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!

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