Alexei Sayle: ‘I hate Keir Starmer’ – it’s poetry, and poetic justice for the Labour leader

We laugh because it’s funny and we laugh because it’s true:

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Boris Johnson says Vladimir Putin offered to ‘hurt’ him with a missile

Of course the “Boris the Liar” claims have sprung up again.

Here’s what Boris Johnson has said:

The Kremlin has denied it:

Mr Putin’s spokesman said the former prime minister’s claim was “either a deliberate falsehood, in which case you need to ask Mr Johnson why he lied, or it was not a deliberate lie. That is, he didn’t understand what President Putin was saying to him”.

“There were no threats to use missiles,” Dmitry Peskov told the BBC.

The Kremlin leader, he said, had simply pointed out that “if Ukraine joined Nato the potential deployment of Nato or US missiles near Russia’s border would mean that any missile could reach Moscow within minutes”.

But some are saying there was no reason for Johnson to lie:

What do you think?

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Rishi Sunak’s poll ratings plummet: we don’t believe his promises because he is weak

Rishi Sunak: why is he smiling? If he’s looking at his popularity poll ratings he should be facepalming.

This is an excellent, information-packed analysis.

And it’s handy for This Writer, as I am busy preparing for my special court hearing on permission to appeal against the judgment in Rachel Riley’s libel case against me.

The blurb for the video states: “Rishi Sunak is being attacked over his sinking approval rating. Some of it valid, some not so valid. In this video, I explain my views on what forms a net approval rating and why comparing those of different leaders at different times is never really valuable.”

But there’s a lot more to it than that. Watch:

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Sunak sacks Zahawi: he wouldn’t go so he had to be pushed

Out: Nadhim Zahawi.

This is probably the least interesting political story of the weekend because we all knew it was coming.

Even though Rishi Sunak is a weak prime minister – he has to maintain support from all the different factions of the Conservative Party and that means he has to appease them – Nadhim Zahawi had put himself in an untenable position.

That’s what the ethics advisor, Sir Laurie Magnus, found anyway:

The PM said Sir Laurie Magnus’s inquiry made clear there had been a “serious breach of the ministerial code”.

Rishi Sunak asked for the probe after Mr Zahawi admitted paying a settlement to HMRC, including a penalty.

Sir Laurie said the MP had missed many chances to be open about his tax.

In his report for Mr Sunak, he wrote: “Mr Zahawi’s conduct as a minister has fallen below the high standards that, as prime minister, you rightly expect from those who serve in your government.”

Sir Laurie cited Mr Zahawi’s failures to update his register of interests until more than a year after HMRC started looking into his taxes.

When Mr Zahawi reached a settlement with the taxman in August 2022, this too should have been declared, Sir Laurie wrote.

After receiving the findings, Mr Sunak wrote to Mr Zahawi to say he had decided to remove him from government.

Mr Zahawi thanked the prime minister and said he took pride in his role in the vaccine rollout and the Queen’s funeral – but did not offer an apology or mention his tax affairs.

In fact, Zahawi took the opportunity to attack the media, in his letter to Sunak.

Here’s a TV report on this story:

Commentators are saying it is impossible to envision a circumstance in which Zahawi will return to frontline politics.

Good riddance.

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PPE losses rise to £14.9 billion | Good Law Project

Well, we know about the money (allegedly) connected to Michelle Mone, along with sundry others.

But that still leaves billions of pounds of lost cash that needs to be fully explained. Doesn’t it?

Read:

The Department of Health and Social Care’s annual accounts for 2021-22 have revealed a further £6 billion write down in connection with PPE and other inventory. This follows a staggering £8.9bn write down in 2020-21.

The total – almost £14.9bn – exceeds by almost £2bn the aggregate sum spent on PPE. The National Audit Office reported in March 2022 that “DHSC has so far spent £12.6bn of the total £13.1bn it expects to spend on almost 38 billion items of PPE.”

The further write down is made up of:

  • £2.5 billion write-down of items procured in 2021-22 which relates to items the Department no longer expects to use or due to falling market prices;
  • £3.5 billion for onerous costs relating to PPE, vaccines and medicines for items it had agreed to purchase before 31 March 2022, but which it now does not expect to use.

The annual accounts also reveal that storage costs were running at approximately £24m per month. Good Law Project has previously revealed that PPE storage costs exceed £1bn in total and hundreds of millions of pounds were going to Uniserve, a ‘VIP’ that had also supplied substantial quantities of PPE.

Source: PPE losses rise to £14.9 billion – Good Law Project

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Boris Johnson earns £1m in six weeks, but taxpayer gets his bill for legal fees | The Times

Money, money, money: but Boris Johnson never seems to use any of his own – it’s always yours.

This is the story – and I should have got to it before The Times, of all places:

Boris Johnson has earned nearly a million pounds in just over six weeks – but is claiming public money for legal representation at the Partygate inquiry – and the amount seems to be limitless.

Sadly, the story is behind a paywall, so this is all I can show you –

Boris Johnson has earned nearly a million pounds in just over six weeks, it has been revealed. The former prime minister registered more than half a million po

– plus the link below.

His earnings were mentioned in a previous Vox Political piece, here.

And his public-money funding for Partygate is the subject of this article in the Graun, although it’s covered by many other media outlets if that one isn’t your cup of tea.

Entitled arseheads like Johnson really take the biscuit, don’t they?

He’s taken a million quid on the side – that’s additional to his MP salary, and has anybody actually seen him in the House of Commons lately? – but he wouldn’t dream of using any of it to fight the Partygate allegations.

He’ll happily take it from you and me instead.

