Author Archives: Mike Sivier

About Mike Sivier

When Mike Sivier started Vox Political, he had no idea that he was creating a monster. Disillusioned with the mainstream media after nearly 20 years as a newspaper reporter and editor, Mike had given it all up in 2007 to become a carer for his disabled girlfriend (affectionately named Mrs Mike, she features in many of his posts). He took on some freelance work, but this took a back seat from late 2011 onwards, when Mike started Vox Political. Born from his interest in politics - with an emphasis on people rather than the movement of money – the blog grew from humble beginnings to become one of the most well-read in the United Kingdom. Amazingly, Mike still has some free time. He uses it to perform in a band called the Dodgie Jammers, and to write comic strips including Hard-Boiled Hitler, for the small-press comic he created in 1999, entitled 'Violent!'. On Twitter, he is MidWalesMike On Facebook he has a page: ‘Mike Sivier’.

Rishi Sunak thinks taking cash from the starving poor is the way to pay for Covid-19

Remember this? It led to a huge rise in Covid-19 infections. Now Sunak is planning to make the poor pay for his mistakes.

The absolute state of this.

The Chancellor who told us to “eat out to help out” – triggering an exponential increase in Covid-19 infections that led to new restrictions – is now trying to work out how the UK will pay for his government’s mistakes.

And of course he isn’t going to ask the filthy-rich corporates who have made a fortune while the crisis has been happening to pay a bit more.

No – he wants to grind you further into the dirt:

Rishi Sunak has looked at a freeze on benefits and public sector pay to fight the spiralling cost of the coronavirus crisis, it is reported today.

Sources failed to rule out the crushing blow to millions of workers and the poorest – just a few years after long austerity freezes finally ended.

The Chancellor is also said to be trying to persuade Boris Johnson to suspend the “triple lock” on pensions, reports the Mail on Sunday – amid fears it will artificially rise due to the economic turmoil.

So he’ll freeze wages and benefits at a time when his boss Boris Johnson’s international law-breaking Brexit is likely to cause massive price increases on basic food items.

And he wants to freeze pensions as well, to put the pensioners who were left after his government’s Covid-19-fuelled cull into the same predicament.

It has all been about protecting the super-rich, of course. The lockdown that was supposed to kill off Covid-19 didn’t, because Sunak, Johnson and their gang wanted to get us all back to the coalface, making money for the big corporate bosses who donate to the Tory party.

Now, despite the fact that this corporates have increased their riches steadily over the course of the pandemic, Sunak still doesn’t dare tap them to help pay for the results of their government lackeys’ efforts to keep them in gravy.

And this creep was supposed to be the great white hope of the Conservative Party?

Source: Rishi Sunak ‘considers freezing benefits and wages’ to pay for Covid crisis – Mirror Online

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Continuation of Tory business by other means: disabled people make up six in 10 Covid-19 deaths

Targeted: more elderly and disabled people have died of Covid-19 than anybody else. Doesn’t that suit the Tories’ purposes perfectly?

It’s a sickening thought but it just might be possible that Boris Johnson and his Tories have been allowing Covid-19 to go unchecked – in certain places – because it is fulfilling their goals.

We all know that the Conservatives hate – I mean they absolutely hate – people with disabilities, for no reason other than that they have disabilities. It’s a classic prejudice that, if it were drawn along racial line, would demand prosecutions.

That’s why Tory policy since 2010 has been so brutal towards people with disabilities and has caused so many deaths. Just read back through This Site’s posts over the last nine years and you’ll see what I mean.

Covid-19 seems to have given them an excuse. It’s not just their policies causing the deaths any more – it’s the virus.

What a great way to excuse themselves!

I fear that is exactly how people like Therese Coffey and Iain Duncan Smith, not to mention Johnson himself, think.

Here’s Metro:

More than half of people who died of coronavirus in England and Wales had a disability, new figures revealed.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 59% of all deaths involving Covid-19 from March 2 to July 14 were of disabled people.

But only 16% of the population have disabilities, according to 2011 Census data, meaning they have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Targeted is the word I would use.

After adjusting for region, population density, socio-demographic and household characteristics, the coronavirus mortality rates between disabled and non-disabled people was 2.4 times higher for females and 2.0 times higher for males.

And the benefit to the Tories was even greater among pensioners, who the Tories consider a huge burden on the Treasury:

For women over 65 with a severe disability, the mortality rate was 589.63 compared with 187.95 for non-disabled women.

