic is to avoid attendance, not engage in debate on any of these issues in the Chamber, abstain from voting and pretend the issue was never raised. Shamefully when these issues are covered on BBC Newsnight the presenter repeatedly, time after time, the response is that the Minister responsible simply ‘could not attend.’ As if accountability to the public who voted them into office is totally unnecessary. This is not acceptable; public scrutiny is a solemn duty of office and it should have started with probing interviews and debates before the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. Those who were foolish enough to believe a pathological liar like Boris Johnson when he made his meticulously controlled PR pitches, should not be too surprised when he reneged on his word. They say that “An Englishman’s word is his bond,” but Johnson is no honorable man of true and noble character, he is a deceitful trans-Atlantic mongrel with pretentious ‘old Etinian’ aristocratic affectations.

    Despite an attempted far-right coup in the US, the Trump man-baby has been removed from office and impeached for a second time, setting a new record for disgrace; he may yet be permanently banned from holding future office. Meanwhile, Lekud Party leader Benjemin Netentahu faces serious corruption charges if he fails to get reelected in Israel after having to call new elections; can the Israelies oust another bigoted nationalist tyrant? Idera Modi is facing massive protests in India from the farming sector as he tries to rollover to privatization and Corporate interests. Now there are strong runours brewing of another meglomaniac who could face empeachment and removal from office in Brazil; Jiar Bolsinario is now tetering on the brink, due to his massive failure in dealing with the Covid Pandemic that borders on ‘Genocide.’ I can think of another global leader who could be similarly charged in the UK: Boris Johnson our thoroughly corrupt Prime Minister! Will the era of the bigoted man-babies come to an end?

    We cannot allow complacency or a rigid adherence to a defunct gentleman’s agreement that elitist Tory rogues fail to honour. Our country is in severe crisis, with children suffering starvation while the Tory Government rants about their life chances if we do not force them back into schools however safe they may or may not be. If you failed to learn as a child, as I did due to dyslexia, you can still choose learning as an adult. If you suffer malnutrition as a child, it can very seriously inhibit your learning and your health throughout your life. I really hate football, but I am in total awe of Marcus Rashford and his simple straight-talk message to this dysfunctional Government; it should not take a football icon to tell it like it is to heartless Tory MPs. We the people need to call out the LUL and demand an equal society post Covid. If we fail to Challenge, Protest abd Investigate the grotesque corruption of this Tory Government the UK will be left with the last dangerous narcissist man-baby in charge of the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #66336 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    During Prime Minister’s Questions Johnson rightly came under fire for multiple aspects of his shambolic handling of Covid 19 that has cost so many lives, he still shamelessly tried to trick Keir Starmer into stating that our, “schools are safe!” In the Byline Times Article entitled, “Parents’ Campaign Against School Closures Receives PR Support From Boris Johnson Advisor,” “Nafeez Ahmed investigates the opaque UsForThem group lobbying against Coronavirus restrictions and its Conservative Party, Brexit and pro-Trump connections. Boris Johnson re-opened schools too early and delayed closures in 2020 under pressure from a ‘parents’ lobby group which receives PR support from a former Conservative parliamentary candidate and communications advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign. The same figure has extensive ties across the Conservative Party – and is currently managing PR for the COVID Recovery Group, founded by Conservative MPs who oppose the Government’s second lockdown.”

    Byline Times reports that, “On 22 December 2020, the Government was warned by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) of the urgent need to close schools to contain the spread of COVID-19 before Christmas. The new variant of the virus, they warned, meant that without earlier school closures, it would not be possible to keep the reproduction rate of the Coronavirus (the ‘R’) below one. But the Government delayed following this advice until 5 January, contributing to rates of COVID-19 among teachers increasing up to 333% higher than local rates. The Government’s flip-flop schools policy, and its failure to ensure COVID-19 safety measures in schools, has been criticised by Independent SAGE, the group of public health experts led by former government chief scientific advisor Sir David King, for prolonging the pandemic, escalating transmission leading to excess deaths, and necessitating the latest lockdown to avert an even worse crisis.”

    Byline Times says, “The Government’s failure to close schools early, contrary to advice from its own scientists, was influenced by UsforThem, an opaque lobby group which refused to answer Byline Times’ questions about its funding and political connections. The group, founded on 19 May 2020, has lobbied for schools to remain open throughout the pandemic. Its position is not simply that schools should stay open, but that they should jettison all pandemic safety measures such as social distancing, masks and ventilation. UsforThem has received extensive media coverage in the Telegraph, Daily Mail and through the BBC, in contrast to another parents campaign group, Parents United Against Unsafe Schools, which has received considerably less.”

    Byline Times says that, “While a spokesperson for UsforThem told Byline Times that the campaign is an ‘apolitical volunteer-run’ group, it is not only advised by a PR consultant with close ties to the Government, it also receives support from a separate anti-lockdown organisation with pro-Trump, Brexit and Conservative ties. In addition, its founder is a well-connected former corporate lawyer whose business partner worked for then Prime Minister David Cameron’s Strategy Unit in Downing Street.” Ahmed highlights what he calls a, “Direct Line to the PM’s Man,” saying that, “On 22 June, UsforThem’s website claimed that it sent a letter based on ‘weeks’ of work with its lawyers to the Department for Education, threatening legal action against school closures and social distancing in schools, while demanding the full and mandatory opening of all schools.”

    Byline Times reports that, “Three days later, on 25 June, Boris Johnson confirmed that the goal of the Government was for schools to open fully in September and that schooling would be placed on a full-time, mandatory footing once more,’ the website said, noting further that in July UsforThem campaigners ‘were able to meet with senior Government officials on both sides of the border to press home our concerns and aspirations’. The group also took credit for a letters campaign which influenced the Children’s Commissioner’s decision to come out in favour of removing social distancing for younger children. While UsforThem claims that it is simply a grassroots, parent-run group which receives no funding, Byline Times spoke to several parents who have wondered how the group could operate such a sophisticated lobbying and influencing strategy, including, for instance, projecting images onto buildings and hiring a van to display adverts while driving around Westminster.”

    “Byline Times can exclusively confirm that UsforThem has leveraged high-level political connections through several public relations groups. UsforThem’s main communications support comes from Ed Barker, who previously stood as a Conservative parliamentary candidate in Derby. He runs the communications firm The SW1 Group, which has managed the Westminster offices of many senior Conservative MPs, written articles and speeches for several incumbent Cabinet ministers, and played a key role in Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign. Barker has provided PR support to Home Secretary Priti Patel, the Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg, and former Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon. The SW1 website even includes acclaim from political editors at the Daily Mail, The Sunday Times and the Sun.”

    Byline Times informs us that, “Barker also manages communications for the Blue Collar Conservativism caucus, a campaign founded by former housing minister Esther McVey repackaging the Conservative Party as a working-class movement. The caucus is bigger than the party’s moderate One Nation bloc, yet analysis by The Independent confirmed that the vast majority of the MPs describing themselves as originally ‘working-class’ were in fact from middle -class and often highly privileged backgrounds. Barker is currently managing PR for the COVID Recovery Group (CRG), a Conservative parliamentary faction linked to the hard Brexit European Research Group (ERG). The CRG is led by former Conservative chief whip Mark Harper and its deputy chair is Conservative MP Steve Baker, former minister in the Department for Exiting the European Union.”

    Byline Times reports, “Barker did not respond to questions about how his work for UsforThem is being financed or whether he played a role in facilitating meetings between the Government and UsforThem representatives. The USforThem website removed several of the pages cited in this article after Byline Times approached it for comment. The original pages can be found on the web archive here. Byline Times point to, “The Brexit Lobby Connection,” saying that, “Ed Barker, however, is not the only source of PR support for USforThem. In recent months, UsforThem has been operating in partnership with anti-lockdown campaign group ‘Time for Recovery,’ another anti-lockdown campaign organisation with direct ties to Nigel Farage, pro-Donald Trump donors in the US and the Conservative Party. The phrasing of the campaign is similar to the hashtag used by the CRG campaign #Road2Recovery.”

    Byline Times expose the campaign’s origin, “Founded in October 2020, Time for Recovery, also known as ‘The Recovery Group’ or ‘the Recovery campaign,’ was incorporated as a private limited company on 17 December 2020 to focus, according to company records, on ‘public relations and communications activities’. Fourteen days later, Time for Recovery partnered with UsforThem to draft a ‘position statement’ criticising the Government’s decision to keep primary schools in COVID-19 hotspot areas closed while delaying the opening of secondary schools. The December 2020 ‘position statement’ was not the first time that Time for Recovery had partnered with UsforThem. Last November, Time for Recovery helped USforThem organise an open letter to Boris Johnson, purporting to be signed by ‘hundreds of senior doctors and scientists’.”

    Byline Times report on, “A Daily Mail headline about the letter read: ‘Official Data is ‘Exaggerating’ the Risk of COVID and Talk of a Second Wave is ‘Misleading’, 500 Academics Tell Boris Johnson in an Open Letter Attacking Lockdown’. But none of these alleged hundreds of signatories are publicly available. On UsforThem’s website, the letter reveals only 16 signatories. While all of them are senior academics, none appear to have any obvious expertise in COVID-19 or public health responses to pandemics. Also in November, Time for Recovery was separately behind a large projection of the slogan ‘LOCKDOWNS DON’T WORK’ onto the Houses of Parliament. That month, UsforThem also ran similar campaigns, which included projecting ‘KEEP SCHOOLS OPEN’ onto the side of the National Education Union and sending a van with the same slogan to drive around Westminster. UsforThem repeatedly tagged Time for Recovery into its tweets about the campaigns.”

    UsforThemUK Tweeted: “#KeepSchoolsOpen projected onto the @NEUnion building in Wandsworth this evening/ We will not let you further damage the present and the future of the children of this country. As Sam Bright reported in Byline Times, ‘Time for Recovery involves a number of key figures previously involved in World4Brexit Ltd, a lobbying body set up by Nigel Farage. According to the Financial Times, Farage launched World4Brexit to join forces with ‘a group of Donald Trump-supporting Americans’ to raise money for the UK’s departure from the EU. The US side of the operation was being run by Gerry Gunster, a US political strategist who had worked with the Leave.EU campaign in 2016. Gunster would later confirm the early role of Cambridge Analytica in providing the ‘backbone’ for the campaign’s knowhow on ‘behavioural targeting and micro-targeting’.” This is the same anti-democreatic dodgy PsyOps propaganda tool that will insure that we never have free and fair elections again in the UK!

    Byline Times say, “Prior to being incorporated in December, Time for Recovery was housed under a separate company, Restore the Balance Ltd. One Jon Paul Dobinson sits as a director on all three companies, Time for Recovery Ltd., Restore the Balance Ltd. and World4Brexit Ltd. Aside from his political lobbying work, Dobinson runs a slick digital marketing agency called ‘other’ (incorporated as Other Limited and Other Creative Ltd), where his fellow Time for Recovery co-director Adam Whipps is client strategy creative. World4Brexit, Time for Recovery and Restore the Balance are all based out of the same address where Dobinson’s marketing agency is based. Dobinson’s co-director at World4Brexit is David Anthony Berens, a solicitor who was also a director at Conservative Way Forward Ltd from 2005 until its dissolution in 2013 (a new company was reinstated in 2015).”

    Byline Times report that, “Berens sits on the advisory board of Conservative Way Forward, a campaign group founded by Margaret Thatcher the members of which include senior Conservative Party politicians including several former Cabinet ministers. The organisation boasts that, in all leadership elections since 1997, candidates most favoured by its members have ultimately won, including Boris Johnson. Conservative Way Forward’s president is former Conservative MP Sir Gerald Howarth, who was a political advisor to the Leave Means Leave campaign run by Richard Tice and Nigel Farage. Howarth is notorious for his support for Enoch Powell’s anti-immigrant ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech and his bigotry on race relations, Muslims, and gay people. He is also an anti-masker who criticised how ‘the Government has slavishly adhered to the advice of experts’ in its pandemic response. Ed Barker has previously provided PR support for Leave Means Leave, as well as other Brexit campaigns such as Global Britain and StandUp4Brexit.”

    According to Byline Times, “Although USforThem claims that it does not support COVID-19 denialism, at least two of its team members appear to have views that take them close, if not into, this space. Listed on the organisation’s team page is Marta Kotlarek, identified as the group’s website administrator. Kotlarek is project director at Web3 Consulting, acknowledged as UsforThem’s web developer on its website. Both UsforThem’s Marta Kotlarek and Web3Consulting co-director Radek Kotlarek have promoted COVID-19 pseudoscience on Twitter, including claiming that, if there was no testing PCR testing, there would be ‘no pandemic’.” usforthemcmyru Tweeted: “The inaccuracy of the PCR test is well documented. Thousands of our dedicated teachers and pupils are isolate home away from school guidance must be urgently reviewed by @WG_Educatuin we urge fir a 2 posituve test minimum before @PublicHeakthW start ttt.”

    One of Marta’s Tweets included the quote: “A government cannot stop a virus. What stops a virus is natural immunity. It’s impossible to stop a virus by government decree” The happily Covid free citizens of New Zealand would probably beg to differ! Denialist ‘Herd Heifer’ Marta also Tweeted: “Schools are not driving covid cases up. @WelshGovernment @Kirsty_Williams @wgmin_education you promised to keep them open even in level 4 restrictions with no interruption. Now is time to deliver your promise for once.” She then Tweeted: “When was the last time you took the test when you had a flu or a common cold? If we all get tested we would be living in never ending lockdowns. Just stay home. This is it! No rest=no case=no pandemic.” Equals no Grandma cos her carer was an asymptomatic contact who refused to take a test; I bet Marta has never had a cold that was so bad she required a ventilator!

    The Government messaging: “HANDS, FACE, SPACE;” encouraging hand washing, wearing of face masks and Social Distancing. was simple, globally approved advice emanating from WHO. The Tories were slow to take on, dithering and delaying the use of masks before, finally conceding and then reducing distancing to just one metre based on zero scientific data! When they did finally adopt masks it wasn’t a requirement in nearly enough confined spaces at first and it’s still haphazard, but the Herd Heifers had an disruptive alternative, posting material that was in direct opposition to the Government. Propa Panda Tweeted: “Not sure why this low-res version is doing the rounds, hi-res here,” She included a handy visual memory jogger for all those selfishly eager to spread Covid. Headed, “loving each other” it included three pictures: “HANDS” with two disimilar clasped hands and “LIVE LIFE” beneath; An unmasked “FACE” with “DITCH THE MASK” below it and a group hug, with “EMBRACE” and “CHOOSE LOVE” below it.

    Byline Times describes the disinformation group as, “Well-Connected from the Start,” saying that, “UsforThem’s founder Molly Kingsley has also disseminated fake news about the pandemic on Twitter. Kingsley’s real first name is Michelle. She is a former corporate lawyer who worked with top 10 law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, as well as Slaughter and May, currently in the UK’s top 20. She later went on to found two companies, Inkling Search, and online retail platform Showroom Network, with business partner Chloe Ross. Chloe Ross, who is still registered as a director of Kingsley’s company, previously worked in the Cabinet Office. Her last government post was in Downing Street, where she was deputy director for family and education in then Prime Minister David Cameron’s Strategy Unit. Prior to that, she was a senior manager at Microsoft.” I don’t doubt she works from home and if she has children she can probably afford to send them to an exclusive private school where the Covid risk is low.”

    What could possibly motivate her to churn out fake news targeting the less fortunate? In a word: greed! That same basic Tory instinct for greed is the motivation that drives all Tory policy. Who trousers the ill gotten gains from Tory misspending from the costly Nightingale white elephants, PPE that was unusable, a dysfunctional Test and Trace system and the App that got junked? Too many have died as a result of chaos and squandered public funds. Byline Times say that, “Ross is currently a vice president at Class Pass, a New York-based fitness app which provides access to different fitness classes on a monthly subscription basis. Previously valued at more than $1 billion, the firm has lost 95% of its revenues since the pandemic. Ross could not be reached for comment. Neither UsforThem nor its PR consultant Barker provided any answers to questions posed by Byline Times concerning its political and financial connections. Instead, Barker said that it would soon be launching ‘some new and restated objectives’.”

    However, Kingsley said: “Lockdown is one thing, but the schools shutdown is another. Millions of children have become the pandemic’s forgotten victims as they’ve just been plonked in front of screens and told to get on with it. As if that makes up for being in the classroom, for being around friends and for taking part in all the extra-curricular activities all us parents remember enjoying at school. This blanket schools shutdown policy is damaging the health and welfare of children as well as their educational prospects, and millions of parents are also struggling to survive, having to find time for teaching and childcare at the same time as trying to work… We must all unite on our children’s behalf, safeguard their futures, speak up for their interests and ensure our response to COVID doesn’t let an entire generation down.” If the Tories cared about the welfare of our children they would not force their parents into destitution so that they struggle to learn while starving hungry and constantly worried about eviction.

    Byline Times insist that, “While the Government should certainly be held to account for its failure to devise a functional schools policy, it is far from clear that UsforThem’s incessant and simplistic demands to immediately re-open schools without safety measures represents what the vast majority of British parents want. The concern that the lobby group’s political and corporate benefactors want to use children as pawns in their fight to oppose all COVID-19 safety measures seems a legitimate one. The Department for Education did not respond to a request for comment.” This article exposes the exact same unsavory cast of characters that manipulated people into both voting for Brexit and installing Donald Trump in the White House. Worse still they are employing the exact same strategy of hateful, fear-mongering, PsyOps propaganda sent to the ‘persuadable’ victims of illegally data mining. The contract the Tories handed to Palantir will facilitate even more illegal data mining under cover of Covid.

    In an Under Covid Article entitled, “Palantir, Faculty AI and your Privacy,” they reveal some really alarming facts, “Faculty AI (formerly known as ASI Datascience) has so far won 13 govt contracts. Faculty reportedly employed several Cambridge Analytica employees to provide the data behind Cummings Vote Leave data team. That data was turned over AIQ for microtargeting.” They say, “Government contracts with Faculty & Palantir reveal an ‘unprecedented’ transfer of personal information of millions of NHS users to private tech firms. They were originally granted intellectual property rights & allowed to profit off their access to NHS data.” All of these contracts have been awarded for massive sums of money without tendering and if you think that Herd Nerd Cummings is no longer involved in this dodgy operation you are way too trusting. That highly publicized spat where he stormed out of number 10 carrying an empty cardboard box was just theatre to dupe the masses; he is less visible, but still very much involved.

    I am ashamed to say I made a whole series of typos in yesterday’s post, but I want to stress another trend. Although other factors are involved in some cases, one major driving force is abysmal handling of Covid; it could be called ‘Covicide.’ I wrote, “Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu faces serious corruption charges if he fails to get reelected in Israel after having to call new elections; can the Israelis oust another bigoted nationalist tyrant? Narendra Modi is facing massive protests in India from the farming sector as he tries to rollover to privatization and Corporate interests. Now there are strong rumours brewing of another meglomaniac who could face empeachment and removal from office in Brazil; Jair Bolsonaro is now tetering on the brink, due to his massive failure in dealing with the Covid Pandemic that borders on ‘Genocide.’ I can think of another global leader who could be similarly charged in the UK: Boris Johnson our thoroughly corrupt Prime Minister! When will the era of the bigoted man-babies come to an end?”

    I also said, “Our country is in severe crisis, with children suffering starvation while the Tory Government rants about their life chances if we do not force them back into schools however safe they may or may not be. If you failed to learn as a child, as I did due to dyslexia, you can still choose learning as an adult. If you suffer malnutrition as a child, it can very seriously inhibit your learning and your health throughout your life.” This is the reality of how children are being damaged by the policies of this Tory Government. There should have been far greater investment in televised teaching, at all levels, as most families own a TV. Where are the promised Laptops? More empty promises! World Leaders are being held accountable for their gross mishandling of Covid. Following the Covert 2019 Rigged Election the PM has been responsible for an excessively high death toll… by design! We must Challenge, Protest and Investigate the grotesque corruption bordering on ‘Covicide,’ to remove this Tory Sovereign Dictatorship. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #66413 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Boris Johnson started into Prime Minister’s Questions by reminding us that it was Holocaust Memorial Day and saying, “I know that the whole House will want to join me in solemnly remembering the 6 million Jewish men, women and children murdered during the holocaust, and all other victims of Nazi persecution.” Although all of the opposition Leaders shared his sentiment the main focus of attention on Wednsday was on Tory Government accountability for reaching the grisly Covid milestone of over 100,000 deaths.This started with the psudo science eugenics policy of ‘Herd Immunity,’ progressed to a totally avoidable ‘Holocaust’ in Care Homes and continued with a string of trajic blunders, from failed PPE procurement to open boarders, chaotic messaging, late lockdowns with last ditch u-turns, all during a grim year punctuated by bizare outsourcing and profiteering greed. Elements of the PM’s shambolic strategy remain deliberately destructive to the point of wilful culpability for driving a conscious ‘Slaughter of the Sheeple:’ an unforgivable ‘Covicide!’

    The PM had met with a holocaust survivor one of those who liberated Bergen-Belsen but, as he spoke of the need to “fight against all forms of hatred and prejudice, wherever they are found,” Johnson failed to acknowledge how his own public displays of bigotry and politically motivated divisive rhetoric risk repeating the horror of what transpired as result of vile ethnic targeting. Self-centered Tories consistently ignore the most obvious lessons to be learned with a chronically detached lack of empathy for the vulnerable and less fortunate. After the obligatory ‘stroking’ as he praised the Government roll-out of the vaccine, in a typical ‘me and mine first’ bid for rapid access Tory MP Rehman Chishti wanted a mass vaccination centre in his area. This gave Johnson an ideal opportunity to tout, “the fact that we have the fastest roll-out anywhere in Europe…” The PM then reverted to his classic prefix to an unanswered question, “I can tell my hon. Friend” before launching into his standard PR spin bragging about the number of people vaccinate.

    Echoing the PM’s, “remarks about Holocaust Memorial Day” Keir Starmer although adding, “the other genocides and persecutions that have taken place around the world,” he failed to recognize how his slavish devotion to the Zionist cause endorsed the current ongoing persecution of the Palastinian people. When polititions memorialize exterminated Jews, but fail to protest the apathide policies of the Israeli Government and continue supplying arms to support the Saudi bombing of Yemen, the lessons of Genocide have yet to be learned! Starmer said, “Yesterday, we passed the tragic milestone of 100,000 covid deaths in the United Kingdom. That is not just a statistic: behind every death is a grieving family, a mum, a dad, a sister, a brother, a friend, a colleague, a neighbour. The question on everyone’s lips this morning is: why? The Prime Minister must have thought about that question a lot, so will he tell us why he thinks that the United Kingdom has ended up with a death toll of 100,000, the highest number in Europe?”

    The PM never accepts blame! Johnson replied, “Like the right hon. and learned Gentleman, I mourn every death in this pandemic and we share the grief of all those who have been bereaved. Let him and the House be in no doubt that I and the Government take full responsibility for all the actions that we have taken during this pandemic to fight this disease. Yes, there will indeed be a time when we must learn the lessons of what has happened, reflect on them and prepare. I do not think that moment is now, when we are in the throes of fighting this wave of the new variant, when 37,000 people are struggling with covid in our hospitals. What the country wants is for us to come together as a Parliament and as politicians and to work to keep the virus under control, as we are, and to continue to roll out the fastest vaccination programme in Europe. That is where the minds of the public are fixed.” Johnson likes enlisting the public in undying support for his blundering and he has no intention of analysing his mistakes or changing tack.

    The opportunity to start into a volley of questions on Government failures that have contributed to the phenomenally high death toll was ripe for exploitation as Starmer replied, “I am sure that the Prime Minister regrets the fact that 100,000 people have lost their lives. The question is: why, why has the United Kingdom the highest number of deaths in Europe? Why has the United Kingdom a death rate that is higher than almost anywhere in the world? The Prime Minister is going to have to answer that question one day and he should have the decency to answer it today. A few days ago, the chief scientific officer said, and this was his view: prepare to give it now. The lesson, he said, is: ‘You’ve got to go hard, early and broader if you’re going to get on top of this. Waiting and watching simply doesn’t work.’ Does the Prime Minister agree with that?”

    The PM was defensively scrambling for excuses as he responded, “Mr Speaker, when you have a new virus and, indeed, when you have a new variant of that virus of the kind that we have in this country, and when you have dilemmas as hard and as heavy as this Government have had to face over the last year, I must tell the right hon. and learned Gentleman that there are no easy answers. A perpetual lockdown is no answer, but we will continue to do, as I have said to the House and to you, Mr Speaker, everything we can to roll out our vaccine programme to give the public the protection that they want and deserve. As I speak to you today, Mr Speaker, 6.9 million people in our country have had the vaccine. We are on target, if we can get the supplies, to deliver the target of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation on groups 1 to 4, the most vulnerable groups, by 15 February. I hope very much to set out in the next few weeks in much more detail how this country can exit now from the pandemic.”

    Starmer said, “The problem with the Prime Minister avoiding the question of why is that vital lessons will not be learned. The reality is this: the Prime Minister was slow into the first lockdown last March; slow in getting protective equipment to the frontline; slow to protect our care homes; slow on testing and tracing; slow into the second lockdown in the autumn; slow to change the Christmas-mixing rules; and slow again into this third lockdown, delaying 13 days from 22 December before implementing it. I fear that he still has not learned that lesson. The latest example is the continued delay in securing our borders. We have known about the variants to the virus since early December, when it was announced in the House of Commons. We know some of those variants are coming from abroad, but we do not know the route. Surely the Prime Minister can see that what is required now is that everybody coming into the country from anywhere in the world should be tested and subject to quarantine in a hotel. Why can that not be put in place today?”

    The PM ranted, “Throughout this pandemic, it has been the habit of the Opposition first to support one approach and then to attack it and to twist and to turn. It was only recently that the shadow Transport Secretary was saying that quarantine measures should be relaxed. We have one of the toughest regimes in the world. We ask people to test 72 hours before they fly. They have to produce a passenger locator form, otherwise they are kicked off the flight. They already have to quarantine for 10 days and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will be setting out later today, if the right hon. and learned Gentlemen cares to wait for that, even tougher measures for those red list countries where we are particularly concerned about new variants. Again, what the people of this country want us now to do is to come together as a Government, as a Parliament, and to get this thing done.”

    Starmer noted Tory descent saying, “The Prime Minister complains about the Opposition, but the greatest criticism of the Prime Minister at the moment in relation to borders is coming from his own Home Secretary. She is busy telling anyone who will listen that the Prime Minister did not do enough in relation to the borders last year. I fear that the Prime Minister is repeating the same mistake in relation to the new variants of the virus. Let me turn to schools. Everybody agrees that reopening our schools should be a national priority, but that requires a plan, and the Prime Minister has not got a plan. So as a first step, as a first step, does he agree with me that, once the first four categories of the most vulnerable have been vaccinated by mid-February, he should bring forward the vaccination of key workers and use the window of the February half-term to vaccinate all teachers and all school staff?”

    The PM replied, “Of course it follows that all teachers in JCVI groups 1 to 9 will be vaccinated as a matter of priority. I pay tribute, by the way, to the huge efforts that parents are making across the country struggling to educate their kids. I know how deeply frustrating it is: the extra burden that we have placed on families by closing the schools. No one has worked harder than my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education to keep schools open. We all want to open schools. I think what we want to hear from the Leader of the Opposition is that he will say loudly and clearly what he has refused to say so many times and what the public need to hear, that schools are safe. It is absolutely critical that he says that.” The trick: get Starmer to declare schools safe!

    Starmer wouldn’t be caught in the PM’s trap; ignoring the request he said, “I am sorry, but I am none the wiser as to whether the Prime Minister agrees with me that school teachers and school staff should be vaccinated, taking advantage of the February half-term. That is two or three weeks away. It is a fantastic opportunity, and I am no wiser as to whether the Prime Minister thinks that is a good idea or a bad idea. In the meantime, the Government have a duty to ensure that every single child can learn from home. Without access to a laptop, a computer or the internet, that cannot happen. The Government were challenged on this last summer; they were challenged on it last autumn; and here we are, nearly at the end of January, the best part of a year into this pandemic, and a third of families say they do not have enough laptops or home computers, and over 400,000 children still cannot get online at home. Does the Prime Minister realise how angry many families are that he still has not got to grips with this?”

    The PM replied, “As I said just now, I do fully understand the frustration and impatience of families across the country who are educating their kids at home. I know how difficult it is. I know how frustrated teachers are with educating through remote learning as well. That is why we have provided 1.3 million laptops. That is why we have provided a £1 billion catch-up fund. I will be making a statement in the House in just a few minutes setting out what more we propose to do with the reopening of schools and the way forward with schools, and what more we propose to do by way of supporting pupils and teachers and parents, if the right hon. and learned Gentleman will just wait a few minutes. But he has missed his opportunity, once again, to say what I think people need to hear if we are to get schools to reopen, because that is the best thing for pupils and the best thing for families across the country. I would like to hear from the Leader of the Opposition, in defiance of his union paymasters, that schools are safe.”

    Johnson had tried to reset the trap, but the Speaker interjected, “I just remind the Prime Minister: it is the Prime Minister’s questions.” Starmer ignored the trap and remarked, “Every week the Prime Minister comes with his pre-prepared lines. I think when 100,000 people have died he should take the time to answer the question. When one in three families are saying that they do not have enough laptops or computers, his answers are simply not good enough. We are nearly a year into this pandemic, this has not happened in the last few weeks, and one and three families say they do not have the wherewithal to do home teaching. Those children are going without home schooling. That is the question that the Prime Minister should be answering. The UK is the first country in Europe to record 100,000 covid deaths. We also have the deepest recession of any major economy. Our schools are closed and our borders are open. My biggest concern is that the Prime Minister still has not learned the lessons of last year.”

    Starmer really should know by now that ‘Tories never learn lessons,’ but he said, “I fear that as a result we will see more tragedy and more grim milestones. This afternoon, I will be speaking to families who have lost loved ones to covid. The last time I did that, I asked the Prime Minister what he would like me to say to them on his behalf. He replied with a pre-prepared, childish gag. I can tell the Prime Minister just how badly that went down with those families when I spoke to them later that afternoon. I ask him again, I hope that this time he will have the decency to answer them properly, what would he like me to say to those bereaved families on his behalf this afternoon?” It must have come as a shock when the PM’s faithfull Tory Trojan horse managed to ask his full quota of opposition questions to put him on the spot, but he had managed to get through the barrage of criticism; it was time for his PR spin!

    It was Johnson’s turn to rant and redirect blame for that grim death toll. The PM said, “I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for meeting the families of the bereaved, as I have done and I know Members of the House have done throughout the pandemic. It is important that we do that. The message that I would give those families is the same that I have given everybody I have met: I of course deeply personally regret the loss of life and the suffering of their families, but I think the best thing that we can do to honour the memory of those who have died and to honour those who are currently grieving is to work together to bring this virus down and to keep it under control in the way that we are. Throughout this pandemic, I am sad to say that the Leader of the Opposition has never failed in his efforts to try to score political points when he could be doing just that. He has twisted, and he has turned. One week, he calls for tougher border measures after the shadow Transport Secretary called for a looser quarantine.”

    The PM ranted, “He calls for schools to go back, but he will not even say this morning that schools are safe. He tries to associate himself now with the vaccine programme, because he senses that that may be going well, but he stood on a manifesto to unbundle the pharmaceutical companies, the big pharma, that made those vaccines possible. I know you want me to sit down, Mr Speaker, but I want to make this point, because I tried to make it last week. The right hon. and learned Gentleman even attacked the vaccine taskforce for spending £675,000 on an effort to discover whether hard-to-reach groups would take a vaccine. I really cannot think of a better investment right now of public funds, and I hope that later on this afternoon, he might think of apologising for what he did and for that attack on the vaccine taskforce. The Opposition and the right hon. and learned Gentleman can go on making their party political points. We will go on, with or without his help, in taking this country forward, fighting the pandemic and getting coronavirus down.”

    SNP Leader Ian Blackford said, “May I associate myself with the Prime Minister’s remarks on the holocaust? We all remember the 6 million Jews who lost their lives and those terrible crimes against humanity. We should never forget that, nor, indeed, those who have sadly followed them in genocides around the world.” But Blackford also wanted to deliver a scathing rebuke in criticism of Boris Johnson saying, “Last night, the Prime Minister claimed that ‘we truly did everything we could’ to avoid the deaths of 100,000 people across the UK from covid-19, but we all know that that is simply not true. The UK Government response has been defined by a lack of leadership, last-minute U-turns, mixed messaging and devastating policies. All of this has had an effect on the scale of the pandemic. Professor Linda Bauld has said that nearly a quarter of all deaths we have seen have occurred in the last month.”

    Blackford continued his attack saying, “Since the start of the pandemic, the Prime Minister has promised to always follow the advice of scientists. This morning, scientists have said that this Government are responsible for a ‘legacy of poor decisions’ during the pandemic. Does the Prime Minister still agree with the scientists?” The PM was in total denial when he defensively replied, “We have throughout followed scientific advice and done everything we can to minimise disease and suffering throughout the country. The right hon. Gentleman will have heard my answer to the Leader of the Opposition: there are no easy solutions when we are facing dilemmas as tragic as the ones being confronted by countries around the world. But I think that everywhere in the UK can be proud of the efforts now being made by the NHS, by the Army, by volunteers and by pharmacists to roll out the fastest vaccination programme in Europe. That is something that the Government must do, can do, are doing and will do.”

    Blackford calmly laid out the facts, “I must respectfully say that this is not about apportioning blame for honest mistakes; it is about learning lessons from a Prime Minister who has repeatedly ignored the scientific advice. When we called on the Prime Minister to introduce tough border controls last spring, he refused. When we told the Prime Minister it was a mistake to end lockdown prematurely and push millions of workers back to the office, he ignored us. When we said that tough restrictions and full furlough support were still needed, he dithered, delayed and left it too late. People have been asked to make huge sacrifices by his Government. They at least now deserve financial certainty.”

    Blackford implored Johnson to, “Tell people straight, Prime Minister: will this UK Government extend furlough, maintain the universal credit uplift and finally offer support to the 3 million excluded, or will he leave families struggling with the uncertainty while he dithers and delays?” The PM dodged the question, saying, “On the subject of dithering and delaying, I am delighted that the British Army is helping the Scottish National party Government to roll out the vaccine faster. That is extremely important and one of the benefits of the Union of the UK. On the right hon. Gentleman’s point about the support for people and families across this country, I do not think anybody could seriously deny that this Government have given absolutely unprecedented, and unequalled, by global standards, support throughout the pandemic. We will continue to put our arms around people across the whole UK throughout this crisis.” A parting Tory ‘death hug’ as the PM yet again tossed the working poor and most vulnerable under the bus!

    Tory MP Peter Aldous quickly shifted from ‘stroking’ the PM for, “an extensive system of support to help employers and employees through the pandemic,” to an overlooked group the, “self- employed who set up their own businesses after April 2019 and were unable to submit a complete tax return.” He said, “Ten months on, that obstacle to providing support no longer applies.” He asked the PM to emulate, “the Northern Ireland Government’s newly self-employed support scheme, which is subject to straight- forward criteria and guards against fraud?” After another “I can tell him…” the PM boasted “that 2.7 million self-employed people have received support totalling over £18.5 billion. But the ideas that he suggests will, I know, be taken up by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor, and he can expect to hear more on 3 March.” Labour MP, Bill Esterson, also raised a question about the self-employed.

    Green MP Caroline Lucas said, “There is a yawning gulf between the Government’s green rhetoric and their action. Hot on the heels of sanctioning the first deep coalmine in 30 years, Ministers have broken yet another election manifesto promise and will keep sending plastic waste to developing countries, where they are regularly dumped or burnt. Nine-year-old schoolgirl Lizzie knows that this is wrong, and she has a simple message for the Prime Minister: protect our oceans and people living in poorer countries by banning these dirty plastic exports now. Will he listen to Lizzie and to the 90,000 signatories to her, (Lizzie’s) Petition and stop this damaging and unethical practice, yes or no?” Insisting that in1970 we, “got 90% of its energy from fossil fuels, from coal, and we now get 5%,” the PM boasted pride in the deplorable Tory record, (ditching all that green crap), saying, “what we are doing to ban plastic and ban the export of plastic waste around the world, which is in our Conservative party manifesto, which we will fulfil.”

    The PM did not have an easy time at PMQs this Wednesday as MPs focused on the grim milestone of 100,000 Covid deaths, that’s probably closer to 120,000 in actual deaths if the fudged numbers aren’t limited to “deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test.” Like other carefully manipulated Tory statistics it fails to hide their lies or reduce the Tory shame. PMQs provided a mega ‘shame on you’ moment for the PM, but how much of what has transpired so far adheres to that original eugenics ‘Herd Immunity’ plan to deliberately cull the weak, vulnerable and elderly from our population? After the unfathomable fake ‘landslide victory’ result of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election, opposition PMs have been powerless to prevent this Tory ‘Covicide’. We must continue to Challenge and Investigate to expose the truth about stolen votes, corrupt squandering of public funds and the Tories lethal ‘Slaughter of the Sheeple.’ It will take relentless, robust protest to remove them from office; if not we face decades of Tory Sovereign Dictatorship! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #66532 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    This warped Tory Government is using the vaccine roll-out to provide cover for the incessant steam of catastrophic blunders that have cost so many lives in the UK as we pass the grim milestone of over 100,000 Covid deaths, an underestimate manufactured to hide an even greater death toll nearer 120,000! In the Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Michael Rosen’s letter on the Tories’ murderous ‘herd immunity’ that the Guardian wouldn’t publish,” Rosen says what the ‘mainstream’ media won’t. Author Michael Rosen, who came close to death last year when he suffered COVID-19 complications, wrote to the Guardian about the Tories’ original (and frankly murderous) plan to create ‘herd immunity‘ to the coronavirus without a vaccine, which would have caused up to a million UK deaths and perhaps more. The paper did not publish his letter.” It is reproduced by Skwawkbox with his permission.

    Rosen wrote, “Dear sir/madam, Jonathan Freedland’s comment ‘Lies about Covid, insisting that it was a hoax cooked up by the deep state, led millions of people to drop their guard and get infected’ (‘Trump may be gone but his big lie will linger’ Guardian, Jan 15) misses the point. If we look closely at what was being said in official circles in March 2020, we can see quite clearly there was a plan to create ‘herd immunity’ without vaccination. Robert Peston had his usual inside story on March 12 in ‘The Spectator’ with a headline ‘Herd immunity’ will be vital to stopping Coronavirus’ and wrote of this desirable outcome without mentioning the inevitable huge loss of life involved nor the high chance of it being unachievable. A day later, 3 government scientists sang the same tune: Graham Medley told BBC Newsnight, ‘We’re going to have to generate herd immunity…the only way of developing that in the absence of a vaccine is for the majority of the population to become infected…’”

    Rosen noted, “Sir Patrick Vallance said that morning on the Today programme, ‘Our aim is to try and reduce the peak, broaden the peak, not suppress it completely; also because the vast majority of people get a mild illness, to build up some kind of herd immunity.’ Same day, John Edmunds said, ‘The only way to stop this epidemic is indeed to achieve herd immunity’. These people were talking of engineering mass death. It’s not as if science is unaware of the Black Death, Myxomatosis, or Dutch Elm Disease. At the time, Boris Johnson was appearing on TV telling us that he was shaking hands with Covid patients. The extraordinary fact is that this idea of ‘herd immunity’ without vaccination is lousy biology. No one knew then how long or short nor how strong or weak the body’s immune response would be to this virus. No one knew how often it would mutate nor how different the mutations would be from the original virus. These scientists were gambling with ‘known unknowns’ some of which would result in no ‘herd immunity’.”

    Rosen shares his reality check re ‘herd immunity’ saying, “What’s more, the limited ‘herd immunity’ without vaccination that occurs naturally usually involves the evolutionary process of ‘breeding out’ (through death, before they reproduce) of those individuals who are susceptible to the virus and the ‘breeding in’ of those who are resistant, assuming the resistance is inheritable. This takes generations to effect, if ever. The problem for this scenario is that the section of the population most affected by the virus is above ‘breeding’ age! This negates the process by which evolution favours resistant individuals. It seems to me horrific that top scientists were able to put forward their proposals to enact mass killing without being challenged, either on ethical or biological grounds.”

    Rosen concludes by saying, “If you want to find out why or how this government has been lax, chaotic, incompetent and cruel in its approach to Covid-19, it starts here. The consequence is that there have been tens of thousands of deaths, and there are tens of thousands of us with long term or lifetime debilitating consequences. They must never be let off the hook.” He signs off, “Yours faithfully, Michael Rosen.” Once this warped Tory Government realized that the general public had been alerted to their eugenics ‘Slaughter of the Sheeple’ targeting the ‘economically inactive’ pensioners, the disabled and the most vulnerable for extermination, on a superficial level they disowned the plan. Sadly they never changed objectives and many of the poor judgement decisions that cost lives may well have been an intentional continuation of their deadly cull.

    Skwawkbox say that, “Michael Rosen is absolutely correct. The Tories’ original plan for ‘dealing’ with the pandemic was to throw hundreds of thousands of people on the pyre and hope for the best. That plan, despite a change of language when the public started to catch on, never really went away. 100,000 (in reality a lot more) people have lost their lives in the UK because the country is ruled by Johnson and his ideological ilk instead of making use of our natural advantage as an island, as New Zealand and others have done. Michael Rosen was very nearly one of them, and wouldn’t even have counted as a virus death, because of the time that had expired after he was diagnosed. That Tory dodge had already hidden 18,000 or more COVID deaths by last October. They must never be let off the hook. They should be in the dock and the failure of the so-called ‘mainstream’ media to say so is a national scandal and disgrace.”

    Now that a number of vaccines are becoming available the prospect of eventually creating ‘herd immunity’ in our population is a science based reality, because it’s a well recognized legitimate phenomenon associated with mass vaccination programs. What we cannot allow is for the Tories to manipulate the reporting of this long hoped for return to safe normality with the shear insanity of their misappropriation of the term to morph the dangerous psudo-science of zero intervention ‘let it rip’ as if it was ever a valid plan. This will confuse the public and it will be exploited to deliberatly confuse the public, excusing those who planned to use the Covid crisis to comit culpable homicide on an industrial scale in the UK; a form of Genocide I call: ‘Covicide.’ The PM is stalling, trying to postpone an urgent inquiry until they have completed their deadly mission and solidified the absolute power of their Tory Sovereign Dictatorship. But, the agenda of Covicide is ongoing, so an immediate robust inquiry into this criminal plan cannot be postponed.

    After so many dangerous decisions made by this Tory Government have proven deadly the decision to extend the time between doses of the vaccine should be scrutinized with great caution as the PM, his Scientific advisors and Ministers cannot be trusted. A reliable report on the UK’s vaccine roll-out strategy is analyzed in the British Medical Journal Article: BMJ 2021;372:n18 entitled, “Covid-19 vaccination: What’s the evidence for extending the dosing interval?” BMJ report that, “On 30 December the four UK chief medical officers announced that the second doses of the covid vaccines should be given towards the end of 12 weeks rather than in the previously recommended 3-4 weeks. Gareth Iacobucci and Elisabeth Mahase look at the questions this has raised.”