That’s how they stay rich and you stay poor.

Source: Boris Johnson earns £1m in six weeks, but taxpayer gets his bill for legal fees | News | The Times

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Matt Hancock donates just 3% of I’m A Celebrity fee to dyslexia campaign

Matt Hancock: cross-eyed and shameless.

Remember when it was announced that Matt Hancock was going into the jungle on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here and he said he was doing it to raise awareness of his dyslexia campaign.

You might have expected him to donate his £320,000 fee – or at least a majority of it – to such a campaign. He doesn’t need it on his large MP’s salary, after all – and he’s also been given a £48,000 advance for his Pandemic Diaries book (to be found in the fiction section of bookstores, perhaps).

And how much has he actually donated?

Just £10,000 – and that has been split between St Peter’s Hospice and the British Dyslexia Association.

Matt Hancock has so far donated just 3% of the fee he was paid for appearing on I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! to charity, it has been revealed.

The former health secretary received £320,000 for his stint on the reality show, of which £10,000 was donated to charity, according to the register of MPs’ financial interests.

A spokesperson for Hancock told BBC News: “As well as raising the profile of his dyslexia campaign in front of 11 million viewers, Matt’s donated £10,000 to St Nicholas hospice in Suffolk and the British Dyslexia Association.”

Let this be a lesson to ITV: Next time a politician says they’re doing a reality show to help a cause, have the extent of that help written into their contract.

Source: Matt Hancock donates just 3% of I’m a Celebrity fee | Matt Hancock | The Guardian

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Can SLAPP lawsuits be beaten? Here’s what’s wrong – and what you can do

Nadhim Zahawi.

SLAPP. It stands for “Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation” and refers to the practice of rich and powerful people taking others to court (notably journalists) in order to halt debate about them that is in the public interest and stifle free speech.

Two examples of SLAPP lawsuits are currently in the news: Russian oligarch and warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin’s abortive libel suit against a UK journalist, and Nadhim Zahawi’s attempt to silence another UK journalist who was investigating his tax affairs. This video clip features discussion of Zahawi’s SLAPP suit.

Prigozhin allegedly had help from the UK Treasury (headed at the time by Rishi Sunak) to dodge sanctions that had been imposed against him at the time. He is the founder of Wagner, a private army that is currently understood to be committing atrocities in Ukraine.

Zahawi failed to pay millions of pounds worth of tax after selling shares in polling firm YouGov that had been held by offshore trust Balshore Investments. He came to terms with the Treasury in which he agreed to make a payment – but the fact that he was Chancellor at the time – Treasury officers’ boss – has cast doubt on the ethical integrity of that agreement.

Neither of these cases should have been allowed to start, but they were – and the Prigozhin case left the journalist in question owing around £70,000 in legal fees before it was halted just after the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war.

The UK government has previously pledged to give courts in England and Wales new powers to dismiss lawsuits employed by wealthy claimants to stifle free speech, but has yet to put forward any draft legislation.

A Private Members Bill put forward by Conservative Bob Seely has been tabled to concentrate Ministerial minds on the subject.

Quoted in The Guardian, he said, “As a business model, it is a form of legalised intimidation, effectively legal gangsterism” deployed by organised criminals, authoritarian states, oligarchs and corrupt corporations, which “undermines the good reputation of London”.

This Writer tends to agree – especially as I am the victim of a SLAPP lawsuit myself. I am currently appealing against a decision in favour of the Claimant. Details are available here: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/

My defence is crowdfunded, and if you would like to donate and/or encourage others to do so, then please:

Make a donation via the CrowdJustice page. Keep donating regularly until you see the total pass the amount I need.

Email your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.

Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.

On Twitter, tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.

Use other social media in the same way.

if you’re having trouble, or simply don’t like donating via CrowdJustice, you can always donate direct to me via the Vox Political PayPal button.

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Gaslighted minion argues with ‘Marina’. Guess who came out on top?

This was an oddity. I was intrigued when the word “Marina” turned up on my Twitter trends.

Sadly, Twitter being what it is, clicking on that word produced a plethora of tweets about or by people called Marina, and I couldn’t see the relevance to politics.

Fortunately Maximilien Robespierre was around to put me out of my misery.

It referred to a commentator called Marina Purkiss, who had clashed with a caller to Jeremy Vine’s TV programme.

This person had claimed that the Labour Party is “institutionally corrupt” and should never be allowed to have power.

Here’s Robespierres‘s commentary on what happened:

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Former Tory chairman says Sunak should suspend Zahawi – but why not ‘drain the swamp’?

Jake Berry: his BBCQT appearance needs to be seen to be believed.

The BBC’s flagship Question Time programme featured an extraordinary display of backstabbing by a Tory MP against his Cabinet replacement.

Former Tory chairman Jake Berry, asked whether his successor Nadhim Zahawi should stay in post after revelations about his tax affairs, started out with a classic ‘resume statement’, praising his party colleague – but then veered off-topic sharply, saying a mechanism should be in place for Zahawi to step back from government while he was being investigated, and be reinstated if vindicated.

It’s not a bad idea but it has been around for some time – it’s called suspension. He would not lose his job as an MP, and could come back later.

Berry then manufactured an argument with Tracy (“Drain the swamp!”) Brabin over the role of independent ethics advisor Sir Laurie Magnus.

Probably the best comment from an audience member came from a GP who said there had been so many similar scandals in the Tory government that it seemed impossible to trust anybody in the party at all.

The debate ranged across all the information that has come out so far and I have tried to ensure that these are all included in the clip, so we can all refer back to it.

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