Out of the 19,405 deaths of females aged 65 and older from March 2 to July 14, the proportion of disabled people was the largest, accounting for 67.2% (13,048).

In contrast, among the 2,766 deaths of males aged 9 to 64, the share made up by disabled people was the smallest at 38.5% (1,066).

I know: it’s a disease and it most strongly affects those who have the least resistance to it.

That’s exactly what they want you to think.

Source: Coronavirus UK: Disabled people make up six in ten Covid-19 deaths | Metro News

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Boris Johnson’s Perugia pantomime: ‘Oh no he wasn’t!’ say some. But ‘Oh yes – he was’

Frequent flyer: but This Site isn’t convinced that this is the way Boris Johnson arrived at Perugia (if, indeed, he did).

Boris Johnson may have thought – briefly – that the heat was off and he could come out in public again after the boss of Perugia airport said there had been a mix-up and it wasn’t the current UK prime minister who was seen there, but former PM Tony Blair.

The possibility of Johnson having been there is significant because it would have indicated that he was visiting the villa of his Russian friend Evgeny Lebedev, at a time when he and the Conservative Party in general are suspected of taking Russian government money and being influenced to carry out the wishes of that country’s President Putin.

So this would have been a significant exoneration…

… had it not been refuted very quickly (indeed, apparently before the excuse was made):

Here’s a nice long explanation for you:

Of course, the Twitter wits have been working overtime and, whether the story is true or not, these comments are worth preserving:

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New pub closure rules can only increase Johnson’s lockdown muddle

Closed: but under what circumstances? Restrictions are now different across the UK and people are likely to catch Covid-19 due to confusion.

Boris Johnson’s ‘local lockdown’ plan is degenerating into incoherence as each tiny part of the UK adds new – and conflicting – Covid-19-related restrictions.

The latest addition to this babble is a restriction on pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues in England, forcing them to close at 10pm, starting on Thursday (September 24).

Why’s that? Does Covid-19 only come out for a drink after 10 o’clock?

It doesn’t make any sense at all – and in fact will only add to the confusion.

Look at Wales, where six local authority areas have local lockdown rules.

From 6pm on Tuesday (September 22), Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, and Newport join Caerphilly in having these restrictions: business closures are in line with national restrictions in Wales (meaning they’re different from those in England); you cannot meet indoors with anyone outside your household; you can no longer form a social bubble with another household; you cannot leave the local area without a reasonable excuse; and everyone over the age of 11 must wear a face covering in indoor public spaces unless exempt. I wonder if everybody there knows which indoor public spaces are exempt.

But in Rhondda Cynon Taff, the first four of those restrictions are the same – but the face mask rule doesn’t count. Instead, all licensed premises have to close at 11pm.

In seven local authority areas in northeast England, hospitality venues can only provide table service and take away orders, you cannot meet people outside your household/social bubble in a home/garden; travel is advised only for essential reasons, and a curfew applies to certain businesses between 10pm and 5am.

In seven local authority areas in Scotland, you cannot meet people outside your household/social bubble in a home/garden.

All of the places listed above are next to areas where these restrictions don’t apply – but others (that apply to all areas in their country of the UK) do.

There’s an area of northwest England that is really confusing: restrictions in Bradford are different from Pendle, which in turn differs from Burnley. Nearby Bolton is different again.

Is your head spinning yet?

Schools will remain open in all these places, despite the fact that they are now well-established as the principle route of transmission.

Further restrictions will also be announced in Scotland on Tuesday, while restrictions on households mixing indoors will be will be extended to all of Northern Ireland.

Ye gods!

It’s a lot of effort to be seen to be doing something when in fact – let’s be honest – Boris Johnson and his government are doing nothing to stem the tide of Covid’s second wave.

On Monday,  4,368 daily cases were reported – up from 3,899 on Sunday – along with 11 deaths.

This Site has already reported that a televised briefing by chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific officer Patrick Vallance warned that, if unchecked, the number of infections could be as high as 50,000 per day by mid-October.

Well, I’ve got bad news for them. Confusing as the restrictions are, none of them are going to stop that disaster from happening.

What we need is a working test, track and trace system that isolates people who have been in contact with those who have been infected – and prevents them from infecting other people.

Sadly, Johnson and his government have put the responsibility for such a system in the hands of profit-grubbing corporates who simply aren’t responsible enough to do it properly.