    The BMJ pose the question that many people are curious about right now, “Why has the government taken the step to delay the second dose?” The BMJ explain that, “In a letter sent to healthcare staff on 30 December NHS England said the decision had been taken to prioritise giving the first doses of vaccine (whether the Pfizer and BioNTech one or that of Oxford University and AstraZeneca) to as many people as possible on the priority list to ‘protect the greatest number of at-risk people overall in the shortest possible time.’ 1 Delaying the second dose meant that the prioritisation process ‘will have the greatest impact on reducing mortality, severe disease and hospitalisations and in protecting the NHS and equivalent health services,’ it said.” While this might sound like a wise decision, we should consider the potential pitfalls in the logistics of roll-out in the hands of unreliable outsourced companies obsessed with profiteering. Can we trust the Tories to deliver a booster dose guaranteed within the new time frame?

    The BMJ ask, “Why was this decision taken?” They report that, “In a letter to the profession sent on 31 December laying out the ‘scientific and public health rationale’ for the change to the dosing schedule, 2 the chief medical officers said that vaccine shortages were a major reason for the shift in approach. ‘We have to ensure that we maximise the number of eligible people who receive the vaccine. Currently the main barrier to this is vaccine availability, a global issue, and this will remain the case for several months and, importantly, through the critical winter period. The availability of the AZ [AstraZeneca] vaccine reduces, but does not remove, this major problem. Vaccine shortage is a reality that cannot be wished away’.” This is less relevant here in the UK than almost any other country as the UK appears to be hoarding all vaccines manufactured here. It might be politically motivated to boast the numbers vaccinated rather than tout a lower number fully vaccinated; a bit like the counting of each glove as a separate item of PPE!

    The BMJ ask, “What’s the evidence for changing the schedule?” They admit the supporting evidence is scant, “There isn’t much for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, as trials did not compare different dose spacing or compare one with two doses. The trials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine did include different spacing between doses, finding that a longer gap (two to three months) led to a greater immune response, but the overall participant numbers were small. In the UK study 59% (1407 of 2377) of the participants who had two standard doses received the second dose between nine and 12 weeks after the first. In the Brazil study only 18.6% (384 of 2063) received a second dose between nine and 12 weeks after the first. 3 The combined trial results, published in the Lancet, 4 found that vaccine efficacy 14 days after a second dose was higher in the group that had more than six weeks between the two doses (65.4%) than in the group that had less than six weeks between doses (53.4%).”

    The BMJ report that, “In their joint statement the chief medical officers said that data provided to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) showed that, although optimal efficacy was achieved through two doses, both vaccines ‘offer considerable protection after a single dose, at least in the short term.’ Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said, “In an ideal world, decisions about treatments would only be made within the exact parameters of the trials which have been conducted. In the real world, this is never so… We know that vaccinating only half of a vulnerable population will lead to a notable increase in cases of covid-19, with all that this entails, including deaths. When resources of doses and people to vaccinate are limited, then vaccinating more people with potentially less efficacy is demonstrably better than a fuller efficacy in only half.”

    The BMJ ask, “How effective is just one dose?” The BMJ point to, “A paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine stated that the efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 52.4% between the first and second dose (spaced 21 days apart).5 However, in its ‘green book’ Public Health England said that during the phase III trial most of the vaccine failures were in the days immediately after the first dose, indicating that the short term protection starts around day 10.6 Looking at the data from day 15 to 21 it calculated that the efficacy against symptomatic covid-19 was around 89% (95% confidence interval 52% to 97%). Meanwhile, Pfizer has said that it has no evidence that the protection lasts beyond the 21 days.”

    To be fair, the unprecedented race to production, driven by the urgency of the Covid 19 crisis, didn’t allow much time to complete lengthy or more varied trials. Because of this, other efficacy questions still remain unanswered, like can a vaccinated individual transmit the virus as an asymptomatic carrier? The BMJ report that, “In the case of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, PHE said, ‘High protection against hospitalisation was seen from 21 days after dose one until two weeks after the second dose, suggesting that a single dose will provide high short term protection against severe disease. An exploratory analysis of participants who had received one standard dose of the vaccine suggested that efficacy against symptomatic covid-19 was 73% (95% CI 48.79-85.76%)’.”

    The BMJ ask, “What do the manufacturers say?” The BMJ note that, “In a joint statement Pfizer and BioNTech said, ‘The safety and efficacy of the vaccine has not been evaluated on different dosing schedules as the majority of trial participants received the second dose within the window specified in the study design… There is no data to demonstrate that protection after the first dose is sustained after 21 days.’ The European Medicines Agency has said that the gap between the first and second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should not exceed 42 days. ‘Any change to this would require a variation to the marketing authorisation as well as more clinical data to support such a change, otherwise it would be considered as ‘off-label use,’ the agency said.7” If a problem were to emerge UK patients wouldn’t have a good legal case. “AstraZeneca did not reply to a request for comment from The BMJ.”

    The BMJ ask, “How have doctors responded?” This is where a logistics issue could create problems down the line; the BMJ note that, “The BMA has called the government’s decision ‘unreasonable and totally unfair’ and said it could cause ‘huge logistical problems’ for general practices and vaccination centres.8 GPs and clinical leaders have told the BMA that delaying already promised second doses ‘will have a terrible impact on the emotional wellbeing of their most vulnerable, at-risk patients.’ Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee, said, ‘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 2000 elderly or vulnerable patients will take a team of five staff at a practice about a week, and that’s simply untenable.’ He said that bookings for the oldest and most vulnerable members should be honoured.”

    The BMJ ask, “Will the consent forms still be valid? GPs told The BMJ that patients consent to the two doses of the vaccine during their appointment for the first dose but could not specify what these changes would mean for that consent. They said that patients were understandably worried about the change and called on the government to provide them with a clear explanation as to why this has happened.” The BMJ ask, “What are patients told about their behaviour after one dose?” The BMJ were told that, “Patients are given a leaflet when attending vaccine appointments,9 and this has been updated to reflect the latest changes to dosing. It tells patients that it takes one to two weeks for protection to build after the first dose. It advises, ‘Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective, so you should continue to take recommended precautions to avoid infection. Some people may still get covid-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe’.”

    The BMJ ask, “How do other countries view the policy change?” The most disturbing point highlighted within this article was when the BMJ reported that, “The US news site STAT referred to the move as ‘effectively turning [the UK] into a living laboratory.’ 10 It accused the UK of basing its new vaccination schedule ‘on small slices of evidence mined from ‘subsets of subsets’ of participants in clinical trials, and on general principles of vaccinology rather than on actual research into the specific vaccines being used.’ It added, ‘If the efforts succeed, the world will have learnt a great deal. If they fail, the world will also have gained important information, though some fear it could come at a high cost’.” Another severe blow to the British public that will meet warped Tory Covicide objectives while being passed off as “we did our best” after we have been exploited as global Guinea Pigs!

    From the opposite perspective the BMJ note that, “Andrew Pollard, the head of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chief investigator into the trial of this vaccine, said that extending the gap between vaccines made biological sense. ‘Generally, a longer gap between vaccine doses leads to a better immune response, with the second dose causing a better boost. (With HPV vaccine for girls, for example, the gap is a year and gives better responses than a one month gap.) From the Oxford vaccine trials, there is 70% protection after the first dose up to the second dose, and the immune response was about three times greater after the second dose when the second dose was delayed, comparing second dose after four weeks versus second dose after 2-3 months,’ he told The BMJ, referring to the MHRA’s summary of product characteristics.11”

    Pollard told the BMJ that, “With the Pfizer vaccine, there are no published data comparing shorter and longer gaps between doses because all participants had the second dose at 3-4 weeks. However, the biology is straightforward and will be the same as with all vaccines… The immune system remembers the first dose and will respond whether the later dose is at three weeks or three months.’ In a statement the British Society for Immunology said, ‘Most immunologists would agree that delaying a second ‘booster’ dose of a protein antigen vaccine (such as the two approved covid-19 vaccines) by eight weeks would be unlikely to have a negative effect on the overall immune response post-boost. We also would not expect any specific safety issues to arise for the individual due to delaying the second dose, other than an increased potential risk of disease during the extended period due to lowered protection.” While this is good news we should remember that this is a completely new type of vaccine.

    “However in a BMJ Opinion article John Robertson, professor of surgery at the University of Nottingham, and colleagues, warned that less was known about the behaviour of the Pfizer vaccine because of the novel mRNA technology it uses.12 ‘Maximising coverage with the first dose as intended by the CMOs could come at increased risk to already high risk/priority groups,’ they said. They called for the second dose of this vaccine to be provided at day 21 ‘until the MHRA and/or JCVI [Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] make the data on which the JCVI recommendation is based publicly available for independent scientific review’ and for randomised controlled trials to compare the dosing schedules’.”

    The BMJ report that, “A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care for England said, ‘As agreed by all four UK chief medical officers and the medical experts at the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, the data provided by the manufacturers demonstrated that both vaccines offer considerable protection for patients after the first dose. ‘This measure will have the greatest impact on reducing mortality, severe disease, and hospitalisations, helping to protect the NHS and save lives’.” The BMJ ask, “Are any other countries going to do the same? According to the BMJ, “German health minister Jens Spahn has reportedly asked the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s disease control agency, to look into extending the period between the first and second vaccine dose, according to the Guardian.13 Meanwhile, in Denmark the infectious disease institute has said it was closely monitoring the UK situation and was considering a three to six week interval between doses.”

    The BMJ ask another troubling question, “Could the gap lead to vaccine resistant strains of SARS-CoV-2?” One response the BMJ received was particularly disturbing as, “Paul Bieniasz, a retrovirologist from Rockefeller University who is studying how the virus can acquire mutations, has warned that the UK was taking a gamble that risked fostering vaccine resistant forms of the virus. He told the news site STAT, ‘My concern, as a virologist, is that if you wanted to make a vaccine-resistant strain, what you would do is to build a cohort of partially immunized individuals in the teeth of a highly prevalent viral infection’.14” The BMJ note, “When asked about this concern, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson did not directly answer the question, saying rather that it was “vital we do everything we can to quickly and safely protect as many vulnerable people as possible from this virus” and that data from manufacturers showed considerable protection for patients after the first dose.”

    The BMJ ask, “What are the implications of this move for vaccine uptake?” The BMJ report that, “Some experts are concerned that having large numbers of people only partially protected for several months could lead to some individuals contracting covid while they wait for the second dose, which could dent people’s confidence in the effectiveness of vaccines. The British Society for Immunology has called on the government’s advisory committee on vaccines to make the ‘full evidence for decisions around covid-19 vaccines available immediately’ to build public trust. ‘Having access to the evidence and rationale behind the public health decisions taken is important,’ it said in a statement.15 ‘The government have confirmed that openness and transparency are vital. The British Society for Immunology will continue to monitor and advocate for this’.”

    This Tory Government has never been open or transparent about anything. I am concerned that the current row over the delivery of the Oxford AstraZeneca to the EU might involve political meddling at a time when the Brexiteers are desperate to prove that the UK is ‘world beating’ while the EU lags behind. The number of Brits vaccinated looks more impressive due to the extended wait for the booster dose. The PM frantically tries to gain credibility to move beyond the shame of achieving the highest death toll in Europe. To an extremely power hungry narcissist like Boris Johnson, the general public, especially the weak, vulnerable, disabled and the elderly, are all expendable, but we cannot allow him to continue his deadly agenda by remaining in office. Ever since the Covert 2019 Rigged Election where he seized control he has left a trail of significant corruption, risking lives as he squanders public funds. We must Challenge and Robustly Investigate his vote fraud, shady dealings, cronyism and danger to life: Get The Tories Out now! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #66566 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    As the sordid process of Craig Murray’s trial gets underway it marks another alarming wake-up call regarding how freedom of the press must be vigorously defended as a vital tool in protecting the integrity of our democracy. Reading Craig’s posts I was outraged by the implications of the Scottish Governments case as they selectivly targeted one journalist whose Blog posts supported Alex Salmond following the obvious conspiracy to persecute and demonize him on fabricated sexual assault charges that didn’t hold up in court. Despite Murray’s meticulously cautious and unbiased reporting, the Contempt of Court charge attempt to criminalize Craig over this case will send an alarming warning to all journalists who don’t tow the establishment line. Sadly, this will remain true even if the Crown Prosecution do not manage to prevail in their efforts to punish Craig; the huge financial and emotional toll of mounting such a defence sends the message to all dedicated Journalists: if it’s a controversial issue you just don’t go there.

    This is a similar tactic used in the growing proliferation of SLAPP Lawsuits, the case can be totally unsubstantiated and ludicrously flimsy, without any real prospect of success, but the more costly and protracted it becomes the more damage it inflicts on the target which in itself is a deterrent to investigative journalism. This damage is exacerbated by the compliant sensationalist press, which in turn requires punitive measures against those who try to expose the truth in the public interest as Craig does on this Blog. The one saving grace that is emerging from these attempts to gagg free speech is the ability to crowdfund for justice at a time when more and more of us are realizing how critically important it is to fight back. ‘Truth is the best disinfectant,’ but it is far easier to capitulate, so our encouragement and financial support for those who must make the tough decision to embark on this grueling and perilous journey is essential to combating this injustice. Paying fraudsters the ‘devils ransom’ only perpetuates this corrupt system of abuse.

    But the bad guys are fighting back… It used to be the case that the prosecution were obliged to hand over any evidence that might be pertinent to proving the guilt of an accused defendant, well not any more. In the increasingly fanciful ‘Novichok’ poisoning cases the Russians have been refused access to any supposedly incriminating evidence. The western Media can be relied upon to spin incredulous plotlines generated by Governments trying to discredit Putin with the simplistic claim: ‘we say you’re guilty therefore you are.’ The latest anti-soviet propaganda supplied by the thoroughly discredited agency ‘Bellingcat’ has Alexi Nivalni poisoned with the deadly Novochok after it was applied to his underwear! We are not told how this dastardly mission was accomplished, but they knew the British public was gullible enough to swallow any line of total bulshit. Elliot Higgins, the NATO funded ‘entirely impartial’ investigator, who started Bellingcat used to sell skivvies so I guess he thought it was a ‘smalls’ price to pay for lingerie advertising!

    This amusing RT.com News Article exposes the stirling credentials and oratory prowess of Eliot Higgins, who they describe as being, “praised by Western media as a bulwark against sinister Russian disinformation.” They say he, “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’.” Far more logical targets would include the CIA, Israeli Mossad and our very own MI5 & MI6!

    As incredulous as his concocted investigations get, even after they are comprehensively debunked, Higgins manages to maintain his confected credibility. In that sense, his dodgy exploits are no laughing matter, as his pseudo inquiries and damaging false flags have had very serious consequences that lingered well past the point where they were discredited as fake news. Integrity Initiative (II) is another serial offender, disseminating fake news while claiming to be, “Defending Democracy against Disinformation.” They are described by Wikispooks as, “an organ of the UK Deep state, controlled through the Institute for Statecraft. It was exposed in 2018-19 by 7 sets of leaked documents. Craig Murray blogged that it ‘offers us a glimpse into the very dirty world of surveillance and official disinformation. If we actually had a free media, it would be the biggest story of the day’.” But II is still churning out trash!

    One of the Leaks said, “We have warned the UK government that it must conduct an honest and transparent investigation into the activity of the Integrity Initiative and the Institute for Statecraft. Yet, today we can only see some awkward excuses and attempts of the politicians to quieten it all down. The outrageously illicit use of the British taxpayers’ money to organize a smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn and entire Labour party must not remain unpunished! To prevent the conservative ministers from lying to the people from the benches of the UK Parliament we have decided to publish another part of the documents that will help make the investigation more honest and open.” The evidence of corruption on the part of this Tory Sovereign Dictatorship is in plain sight.

    Ongoing corruption with regard to Tory squandering of public funds is being investigated and challenged in Court by the Good Law Project; under Judicial review, but it is only a matter of time before the Tories neuter this option to gain even tighter control over an already seriously warped judicial system that is well on the way to criminalizing investigative journalists. We must continue to offer our support to Craig Murray and Julian Assange because their struggle for justice is vital for a free press to restore UK democracy. On another front in the battle to rescue our free press and citizen’s access to the truth, the Open Democracy Petition entitled, “Stop the secrecy: save our Freedom of Information,” demands our urgent attention. In an appeal addressed to, To: “Michael Gove, Minister of State for the Cabinet Office” it asks that comply with the following demands: “Come clean about the Clearing House; Stop profiling journalists and blocking ‘sensitive’ requests; Empower, fund and make the FOI regulator independent.”

    Open Democracy say, “The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act is one of our most important laws. It’s helped journalists break major stories on secret political lobbying, plans for NHS reform, and much more. Without it, the MPs’ expenses scandal would never have come to light, and our taxes would still be paying for duck houses and moat cleaning. But now, just when we need it to scrutinise the COVID response, it’s being fatally undermined.The UK government is running a secretive unit inside Michael Gove’s Cabinet Office that’s been accused of ‘blacklisting’ journalists and blocking the release of ‘sensitive’ information. Experts say they’re breaking the law, and it’s an assault on our right to know what our government is doing. We’re not going to let it stand. We’re launching a legal battle, but we also need a huge public outcry, showing that thousands back our call for transparency.”

    I just received a heads-up email from Open Democracy that said: “If your home was a possible fire risk, you’d want to know, wouldn’t you? If it was covered in Grenfell-style cladding, you’d expect the authorities to tell you, surely? Think again. You’re one of 30,000 people who have backed our call to defend Freedom of Information. Today, we’ve broken another story which shows exactly why this is so important. It turns out the British government has been advising local councils to block Freedom of Information requests that could identify buildings with similar cladding to that implicated in the tragic 2017 Grenfell fire, which killed 72 people. It’s the latest scandal which shows just how vital it is that we defend our information rights.” I was requested to forward this email to everyone I know, and ask them to Sign this Petition?” Will you add your name?

    Open Democracy reminds us that, “Freedom of Information (FOI) laws are supposed to let citizens and journalists get vital information from any public body. Without FOI, we wouldn’t know that MPs were claiming thousands of pounds in taxpayer-funded expenses for duck houses and moats. But now our FOI rights are under unprecedented attack. Not only has the UK government blocked details of thousands of Grenfell-style fire-risk homes, we’ve also uncovered how a secretive unit inside Michael Gove’s Cabinet Office routinely screens Freedom of Information requests and blocks the release of ‘sensitive’ information across government. Experts say this ‘Orwellian’ practice is breaking the law, so we’re challenging the government in the courts. But to build the strongest possible case, we need a loud public outcry.” They, “have a big campaign planned for the coming weeks” and urge us all to, “share this email with friends, family or colleagues, to let them know what’s going on.”

    We must not forget Julian Assange still languishing in Belmarsh prison as his case is another strategic assault on our free press. In the Canary Article entitled, “Judge’s ruling in Assange’s extradition case could be seen as a declaration of war on journalists,” they elaborate on the wider importance of the Assange trial. They say, “On 4 January 2021, judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange shouldn’t be extradited to the US. Her decision was based on the likelihood that Assange would take his own life once incarcerated in the merciless US supermax prison system. However, Baraitser refused bail for Assange, arguing he could abscond while awaiting an appeal by the prosecution.” The punishment for journalism continues to intimidate.

    The Canary claims, “there’s been scant attention to the implications of the bulk of Baraitser’s ruling, which equates to a ringing endorsement of the US prosecution case. Regarding Baraitser’s ruling, UN special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer commented: I am gravely concerned that the [Baraitser] judgement confirms the entire, very dangerous rationale underlying the US indictment, which effectively amounts to criminalizing national security journalism. He added: Should the US provide [via an appeal] assurances that Mr. Assange will be treated humanely, his extradition could potentially be confirmed on appeal without any meaningful review of the very serious legal concerns raised by this case. It could also be argued that Assange’s prosecution was selective.”

    The Canary reports that, “In December 2020, Pulitzer prize winning journalist and film-maker Laura Poitras pointed out that she was: ‘guilty of violating the Espionage Act, Title 18, U.S. Code Sections 793 and 798. If charged and convicted, I could spend the rest of my life in prison’. But she hasn’t been charged. She adds: I confess that I, alongside journalists at The Guardian, The Washington Post and other news organizations, reported on and published highly classified documents from the National Security Agency provided by the whistle-blower Edward Snowden, revealing the government’s global mass surveillance programs. This reporting was widely recognized as a public service. In 2019, journalists worldwide issued a stark warning on the prosecution of Assange: If the US government can prosecute Mr Assange for publishing classified documents, it may clear the way for governments to prosecute journalists anywhere, an alarming precedent for freedom of the press worldwide.”

    The Canary speculate that, “Perhaps this is why the Guardian appeared to distance itself from Assange’s, despite having been a WikiLeaks partner.” They say that, “In April 2019, in response to Assange’s arrest, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges argued that should Assange be extradited: it will create a legal precedent that will terminate the ability of the press, which Trump repeatedly has called ‘the enemy of the people,’ to hold power accountable. The crimes of war and finance, the persecution of dissidents, minorities and immigrants, the pillaging by corporations of the nation and the ecosystem and the ruthless impoverishment of working men and women to swell the bank accounts of the rich and consolidate the global oligarchs’ total grip on power will not only expand, but will no longer be part of public debate. First Assange. Then us.”

    The Canary confirm that, “Indeed, the judge’s ruling leaves open the possibility that US authorities could submit a new extradition request against Assange in a country that has an extradition treaty with the US. Or a country that could be pressured into handing over the WikiLeaks founder. That would rule out Australia as a safe haven for Assange, unless certain conditions are met. Indeed, Greg Barns, barrister and adviser to the Australian Assange Campaign, told The Canary that: Unless there is a pardon, then the US could seek to extradite Assange from Australia. Therefore there would need to be an undertaking by both countries that no extradition request would be filed or entertained in Australia. Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that, according to government sources, ‘there was no intention to raise the matter [of a pardon for Assange] with either the Trump or the incoming Biden administration’.” When it really mattered Trump refused to change his mind, even to distract from his own situation.

    According to the Canary, “It’s also reported that Mexico has offered Assange asylum, and hopefully a diplomatic passport, or a letter of safe passage, to be applied once the appeal hurdles have been cleared and Assange is free to exit the UK. But as Common Dreams points out: ‘Mexico is also the deadliest country in the western hemisphere for journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists’.” They also point out that, “Anyway, the US could use Assange as a bargaining chip in its relations with the Mexican government over, say, migrant issues.”

    The Canary warns that, “Even if a suitable country is found where Assange can seek asylum, the US could resort to intercepting a flight carrying him to his destination. This is not as fantastic as it sounds. In 2013, a plane from Moscow carrying Bolivian president Evo Morales was forced to divert by US allies to Austria. This was because it was suspected the plane was carrying NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Earlier that day, Morales indicated he was prepared to offer Snowden asylum. However, it turned out that Snowden was not on board the plane, but was still in Moscow airport, seeking refuge. While the US could appeal the judge’s decision to refuse extradition, the defence may also seek to appeal other aspects of the ruling on matters of law. For example, Baraitser ruled that ‘the agreement between Mr. Assange and Ms. [Chelsea] Manning for her to obtain and disclose the information would amount to a conspiracy’.”

    The Canary report that, “Journalism historian Mark Feldstein cogently argued in his witness statement to the court that: Good reporters don’t sit around waiting for someone to leak information, they actively solicit it; they push, prod, cajole, counsel, entice, induce, inveigle, wheedle, sweet-talk, badger, and nag sources for information, the more secret, significant, and sensitive, the better.The Canary also pointed out that in an alleged conversation between Assange and Manning, the latter asked for help in cracking a password. But the account supposedly run by Assange told Manning he’d had ‘no luck so far’. The US argued that had they been successful, Manning would’ve been able to access an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) account.”

    The Canary say that, “However, Patrick Eller, formerly lead digital forensics examiner with the US Army’s Criminal Investigation Command in Virginia, disputed that. He pointed out that Manning: already had legitimate access to all the databases from which she downloaded the data… Logging into another user account would not have provided her with more access than she already possessed. Eller added that Manning had access to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet). This is a secure network from where she could access diplomatic cables and information about Guantanamo detainees. When asked how many people would have access to SIPRNet, Eller answered ‘in the millions’.”

    The Canary note, “Following the judge’s ruling, a US Department of Justice spokesperson pointedly stated: While we are extremely disappointed in the court’s ultimate decision, we are gratified that the United States prevailed on every point of law raised. In particular, the court rejected all of Mr Assange’s arguments regarding political motivation, political offence, fair trial, and freedom of speech. We will continue to seek Mr Assange’s extradition to the United States. Australian independent MP Andrew Wilkie observed that: ‘regrettably it [Baraitser’s ruling] fails to address central issues like freedom of speech, media freedom and the US claim to extraterritoriality’. Arguably, after Baraitser’s ruling, there’s nothing to stop any country issuing arrest warrants against journalists, anywhere in the world, for merely exposing injustices and wrong-doings of those in power. Thus the fight goes on.”

    In another Canary Article entitled, “Letter: The demonisation of Assange paves the way for more rape and murder by the State,” Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape, highlights the impact of persecuting a Whistleblower and Investigative Journalist like Assange will have in discouraging others from being so couragous. They say, “We are relieved the court ruled not to extradite Julian Assange to the US. His immediate release from Belmarsh, classified as torture by the UN Special Rapporteur, especially under coronavirus, must follow. The refusal of bail must be reversed immediately. As an anti-rape organisation, we resent the original use of alleged sex offences to facilitate Assange’s extradition to the US via Sweden. Knowing the evidence, that case was never viable, but it initiated and fuelled a witch-hunt against Assange and diverted from the real target: his Wikileaks reporting.”

    Longstaff points out that, “Assange and Chelsea Manning exposed rape, torture, and murder by the US-UK coalition: war crimes that we all urgently needed to know about. After the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, we wrote an open letter, ‘No Blood or Rape for Oil’, to every woman MP. We were alarmed that none even acknowledged it. The witch-hunt against Assange invited women furious at the continuing neglect of rape by the criminal justice system to join that system against Assange. This manipulation is typical of how governments protect themselves while claiming to protect us. It proved irresistible to many. Contrast the determination to get Assange, the work hours and millions of pounds over 10 years, with the deadly lack of state protection for most victims of violence. While rape and domestic abuse soar, even faster under the coronavirus lockdown, they have been practically decriminalised.”

    Longstaff says that, “Women have had to campaign to expose police and CPS trawling through victims’ social media and sexual history to discredit them and drop their cases. The lucky 1.5% of reported rapes that ever reach court may have waited four years to get there. If the government was serious about rape and domestic violence, it would make sure the police, CPS, and courts, both criminal and family, prioritise victims regardless of race, age, class, immigration status, or relationship to their attacker. They would increase benefits, resources and services women need to protect themselves and their children, and extend them to all women, including immigrants and asylum seekers excluded by the ‘no recourse to public funds’ rule. They would end the ‘presumption of contact’ which enables violent men to use the family courts to continue their reign of terror against women and children and avoid prosecution. They would stop accusing mothers of ‘parental alienation’ when they report child abuse by violent fathers.”

    Longstaff adds, “they would stop prosecuting rape victims they refuse to believe.” Longstaff asks: “What is WikiLeaks? What did Julian Assange do? Why does the US want to extradite him? Much of this could be addressed in the Domestic Abuse Bill currently in the House of Lords. But the government has resisted amending the bill as demanded by women’s organisations. Instead, they promote the Covert Human Intelligence Source (Criminal Conduct) Bill and Overseas Operations bills which would enable rape, torture, and even murder by anyone the state gives a licence to, including corporations. The war crimes that Assange and Manning found proof of and publicised would be legalised and extended to UK soil.” Longstaff makes a heartfelt plea, “Help us to get basic protections in the Domestic Abuse Bill and join the mounting opposition to the so-called Spy Cops and War Crimes Immunity bills.”

    When this Tory Government used taxpayers money to fund fake Charity Integrity Initiative who launched a relentless defamatory smear campaign targeting Jeremy Corbyn they broke the law. If we lived in a functioning democracy this illegal act of corruption to sway the vote in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election would have led to prosecution and jail time, not a stolen ‘landslide victory’ and elected office! Instead Integrity Initiative’s propaganda was used to make the truly incredulous result appear plausible in order to evade challenge and Investigation of the Ballots. This injustice has led to over a year of shambolic governance where the Tories have rewarded cronies squandering billions in public funds on dysfunctional schemes to line their own pockets while using their parliamentary majority to pass horrific legislation like the above bills and make catastrophic decisions that have cost thousands of lives. This corruption is still awaiting an investigation that should rightfully remove the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship from power. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #66628 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Boris is ecstatic, delivering a vaccine victory Fxxk EU just days after the UK tops the 100,000 death toll! Now that you have had the entire month of January to get to grips with your withdrawal vomiting, here’s a dollop of sick humour to add to your misery, from Otto English in a Byline Times Article cynically entitled, “Helluva Year! Boris Johnson’s 2020 Review.” Satirically he claims, “The Prime Minister has an ‘Australian Style’ litany of successes to celebrate in his first full year,” really? “What ho folks! Boris here, to wish you all a happy New Year, wow you all with some classical references and win you back much as Jack Black steals the heart of Kate Winslet in that wonderful festive film The Holiday. In January, I predicted that 2020 was going to be a fantastic year for Britain and how right I was. One began the year much like Sisyphus, condemned to push the rock of Brexit up and down Whitehall for all eternity, but we have ended it in the manner of Hercules, overcoming the Labours and slaying the nine-headed Hydra of Brussels.”

    English’s Boris-shit continues, “Our successes are legion. In industry and healthcare, our toilet paper, plane-painting, funeral, face mask and conspiracy theory sectors have all witnessed unprecedented growth in 2020 and more folks than ever are using our fantastic NHS. In transport, we have increased capacity, with considerably more space on our buses and trains. In education, enormous strides have been made. After decades of lefty teachers indoctrinating ‘kids’ with stuff about how ghastly the Empire was, more children now grasp important stuff like basic measurements up to a distance of two metres, while history students have enjoyed a year-long immersive ‘Blitz Spirit’ experience, with more to come in 2021!” I have noted a proliferation of sentimental WWII programing on the BBC to help us prepare for the hardship, deprivation and rationing while we’re made to believe that all of the coming misery is the fault of foreigners and the EU, but none of the self-inflicted pain can be blamed on the Tory Government.

    Of our evil Tory Home Secretary English writes, “On Priti Patel’s watch, free movement has been ended and we have managed to extend it to include YOU!! Yes folks, in future you won’t have to waste needless hours travelling to Spain or Venice or eating ghastly French food and supping their wine. Instead, you will be able to enjoy beach holidays on the Costa Del North Sea or soak up the sights of the great canals of Watford while enjoying a glass of generic own brand cider from Lidl. People sometimes ask me ‘was Brexit actually worth it?’ To which the answer is “yes of course, I’m Prime Minister!” But that’s not the only win. Thanks to our fantastic deal, in five to 10 years’ time, our brave fishermen will be able to catch 2.3% more fish in foreign-owned boats and sell them back to the French.” The fishermen are just discovering how badly they have been sold down the channel and out into the mid Atlantic; stranded, unable to sell their catch without gobs of onerous paperwork: dead fish in the back of a lorry can’t wait!

    ‘Global Britain’ trade deals English ‘Boris-shits’, “The Remoaning naysayers also failed to take into account Liz Truss, the greatest International Trade Secretary of this decade! So far. Liz’s many successes include free trade agreements with Liechtenstein, Kosovo, the mighty Faroe Islands and the ‘Palestinian Authority’ that will all add literally pounds to some of our exports. Liz has also secured major wins for Vietnamese fishermen who can finally purchase a Bentley, tariff-free, without some Frenchman getting in the way. Our next move is to join the Trans Pacific Partnership Free Trade Area meaning an end to the menace of hundreds of billions of pounds of frictionless free trade with our neighbours, in favour of tiny deals with countries seven thousand miles away that will do nothing for our GDP!” London to Glasgow for the weekly shop why not? Sod the massively increased carbon footprint of all that long-distance shipping our ‘world beating’ astronomers are busy searching the galaxy for earth’s celestial twin ‘planet B’.

    English’s Boris blather continues, “Of course, the year has brought some challenges in the shape of the dreaded C word. Yes, I was deeply saddened to see Jeremy Corbyn go after everything he has done for us, only to be replaced by that ghastly man who asks a lot of questions.” I diverge from this take, as I believe the PM is greatly relieved to see Trojan horse Starmer destroying the progressive Socialist Labour Party to leave no opposition. Boris rants, “There was also the ghastliness with the whole dreadful ‘flu’ business. The constant fear of how the Sun‘s Harry Cole would spin it in our favour this time has been a challenge and even Harry couldn’t save the Domster, which was a very personal tragedy. As with millions of ordinary families we too have had our financial concerns. I took a massive pay cut to become PM and getting by on a working man’s salary of £158,000 has left us all worrying about how we will pay for Wilf’s Eton fees and indeed those of any other children who come popping out of the woodwork.”

    Beach party Boris tossed out a bomarang… Posing as the PM, English quips, “In an effort to cheer everyone up, my adviser Chloe Westley suggested early on in the year that we rebrand everything ‘Australian’. ‘People in the UK love Kylie, Home and Away and Dame Edna’, she reasoned, and just the mention of the word seems to make them stop thinking about deprivation and death and start dreaming of warm beaches and Mick Dundee wrestling crocodiles instead. Initial roll-out was hugely effective at pulling the corked hats over people’s eyes and so in future everything will be Australian. The coming ‘Australian-style recession’, ‘Australian-style social depravation’ and ‘Australian-style mass unemployment’ will give us all a warm and fuzzy feeling. I know too that the Home Secretary is keen on the idea of an ‘Australian-style death penalty’ that will rid us of our worst offenders, but like all the best soaps we’ll have to sit on the edge of our seats to see if she manages it! Throw another innocent patsy on the barbie, Priti!”

    English’s satirical pitch was sounding too much like the weekly PR spin at PMQ, nausiating… “Leaving the EU has given us other opportunities, not least, the chance to take back control of our democracy and, to that end, my Government has taken huge strides. No more are we to be ruled by unelected and unaccountable foreign politicians! Instead, I have appointed People’s Peers including Lady Claire Fox of Hypocrisy, Lady Kate of Hoey, Lord Botham of Beefy, Lord Daniel Hannan of Walter Mitty on the walk, Lord Evgeny Lebvedev of Moscow and Lord Jo Johnson of Nepotism to lead us back to greatness. Once I’ve found my filofax expect thousands more in the new year! Well, that’s all folks. As my New Year’s missive drags to its end, I would like to express my surprise and gratitude that you have all bought in! A wise man once said that you ‘can fool all the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time’. That chump clearly didn’t have the press barons on his side! Buller! Buller! Buller! Boris.”

    Sick joking aside, Boris Johnson’s PR spin machine has been cranked up into high gear as he surfs the relief wave of vaccination roll-out in an effort to overtake the tsunami of Covid deaths in the UK. We wouldn’t be in such a frantically desperate scramble to accomplish this task if the PM’s shambolic handling of the Covid 19 crisis and chronic ‘too little too late’ decision making had not wiped out between 100,000 and 120,000 unfortunate individuals unnecessarily. Like New Zealand, who have kept Covid fatalities below 25, as an island we could have tightened border restrictions and implemented a strict quarantine, enhanced our local NHS Track and Trace capacity and canceled mass gatherings early-on. We had ample warning from China, Italy and WHO, but Boris-shit bravado Johnson defied WHO advice to “Test, Test, Test;” shake on that! No, plucky Brits didn’t need to wear masks, then we shut down Test and Trace to boldly “take it in the chin,” relying of the eugenics psudo-science of zero action “Herd Immunity!”

    An opinion piece posed a question in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Article asking: “Have we reached ‘peak neoliberalism’ in the UK’s covid-19 response? With government–backed furlough schemes in use, and additional funds flowing to the NHS like no time since 2010, it might not initially seem as though the past year represents the height of neoliberalism in the United Kingdom. Instead, the intervening hand of Westminster has been harvesting the magic money tree for NHS funding. Government prime-time news conferences on epidemiology, infection prevention, and vaccination might seem to be a vindication of the importance of public health, and a recognition of the primacy of the NHS. However, how the government has reacted to covid-19, the decisions taken on privatisation and outsourcing, build on previous defunding and reorganisation of public health and local councils, and represent an acceleration of the involvement of market forces and neoliberalism in the health service, and in social care.”

    The BMJ ask, “What is neoliberalism in health?” BMJ say, “Neoliberalism’ has been used as a catch-all term by people at all points on the political spectrum. But its actual definition is contested. Bell and Green broadly define it as a “post-welfare state model of social order that celebrates unhindered markets as the most effective means of achieving economic growth and public welfare,” and give two examples, Thatcherism and Reaganism, as ideologies that met this definition. In health policy scholarship, a neoliberal policy is one that tries to take actors that traditionally lie outside the market, the NHS, for example, or laboratories, and either bring them into its fold by introducing market forces, such as competition and privatisation, or dismantle them. The process can require wide-scale and substantial government intervention, in order to restructure services and processes.”

    According to the BMJ, “Although some point to government involvement in covid-19 as a sign that neoliberalism is waning, this is ignoring the fact that the implementation of neoliberal processes in fact requires government intervention and regulation to favour market solutions. Its proponents say that neoliberalism reduces inefficiencies and allows for ‘innovation’, and in the UK NHS this has meant marketisation, ‘creeping privatisation’, and underfunding for over a decade, under austerity policies in the wake of the global financial crisis. Neoliberal ideologies also align with government subsidies; for example, the Moderna covid-19 vaccine received $1 billion in US government funding for research and development. Without question, an effective vaccine will have a role in the covid-19 response; but it is also true that alternative models of financing vaccines exist that protect the taxpayer. Calls for public-sector-led development of pharmaceutical research and development have largely gone unanswered.”

    The BMJ report that, “Neoliberal health policies have previously been associated with an increased burden of non-communicable diseases, increased inequities, worsening public health, and less funding for primary care services and systems, among others. This has perhaps, until covid-19, been seen most clearly in responses to non-communicable diseases and the unhealthy commodities industries that propel them, such as the policy debates surrounding taxation or regulation of alcohol, sugar, and processed foods. Since the covid-19 response, these factors, well known to those who work in public health or health promotion, have manifested across the entire spectrum of the UK’s covid-19 response.”

    The BMJ highlight, “Outsourcing,” as a major culprit with regard to serious problems in the Covid-19 response. The BMJ say that, “Large swathes of the UK’s response measures to covid-19 have been outsourced at great expense, and with little evidence of any subsequent efficiencies as neoliberalism’s proponents claim should follow. Many of these contracting debacles have hit the front pages, including Deloitte’s contracts for managing drive-in testing centres and laboratory services; Serco’s role in the underperforming ‘NHS test and trace’ service, including reports of 500,000 leaking, contaminated vials; DHL, Unipart, and Movianto for various contracts, delayed, partially unfulfilled, and involving a complex web of disjointed subcontracts, related to the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE). The consequences of these outsourcing processes include inefficiency, waste, lack of oversight, poor lines of accountability, and failure to generate and consolidate timely and useful information.”

    The BMJ cite a prime example, “in June it became clear that Lighthouse laboratories, a company contracted to provide covid-19 tests, was turning around test results in three days, when the NHS labs were doing the same tests, and turning around results in as little as six hours. Moreover the BMA asserts that the Lighthouse lab tests were of inferior quality to the NHS standards. There were also serious contracting woes in Deloitte laboratories, which did not have to share relevant data with Public Health England or local partners. These are serious and expensive failings. Many of these companies, with links to cabinet ministers, their spouses and friends, and Tory party donors, have benefited from bypassing the traditional tendering processes. The onslaught of conflicting interests, cronyism, and the appearance of pandemic, private-sector profiteering in the government response to the covid-19 pandemic has been described elsewhere.”

    The BMJ ask, “So what if it is ‘peak neoliberalism’?” The BMJ stress that, “It’s not effective as a pandemic plan.” The BMJ point out that, “Most governments are bulk-purchasing diagnostics speculatively, driven by the fear that their populations (and, crucially, electorates) will be left out in the cold when eventually a successful therapy or test is developed. The same was the case with the vaccines that are now being rolled out. The problem is that putting the economy on the opposing side to public health seemingly leads to less effective decision-making for both. For example, one additional week without a lockdown in March 2020 is estimated to have resulted in an additional 20,000 covid-19 deaths and longer spent in lockdown in May and June.” The BMJ warn that, “It means that austerity may return. It may seem as though this conservative government is in fact moving away from neoliberal tenets in the short term. However, in the longer term, we have ample reason for concern.” I think, under the Tories, austerity is inevitable!

    The BMJ say, “There were warning signs, just before the second lockdown, that the government’s willingness to pay is dwindling. Although the furlough scheme was renewed on the strength of the epidemiological evidence that led to a national lockdown, the showdown between the regions, in particular Greater Manchester, and the Treasury was a warning sign of things to come.” The BMJ point out that, “Chancellor Rishi Sunak has warned public sector employees of pay squeezes. Also, we can consult precedent. In a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats after the 2008-09 global financial crisis, the Tories implemented austerity policies that we now know had severe health impacts on the poorest in society, reversing the trend towards increased life expectancy and plunging families into poverty.”

    “Many, including the BMA, argue that the position of the underfunded NHS entering the covid-19 crisis has contributed to the explanation of why the UK has been particularly hard hit compared with its peers in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The perils of underinvestment in public health infrastructure, and the perils of underinvestment in the health of a country’s inhabitants, have come to the fore in the pandemic.” The BMJ rightly point to how, “The USA has served as a cautionary tale. With fragmented, privatised, and underfunded public health services, the country was not protected by its wealth; if anything, the neoliberal ideologies that have led to tens of millions in the world’s wealthiest country to live in a state of insecure access to largely employment-tied healthcare options meant that covid-19 has incurred catastrophic expenses, both economy-related and health-related, for millions across the country.”

    The BMJ trustingly report that, “A spokesperson for Boris Johnson in June ruled out a return to austerity to pay for the pandemic response, but this was before the second wave. Moreover, the other fiscal and monetary measures that could be implemented to pay for covid-19 borrowing, wealth taxes, rises in income taxes, printing more money, or in fact borrowing more while it remains inexpensive to do so, in order to spend our way out of the coming recession, are unlikely to be popular with the current British administration.” The problem here is that despite a lengthy track record of over-promising and under-delivering, deliberate false pledges and renouncing allocation of funds that never actually materialize, the BMJ should be a lot more skeptical regarding the PM’s commitment to end austerity. No one should be fooled by the ‘lev…up’ lie because in reality money will be hovered up from the working poor to stuff the pockets of the filthy rich, just as is always the case the second a Tory Government gets into power.

