Daily Archives: June 3, 2020

MP falls ill in Commons, days after lockdown eased. What if it’s Covid-19?

The Conservative Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, has fallen ill after contributing to debates in the House of Commons – with symptoms that resemble Covid-19.

His illness occurs just days after MPs were forced to return to the House of Commons rather than participate in online debates, in a plan devised by Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg, who claimed that online voting slowed debates unduly. Apparently queuing 2km around the Parliamentary precincts and down the road to vote causes no delay at all.

Nobody can say that Sharma caught his illness – whatever it is – in Parliament. The question now is, how many people will he have infected by attending?

If it is Covid-19, then we won’t see the first infections from contact with Sharma for another fortnight at least.

The reaction on Twitter has been uniformly condemning:

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1268294820876955648

This is a very good point. We have a high-profile case here, that we can use to model the effect in schools if a pupil, parent or teacher turns up with the virus. Of course, if they do, then by the time anybody finds out it will be too late – so all we can do is try to quantify the damage.

There is an upside (there’s always an upside):

What a great opportunity to get the beleaguered “Track and Trace” programme back on track – showing how it works by using MPs as guinea pigs!

It will necessitate Jacob Rees-Mogg falling on his proverbial sword – with a full apology for endangering everybody. Some of us can’t wait for that.

And what about this?

Will Rees-Mogg – and Boris Johnson – revert to locking down MPs?

Will they have the choice, if many are infected?

Or will they insist on keeping it open, endangering not only their colleagues but our democracy?

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People with disabilities: do YOU want IAIN DUNCAN SMITH influencing how government treats you?

Iain Duncan Smith: apparently he isn’t demonstrating what he’d like to do to the throats of disabled people, although that isn’t clear from his record.

Iain Duncan Smith – his very name still triggers hate and fear in people with long-term illnesses and disabilities, in roughly equal measure.

It is now nearly five years since This Writer demonstrated that his Department for Work and Pensions had been responsible for more than 100,000 excess deaths of people claiming sickness and disability benefits.

The deaths had happened after he became Secretary of State and changed the way benefit entitlements were assessed, making it much more difficult for people who deserved them to make a claim.

And he perverted the appeal system into a labyrinthine, Kafka-esque nightmare designed to drive people to despair or starvation before ever seeing a penny.

Now, the right-wing think tank that this vile creature founded – and still chairs – is trying to interfere in the lives of vulnerable people once again.

The shockingly-misnamed Centre for Social Justice has launched what it calls a “Disability Commission” which it hopes will influence the Johnson government’s strategy for dealing with disabled people.

According to Disability News Service:

The commission appears set to focus on the role of business, employment and the free market, with CSJ calling on the government to use the disability strategy to “prove that only a market economy delivers sustainable social justice in a way that enables everyone to realise their potential”.

So it seems the plan is to throw people with disabilities into a free-market nightmare in which any skills they have will be ruthlessly exploited to make cash for the already extremely wealthy, while paying them as little as possible.

(Remember when Lord Freud suggested paying them as little as £2 per hour because they were “not worth the minimum wage”? That is what Tories think of the talents of people with disabilities.)

There appear to be a few names on this “commission” who have spoken out against Tory “reforms” in the past, but these seem to be token placements, intended to lend credibility to the project.

This can only be bad news for people on Personal Independence Payment, Universal Credit and/or Employment and Support Allowance.

Source: Thinktank responsible for universal credit launches ‘Disability Commission’ – Disability News Service

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What was the object Boris Johnson had in his ear during Prime Minister’s Questions?

The offending article: it isn’t a shadow – it’s a device. Was somebody feeding Boris Johnson answers via this earphone [Image from the eagle-eyed Skwawkbox]?

Was Boris Johnson wearing an earphone in his right ear during Prime Minister’s Questions today (June 3)?

If so, who was on the other end and what were they saying to him?

Mechanical aids are forbidden to the PM when he is taking his questions from other members of Parliament. He is expected to be fully briefed before he enters the Commons Chamber – not while proceedings are taking place.

The people of the UK should certainly expect the Speaker’s Office to carry out an investigation into the nature of the device and the purpose to which it was put.

If Johnson needed help, then it shows he isn’t even capable of carrying out the most basic duties of a prime minister.

In that case, it will be time for a vote of ‘no confidence’.

Source: Breaking: Johnson caught using ‘earpiece’ in PMQs – SKWAWKBOX

UPDATE: Skwawkbox is now showing video evidence which suggests Johnson was not wearing a device in his ear. It seems the appearance of a dark object in his right ear, in the image above, is only indicative of the void between it and his left ear after all. But what do you think?

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Tory MP husband of Test and Trace chief Dido Harding linked to anti-NHS group

Test and trace: is it failing because it is headed by someone who may not have the best interests of the NHS at heart?

There are many instances of husbands and wives disagreeing on politics, of course.

But can we trust Dido Harding to do a good job leading the “test and trace” team at Public Health England when she comes from a household that wants to dissolve that organisation and scrap the National Health Service?

To This Writer, the very idea seems like madness.

But that’s Boris Johnson for you.

The Tory MP husband of Test and Trace chief Dido Harding has been linked to a right-wing group calling for the NHS to be replaced by an insurance system.

Former minister John Penrose said last month he was “delighted” to join the advisory board of 1828.

One article authored by 1828’s co-founders argued Britain should be “bold and progressive” – scrapping the NHS in favour of a system where people pay for insurance either through private firms or a government scheme.

The group has also published articles calling for the abolition of Public Health England, which has a key role in the Coronavirus Test and Trace system headed by his wife.

Source: Tory MP husband of Test and Trace chief Dido Harding linked to anti-NHS group – Mirror Online

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Tenants in London go on rent strike so they can afford food. How do you think this will end?