Johnson has offered to lift his “rule of six” restriction on social gatherings for 24 hours on Christmas Day, if we manage to turn back the new Covid tide – but this seems an empty promise; he knows it won’t happen.

My advice: go back into behaving as if the national lockdown in March never ended – if you can. If you can’t, do everything possible to avoid contact with other people.

You cannot rely on government intervention to save you from the virus.

So it’s up to you to do what you can yourself.

Source: Covid: Pubs and restaurants in England to have 10pm closing times – BBC News

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Former PM rips into Internal Market Bill: ‘So much for global Britain’

What a face: Theresa May’s expression shows exactly how she feels about Boris Johnson’s idiotic, selfish and destructive Internal Markets Bill.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May has made a devastating intervention on her successor’s Internal Market Bill, attacking the reasons it has been drafted and its effect on the integrity of the United Kingdom, and questioning whether any other country will trust the UK again.

In a debate on the Bill on Monday afternoon (September 21), she raised several important questions, starting with this:

Clauses 41-45 of the Bill refer to customs arrangements in Northern Ireland. Boris Johnson signed the EU Withdrawal Agreement in January, accepting that NI would remain under EU tariffs and effectively placing a customs border in the middle of the Irish Sea. Now he wants to renege on that.

Mrs May was critical:

And she makes an excellent point.

Her final point was better still – that the circumstances in which the UK chooses to break international law won’t matter to people in other countries; they’ll only see that the UK has broken international law and won’t want anything to do with a rogue state of that kind:

Her conclusion was a devastating blow – not only to the Internal Markets Bill but to her successor, Boris Johnson: “This is a country that upholds the rule of law. That is one of the things that makes us great; it is one of our characteristics… yet we are being asked to tear up that principle and throw away that value. Why? I can only see, on the face of it, that it is because the Government did not really understand what they were signing up to when they signed the withdrawal agreement.

“Frankly, I find it difficult to understand how any Minister can go through the Lobby to support these clauses.

“I consider that… the Government are acting recklessly and irresponsibly, with no thought to the long-term impact on the United Kingdom’s standing in the world. It will lead to untold damage to the United Kingdom’s reputation and puts its future at risk.”

Wow.

It won’t make any difference, of course.

If Boris Johnson was able to gull more than 300 Tory MPs into voting for his Withdrawal Agreement in January, and then to vote against it in September, then the word of a former prime minister won’t stop them doing whatever he wants.

They would probably shoot themselves through the lung if he told them to.

Effectively, that is exactly what they are doing – and the rest of us, too.

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Where’s Boris? Apparently he’s been in Perugia getting instructions from his Russian masters

Boris Johnson and Evgeny Lebedev: what was the UK PM doing, if he was visiting this Russian oligarch’s Perugia villa right before starting a row with the EU – and isn’t it interesting that Russian money donated to the Tories has been linked with that country’s government, run by Vladimir Putin?

Downing Street denies everything, of course.

But it seems Boris Johnson flew into Perugia, Italy, where his Russian friends have a villa, at some point in the last fortnight:

The claim of Johnson making a seemingly undercover visit to Perugia would be seen as especially intriguing given he has done it before. In April 2018, while he was foreign secretary, Johnson was photographed looking somewhat dishevelled at San Francesco d’Assisi airport.

It emerged that Johnson had stayed at Palazzo Terranova, a restored castle owned by the media billionaire and socialite Evgeny Lebedev, who is renowned for holding lavish parties.

The pictures of Johnson at the airport suggested he went to Italy without a police escort. According to another passenger on the flight back to the UK, Johnson was on his own, apparently without any luggage and very much the worse for wear.

We must ask ourselves why Johnson would visit his Russian friends just as Parliament resumed sitting. What was going on that might interest them.

How about the Internal Market Bill that has caused huge enmity between the UK and the European Union?

Russia would certainly gain much from a row between this country and the power bloc to which the UK formerly belonged.

How unfortunate for Johnson that this visit should come to light right after it was revealed that Russian government money seems to have been donated to the Conservatives in return for access to ministers including Johnson and two previous prime ministers!

Source: No 10 denies reports Boris Johnson went on secret Italy trip | Politics | The Guardian

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#Whitty and #Vallance TV briefing shows incompetent Tories failed to contain #Covid19UK while causing maximum public inconvenience

[Image tweeted by The Brexit Comic.]

There’s no way around it: Boris Johnson and his gang of Tory nincompoops have really cocked up the Covid-19 crisis.

That’s the message This Writer took from the televised briefing by chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance.