    Authors, “Rebecca E Glover of the Faculty of Public Health Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Nason Maani of the Boston University School of Public Health, say, “Looking ahead, we are approaching a year into the UK pandemic, and we are in the middle of a third UK lockdown.” The note that, “It is not inconceivable that we might have been in a different place had the government built on our public sector capacity in contact tracing and public health when this pandemic began. But,” they generously advise, “instead of wallowing in counterfactuals, we make three recommendations for the way forward. Firstly, it is not too late for public sector capacity to be strengthened in lieu of neoliberal outsourcing. Secondly, effective and accountable contracting and tendering processes should not be circumvented in favour of cronyism. Thirdly, a transparent communication style, the hallmark of trustworthy public institutions, could be embraced by this administration.” None of this is likely under the Tories.

    So before you wet yourself with excitement over the speed of a panicked vaccine roll-out that has the UK singled out as the only nation to experiment with extending the time period between the required first dose and the booster shot, just think about why this Tory Government thought such a ‘Russian roulette’ decision was necessary. Not because we are short of supplies, as we are in a far better position than most other countries; no, it is all about the numbers and giving a false impression of accomplishment. This is the exact same con as counting one left glove and one right glove as two pieces of PPE: the PM relied on a deliberately deceptive false impression to brag about his amazing accomplishment while Oxford AstroZenica scale back supplies of vaccine to the EU. It is yet another cheap shot that could put lives at risk as there’s scant data to support the efficacy of the delay which could potentially facilitate a new, more infectious or deadly mutation of Covid 19: the expendable UK public are trapped in the Tory PM’s petri dish!

    Other countries are cautiously awaiting the results of the UK experiment, but do not expect honesty or transparency from this Tory Government or end to their highly selective Crony Capitalism, relentlessly squandering of public funds to support dysfunctional projects and obscene profiteering. We all know who will be forced to pay for their folly and corruption, but you can’t get blood out of a stone: the British working poor represent vast beaches littered with bone dry stones! We need to smarten up, protest, resist and challenge them when they rant about getting the economy back on track, but are purely focused on their profits at the expense of our survival. A tough crack-down on procurement and contract awards, plus a Robust Investigation into how this corrupt cabal came to power in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election are both urgently needed or many more will die under this Tory Sovereign Dictatorship. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #66710 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    The Captain of Capitulation and loyal Tory Trojan horse, Keir Starmer, has done everything he can to facilitate the PM’s shambolic handling of the Covid crisis, placate the Media and totally destroy the Labour Party from within, but he’s not winning any popularity contests! In the Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Starmer falls even further behind the man responsible for over 100,000 needless deaths,” They comment that, “Lethality and dishonesty abound, yet Starmer’s failure to oppose is giving Johnson and the media an easy ride. Boris Johnson has presided over the deaths of more than 100,000 UK citizens and counting, deaths that the example of New Zealand, with only 25 deaths in the whole pandemic and none since September, proves were entirely avoidable, especially in an island nation, and has combined that with the developed world’s worst economic collapse of the pandemic. Over that he has ladled dishonesty, fake news and an array of excuses that would embarrass an addled schoolboy who hadn’t done his homework.”

    The Skwawkbox point out that despite all of this, “Keir Starmer and the party under him have fallen further behind Johnson and the Tories in the public’s estimation, in spite of the friendly and even fawning assistance of much of the so-called mainstream media.
    Starmer’s ’empty suit’ persona and his failure to take Johnson’s murderous handling of the pandemic head-on have given Johnson an easy ride and have made the ‘msm’s job, of covering Johnson’s backside and passing on his propaganda as news, pathetically easy.”
    They say, “his ‘try not to upset little England’ approach is failing dismally, according to the latest Opinium polling: Politics For All” in response to the question: “Which of the following people do you think would be the best prime minister?” The result was; “Boris Johnson: 33% (+4)” with “Keir Starmer: 29% (-3)” in the poll taken between the 28/29 Jan reflecting changes from Jan 15. Thy say, “Starmer’s appalling inadequacy does far worse than shame a once-great party. When a government is murderous and the media are corrupt and all too eager to smooth its path, such silence and weakness adds to the already-horrific death toll.”

    The Party membership are screaming, “Left, Left, Left,” but our Captain of Capitulation is ordering a brisk goose step to the alt-right! In another critical Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Starmer writes for right-wing rag with pro-fascist history – and apes Tory fantasy-propaganda” reminds us of the tabloid’s ongoing hateful bigotry. They quote a past shameful headline: “’Hurrah for the Blackshirts’, wrote the Mail, and in what twisted universe is modern day UK, with more than 100,000 deaths and its economic collapse, ‘the envy of the world’? Keir Starmer has sunk to new depths with a column for the Mail Online, which before the Second World War published a front page praising Britain’s fascist ‘blackshirts’. The Mail’s history since then has been scarcely less vile, stoking xenophobia and utterly anti-Labour, and only last week attacking Labour MP Ian Byrne for travelling 30 miles to support striking workers while ignoring Boris Johnson’s trip to Scotland.” The Daily Fail spews more racist bile than almost any other tabloid.

    The Skwawkbox complain that, “worse still, Starmer has stooped to amplifying Boris Johnson’s sick fantasy-propaganda, calling the UK ‘the envy of the world’ and calling yet again for children to be sent back to school, despite the known, major role classrooms play in fuelling the coronavirus pandemic that is taking more than a thousand UK lives a day. That’s the UK that has seen more than 100,000 utterly avoidable deaths during the pandemic, often with the world’s worst coronavirus death rate and the worst economic collapse in the developed world.” But the Skwawkbox note regarding such pandering, “it’s not even working: Starmer is falling further and further behind the man responsible for those needless deaths. Starmer’s attempt to appeal to the worst instincts and delusions of the right shames the Labour movement and is an insult to the more than one hundred thousand pointlessly dead and to the millions who have lost loved ones and livelihoods to Boris Johnson’s murderous ‘leadership’. He has to go!”

    But the Labour Left are becoming more vocal in their resistance and bolder in their criticism of Keir Starmer. In another Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Breaking: Trickett follows up with new attack on Starmer’s weak opposition, mistreatment of members and ’embrace’ of ‘austerity-lite’,” they offer a glimpse of that fight back. They report on a, “New statement from Trickett blasts Starmer’s small thinking, weakness toward Tories and injustice toward members. Senior left MP Jon Trickett has Keir Starmer’s tepid failure to oppose Boris Johnson’s horrific regime and his abuse of party members firmly in his sights this evening, just 24 hours after the working-class Hemsworth MP called ‘Enough!’ on the dire leadership and drone politics of Jeremy Corbyn’s successor. Trickett has put out a further statement, this time blasting Starmer’s small thinking, ‘abstentionist’ inadequate opposition and embrace of ‘austerity-lite’ – and the Stalinism of his treatment of Labour members.” Trickett’s demands are as follows:

    “We shouldn’t be dividing our party with people in the leadership lapsing into authoritarian attacks on our members, the very people who we need to campaign in every part of the country to put our communities back together again after the crisis.
    • Arbitrary expulsions, suspensions, bans on free speech, they should have no part in a movement which is facing massive crisis in our country. Remember, the old phrase, a house divided against itself will not stand.
    • The idea that the job of the opposition at the moment is to focus exclusively on Tory mismanagement and incompetence. It’s a mistake. It’s not a big enough issue. The times we live in do not require a kind of bloodless value free opposition, nor institutional timidity, nor organised abstentionism.
    • Nor do we need to have a front bench which embraces austerity-lite – the old idea that, well the Tories doing austerity, Labour would do it but not quite so far, not so fast.
    • Labour became an anti-austerity Party and we should not abandon that.”

    To further remind the Labour Party of it’s core values, the Skwawkbox post what John Trickett MP Tweeted:
    “21st century parties don’t need old fashioned distant leadership techniques
    • Leadership in this new world needs to inspire hope, vision & strong values & to build consensus
    • Not aloof management & policing of members but ideals, vision & partnership with the wider movement! pic.twitter.com/NHWwdMaPyw — Jon Trickett MP (@jon_trickett) January 28, 2021”

    The Skwawkbox add that, “Unite’s Howard Beckett, the only prospective candidate for the leadership of the union who has vocally taken on Starmer’s dreary politics, today backed Trickett’s ‘superb’ commentary of last night, opening a new front on Starmer, with the Labour right already preparing their own coup and lining up Yvette Cooper as their candidate to replace him. Trickett’s new blast establishes him firmly as a voice for the large majority of Labour members already deeply disenchanted with Starmer’s contempt for them.” Is there a better way forward offered by the Labour Left? In a second proactive Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Left MPs demand new COVID strategy to save lives,” they suggest that there is. The Skwawkbox remind us of what is a stake saying, “The UK has now officially passed the horrific milestone of 100,000 Covid deaths, one of the highest death rates of any country in the world, though in reality that number was passed a considerable time ago.”

    The Skwawkbox justifiably claim that, “This huge loss of life is not solely te result of Government incompetence, which is as far as the so-called ‘mainstream’ media will go, if they address it at all. It is the direct result of the Tory Government refusing to try to eliminate the virus, as New Zealand and other nations have so successfully done, instead, trying to ‘live with the virus’ and ‘balance’ the loss of lives and the economy and failing disastrously on both. Unless the Government urgently corrects its approach then many tens of thousands more Covid deaths are inevitable. This crisis has deepened pre-existing inequalities in our society with those in lower-paid work and unable to work from home, Black and Asian communities and those in poorer housing amongst the hardest hit.” But sadly, “The UK coronavirus death toll was absolutely avoidable.”

    The Skwawkbox contrast how, “Had the government followed the ‘Zero Covid’ strategy adopted by numerous countries in East Asia and the Pacific then many thousands of lives would have been saved. In New Zealand, Vietnam and across all the countries following a Zero Covid plan, the death rate is hundreds of times lower than in the UK, New Zealand has seen only 25 deaths in the whole pandemic and is enjoying an almost entirely normal societal life and minimal economic impact, thanks to its government’s competence and diligence. Other societies are reopening safely and their economies are recovering. Members of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs (SCG) called for a ‘Zero Covid’ strategy in a statement on 9 September. It is needed now more than ever. While the vaccines offer real hope, it will be many months until the whole country has been properly vaccinated and the government’s changes of strategy are threatening even that.”

    The Skwawkbox report that, “The SCG has today repeated its call in a statement just released: We cannot continue with months more of this failing strategy. If the virus is once again allowed to spiral out of control, millions more will be infected, putting further strain on the NHS, and risking further dangerous mutations of the virus. We believe that this Tory Government has shown itself to be completely unwilling to implement the policies needed to save lives and livelihoods. It will only change direction under huge pressure. The role of Labour in this crisis is not primarily to support the government, it is to support the lives and livelihoods of the population. The priority for the Labour Party must now be to step up the opposition to the government’s failed strategy and force it to change direction. We believe that means stepping up the campaigning for a new public health strategy that will drive virus levels down and for the economic support that can help people get through this crisis.” The SCG list their demands, “We call for

    • A proper lockdown that lasts as long as needed to drive the number of cases to the very low levels of last summer so that we can get the virus under control, begin to reopen society safely and finally break the cycle of lockdowns.
    • An emergency package of financial support that ensures that every single person in our society has a minimum income that guarantees them a decent standard of living so that they can afford to “stay at home” and aren’t pushed into poverty or greater debt as many have been during this crisis.
    • Statutory Sick Pay to be increased to Real Living Wage levels and available to all workers to ensure everyone can afford to self-isolate.
    • A program of emergency measures to help people self-isolate, for example, making available free hotel spaces for those living in cramped accommodation.
    • A comprehensive testing and supported hotel quarantine system for all arrivals to the UK, in line with WHO recommendations. The lockdown period to be used to fix “Test and Trace” so that when society reopens cases can be targeted and isolated. That means ending the role of the profiteers such as Serco and investing in the NHS so it can deliver this key service.
    • Schools to reopen only once it is safe to do. The immediate priority must be urgent government action so that all pupils have guaranteed access to a laptop and internet access within days. The Government must be investing now in the measures advocated by the education unions to make schools safe for whenever they reopen
    • Trade unions to be centrally involved in ensuring that all workplaces are safe for workers to return to once the virus is under control.”

    The Skwawkbox ask, “How many more people will die before the Tories listen to workers and those who represent them? Will it ever happen?” This is a really tough call when the main Socialist opposition Party is being torn apart from within, “Under new management” from a Tory/Zionist Trojan horse intent on gagging and gutting the membership to achieve right wing aims. Starmer made promises to that membership in order to win the Leadership election, but he has betrayed virtually every single one of those pledges and ‘he needs to go.” This is not a fringe element of the Labour Party; resentment is mainstream and growing at pace. Constituency Labour Party members from CLPs all over the country are lolding ‘No Confidence’ votes targeting Keir Starmer over his ‘Stalinist’ authoritarian, undemocratic style of incompetent leadership. If a similar massive groundswell of resentment had featured during Jeremy Corbyn’s time in the role it would be broadcast daily on the BBC and dominating the tabloid headlines.

    The Alt-right Media are eerily silent, happy to support keeping the Starmer wrecking ball in full swing! In the Canary Article entitled, “A trade union is considering disaffiliating from Keir Starmer’s Labour” they say that, “A trade union is about to start debating its affiliation with the Labour Party. Why? Because it feels ‘further away from having a political voice’ in the party ‘than ever’. The BFAWU: everybody off? On Saturday 9 January, the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) tweeted: The background to BFAWU’s announcement makes it clear where the problem lies. ‘Cause for concern’ In November, its national president Ian Hodson wrote a blog piece titled Who Exactly Are Labour Representing? It announced the start of a consultation on the BFAWU’s affiliation with the party. In it, Hodson said: ‘The political direction of the Labour Party in recent months, along with the promotion of MPs who worked tirelessly to ensure that the Party lost both the 2017 and 2019 elections, has given members cause for concern’.”

    The Canary note that Hodson added, “There is also a clear agenda to alienate any MP considered to be supportive of socialism and move them to the backbenches. For example, Lisa Nandy MP was part of the so-called 2016 ‘coup’ against the then-leader Jeremy Corbyn. Starmer promoted her to shadow foreign secretary. And of course, he also kept the removal of the whip from Corbyn. This resulted in a swathe of motions from Constituency Labour Parties in support of the latter. Hodson also highlighted other problems with Starmer’s leadership: from the party’s ‘backing all the way’ of the Tory government’s ‘disastrous’ coronavirus response, its propping-up of landlords, not tenants, and the leaked report into what Hodson called the ‘deliberate sabotage’ of Corbyn and Labour’s election bids. This is aside from the Labour Party’s current “purge” of dissenting CLPs.”

    No political voice? The Canary report that, “Overall, Hodson said: Sir Keir Starmer was supposedly elected as a unity candidate, yet his idea of ‘bringing people together’ seems to have amounted to nothing more than deliberate, vindictive and divisive attacks on those regarded as being on the ‘socialist’ side of the Party. Ironic, given the fact that Labour is supposed to be at heart, a socialist endeavour.” They say, “He concluded that: As a Union, we have been involved with representatives of the Labour Party across three centuries. Indeed, the first recorded meeting was with Keir Hardie in 1893, following a demonstration of journeymen bakers in London… However, despite the importance of Trade Unions and the inevitable current and post-Covid economic plight heading towards working people, today, we feel further away from having a political voice than ever. So, on Tuesday 12 January, the consultation process looks set to begin.”

    According to the Canary, Starmer is fomenting discontent, they say that, “If the BFAWU’s membership does decide to disaffiliate, it won’t be the first union to voice its displeasure at Starmer. Unite the Union has already reduced the money it pays Labour.” They add that, “In November 2020, the Mirror reported that the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and Communication Workers Union (CWU) were thinking of doing similar. Both the FBU and CWU have previously disaffiliated or cut funding from the party under Tony Blair’s leadership. The BFAWU regularly gives thousands of pounds to Labour. So a disaffiliation would be a financial loss for the party. But moreover, the union has been at the heart of notable, grassroots campaigns for workers’ rights, such as the ‘McStrike’ campaign for fair pay and conditions at McDonalds. If it abandons Labour, it’s a sign of the growing disconnect between the party hierarchy and the real world for working class people.”

    Sir Keir Starmer demonstrates all the classic hallmarks of weak leadership: narcissistic, deeply insecure, inflexible, uncollaborative and dictatorial, his stubborn, arrogant, obsession with absolute control is decimating the Labour ranks in an undemocratic power grab that has fringe support. I don’t believe Starmer will succeed in defiling and obliterating the Corbyn legacy or stuffing the goal of equality, anti-austerity Socialism back in the bottle. After a decade of preaching that there was no ‘magic money tree’ the Tories suddenly found a fertile funding forest to defoliate with their kleptocratic cash squandering on benefactors and chums. For an entire decade the Labour Party spectacularly failed to challenge the necessity for austerity’s cruel ideological persecution of the poor in the face of soaring bonuses paid to those who gambled and lost in the financial crash. A public sector pay freeze has already been announced and there will be more punitive measures imposed by the Tories if we allow them to stomp their boot on our necks again.

    In many countries throughout the world, where the population are under lockdown restrictions, massive crowds of people are taking to the streets to participate in mass demonstrations; the British people must have the courage to do the same or we will be trapped in perpetual exploitation under the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship. Powerful regimes like this with a confected claim to legitimacy cling to power for multiple decades of increasing oppression before they are finally removed. We already have strong evidence of corruption in the illegal use of public funds to pay for defamatory propaganda targeting Corbyn and the Labour Party; suspicions regarding the incredulous result of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election will persist until there is a thorough Investigation into the Postal Ballot Anomalies, but the corruption in ongoing uncontrolled abuse of public funds is being challenged in Court. Those who cheat, abuse and exploit public trust must be tried, prosecuted and jailed not rewarded with public office: Get The Tories Out ASAP! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #66754 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    A sign the Tories are consolidating their Sovereign Dictatorship is manifested in the targeting of Journalists and manipulation of the Mainstream Media. In the Canary Article entitled, “UK police just arrested two journalists in one week,” they point out that, “The UK government likes to brag about how we live in a democratic nation that ‘supports human rights, democracy and good governance around the world’. But its support for democracy doesn’t seem to stretch to upholding the rights of journalists. In the past week, two journalists were arrested trying to go about their jobs, reporting on protests in different parts of the country. Meanwhile, the UK continues to score badly in rankings for World Press Freedom. At 35th in the world, it lags behind much of Europe. In September 2020, The Council of Europe issued a Level2 ‘media freedom alert’ after the government blacklisted journalists from Declassified UK. Taken together, this paints a grim picture of press freedom in the UK. And it’s one that should worry us all.”

    The Canary report on a Journalist who was, “Threatened with a Covid fine & then arrested. Denise Laura Baker was arrested on Saturday 30 January as she attempted to cover the police evicting anti-HS2 activists from their protest tower in Euston. Baker is an accredited photo and video journalist who has been making a long-term documentary about the resistance to HS2’s high speed railway line. Police and National Eviction Team bailiffs began to evict activists on Wednesday 27 January, and Baker had been there daily documenting it. She told The Canary that there were lots of police on the Saturday of her arrest. In Baker’s opinion, the police were trying to remove anyone that could witness and document the actions of police and bailiffs. Baker said: ‘I was approached by a female officer who told me to leave the area. I informed her that I was working legitimately and showed her my NUJ press card. She told me that it was not a recognised card and that it did not prove I was working.”

    The Canary recount her response to the officer, “I informed her that I had been there since Wednesday with no issues. She called over colleagues who said they were going to issue me with a Covid fine. When asked for my details I refused and explained that in accepting the fine I would legitimise their accusation of me being unlawfully in the area and give them free rein to keep moving me on. I then walked away from them and continued working. They followed me, insisting that they were issuing a fine and if I didn’t give my details they would arrest me, which is eventually what they did. They then cuffed me, put me in the police car and took me to Kentish Town station.” Baker concluded: “It is my belief that they simply wanted me out of the way so there were less witnesses to their work on that day. Journalists are classed as key workers in the coronavirus pandemic and Baker should, legally, have been allowed to carry on doing her job.”

    The Canary report that this was, “The second arrest of the week,” saying, “But Baker wasn’t the first journalist finding herself in police cells last week. Freelance photographer Andy Aitchison was arrested on Thursday 28 January. The police came to his house more than six hours after he photographed a protest at Kent’s Napier Barracks, where hundreds of asylum seekers are currently being imprisoned. The police seized Aitchison’s mobile phone, as well as the memory card from his camera, and arrested him under suspicion of causing criminal damage. Commenting on Aitchison’s arrest, Baker told The Canary: Mine is the second recent incident where a reporter has been arrested while working. It’s extremely concerning that if a photographer or journalist appears to be on good terms with the activists, they are at risk of being targeted. These actions set a dangerous precedent.”

    The Canary warn that, “Aitchison’s case is particularly concerning given the seizure of his phone and memory card. Journalists not only do not have to reveal their sources, but they are also obligated to protect them. As the NUJ states: The NUJ ethical code of conduct stipulates that a journalist must protect the identity of sources who supply information in confidence and material gathered in the course of her or his work. Normally if the police want to view a journalist’s footage for evidential purposes, they have to do it through the courts.” They report that, “In 2012, media organisations won a High Court battle against the police who wanted their footage of the eviction of Dale Farm. On winning the case, head of newsgathering at the BBC stated: Journalists must maintain their independence, must not be seen as evidence gatherers and must not have their safety compromised.”

    The Canary say that, “Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. In 2019, The Canary reported how the Metropolitan Police arrested freelance journalist Guy Smallman while covering an environmental protest. And in September 2019, journalists from The Canary were obstructed and assaulted while covering protests against the London arms fair. At the end of 2020, the National Union of Journalists reminded the police to respect journalists’ roles as key workers after ‘hostility towards reporters and photographers’ who were covering anti-lockdown protests. The Canary contacted the Metropolitan Police for comment on Baker’s case. But it had not responded to the specific case at the time of publication and instead referred us to the guidance from National Police Chief’s Council.”

    According to the Canary, “UK press freedom is a ’cause for concern.’ Reporters Without Borders releases an annual World Press Freedom Index. It highlights that while the UK ‘champions’ media freedom, the reality is different for reporters on the ground. The organisation argues that: Despite the UK co-hosting a Global Conference for Media Freedom and assuming the role of co-chair of the new Media Freedom Coalition, the UK’s domestic press freedom record remained cause for concern throughout 2019. They say it pointed out that: During the general election campaign, the Conservative Party threatened to review the BBC’s licence fee and Channel 4’s public service broadcasting licence if the party returned to government. Reporters Without Borders has also highlighted how the current government has done its best to shut down the dissenting voices of what it calls ‘campaigning’ media.”

    The Canary note Reporters Without Borders response as, “In particular, it argues that government bodies have used: heavy-handed responses to reporting on stories related to the Covid-19 pandemic. It continues: We are alarmed by the UK government’s dismissal of serious public interest reporting as ‘false’ and coming from ‘campaigning newspapers’. These Trumpian tactics are only serving to fuel hostility and public distrust in media. While high-profile cases like that of Julian Assange fill newspaper headlines, many lesser-known journalists, whose work is absolutely vital in holding the government and corporations like HS2 to account, are also facing persecution. We should all be horrified at these attacks on press freedom.” The case against Craig Murray is yet another attack on press freedom that we cannot ignore.

    There is no doubt the public are being manipulated. In the Left Foot Forward Article entitled, “How the Home Office politicised a ‘migrant camp’ fire to satisfy right-wing media tastes,” Raoul Walawalker recounts how, “Priti Patel wasted no time putting out populist distortions following a fire at the weekend.” He says, “Hundreds of asylum seekers were told to form ‘bubbles’ and go into lockdown for ten days – despite over a third having coronavirus. They were asked to self-isolate while continuing to sleep and eat in restricted communal space indefinitely, in a former army barracks that was scheduled for demolition. The chance of some unrest seemed likely. As such, visiting charities weren’t surprised by reports of a fire at one building on Friday at Napier Barracks in Kent. The barracks was repurposed to house 400 asylum seekers in September and has caused concern among human rights activists.”

    Walawalker reports that, “Some 14 arrests have followed investigations into the fire over the weekend. Separately, a journalist outside the gates on previous day was also arrested and later released. ‘Bad things are going on in there,’ he told the BBC about conditions inside the camp. The arrested journalist, Andrew Aitcheson, had documented a protest in which demonstrators threw buckets of fake blood over the camp’s front gates, describing the conditions as grim. According to the police, there was no evidence of organised rioting, despite it being reported as such by the Daily Mail and The Sun. Instead, there was a broken window and a building on fire. Within very little time, the fire at the camp was seized upon by Home Secretary Priti Patel as a way both of attacking the migrants behaviour through the right-wing press, justifying the ongoing hostile treatment, and impressing the tabloids and the hard-right, with Tory indifference to human suffering in relation to immigrants.”

    Walawalker described how, “In a three-paragraph statement, she carefully made sure to reflect entirely where her sympathies rest, the readership of the Daily Mail, essentially. Take paragraph one for example: ‘The damage and destruction at Napier barracks is not only appalling but deeply offensive to the taxpayers of this country who are providing this accommodation while asylum claims are being processed.’ In this understanding, it is only ‘taxpayers’ who Brits should be concerned about, not the vulnerable who are in our care. ‘This type of action will not be tolerated, and the Home Office will support the police to take robust action against those vandalising property, threatening staff and putting lives at risk.’ Here, Patel is reducing the complexity of the issue, distorting the truth. The asylum seekers’ action was reduced to wanton vandalism, even though its actually their lives are at risk from Home Office policy. No serious injuries have been reported from the events.”

    Walawalker says, “Patel went on: ‘This site has previously accommodated our brave soldiers and army personnel, it is an insult to say that it is not good enough for these individuals’.” He is critical of, “Another spin. She knows well that right-wing papers adore anything to do with the army and military history. But here’s the thing: there is no record of the building being used since the 1990s. It’s been scheduled for demolition with the land to be developed by builders Taylor Wimpey at a later date. Patel’s comments have drawn criticism from the charities Freedom from Torture and Detention Action, who quite justifiably have accused her of politicising the incident. In the meantime, the Home Office has started moving out some of the asylum seekers believed to have tested negative for coronavirus. It won’t relocate all, or say how many are infected. It would look bad in its favourite newspapers. ImmiNews is part of an organisation of UK and Ireland immigration lawyers.”

    We need neutrality, robust scrutiny and accountability in our national Media, but the Tories are determined to stack the odds in favour of the Alt-right. In the Left Foot Forward (LFF) Article entitled, “Exclusive: Public opposed to ex-Daily Mail editor being lined up for broadcasting regulator role” they insist that, “An overwhelming 71% of the public believe it is more important for the chair to be politically neutral rather than influential in UK media and culture.” They say that, “Voters are opposed to the rumoured appointment of former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre as head of Ofcom by four to one, Left Foot Forward can reveal.” This follows the recent top picks to steer the BBC even further to the right as if their thoroughly biased coverage of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election wasn’t enough to seriously discredit ‘Auntie’ as a grotesque affront to UK democracy.

    LFF say that, “A YouGov survey for the New Economics Organisers Network also shows that 49% believe the broadcast regulator should appoint a new chair through an internal recruitment process, rather than being appointed directly by the Government. The polling, first conducted in September but now published, show that 34% specifically opposed Dacre’s appointment, with just 8% supporting it. The polling comes as Boris Johnson is expected to announce the appointment of the controversial Dacre this week. An overwhelming 71% of the public believe it is more important for the broadcasting regulator’s chair to be politically neutral rather than influential in UK media and culture. Dacre, who has allegedly been lined up for the role to ‘target the BBC’ has previously been described as ‘the man who hates liberal Britain’.”

    LFF elaborate on why the Tory pick is so controversial, saying that, “Under Dacre, the Daily Mail has been unsubtle when pushing its own brand of right-wing philosophy. Perhaps the best encapsulation of their worldview is the now infamous ‘Enemies of the people’ front page, in which High Court judges were attacked for ensuring Parliament had a say over the Brexit process. The paper, which campaigned fervently for Brexit, often had difficulty disguising its outright contempt for ‘Remoaners’, ‘saboteurs’ or really, anybody who is not a Daily Mail reader.” They warn, “it has been accused of fuelling xenophobic sentiment by running a series of frenzied articles on migrants in the run-up to the EU referendum. A 2016 study showed that the Mail had dedicated 122 front pages to anti-migration stories over a five-year period. Other Mail stories under his watch including taking on NHS workers asking for a pay rise, raging at so-called ‘benefits scroungers’ and negative reporting of working mothers.”

    LFF explain Ofcom’s key regulator role, “Ofcom is the regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. It regulates the TV and radio sectors. Stop Funding Hate director Richard Wilson said: ‘Under Paul Dacre, the Daily Mail’s coverage got so bad that they were banned as a source by Wikipedia and called out by the United Nations over their ‘unique’ hostility to migrants. The UK press is already the least trusted in Europe. The last thing we need right now is the ‘Foxification’ of our TV and radio too. But there are ways to challenge this: One thing we can all do is use our power as consumers and urge the companies we shop with not to advertise with TV channels seeking to introduce ‘Fox News style’ broadcasting in Britain.”

    “Founding Media Reform Coalition member Des Freedman told Left Foot Forward that the appointment confirmed the ‘rampant politicisation’ of the tech regulator and media and tech policy in general. He added: ‘Dacre has no meaningful experience in broadcasting, telecommunications or broadband which are central parts of Ofcom’s remit. He has no experience of fostering or scrutinising impartiality which is supposed to be at the heart of Ofcom’s responsibility… ‘Our concern is that Dacre is a sop to the Tory right and a potential axeman who will run down the BBC and public service broadcasting more generally, without doing anything to deal with the very serious problems of concentration and elite influence that are undermining public confidence in our media system’. LSE professor in the department of Media and Communications Charlie Beckett told LFF that Ofcom has had ‘political’ appointments to its leadership in the past. ‘But it is primarily a very technical organisation with detailed procedures in regulating industries such as telecoms that are all about wires and pipes, not politics.”

    “Ofcom is a very bureaucratic institution with lots of committees and statutory obligations. The Chair has little room for manoeuvre,” professor Beckett told LFF. But he added, “that media and technology has become increasingly political and Ofcom’s responsibility has extended to more sensitive areas such as online and the BBC. While Dacre is ‘a big beast’ in media and ‘a big thinker’, he has a narrow background and very little experience in the industries Ofcom works with, Prof Beckett said.” He added: “Clearly, this can be interpreted as an attempt to send a warning shot to the BBC and even the social networks and it will fuel the febrile debate around ideas of impartiality. ‘In practice, I am not sure he will be able or willing to have much impact on Ofcom itself or its policies. We are about to enter an important phase for UK media where the old regulatory structures and institutions are struggling to deal with the new information environment’.”

    According to LFF Prof. Beckett did warn that, “’Power and industry structures are shifting and clearly this government wants to have a strong right-wing figure at the heart of the coming debate.’ It remains to be seen whether this appointment is just Johnson fueling the culture wars and throwing red meat to his backbenchers or if it will reshape the future of broadcast news. LFF reached out to Paul Dacre for comment. Polling by YouGov for NEON in an online weighted survey of 1,700 adults, fieldwork done 29-30 Sept. 2020. Edit from earlier version suggesting a ‘majority’ of the public opposed the appointment: word changed to ‘plurality’.” We should be alarmed by this Tory manipulation of our Media as history has proven the extreme danger of Dacre’s style of hateful propaganda, most notably with the demonization of the Jews in Germany under Hitler’s regime. Migrants and the Gypsies are already being targeted by a highly toxic Tory Home Secretary Priti Patel; public acceptance of persecution is deadly.

    In the Skwawkbox Article entitled, “New ONS data show 570 education staff have died of coronavirus, but media claim just 139 as ONS top-line data hides majority” they reveal the deliberately misleading Tory manipulation of data. “Newspapers state death toll less than a quarter of reality as ONS age-breaks mean top-line numbers massively understate real cost. Media’s claim today would mean nine staff who died tragically up to June last year had come back to life. The so-called ‘mainstream’ media have massively understated the number of teachers and other education staff who have been killed by COVID-19 during the government’s wilful determination to keep schools open in the pandemic. A variety of media reported that 139 education staff have died of the virus, which would mean nine staff coming back to life compared to the death toll of 148 in June of last year. The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data are split into the bizarre age brackets of 18-64 and over-64, and the ONS ‘top-line’ data said 139 staff 64 or under have died.” It is similar to the “died within 28 days of a positive Covid 19 test” data trick.

    The Skwawkbox claim This figure allowed the media to claim that education settings carry no higher risk than elsewhere. But the real number of education staff killed by the virus is at least 570: Higher education teaching professionals 39 deaths; Further education teaching professionals 48 deaths; Secondary education teaching professionals 148 deaths; Primary and nursery education teaching professionals 85 deaths; Special needs education teaching professionals 14 deaths; Senior professionals of educational establishments 40 deaths; Education advisers and school inspectors 9 deaths; Teaching and other educational professionals n.e.c. 35 deaths; Nursery nurses and assistants 20 deaths; Childminders and related occupations 36 deaths’ Playworkers 4 deaths; Teaching assistants 74 death; Educational support assistants 18 deaths” The Skwawkbox claim that, “even without counting the over-64s, 217 have died. Despite this, the media have continued to claim the lower figure.”

    Skwawkbox point out that, “TES has published the real figure, quoting the @ToryFibs analysis of the ONS data that revealed the real cost. The ONS, which was slammed just last week by the UK Statistics Authority for its presentation of data misused by the Tories to claim schools are safe, even before this latest data batch, also claimed today on social media that the death rate among education staff is no worse than the general population. But the National Education Union (NEU) revealed that Department for Education data showed that rates of infection among education staff is between twice as high and seven times as high as in the wider population.” They say, “every time data is poorly or misleadingly presented, the media are all over it to give the Tories a free pass or even, as with this week’s spate of front pages demanding that school reopen, pushing the government into actions that would allow schools again to drive the pandemic up and put teachers and the rest of us in grave and avoidable danger.”

    The UK is indeed ‘world beating’ in one area: Political Satire; just as well, as without it most of us would have totally lost our sanity by now. This latest jingle on YouTube from PoliticsJOE is absolutely priceless for restoring faith in journalistic honesty with a truly hilarious, infectiously catchy tune encompassing the flaws and failures of Labour’s Trojan horse Leader, ‘Under New Management:’ Keir Starmer, “I Wanna Be Like You” #BalooLabour. Just one line captures the essence of it, “They’re claiming I’m a wet wipe, just a haircut without a spine’! It’s a must see; long live the British sense of humour, it will see us through adversity. Tory bragging over vaccine access is like poking the bear with a stick, as we ramp-up anti-EU nationalistic sentiment with our Tory dominated Alt-right Media compliantly doing the baiting; such poor deplomacy doesn’t end well. BBC and Media control was used to trick the Brits into accepting the incredulous result of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election; we need to Challenge and Investigate to Get The Tories Out! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #66790 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Taking a long hard look at the Labour Leader, it’s obvious he must be replaced. In the Evolve Politics Article entitled, “Fact Check: Yes, Keir Starmer has broken or rowed back on a large proportion of his Labour Leadership Pledges already,” Tom Rogers wrote back in November 2020, “seven months after Keir Starmer was elected leader of the Labour Party.” He claimed that, “Despite winning over a convincing majority of Labour members back in April, and pulling level with the Tories in the polls, the former Director of Public Prosecution’s performance since his election victory has bitterly divided opinion within the party. Key to Starmer’s successful leadership campaign were his 10 key pledges, with the Holborn and St Pancras MP promising members he would maintain the vast majority of Jeremy Corbyn’s policy platform, especially in areas such as the economy, climate change and social justice, as well as keeping many of the party’s recent stances in areas such as immigraton, foreign policy and human rights.”

    Rogers notes that, “However, over the past few months, Evolve have received numerous messages from Labour members who say that whilst they voted for Keir Starmer in the leadership election, they believe he has already backtracked on many of the promises he made to them. With this in mind, Evolve decided to take a leaf out of Starmer’s notebook and do some forensic research. We have analysed every single aspect of Starmer’s 10 leadership election pledges against what he and his Shadow Cabinet have said and done over the last 7 months. Here’s what we found.”

    Regarding pledge, “1) Economic Justice:” to, “Increase income tax for the top 5% of earners, reverse the Tories’ cuts in corporation tax and clamp down on tax avoidance, particularly large corporations. No stepping back from our core principals. Increase income tax for the top 5% of earners. Rogers claims this was “Rowed back on,” reasoning that, “In July, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Rachel Reeves, repeatedly refused to back Keir Starmer’s promise to increase tax on people earning over £80,000, stating that the party needed to ‘reassess’ the policy. Labour argued that, amid the ongoing pandemic and the resultant recession, any form of tax rises would inhibit the UK’s economic recovery.”

    Rogers adds, “However, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, Anneliese Dodds, appeared to distance herself from the policy altogether, saying that such a Wealth Tax ‘would only be needed if we are not growing our way out of this crisis’. In response to criticism over the party’s apparent backtracking, Keir Starmer’s spokesperson said the Labour leader still stood by his commitment to raise taxes on the top 5% of earners, but refused to confirm whether or not it would be included in the party’s next manifesto, stating: ‘Keir made those commitments during the leadership campaign, but we’re four years out from a general election and the next manifesto will set out our full tax policy at the time.’ ‘Keir stands by the commitments he made during the leadership election, but in terms of our final tax plans they’ll be set out at the next election in the manifesto’.”

    Re, “Reverse the Tories’ cuts in corporation tax,” Rogers claims it was, “Rowed back on.” “In line with the party’s current position that tax rises would harm the UK’s economic recovery, the Labour leader’s office also confirmed in September that the party would not support any rises in Corporation Tax or Capital Gains Tax in the Autumn Budget. It is unclear whether Labour will support rises in Corporation Tax, as per Keir Starmer’s Leadership Election pledge, in their next manifesto.” On the pledge, “Clamp Down on Tax Avoidance,” Rogers says there’s still, “Questions to answer, Since he became leader in April, neither Keir Starmer nor any member of his Shadow Cabinet appear to have made any prominent statements regarding clamping down on tax avoidance. However, following the result of the leadership election being announced, it was revealed that one of Keir Starmer’s key election donors was Trevor Chinn, a multi-millionaire who not only opposes tax rises for the rich, has also defended tax avoidance measures.”

    Re, “No stepping back from our core principlesm” Rogers says there’s still, “Questions to be answered. Given that the party already appears to have rowed back on Keir Starmer’s key economic pledges, (albeit under unprecedented economic circumstances), added to their continued refusal to commit to the pledges in their next manifesto.” Has Labour ditched core economic principles it held during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.” He notes in, “a recent interview with Huff Post, Starmer responded to criticism by denying that he was planning to ditch any of his leadership pledges, stating: ‘No, they were important pledges, very important pledges, in terms of the approach I would take and the priorities I would have as leader of the Labour party, and they remain my priorities’.”

    Rogers says, “In addition, the Labour leader even suggested the party may need to be even ‘bolder’ with their economic policies in order to deal with the fallout of the ongoing pandemic, adding: ‘What I’m saying is: the work and the challenge now is so much more profound than we thought it was in 2019, or even this year before the pandemic hit. It actually means we might have to be bolder than we might have imagined.’ However, Starmer refused to be drawn on exactly what his economic policies would be, stating: ‘The next general election is in 2024, so I don’t think it’s prudent at this stage to set out tax arrangements for 2024, when we don’t know the size of the debt, we don’t know the damage that has been done’.”

    “2) Social Justice: Abolish Universal Credit and end the Tories’ cruel sanctions regime. Set a national goal for wellbeing to make health as important as GDP; invest in services that help shift to a preventative approach. Stand up for universal services and defend our NHS. Support the abolition of tuition fees and invest in lifelong learning.” On “Abolish Universal Credit” Rogers says the Pledge is Kept. “In September, Labour’s Shadow DWP Secretary, Jonathan Reynolds, confirmed in an article that it was still the party’s commitment to scrap Universal Credit and replace it with a ‘safety net that works for all’.”

    On “End Benefits Sanctions” the point is “Unconfirmed, but looks positive” according to Rodgers. “Whilst Labour do not appear to have committed themselves to abolishing Benefit Sanctions entirely since Keir Starmer became leader in April, the party’s Shadow DWP Secretary has called on the government to extend the ongoing benefit sanctions suspension during the pandemic. Speaking in the House of Commons on June 29th, Jonathan Reynolds said: “At a time when unemployment has risen sharply, the number of vacancies has dropped, people are shielding and schools have not yet gone back, threatening people with reducing their financial support if they do not look for jobs is surely untenable, so will the Secretary of State announce an immediate extension?”

    Re “Set a National Goal for Wellbeing and Make Health as Important as GDP” Rogers judges to point inapplicable.” “This pledge can only be properly measured if Labour attain power.” Re “Invest in Services that Help Shift to a Prevention Approach.” Rogers says there’s “Questions to answer.” “Keir Starmer recently encountered criticism after describing the Black Lives Matter movement’s policy to ‘Defund The Police,’ which, contrary to the extremely poorly-worded slogan, actually calls for the reallocation of policing funding towards preventative measures in order to tackle crime more effectively, as ‘nonsense’.” Starmer added: “Nobody should be saying anything about defunding the police, and I would have no truck with that, I was the Director of Public Prosecutions for five years.” “I worked with police forces across England and Wales bringing thousands of people to court. So my support for the police is very, very strong and evidenced in the joint actions I’ve done with the police.”

    Rogers points out that, “The ‘Defund The Police‘ slogan has been widely criticised by many on the left as it does not fully explain the policy, and it is entirely possible that Starmer simply did not know that it actually entailed shifting funding towards preventative measures. However, despite issuing an apology over a separate flippant comment he made during the same interview, the Labour leader has still not clarified his position on the reallocation of funds towards preventative measures in order to tackle crime.” Re “Stand Up for Universal Services & the NHS,” Rogers says this Pledge is kept. “Keir Starmer has repeatedly stood up for the NHS during the ongoing pandemic, with the Labour leader also saying that after the crisis had passed there would need to be a reckoning regarding pay towards our ‘underpaid and undervalued’ NHS staff.”

    Rogers notes that, “The Labour leader also cited the NHS in his keynote Labour Conference speech, criticising the government’s ‘under-funding of the NHS, the abandonment of social care and the lack of investment in prevention’ as well as mentioning ‘properly funded universal public services’ as a key priority.” On, “Support the Abolition of Tuition Fees and Lifelong Learning,” Rogers judges it a Pledge Kept. “Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, Kate Green, confirmed that the party will be maintaining their core education policies to abolish Tuition Fees and create a National Education Service for Lifelong Learning.”

    “3) Climate Justice: Put the Green New Deal at the heart of everything we do. There is no issue more important to our future than the climate emergency. A Clean Air Act to tackle pollution locally. Demand international action on climate rights. Put the Green New Deal at the heart of everything we do,” Rogers says there’s “Questions to be answered.” The reality is that putting the “Green New Deal policy at the heart of everything they do is an extremely tough pledge to keep given the unprecedented pandemic.” But Starmer has already “rowed back to some extent after refusing to commit to the current Labour policy of net carbon neutrality by 2030.” Will Labour abandon the policy? His spokesman said: “The last manifesto made a number of really important commitments on this, which Keir supported, but we lost the election and Labour lost five years in government to tackle climate change. The next manifesto, the next target, will be written in four or five years’ time and we’ll have to deal with the circumstances we are in then.”