Almost 19,000 families became homeless after being evicted by a private landlord in 2015-16. A rent strike may provoke even more – but what else can people do when the alternative is to starve?


It will end badly, of course.

Here’s the story:

It states: “More than 2,000 London tenants whose incomes have been hit by the coronavirus crisis are refusing to pay rent as part of a growing rent strike movement.

“The “Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!” campaign, organised by the London Renters Unionc (LRU), comes after hundreds of students across the UK began withholding their rent because of the crisis.

“The LRU say 2,500 people have pledged online to withhold enough of their rent to meet their basic needs including food and bills during the pandemic.

“It comes after the New Economics Foundation thinktank recommended that private rent should be suspended for three months from May to help around 1.2 million at renters at risk of losing their jobs during the pandemic who could miss out on government support schemes.”

Now consider this:

Even if the title is a joke, it symbolises an attitude.

Private tenants are disposable.

Landlords don’t care if they’re starving.

And if they withhold their (overpriced) rents, they’ll be out on their ear, to be replaced by someone who can.

Landlords never seem to care that sometimes nobody can afford their rents; eviction is the threat they hold over tenants to make sure they pay up, no matter how harmful the cost.

Will the Covid-19 crisis, and the fact that nobody has much cash, make a difference?

Watch this space.

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Will the UK send more riot gear to a despotic Trump? Of course. It makes a profit

Sacrilege: Donald Trump had people tear-gassed so he could have this picture taken, outside a church, with a Bible. It seems he hasn’t read the New Testament… and if he stepped inside the church, would he disappear in a puff of brimstone?

Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas K. Lane

UK prime minister Boris Johnson is being urged to ban the sale of riot control equipment to the United States in response to shocking images of police attacking peaceful protesters against the killing of George Floyd.

Trump seems to be entirely out of control. He had peaceful protesters tear-gassed so he could take part in a photo shoot in front of a church, clutching a Bible, in what many people (including myself) may describe as a blasphemy.

This is symptomatic of the attitude he has displayed since public opinion boiled over in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. Many – including media pundits – believe he has turned the corner into dictatorship:

His attitude to the classes seems to support this:

For clarity, let’s have a look at some video clips of what has been going on:

https://twitter.com/LowkeySinistra/status/1267109420955086848

We need these clips by members of the public, too. If we didn’t have them, Ice T would be right:

Look at how news reporters have been targeted:

There have been exceptions, though – and it is important to note them. Not all in the police or the military agree with Trump that peaceful demonstrations should be put down with an iron fist:

It seems US police have been learning “brutality and repression” in specially-funded trips abroad. I make no comment about the country providing the training.

The good news is that, after Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the killing of Mr Floyd, the three other officers involved are also to face criminal charges. It has been said that Tou Thao watched while J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas K. Lane helped hold the victim down:

And a civil rights investigation has been launched into the activities of Minneapolis police.

Back with the president, it seems the affair has killed Trump’s approval rating among US citizens. Now 54 per cent of them disapprove of him – the highest disapproval rating for any US president.

Trump should be happy – he’s always trying to say he’s top at something, and now he is.

All of this takes us back to the UK’s response to all this. Boris Johnson has been urged to stop exporting arms and riot equipment to the United States, so it cannot be used to harm peaceful protesters in the way we’ve seen in the videos (above):

According to the Independent article, neither Johnson nor any government spokesperson has yet commented on the issue.

This Writer’s opinion? There won’t be any cessation of arms trading with the US – it makes Tory-donor UK firms a fortune every day.

And Trump supporters can’t help shooting themselves in the foot (if only metaphorically). After Piers Morgan tweeted critically about the depths to which Trump has dragged his country, a US Twitter user made it clear that they did not want people from the UK to be involved in that country’s business. The response from a Brit was well-deserved and entirely appropriate:

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New Parliament voting system is a farce that turns MPs into targets

Jacob Rees-Mogg: the image makes him look serious but don’t be fooled – he’s an idiot.

What if a terrorist gets among MPs while they’re queuing to vote, in their “conga line” as the SNP describes it, all spaced two metres apart, two buildings down the road from the Palace of Westminster?

I know it’s not entirely likely, what with the Covid-19 lockdown and all, but anybody could go among them and cause chaos. Security is impossible, thanks to Jacob Rees-Mogg and his silly attempt to cling on to tradition.

Just take a look at this video by Labour’s Lloyd Russell-Moyles:

Anybody could get in amongst them – as indeed they appear to do in the clip.

Not only that, but the plan deliberately excludes MPs who must continue to “shield” from Covid-19 because they have medical conditions which demand that they do so:

The article states: “When returning from recess, MPs will have to vote on the proposal which could see them forming kilometre-long ‘conga-line’ queues in order to obey social distancing rules – despite the Lords planning a move online.

“Robert Halfon is among the senior Tories who say the move will turn individuals who, like him, are shielding and those who are ill, self-isolating or based far away from Westminster into ‘parliamentary eunuchs’.

“He is backing moves to allow digital voting to resume in amendments to Mr Rees-Mogg’s motion led by Conservative former Cabinet minister Karen Bradley.”

Rees-Mogg has reluctantly announced plans to offer shielding MPs a “limited” role in Commons proceedings.

It isn’t good enough.

Our MPs were elected to play a full role in Parliamentary proceedings and if the Leader of the House of Commons tries to limit it then he is acting in an unconstitutional way and should be challenged, in court if necessary.

If such a challenge were to win, then any decisions made under the Rees-Mogg system would have o be voided.

So it would be better all around if no decision were taken until all challenges have concluded.

And that, Mr Rees-Mogg, would slow down Parliament more than digital sessions ever did.

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