    Re “A Clean Air Act to tackle pollution locally,” Rogers says a Pledge kept. “Keir Starmer had been talking about introducing a Clean Air Act for years before he became Labour leader, and he also reportedly reiterated his commitment to the policy at Labour conference in September. It must also be noted, however, that Starmer recently encountered personal criticism after it was revealed that he drives a gas-guzzling SUV.” Re, “Demand international action on climate rights, hr says this is inconclusive. “We’re not entirely sure what ‘climate rights’ are, but we assume that Mr Starmer meant ‘climate change’ in this pledge. However, since becoming Labour leader, Starmer does not appear to have urged any international action on climate change.”

    “4) Promote Peace & Human Rights: No more illegal wars. Introduce a Prevention of Military Intervention Act and put human rights at the heart of foreign policy. Review all UK arms sales and make us a force for international peace and justice.” On, Illegal wars, Rogers claims there’s questions to be answered. “Keir Starmer has not yet started any illegal wars. However, one of Starmer’s first moves as Labour leader was to appoint John Healey as Shadow Defence Secretary. Healey, who was a junior minister under Tony Blair, consistently voted in favour of the illegal Iraq War and against investigations into it.” Regarding the, “Introduce Prevention of Military Intervention Act and put human rights at the heart of foreign policy,” Rogers warns that this pledge was Broken, highlighting a glaring example, “In terms of putting ‘human rights at the heart of foreign policy’, Keir Starmer has already backtracked massively on this promise after ordering Labour MPs not to oppose the Tories’ widely-derided Overseas Operations Bill.”

    This is “a piece of legislation which effectively makes it legal for British troops to use torture against their opponents. Starmer also sacked three members of the Shadow Cabinet, Nadia Whittome, Beth Winter and Olivia Blake, for breaking to party whip by voting against the bill. In addition, Starmer has also encountered criticism after backtracking on Labour’s policy towards Kashmir by refusing to support self-determination for the Kashmiri people, a shift which led to more than 100 mosques and Islamic centres across the country threatening to boycott the party. The Labour leader has also refused to support Labour’s current policy of sanctions against Israel if they break international law by annexing more Palestine territory.”

    Review all UK arms sales and make us a force for international peace and justice, Rogers says there’s “questions to be answered.” “Labour have consistently called for the government to review arms sales since Keir Starmer became leader, with the shadow minister for peace and disarmament, Fabian Hamilton, also called on the government to re-establish the parliamentary committee on arms export controls. However, Starmer’s positions on the Overseas Operations Bill, on Kashmir, and on Israeli sanctions, are clearly contrary to his pledge to make the party a ‘force for international peace and justice’.”

    “5) Common Ownership: Public services should be in public hands not making profits for shareholders. Support common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water; end outsourcing in our NHS, local government and justice system.” Rogers warns that Starmer has Rowed back on this. “In September, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, Lisa Nandy, refused to back Keir Starmer’s leadership pledge to nationalise Rail, Mail, Energy and Water, stating that public ownership of these utilities was simply ‘one way’ of doing things. Immediately following Nandy’s comments, Keir Starmer then failed to make any mention whatsoever of common ownership, nationalisation, public ownership or ending privatisation in his keynote Conference Speech.”

    Rogers points out that, “In a recent question and answer session with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Starmer refused to commit to the party’s current policy of nationalising BT Openreach, instead simply declaring that Labour would be ‘pro-business’ under his leadership. Keir Starmer has also been criticised over his response to the Tories’ extraordinarily shady practice of outsourcing multi-million pound contracts to party donors. However, whilst the party have called for transparency over their NHS outsourcing practices as far back as May, as well as recently describing the outsourcing scandal as ‘outrageous’, many Labour members feel the party leadership be putting far more scrutiny on the government over their astonishing frivolousness with taxpayers’ money.”

    “6) Defend Migrants’ Rights: Full voting rights for EU nationals. Defend free movement as we leave the EU. An immigration system based on compassion and dignity. End indefinite detention and call for the closure of centres such as Yarl’s Wood.” Re “Full voting rights for EU Nationals, Rogers says this is, Inconclusive as, “Evolve cannot find any comments from either Starmer or his front bench on the issue of voting rights for EU Nationals since he was elected leader in April.” Re, “Defend Free Movement as we leave the EU, He says there’s Questions to be answered. “Back in 2017, Starmer declared that Free Movement would have to end after Britain left the EU. Yet, in his 2020 leadership pledges, he promised to defend Free Movement as we left the EU. Since being elected Labour leader in April, Starmer does not appear to have made any solid statements on the issue either way.”

    Re, “An immigration system based on compassion and dignity,” Rogers says this Pledge is Broken. “Keir Starmer faced a ‘revolt’ of Labour members back in August after he refused to defend migrants crossing the channel, with critics claiming he was ‘turning a blind eye’ to desperate people fleeing war and persecution to try and make it to the UK. Rather than defending the rights of migrants to claim asylum in Britain, which is enshrined in the UN Refugee Convention, the Labour front bench merely criticised the government’s ‘incompetence’ in dealing with migrants arriving on Britain’s shores. The soft-left Open Labour group called on Starmer to ‘join us in condemning the government, and campaigning for an immigration system that advances the rights of all working people’;” a Momentum petition calls on Keir Starmer to: “end his silence on the scapegoating of refugees and migrants”.

    Re, “End indefinite detention and call for the closure of centres such as Yarl’s Wood,” Rogers says this is “Inconclusive.” “As well as being particularly quiet about Brexit-related issues since becoming Labour leader, Starmer has also largely attempted to sit on the fence when it comes to immigration, with many believing his reluctance to tackle the divisive issues head-on points to his desire to win back more socially conservative ‘Red Wall’ voters. Unsurprisingly, Evolve have therefore been unable to find any statements from the Labour leader or the front bench regarding his pledge to end indefinite detention and close detention centres.”

    “7) Strengthen Workers’ Rights and Trade Unions: Work shoulder to shoulder with trade unions to stand up for working people, tackle insecure work and low pay. Repeal the Trade UnionAct. Oppose Tory attacks on the right to take industrial action and weakening of workplace rights.” Re, “Work should to shoulder with trade unions to stand up for working people, tackle insecure work and low pay,” Rogers claims, “Pledge Broken. Under Starmer, Labour have repeatedly opposed Teaching Unions regarding whether or not schools should be open amid the pandemic. During the first lockdown, leaked Labour briefings showed that Starmer thought, “the Teaching Unions were acting as a ‘barrier’ to children and their education, and also described how they believed the sacked Shadow Education Secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, had failed to ‘stand up to the National Education Union’.”

    Rogers highlights that, “In June, Labour ignored Union advice on the two-metre rule by supporting the government’s relaxation of social distancing measures. In October, Britain’s largest Trade Union, Unite, voted to cut their funding to Labour by around £1m in response to the party’s rightward direction under Starmer.” In addition, “just this week, seven Labour-affiliated Trade Unions issued a joint statement condemning the Labour leadership’s decision to suspend Jeremy Corbyn over his response to the EHRC report into antisemitism. Given the evidence, it’s fair to say that Keir Starmer has well and truly annihilated his promise to stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with Trade Unions during the last seven months.” Re, “Oppose Tory attacks on the right to take industrial action and weakening of workplace rights, He says there’s “Questions to be answered.” Although, “Labour have consistently opposed any weakening of workers’ rights after Brexit,” they found “no specific comments” re, “the right to take industrial action…”

    “8) Radical Devolution of Power, Wealth and Opportunity: Push power, wealth and opportunity away from Whitehall. A Federal system to devolve powers, including through regional investment banks and control over regional industrial strategy. Abolish the House of Lords, replace it with an elected chamber of regional nations. Push power, wealth and opportunity away from Whitehall,” Rogers says there’s “Questions to be answered. Keir Starmer was recently criticised after appearing to oppose the principle of devolution after saying ‘we cannot have a situation where the four nations of the UK are pulling in different directions,” re Covid policies. “However, in a recent interview with Huff Post, Starmer called for powers to be devolved to local mayors and council chiefs regarding regional lockdowns and Test and Trace.” Re, “Abolish the House of Lords, replace it with an elected chamber or regions and nations, He says this is Inconclusive and Evolve was unable to find any statements from Starmer re this pledge.”

    “9) Equality: Pull down obstacles that limit opportunities and talent. We are the party of the Equal Pay Act. Sure Start, BAME representation and the abolition of section 28, we must build on that for a new decade.” Regarding, “Pull down obstacles that limit opportunities and talent,” Rogers says this Pledge is Broken. “In June, Keir Starmer appeared to make a mockery of his equality pledge after dismissing the Black Lives Matter movement as simply ‘a moment’ and saying that the organisation’s demand to reallocate police funding to preventative measures was ‘nonsense’.” At that time, Starmer infuriated BAME staff by setting up, an all white, ‘diversity review panel.’ He has also been accused of dismissing anti-black racism within the party, with many accusing him of ‘whitewashing’ the explosive Labour leaks documents.”

    Starmer faced, “widespread criticism for his refusal to condemn Labour MP Rosie Duffield regarding her repeated transphobic comments;” ignoring criticism and calls for action from Labour’s official LGBT affiliate, no action has yet been taken. Starmer has made one statement on the issue, where he refused to condemn Duffield’s comments and simply called on those involved to ‘detoxify this discussion’. “Despite Keir Starmer repeatedly promising to take a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to antisemitism, the Labour leader refused to take action against two of his Labour allies, Barry Sheerman and Steve Reed, over clearly antisemitic comments, both of which ran contrary to the IHRA definition which the party has adopted into its rulebook.”

    “10) Effective Opposition to the Tories: Forensic, effective opposition to the Tories in Parliament linked up to our mass membership and a professional election operation. Never lose sight of the votes ‘lent’ to the Tories in 2019. Unite our party. Robust action to eradicate the scourge of antisemitism. Maintain our collective link with the unions.” I take issue with the lie, ‘lent’ as I believe the votes were stolen. Re, “Forensic, effective opposition to the Tories in Parliament,” despite defending Starmer’s pseudo ‘forensic’ efforts Rogers claims Keir, has broken his pledge to provide “effective opposition to the Tories” so many times it is impossible to fit all of them into one article. Starmer has encountered “almost relentless criticism, from all sides of the political spectrum, for his astonishingly agreeable approach to opposition. Initially Starmer declared that he would not be ‘opposing the government for opposition’s sake’.” Starmer’s “unconditional support for Boris Johnson” on “whatever measures the government takes” to deal with the ongoing pandemic, betrayed the people of this country.

    Rogers points out that, “Despite the Tories presiding one of the highest Coronavirus death tolls in the world, the Labour leader genuinely praised the government for their ‘amazing Coronavirus response’.” He “sent a secret letter to Boris Johnson promising to oppose Teaching Unions by supporting the Tories’ widely-derided stance of sending kids and teachers back to school during the ongoing pandemic.” Starmer, “has also forced his MPs to abstain on all manner of horrific Tory legislation, including a bill which effectively allows British troops to commit torture, and another which hands the government sweeping powers to authorise state actors to commit criminal acts, including rape and even murder, against political opponents.”

    Re “Unite our party,” few would disagree with Rogers assessment this Pledge was “absolutely obliterated.” It’s “undeniable that Keir Starmer has done the very opposite of uniting the Labour Party. Whilst the party was clearly hugely divided for the whole of Jeremy Corbyn’s five-year tenure, Starmer’s actions have clearly only succeeded in compounding things.” Rogers cites, “From the hugely controversial decision to sack his main leadership rival, Rebecca Long-Bailey, from the Shadow Cabinet, to ordering his MPs to abstain on truly horrific Tory legislation, Starmer has consistently managed to alienate both Labour members and MPs alike by effectively pouring petrol on the flames of an already raging inferno.” After the, “extraordinary, entirely unprecedented decision to suspend his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn,” despite the “huge affection and concrete support” he holds “amongst a large section of the membership, several union leaders have now warned” Starmer has “pushed the party to the brink of a catastrophic civil war.”

    Rogers conclusion is that, “Whilst it is impossible to objectively measure some of Keir Starmer’s pledges due to the fact he is still in opposition rather than in power, there is absolutely no question that he has either broken or rowed back on a large proportion of his 2020 Labour leadership promises already.” A vile commitment emulateing Tory jingoistic nationalism and flag waving to entice the hateful readers of warped tabloids isn’t going to straddle the gapping canyon of disunity and distrust from broken party pledges. Until the Labour Party finally demand a full Investigation into the Covert 2019 Rigged Election, we will all be forced to live with the consequences of this fraud: an honorable man demonized and ostracised, with a Trojan horse installed to destroy from within while a lying cheating tin-pot Tory Dictator solidifies his grip on power. Authoritarian despots take decades to remove, so forget the pipe dream of a free and fair election in a few years time with a Tory look-alike; protest to remove Starmer and Johnson now! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #66862 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    As if brandishing a ‘God badge’ Boris Johnson rose to his feet at Prime Ministers Questions ready to extoll the virtues of recently deceased Captain Sir Tom Moore saying, “Captain Tom, as we all came to know him, dedicated his life to serving his country and others. His was a long life lived well, whether during his time defending our nation as an Army officer or, last year, bringing the country together through his incredible fundraising drive for the NHS that gave millions a chance to thank the extraordinary men and women of our NHS who have protected us in this pandemic. As Captain Tom repeatedly reminded us, ‘Please remember, tomorrow will be a good day’. He inspired the very best in us all, and his legacy will continue to do so for generations to come. We now all have the opportunity to show our appreciation for him and all that he stood for and believed in, and that is why I encourage everyone to join in a national clap for Captain Tom and all those health workers for whom he raised money at 6 pm this evening.”

    Johnson sucked the oxygen out of an admired national hero as if the centenarian’s achievements were entirely his own. In the PMs sad exploitation, istead of an admiring salute to Captain Tom’s tenacity and human spirit the veteran’s passing became another excuse to ramp-up nationalistic jingoism and insincere flattery and praise for our NHS the Tories so determinedly neglect. At least when Claire Hanna SDLP said, “I echo those words,” her praise in calling Captain Tom, “a decent and inspiring man,” didn’t sound hollow. She said, “The Social Democratic and Labour party has warned for the last five years about the destabilising impact Brexit would have on Northern Ireland, though we take no pleasure in the disruption or in the injury some feel to their British identity. The last few days have seen a rash decision, thankfully withdrawn, by the European Commission, which was condemned by all parties here and both Governments and which, unfortunately, was followed by sporadic criminal behaviour and threats.”

    Hanna asked, “Will the Prime Minister, in affirming the rule of law in Northern Ireland, consider seriously the impact of their words, and work together through the available structures to ensure that the new arrangements work for everybody in Northern Ireland? Every the perennial bully, Johnson was still revelling in a triumph over a brief diplomatic gaff that, for a change, was not of his own making. He said, “I certainly agree with the hon. Lady that it was most regrettable that the EU should seem to cast doubt on the Good Friday agreement and the principles of the peace process by seeming to call for a border across the island of Ireland. I can tell her that we will work to ensure that there are no such borders, we will respect the peace process, and, indeed, no barriers down the Irish sea, and that the principle of unfettered access across all parts of our United Kingdom is upheld.” In reality within a day the PM and his Brexiteer ultras were plotting a way to use this hastily retracted threat to violate the international treaty themselves.

    Former PM Theresa May said, “I am sure my right hon. Friend is aware that my ten-minute rule Bill would increase the maximum penalty for death by dangerous driving to life imprisonment. The policy and the Bill have cross-party support. The policy has Government support; the Bill does not. The Government say they will introduce the policy in their sentencing Bill, of which we have as yet seen no sign. So, will the Government now give Government time to my Bill to ensure that this necessary change is put on the statute book as soon as possible?” The PM responded, “I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend, and she is absolutely right to campaign for punishments that fit the crime; we are therefore bringing forward exactly those changes in our forthcoming sentencing Bill. Our proposals will, I believe, go as far as, if not even further than, those that she wants by raising the maximum penalty for causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and they will tighten the law for those who cause serious injury by careless driving.”

    Captain Tom’s family had yet to be considered in previous remarks, but this omission stood out when Keir Starmer said, “May I join you, Mr Speaker, and the Prime Minister in sending my condolences to the family of Captain Sir Tom Moore? He perhaps more than anyone embodied the spirit of Britain; he will be sadly missed, and I welcome the initiative that the Prime Minister spoke of for a clap this evening. Our thoughts are also with the family of Maureen Colquhoun, the first openly lesbian MP and a great champion of women’s rights. Let me pay tribute to our NHS and all those on the frontline who are delivering the vaccine. Today we are likely to hit 10 million vaccinations, which is remarkable. The biggest risk to the vaccine programme at the moment is the arrival of new variants, such as the South African variant. On that issue, the Government’s own scientists in the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies said two weeks ago that: ‘Only a complete pre-emptive closure of borders or the mandatory quarantine of all visitors upon arrival can get close to fully preventing new cases or new variants’.”

    Starmer insisted, “That is pretty clear, so why did the Prime Minister choose not to do the one thing that SAGE said could prevent new variants coming to the United Kingdom?” The PM claimed, “Actually, SAGE did not recommend a complete ban and says that a travel ban should not be relied upon to stop the importation of new variants, but we do have one of the toughest regimes in the world. Anybody coming from South Africa not only has to do a test before they come here, but anybody now coming from South Africa, a British citizen coming from South Africa now, will find themselves obliged to go into quarantine for 10 days, and will have an isolation assurance agency checking up on them. It is illegal now to go on holiday in this country; it is illegal to travel from South Africa or all the countries on the current red list, and we will be going forward with a plan to ensure that people coming into this country from those red list countries immediately have to go into Government-mandated quarantine hospitality.”

    Starmer responded, “I am intrigued by the Prime Minister’s answer. I do not think he disputes what SAGE’s view was, that only a complete closure or comprehensive quarantine of all arrivals will work. He does not seem to dispute that; he says it simply was not a recommendation. I ask the Prime Minister to publish the full SAGE minutes so we can see what was said in full; or, if there is some other advice, perhaps he can publish that. The situation is this: we know that the South African variant is spreading across England, and measures are in place to try to deal with that. We also know that other variants are out there in other parts of the world. Just as a matter of common sense, is the Prime Minister really saying that quarantining all arrivals would make no difference to fighting new variants of the virus, or is he saying that quarantining all arrivals at the border would make a difference but it is too difficult?”

    Resorting to a cherished tactic, the PM played on ‘first you say this, now you say that’ confusion, “This is the right hon. and learned Gentleman who only recently said that quarantine measures are ‘a blunt instrument’ and whose shadow Transport Secretary said that quarantine should be ‘lessened’. We have one of the toughest regimes in the world. When the right hon. and learned Gentleman calls for a complete closure of borders, or suggests that that might be an option, he should be aware that 75% of our medicines come into this country from the European continent, as does 45% of our food, and 250,000 businesses in this country rely on imports. It is not practical completely to close off this country as he seems to be suggesting. What is practical is to have one of the toughest regimes in the world and to get on with vaccinating the people of this country, which is what we are doing.”

    Annoyed, Starmer shot back, “What the Prime Minister says about the Labour position is complete nonsense; he knows it. It is 3 February 2021; with new variants in the country, our schools are shut and our borders are open. Everybody knows there are exceptions whatever the quarantine regime. Everybody knows that. That is not what this question is about. The position is this: 21,000 people are coming into this country every day. The Prime Minister’s new border arrangements are still weeks away from being implemented and will only affect direct flights from some countries. We know from the first wave of the pandemic that only 0.1% of virus cases came from China, where we had restrictions, whereas 62% came indirectly from France and Spain, where there were no restrictions. Why does the Prime Minister think that the variants of the virus will behave differently and arrive in the UK only by direct flights?” It was a valid point, an important question, but the PM stuck to the same game of confusion.

    The PM said, “The right hon. and learned Gentleman cannot have it both ways. He simultaneously says that he wants the borders to be kept open for freight reasons or to allow businesses to carry on as now, I think that was what he was saying, while calling for tougher quarantine measures, which is exactly what this Government imposed as soon as we became aware of the new variant. I repeat what someone has to do if they want to come into this country from abroad. Seventy-two hours before they fly, they have to get a test. They have to have a passenger locator form; they are kicked off the plane if they do not have it. They then have to spend 10 days in quarantine. If they come from one of the red list countries, they have to go straight into quarantine. All that, of course, is to allow us to get on with the vaccination programme. If we had listened to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, we would still be at the starting blocks, because he wanted to stay in the European Medicines Agency and said so four times from that Dispatch Box.”

    Indignant Starmer claimed this was, “Complete nonsense.” He hit back with a classic observation of Johnson’s PMQs conduct, “Don’t let the truth get in the way of a pre-prepared gag: the Prime Minister knows that I have never said that, from this Dispatch Box or anywhere else, but the truth escapes him. He describes the current arrangements. If they were working, the variant—the single biggest threat to the vaccine system, would not be in the country. Let me turn to another area where the Government have been slow to act: the cladding crisis. This is affecting millions of people, and I cannot tell the Prime Minister how anxious and angry people feel about it. It is now three and a half years since the Grenfell tragedy, which took 72 lives. Can the Prime Minister tell the House and the country why, three and a half years on, there are still hundreds of thousands of people living in homes with unsafe cladding, and why millions of leaseholders are in homes that they cannot sell and are facing extortionate costs?”

    The PM smugly retorted, “In respect of the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s last answer, may I advise him to consult YouTube, where he will find an answer?” A sentiment implied: ‘fact check’ didn’t find the exact words. “The right hon. and learned Gentleman raises a very important point about cladding and the predicament of some leaseholders, many leaseholders, and he is absolutely right that this is a problem that needs to be fixed. This Government are getting on with it. On 95% of the high-rise buildings with unsafe ACM cladding, work is either complete or under way to remove that cladding. I very much appreciate and sympathise with the predicament of leaseholders who are in that situation, but we are working to clear the backlog, and I can tell him that my right hon. Friends the Chancellor and the Communities Secretary will be coming forward with a full package to address the issue.”

    Instead of offering the facts and moving on to another pressing question Starmer belaboured the point saying, “Whatever the Prime Minister claims is being done is not working, because this is the situation. Through no fault of their own, huge numbers of people, especially leaseholders, are stuck in the middle. They are living in unsafe homes. They cannot sell and they are being asked to foot the bill. That is the situation they are in. Take, for example, Will Martin. He is a doctor who has a flat in Sheffield. He has been spending his days on the frontline fighting covid in the NHS. He spends his nights worrying about the £52,000 bill that he now has to pay for fire safety repairs. He does not want future promises, Prime Minister. He does not want to hear that it has all been sorted when he knows that it has not. He wants to know, here and now: will he or will he not have to pay that £52,000 bill?”

    The PM got his usual easy ride from the Captain of Capitulation, who never managed to ask more than one or two questions. He said, “We are determined that no leaseholder should have to pay for the unaffordable costs of fixing safety defects that they did not cause and are no fault of their own. That is why, in addition to the £1.6 billion we are putting in to remove the HPL, high-pressure laminate, cladding, we have also set up a £1 billion building safety fund that has already processed over almost 3,000 claims. I sympathise very much with Dr Martin, the gentleman the right hon. and learned Gentleman mentions, and I hope very much that his particular case can be addressed in the course of the forthcoming package that will be produced by my right hon. Friends.”

    Starmer trudged on repeating the same unanswered question, “There are thousands and thousands of people in exactly the same position. I spoke to leaseholders caught in the middle of this on Monday. One of them was Hayley. She has already gone bankrupt, Prime Minister. She is 27. She bought a flat, she has lost it and she is now bankrupt. It is too late for her. Those leaseholders I spoke to had three very simple asks. This is what they want: immediate up-front funding for unsafe blocks; a deadline of next year to make buildings safe; and protection for leaseholders. We put those forward for a vote on Monday. The Prime Minister says he is determined to do something about it. What did he do? He ordered his MPs to abstain. If the Prime Minister is serious about moving this forward and ending this injustice, will he commit today to those simple asks from leaseholders?”

    Johnson had dispensed with the easily deflected questions of his loyal Trojan horse doing his ineffectual duty pretending to present ‘forensic’ opposition; it was such a joke. Now it was time for his favorite part of PMQs, his Party political broadcast of unadulterated blather and PR spin… The PM bragged, “We are getting on with the job of helping leaseholders across the country by remediating their buildings. In addition to the funds I have already mentioned, I can tell the right hon. and learned Gentleman that we are also introducing a £30 million fund to install alarms and other interim measures. We are making it very clear to the mortgage industry that they should support people living in such accommodation, and making it clear to all sectors in the industry that people living in such homes should not be tied up in the whole EWS1 process. That will benefit about 450,000 homeowners. I think he is right to raise the problem, but we are getting on with addressing it.”

    On a roll the PM continued his obscene and deceitful bullshit pitch, saying, “We are getting on with addressing the fundamental problem that afflicts this country and that is the covid pandemic. That is why I am pleased we have now done 10 million first vaccinations across the country. I repeat, Mr Speaker, that had we listened to the right hon. and learned Gentleman we would be stuck at go. He is shaking his head, but he can check the record. Several times he said that this country should remain in the European Medicines Agency. If he wishes he can, on a point of order, correct me. He said it was wrong just now. I think he should study the record and he will find that that is exactly what he did. We want to get this country safe again. We want schools to come back. The right hon. and learned Gentleman continues to refuse to say that schools are not safe. On the contrary, he spends his time looking at Labour focus groups, who tell him that he should stop sitting on the fence…” He was interrupted by the Speaker.

    As eyes glazed over the Speaker put an end to Johnson’s spin before the Chamber became any more nauseous. He said, “Order. In fairness, Prime Minister, we have to be somewhere near the question that was asked. I do not want you to go around answering every problem and issue. There are a lot more questions that will allow you to do that and the first one is from Marco Longhi. After paying homage to Captain Tom, the Tory MP asked, “Will the Prime Minister join me in paying tribute to Paul Gough at the club, who is working with young boys and girls who have been excluded from mainstream education? Will he also pay tribute to the council leader Patrick Harley, who has agreed to and is supporting a new school, in partnership with the club, to ensure that these young people will get academic qualifications as well as increased strength, belief and new opportunities for the future?” After being knocked off his pedestal the PM was happy to accept such a bland non-question praising boxing from his loyal Tory team.

    The SNP Leader Ian Blackford said, “May I associate myself with your remarks, Mr Speaker, about the remarkable gentleman Captain Sir Tom Moore and everything that he has done? He has been an inspiration to each and every one of us and I send my condolences to his family and friends. Last week, we told the Prime Minister that it was wrong for him to visit Scotland in the middle of a pandemic. We told him that it was a non-essential visit. This morning, the Daily Record newspaper revealed that the Prime Minister knew that the Livingston plant that he was visiting had an outbreak of 14 covid cases just 24 hours earlier. There are serious questions to answer. Did the Prime Minister and his advisers know about the covid outbreak? When did they know, and when did the Prime Minister make the irresponsible decision to go ahead with what was a PR stunt?”

    The PM was evasive, deliberately avoiding touching on any point close to a critical question that put his PR shenanigans in a very poor light. He said, “I can think of few things more important than to see the roll-out of the vaccination programme across this country, to encourage the wonderful companies who are doing great work across the whole of Scotland and to see the commitment of those Scottish scientists to helping us all to defeat the pandemic. It was fantastic to talk to them. I would just repeat that the Government remain, as I said yesterday, very willing to help Scotland with the roll-out of vaccines across the whole of the UK.”

    Blackford was not impressed saying, “There is the wow factor once again with the Prime Minister. What an absolute shambles that he has gone to a plant where there was a covid outbreak. The Prime Minister cannot just explain away this absolutely shocking error of judgment. Anyone can see that his campaign trip to Scotland was utterly reckless. The Daily Record story is very clear. The Prime Minister and his advisers knew there was a serious covid outbreak at this plant. They knew the visit posed a risk, but they made a deliberate choice. They made the irresponsible choice. The Prime Minister put politics before public health. Prime Minister, why be so reckless? Is it any wonder that people in Scotland have no faith in this Prime Minister? Is not he the worst possible leader at the worst possible time?” This would not play out well in the British press, but would they just ignore it?

    Boris Johnson regurgitated that nauseating, grossly inappropriate, ‘everyone agrees with me’ message, boldly stating, “I I think what the people of Scotland want to see is the whole country pulling together and working to develop the vaccine, as that fantastic plant in Scotland is doing. One of the advantages of the Valneva vaccine is that it may be able to combat all sorts of variants in a very comprehensive way. It is amazing and wonderful to see Scottish scientists working to do that. I had a fantastic time. Nobody, by the way, raised that issue with me before or since, and it is my job to visit every part of this country. Nothing and no one is going to stop me, and I am very, very proud of the Government’s record in rolling out the vaccine. As I say, the offer remains open to the Scottish nationalist party. We are there, Scottish National party, if they insist, though they are also nationalists, Mr Speaker. We are there to help the roll-out of the vaccine and do more, where they decide that is necessary.”

    Boris Johnson had launched into arrogantly assuming that he could tell the people what they wanted; this repeated insulting tactic is so disgustingly disingenuous, especially as the PM relentlessly chalks-up serious blunders that cost lives he seems oblivious to. Ignoring the grief of his bereaved family, the death of Captain Tom was exploited as another terrific PR stunt; like neglecting the material needs of NHS staff while getting us to clap for them! We cannot continue tolerating being told what we want by the PM, any more than we should accept his fake empathy, grand expensable pledges or his ‘borrowed votes’ lie re the unfathomable result of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. Do we allow Boris Johnson to ignore the spiraling Covid death toll while still bragging about the achievements of scientists and medics, or do we Protest, Challenge and Investigate the Tory corruption that’s destroying the UK? The ‘Slaughter of the Sheeple’ will not stop until the vile truth is exposed to remove this Tory Sovereign Dictatorship from power. DO NOT MOVE ON!   

    #66925 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Boris Johnson is still childishly reveling in the fact that he appears to have had an opportunity to snub the EU by limiting access to the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. In reality it seems that the company has followed the PMs example by over promising and under delivering, either due to a manufacturing glitch, incompetence or dictat. A significant delay in delivery of over 75% of the vaccines ordered gives the impression of a really unreliable company; worse still it pertains to an order for vital public health supplies so it has attracted a lot of negative attention. If the UK got a commitment from an EU company for desperately needed PPE and was told just 25% would be shipped the rest would have to wait, you can imagine the furore! Of course blustering Boris ignores the impact of this negative export PR, exacerbating the problem by bragging about the abundance of vaccines in the UK and our rapid roll-out. This deliberate antagonistic baiting of the EU produced a knee-jerk reaction that schoolyard bully Boris is still capitalizing on today.

    When the PM touts ‘Global Brittain’ as a new export partner, poor reliability on the delivery of pre-ordered goods is not a good selling point, but Johnson isn’t bothered about such negativity as he never removes his rose coloured glasses! He is obsessing, with extreme delight, in his glorious triumph in giving the EU a blood nose, or at least that is how he perceives the latest skirmish. He has the racist tabloids on-side singing his praises over what is best described as a nationwide randomized phase three trial. The Brexiteer ultras and the hard core nationalists are ecstatic over Johnsons anti-diplomatic rants, it’s satiating their lust for revenge against that demonized EU who the Tories have wrongly blamed for all the ills that plague this country; essentially consequences of a decade of Tory austerity and greed. The sad reality is that the corrupt result of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election forced through Brexit and installed a Tory Sovereign Dictatorship to inflict several more decades persecution and exploitation. We need to Challenge and Investigate that vote to restore our democracy.

    We must protest this gross injustice to challenge the legitimacy of both the Covert 2019 Rigged Election and the Brexit vote as they were both deeply flawed. The lies, corruption and grotesque squandering of public funds in this ‘chumocracy’ will not end until we expose the truth and remove this Tory Government from power: we must get the Tories out ASAP. In the Byline Times Article entitled, “The Reckoning Brexit & The Legacy of Lies,” Chris Grey explains how “Britain’s current ‘teething problems’ are only the beginning of the mounting costs of leaving the EU.” He says that, “A central lie of the campaign to leave the EU was that doing so would be cost-free and, even, that it would be financially beneficial. That was the meaning of the infamous ‘£350 million a week for the NHS’ slogan on the Vote Leave campaign’s red bus. It got called out for conflating the UK’s gross and net contributions to the EU, but the bigger lie it contained was that budget contributions were the tally of the costs and benefits of EU membership.”

    Grey notes that, “Each and every warning was ridiculed as ‘Project Fear’, but the reality, as we are now seeing, is that leaving the EU entails huge costs. Those of new customs declarations alone amount to £7.5 billion per year. That would have been so even under the soft Brexit of staying in the Single Market, as some Brexiters said we would. Following the 2016 Referendum, Brexiters insisted that the only ‘true’ Brexit involved leaving both the Single Market and the Customs Union. That this would have any costs was also lied about. Brexiters frequently claimed that a ‘zero tariffs’ trade deal would be enough to replicate Single Market and Customs Union membership. David Davis said, not in passing but as the Brexit Secretary, standing at the despatch box of the House of Commons, that it would be possible to have a trade agreement ‘that will deliver the exact same benefits’ as EU membership. That was a lie, because no agreement (other than membership) could ever have done so.”

    Grey reminds us that, “It was also constantly said that a trade deal would yield ‘frictionless trade’ That was a lie, for the same reason. What then to make of the supposed ‘teething problems’ of fish and meat rotting in ports, empty food shelves in some shops, increased prices for cars, duty payments being demanded by couriers delivering goods at doorsteps, many traders and couriers suspending or in some cases abandoning trade between the UK and the EU, and thousands of other issues small and large?” Grey elaborates on “The Consequences of the Brexit Lies. Even as mere ‘teething problems’, they don’t just discredit the lies told but derive from them. Businesses and individuals had been led to believe that none of these new trade barriers and costs would arise.”

    Grey points out that, “given that, until the 2019 General Election, there was still an outside chance that Brexit would be reversed, any Government campaign admitting what businesses would have to prepare for would inevitably have stoked the question: so why are we actually doing this? Thus, although the decision that Brexit meant leaving the Single Market and Customs Union had been made in 2017, astonishingly it wasn’t until the beginning of February 2020 that any Cabinet minister, Michael Gove, officially and publicly admitted that there would be border controls at the end of the transition period, trade deal or not.” He says that, “it wasn’t until July 2020 that the Government launched the major ‘Check, Change, Go’ campaign to prepare for what was to come. Even then, Boris Johnson’s administration was rather coy in admitting that, far from providing exciting new opportunities, these changes meant horrendously complex new restrictions.”

    Grey highlights that, “It wasn’t until the panicky ‘Time is Running Out’ campaign of late 2020 that the message was really rammed home. By then, it was too late. That was partly because dealing with all of the problems of the Coronavirus pandemic soaked up businesses’ time and resources. But it was also because the lies had been told for too long and too successfully. Why prepare for what was just Project Fear?” He elaborates that, “once a zero-tariffs trade deal was struck, many believed that this must mean nothing would change because of all of the earlier suggestions that such a deal would replicate existing terms of trade. Businesses and individuals had been led to believe that none of these new trade barriers and costs would arise. The second point about these ‘teething problems’ is that, whilst it is true that many will settle down as firms adapt, that adaptation will simply conceal a permanent deterioration of terms of trade.”

    Grey warns that this is, “Not a prediction, it is a fact, because all the new terms of trade involve the creation of new barriers to trade. So, by definition, they will have deteriorated. This in turn will mean a long-term shift in the structural organisation of trade and business supply chains. The exact consequences of that are a matter of prediction, but some of them are fairly easy to foresee. The overall volume of trade with the EU will decline. Those UK businesses that operate as UK redistribution hubs for Europe and which now attract tariffs because of rules of origin will decline or cease. Some trading firms, especially smaller ones, will cease to trade and perhaps cease to exist because the costs and complexities of the new processes are too much. This will have knock-on effects for their employees and suppliers. Other firms, especially the larger ones, will continue to trade but will pass the new costs on as higher prices to UK consumers of imports.”

    Speaking of other companies, Grey says that they, “will find ways of absorbing costs or, if not, their exports will become less competitive. All of these changes are likely to impact jobs, either because lower volumes of business are being done or because firms will look to find ways of recouping the new costs. It is true that there will also be some ‘import substitution,’ replacement of goods previously imported with those domestically produced. That seems to lie behind the recently announced decision of Nissan to continue its operations in Sunderland by producing electric car batteries there, not in Japan, and so meeting the rules of origin for tariff-free trade with the EU. However, there are limits to import substitution. Some things, especially foodstuffs, simply can’t be produced domestically, or not in sufficient quantity. Others may be produced but not necessarily to the same quality or at as low a price. So consumer choice and prices will be impacted.”

    Gray warns that, “We are only at the beginning of the process whereby these structural changes take place. That is partly because firms will take time to adapt, but also because the new barriers to trade have not yet been fully implemented, including UK border checks on imports which will not begin until July. There are also some grace periods for some of the provisions relating to Northern Ireland, which, even so, has borne the brunt of the new reality. A little appreciated point is that, in the process of leaving the EU Single Market, the UK has also put an end to its own single market by creating the Irish Sea border.”

    Grey reports that, “None of this even begins to discuss the impact on services trade. Here, the immediate effects are less visible than images of unsold fish but, for a services-based economy, will be profound. This is because trade deals, even deep ones, do not provide the same level of liberalisation of services trade as exists in the Single Market.” He says that, “the UK-EU deal isn’t even especially deep, having quite limited coverage of services. We are where we are as a legacy of the lies told by Brexiters. Of course, they now say that all of this damage is a price worth paying for sovereignty, though they didn’t reveal that price when selling Brexit to the public. They also say that it will be more than compensated for by new trade deals with faraway countries or by some bonfire of regulatory red tape which will unleash a new era of innovation and prosperity for all. The best response to this might be ‘fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me’.”

    In the Byline Times Article entitled, “The Red-Tape Curtain The New Costs Afflicting Businesses After Brexit,” Richard Barfield elaborates on the impact if this most disastrous decision. He “Explains the deluge of restrictions and regulations that have been saddled on firms after the UK’s departure from the EU. In 1946, Sir Winston Churchill said that an ‘iron curtain’ had descended between the Soviet Union and Europe. Seventy-five years later, on 1 January 2021, a red-tape curtain descended between Britain and the EU. Yes, the UK-EU trade agreement has kept tariffs at zero. However, it has simultaneously created new, onerous barriers to trade that will affect both goods and services, barriers that will cause trucks to pile up at Dover, cause fish to rot at the border, and stop musicians from touring the continent.”

    Barfield describes, “The Goods, the Bad and the Ugly,” as he points out that, “The Brexit red-tape curtain will be expensive, costing an average of 8-9% for both goods and services, exports and imports. That’s around £25 billion a year in additional costs, saddled on UK exports. For some businesses, lower sales and profitability will be manageable but, for others, their business model will fail. Under its Brexit trade agreement, UK exporters to the EU now have to prove the origin of their goods. Without this proof, their goods are subject to tariffs. Complex rules decide whether a product is sufficiently ‘local’ to qualify as tariff-free. For a finished car, this covers thousands of components coming from a global network of suppliers, combined with the value added by UK manufacturers.”

    Barfield reports that, “Goods constitute 58% of UK exports to the EU. Small businesses play an important role in supply chains but are often poorly equipped to handle the stringent demands of customs processes. There are more than 140,000 small UK firms which export and employ more than two million people, accounting for about 30% of goods exports. A recent survey found that 20% of smaller firms have temporarily stopped exporting to the EU to avoid trade costs and paperwork. This is despite the benefit of 12-month relaxations to make ‘rules of origin’ easier to apply, and the ability of some traders to self-certify the origin of their goods. Yet, even tariff-free goods are subject to customs declarations and inspections, with the former expected to add roughly £15 billion a year to the costs of UK-EU trade, per HMRC estimates. These extra costs won’t be absorbed by the Government, they will be suffered by individual businesses.”

    Barfield highlights, “Another headache for UK exporters is inspection and testing. Goods must meet EU regulatory and technical standards before they can be released into the Single Market. While the UK was an EU member testing bodies could certify compliance, but no longer. Instead, an EU-accredited body must now conduct the tests, within the EU. This means exporters have to use an EU subsidiary or find an EU-based agent willing to accept legal liability for conformity. The deal allows simple products to be self-certified and other limited exceptions, for example, on pharmaceutical manufacturing practices, some vehicle certificates, and some aspects of aerospace production. However, unlike other trade agreements, there are no chapters on mutual recognition or conformity assessment, both of which would streamline the transfer of goods to and from the continent.”

    Barfield says, “For chemicals, 16% of UK goods exports to the EU, the UK Government decided to create its own version of the EU’s regulatory framework. This doubles the admin for exporters, who must show that they comply with both sets of rules. The Chemicals Industry Association estimates that the extra cost to the industry will be £1 billion a year, although a future agreement on data-sharing would reduce this figure. In relation to food, plants and animals, the EU no longer recognises the UK’s standards or tests (and vice versa), meaning that additional tests are required when the goods arrive on the continent. As we have seen already in the case of fish exports, cross-border food supply chains are competitive and often time-sensitive, so extra costs and delays are unwelcome. Fish from several UK-based companies has been rejected by Europe over the past few weeks, because of delays in the stocks being exported. Surprisingly, the rules are more onerous than the EU’s deal with far-away New Zealand, which requires checks on only 1% of food imports.”

    Barfield ten focuses on, “Service No Longer Available in Your Area,” saying that, “Accounting for 42% of UK exports to the EU, services are increasingly important to international trade. When the UK was an EU member, it could supply services to customers in the other member states under UK rules. Now, however, UK service suppliers will have to comply with the specific rules drawn up by each sector and each EU member state. For financial services, it is possible that the EU may grant the UK regulatory equivalence in certain areas, but this can be revoked at short notice.” Barfield warns us that, “Firms also have to deal with another barrier: the EU no longer recognises UK licences or professional qualifications. This makes it more difficult for Britons to cross borders to deliver services in the EU. There is a list of activities that they can perform without a work visa, but this currently does not include musicians, performers, or artists.” This is a huge blow to our creative industry that is only coming to light after the fact.

    Barfield reports on the consequences and work-arounds the Government has had to sheepishly put forward that are not beneficial to UK jobs, “Due to the new restrictions, firms face hefty new barriers to trade and their output will inevitably shrink. One option for firms is to create a commercial presence in a member state to serve the EU market, as the Government now recommends. Many banks, airlines and large professional services firms have already done so. However, smaller firms will find this challenging, setting up abroad is not a cheap task. Plus, if and when they do, the UK will be deprived of investment, jobs and tax revenues. Digital services are of growing importance to the world economy. So, it is concerning that the ability of UK businesses to transfer personal data from the EU will depend on a unilateral decision from the European Commission to grant adequacy to the UK. The EU’s criteria for sharing personal data with a third country are stricter than for EU members.”

    Barfield states that, “There are a few temporary reprieves enjoyed by firms. For example, the UK is not applying its full suite of import controls for six months, mainly because it wasn’t ready on 1 January. When these temporary relaxations end, however, businesses will feel the full force of the Brexit red tape. Churchill’s speech referred to the iron curtains that theatres used as a fire precaution, lowered at least once during a show. Ironically, the Government now says that it is looking for a bonfire of regulation. Sadly, the Brexit red-tape curtain looks as if it will be fireproof.” The reality is that Brexit is far from ‘done’ and we will be negotiating for many years to come in order to mitigate the extreme damage done by this Tory Government. While our single best hope is a new Government, we can neither wait in the delusional hope of a free and fair election being called, nor imagine that the Labour Party can survive the internal strife caused by Trojan horse Starmer, offering a viable electoral alternative: both leaders must go! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #66960 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    The PM latched onto the death of Captain Tom as a symbol to exploit jingoistic patriotism while neglecting to offer condolences to his family at PMQs; truly nauseating, but typical of shallow Tory exploitation of the moment and the public mood. Starmer seeks the same gosh PR; pictured wearing a ‘Union Jack’ superman style outfit with matching UK flag cape in the Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Starmer’s ‘flag-shagging’ can’t even fool his own front bench, let alone working class communities.” They say this, “Move looks desperate… as false and stupid as it is, it will probably end Labour in Wales and Scotland. Keir Starmer’s next public appearance? The applause is the most unlikely part of this ‘artist’s impression.’ Leaked emails have revealed that Keir Starmer’s latest ploy, following his ‘shock’ realisation that ‘not being Corbyn’ doesn’t make him attractive to voters, is to wrap himself in the union jack in the hope of appealing to more Tory-inclined voters. Or, as one pithy Labour source put it, to become a ‘flag-shagger’.”

    With an insert taken from the Guardian Skwawkbox report a, “Leak reveals Labour plan to focus on flag and patriotism to win back voters – Exclusive: Labour must make use of the (Union) flag, veterans (and) dressing smartly as part of a radical rebranding to help win back the trust of disillusioned voters according to a leaked internal strategic presentation.” They say that, “the presentation which has been seen and heard by the Guardian, is aimed at what the party calls, ‘Foundation seats’ a new term for the ‘Red Wall’ constituencies that handed Boris Johnson a landslide in 2019 and other seats it fears could also turn blue. It will be seen as a marker of how concerned Labour is about its electoral position. It reveals that voters could not describe what or who Labour stands for.” This all hinges on the presumption that there really was a landslide in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election and that Labour MPs were not duped into selling the concept of ‘borrowed votes’ to avert a much needed challenge and full Investigation of the result.

    If you try to base the reasons for a fake loss on the lies that were told to legitimize the stolen votes in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election, the hope of devising a new winning strategy for future elections is sabotaged from the very start. This is because all of the policies and pledges that seemed so overwhelmingly popular, will come under fire as the possible cause of a disastrous defeat that never happened. In reality, flag waving does not feed hungry children, but it’s a cheap rallying cry to drown out the discontent of the exploited masses and paper over the corruption of the wealthy Tory elite. Finding a scapegoat to blame for the consequences of appalling bad governance is an old trick that still works to this day. Hitler is remembered most for scapegoating the Jews, but he also targeted Gypsies, the disabled and his political opponents too. Farage, Johnson and Trump have scapegoated migrants, but this too has expanded to include Gypsies, those receiving benefits, almost anyone who is not English, Socialists, and even Judges!

    The alt-right hate fest will never stop unless we proactively fight to demand the truth and restore democracy. Another delusional assumption is that we will have free and fair elections in a few years time. That assumption is based on the Fixed Term Parliament Act the Tory Manifesto pledged to repeal. With their stolen majority the Tories can postpone elections indefinitely as there’s nothing to stop them except taking to the streets on mass! The First Past the Post System is toxically stacked even before gerrymandering of new constituency boundaries and introduction of added barriers to voting, like voter ID. The Tories have already demonstrated their stranglehold over the BBC and Mainstream Media in the last election. With critical elements of the electoral process now fully outsourced to a select few private companies, under strong Tory influence, total lack of oversight by our disempowered Electoral Commission must be corrected to enable monitoring of the democratic process: “A Watchdog that cannot watch is just a dog!”

    All of these factors should have served as a warning that we have now entered a period of prolonged Tory Sovereign Dictatorship. Authoritarian despots remain in power for decades by taking over the media, the military and controlling the judicial system; the Tories are actively establishing and solidifying these powers right now, but their project is easier to derail in this early stage than it will be later on. This is why a full Investigation into the Covert 2018 Rigged Election still remains so important. Critical to turning things around is strengthening a credible opposition to demonstrate a viable alternative of strong leadership. The divisive Stalinist bullying tactics of Starmer are tearing the Labour Party apart and emulating the Tory nationalist flag waving isn’t going to cut it. As the Skwawkbox warn, “it’s not just working-class communities that Starmer can’t fool. Front-benchers have also expressed concerns that the new tactic is going to blow up in their faces, although they were not brave enough to put their name to their view.”

    Skwawkbox report that, “Starmer’s desperation to distance himself from his anti-Brexit position has even led to him being caught out in a lie, or ‘Tory’-like lack of memory if you want to be charitable, during today’s PMQs, as Joe.co.uk has pointed out: He’s masquerading as something he isn’t, and just isn’t able to carry it off.” After the PM suggested Starmer should, “Check YouTube” another Tory piped up. Mark Francois requested, “On a point of order, Mr Speaker.” The Speaker asked, “Is it related to Prime Minister’s questions?” to which Francois replied, “Yes, Mr Speaker. If it assists the House, perhaps I could help to correct the record. On 31 January 2017, the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) said to the House, as recorded in Hansard: ‘Why would we want to be outside the European Medicines Agency, which ensures that all medicines in the EU market are safe and effective?” [Official Report, 31 January 2017; Vol. 620, c. 827.] The Speaker wouldn’t continue the debate.

    As Keir Starmer embraces the vile Tory nationalist ‘othering,’ the Skwawkbox warn that, “apart from looking hopelessly inauthentic to communities who will not forget that he was at the forefront of the push to make Labour betray its commitment to honouring their vote to leave the EU, the sham exposes an abysmal shallowness of thinking on the part of Starmer and those advising him. Many voters in Wales and Scotland will be appalled to see him constantly pictured with the UK flag, and independence sentiment is only going to rise in the coming months and years.” They claim, “most working-class people in England will simply see straight through the scam, and be deeply insulted that ‘New-New Labour’ thinks humping the Union Flag and becoming more xenophobic will bring back their votes. Especially when Starmer has simultaneously sacked all Labour’s community organisers, showing he has no interest in trying to win back communities by actually engaging with them and trying to improve their lives.”

    In the Guardian Article entitled, “Leak reveals Labour plan to focus on flag and patriotism to win back voters,” it says, “Exclusive: leaked internal strategy presentation reveals plan to ‘change the party’s body language’.” It is deceptive to take aspects of ‘focus’ group comments too seriously as public opinion is being driven by our alt-right Media. So the public have a false impression that Starmer is doing a great job, due to the media fawning over him for his repeated capitulations and support of Boris Johnson. So the Guardian report the contradictory comment, “While the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, is rated by voters as the party’s biggest positive driver, concerns were voiced about him ‘sitting on the fence’.” What this indicates is that the focus group have absorbed the praise Starmer has received from the right for acting as a Tory Trojan horse, but they cannot identify anything he has taken a bold stand on in defence of working class voters and the less well off: hence the observation that he is ‘sitting on the fence’.

    This contradiction should have identified a warning regarding the input of focus groups compliantly bending to the Media narrative, but still rudderless, floundering as they seek leadership that addresses their most urgent needs. The Guardian say, “His slides featured comments from the focus groups such as: ‘I don’t know anything about the Labour party at the moment, they have been way too quiet” and “he [Starmer] needs to stop sitting on the fence’. Voters see this fog as deliberate and cynical, top officials have been told, proving that Starmer and his team are ‘not being forthright and honest … about where we want to be’. One Birmingham voter described Labour as “two different parties under one name’. An ex-Labour voter from Grimsby is quoted: ‘They are the voice of the students. They have left real people, taxpayers behind’.” The Labour Party cannot afford to be sucked in by this classic Tory generated propaganda as it fails to offer real hope to those who are right now struggling for survival: flags do not feed hungry kids!

    The analysis sounds Orwelian as according to the Guardian, “The presentation suggests that displays of patriotism are needed to reinforce that the party has changed. One slide says: ‘Belonging needs to be reinforced through all messengers,’ while another is headed ‘communicating Labour’s respect and commitment for the country can represent a change in the party’s body language’. Among the top recommendations is: ‘The use of the flag, veterans, dressing smartly at the war memorial etc give voters a sense of authentic values alignment’.” They say that, “The bigger possible consequences of the left playing national-identity politics have concerned some staffers who have seen the presentation. One said: ‘I was just sat there replaying in my mind the storming of the Capitol [in Washington last month] and thinking: are you really so blind to what happens when you start pandering to the language and concerns of the right?” We should all be alarmed that Labour might even consider moving in this alt-right direction.

    The Guardian report that, “Clive Lewis, one of Labour’s leading ethnic-minority MPs, said: ‘The Tory party has absorbed Ukip and now Labour appears to be absorbing the language and symbols of the Tory party.’ Lewis served as a soldier in Afghanistan but decried his party’s flag-waving. ‘It’s not patriotism; it’s Fatherland-ism. There’s a better way to build social cohesion than moving down the track of the nativist right.’ In WhatsApp messages, sent within hours of one briefing, senior officials ordered: ‘Please prioritise the union jack header images, not the plain red ones.’ The strategy accepts that Labour has ‘excluded’ and ‘ignored’ once-core voters, which the presentation appears to blame on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, under which the party is described as a ‘party of protest’, expressing ‘unpatriotic’ sentiments, with ‘arrogance’ and ‘idealism’..” Corbyn was right to call out our illegal foreign wars as contributing to terrorist attacks in the UK. Change the narrative to embrace the sentiment: “Peaceful Patriots of the Planet!”

    In another Guardian Article entitled, “Keir Starmer’s patriot act risks turning off his core Labour voters,” they offer, “Analysis: party leader is pinning hopes on radical rebranding after ‘not Corbyn’ image proves ineffective.” They quote, “We lack any form of identity,’ says one of them. In voters’ minds, says this longstanding staffer who has devoted punishing days and nights to his cause, the party is defined by ‘wish-washyness’. The fog of confusion seems to reach all the way to the top. Almost a year into Keir Starmer’s leadership, this secret internal presentation suggests ‘his image lacks definition from other politicians’. They remark that, ‘While he scores vastly better than Jeremy Corbyn, lots of Britons find him less ‘relatable’ than that son of Eton, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.” Scoring better than Corbyn is hardly surprising as the former Labour Leader was under relentless vicious defamatory attacks, for a sustained period from the media, that very few politicians could have survived with any integrity in tact.

    The Guardian report that, “Even now, when the UK is cursed with one of the worst Covid death tolls in the developed world and economic devastation, the Conservatives still lead Labour in the polls. This is the backdrop that has led Starmer to consider wrapping himself in the union flag. It is a huge risk, make no mistake. The very people he wants to woo may see Labour’s new red, white and blue as so much spray paint. Here is Westminster’s arch-remainer now talking up the possibilities of Brexit; a human rights lawyer professing his love for the police and the army. As one staffer in Labour HQ who has seen the new strategy says: ‘They don’t believe any of this stuff; they’re saying whatever they think will get them votes.’ In the era of authentocracy, ‘there is no political sin more grave than being fake.’ The biggest risk of all, as acknowledged by the party strategists, is that Starmer’s patriot act will turn off those voters who Labour still believes it can rely on, the young and the ethnic minorities.”

    The Guardian say that, “Starmer began his leadership in much the same vein, making 10 pledges to party members that were essentially continuity Corbynism. Yet he now appears to be moving away from the language of economics and policy to identity and values. ‘There’s no way he can do that flagwaving better than the likes of Nigel Farage,’ says Driscoll’.” They note, “the biggest leftwing party in Europe could find itself in a very strange position. It could be accused of combining the electoral tactics of the right with the economics of the right, too,” a bad mix. “The party’s strategy calls for it to broadcast its ‘economic competence’ and drop the associations with ‘spend, spend, spend’. This sounds like shorthand for dropping any attempt to be significantly different on tax and spend from the Tories” But, they say, “in the meantime it raises one question for all progressives in the UK: if the main party of the left seeks to walk like the right and talk like the right, then what precisely is the point of the main party of the left?”

    Keir Starmer’s crusade to eradicate the legacy of his predecessor by gaging Corbyn supporters has failed. In the Skwawkbox Article entitled, “#LabourLeadershipElection2021 tops UK Twitter trend as members say why they want new leader,” they point out that the Hashtag was, “Still trending hours after ‘Twitterstorm.’ A hashtag set up to invite Twitter users to say why they want a change of Labour leader spent Wednesday evening at or near the top of the social media platform’s UK trend charts as users shared and commented. The topic quickly hit number eight in the UK, higher than the #PMQs hashtag for discussion of the day’s Prime Minister’s Questions.” They highlight how, “it triggered Twitter’s algorithms to group it with PMQs, as the two topics merged and users attacked Starmer’s false claims about his comments on the EU’s medicines agency.” The topic then appeared to hit second place in the chart, immediately after tweets about the late ‘Captain Tom,’ and still featured hours after the hashtag had begun.”

    The Skwawkbox quote a few online reactions saying, “Even a glance at the responses under the hashtag shows why members and supporters have run out of tolerance for the party’s ‘leader’:” Ben Tweeted: “Every single MP that spent every single day since Jeremy Corbyn was elected smearing him and the thousands upon thousands of activists now have jobs on the front bench in front of the government they helped into power. We need a #LabourLeadershipElection2021 for justice alone.” Mat Thomas Tweeted: “From Left Wing Pledges to Right Wing Ideology – From People’s Vote to Hard Brexit – From Promising Unity to Delivering Disunity – From Human Rights to Supporting Torture – From Internationalism to Nationalism – Starmer is the worst of the weather vanes.” Shlomo Tweeted: “Jeremy Corbyn got the support of Stormzy. Keir Starmer has got the support of Jeremy Clarkson. That’s all you need to know about the direction the Party is now heading in and why I want nothing to do with it until Starmer is out.”

    The Skwawkbox article revealed what has been so discreetly hidden from the public by the Mainstream Media, the anger brewing inside the Labour Party “Under New Management,” the Stalinist authoritarianism of Sir Keir Starmour. Chelley Ryan Tweeted: “God I miss having hope Bring on a #LabourLeadershipElection2021 and let’s vote for a leader who stands for the many, not the few.” But with the proliferation of social media, they say, “The wider public seems to feel similarly: Starmer’s polling ratings dropped by seven points last week compared to Boris Johnson’s, even though the number of coronavirus deaths for which Johnson is responsible has now gone well past 100,000, while the party’s popularity also fell. Starmer’s response to the fall, inserting a union jack into every possible photo and video, appalling even some on his own front bench, is likely to have contributed to the success of the hashtag calling for him to be replaced, as is his decision to write a column for the right-wing Mail.”

    In the Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Trickett aims even bigger blast at Starmer with ‘strategic genius’ list, they outline the serious trouble now brewing in the Labour Party, saying the, “Gloves are off as working-class back-bencher hauls party leader over coals. Senior northern Labour MP Jon Trickett has aimed his most explosive blast yet at the party’s leader, after two interventions last week led to talk of a potential leadership challenge. Last week, Trickett took aim at Keir Starmer’s ‘diktat’ leadership, lack of vision, abuse of members and inability to oppose Boris Johnson, but today he has poured a torrent of sarcasm on Starmer’s ‘strategic genius’, listing a string of blunders and misdeeds: Jon Trickett MP Tweeted: “What strategic genius came up with this timeline? 1) Lose 10% of Unite funding 2) Suspend 48 leading activists & previous leader 3) Sow party division & losing 57,000 members 4) Remain 3% behind in the polls 5) Hand 12 community organisers P45s weeks prior to local elections.”

    Skwawkbox quote the reaction of Howard Beckett who Tweeted: “Unite’s response to a bad employer dismissing 12 loyal members at the height of a pandemic crisis is not for debate. Political conveniences will never come before solidarity with Unite members.” They point out that, “This analysis does not surprise, with any industrial dispute questions are asked. Leading Unite officer Howard Beckett again backed Trickett’s comments, describing Labour as a ‘bad employer’ as he ‘quote-tweeted’ Trickett’s comments: Both interventions come after a thread on why Labour needs a new leader spent hours leading Twitter’s UK trends.”

    In another Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Exclusive: Labour reinstates 50 suspended CLP officers after backing down under legal pressure, but slips cowardly ‘reminder of conduct’ into letters,” they say the, “’Party was set to lose legal action by wronged officers, but reinstated them at the 11th hour, with a ruse to cover climbdown’. The Labour party has today reinstated some fifty elected local party officers, under legal pressure from the wronged officials and the Unite union. The officers were suspended for allowing debate and votes on motions of solidarity with former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, in a clear breach of human rights laws governing freedom of speech and the party was expected to lose the case brought by those wrongfully suspended. Instead, just before the judgment was handed down, the party emailed letters to those affected to tell them that they had been reinstated.”

    The Skwawkbox report that, “In a transparent attempt to disguise the party’s climbdown the letters then concluded with a weasel-worded ‘reminder of conduct’ and a warning that daring to defy acting general secretary David Evans again would lead to more punishment.” In a lengthy justification for the rebuke there was a ‘my way or the highway’ style threat as they warned, “If elected officials wish to contravene such direction and guidance and campaign against it, they should not do so while they remain in the position of an elected Labour Party official.” Then, in a pretence that the Labour Leadership team had triumphed over descent, they said, “On this occasion, therefore, the NEC has decided to issue you with a Reminder of Conduct only…” warning that this would remain on file for twelve months and, “be a consideration if there were further occasions where they stepped out of line.”

    The Skwawkbox report of the letter’s clear warning that, “The NEC Disputes Panel may refer disciplinary charges to the National Constitutional Committee, which has the power to impose a lengthy period of suspension of your Labour Party membership or to expel you from the Labour Party.” Skwawkbox say that, “The party was expected, and according to Labour insiders, expected itself, to lose the case if it had proceeded far enough for a judge to rule. So instead of apologising and acknowledging its fault, it backed down but then used cowardly letters to give the impression that it was in the right.” In doing so they, “made clear that to the Labour right, Labour values and the party’s ‘repute’ are equivalent to kowtowing to the dictates of the (acting) general secretary, and not in the movement’s fundamental values of solidarity, integrity and democracy.” Why would any of the reinstated CLP Leaders obey a disciplinary warning that wasn’t legally robust enough to be actioned? Expect more defiance of Starmer/Evans’s dictates in future!

    While we desperately need to remove this Tory Sovereign Dictatorship from power ASAP, the key to succeeding in this effort lies with rebuilding a strong opposition and that objective will not proceed with a Tory Trojan horse dictating a right-wing agenda and trying to gag the Labour Left’s Socialist majority. The reinstatements mark a critical turning point, as they prove that undemocratic actions taken by Starmer and Evans cannot withstand legal challenge; there must be another climbdown over Corbyn as that too will not hold up in court. Despite the easy ride Starmer is getting in the alt-right media, who prefer to have him stay in post, an increasing groundswell of discontent is becoming more obvious by the day and cannot be ‘contained’ much longer. Starmer’s vile and pathetic attempts to find a sector of the electorate who he can still appeal to via toxic nationalism has failed, just as his ‘blame it on Corbyn’ campaign backfired spectacularly: Starmer must go so that we can focus on removing a Tory Sovereign Dictatorship. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #66976 Reply
    SA

    The far right’s takeover of British politics has long been in the hatching and the way it was achieved was through BRexit. In “The Dark Money and Dirty Politics of Brexit” Thomas Klikaur and Norman Simms discuss how the Brexit plot was hatched and financed by a few extremely rich individuals and how the Leave campaign broke the rules of financing political campaigning repeatedly and got away with it with fines they could afford. These individuals are to profit from Brexit and the resulting deregulation when Britain will break free from all constraints that business considers a restraint on profits whatever the cost to others.

    #67032 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Thanks for the link SA to an interesting Article. I have growing fears for the future under Tory oppression: austerity is their weapon. A certain underlying dread of how the British people will be burdened and exploited to pay for the money squandering of the Tory elite has served to dampen the growing optimism that we will be released from the grip of this pandemic by our triumphant vaccine roll-out. Thus far the operation has not experienced the usual catastrophic failures that have come to characterize the shambolic Tory Government escapades, but they have taken Russian roulette style risks without evidence to back up their decision to extend the period between the initial and booster dose. This has helped the Tories to brag about the large numbers who have had their first jab with the policy more about PR than proven efficacy; other countries are waiting to see if the Brits nationwide phase three trial experiment proves safe. If we get it wrong we could create the perfect conditions to breed a vaccine resistant strain of the virus, but Johnson will throw his hands in the air, claim he was “following the science” and say “we did everything we could.”

    The ‘don’t blame me for my mistakes’ mantra pervades all of Boris Johnson’s decision making as he focuses on the PR spin and the profiteering rather than the welfare of the British people. In other areas like managing the quarantine a familiar Tory cavalier attitude prevails, a superficial tightening of restrictions makes headlines, while beyond the poorly regulated framework we remain critically exposed to new mutant strains entering the UK. Coupled with the dysfunctional Track and Trace private contract money spinner that continues to hamper public health efforts and burden the NHS while gobbling up obscene sums of public funds, we are not in a strong position to actually fight the virus. The sluggish privatized Testing that cannot be relied on and takes for-ever to obtain results is equally motivated by profiteering rather than practicality, but this Tory Sovereign Dictatorship would welcome another wave of Covid culling among the poor, vulnerable and ethnic minorities while acustoming us to authoritarian repression.

    Going after the misspent billions in Tory handouts to dodgy companies who weren’t vetted through the tendering process has prompted a handful of crowdfunded public interest lawsuits resorting to Judicial Review while we still have that recourse intact. There is no question that the Tories are making massive sums of money from manipulating the Covid crisis; the ‘Holacaust in Care’ has already culled millions of elderly from the benefit system. But we are all bracing for the inevitable extortion to pay for this debacle. On the 99%.org website back in March of 2020, in Mark E Thomas’s Article entitled, “Austerity: Why We Shouldn’t Watch the Sequel,” he does his level best to debunk the myths that were utilized to try to justify the implementation of the Tory ideological abandonment of a ruling Government’s prine duty: to protect the welfare of the Brutish people. He opens his pitch with the quote: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” attributed to Franklin D Roosevelt, a bold statement within his Inaugural Address.

    Thomas says, “We recently set out a three-point plan for Mr Johnson in which the first stage is a rigorous lockdown in order to save lives during the corona virus outbreak, the second stage is a managed rebound to ensure that the economy recovers strongly as possible while minimising the risk of secondary outbreaks, and the third stage is building a better world by implementing the five key actions recommended in the book 99%. But Stage III will only work if it is put into practice, and there may be powerful voices arguing against that. Stage I, and to a lesser extent Stage II, have serious economic costs, and it is quite plausible that by the time we exit Stage II, government debt:GDP will have risen to over 100%. Some people will present this as a catastrophe which risks bankrupting future generations if it is not tackled immediately. Their argument will go that, while we had no choice but to spend to get through the crisis of the virus, it would be irresponsible not cut spending immediately to bring the debt down through renewed austerity.”

    Back at the end of March, now almost a year ago, Thomas was warning that, “We can already see calls in the some sections of the press and from some think tanks along these lines. Do these writers have a point? Should we be afraid of the debt? Is austerity a reasonable response? No. Their argument fails to understand either the general issues involved or the specifics of the economic contraction that lockdown is producing. We should resist the calls for Austerity II.” He says, “Their argument fails to address the general issues,” explaining that, “Although it sounds plausible, partly because we have heard it so many times before, the argument that debt:GDP of 100% is somehow ruinous is nonsense.” He insists that, “the household analogies that are often used to justify austerity are flawed. Finally the ‘magic money tree’ argument that there simply isn’t enough money fails on many counts.” But we have yet to come out of lockdown and already this Tory Government have threatened another public sector pay freeze.

    According to Thomas, “Debt at 100% of GDP is neither unusual nor dangerous” while admitting that, “100% sounds like a magic number,” he explains why it isn’t relevant; despite, “Emotionally, exceeding 100% feels as if the Rubicon has been crossed. In reality, it is no such thing.” Thomas demonstrates this point with a graph containing, “’Data from the Bank of England showing the last 300 years of Debt:GDP.’ The real shocker is that the current situation is dwarfed in comparison to earlier times in UK history.

    Thomas points out that, “the chart makes several things clear which are seldom reported.” He lists them as follows:
    1. The small parts of the graph which are normally presented are misleading: they create the scary impression that debt has been shooting up in a way never seen before. It has been seen before.
    2. 100% debt:GDP is not “astronomical” or “huge”; it is not even rather high; it is the average that we have seen in the UK over the last 300 years. If there is such a thing as normal, 100% is it.
    3. High debt does not bankrupt future generations. Debt:GDP was over 200% at the end of the Napoleonic wars, but that did not prevent Britain having an industrial revolution and experiencing some of the fastest growth in its history. Debt:GDP was over 250% at the end of World War II, but that did not prevent Britain from experiencing the Golden Age of Capitalism.
    4. High debt levels can fall very quickly if there is a fast-growing economy.

    Thomas is very quick to point out a rational argument that he is passionate about conveying to the wider public at large, so that we are not hoodwinked once again by the repressive Tory austerity dogma. He fervently insists that, “A Government surplus is not like a household surplus. Politicians often say things like, “every housewife knows that you can’t keep living beyond your means.” He claims that, “this is rhetorically powerful because it relates to people’s everyday experience. When politicians infer from this that the same thing applies to a government, however, while it still has rhetorical power, it is logically false. We have all heard the argument that governments should behave like prudent housewives so many times that it is hard to believe that it could be fatally flawed. But it is, and your own experience will show you that.” But how far will rational arguments go with an ideologically driven Tory agenda for punishing and exploiting the poor with a Government now in total control of all decision making and the Media that sells it?

    “We all have experience of buying thingsm” says Thomas reminding us that, “every time we do that, cash changes hands. If I buy a bottle of beer for £1.25 in a shop, there is a cash-flow with two ends: at my end of the transaction the cash is -£1.25 and at the shop’s end the cash is + £1.25, and the two ends sum to zero.” He points out that, “this is true for every purchase that I have ever made, and indeed for the sum of all purchases made in the UK during the last year. This has two simple but very profound implications:
    1. Each person’s expenditure is somebody else’s income;
    2. If you add up both ends of every transaction in the whole economy, the total is zero.

    The first point implies that a society in which everybody is trying to cut their own expenditure is a society in which everybody is trying to cut everybody else’s income. He concludes that, “of course, if they succeed, the result is economic contraction.”

    Thomas then attacks the second point that, “Implies that if you split the economy up into different sectors, for example a domestic UK sector and a foreign sector, the total of all activity (again adding up both ends of each transaction) will still be zero. If the foreign sector is showing a surplus, the domestic sector will show a deficit of the same absolute value.” He says that, “If we split the economy three or more ways, the same principle will hold. Usually we split the domestic sector into two and talk about a public sector, a private sector and the foreign sector. For these three sectors, the total of the surpluses/deficits will again be zero. In the UK, we run a persistent trade deficit, which means that the foreign sector has a surplus. If the government were also to run a surplus or even just ‘balance the books,’ that would condemn the private sector to a deficit. So one thing we can be sure of is that if the UK government tries to run a permanent surplus, prudent housewives and businesses will be condemned to a deficit.”

    Thomas warns the Tory Government that, “If they respond by cutting their own expenditure as prudence would suggest, economic contraction will be the result. Governments really should not run like households and in practice, they do not. Although politicians quite often talk about running a balanced budget or a surplus, it is rare that they do so, and when they do the result is usually an economic slowdown or a recession.” He states that, “Of course, you cannot push this argument too far. The government could not realistically run deficits of 10% or more of GDP in perpetuity without the debt:GDP ratio continuing to rise. But, if huge deficits for a year or two are needed to stabilise the economy and protect the population, there should be no cause for concern about this.” Hard to comprehend but true, “The one thing the Government cannot be short of is money!” I would add a caveat, to say that “The UK is a ‘Fiat’ currency; other nations whose currency is less independent, including those in the Eurozone, have a lot less flexibility.”

    Thomas proclaims, “I can already hear you saying, “But surely if they don’t run like households, they will run out of money? No Business would run like that; they would be declared bankrupt.” He provides another graph to illustrate this point saying that, “Actually, big businesses often do run with ever-growing debt.” His example is BP as he points out that, “BP’s turnover has grown enormously over the last 40 years, and its debt has also grown. Most years, it has borrowed to plug the gap between the cash that comes in (through business operations and injections from shareholders) and the cash that goes out. And there has been no suggestion over this time that BP was going bankrupt. The same is true for the government.” He maintains that of course, “The government has a huge advantage over BP. It can create money (via the Bank of England). After the Global Financial Crisis, the Bank of England undertook Quantitative Easing, it created money electronically.” This is the advantage of our fiat currency.

    Thomas explains how, “The total amount created after the crisis was over £400 billion, and is now almost £650 billion. In addition, there was almost another £1 trillion in loan guarantees to banks. These eye-watering amounts of money were created painlessly, at the touch of a keyboard, and contrary to some expectations (though by no means all) they did not produce hyperinflation. £650 billion is roughly 4 years’ budget for the NHS, and it was created out of nothing.” He repeats the fact that, “The one thing the government cannot be short of is money. So, even if the corona contraction were a normal recession, the arguments we normally hear to justify austerity would not be sound. Government debt to GDP is not at ruinous levels; governments should not behave like households; and there is no possibility of running out of money.” He warns that the austerity strategy, “Also fails to address the specifics of the Corona contraction. The corona contraction is not a normal recession.”

    Thomas insists that, “this means that we should think differently about how to handle both the contraction itself and the aftermath to protect both supply and demand. This is an economic contraction that we have deliberately aimed for, in order to enable social distancing and contain the virus. It was not caused by a sudden shock to productive capacity such as would result from a global embargo on oil trade. It was not caused by a sharp reduction in demand like the Great Recession that followed the financial crisis. Broadly speaking, before the virus, both supply and demand were intact. This means that we should aim to keep them both intact as far as possible. In the book 99%, we use the analogy of an economic pie of which everyone gets a slice. Inevitably, as a result of the corona contraction, the pie will be somewhat smaller than it would otherwise have been, and this will inevitably cause some people to be worse off. But to the extent that we can protect the size of the pie, we should do so.”

    Thomas emphasizes the importance of funding the recovery, “Ensuring a rebound means protecting supply… “ He says that, “The contraction means that there has now been a very sharp reduction in demand for many goods and services. For businesses which have been ordered to close, the reduction is 100%. But others also find that demand has reduced significantly because many people are now working less or not at all and simply cannot spend at previous levels. But businesses have outgoings, whether or not their demand is maintained, and the risk is that many otherwise viable businesses will go to the wall during the contraction. If that happens to any great extent, then even if demand were to rebound, the supply would not be there to meet it, and the recovery would be anaemic at best and stagflationary at worst. So an imperative for government is to ensure that capacity does not contract significantly in the downturn.” But Tories have another devious goal, to smash the Unions and totally disenpower the working poor!

    Thomas says that, “The UK government has announced measures to protect businesses; they will need to keep these in review and strengthen them if a collapse in capacity seems likely.” He also stresses the importance of, “Protecting demand” insisting that, “The demand side is at least as important. Many households will see their finances weakened, some significantly, and there is a real risk that, as after the Global Financial Crisis, people either cannot or dare not spend. This is both a personal and economic tragedy. There is only one way both to engineer a contraction and to shield the population from the worst of its effects, and that is for the government to take responsibility for protecting its citizens.” He emphasizes the importance of taking, “All possible steps to avoid austerity II. We have seen that, even though the costs of managing the contraction will be very high, if Austerity II happens, it will have been a choice, not a necessity.” He said, “since we have the choice, we should choose not to do it.”

    Thomas powerfully asserts that, “Austerity II would be worse than Austerity I, so we need to think now about how to prevent it happening and that will include getting the message into the public domain very quickly.” He claims that, “Austerity I had terrible effects but austerity II would be worse. Austerity I was both an economic and a personal disaster. Economically, growth in GDP per capita has been negligible over the last decade, and most people’s wages have not risen at all. By comparison, the much-derided 1970s showed far better performance.” He also pointed out how, “personally, many lives have been ruined and, according to the British Medical Journal, well over 120,000 have been lost. Austerity I did not even succeed in reducing debt:GDP. It was a failure on every measure.” He reminds us that in the first wave of cuts it, “was starting from a base where most public services had been reasonably funded.” Sadly, this is no longer the case and the UK was less resilient going into the pandemic because of it.

    Thomas reminds us of the harsh reality regarding vital public services that, “For the last 10 years they have not, and they are all beginning to creak. We have lost 20,000 police; and many police forces now struggle to respond to crimes like burglary, simply because of lack of resources. Local authority funding has been slashed; and social care and many other services are now in crisis.” But then he turns to our beleaguered, increasingly privatized NHS, saying, “of course, the NHS has been underfunded, and we can clearly see the risks to which we are exposed as a result. A second round of austerity would compound all of these things: mass impoverishment would continue to hollow out the middle class; the lives of those at the bottom of the pile would become ever harder; and the support that they could expect from the state would be ever more inadequate. We should think creatively about how to prevent it happening.” The problem is that this perfectly fits the Tory design for authoritarian rule over the desperate Brits.

    Thomas puts forward, “Three ways that the government could fund the expenditure we are suggesting, and only one of them is currently on the agenda. The first way is through borrowing and this is the current plan. Government borrowing at the moment is extremely cheap, and as we pointed out above even if debt:GDP were to exceed 100%, that has no real economic significance. So, on the face of it the decision to keep borrowing seems rational. Debt hysteria, however, is not rational and there is a very real risk of loud and strident voices persuading the British public that there is no alternative to renewed cuts in public spending. So it is worth considering the other two options. The second option is through higher taxation, and in the long run, there are some strong arguments for this: the biggest single driver of mass impoverishment is rapidly rising inequality, and progressive taxation can help with this.” The trouble is that the wealthy Tory elite benefit from this growing inequality and they are makeng the decisions now.

    Thomas claims that, “Surprisingly, it might also spur faster growth. Despite the rhetoric which says that higher taxes kill growth, there is no evidence of that in the data. Here, for example, are the US data, and they show that if there is a correlation between taxes and growth, it works the other way.” Thomas provides another Illuminating graph. He says that, “ If this link is real, it is probably because $1 in the hands of a poor person gets spent straight away on consumption, whereas $1 in the hands of a rich person is much more likely to be saved or ‘invested’ and the investment may well be in some pre-existing capital rather than in new capital formation. The rich are as likely to buy stocks and shares, or a Picasso, or a house as they are to invest in purchasing new equipment to grow a business (especially if demand is not visible). Giving $1 to a poor person makes it ‘work harder’ than if you give it to a rich one.” In an emergency or crisis, the poor are also known to donate more in proportion to their personal budget.

    Thomas believes that, “Progressive taxation should certainly be in the mix, but maybe not before the effects of the corona contraction are behind us. Which brings us to the third possibility: money creation. Money creation is often dismissed out of hand on the basis that it would inevitably lead to hyperinflation. In fact, hyperinflation happens not just when money is created (which under normal situations it is in large volumes by commercial banks) but when money creation coincides with a supply shock, ‘too much money chasing too few goods.’ Lord Turner points out that there is no technical reason why money finance in moderate amounts should produce excessive inflation. Others have gone further.” There was a teaser in the news about taxing the Tech giants who have been making out like a bandit during this pandemic, but I fear it will vanish like other illusuary Tory pledges. The only way to change course is to Investigate the Covert 2019 Rigged Election, expose the corruption and remove this Tory Cabal!

    Thomas says that, “In the US, several economists, including the Nobel Prize-winning Paul Krugman, have supported the idea of a $1 trillion coin: ‘Treasury [is allowed] to mint platinum coins in any denomination the Secretary chooses’…” He says that, “’by minting a $1 trillion coin, then depositing it at the Fed, the Treasury could acquire enough cash to sidestep the debt ceiling, while doing no economic harm at all.’ Similarly, in the UK, if the government minted three £500 billion coins and deposited them in a non-interest-bearing account of the Bank of England, not for spending, just to look at, they would have zero economic effect. But they would have a powerful psychological effect. UK government debt is around £1.8 trillion. With three coins, net debt would be reduced to around £300 billion, or about 15% GDP. This is lower than it has been at any time since 1700. The idea that ‘the state of government finances’ makes action unaffordable would be blown out of the water.”

    So according to Thomas, “there are no fewer than three ways of avoiding a damaging return to cuts in public spending. We should use them all rather than allow ourselves to be persuaded that there is no alternative to Austerity II,” so he therefor urges, “that means getting the message out quickly.” He recalls how, “After the Global Financial Crisis, the media successfully created the impression that most economists were in favour of austerity and that it was the only responsible course of action.” He says, “The Times published a letter purporting to be the voice of the economics profession which called for deficit reduction to be the new government’s number one priority. Two academic papers received enormous publicity: one claimed that austerity and tax cuts were better for growth than public spending, and the other that if debt to GDP were to exceed 100%, growth would be severely curtailed. Both of these papers were subsequently found wanting, but by then the damage was done.”

    Thomas reports that, “The message that austerity was the only responsible choice had become mainstream. Austerity I was duly implemented, and it both shrank the pie significantly (relative to what should have been expected) and sliced it less fairly. It did not even succeed in rebuilding public finances. It is important that that does not happen again. Simon Wren-Lewis has spoken about the need for the economics profession to have a clear voice. If ever there was a time for that voice to be heard, it is now.” Thomas says, “In conclusion, there is no reason why we should be duped into Austerity II, but the risk is nevertheless very real. What we should be doing is following the three-point plan, and making sure that we do build a better world once the crisis is over. Those of us with voices need to use them now.” The author thanks, “Martin Wolf for his input on this article.” If this matters to you, Sign-up to Join the 99% Organisation – buy Thomas’s book: “99%: Mass Impoverishment and How We Can End,” ISBN – 10:1789544505. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #67070 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    When will despotic, authoritarian, world leaders, including Boris Johnson, finally learn that corruption is not a viable qualification for high office? In the Guardian Article entitled, “Netanyahu’s corruption trial resumes weeks before Israeli election,” they say that the, “PM alleged to have accepted gifts from billionaires and traded favours with media and telecoms moguls. Benjamin Netanyahu has told judges he is innocent of corruption charges, as a high-profile trial against the Israeli prime minister resumed weeks before a national election. Following a nearly-half-year hiatus and repeated delays due to the pandemic, hearings restarted on Monday. The court expected to announce a schedule for the potentially explosive witness testimony and evidence stage of the trial. As the hearing began, Netanyahu stood in a black surgical mask and was required by the judges to verbally confirm that he backed his lawyer’s written defence. ‘I confirm the written answer submitted in my name,’ Netanyahu told a three-judge panel.”

    The Guardian report that, “The 71-year-old leader then jotted notes on a pad as his lawyers began to argue against the charges. Inaudible chants of dozens of anti-Netanyahu protesters outside could be heard inside the courtroom. Less than half an hour after the hearing started, Netanyahu stood, thanked the court and then left the room, without objections from the judges. His lawyers continued to speak as the prime minister’s motorcade departed outside. Israel’s longest-serving leader is alleged to have accepted hundreds of thousands of pounds in luxury gifts from billionaire friends and traded valuable favours with Israeli media and telecoms moguls for favourable news coverage.” In a quick guide to, “The police investigations swirling around Netanyahu,” they say that Netanyahu is, “the first serving Israeli premier to go on trial, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, alleging he is the victim of a politically motivated witch-hunt.” It looks like Netanyahu wants to emulate the amazing track record of our PM, Boris Johnson!

    The Guardian say that, “Regular court appearances could present an image problem for Netanyahu, who also faces discontent over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Israel, with a population of 9 million, is facing a relatively high death toll and infection rate. Netanyahu is betting on a world-leading vaccination campaign to yield results before the 23 March national vote. More than one in three Israelis have received jabs, and last week the country opened vaccinations to anyone over the age of 16. During the past two years, Israel has been engulfed in a protracted political crisis in which attempts to form a coalition government have repeatedly broken down. March’s election will be the country’s fourth within that timeframe. Netanyahu’s steadfast popularity among many rightwing voters has been a central sticking point in the crisis. While his bickering rivals have sought to capitalise on the corruption allegations, it is unclear if the issue has significantly swayed the Israeli electorate.”

    The Guardian report that, “Indicted in 2019 in three separate cases, Netanyahu faces more than a decade in prison if convicted, although the trial could take years. He is accused of accepting expensive gifts including champagne, jewellery and cigars, and colluding with Israeli media magnates to publish favourable stories about him while smearing his political opponents. Unlike one of his predecessors, Ehud Olmert, who stepped down after it appeared he would be indicted, Netanyahu has refused to leave power.” Reuters offer an, “Explainer: What’s at stake for Israel’s Netanyahu as corruption trial resumes?” Posted by, “Jerusalem (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial resumes on Monday, when Israel’s longest-serving leader will have to enter his plea to charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Involving secret recordings, media moguls, gifts of cigars and champagne and aides’ betrayals, the three corruption cases have all the makings of a political thriller.”

    Reuters ask, “Will it bring him down?” They report that, “Netanyahu has managed to stay in office throughout the investigations and three election campaigns – with a fourth election due on March 23. He denies wrongdoing and a trial is likely to take years. He will fight to remain prime minister in March and possibly for years afterwards. If he wins, he could try to secure parliamentary immunity, or pass laws to exempt a serving prime minister from standing trial.” They ask, “How has he remained in office?” They explain how, “Under Israeli law, a prime minister is under no obligation to stand down unless convicted. No other government minister is protected in this way, so there are legal and political reasons why Netanyahu wants to stay at the top.” Surely the most essential role of a Prime Minister of any country should be to prioritize serving the best interests of its citizens, not avoiding a jail sentence?

    Reuters ask, “Do Israelis care?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes. The corruption case has had a polarising impact on Israelis. Thousands of demonstrators gather weekly outside his official residence and across Israel under the banner of ‘Crime Minister’, demanding he quit. But his right-wing voter base has stayed loyal. Supporters see the man they call King Bibi as strong on security and an influential voice for Israel abroad.” Like other populist so-called, ‘strong men’ portray an image of strength as a protector based on the ramped-up atmosphere of fear. In Israel it is an intense fear among the Jewish population of growing rebellion and retribution for their persecution of the Palistinian people. The real solution is to dismantle the aparthide system, end humanitarian abuse and work towards a peaceful solution not increased violent repression and persecution. Other far-right populist despots like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have selected immigrants as an easy scapegoat to generate an atmosphere of anger and fear.

    Reuters ask, “What are the charges?” They list the specific charges as: “Case 4000 alleges Netanyahu granted regulatory favours worth around 1.8 billion shekels (about $500 million) to telecommunications company Bezeq Telecom Israel. In return, prosecutors say, he sought positive coverage of himself and wife Sara on a news website controlled by the company’s former chairman, Shaul Elovitch. In this case, Netanyahu has been charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Elovitch and his wife, Iris, have been charged with bribery and obstruction of justice. The couple deny wrongdoing.” Compared to Boris Johnson and current Tory Party Ministers, the charges against Netanyahu are negligible; if our politicians were held to a similar standard it would totally wipe out the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship that is truly riddled with corruption from the Covert 2019 Rigged Election to the massive procurement scandal. We need to fully Investigate the 2019 result as well as the allocations of contracts to Tory Party donors and cronies.

    But the charges do not end there, Reuters also list, “Case 1000, in which Netanyahu has been charged with fraud and breach of trust, centres on allegations that he and his wife wrongfully received almost 700,000 shekels worth of gifts from Arnon Milchan, a Hollywood producer and Israeli citizen, and Australian billionaire businessman James Packer. Prosecutors said gifts included champagne and cigars and that Netanyahu helped Milchan with his business interests. Packer and Milchan face no charges. Case 2000 alleges Netanyahu negotiated a deal with Arnon Mozes, owner of Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, for better coverage and that, in return, he offered legislation that would slow the growth of a rival newspaper. Netanyahu has been charged with fraud and breach of trust. Mozes has been charged with offering a bribe, and denies wrongdoing.” Compared to the billions in public funds that ae still being shoveled out the door by the Tories with impunity, Bibi’s bribes are chump change!

    Reuters asks, “What does netanyahu say? Netanyahu says he is the victim of a politically orchestrated ‘witch hunt’ by the left and media to oust him from office, and that receiving gifts from friends is not against the law.” They ask, “Could he go to jail?” According to Reuters, “Bribery charges carry a jail sentence of up to 10 years and/or a fine. Fraud and breach of trust carry a sentence of up to three years.” So they ask, “Will a verdict come soon?” Reuters says this is, “Unlikely. The trial could take years. But proceedings could be cut short if Netanyahu seeks a plea deal.” It seems that the message is, if you want to escape justice for engaging in rampant corruption you should run for public office! Donald Trump is also facing multiple corruption charges with political pundits speculating that he would authorize his own pardon before leaving office. Corruption is also catching up with JaIr Bolsonaro in Brazil where he used fake corruption charges to take out his most popular political rival in order to win the election;

    These examples pale in comparison to the astronomical level of political corruption here in the UK over the past few years; it has become an accepted business model for entering Government with any attempt to challenge the perpetrators considered just ‘not cricket!’ In Iceland corruption took down a former Government, in the UK the perpetrators have dismantled the tools with which we can hold them to account and it is getting worse by the day. The corrupt squandering of public funds is obvious, but has taken a crowdfunding campaign to bring to court. Why can’t the British demand justice. In the Canary Article entitled, “A report just exposed how establishment media pushed Tory 2019 election lies,” they say that, “A campaign group has released a report. It details the extent of the Conservative Party’s use of ‘disinformation’ during the 2019 general election campaign. The detail is staggering. But so far, the report has barely made a ripple in the media; probably because the establishment press is implicated in it.”

    The Canary report on a group, “Defending the truth, Truth Defence describes itself as: a collective of activists, lawyers, creatives, journalists, academics and citizens concerned about the spread of misinformation online, in traditional media, and in political advertising and campaigning. Its founders are Dr Justin Schlosberg, a senior lecturer in journalism and media at Birkbeck, University of London, and former ANC MP and campaigner Andrew Feinstein. Previously, it had worked on ‘Lawfare’: i.e. the “use of litigation for political or ideological ends.’ But now it has turned its attention to the 2019 general election. Called GE2019: a post mortem, its author Scholsberg’s findings are damning.” Especially so since they are only covering one aspect of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. That said, they’re attacking an area of corrupt practice that has brought down political leaders overseas in the past.

    The Canary reveal, “The 2019 general election: a post mortem. The backdrop to Truth Defence’s report saw the Tories sweep to power with a majority of 80. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, after (as BBC News put it) ‘exceeding all expectations’ in 2017 with a 40% vote share, crashed and burned. It won 203 seats. But as Truth Defence investigated, disinformation may have played a part. It said that: the evidence collected strongly suggests that disinformation was an endemic feature of the Conservative Party campaign. Although it does not make comfortable reading for the Labour Party either, the extent and frequency of misleading online ads between the major parties was incomparable, and the establishment corporate media was central to this.”

    “Enter the corporate media,” say the Canary, “Truth Defence looked at the media’s role in election disinformation. It highlighted some of the print media. The report noted a false Tory claim about Labour: At the start of the campaign, a Conservative press release claiming Labour’s spending plans would amount to £1.2 trillion over five years, rapidly discredited by fact checking organisations and journalists themselves, was splashed across the front pages of the biggest Sunday newspapers including the Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph and Mail on Sunday; titles that collectively account for over 60% of total circulation. It said TV news ‘on the whole… did challenge and question’ many of the Tories’ advert claims. But as the report noted, TV news took its time.” It is important to remember that the BBC News program reviewing the next day’s Papers is very easily manipulated to function as a megaphone for unsubstantiated tabloid headlines, especially with the selection of mostly right-wing paper review guests.

    The Canary give an, “example, over the infamous ’40 new hospitals’ claim: On television, the claim was first made by Boris Johnson during a recorded interview segment for the ITV Lunchtime News on 14th November. It was then repeated during a live studio interview with Johnson on BBC Breakfast the following morning. But it wasn’t until the 19th November, when the claim was repeated by James Cleverly on the BBC’s late evening Newsnight programme, that it was subject to any challenge or questioning by journalists.” This has now expanded to 48 new Hospitals pledged in Parliament during Prime Minister Questions, still with no explanation of how this will be funded, where or when they will be built. Televised PMQs has become a weekly Tory Party Political Broadcast!

    Pulling no punches? The Canary report that, “Truth Defence didn’t give TV news a free pass, with it noting one incident in particular: During the final days of the campaign, the significance of time lags in correcting stories intensifies exponentially. Not long after ‘senior Tories’ briefed the political news editor of both the BBC and ITV that one of their special advisors had been ‘punched’ by a Labour activist, video footage emerged showing that the advisor had merely bumped into a protester outside a hospital in Leeds. But the news had already been reported by both editors who tweeted it virtually without any qualification. It was also covered as a ‘breaking news’ piece on television where a BBC News anchor affirmed that ‘some punches or at least one punch has been thrown there’. The report also said how much of the TV news reported on fake news, but that ‘at no point’ did any of it highlight the Tories’ role in ‘fermenting’ these untruths.”

    But, the Canary claim that, “it wasn’t only in the media that disinformation was peddled. Because advertising also played a major role.” They described, “A huge operation. It found that overall the Tories’ advertising operation was huge. The report said that the party: ran a total of 167 adverts across Facebook and Google which were either subsequently removed due to breach of the platform’s advertising policies and/or featured misleading or inaccurate claims. These ads ran for a cumulative total of 1,038 days which is the closest proxy measure for exposure and reach (given that both Facebook and Google only provide indicative ranges for the number of impressions generated by each ad). The equivalent figure for Labour was 139 [days]. The extent of false online advertising by the Conservatives was therefore seven times that of Labour.” We should not tolerate this from any Political Party.

    In “Manipulating adverts” the Canary say, “Truth Defence wrote about many of the Tory’s advert claims. For example, these included the ‘40 new hospitals’ claim that FullFact pulled apart. It said: Of the ‘40 new hospitals’ promised in the Conservative manifesto, only six have actually been given money to start building works and those are upgrades to existing hospitals. Labour was also guilty of disinformation in adverts. For example, one said that ‘Tories cut £8 billion from social care’. But as FullFact said: This figure refers to the savings councils in England have made on adult social care spending since 2010, not the amount their overall adult social care budgets were reduced by. Yet still, the Tories disinformation dwarfed Labour’s and it was also more targeted.” They don’t mention the main source of shocking defamatory smears targeting Jeremy Corbyn that were generated at the taxpayers expense by the Integrity Initiative at the request of the Tories; this deceitful propaganda helped rig the 2019 election!

    In describing, “Targeted action,” the Canary say that, “Truth Defence’s reported said that: What was particularly striking about the Conservatives’ false or misleading ad campaigns was the degree to which they were concentrated on the last week before polling day. On Google, the party ran nearly 50% of all their false advertising during this single crucial week. Given that the average time lag for Google to remove ads deemed in breach of its policies was 7 days, this strategy ensured that any such removals would have a negligible impact on the campaign. Indeed, five of the ads that were banned by Google were only removed on polling day itself. If this wasn’t enough, Truth Defence found more. It noted that:
    • On Facebook, the Tories focused on promoting their manifesto. But on Google, the adverts were around Labour’s plans.
    • The Tories made these Google ads to ‘deceive voters into thinking they were… promoted by the Labour Party, directing them to the URL ‘LabourManifesto.co.uk’. Truth Defence says this breached Google rules.”

    The Canary reveal that, “Overall, the report confirms what other researchers previously found. One example is First Draft’s analysis. It found that between 1-4 December 2020, around 88% of the total 6,749 Tory ads made false or misleading claims. At the time, senior Tory Michael Gove was typically obtuse, saying the ads must have been ‘errors’. But Truth Defence was highly critical of the whole situation.” Regarding, “Mainstream disinformation, It summed up by saying: The phenomenon of disinformation during election campaigns is of course nothing new. But what was relatively unique about the 2019 election was not just the prevalence and systemic nature of disinformation, but the fact that it stemmed primarily from the major political parties and was amplified by a combination of the mainstream press, tech platforms and, to a more limited extent, broadcasters. The problem was not so much to do with disinformation stemming from foreign interference or the political fringes, but rather the political mainstream.”

    The Canary claim, “Our research suggests that neither the online platforms nor television news providers did enough to check or stem the circulation of false claims. The failure of the platforms in this respect was particularly noticeable, given that it took on average several days for them to remove ads judged in breach of their policies. In election terms, that is a very long time indeed.” The Canary say there are, “Real-world consequences,” as, “Truth Defence also put its report into present-day context: The Covid emergency has both obscured attention to this problem, and also made it all the more significant. The extent of disinformation revealed in this report raises profound questions that are unanswerable but also inescapable: were it not for the scale of disinformation, would the UK have had a different government responsible for handling the biggest national crisis since the Second World War? If so, would the outcome have been different? Would more or less lives have been lost?”

    The Canary warn, “These are painfully relevant points,” they say, “Truth Defence also concluded that things have to change: In summary, the evidence suggests that the current regulatory framework for political advertising and campaigning during elections is not fit for purpose and wholly inadequate for the digital terrain on which elections are increasingly fought. It said: “Unless and until the major platforms are able to implement a robust fact checking approval system before publication, there is an unanswerable case to ban all political advertising online during election periods. Given the current government is the one that benefited from the vast disinformation campaign, it’s unlikely to change the rules itself. All opposition political parties must not only convey the scale of the problem to the public but commit to eradicating it in their next manifestos, and the media must follow their lead.” With the recent appointment of alt-right Paul Dacre to head Ofcom, broadcast integrity just took another huge hit that will greatly exacerbate this problem.

    Where the rubber really hits the road on Tory Party corruption is that a massive amount of damaging defamatory information was deliberately generated by a fake Charity called the ‘Integrity Inititave’ part of the clandestine ‘Institute for Statecraft’ funded by the Tories using public funding. This shady operation run by washed–up ex MI5 and MI6 operatives has been exposed for their illegal interference in foreign elections, including Spain and others, besides trying to meddle in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election by inventing and disseminating fantisemitism smears about Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party at the expense of UK taxpayers. Although the process of conviction and removal is remarkably speedy when false allegations are used as they were against Lula in Brazil, it can take an eternity to remove infamously corrupt despots. In a functioning democracy this recourse to justice is at least possible and with loud, unrelenting protest it could be demanded here in the UK too; the evidence awaits the determination of the people to act. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #67103 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial proceeds right before he must fight yet another election, the alt-right authoritarian has lost his most supportive foreign leader with Donald Trump no longer in the White House. Can this hateful man be pried out of office to face justice and how are other far-right regimes faring in the wake of a change in the US Presidency? Biden has already announced the reinstatement of aid and diplomatic relations with the Palistinian Authority and also stated that he will no longer support and supply the Saudi war that has devastated Yemen. Biden extended START with Russia and is set to reinstate the Nuclear deal with Iran. Will the new administration prove less willing to meddle in South American politics that helped instal far-right governments amenable to US Corporate plundering? It is too soon to tell, but the people of several South American nations are now fighting hard for the return of Socialism and benefits that are shared more equitably between all of their own citizens.

    Now, may be the turn of Ecuador to restore a popular Socialist Government. In the Canary Article entitled, “The left eyes victory as Ecuador goes to the polls.” On Sunday 7 February, Ecuadorians went to the polls to elect a new president and National Assembly; Andrés Arauz looks well placed in the run-off. The Canary say that, “Ecuador has been gripped by an economic crisis amidst an ‘erratic and negligent’ response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. And socialist candidate Andrés Arauz looks poised to win, if the process is free and fair. Socialist candidate Arauz, a protégé of former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, leads most polls.” Before Sunday’s vote they said, “To win in the first round, Arauz needs to gain either a clear majority of over 50%, or win over 40% of the vote with a difference of at least 10 points with the next most popular candidate.”

    The Canary report that, “Arauz has vowed to reverse economic and health turmoil in Ecuador by giving US $1,000 to one million of Ecuador’s poorest families. The socialist candidate’s key opponents are Guillermo Lasso and Yaku Pérez. Lasso is a banker who listed Margaret Thatcher “among his heroes”, while Pérez’s left-wing credentials are betrayed by his support for coups across the region and his willingness to prioritise trade deals with the US. The election has already been mired in controversy. Arauz was almost kept off the ballot, while the sitting administration used ‘lawfare’ to jail political opponents and prevent Correa from having a direct role in the process. Correa, however, is ever-present on the streets.” Why are the Brits so easily bullied into submission and ongoing suffering from far-right Tory Governments inflicting the exact same inhumane punishment and deprivation on our citizens.

    According to the Canary, “There have also been early reports of voting irregularities. Officially accredited observers have reportedly been prevented from entering voting stations. Moreover, CEDATOS, the firm which will broadcast exit polls on Ecuador’s top TV network, has a history of corruption and it’s also linked to right-wing candidate Lasso. The popularity of sitting president Lenín Moreno, meanwhile, sits in single digits. Moreno was elected to follow in the path of Correa. But he swiftly diverted from this course by courting International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans and cosying up to the US government. Many Ecuadorians also lament Moreno’s betrayal of Julian Assange. This was after Moreno allowed British authorities to enter the country’s London embassy in April 2019 and arrest the WikiLeaks founder.” This abuse should have constituted a breach of international law.

    “In September 2019, former Ecuadorian foreign minister Guillaume Long told The Canary: I think Lenin Moreno is a Shakespearean traitor in a number of ways. I really do. He betrayed Correa, he betrayed his party, he betrayed his electorate.” A Video entitled, “Ecuador’s historic election explained: Inside the Citizens’ Revolution” is available to watch Here on YouTube. In this documentary published by The Grayzone, Ecuadorians talk about regaining their ‘dignity’ after a period of economic and social decline: What happens in Ecuador today will have repercussions across the entire region.” There is a common thread among all of these corrosive interventions instigated by the US; they savagely attack and dismantle all Socialist Government policies that have protected and benefited ordinary citizens. They frequently create indebtedness to the International Monetary Fund who impose harsh conditions of austerity while benefiting the wealthy elite, and they empower US Corporations to exploit valuable natural resources.

    An earlier people’s victory was featured in the Canary Article entitled, “Socialists claim major victory in Bolivia, one year after US-backed coup.” In October 2020 they reported, “Evo Morales’ party has claimed victory in Bolivia’s presidential election. Exit polls give the Movement towards Socialism (MAS) party over 50% of the vote. To win in the first round, a candidate needs more than 50% of the vote, or 40% with a lead of at least 10 percentage points over the second-placed candidate. The election was marked by tension after Morales was deposed in a US-backed coup in November 2019. Electoral monitors reported threats and harassment from Bolivian security forces. With a private quick count of sampled polling stations favouring MAS candidate Luis Arce by a wide margin, even unelected interim president Jeanine Áñez recognised that the socialist movement looked set to return to power.”

    The Canary say that Áñez Tweeted, “I congratulate the winners and I ask them to govern thinking in Bolivia and in our democracy.” ‘We’ve recovered our democracy,’ former Bolivian President Evo Morales said, “in brief remarks from exile in Argentina. ‘Lucho [Arce] will be our president.’ ‘I think the Bolivian people want to retake the path we were on,’ Arce declared around midnight, surrounded by a small group of supporters. As Morales’ economy minister, Arce oversaw a surge in growth and reduction in poverty for more than a decade. But he would face an uphill battle to jumpstart growth this time. Though unelected, the Áñez regime accepted a $327mn loan from the IMF, to which austerity conditions will certainly be attached. Nonetheless, it would seem that Bolivia’s democracy has, for now, been restored.”

    While the US claims to support democracy their foreign meddling proves the very opposite. It is now well documented that the US precipitated the coup that bought years of tyranny to Chile under the Pinochet regime. US intervention was outlined in an earlier Canary Article entitled, “Leaked emails suggest shocking US mercenary plot in Bolivia.” They say that, “Bombshell leaked communications indicate scores of US military and intelligence veterans have been secretly recruited for wide-ranging covert action of an indeterminate nature in Bolivia. The private correspondence, which has already been reported on by Morning Star, and which hasn’t yet been fully verified, doesn’t offer specific details of what’s to take place and when.” They say that, “it does make clear something significant, and highly sinister, is in the works in the country and apparently has been for some time, with around 1,500 mercenaries signed on to contracts of up to seven months for the operation.”

    The Canary report that, “The deployment of these mercenaries was delayed by the elections being moved from 6 September to mid-October. This suggests that whatever’s to take place is intimately tied to the crunch vote. The vote itself has been precipitated by a US-backed coup in November 2019. Upon declaring herself Morales’ replacement, senate vice president Jeanine Añez – who believes indigenous Bolivians to be ‘satanic’ desert people, and ‘whose party received 4% of the vote share’ in the October 2019 election – ‘expelled hundreds of Cuban doctors’, broke off ‘ties to Venezuela and pulled Bolivia out of multiple international and intercontinental organizations and treaties’. In September 2020, the Guardian reported that Human Rights Watch said Añez’s interim government was ‘abusing the justice system to wage a politically motivated witch-hunt’ against Morales and his allies.” The US attempts to ferment a coup in Venezuela have failed, but they are still punishing its citizens with sanctions; when will this stop?

    It seems that Brazil too could break free from the far-right oppression of their toxic leader, according to a Canary Article entited, “After years of incompetence and destruction, Brazil’s far-right president could finally face impeachment.” They say that, “Far-right Brazilian politician Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency has been on a downward spiral ever since he assumed office on 1 January 2019. As The Canary has previously reported, his presidency has seen a sustained assault on Brazil’s indigenous and LGBTQI+ communities as well as a targeted campaign against political opponents and social and trade union organizers. Now, Bolsonaro’s government seems on the verge of collapse as mass mobilizations calling for his impeachment have sprung up across the country and from across the political spectrum. Evidently, like other far-right faux populist figures, his handling of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has been bumbling at best and homicidal at worst.”

    The Canary report that, “As Brazil’s coronavirus deaths keep rising, Bolsonaro’s hold on power might be shortly reaching the end of its tether” as “Thousands take to the streets.” They say that, “On 23 January, thousands of Brazilians took part in demonstrations across the country calling for Bolsonaro’s impeachment. The mobilizations follow falling approval ratings for the beleaguered president over his government’s poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Growing opposition to Bolsonaro appears to come from across the political spectrum, with groups representing the right, left, and center organizing rival protests. The latter two launched rallies in over 20 of Brazil’s state capitals, including the major cities of Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte.”

    The Canary report, “That same day, Brazil’s coronavirus death count reached 216,000. Brazil has the second-highest coronavirus-related mortality count in the world, after the US. This fits within a wider pattern as countries led by far-right faux populists such as Bolsonaro and Trump have tended to see much higher death tolls than those with progressive or moderate governments. Also like Trump, Bolsonaro initially downplayed the seriousness of the virus and even attended a rally in support of overturning his own government’s coronavirus restrictions. He and his government have also spread outlandish conspiracy theories and false information. Health minister Eduardo Pazuello, for example, promoted bogus treatments such as hydroxychloroquine while visiting Manaus in the Amazonas state. That region has been particularly hard hit, experiencing a devastating healthcare collapse including hospitals running out of oxygen and leaving dozens dead.”

    In what they describe as, “A foul record of destruction and bigotry, the Canary claim to have, “consistently documented the extreme destructiveness and venality of the Bolsonaro government, as well as his long record of making offensive and incendiary remarks. His attacks on Brazil’s indigenous community have been particularly alarming. He has opened up large sections of indigenous land for exploitation by extractive and other corporate interests. Indigenous leaders in Brazil have described the move as amounting to ‘social extermination’ and even ‘genocide’. Bolsonaro himself once commented that ‘Brazilian cavalry wasn’t as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated their Indians’. Withdrawing protection for these lands also threatens to accelerate deforestation and the climate crisis since the areas they occupy provide a bulwark against deforestation. His economic record, meanwhile, includes launching a fire sale of state assets at bargain basement prices and appointing the notorious ‘Chicago boy’ Paulo Guedes as economy minister.”

    The Canary say, “Bolsonaro has also made numerous sexist and homophobic remarks, once stating that ‘If I see two men kissing in the street, I’ll hit them’. On another occasion, he told a female then-colleague of the Brazilian legislature that he ‘would never rape you because you don’t deserve it’. He has also praised Brazil’s murderous military dictatorship and expressed support for torture. Before getting elected, a document signed by activists including Noam Chomsky described Bolsonaro as a ‘fascist, racist, chauvinist and homophobic candidate, one who calls for violence and armed repression’. A lawyer who helped organize the protest in Belo Horizonte described the government’s coronavirus response as ‘dereliction of duty’ and condemned its ‘denialism towards the Covid pandemic’. Political journalist João Villaverde, meanwhile, said ‘We are now very, very close to the moment in which all the conditions exist for an impeachment process to happen’, adding that Bolsonaro has now committed multiple impeachable offenses.”

    The Canary ask, is this “The beginning of the end? According to polling data, Bolsonaro’s approval ratings are currently hovering at just over 30%. Villaverde said that if they drop to 20%, impeachment will become a distinct possibility. Given that emergency government coronavirus benefit payments are scheduled to come to an end on 27 January, that drop could happen sooner rather than later. It’s looking increasingly likely that Bolsonaro’s brutal reign of incompetence and terror could be brought to an end just two years into his sordid presidency.” In another Canary Article entitled, “Bolsonaro’s brutal reign of terror has been laid bare in a documentary exposé,” Peter Bolton likens his conduct to the policy agenda of the Tories here in the UK. “The Canary has consistently reported on the multiple crimes and abuses of the far-right government of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil. Now, a short but devastating documentary film has summarized his government’s lowest points.”

    The Canary point out that the ongoing, “Disaster under Bolsonaro’s rule, has clear parallels with UK,” so the film is relevant to us. “The documentary was produced by Redfish media, which is a subsidiary of Russian-state broadcaster RT. The film highlights issues such as declining living standards, growing corporate exploitation, and rampant privatization as endemic to Bolsonaro’s rule. “It also points to multiple parallels between what’s happening in Brazil and the experience of the UK under austerity. For instance, the film features interviews with people collecting food at foodbanks, many of whom can’t pay their bills because of falling living standards. One resident of Brazil’s notorious favelas (urban slums with poor infrastructure), meanwhile, lamented that there’s been ‘no dialogue between Bolsonaro and the LGBT population, women, [or] black people’.” Why can’t the Brits show more courage and protest? Why are the British so passively accepting of every hardship inflicted on us by this corrupt Tory Sovereign Dictatorship?

    The Canary hint at, “Possible US role in Bolsonaro’s rise following parliamentary coup. Several of the film’s interviewees described Bolsonaro’s government as fascistic. The producers point out that Bolsonaro rose to power off the back of a parliamentary coup against his predecessor Dilma Rousseff in 2016. This is despite the fact that under Rousseff’s predecessor and mentor Luiz Inácio da Silva (known colloquially as ‘Lula’), Brazil grew to become a global powerhouse, lifting millions out of poverty in the process. The documentary also points to a possible US role in preventing Lula from running for president during the election that Bolsonaro eventually won in 2018.” This is the same classic scenario where the US, self proclaimed global policing of democracy has actively intervened to instal tyrant autocratic dictators by sponsoring coups, then sabotaging and manipulating the electoral process. There was US money and far-right meddling in our Brexit referendum and probably in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election too.

    “The Canary previously reported, a group of prosecutors conspired to have Lula imprisoned on trumped up corruption charges that were subsequently found to be politically motivated. Leaked files also show that the prosecutors had engaged in unethical activity such as phone-tapping and illegal collaboration with US officials. In a final insult, after the election the lead prosecutor Sergio Moro was appointed to a major post in Bolsonaro’s government.” They say, “Several interviewees also called out Bolsonaro’s penchant for privatization. A leader of the National Street Dwellers Movement, for instance, said that under Bolsonaro public services including healthcare are at risk of privatization. He added that he’s seen growing numbers of homeless people across the country.” They say that, “Others said that attacks on funding for education, and especially public universities, have been the key pillar of Bolsonaro’s privatization plans.”

    The Canary highlight that, “Economist Esther Dweck said that this is all tied to Bolsonaro’s favoring of the private sector, which has entailed dismantling trade union bargaining power and implementing so-called flexible labor markets. Dweck added that far from leading to prosperity, Bolsonaro’s austerity policies have gone alongside a major recession.” This is such a frequently repeated consequence of neo-liberal austerity measures that you would think global economists would have caught on by now. Pathological liar Boris Johnson claims that he doesn’t like the term austerity so he has selected a reverse psychology approach akin to calling a lethal arsenal of warheads ‘Peacekeepers.’ The PM has convinced the Media to keep repeating his empty promise to ‘lev…up’ while he deceitfully hoovers up public funding to dispense among his donors and wealthy benefactors. Same plot, different name and the British people need to wise up, take to the streets in protest to Demand a full Investigation into his ongoing corruption.

    The Canary describe, “The fascistic stage of neoliberalism,” suggesting that there are, “dark historical parallels. Historian Rejane Hoeveler, meanwhile, pointed out that the re-imposition of neoliberalism is linked to the rise of neofascism across the globe. She singled out ‘Chicago boy’ Paulo Guedes, who Bolsonaro appointed as his economy minister, for criticism. Hoeveler said Guedes has pushed for both austerity and privatization. She added that in 2019, Bolsonaro announced plans to ‘privatize at least 17 state firms’ including the postal service, the state electricity company, and subsidiaries of state oil company Petrobras. She also alluded to ominous similarities between what’s happening now in Brazil and what happened in Chile in the 1970s during the murderous Pinochet dictatorship. As The Canary has previously argued, Bolsonaro is a representation of how neoliberalism is now entering a fascistic phase in its development, which ironically feeds off its own failures.”

    The Canary report, “Continuing devastation of the Amazon” is another very serious concern as, “The film also investigates the damage caused to the Amazon by Bolsonaro’s government. It says that US companies have been major investors in development projects in the Amazon region. This includes US agro-industrial giant Cargill Inc, which built a new processing plant near one of the most rapidly deforesting sections of the Amazon. Another notorious US corporation, Monsanto (now a subsidiary of Bayer), has also reaped benefits from Bolsonaro’s rule. A farmer from the Landless Workers’ Agrarian Reform Settlement said that the company is ‘directly in conflict with small family farmers’ in Brazil. The documentary notes that Bolsonaro has boasted: ‘the world increasingly relies on Brazil to feed itself’. Yet Brazil’s exports have come at a terrible price. In a cruel irony, Brazilians are increasingly going hungry at just the time that more and more food is being exported abroad.”

    As The Canary previously reported, disaffection with Bolsonaro’s government is now reaching fever pitch. With mass mobilizations against his government taking place across the country, and with support from across the political spectrum, it looks like his days in office might be numbered.” They say that, “Redfish’s documentary could be one more catalyst to bring his sordid government to a premature end. Watch the Documentary in full here.” In Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is cracking down hard on the demonstrating students; in India irate farmers are persistent in their protests against Narendra Modi’s challenge to their livelihoods. In Belerus the protests have continued for months on end. In Myanmar protesters risk their lives in rebellion against the recent military coup. But, despite this Tory Government being criticized by the UN for their inhumane policies, with UNICEF stepping in to feed our kids and the Covid slaughter, the most the ‘winging poms’ can do is bemoan their fate! Who will save us if we lack the courage to save ourselves? DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #67155 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    After the PMs obligatory preamble about ‘meetings’, Prime Ministers Questions began with Tory Gary Sambrook launching straight into a typical ‘stroking’ non-question, setting the tone for a session designed to heap praise on Boris Johnson over the vaccination program as if it had little to do with the NHS. Thousands of people had been asked to get a test due to a small number of South African variant cases in Sambrook’s constituency; he duly requested the PM join him in thanking those involved and encouraging those not yet tested to visit one of the designated sites? The PM was thrilled to be able to embellish on the one aspect of his thus far shambolic handling of the Covid crisis that was going well; it obscured the 120,000 dead! He said, “Yes, indeed. I thank my hon. Friend for raising this issue and, indeed, join him in thanking the NHS staff who are scaling up the surge testing in the way that he describes. I encourage everybody in the area and, indeed, throughout the country to get a vaccine when they are asked to do so.”

    It was trusty Trojan horse Sir Keir Starmer’s turn to grovel and heap praise on Boris Johnson so he said, “May I begin by thanking everybody involved in the vaccine roll-out? We have now vaccinated 12.6 million people and are on course to vaccinate the first four priority groups by the end of this week. That is a truly amazing achievement.” Then a quick question: “Can the Prime Minister confirm today that the Government will extend business rates relief beyond 31 March?” The PM stole the praise, “I am glad to hear the right hon. and learned Gentleman join in the praise of the vaccine roll-out, which is indeed a tribute to NHS staff, the Army, the volunteers and many, many others. On the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s point about the extension of business rates relief, he knows that this Government are committed to supporting businesses, people and livelihoods throughout the pandemic. That is what we will continue to do, but he should wait until the Budget for the Chancellor to explain exactly what we are going to do.”

    The answer was predictable and Starmer must have anticipated this. Perhaps it was just a public warning to remind Rishi Sunak of what was expected of him; more likely it was Keir’s attempt to embellish his ‘pro-business’ credentials. He said, “I think that answer was that the Prime Minister cannot give an answer yet, but hundreds of thousands of businesses are affected by this. The trouble is that businesses do not work as slowly as the Prime Minister, they need an answer now. As the British Chambers of Commerce says, businesses ‘simply can’t wait until the March Budget.’ Let me try another vitally important question for businesses and for millions of working people. Can the Prime Minister confirm today that the furlough scheme will be extended beyond April?”

    It was another predictable, ‘not going to answer that now question’ as the PM preferred to keep the working poor in a constant state of anxiety over their income: it was the Tory way. He replied by assuming the mantle of ‘the people’ as if the entire UK population reveled in Tory torture, he replied, “I think most people in this country are aware that we are going through a very serious pandemic in which rates of infection have been steadily brought down thanks to the efforts of the British people. I also think that Members of this House are familiar with the notion that in just a few days we will be setting out a road map for the way out of this pandemic, a road map that I hope the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his colleagues will support, although their support, as we know, tends to be a transitory thing: one week we have it, the next week we do not. He will not have to contain himself for very long.”

    Starmer derided the sadism of this tactic saying, “Let me let the Prime Minister into a secret: he can take decisions for himself and he does not need to leave everything to the 11th minute. If I were Prime Minister, I would say to businesses, ‘We will support you now. We will protect jobs now.’ The CBI, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Institute of Directors and the British Chambers of Commerce have all said the same thing: they all say that they cannot wait until the Budget. The Prime Minister may disagree with me, but he is actually disagreeing with businesses. Why does the Prime Minister think he knows better than British business?”

    It was more a taunt than a question, but the PM still grasped for the upper hand responding, “Most business people that I have talked to, I have talked to a great many in the past 12 months, would agree that no Government around the world have done more to support business, wrapping our arms around it. I am delighted to hear this enthusiasm for business from the Labour party, which stood on a manifesto to destroy capitalism at the last election and, indeed, to dismantle the very pharmaceutical industry that has provided the vaccines on which we now rely. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman now repudiate that policy?” The PM was clearly annoyed, Labour could’t steal business support from the Tories, he claimed the Tory ‘death hug’ had enveloped the sector. Had his Trojan horse not understood the dictat to shower praise on the PM for his vaccine victory; he taunted with a question…

    Politely omitting the obscenity Starmer replied, “We all know what the Prime Minister once said that he wanted to do to business.” Ouch! Johnson’s past throwaway remark hit hard. Starmer was still courting business, “We on these Benches would rather listen to businesses. We have no decision on business rates, no decision on furlough. Let us try another crucial issue. This time there is no excuse for delaying, because this has to be decided before the March Budget and the Prime Minister does not need to check with the Chancellor, will he now commit to extending the evictions ban on residential properties beyond 21 February?”

    Johnson cloaked himself in that failing Tory ‘death hug’ yet again claiming, “I have said repeatedly that what we will do in this Government and throughout this pandemic is put our arms around the British people, support them throughout the pandemic and make sure that they are not unfairly evicted during the pandemic. That is what we will do. What I very much hope that we hear from the right hon. and learned Gentleman is that he has had not only a Damascene conversion to the importance of business, but a Damascene conversion to supporting all the Government’s policies that support business, rather than sniping from the sidelines. Why does he not get behind us and back the Government, back us in our efforts to back business and back the British people?” He was really annoyed; his Trojan horse wasn’t dutifully groveling in praise: PMQs was Johnson’s weekly Tory propaganda splurge!

    Starmer sniped, “I am not going to take lectures from a man who not only wrote two versions of every column he ever wrote as a journalist, but proposed Donald Trump for a Nobel peace prize and gave Dominic Cummings a pay rise. Let us go back to the question. Another area where the Prime Minister has repeatedly delayed and now changes his policy pretty well every day is securing our borders against variants of covid. Every week, the Prime Minister comes here and says, ‘We have one of the toughest regimes in the world’. We know that his Home Secretary disagrees with him. We know that the Health Secretary disagrees with him. Luckily, Oxford University keeps track of how tough border restrictions are in every country. It says that there are at least 33 countries around the world that currently have tougher restrictions than the United Kingdom, 33, Prime Minister, including Canada, Denmark, Japan, Israel and many others. In fact, Oxford University says that we are not even in the top bracket of countries for border restrictions.”

    Starmer demanded, “It is 50 days after we first discovered the South African variant, 50 days. How does the Prime Minister explain that?” The PM floundered, “There are some countries in Europe that do not even have a hotel quarantine scheme such as the one that we are putting in on Monday. We have among the toughest border regimes anywhere in the world. People should understand that, on a normal day at this time of year, we could expect about 250,000 people to be arriving in this country. We have got it down to about 20,000, 5,000 of whom are involved in bringing vital things into this country, such as medicines and food, as we discussed last week and which the right hon. and learned Gentleman agreed was a good idea. Unless he actually wants to cut this country off from the rest of the world, which, last week, I think he said that he did not want to do, unless of course he has changed his mind again, I think that this policy is measured, it is proportionate, and it is getting tougher from Monday. I hope that he supports it.”

    Emphasizing unanswered queries Starmer said, “The truth is this: the Prime Minister is failing to give security to British businesses and he is failing to secure our borders. The Prime Minister often complains that we never put forward constructive proposals, so here are two for him: support businesses and protect jobs now by extending furlough, business rates relief and VAT cuts for hospitality; and, secondly, secure our borders with a comprehensive hotel quarantine on arrival. No more delays: will he do it?” Defensively Johnson replied, “We have just announced the quarantine policy, which, as I have said to the House, is among the toughest in the world and certainly tougher than most other European countries. I am delighted that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is now supporting business, not a policy for which he was famous before, in his latest stunt of bandwagoneering. He has moved from one side of the debate to the other throughout this crisis.”

    Then Johnson strayed into territory he really should have avoided considering the shocking track record of his Tory Party with regard to profiteering from the Covid pandemic with their costly untendered private contracts siphoning off public funds to enrich Tory donors. The PM quoted a poorly expressed comment from a Labour MP, “Some people have said that this is a ‘good crisis’. Some people have said that this crisis is ‘a gift that keeps on giving’. Those people sit on the Labour Front Bench. It is disgraceful that they should say those things.” Johnson failed to recognize the hypocrisy of his criticism; he needed to plug his one success and keep it front and centre at PMQs. He said, “This is one of the biggest challenges that this country has faced since the second world war and, thanks to one of the fastest vaccine roll-outs anywhere in the world, it is a challenge that this country can meet and is meeting. I believe that this vaccine roll-out programme is something that this House and this country should be very proud of.”

    Tory Julian Smith rescued the agenda by ‘stroking’ with praise, “I thank the Prime Minister for the decisions he took last year that have meant that the vaccine programme is in such a good position this week. Despite that success, it is vital that the programme keeps pace with the changing variants. Will he update the House on where the UK stands on ensuring that the UK supply chain is in place and that we do not get behind as the virus mutates?” Relieved to hear his praise back on track the PM gratefully replied, “My right hon. Friend asks an extremely important question. We recently announced an agreement for 50 million doses with the manufacturer CureVac because we believe that that may help us to develop vaccines that can respond at scale to new variants of the virus. As the House will have heard from the chief medical officer, the deputy chief medical officer and others, I think we are going to have to get used to the idea of vaccinating and then revaccinating in the autumn as we come to face these new variants.”

    The Speaker broke in to cut short Boris’s bragging, “Let us head up to Ross, Skye and Lochaber with the Scottish National party’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford.” He asked, “New research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the baby bank charity Little Village has revealed that 1.3 million children under five in the United Kingdom are living in poverty. That is a truly shocking figure that should make this Tory Government utterly ashamed. The Scottish National party has repeatedly called for a financial package to boost household incomes and reverse this Tory child poverty crisis. The Prime Minister has the power to tackle child poverty right now by making the £20 uplift to universal credit permanent and extending it to legacy benefits. The Tory Government have been stalling on this for months. Will the Prime Minister finally act, or will he leave millions of children out in the cold?”

    Demonstrating no shame, contrition or empathy Boris Johnson disgracefully appealed for unwarranted praise for his corrupt Tory Government’s cruel and utterly shambolic policy decisions that continue to drive more of the working poor into destitution as he abandons his most vital duty as PM, to protect vulnerable children. Boris bragged, “The whole House and this country should be proud of the way in which we have tried to look after people, the poorest and neediest families throughout the country, not just with universal credit, which the Opposition would actually abolish, but by helping vulnerable people with their food and heating bills through the £170 million winter grant scheme, and looking after people with the free school meal vouchers. As I have said before, we will put our arms around the people of the entire country throughout the pandemic.” Oh please, could you quit the ‘death hugs?

    Blackford was stunned replying, “I have to say that that was pathetic, that was no answer. We are talking about 1.3 million children under five in poverty. Let me quote: ‘She cried on her doorstep because I gave her nappies, wipes and winter clothes for her child. I went away with a lump in my throat.’ Those are the words of Emilie, a baby bank worker who is supporting families that the Tories have pushed into poverty through a decade of cuts. They do not need more empty words from a Prime Minister who simply does not care enough to act. This morning, a new report from Citizens Advice Scotland warned that Tory cuts could reduce the value of universal credit by as much as a quarter, just when people need that money the most. Will the Prime Minister agree to meet me and other Opposition parties ahead of the Budget for an urgent summit on tackling child poverty, or will he be yet another Tory Prime Minister who leaves a generation of children languishing in poverty?”

    Johnson’s ice cold heart would not thaw as he responded in stark denial of the facts, “I must say that I reject entirely what the right hon. Gentleman has just said. I do not believe that any Government could have done more to help the people of this country throughout this pandemic, and we will continue to do so. Yes, of course we bitterly lament and reject the poverty that some families unquestionably suffer. It is tragic that too many families have had a very tough time during the pandemic, but we will continue to support them in all the ways that we have set out. I may say to the right hon. Gentleman that there is a profound philosophical difference between him and me; the Scottish nationalist party is morphing into an ever more left-wing party that believes…”

    Despite his childishly repeated snub of misnaming the Scotish National Party yet again, as he baited them for their leftist leanings in expecting him to care about poor children who were on the brink of starvation, he was interrupted two of their MPs, as both David Linden and Patrick Grady who proudly cheared, “Hear, hear!” But Boris Johnson shamefully blundered on saying, “There you go, Mr Speaker. They believe fundamentally that it is the duty of the taxpayer to pay for more and more and more.” Better to squander taxpayer money on Trident why not? Ignoring the inevitable fact that unemployment would rise due to the joint crisis of Covid compounded by Brexit, the PM had the gall to say, “We want to get people into jobs, and it is in that respect that the Scottish nationalist party is, I am afraid, failing…” He was again interrupted by Speaker Lynsey Hoyle, “Order. Prime Minister, we both know that you are only teasing and trying to wind up the leader of the SNP; please, let’s drop it. Let us move on, because Lee Anderson is waiting for you.”

    Lee Anderson hailed a pet Tory project, “A new freeport for the east midlands will create over 60,000 new jobs and provide a massive boost for employers such as Caunton Engineering and Abacus in Ashfield. After decades of neglect from Labour MPs, we now feel a sense of hope in the red wall seats. My mum and dad voted Conservative for the first time at the last general election and were touched when the Prime Minister acknowledged that their votes were lent. Could my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister please reassure my mum and dad, my friends, my family and all my constituents that our area will never be let down again?” The unregulated Freeports would facilitate Tory exploitation and hide their ill-gotten gains within the UK. The PM said, “Absolutely,” and thanked his Tory colleague for reinforcing the ‘Borrowed votes’ lie of the stole Covert 2019 Rigged Election; it was a chance to brag about his deceitfully fake agenda of austerity, ‘Decimating Down’ on the poor, disgustingly rebranded with the ‘Lev…up’ Lie.

    Johnson had wanted to double-down on that vile deception by claiming the fictitious Tory commitment was, “absolutely rock solid throughout this country,” but the Speaker had perfected a cut off technique that rivaled the mute button as once again he abruptly forced the PM to shut up! Hoyle said, “Let us head to Meirionnydd with Liz Saville Roberts” who began with a few words in Welsh, “Diolch yn fawr iawn, Lleferydd. As we just heard, the Government claim to have a levelling-up agenda underpinned by a research and development road map. The trouble is that the Tories’ track record on this is not good: in fact, it is abysmal. Wales receives the lowest R&D spend per person of the four nations, at around 40% of spend per head in England, and Westminster’s obsession with the golden triangle of Oxford, Cambridge and London shows no sign of abating. Will the Prime Minister now commit to a further devolved R&D funding settlement to the Senedd, or is he content for Westminster’s road map to be Wales’s road to nowhere?”

    There was more denial from Johnson as he said, “I am afraid that I think that the right hon. Lady is doing Wales down, the people of Wales down and the ingenuity of Wales down, because I think about a quarter of the airline passengers in the world are borne aloft on wings made by the Welsh aerospace sector. Bridgend is going to be one of the great centres of battery manufacturing in this country, if not the world. Wales is at the cutting edge of technology under this Government’s plans for record spending on R&D, £22 billion by the end of this Parliament and Wales, along with the whole of the rest of the UK, will benefit massively.”

    Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi reinforced the reality of Tory lies, “This Government said that no council would be suffering as a result of the pandemic, and the Chancellor said that he would do everything, ‘whatever it takes,’ to help them. Yet Tory-controlled Bolton Council has just announced £35 million of cuts in towns and an increase in the council tax budget of 3.8%. Can the Prime Minister assure my constituents and my town that that money will be given to them, or will this join a long list of Tory failed promises?” Still determined to praise Tory failures the PM replied, “I want to congratulate the great Conservative-controlled council of Bolton on everything that it is doing and continuing to do throughout this pandemic to look after the people of Bolton. I know what incredible work the local officials do, and I thank them very much for it. Since we believe so strongly in local government, as a creature of local government myself, I am proud that we have invested £4.6 billion in supporting local government just so far in this pandemic.”

    Lib Dem MP Layla Moran said, “It is estimated that up to 400,000 people are living with the debilitating effects of long covid, and some of them are NHS heroes, who caught covid in that first wave.” Highlighting the case of one Doctor she declared it should be recognised as “an occupational disease,” and she requested, “a compensation scheme similar to what we offer our armed forces, so that we ensure that those who have lost their livelihoods by saving lives are fully supported?” Ignoring the responsibility his own Tory Government played in failing to protect NHS staff with adequate levels of PPE, Johnson said, “I thank the hon. Lady, because she is right to highlight the incredible sacrifice and effort of NHS staff, many of whom, sadly, have contracted covid in the course of their duties…” With no solid commitment to compensate the PM made another unlikely empty pledge, “We must study the long-term effects of covid and ensure that we continue to look after our wonderful NHS staff throughout their careers.”

    Tory Julian Sturdy banged the drum for getting children back to school with no mention of safety or readiness in his ask. When Tories rant about, “the damaging effects of being away from school” they fail to even consider how many are trying to learn while severely debilitated by hunger. Despite any ongoing risks, the PM confirmed his determination, “if we possibly can,” force kids back into unsafe classrooms by the 8th of March. They will drive a new wave of mutant Covid! Tory Sovereign Dictator Johnson announced that, “in the week of 22 February, we will be setting out a road map and the way forward for schools. We have to make sure that we keep this virus under control. It is coming down, but we cannot take our foot off its throat.” Sadly Boris Johnson’s Tory boot remains firmly stomped on the throats of the working poor of this country, choking the life out of us all! We must protest the ongoing neglect and injustice, challenge and demand full Investigation of the rampant Tory corruption to remove them from office. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #67179 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Thankfully there are now a few subtle hints in the Mainstream Media of the rampant discontent tearing the Labour Party apart at a time when we so desperately need unity and really robust opposition to hold this Tory Sovereign Dictatorship to account. It was not going to take long before the Canary caught on to that catchy Starmarized rendition of a popular Jungle Book theme; Watch the Video just once and it’s really hard to get that tune and the hilarious wording out of your head. In the Canary Article entitled, “No, Tony Blair isn’t back. It’s just Keir Starmer clusterf*cking again,” they pick the well deserved critique apart to highlight how painfully acurate this roasting of the incompetent current Labour Leader really is. They say, “You’d be forgiven for thinking Tony Blair was back as Labour leader. Because a leaked email showed the party tacking towards an ‘unashamedly pro-business’ position. But don’t worry. Blair isn’t in charge. It’s just Keir Starmer and his team clusterfucking, again: the ‘kings’ of the political ‘swingers’.”

    “Blue Blair” according to the Canary who note that, “On Sunday 7 February, the Times wrote about a leaked internal Labour email. It was from Starmer’s director of policy Claire Ainsley. The email allegedly said that: We won’t recover if the Tories raid family finances with universal credit cuts, forcing councils to hike up council tax or freezing key worker pay. But we also won’t recover if we just stand by as businesses go bust. To be the party of working people and their communities, Labour must be unashamedly pro-business to drive growth and opportunity in every part of our country. The Times angled this as Starmer ‘resetting his faltering leadership’. But to be clear, the email is not policy. It’s merely the thoughts of a Starmer adviser. All the same, though, this ‘pro-business’, Blair-like line does little to end the notion that Labour is veering to a centre-right position.” I have noted an increase in the number of interviews granted, and articles that feature, Tony Blair as if the establishment are trying to detoxify his vile legacy.

    The Canary cynically claim, “If at first you don’t succeed… Starmer’s problem is that this potential ‘pro-business’ mantra would be another in a growing line of rebrandings he’s done in the past few months. Back in September 2020, Labour said Starmer ‘vowed’ to make the party one of ‘opportunity, family and security’. This was mixed in with comments about ‘patriotism’. Come January, his message had morphed into one of just ‘family’. We also had shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds’ lecture on making Labour economically ‘responsible’;” is anyone suggesting that the Tories ten year austerity assault on the most vulnerable in our country was responsible? “Now, Ainsley wants to push Labour to be the party of ‘working people’. Oh, and as well as being ‘unashamedly pro-business’, too. Overall, and as The Canary has repeatedly written, Starmer seems a bit Blue Labour: right-wing social values with left-wing economic policy.”

    The Canary express confusion, “So, what can we deduce from all of this? Is it that the Labour Party under Starmer will be the party of ‘opportunity, family, security, patriotism, working people, and business’? Who knows. And it’s that uncertainty which is part of the problem.” They point out Starmer’s futile attempts to “…rebrand, rebrand, and rebrand again,” saying that, “The Guardian reported that Labour has been dabbling in some focus group work. That’s where an external agency asks members of the public questions about the party. It then does a report into what the people have said, and the agency advises the party on what it needs to do to get the public to vote for it. This latest research showed that the public didn’t know what Labour stands for. The Guardian said: the party’s head of research said voters were confused about ‘what we stand for, and what our purpose is, but also who we represent’.”

    The Canary says they conclude, “His slides featured comments from the focus groups such as: ‘I don’t know anything about the Labour party at the moment, they have been way too quiet’ and ‘he [Starmer] needs to stop sitting on the fence’.” They describe “’Unauthentic authenticity,’ Oh dear. The agency thought that among other things, Labour needs a rebrand. The Guardian said it recommended: The use of the flag, veterans, dressing smartly at the war memorial etc give voters a sense of authentic values alignment. Again, this is not Starmer policy. But what it does show is that the focus group was on the money. Because neither Labour nor its leader have a clue what the party stands for anymore. Except that they seem to want to be aping the Tories.”

    We can all relate to Starmer as “The centrist VIP,” as the Canary quotes, “The website Joe posted a now-viral video on 1 February. It mocked Starmer up as Baloo from The Jungle Book. He was singing the song I Wan’na Be Like You to Boris Johnson’s King Louie.” The Canary cite social media activist, “As Rachael Swindon wrote: Starmer faces massive criticism for saying we can do things the same way as the Tories. But the criticism doesn’t come from the Tory press, because their billionaire tax-shy owners are absolutely comfortable with the prospect of a Starmer government, in the unlikely event of the Tories losing their 80 seat majority at the next general election. It’s an unlikely event because Starmer isn’t cutting through [to the public]. If he can’t now, during this moment of unimaginable national crisis, he never will.”

    Personally I’m still rocking over the line, “They say that I’m a wet-wipe, hyst a haircut with no spine…,” but the Canary focus on the overriding sentiment, “I wanna be like you-hoo-hoo,” as Starmer fulfills his role as Tory Trojan horse by aping agreeing with Boris Johnson. The Canary report that, “Swindon also said: ‘now we find the Labour Party thinking a flag, and a bit of out-Torying-the-Tories is the way to power in 3 years time.’ Indeed, it looks like Starmer’s approach is to be a bit Tory while he works out what the public want him to stand for. This will not end well; much like Blair and the ‘Third Way’ ended in tears for Labour, setting us on a path that has led us to Brexit, Donald Trump, and economic and social chaos. Starmer’s triangulating is not the answer. It will never resonate with a politically polarised public. Sadly, it seems that it’s all Labour now has to offer. So, instead of monkeying around with the party, it’s time for its supporters to swing elsewhere.”

    Dr Phil Bevin is explicit in another Canary Article entitled, “Keir Starmer has failed the nation’s children. He has to go.” Bevin says, “Keir Starmer’s Labour is complicit in the UK’s coronavirus (Covid-19) catastrophe, which has resulted in the deaths of more than 100,000 people. This staggering failure is a result of incompetence, appalling political judgement, and a lack of basic humanity. Perhaps the most damaging of Starmer’s decisions has been his persistence in calling for the reopening of UK schools. Various sources, from Independent Sage scientist professor Anthony Costello to the Long Covid Kids campaign group, are now coming forward to inform the public of the threat posed to children’s health by coronavirus. But Starmer isn’t listening.”

    Dr Bevin cites, “Alarming statistics,” where, “Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 5 weeks after testing positive for coronavirus, 15% of secondary school children and 13% of under 12s are still struggling with symptoms. Long Covid Kids also reported that between the autumn half term and December 2020, 700 children were admitted to hospital as a result of coronavirus.” He says, “The virus is now known to be capable of damaging a range of organs, causing permanent disability, even in those whose symptoms had initially been mild. And because schools have been open since September, fuelling the spread of the disease, it seems likely that the long term health implications of coronavirus are likely to be worse for children than we currently know.”

    Dr Bevin points out that, “According to the Skwawkbox, concerns about Labour’s post-Corbyn approach to the pandemic were raised internally by a member of the party’s policy team as early as April 2020. They advised that ‘returning children to school, and adults to the workplace, before test, track & trace had been properly established, posed a serious risk to public health’.” He said that, “Trade unions like Unite and the NEU also shared their concerns about an early reopening of schools, as did then shadow education secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey. Heeding none of this sound advice, Starmer tried to make a virtue of his having supported the government on their 1 June 2020 deadline for reopening schools, when raising the issue at PMQs on 3 June. Although the teaching unions prevailed and schools did not fully reopen until September, they then became breeding grounds for the virus.”

    Dr Bevin highlights how, “This culminated in both Starmer and Johnson insisting children return to the classroom on the 4 January, with the opposition changing its stance only after the government had signalled a last-minute U-turn. The disastrous result was children returning to school for just one day and teachers having no time to prepare for the online learning that would now have to take place, while all of them were unnecessarily exposed to coronavirus. For this, the Conservative government and Labour front bench share responsibility.” But, he warns, “Still they persist. Even now, Starmer and Johnson remain fixated on ensuring that schools open more widely at the earliest possible time. Their current focus on the success of the vaccination programme as the precondition for returning children to classrooms is especially dangerous. Both parties’ positions fail to take into account the dangers posed by coronavirus to children’s health.”

    Dr Bevin cautions, “Labour differs from the government only in calling for teachers to be vaccinated as if children and parents are somehow immune from catching and spreading the virus. But it’s the reinfection rate, not the vaccine rollout, that should be governing the easing of lockdown. With nobody suggesting that children or parents will be vaccinated before 8 March and serious concerns about the effectiveness of vaccines that are not reinforced by a timely second dose, talk of a return to schools before the summer is wildly premature.” He decries the, “Dangerous narrative,” saying, “Worse still, the focus on vaccine rollout by both main parties has limited the scope of public debate. The mainstream media presents policy discussion as a battle between the two poles of government and opposition. Had there been responsible opposition, as there was up until 4 April last year, the scope for public debate would be wider and calls to prevent a reckless early return to the classroom would be heard more loudly.”

    Dr Bevin concludes that, “It’s unforgivable that the threat to the health and wellbeing of our children posed by the premature wider reopening of schools is not being highlighted by the person whose main job is to hold the government to account. It should go without saying that an individual who wilfully disregards clear evidence that a policy will result in the death or permanent injury to thousands of people is unfit for public office, but it isn’t being said by nearly enough people. Starmer and his opposition front bench, and Johnson and the members of his cabinet, are co-authors of the present disaster. Not one of these people should be anywhere near power. The COSMOS is investigating the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on communities across the UK. Working alongside Hamara Assra, we are listening to and asking questions of the minority Black, Asian and ethnic communities about the vaccines. We’d like to hear from all sides of the debate.” They suggest contacting them by filling out their Survey.

    In another blow to Sir Keir in his tenuous hold on the Labour Leadership a SKwawkbox Article entitled, “Starmer banned from Society of Socialist Lawyers – because ‘demonstrably not a socialist’,” piles on more shame. They report, “Starmer condemned in ‘strongest possible terms’ by Haldane Society for his actions and inaction, and will not be allowed to rejoin unless a future AGM overturns resolution. Labour leader Keir Starmer has been dramatically kicked out of the venerable Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers. The society, which was established more than ninety years ago, held its Annual General Meeting last night and decided that Starmer is unfit for membership.”

    According to Skwawkbox, “The AGM condemned: Starmer’s ‘appalling policy positions; his manoeuvres to force Labour MPs to support a bill to allow ‘intelligence sources,’ including civilians, to commit crimes; his disregard for migrants’ rights; his assault on free speech; his behaviour over schools during the pandemic; his lack of support for unions; his inaction on anti-Black and anti-Muslim racism; his inaction over abuse of transgender people.” That’s a pretty long laundry list of complaints and, “The Society also concluded that Starmer is unfit for membership because he is ‘demonstrably not a socialist’ and is at odds with its principles, and condemned his behaviour ‘in the strongest terms’.”

    The Skwawkbox printed the “”Motions – Censure of Sir Keir Starmer QC, Proposed by: Nick Bano and Seconded by: Hannah Webb, The 2021 annual general meeting of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers” Firstly the Haldane Society state that,
    “1. Notes that – while the Haldane Society is independent of political parties – Sir Keir Starmer QC MP was formerly a member of the society, and was very active on its executive committee for a number of years. 2. Sir Keir Starmer QC MP is no longer a member of the society (having resigned when he was appointed as Director of Public Prosecutions), and that it is therefore not within the power of the annual general meeting to expel him.” Although they admit his former membership, they make it crystal clear that he is no longer welcome back into the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers. But why? The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers list Sir Keir’s transgressions to demonstrate how far he has deviated from their values.

    “3. Notes with deep concern the appalling policy positions Sir Keir Starmer QC MP has adopted in his role as leader of the Labour Party, including (but not limited to): a. Whipping Labour MPs & Peers to abstain on the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill; b. Abandoning his leadership election pledge of committing to migrants’ rights; c. Presiding over a system of control that curtails democratic processes, and silences left-wing and pro-Palestinian voices within the party; d. Failing to support the trade union movement (particularly the National Education Union in its demands regarding school closures); e. Failing to take any or sufficient action in respect of the well-documented prevalemce of racism in the Labour Party, particularly against black and Muslim members; and f. Failing to take any action whatsoever against Labour MPs who have persistently espoused hateful and dangerous attitudes towards the rights of transgender people.”

    They continue with: “4. Resolves to condemn Sir Keir Starmer QC MP in the strongest terms for having taken those policy positions, which, in the opinion of the annual general meeting, are totally contrary to the values and [p;oyocal convictions of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers. 5. Resolves that, in the opinion of the annual general meeting, Sir Keir Starmer QC MP does not qualify for membership of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers because he is demonstrably not a socialist ( 8.1.1 of the constitution), and that he shall therefore not be permitted to re-join the society unless and until his re-admittance is agreed by a future general meeting.” The Skwawkbox report that, “Starmer had resigned from the society when he became Director of Public Prosecutions, so the society was unable to expel him, but he will not be allowed to rejoin in future unless he is able to persuade a future society AGM to overturn the resolution and let him back in.”

    Clearly the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers feel that although Starmer had in the past championed Socialist values, he no longer subscribes to those core values of the Socialist ethos and it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to rejoin. When Keir Starmer took up the Leadership role, the UK Labour Party was the largest Socialist political party in the whole of Europe; for the man governing the political policy direction of that party to be judged by esteemed professional Lawyers to be “demonstrably not a socialist” is quite a staggering revelation. If a similar powerful expression of no confidence in the Labour Party Leadership had occurred under Jeremy Corbyn it would have been headline news until he was forced to resign. Despite Starmer’s appalling track record being discreetly hidden by the alt-right media, who would prefer to keep this Tory Trojan horse in place tearing the heart out of the progressive Socialist Left of the Labour movement, Sir Keir’s failings have prompted members to leave the party in droves.

    As a highly qualified Lawyer himself it is inconceivable that Keir Stamer has been unaware that his own manifestly undemocratic dictates are precipitating this exodus. His legal expertise made the error of paying off a SLAPP Legal suit, that Labour was fully expected to win, an unforgivable injustice. His relentless demonizing of Jeremy Corbyn in support of the Zionist led fantisemitism witch hunt deeply alianiated the progessive Left. Added to these contentious issues, Starmer’s blatant betrayal of Socialist values and abandonment of all the pledges that he made in order to be voted leader, numerous Constituency Labour Party members right around the country have now actually brought votes on no confidence in Keir Starmer as Labour Leader. If he had an ounce of common decency he would step down immediately but, I fear it will take a concerted effort to shame him into doing so: sharing that embarrassing Video of Starmer as a character from the Jungle Book singing “I wanna be like you” to Boris Johnson might help!

    Other indicators that he still appears oblivious to like several major Unions deciding to withdraw funding should persuade the rest of the membership that Starmer’s leadership is untenable despite scoring a relative reprieve from vicious attacks against Labour in the press. With the Covid crisis and the looming ongoing challenges of hard Brexit, we are desperately in need of robust opposition and solid unity between and within progressive Socialist political parties. People were genuinely galvanized behind the progressive agenda of Jeremy Corbyn, but the weapons grade PsyOps propaganda and Tory corruption stole that opportunity in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. We must replace Keir Starmer with a powerful charismatic Socialist to lead a massive protest campaign to demand a full Investigation of that stolen vote and the continuous corruption that has followed ever since. Until Labour members elect a viable opposition leader we will be unable to fight this corrupt Tory cabal and no chance to end their Sovereign Dictatorship. DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #67220 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    Hysteria over the rapid roll-out of the vaccination programme neglects to mention the reality that those vaccinated so far have only received just the initial dose with a prolonged wait for their booster jab. This has allowed this corrupt Tory Government to tout the high numbers of people in the most vulnerable group it has managed to vaccinate in record time, now even beating their own deadline. It’s a similar trick as counting gloves separately rather than by the pair, it gives a false impression of their tremendous accomplishment to be hailed by the media at a critical time that masks the grim reality of our soaring death toll now exceeding the 100,000 mark. Ignoring the possibility of any delays in the supply chain, the extension of the gap between doses eliminates any potential leeway if problems arise, hence the aggressive policy of vaccine nationalism that sparked a row with the EU. Obscuring the impact of the unnecessary deaths is perverse, but other potential pitfalls in the Government’s strategy aren’t making headlines.

    At the beginning of February few were questioning this over-egging of the vaccine roll out success story. In the London Economic Article entitled, “Britain’s reaction to the first sign of competence in government is scary,” Jack Peat reminds us that, “New Zealand has managed to keep their Covid death rate down to just 25 because their government acted with competence from the start.” He says, “The Conservatives enjoyed a vaccine boost in the polls this week, turning a four point deficit into a three point lead over the Labour Party. A year on from the outbreak of a pandemic that has wreaked havoc across the nation and all has been forgotten, with the government’s vaccination programme seemingly enough to make amends for all that has gone wrong. This weekend close to one in every 60 adults in the country were vaccinated against the deadly virus, a proud Matt Hancock trumpeted last night. They may even hit their target of vaccinating the most vulnerable by February 15th, ‘with a fair wind’, as Boris Johnson likes to say.” Or, in this old sea dog’s nautical terms, he could suffer a dangerous broach in the massive following seas!

    Peat remarks that, “It is almost as if for the first time since the pandemic started we had a semi-competent government in charge, and it has caught many of us by surprise. That’s what they are supposed to do. The scary part about watching people’s reaction to the vaccination response is seeing how many have forgot that it is the job of the government to make this stuff happen. With the strength of our national health service, the vigour of our great scientific minds and the financial might of the British state they need only coordinate the vast resources at their disposal to make it work. The vaccination ‘success’ is, in reality, simply competence, and I hardly think we should laud a ruling party overly for that. Especially when you compare it to places where this has been happening all along.” Following the Covert 2019 Rigged Election that burdened us with this Tory Sovereign Dictatorship we have suffered the consequences of multiple incompetent decisions; a full Investigation of that result could oust this corrupt Tory cabal!

    New Zealand is cautiously emerging from the Covid crisis relatively unscathed. In New Zealand, for example, Peat reports on how, “They closed the borders, went straight into lockdown and had a functioning test and trace system as soon as the first cases were recorded. Juxtaposed to the UK where border restrictions are still not fully in place and the test and trace system has been a laughing stock and you get a picture of what true competence really looks like. Fortunately for us we don’t even have to look that far any more for case studies in how it should be done. Yesterday our very own Isle of Man announced it was ‘back to normal’ as pubs, schools and businesses reopened. They too had enforced a strict lockdown and closed their borders and were led decisively throughout. One person said their mother had refused a vaccine because ‘there are people in the world who need it more’ than her. Pressed on who she was referring to she said those in the UK. ‘There is a much higher risk over there’.”

    Few in the Mainstream Media are really putting the Government’s shambolic decisions under robust scrutiny. In the Byline Times Article entitled, “The UK’s World-Beating COVID Vaccination Rollout Behind the Flag Waving,” Martin Rodgers, “calls on journalists to scrutinise the Government’s vaccine programme to ensure defeat isn’t snatched from the jaws of victory.” He says, “The UK’s embattled Conservative Government is taking succour from a barnstorming roll-out of almost 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in January, powered from an aggressive purchasing and emergency licensing strategy. Indeed, in recent opinion polls, the Tories had moved back into a four-point lead over Labour, a mere week after Boris Johnson soberly announced the milestone of 100,000 COVID-19 deaths to the nation. However, as the vaccinations accolades pour in, including from Labour leader Keir Starmer and traditional press critics of the Government’s approach, the scrutiny of what lies beneath the headlines has started to wane.”

    Rodgers says that, “In a nation bruised and battered by its 12-month COVID nightmare, slowly awakening to the reality of its divorce from the EU, and where political discourse is held in increasingly binary and aggressive terms, the tendency to seek solace in good news seems overwhelming. Looking under the lid of the UK’s vaccination programme, and beyond its shores to global equivalents, serious questions lurk, that if not addressed with urgency, could see vaccination becoming another catastrophic failure of this Government’s pandemic response, along with PPE procurement and outsourcing. The Vaccines the UK has aggressively pre-ordered vaccines, with a total seven candidates secured covering 357 million doses for its 60 million citizens. This strategy has been conducted on the basis that not all candidates will be successful or pass approval. Of those, two have been granted emergency approval and are being used.”

    Rodgers reports that the, “Pfizer/BioNTech, Has trial efficacy of 90%, and a dosing interval of 21 days. The UK Government advises a three-to-12-week dosing interval. AstraZeneca/Oxford has trial efficacy of 60% and a dosing interval of three weeks. The UK Government advises a three-to-12-week dosing interval. The UK has ordered 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine, and 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. As of 1 February the UK announced that 9.7 million people had received a first vaccine dose, with just under half a million having received second doses and thus being vaccinated. UK-wide and region-specific data on which vaccines have been used on which age-groups, and on the dosing interval for second doses, are outside of the public domain. We have a perverse scenario whereby the more vulnerable are being issued with the weaker AZ vaccine on the basis of its ability to be easily distributed, as opposed to clinical best practice.”

    Rodgers explains that, “Crucially, the UK Government does not break down its vaccine delivery statistics by manufacturer. Despite lower efficacy, AZ is still a vital tool in the fight against COVID-19, given its much lower price per dose, and the fact that, unlike the Pfizer vaccine, it does not need to be stored at -80 degrees. However, some controversy has surrounded the design of the AZ study, as data on subjects aged 65 and over is sketchy at best. Coupled with inconsistencies and gaps in the results from the Anglo-Swedish first-time vaccine producer, this has led to a tardiness in approval from other countries, most notably the USA, whose agency is running a much larger trial prior to granting approval.”

    Rodgers reports that, “The EU, during last week’s vaccine furore, approved the vaccine across its member states, with a note on untested efficacy among those aged 65 and over. The German national regulator went further, advising against its use in seniors, and other member states, including France and Spain, have expressed similar reservations. With the bloc recently securing an enhanced 600 million dose order from Pfizer in 2021, it is questionable to what degree AZ will figure in its over 65 cohort. The UK has not made such a distinction between vaccine flavours, basing the bulk of its roll-out on getting the more plentiful AZ doses into arms the length and breadth of the country. Given the ease of storage and distribution of AZ, this has meant a bias towards GP surgeries, local health centres, and indeed care homes, with Pfizer doled out at volume in national vaccination centres.”

    Rodgers says that, “Again, the national breakdown is not published, but Northern Ireland may be used as a reasonable barometer, and here the Health Minister, Robin Swan, has stated: ‘Those aged 70 and over are receiving the AstraZeneca jab from their GPs while those aged 65 and over are invited to book an appointment at one of seven regional vaccination centres for the Pfizer vaccination.’ Hence, we have a perverse scenario whereby the more vulnerable are being issued with the weaker AZ vaccine on the basis of its ability to be easily distributed, as opposed to clinical best practice.” Rodgers says that the, “AZ trial data, confused as it is, does appear to support a delay in dosage intervals. Hence the major concern is around the UK’s decision to override Pfizer’s instructions for a 21-day gap between doses and to opt for an interval of up to 12 weeks. In announcing this delay for Pfizer vaccine recipients, the UK took a dramatic public health decision, reversing its initial schedule after some had received first doses.”

    According to Rodgers, “Ministers went even further, giving the NHS licence to further extend the delay if operational reasons dictated, and to reserve the right to deliver a second dose of a different vaccine if duplication of the first was not possible (although this is not recommended). The new schedule represents the longest dosing delay of any country in the world, and was met with consternation from the British Medical Association, which requested that it be halved to six weeks at the very most. Pfizer itself simply stated that departure from the tested regime is not recommended.” Other countries are cautiously watching and waiting as the UK population is turned into a giant petri dish under a nationwide randomized trial that the first vaccine recipients did not give their ‘informed concent’ to participate in due to the schedule change after they received their first dose. I believe a violation of this informed consent may well be illegal and Pfizer will claim it is an ‘off label’ administration of their two dose regimen.

    Rodgers reports that, “Worryingly, recent field data from Israel, which is leading the world in roll-out with 75% of its population having received at least one dose, suggests that the UK Government’s figure is a hopeful projection.’ In response to the Israeli data, the UK’s chief scientific advisor Patrick Vallance, in an interview with Sky News, said, ‘We know that when you get into real world practice, things are seldom quite as good as clinical trials. I don’t know exactly what data Israel are looking at, but we need to look at this carefully.’ Vallance’s bland assessment could be seen as a typical English understatement, or simply evading a difficult question on live television, but it is not surprising that he did not engage further on the subject. For, as chief scientific advisor, he will have been a party to the Government’s decision.”

    Rodgers raises the issue of our neglected, “Care Homes and a Disunited Kingdom.” He says that, “The UK Government does not publish which vaccines have been delivered in what setting and at what interval, and so it is impossible to obtain a national picture of the vaccination situation in care homes. What we can ascertain, again using Northern Ireland as a barometer where the approach has been published, is that there are substantial differences across the four regions, and in all likelihood also within the regions. Following the UK-wide decision on 30 December to delay second doses, the Northern Ireland chief medical officer stated the following: ‘Care home residents and staff in NI will get their second doses within the original three-week period.’ One month later, this objective has been met almost in full, with the vast majority of care home residents and staff receiving both doses of the Pfizer vaccine in and around 21-days.”

    Rodgers reports that, “Tragically, England’s sprawling privately-run care home network, which bore the brunt of the disastrous first wave of the pandemic, appears to have suffered once again. Whereas the government touts that all care home resident have been offered vaccines, the fact is that this only covers outbreak-free homes. Furthermore, only 50% of staff have been vaccinated, and there appears to be no official figures on Pfizer versus AZ dosage, though anecdotal evidence suggests that both are deployed. Predictably, the death toll continues to rise even as England’s second wave appears to be finally plateauing. Despite this harrowing picture, central government has doubled down, issuing a statement on 1 February refusing to budge on the 12-week gap between care home doses in England. It seems that no group of people is too at risk or vulnerable, or has suffered enough death or loss so as to be exempt from the Government’s one-size-fits-all mantra.” The Tory Sovereign Dictatorship are playing a sick game of Russian Roulette with their expendable UK citizens!

    Rodgers focuses on the danger of, “Mutations and ‘Leaky Vaccines’,” saying that, “In recent months, it is mutations of COVID-19 that have prompted most concern worldwide, with notable strains deriving from Brazil, England, and South Africa. As of right now, England has implemented a door-to-door Wuhan-style contact tracing response to the South African strain across eight regions, in a marked departure from the distant and largely ineffective outsourced Test and Trace infrastructure that has been synonymous with the country’s failure to manage the pandemic. Some scientists have expressed concerns that the UK’s delayed dosage schedule, when applied against this rapidly evolving disease, increases the chances of new and potentially more infectious strains evolving. Indeed, the less perfect a vaccine is, the greater the chance of the virus surviving and mutating.” This is without doubt the biggest unquantified risk this Tory Government is willing to take with its expendable population.

    Rodgers points out that, “Research to date is far from conclusive, however one 2015 study on chickens seemed to suggest that this is the case. While all the chickens in the unvaccinated group died, the vaccinated chickens survived for 30 days or more, “
    ‘allowing the virus to be transmitted to other birds housed within the same confines. These vaccines also allow the virulent virus to continue evolving precisely because they allow the vaccinated individuals, and therefore themselves, to survive.’ Whether or not this effect is repeated in a human-hosted coronavirus remains to be seen, yet it is difficult to read the above without thinking of mutations to date. This is relevant in particular to the scenario in care homes in England, where groups of partially vaccinated residents mix with staff who may or may not have been vaccinated, or received different vaccines.”
    These risks aren’t worth taking!

    Rodgers reports on, “Keeping Up with the Virus,” saying that, “A second concern, pertaining to mutations, is the ability of vaccine manufacturers to respond to virus mutations. In this respect, Pfizer has expressed confidence in the ability of its mRNA vaccine to work against the two causing most concern at present, the South African and UK strains, and has expressed as much on its website. The AstraZeneca/Oxford team has been much more circumspect, with John Bell, Head of Medicine at Oxford University. stressing on Times Radio that the South African strain has ‘really pretty substantial changes’. The AZ/Oxford team has further spoken of the need to modify its virus platform and potentially to develop new vaccines. With the UK in particular spooked by the South African variant, having majority-dosed with AZ, there is a question of whether a traditional, as opposed to mRNA-based vaccine, was appropriate for such a fast-moving coronavirus in the first place.”

    Rodgers describes, “Flying the Vaccine Flag,” saying that, “Since the beginning of 2021, concerns over the UK’s vaccination strategy have largely been buried beneath an outpouring of national pride as the NHS, with military support, has put jabs in arms at the astonishing rate of 1.5 million per week. The Government-friendly broadcast news infrastructure has promoted the vaccine roll-out with gusto, Sky News has a live ticker of vaccines administered based on the daily figures, whereas the BBC has frequently led on the story, and has examined the case studies of various individuals. In the worst month by far of the pandemic, with more than 1,000 daily deaths expected to be logged on average, and a daily case rate hitting 50,000 at worst, it was the vaccine rollout and not the new level of carnage that made headlines.”

    Rodgers reports on how, “Britain’s largely right-wing print media predictably led the charge on the good-news vaccine front, and was afforded an unmissable opportunity when the EU suggested it would have to restrict the supply of vaccines to the UK. When the EU ultimately sought compromise, the Daily Mail compared the UK’s victory to the Falklands War campaign. Amidst the jingoism, a change in tone could also be noted in the reporting of the traditionally pro-EU and left-leaning Guardian. Previously questioning of all aspects of the Government’s response, its sister paper the Observer ran a series of articles in defence of the regime and even questioning the BMA, the trade union representing frontline staff.” While we cannot trust our UK Media to tell us the truth and the Tory Government is only interested in positive PR spin to detract from their aggressive corrupt profiteering, we all remain vulnerable and the Covid crisis can continue being used as a tool to control, exploit and impoverish us.

    “Herd Immunity II, On 13 January, it was reported by Byline Times that Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said in front of the UK parliamentary committee that the country would need to ‘allow the disease to circulate in younger people where it’s not causing much harm’ while protecting ‘the people who are really vulnerable’, if the vaccine fails to sufficiently slow or prevent COVID-19 transmission. Whereas herd immunity is the goal of any immunisation programme, this apparent nod to the discredited Great Barrington Declaration approach, in essence allowing COVID-19 to spread while in theory protecting vulnerable population categories, was met with surprise from leading epidemiologists. Ramsay went further, alluding to another false doctrine, conflation of COVID-19 with the flu. ‘That may be the situation that we are going to, like we are with flu where we accept that a lot of people get flu but we protect those who are most vulnerable. That may be the outcome,’ she said.”

    Rodgers warns us that, “As we know, however, COVID-19 is not flu. Rather, it is a fast-developing RNA virus, which has spawned numerous contagious and quite possibly more deadly variants. Government policy decisions from 30 December, the date of emergency AZ approval, appear to support this herd immunity at-all-costs narrative. At best the UK approach may not deliver the desired results as rapidly as intended, but at worst could reap a host of unintended consequences, both in immunological and political terms. But all is not lost. More people have received vaccines in the UK than anywhere else on earth, and the vaccines do afford some protection. This can only be good. But in order to ensure that the programme succeeds, the Fourth Estate needs to stop flag-waving, and instead redouble its efforts to scrutinise the Government.” As the British people wait patiently hoping that the deadly risks this corrupt Tory Government forced us to take will not cost more lives, the best answer is to remove them from office! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #67252 Reply
    SA

    Johnson’s regime is now trying to pretend that they know what they are doing. The most recent attempt at window dressing is of Johnson pretending to be a scientist and pipetting a pink solution into a tube in a filmed interview in Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies plant. This follows the announcement of a blueprint for another radical NHS reforms . Whether this is genuine repentance at the deliberate running down of the NHS by 10 years of Tory rule, aided by the Lib Dems, or whether it is another cynical attempt to ride on the massive appreciation of the NHS amongst the population, and use it to pretend that the Tories are the saviors of the NHS, is not really the point here because it obviously is. Already because of the success of the vaccination programme, the Tories appear to once again be ahead in the polls, despite the dismal performance. Of course that is also facilitated by the fact that Starmer with no clear policies other than to destroy all of the achievements of Corbyn, has shown no policies, no leadership and no sense of direction-no effective opposition.
    The actual devil in the details of the announced NHS reforms will remain to be analyzed as it no doubt will be used to exert more political control on the NHS. Rachel Clarke, who has been an excellent and articulate critic of the government’s health policies, discusses some of these points in theis article in the Guardian, together with others.

    #67282 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    SA – Thanks for this; I am waiting for the implications of this bombshell NHS shakup to perculate a little before I comment further. I am part way through reading the Book 99% by Mark E. Thomas to the point where I am painfully aware of the consequences of doing nothing to change the political trajectory that I fear will be held very firmly in place by the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship led by Boris Johnson. Thomas’s book elaborates on warnings spelled out on the 99%.org.uk Website that continued neoliberalism and further austerity policies will massively increase inequality thereby creating mass impoverishment in the UK just as it is doing in the US. There is no acceptable reason why in two of the richest countries on earth destitute people should be sleeping on the streets and relying on foodbanks to feed their families despite being in work. This was my Valentine’s Day wake-up call for us to demonstrate genuine love for our fellow citizens, especially the children. Beyond the horrific toll of misery and hardship that this grim political choice offers Thomas warns that this level of selfish exploitation is patently unsustainable for civilization to maintain beyond 2050!

    Prior to the Covert 2019 Rigged Election I was filled with hope by the Labour Party’s categorical rejection of the austerity agenda and the exposure of these cruel policies as a sadistic political choice that had cost 120,000 lives during its implementation. There was genuine hope for a radical change of direction, shattered by the ‘borrowed votes’ lies that accomplished the corrupt result of a stolen Tory ‘landslide’ that still demands full Investigation to correct the injustice. We are being forced to accept further ongoing corruption with the reckless squandering of public funds to enrich the wealthy elite. In the Vox Political Article entitled, “The richest UK citizen doesn’t own any money; it all belongs to the government,” Mike Sivier explains and tries to answer the question, “Why do some people cheat with it? This is not a bombshell, it’s very simple economics. As Richard Murphy explains in this Video; money has no value in and of itself.” Other vital information from Richard J. Murphy at Tax Research.org about economics can be accessed Via this Link.

    Sivier explains how at one time our currency used to be valued, “…when the United States applied the Gold Standard (meaning the Dollar was worth its value in gold), but when the States had trouble funding the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon put a stop to that.
    The Pound was also tied to the Gold Standard, because it had a fixed exchange rate with the Dollar, but that all changed in 1971. The value of our currencies became fluid, attached only to the promise by the Governor of the Bank of England, a government employee, to pay the bearer, on demand, the sum printed on the front of our banknotes and coins. That promise, in turn, is only worth anything at all because the government refuses to take our taxes in any form other than the Pound. That’s why we do all our trade in the UK using the pound; because if we didn’t, we would have to put our cash through an exchange system, possibly with an adverse exchange rate, before paying our taxes.”
    He asserts that, “tax is important because it stops our money losing its value.”

    Sivier reports what Mr Murphy explains so well in his Video clip, “Governments create money. They must also destroy it, otherwise the system fills with too much of it, meaning we have to pay more for the goods it buys, and we get inflation.” He then points out that, it occurs to him that this must mean that, “certain people are screwing up the system for the rest of us.” Sivier encourages us to view the video to better understand his assertions. He asks the question, “What about people who hoard up their money in tax havens and refuse to pay it back? I’m referring, of course, to the super-rich. They seem to think that the cash they have accrued is theirs; it isn’t. It belongs to the government, no matter whose bank account holds it.” He reminds us that our money, “was created for a purpose, and the government sets tax rates in order to recover it after that purpose is achieved. So it follows that anybody avoiding tax is deliberately sabotaging the government’s plans.” This is a very interesting perspective that alludes most people.

    Sivier then asks, “What can a government do about it? Well, as we’ve seen with the Tories, the most common choice is to do nothing and let the greedy fatcats keep their ill-gotten gains. This, in turn, must have an inflationary effect as not as much cash comes back to the government as intended.” So he asks, “how would a government deal with that? It would tax the rest of us, those who have no choice but to pay more.” Sivier concludes that, “So it seems to This Writer that you pay taxes for the super-rich who avoid paying theirs.” He asks, “Do you think that’s fair?” We should then contemplate the worst consequences of the Tory agenda of protecting the wealthy as this rampant inequality has inflicted inhumane suffering on the poor which Sivier refers to in a recent report in an earlier Vox Political Article entitled, “The ‘shocking’ part of this report is that it was so easy for 1.3m children & babies to fall into poverty” He says, “Family poverty skyrocketed under Tory policies of benefit denial and wage depression.”

    Despite the horrendous damage of Tory ideologically driven austerity, in a cruel twist of fate, Sivier claims that, “Now they can blame Covid-19 for it.” We should not allow them to escape accountability with this deception. Sivier reports that, “Research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and baby bank charity Little Village has shown that 1.3 million babies and children aged less than five in the UK are now in poverty. The report found 34 per cent of families with one child under five live below the poverty line, meaning they survive on less than 60% of the median household income in the UK. 1.3 million of the 4.2 million children in poverty in the UK are babies and children under the age of 5. Two in five of the families of the children in poverty have seen a reduction in their earnings as a result of the ongoing Covid crisis.” Sivier cites the Mirror Online Article entitled: “1.3m babies and kids under 5 live in poverty in Britain, ‘shocking’ new report finds.”

    Sivier claims that, “Undoubtedly the government will want to blame Covid-19. Measures to control the pandemic have meant lower-level incomes have suffered. But who imposed those measures? The Tories. And why were so many families already so close to poverty that it took only a 20 per cent reduction in their incomes (the difference between normal wages and furlough payments) to drop them into it? Because the Tories encouraged wage depression over the 10 years prior to the pandemic. Finally, let us all remember that the pandemic has been a windfall for the richest people in the country. They have increased their income hugely.” We must demand that those who have profited from the Covid crisis must be ‘windfall’ taxed appropriately to pay for it. That will require progressive Socialist leadership and vocal MPs to forcefully reject and call out any attempt to impose pay freezes or any aspect of austerity including strong repudiation of the Tory rebranding of austerity under the deceitful guise of the ‘Lev…up’ lie.

    In the London Economic Article entitled, “Pandemic: eye-watering spending must not lead to austerity,” they claim that, “Rather than quantitative easing for the banks, there should be quantitative easing for the people. The vast sums of money governments are spending to sustain locked down economies are eye-watering, so far around $12 trillion globally. Estimates for the UK are at least £400 billion or around £6000 per person. This money is inevitably described as needing to be met by government borrowing. The assumption is that the state does not have any money of its own and relies on a jumble of various foreign and domestic financial investors to fund any deficit in tax income. This is patently untrue, modern states have central banks which have the ability to create new money out of fresh air, a privilege that flows through to the rest of the banking system. How far the central bank uses its money-creating powers to back bank lending rather than enabling state spending, reflects a political choice.”

    London Economic say, “That choice determines whether or not countries are put into debt. Government borrowing places the burden of repayment onto the populace leading to calls for austerity. The current dominant ideology of neoliberalism demands that new money must only be issued through the commercial banking system. Governments are set arbitrary levels of debt and deficit such as the EU’s 3% of GDP as a maximum for deficit and 60% for debt. The UK deficit is currently around 20% and total debt over 100%, and the sky has not fallen in. There is concern that states ‘printing’ money will cause inflation. That is not the worry at present, the bigger danger is deflation and a collapsed economy. Money is the lubricant that enables the economy to flow. Like a water system or a blood circuit if there is a break, the water or blood drains away. The money system, like a leak or wound, needs to be constantly replenished until the break is mended. It is on life support. There is a place for debt and government borrowing, but that is not now.”

    London Economic point out that, “The money to rescue the economy during the pandemic should be created and circulated by the state, free of debt, until the crisis is over. The UK is temporarily a public economy, total public spending is nearly 60% of GDP. A public economy should be funded by public money, this is not the time to provide financial institutions with a profitable investment. Nor is there any need for austerity. The current emphasis on state borrowing leads to the ridiculous situation where governments are selling government bonds to raise money, while the central bank is buying up the self-same bonds through ‘quantitative easing’ that is, creating new money. The result is that central banks end up holding a substantial amount of government ‘debt’. This means that in a democracy, one part of the state owes money to another part of the state. If we owe the money to anyone at all, we owe it to ourselves. Rather than quantitative easing for the banks, there should be quantitative easing for the people.”

    In the London Economic Article entitled, “Watch what happens to the UK’s debt pile under the Conservatives,” Joe Mellor explodes the myth of Tory fiscal responsibility. He explains the consequences of Tory austerity policies on the UK economy and it is not a rosy picture of fiscal recovery after the banking crisis. He says that, “It means the UK’s overall debt is now around 99.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), which is a measure of the size of the economy, a level not seen since 1962. Despite claiming to be the party of fiscal responsibility, the UK’s debt pile under the Conservatives has increased exponentially over the past decade. Often weaponised against the Labour Party in the elections of 2010 and 2015 it has increased in every year since the Tories took charge, and has grown at an alarming rate this year. Government borrowing surged to a record £31.6 billion in November as efforts ramped up to support the economy through the second wave of the pandemic, official figures have shown.”

    Mellor reports that, “The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said last month’s borrowing, excluding state-owned banks, soared by £26 billion year on year and marked the highest seen in November and the third highest in any month since records began in 1993. The latest estimate saw public sector net debt reach a new all-time high of £2.1 trillion at the end of last month. It means the UK’s overall debt is now around 99.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), which is a measure of the size of the economy, a level not seen since 1962.” Mellor has provided a few handy graphics to help illustrate how badly the Tory strategy of austerity introduced by Goorge Osborn managed to rapidly increase the national debt despite all the deceptive Tory claims of ‘fiscal responsibility’ and the constant repudiation of Labour’s appeals to protect the social safety net. This hoax of better management of public finances is trotted out at every election and the progressive Left need to robustly reject this lie and present the true picture to the UK public.

    Mellor points out that, “Borrowing has hit £240.9 billion for the first eight months of the financial year, £188.6 billion more year on year and breaking yet more records. Recent official forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) predict borrowing could reach £393.5 billion by the end of the financial year in March, which would be the highest seen since the Second World War. It comes after the Government launched more than 40 schemes across the UK to help households and businesses through the coronavirus crisis. One of the most costly has been the furlough scheme for workers, which was last week extended again until April 2021. The most recent figures from HM Revenue & Customs showed another £3.4 billion worth of claims were made between November 15 and December 13, taking total claims to £46.4 billion and 9.9 million furloughed jobs.”

    Mellor reports that, “The ONS said borrowing rose as tax and National Insurance receipts fell by £38.3 billion, or 8.6 per cent, year on year in the eight months to November. But government support for individuals and businesses during the pandemic contributed to a 30 per cent or £147.3 billion hike in central government spending. Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, cautioned the furlough extension and extra Government support could send borrowing ballooning to more than £400 billion this financial year. He said: ‘If the trend of the first eight months of fiscal year 2020/21 continued, the budget deficit would come in around £264 billion. ‘However, it looks likely to come in significantly higher than this with the furlough scheme now being extended until April and other supportive fiscal measures announced for the economy in the recent Spending Review. ‘Indeed, if introduced, more support for businesses affected by Tier 4 restrictions could potentially send the budget deficit above £400 billion’.”

    In an even more depressing London Economics Article entitled, “Repressionomics: Get ready for the new permanent austerity,” T.J.Coles paints a grim picture of the road ahead. He predicts that, “Government and corporations will again balance the costs of a long-term stimulus on the backs of the poor. No prizes for stating that the economy is in crisis. By late-June, government debt was £1.9 trillion, more than the entire national GDP; a debt not seen since 1963, following six years of Tory mismanagement under Chancellor and later PM, Harold Macmillan. In the second quarter (April to June), GDP dropped by more than 20 percent. Another record was broken when government borrowing exceeded £127 billion. Economists predict that the deficit, ie., expenses exceeding revenue, could top £370bn. Analyst Nick Hubble calls the Tory solution a potentially ‘limitless stimulus’ (paraphrasing). Others say that this approach amounts to a type of management called financial repression. And guess who will pay the price… again?”

    Coles describes, “austerity and covid” as “a match made in hell,” saying that, “Britain was the hardest hit of the G7 nations. The ex-hedge fund managing millionaire Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, claims that the UK tanked so badly because:‘Social activities, like eating out, going to the cinema, shopping… comprise a much larger part of our economy than they do for most of our European comparative countries.’ But is this true? By the end of July, France’s GDP had fallen less than 14 percent and Germany’s just over 10. France’s household consumption expenditure is between $1.3 and $1.5 trillion, Germany’s is $2 trillion. The UK’s is not radically different ($1.7 and $1.8 trillion.) Although Germany’s services sector comprises just over 60 percent of its GDP compared to the UK’s 70+ percent, the sector in France likewise constitutes over 70 percent of GDP. So, by these measures Sunak’s claim is false. The BBC parroted the assertion regardless.”

    Coles claims that, “A more plausible explanation is that the deep cuts imposed by the Tory-Liberal regime (2010-15) after the Financial Crisis (2007-09) weakened the UK’s resilience. An article by the Oxford Research Group calls COVID off the back of austerity ‘a match made in hell’. After the Global Financial Crisis (2007-09), austerity was imposed across the European Union, but the UK’s measures were particularly harsh. The French government continued to fund its health system, introducing new taxes to pay for the budget. It ‘took steps to protect people with low incomes,’ says the World Health Organization, for instance by increasing the national insurance contributions of wealthy people. In Germany, according to the Centre for European Economic Research: ‘the increase in the debt ratio overstates the cost of banking sector stabilisation because the public sector also acquired significant assets,’ thereby preventing long-term austerity.”

    Placing the blame fairly and squarely on greed obsessed Tory mismanagement Coles says, “In the UK, Chancellor Osborne (who was almost certainly a millionaire at the time) cut the top rate of income tax, reduced the National Health Service budget, and decimated social security. By the time COVID struck, two-thirds of the so-called job recovery market comprised of what the Resolution Foundation calls ‘atypical work’: precarious small business ownership or unstable gig economy-type jobs.” We cannot be duped by this ruinous and dangerous tactic again. That is the crux of the warning in the ‘must read’ book: “99% – Mass Impoverishment and How We Can End It.” We should understand that it was the hollowing out of our NHS and public services that left this country so uniquely ill equipped to combat the Covid 19 crisis in the first place with people already surviving on the brink of destitution.

    Coles asks, “So, how will the government, which is comprised of millionaires and funded by billionaires, manage the unfolding COVID crisis? Barclays notes that policymakers ‘will have to choose from overt debt reduction policies, such as austerity and taxation, to covert ones, such as financial repression and inflation’. ‘Repressionomics’ sees funds borrowed from the private sector to reduce government debt. The acquisition of private funds facilitates the continuation of low-interest rates for government spending. The measures are ‘repressive’ in that savers earn less than at the rate of inflation. Ideologues are already pushing for this as the least-worst option. The Telegraph, for instance, finds reasons not to re-nationalise the Bank of England or spend on a massive, post-WWII-type infrastructure project, backed by government-secured jobs and housing. ‘That leaves the last option: financial repression’.” This is the dystopian nightmare option that Thomas’s 99% book warns will result in mass impoverishment!

    Coles explains that, “Contrary to the impression given by Barclays, financial repression and austerity are not mutually exclusive. Ad van Riet of the European Central Bank (ECB) confirmed that European technocrats ‘applied the tools of financial repression to restore stability after the euro area crisis,’ following the Crisis of ‘07-09. But that didn’t stop the ECB from imposing austerity in the form of public spending cuts. Corporations are not in the business of having their profits repressed. They will likely continue to defer the cost of lost profits to lower-level employees and pension holders. With embedded public spending cutbacks resulting from policies undertaken during the last decade, social security will continue to be meagre for the recently-redundant and retired. Nearly nine in ten pension funds saw a drop of up to 15 percent in the first quarter. Harvard economist, Professor Lance Taylor, predicts that ‘profits from job losses will finance government borrowing for COVID-19 bailouts’.”

    Coles reports that, “The former Chief Economist at Citi, Willem Buiter, says that even without protectionism, ‘the organisation of production and trade will emphasise planned redundancy.’ Buiter cites only ‘painful ways to restore fiscal sustainability.’ The rich and powerful have ways to offset the ‘pain’ of lower-than-expected returns. ‘That leaves the familiar tools of public spending cuts and higher taxes,’ says Buiter. However, corporations and wealthy individuals already create a ‘tax gap/ of £35 billion. In late-2019, the Institute for Fiscal Studies reported that ‘an awful lot’ of austerity was ‘baked in’ to the Tories’ supposedly generous manifesto. In April this year, millionaire Boris Johnson said: ‘I think this government will want to encourage that bounce back in all kinds of ways, but I’ve never particularly liked the term [austerity] and it’s certainly not part of our approach.’ Notice that Johnson said he didn’t like the ‘term,’ not the practice.” The reality is that the PM is using the ‘Lev…up’ lie to obscure his rebranding of austerity.

    Despite the very real probability that the alt-right UK Media fully understand exactly what Boris Johnson is up to with this deceptive propaganda they are not letting on. But, according to Coles the, “Media read this as a pledge not to continue the trends set by millionaire PM David Cameron in 2010. But in reality, Chancellor Sunak has already confirmed that ‘tough times are here,’ though not for people like him and Tory donors. Talking to the Confederation of British Industry, former Chancellor and millionaire, Philip Hammond, says: ‘My personal view is that this government will be extremely reluctant to either increase taxes or reduce public spending.’ Hammond concludes that this will push austerity further down the road: ‘I expect that the great majority of the burden of this crisis is going to be absorbed through increased borrowing and left on the table for future generations’.” This is only a worrying prospect if you buy into the delusional fallacy of considering the national budget in the exact same light as a household budget.

    It is the perpetuation of this myth that permits the Tories to sell the need for more austerity to the British people, but we have had an entire decade of seeing that the super wealthy are not only spared and share of this hardship, they are enriched by the selective Tory policies that protect them. Coles says, “The usual suspects are lobbying for belt-tightening. Matthew Lesh, head of research at the Adam Smith Institute, claims that government spending is too generous: ‘The Tories are caring less and less about fiscal responsibility. They are instead looking for a magic money forest.’ Sajid Javid, the millionaire ex-banker and former Chancellor, recently published a report for the Tory-backing Centre for Policy Studies, recommending VAT and national insurance relief for employers, and ‘[n]ew fiscal rules to gradually eliminate the current budget deficit after the economy recovers.’ Javid concludes: ‘When things have returned to some form of normality, fiscal conservatives may have to win the argument all over again’.”

    That statement is code for ramping up the Tory propaganda to convince the public that they are now responsible for repaying the reckless squandering of public funds and rampant corporate profiteering throughout the past year. We have a very small window of opportunity to hold the Tories to account for their corruption using Judicial Review before this avenue of scrutiny is closed down by the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship. Coles warns that, “To prevent another decade of austerity, the grassroots must ensure that the Labour Party remains committed to socialist policies, otherwise it will repeat the mistakes of the austerity-lite leader Ed Miliband in 2015 and fail to gain a significant number of seats whenever the next General Election comes.” The potential for another election and the possibility that it might be free and fair is miniscule and we cannot count on it happening at all. The exposure of the blatant ongoing corruption of this Tory cabal is more than sufficient to remove them from office right now: we must rescue our democracy! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #67324 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    The Jury is still out on the Tory Governments latest plans for a complete shake-up of our beleaguered NHS, but their timing couldn’t have been worse so does that have ominous implications. So far at there are a few naively optimistic commentaries, but from NHS professionals cautious warnings too. In the Politico Article entitled, “NHS shake-up finds Boris Johnson ready to ditch ideology,” Charlie Cooper comments on how the, “Second health service reorganization in a decade marks a direct break with pro-market Conservative predecessors. London — The coronavirus pandemic is far from over and England’s National Health Service is not yet out of the woods, but its next big reform has already been set in motion. The obvious question being asked by some of the exhausted health care staff on the frontline is: Why now? It’s the second time in a decade that the U.K. government has ordered a reorganization of the NHS and the latest plan gives a hint at how the Conservative party under Boris Johnson is changing.” I think not!

    Politico reports that, “The last round of reforms, led by the-Health Secretary Andrew Lansley in 2012, proved deeply controversial. They had, at their heart, ideas firmly rooted in Thatcherite orthodoxy. Private-sector competition with state-run health services was an inherent good, and central government should be at one remove from public services on the ground. The fresh proposals, set out by current Health Secretary Matt Hancock in a government white paper, represent a major about-face. They do away with the legal requirement for competitive tendering of health services in the NHS, and place significantly more power in the lap of the health secretary himself.” Am I the only one to smell danger here? Matt Hancock has developed a special take on the ‘Friends and Family’ benefit program, so increasing his lock on unaccountable public money squandering is not a ‘healthy choice’ as the endemic Tory corruption will not stray far beyond his circle of ultra wealthy elitist chums at the expense of the British public.

    Putting trust in this Tory Government’s shambolic control of the NHS is nieve, but according to Politico, “it’s a sign of how Johnson’s government is less driven by ideology than many of its Conservative predecessors, and far more opportunistic. Though founded by the Labour Party on principles contrary to Johnson’s espoused pro-market leanings, the prime minister has made the publicly-funded, free at the point of use NHS central to his political identity.’ Much of what is in the white paper has been proposed by NHS England’s leading officials and has been in the works for some time. The previous Lansley reforms saw the establishment of GP-led clinical commissioning groups, which were handed public money and tasked with buying health care services for a local area from either NHS or private providers. The reforms were ‘only ever really understood’ by Lansley himself, said Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust think tank. They were never warmly embraced by Lansley’s Conservative successors or the NHS.”

    Politico quote Edwards saying, “‘Politicians and the NHS go in cycles of falling in and out of love of different types of mechanisms. There has been a disenchantment with quasi-market mechanisms as a really major lever for change.’ The new ‘integrated care systems’ that will now be responsible for the funding of health care are already up-and-running in some parts of the country.” This would all seem remarkably positive if it had not been proposed by a pathological liar whose attention to detail is so poor that policies he approves are ill-conceived and with a dictatorial absolute control of his cabinet there is zero challenge or scrutiny. But Politico’s optimism gathers pace as they enthusiastically describe how, “Johnson is willing to embrace changes drawn up by NHS leaders and casually sweep away pro-market thinking inherited from his Conservative predecessor David Cameron is characteristic of a prime minister who sees himself in the tradition of ‘Tory Democracy’.”

    Politico describe Johnson in glowing terms, “He is pro-market, but relaxed about state intervention where it seems to work and (crucially) is popular.” They rightly say, “there are few areas of public life in which British government’s stand to gain, or lose, as much popularity as on their handling of the NHS.” But here they buy into that other Tory con to describe the PM’s priority as, “Eyes on 2024,” as if Johnson is not now in a perfect position to call or not cal an election whenever he chooses. The abolition of the Fixed Term Parliament Act was a Tory Manifesto pledge, but there was no hint as to the order of future elections and nothing to prevent Boris from proroguing Parliament for as long as he wants whenever he wants. There will be further disenfranchisement efforts in place and other restrictions to reduce turnout and simplify corrupt ballot stuffing. Due to our dire reluctance to question, challenge or fully Investigate the unfathomable result of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election we remain unable to monitor the system.

    Politico ask, “But why now, in the teeth of a pandemic? The answer, said Richard Sloggett, founder of the Future Health think tank and a former adviser to Hancock, lies in the coming challenges for the NHS and the Tories’ desire to address them in time for their public reckoning at the 2024 general election.” They return to the 2024 Election fantasy, they claim that, “The government wants to get this through now so it can be in place by April 2022. With the next election in 2024 that gives you a couple of years for these reforms to start delivering,’ said Sloggett. “‘The big thing they’re going to have to deliver is the reduction in waiting times. We’ve got hundreds of thousands of people now waiting over a year for treatment after the significant disruption caused by COVID.’ Precisely how, or whether, the new structures can deliver remains to be seen.” There are thousands of retired staff who were lured back to work to help the NHS through this crisis, but they will want out again soon and the NHS is already desperately short of staff.

    Politico report that, “Sloggett said the key reform to watch would be the additional powers accrued by the health secretary; an aspect of the overhaul that was not based on pre-existing NHS plans and came as a surprise to many observers. While the management body NHS England will retain ‘clinical and day-to-day operational’ independence, Hancock has said reforms would empower him to ‘set direction for the NHS and intervene where necessary.’ In other words, Hancock wants to be able to pull a lever in Whitehall and for the NHS to respond on the ground. With a rapidly growing waiting list for treatment that could become a major election issue in three years’ time, you can see why he might want that.” Or if you are a tad more sceptical you might think twice about increasing the power of a thoroughly untrustworthy, unprincipled Tory only interested in profiteering for the benefit of himself, his family and wealthy Tory donor friends.

    Although Politico described the timeline according to Edwards as “’optimistic’ to think the reforms could have any effect by the time of the 2024 election, and highlighted a chronic workforce shortage in the NHS as the real problem with the health service that needs fixing,” the real challenge will be rampant Tory corruption. Has no one noticed the obscene track record of this Government with their ability to squander public money with impunity on everything from inadequate PPE, to inappropriate equipment and dysfunctional systems? Why the sudden vote of trust in the PM and Matt ‘sleight of Hand’ cock? But Politico reports that, “What they will discover is that you can pull the levers all you like, if there’s no orthopaedic surgeons it doesn’t really matter,’ said Edwards. ‘There’s a flawed theory about what the issues are … that somehow performance is a management problem or a lack of will; when actually the real problem there aren’t enough staff’.”

    According to Politico, “There is another risk for Hancock and Johnson contained within the reforms.” Really? Just one? “’If the government wants to take more control of the health service, there is an opportunity for Labour to take a greater focus on the performance of the health service and to try to tie that more closely to Conservative ministers,’ said Sloggett. At the 2019 election, despite a range of NHS performance problems to highlight, Labour placed more emphasis on the claims that the U.K.’s post-Brexit trade deal with the U.S. would see parts of the health service sold off to American private healthcare; the kind of political attack that was par for the course when the Lansley reforms were being introduced. ‘Now, they might now change tack a bit,’ said Sloggett.” As if we can now all breathe a huge sigh of relief in the delusional hope that our NHS will no longer be in danger of being sold off to powerful US Healthcare Corporations… This is still very much on the Tory agenda.

    Politico finish on a note of caution saying, “So while more ministerial control might (in theory) help drive down those ballooning waiting lists, as Hancock hopes, the risk is that the reforms do not deliver the boost he’s hoping for. If the problems persist long after the pandemic has ended, the buck will now, indisputably, stop with him.” The Tory obsession with centralized, privately outsourced services assigned to inappropriate companies with no experience in healthcare will continue as they prioritize the elitist buddy system. This is compounded by poor leadership with Johnson trusting the important Track and Trace Service to Tory chum and serial failure, Dido ‘Tallyho’ Harding, refusing to remove her or decentralize and abandon the shambolic contract despite repeated criticism and strong evidence. A failed Track and trace App disappeared without a trace taking squandered money with it. Why should we trust Handcock not to milk the system for all its worth; I am surprised the PM hasn’t assigned it to failing Grayling!

    In the Royal College of Nursing Article entitled, “Safe staffing and nursing leadership must take precedence in NHS shake-up, insists RCN,” they set out safety priorities with regard to the policy shift. RCN insist that, “Proposed changes to the NHS in England aim to tackle bureaucracy and encourage health and social care services to work more closely together. The UK government’s health and care white paper, which sets out its legislative plans for the NHS in England, has been published. It proposes reversing some of the reforms introduced by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which saw the creation of NHS England to run the health service, and the scrapping of primary care trusts in favour of clinical commissioning groups to organise local services.”

    The RCN report that, “The white paper sets out changes it says will help deliver the aims of the NHS long term plan. These include giving integrated care systems a statutory footing by removing barriers to collaboration and removing incentives to compete; reducing bureaucracy with reforms to tariffs to ensure the NHS and local authorities can work closer together; and introducing measures to officially merge NHS England and NHS Improvement. The RCN is clear that nursing leadership must be recognised more clearly in integrated health care systems, not just because nursing is the biggest workforce, but because of the skills and expertise nurses bring to meeting the holistic needs of patients.”

    The most alarming things that the RCN report are that, “The paper also proposes powers for the secretary of state for health to abolish a regulator, remove a profession from regulation and regulate senior managers. The RCN is firm in its position that nursing should remain a regulated profession and will work with the Nursing and Midwifery Council on these proposals.” This is typical Tory deregulation to reduce scrutiny and abolish all accountability. In other areas of governance this is what led to the huge loss of life at Grenfell Tower, deregulation, reduction in ‘red tape,’ fewer inspections of work standards and the materials used: do we want such deadly mistakes made in healthcare? Former Mayor, Boris Johnson, bore zero responsibility for gutting the London Fire Service. There must be robust pushback from the RCN and all UK professional Medical bodies during the committee stage of the bill passing through our disempowered Parliament to prevent vital regulatory safeguards from being removed by reckless Tory Ministers.

    The RCN highlight another problem, “In addition, there are plans for the health secretary to take more direct control over NHS England with ‘enhanced powers of direction for the government’ to ‘ensure that decision makers overseeing the health system at a national level are effectively held to account’.” Holding Tories to account just does not happen any more, ever; when they seriously screw up they stay in post to await their next efficiency bonus awarded for squeezing money out of an already depleted system that they consciously disabled. They don’t even have the courage to apologize, even when their policies cost thousands of lives. The NHS is targeted to be run down before it is pronounced unviable and sold off. Having a corrupt, self-serving Tory with zero Medical knowledge set the direction of the NHS is like handing the Captaincy of a 3000 passenger cruise ship over to a drunken cabin boy!

    “The RCN has been campaigning to get accountability for safe staffing written into law in England as part of its Staffing for Safe and Effective Care campaign.” The reality is that, before new staff have been recruited and trained, there will be a depletion of staff as those returned to help out leave exhausted but all that this year has demanded of them. RCN “wants a legal framework that clarifies roles, responsibilities, and accountability for the supply, recruitment, retention and pay of nursing staff. It also wants guarantees for a fully funded workforce strategy. The white paper falls short of the RCN’s asks but the legislative process will provide opportunities to influence and lay amendments to the draft bill as it goes through the parliamentary stages. The RCN has produced a member briefing about the proposed changes and will be working with members to shape its response to them. It will also seek support from MPs and others to make amendments to the draft bill at each stage of its legislative journey.”

    “RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said: ‘We are inching closer to getting ministers to take responsibility for ensuring safe and effective care with enough nursing staff. But these proposals are only worthwhile if the UK government makes this issue a priority and matches that with investment. ‘For years, nursing staff have been kept waiting with the promise of a workforce strategy from ministers and the NHS. The absence of one left health and care services tens of thousands of nurses short when facing a pandemic. This workforce strategy must be produced without delay, with legal teeth, to demonstrate a clear commitment to investing in the people who make patient care safe. ‘New NHS structures will need to include senior nurses bringing their expertise and leadership and our members will want that reassurance when the detail is published. Politicians have to be accountable for the NHS, but nobody wants that to mean political interference’.”

    In the BBC News Article entitled, “NHS shake-up ‘risks diluting patient power’,” Health reporter Nick Triggle, warns that, “Patients risk having less of a say in the running of the NHS in England under the proposed shake-up, eight leading health charities say. GPs are being given control of much of the NHS budget under the changes laid before Parliament last month. Part of the reasoning was that it would help empower patients, but the groups, including the British Heart Foundation, said it could weaken their involvement. The government insisted the changes would give patients “real clout”. The intervention by the health charities – in a letter published in the Times, follows widespread criticism of the reforms by health unions and MPs last month when the bill paving the way for the changes was published.”

    There are concerns over accountability BBC News report that, “Managers working for primary care trusts (PCTs) are currently responsible for planning and buying local services, but GPs working together in consortia would take on responsibility for this from 2013 under the reforms. Pilots are already starting and once the process is complete, two tiers of management, PCTs and the 10 regional health authorities, will be scrapped. The letter, which was also signed by the Alzheimer’s Society and mental health charity Rethink questioned the powers and resources being given to the local Health Watch bodies, which will be set up across the country to represent patient interests in the new NHS structure. It states: ‘If the new NHS is to properly serve patients and the public, this democratic deficit must be addressed and the voices of patients heard by those making crucial decisions affecting their lives’.”

    The BBC note that, “The letter also said the proposed scrutiny arrangements, local authorities are being put in charge of monitoring GP consortia – meant the lines of accountability were ‘too weak’. Andrew Chidgey, of the Alzheimer’s Society, told the BBC the issues needed addressing now that the bill was working its way through Parliament. ‘If we don’t do this well and thoroughly we could end up with patient and public involvement weaker than it is and no-one really wants that.’ The eight signatories to the letter are the Alzheimer’s Society, Asthma UK, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Diabetes UK, National Voices, Rethink, the British Hearth Foundation and the Stroke Association. Their criticisms represent a new area of concern about the changes.”

    BBC News report that, “A Department of Health spokeswoman said the letter raised ‘constructive’ points, adding: ‘We will work together to ensure the bill, which is in its early stages, delivers the reality of improved patient involvement.’ However, she disputed the suggestion that patient power could be diluted, citing the ability of Health Watch to trigger official NHS inspections. Last month, the House of Commons’ health committee said the plans had taken the NHS by surprise and could threaten its ability to make savings. Meanwhile, in another letter, also published in the Times, six health unions, including the British Medical Association, warned of their ‘extreme concerns’ that greater commercial competition in the NHS would end up undermining care. The NHS Confederation, which represents managers, has also suggested hospitals may have to close.”

    A decade on from the disruptive damage caused by Andrew Landsley’s unnecessary and ill-conceived reforms the Tories want to inflict more stress on the NHS in the middle of a pandemic. However positive these changes might be the timing is abysmal. Please forgive the powerful wiff of sceptacism, but this was the incompetent team that heralded eugenacist Dominic Cummings Advice to promote ‘Herd Immunity,’ discourage mask wearing and didn’t stop mass sporting events. They failed to procure enough PPE, but discharging infected patients to Care Homes caused a ‘Holacaust in Care.’ A very late lockdown and reckless easing of restrictions, insisting children returned to schools so parents could get back to work, that slaughtered a few more thousand sheeple and they are not done yet. We already have the highest Covid death rate in Europe and very close to that shame globally. Boris Johnson’s one shot vaccine triumphalism could cost more lives; the only way to end the carnage is to Get The Tories Out ASAP! DO NOT MOVE ON!

    #67360 Reply
    Kim Sanders-Fisher

    I am deeply concerned by all of the Tory hype about nationalism and it is even more concerning now that Keir Starmer has jumped on the patriotism and flag-waving bandwagon it does not end well. It’s the vacuous populist rhetoric of idiot politicians like Donald Trump, with no solid policy agenda, just empty rabble-rousing to stir a moronic crowd. Trump’s speech stirred his followers to march on the Capitol in a violent insurrection that led to five deaths; we do not need a similar uprising here in the UK. In a well governed democracy Trump would have faced serious criminal charges, but in a truly phenomenal display of democratic deficit and appalling factionalist weakness there was no accountability for his shameful efforts to incite violence and he remains free to run for office once again in 2024! We must dial down the rhetoric and change the narrative. I’m a ‘Peaceful Patriot of the Planet,’ campaigning for the establishment of a collaborative, mutually beneficial, ethnically and culturally diverse and inclusive global identity.

    In the Byline Times Article entitled, “Plastic Patriotism GB News’ Foreign Funders,” Sam Bright reports on, “Andrew Neil’s Union-Jack-branded platform is backed by a range of foreign and right-wing interests, reports. As though the country hasn’t suffered enough over the past 12 months, two well-funded right-wing broadcast operations are now set to launch in the coming months. News UK TV, funded by Australian-American media baron Rupert Murdoch, is vying with GB News to be the first to launch this spring, heralding an ominous new TV ecosystem in Britain. GB News is chaired by former BBC presenter Andrew Neil, who also previously worked for Murdoch as editor of The Sunday Times for 11 years. Yesterday, the Evening Standard carried more information about the imminent launch of the platform and its attempts to lure right-wing presenters from their present habitats, including Julia Hartley-Brewer of talkRADIO, and Nick Ferrari of LBC.”

    Bright reports that, “GB News claims that it will challenge the current monopoly of Britain’s broadcasters, namely the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky, by creating a news service that is more representative of the wider population. Judging by the statements made by the company and its executives to date, it will attempt to be considerably more conservative in outlook than the established broadcasters, and less London-centric, though it remains to be seen how the latter will work in practice. There is also a deep hypocrisy embedded in the branding and ethos of the channel. For while it seeks to represent the British people, and wears their flag, it is actually funded and operated by a range of foreign groups and individuals. In terms of funding, GB News has successfully secured £60 million in initial start-up cash, which has come largely it seems from two foreign sources.”

    The point is, do we really want US billionaires or any foreign entity warping UK politics in a way that is not in the best interests of our population, but instead fulfils an overseas agenda? So who is invested? Bright reveals that, “The first is Discovery Inc., the $11 billion mass media company that operates the Discovery and Science channels, based in New York City. The second is Legatum Limited, a private investment firm headquartered in Dubai. Legatum funds projects that promote ‘entrepreneurship and free enterprise’ and established a UK-based think tank under its name in 2007. Following the 2016 EU Referendum, the Legatum Institute had an influential role in promoting Brexit and the Vote Leave campaign’s CEO, Matthew Elliott, was a fellow at the institute for a year. Legatum and Discovery are the ‘lead’ investors in the media start-up, but they are joined by other parties.”

    Indeed, Byline Times can reveal that GB News is also backed by a New York-based private investment firm called Kibble Holdings. Posting on LinkedIn, the firm’s managing partner Matthew Kibble said that the investment was ‘a little different’ to the firm’s typical approach, ‘but never more important for the world’. Kibble, who appears to have been an early investor in the controversial US big data platform Palantir via his family’s investment firm, also claims to have operations in Dallas and Hong Kong. GB News is also backed by pro-Brexit hedge fund manager Sir Paul Marshall. And as for the management of GB News, the story isn’t radically different. One of the co-founders of the platform is Andrew Cole, a director and board member at multinational telecommunications company Liberty Global. Cole’s LinkedIn profile states that he is currently based in Boston, Massachusetts. Cole has publicly called for the break-up of the BBC.” Palantir have also scored lucrative contracts that will facilitate gaining unfettered access to UK patient data!

    Bright reports that, “Cole’s accomplice is fellow media mogul Mark Schneider. Though now apparently based in London, Schneider is American and was educated at the University of Denver. He is a member of Republicans Overseas, the support group for party supporters living abroad. The CEO of GB News, meanwhile, is Australian Angelos Frangopoulos, the former CEO of Sky News Australia. Frangopoulos’ LinkedIn profile indicates that he hadn’t held a role in the UK before joining Cole and Schneider on the board of All Perspectives Limited, the holding company for GB News, in November 2019. This management team is now deploying its bulging bank account to hire 120 journalists, all in the hope of fundamentally altering the make-up of British journalism.” They say, “If you are concerned about the infiltration of right-wing foreign money and influence through GB News, we would recommend subscribing instead to Byline Times and its sister platform Byline TV, a progressive rival to billionaire-backed corporate media machines.”

    In the London Economic Article entitled, “#DontFundGBNews trends to persuade advertisers not to spend with any ‘Fox News style’ channel,” Joe Mellor says, “’Morals matter and I won’t fund hate’. Two news channels coming to UK screens are stoking the debate about the future direction of broadcast journalism. GB News is chaired by former newspaper editor and BBC presenter Andrew Neil, and funded by a range of investors including Discovery Inc. News UK TV is backed by Rupert Murdoch, whose Fox News channel has long been a partisan broadcaster in US politics. The channel plans to shake up the TV news landscape, currently dominated by Sky News and BBC News. Bosses of GB News have confirmed two new backers for its 24-hour TV and online service set to launch in the UK later this year.”

    Mellor reports that, “In the latest funding round, Dubai-based investment group Legatum and one of the UK’s most prominent hedge fund managers, Sir Paul Marshall, have added their names alongside US broadcasting giant Discovery Inc. Don’t fund Now a group have started a social media campaign to try and get mobile phone companies not to spend on advertising with the new channels. Stop Funding Hate Tweeted: ‘If you want to help stop ‘Fox News style’ TV in Britain: *Tweet your mobile phone company using the hashtag #DontFundGBNews *Urge them not to advertise with GB News or any ‘Fox News style’ channel, & explain why this matters to you.’ They then Tweeted: ‘We’ll share info about GB News advertisers as soon as we have it. In the meantime we think it’s worth engaging now because ad contracts tend to be agreed a way in advance. The more brands are contacted now, the clearer it will be that Brits reject ‘Fox style’ media standards!”

    In the Byline Times Article entitled, “Exclusive: GB News Founder in Business With Two Top Priti Patel Appointees,” Nafeez Ahmed, “reveals how Sir Robbie Gibb, who helped found the new ‘anti-woke’ media channel, is tied to the Government’s bid to attack Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion.” He says, “A key original founder and fundraiser for the new right-wing news channel GB News is in a business partnership with two Home Office political appointees who are conducting the Government’s strategic reviews into extremism and political violence. Sir Robbie Gibb, the former Downing Street spin doctor, reportedly led the fundraising drive for the so-called ‘anti-woke’ channel GB News in late 2020. The Mail on Sunday cited a GB News source confirming that Gibb was the driving force behind it, including ‘leading efforts to raise money’ for the group. In September 2020, Guido Fawkes corroborated the story, reporting that Gibb had ‘set up’ GB News.”

    Ahmed reports that, “A GB News source told Byline Times that, since then, Gibb has left the venture and is no longer associated with it. However, at the time he founded GB News, Gibb was in a business partnership with John Zak Woodcock, who sits in the House of Lords as Lord Walney; and William Shawcross, the former Charity Commission chairman. In April 2020, both Woodcock and Shawcross were part of a successful bid by the JC Acquisition Ltd consortium led by Gibb to take over the Jewish Chronicle. Four months later, news surfaced that Gibb was setting up another media project, GB News. He had secured the involvement of Andrew Cole, who serves on the board of Liberty Global, which runs Virgin Media and owns 10% of ITV.” That is the same hate filled Jewish Chronicle who have weaponized fantisemitism slurs to discredit Jeremy Corbyn and the progressive Left of the Labour Party in defence of their Zionist agenda. They have also had to pay out on Libel cases as a result of their toxic defamatory fake news.

    Ahmed says tha, “At the time, Gibb’s business partner in JC Acquisition Ltd, Woodcock, had already been appointed by Home Secretary Priti Patel as the Government’s Special Envoy on Countering Violent Extremism. He has held the role since November 2019, although it was paused due to the Coronavirus pandemic. It was revitalised in November 2020, when he was appointed as the Government’s Independent Advisor on Political Violence and Disruption. According to the GB News source, Gibb left GB News shortly after setting it up. Gibb did not respond directly to Byline Times. Instead, this newspaper received a statement from a lawyer representing GB News and one of its funders, the private investment firm Legatum, which said that Sir Robbie Gibb was no longer associated with the media group and had left the operation in September 2020. However, his involvement as a founder of GB News was not denied: ‘Robbie Gibb was only involved in the fundraising in the very early stages’.”

    Ahmed reports that, “This month, the Telegraph revealed that John Woodcock would be conducting a new Government review into political extremism in Britain, reporting that it would look into how ‘far-left’ groups might ‘hijack’ anti-racist and environmental movements. His review is due to report its findings on the ‘extreme fringes’ of both the right and left to Boris Johnson and Priti Patel next May. A month earlier, William Shawcross was appointed by Priti Patel to the role of the Government’s Independent Reviewer of the controversial counter-terrorism ‘Prevent’ strategy, in a process which former regional chief crown prosecutor Nazir Afzal described as ‘rigged’. In this capacity, Shawcross will review the Government’s policy to prevent people becoming radicalised and supporting or carrying out terrorism. Critics claim that Prevent has had a disproportionate, and in some cases discriminatory, impact on Muslim communities.”

    Ahmed reveals that, “Woodcock’s connection with Shawcross through their partnership with the founder of GB News raises its own potential conflict of interest questions. Shawcross was a director at the Henry Jackson Society (HJS), a lobby group with close ties to Steve Bannon and Mike Pompeo, from 2011 to 2012. The group has worked closely with the anti-black movement in the US. Through the last decade, HJS staff regularly attended the annual ‘alt-right’ gathering organised by the David Horowitz Freedom Centre, the founder of which was described by the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC) as the ‘driving force’ of the ‘anti-black movement’. Despite this, Priti Patel has had close associations with the group. She sat on the HJS’ political council until 2016 and had a trip to Washington DC paid for by the group in 2013.”

    Ahmed reports that, “The Government’s most pivotal appointments on reviewing its policies on political extremism have ties to the man who first set-up GB News, and both appointees will provide findings and recommendations that will feed into the Prime Minister’s policies on extremism, activism, free speech and protest for years to come. A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘The role is entirely independent of the Government and Lord Walney will be free to consider groups across the political spectrum and make recommendations accordingly’. John Woodcock, known as Lord Walney, did not respond to a request for comment. Sir Robbie Gibb did not respond to Byline Times when contacted for a second time for a request for comment after it received a reply from GB News.”

    In the Canary Article entitled, “Head of the government’s politically-charged ‘extremism’ review met with antisemitic neo-fascists,” they uncover a remarkable example of Tory Government hypocrisy. They say that, “It’s claimed that the man the government has charged with the task of conducting a review into political ‘extremism’ in the UK met with members of an ‘extremist anti-Semitic’ party. This revelation exposes a ‘Government offensive against left. In November 2019, home secretary Priti Patel appointed lord Walney (former Labour MP John Woodcock) as the government’s envoy on countering violent extremism. According to the Telegraph, Woodcock will be looking at ‘progressive extremism’ in Britain. That includes how ‘far-left’ groups could infiltrate or hijack environmental movements and anti-racism campaigns. The obvious candidates, presumably, from the government’s perspective, would be Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion. Indeed, Patel has already described the latter as ‘criminals’.”

    But according to the Canary, Woodcock himself can be credibly accused of being an extremist! The Canary explain why by pointing out thatt, “On 10 February 2021, the pro-Kurdish ANF News ran an article showing that during a visit to Turkey, Woodcock met with members of the ‘anti-Semitic’ and ‘neo-fascist’ Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The article added that Woodcock was hosted by the Bosphorus Centre for Global Affairs (BCGA). The BCGA is a company run by Berat Albayrak, the son-in-law of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. ANF News regards the BCGA as a government propaganda organisation. Moreover, in 2016, WikiLeaks published thousands of Albayrak’s emails, which appeared to show that Powertrans, a company with which Albayrak is linked, was involved in the import of Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) controlled oil to Turkey.”

    The Canary report that, “Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign spokesperson Rosa Gilbert commented: During a trip to Turkey funded by Bosphorus Global, an organisation with links to the President’s son-in-law who has been accused of profiteering from ISIS oil deals, Woodcock met with members of the far-right anti-semitic MHP party with proven links to the fascist paramilitary grouping the Grey Wolves. … Given Woodcock’s links to the Turkish regime which aids and abets extremists in Syria who kill Kurds, how can Kurds in Britain have any confidence in his ability to adjudicate fairly on the concept of ‘extremism’? Any study of ‘extremism’ worth its salt would surely include Woodcock himself in its research.”

    The Canary claim that, “Anti-ISIS volunteers under threat. ANF News also reports that in 2017 Woodcock described the Kurdish-led anti-ISIS militia the YPG (Peoples Protection Units) as being linked to terrorism. One former YPG volunteer stated that Woodcock, whom the volunteer described as ‘Jihadi John’: ‘thinks we are all terrorists and I fully expect this review [by him] will lead to more of us being pulled in by intelligence services and more raids on those of us that fought against Isis’. Presumably Woodcock was unaware that the RAF launched attacks in support of the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Also, reportedly reportedly not just the UK but also US military provided support to Kurdish-led anti-terrorist forces in Syria and Iraq. In March 2017, another report suggested US special forces were working alongside the YPG.”

    The Canary report that, “An Agence France Presse report even described how some US troops wore: ‘the patch of a Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). Still others of a women’s unit within the YPG. An SDF commander tells us that the men are US special forces and are there to provide training. Later, a Pentagon spokesman said that American commandos often wear insignia of the units that they train. Embarrassing, being photographed with alleged antisemitic neo-fascists is not particularly good for Woodcock. Especially given his April 2020 co-purchase of the anti-socialist Jewish Chronicle. Woodcock’s partners in that venture included William Shawcross (who’s set to head a review into the government’s anti-terrorism Prevent strategy), John Ware (who fronted the controversial Panorama programme on antisemitism and the Labour Party), and Robbie Gibb (who helped set up the ‘right-leaning’ GB News).”

    While the Jewish Chronicle has a notoriously poor track record for lack of journalistic integrity, having been forced to settle several defamation claims due to printing concocted fantisemitism lies, this disgraceful conduct is just fine with Woodcock who was one of the Labour MPs most eager to rant about Jeremy Corbyn in the same vein. It’s only a matter of time before John Ware’s hack job is discredited in court exposing defamation and the willingness to offer perjured testimony in Court. I am not a legal eagle ,but I would have thought Ware’s Court submissions, Pre-Action Protocol, would qualify as perjury, certainly extorting money from the Labour Party on the basis of false information is fraud. Shame on Keir Starmer for settling a corrupt SLAPP Lawsuit, that probably would not have gone to Court, but if it had done would have revealed the true scale of the deception. Most SLAPP suits cannot be won in Court, they rely on character assasination, intimidation and relentless harassment; they must be robustly contested.

    The Forde Inquiry has the potential to expose the saboteurs within the Labour Party which is why Sir Keir is so eager to sweep it under the rug as he too might well be discredited, most specifically for his haste in making a unilateral decision to pay-off the SLAPP Suit con artists. Starmer has used the EHRC Report and fantisemitism as a crutch to facilitate gutting the progressive Socialist Left of the Labour Party, but his agenda is coming unravelled fast. The Canary are right to say that, “As for antisemitism, it is vile, as also is its weaponisation by people like lord John Mann to attack those of the progressive left who wish for more justice in the world.” The sad part is that what I now refer to as ‘fantisemitism’ not only ruins the careers and lives of those wrongly accused, it makes the Jewish community a far more vulnerable target of prejudice. This injustice is being perpetrated in oorder to protect the Apartide Zionist agenda and destroy the progressive Socialist politics of the Labour Left to enable the Tory Sovereign Dictatorsjip. DO NOT MOVE ON!

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