Here’s a summary of what they said, courtesy of that great critic of the Johnson government, Piers Morgan:

Those are the points I got from it too – and here’s my conclusion:

That’s right:

Here’s the rest of what I took from the briefing:

So what can we all expect in the future from Johnson?

More of the same.

He may impose more restrictions on our freedoms but he won’t tell us not to go to work again, because making money for his friends is more important to him than saving our lives.

His policies will be intended to keep hospital admissions within treatable levels – to prevent Covid-19 from overwhelming the UK’s doctors and nurses – as it always has been. But they won’t be about reducing levels of infection to zero because he has never been interested in that. Making money for his friends is more important to him than saving our lives.

Johnson may even try to justify his refusal to impose measures that would eradicate the disease by saying the effect on the economy would cause even more harm to public health. As I tweeted, that’s a political decision – he could legislate to ensure that any such harm is prevented. But he won’t, because making money for his friends is more important to him than saving our lives.

And that means many more people are going to die – your relatives and friends, perhaps. Maybe even you. Because making money for Johnson’s friends is more important to him than saving our lives.

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#SackWhitty and #SackVallance, people are saying – before they’ve even made their broadcast

Chris Whitty: the Chief Medical Officer is facing calls for his removal – before he has even had a chance to broadcast to the nation alongside Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance.

New hashtags on social media are calling for the UK’s chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser to be sacked – before they’ve even had a chance to address the public on television.

The broadcast was scheduled for 11am today (September 21) but platforms like Twitter have already been filling up with attacks on Chris Whitty and – notably – Patrick Vallance.

The attacks don’t make much sense.

In fairness to the advisers, we don’t know what their advice to the government has been. Their meetings have taken place behind closed doors and when they have faced the public it has always been under the shroud of shared responsibility – a line has been taken by Johnson government ministers and the advisers are obliged to support it.

So comments like this…

… seem premature.

Worse still is the “blame game” that some people are playing:

“Bent science”? We don’t know that the gentlemen concerned have been bending science in any way at all.

We do know that the politicians have been as bent as the figure “8”, trying to delay lockdown to keep the economy going, trying to shorten lockdown to prevent the economy from being harmed more than it already has been… trying to continue making money for their party donors while people die (or suffer serious health consequences).

And it’s the politicians who have been misusing emergency procurement procedures to funnel vast amounts of public money into the hands of private firms – some running companies that have been dormant for years – that happen to be run by friends of theirs; the socialism of the very rich.

So This Site tends to come down on the side of those who have been standing up for the scientists:

So let’s give them the benefit of the doubt – for a little while, at least.

But let’s also remember…

… other scientific opinions are available.

Tories took donations from oligarch linked to Putin. Is this why they never investigated Russian interference in UK politics?

Vladimir Putin: has Boris Johnson been his puppet since before he became the UK’s prime minister?

Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has definitely taken donations from people linked to Russia’s President Putin – and provided private meetings with the last three UK prime ministers in return.

The money totalling £1.7 million came from Vladimir Chernukhin via his wife Lubov, according to the so-called FinCEN files – leaked “suspicious activity reports” by banks.

According to BBC News,

Leaked files show her husband received $8m (£6.1m). The money initially came from a politician facing US sanctions due to his closeness to the Kremlin.

A leak of banks’ “suspicious activity reports” … shows Vladimir Chernukhin was sent the money in 2016 from a British Virgin Islands company linked to Suleyman Kerimov.

Billionaire Mr Kerimov is the owner of Russia’s biggest gold mine and member of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament.

In 2018 he was sanctioned by the US authorities, who were targeting those they said “play a key role in advancing Russia’s malign activities”.

Mr Chernukhin, 52, is a former deputy minister of finance under Vladimir Putin, who left Russia for London in 2004 after being sacked by the president.

The Chernukhins – one of the UK’s most prominent Russian-born couples – are now both British citizens and live in London.

Mrs Chernukhin’s donations to the Conservative Party began in 2012.

The majority – more than £1.5m – came after the $8m payment linked to Mr Kerimov was made to her husband on 29 April 2016, although it is not clear if any of that cash went to the Tories.

Mrs Chernukhin’s lawyers say the Kremlin had no influence because of the donations – but they would, wouldn’t they?

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has suffered a huge amount of bad publicity over his reluctance to do anything about suspicious donations from Russians linked to Putin’s government.

A report on Russian interference in UK politics – including the use of donations to influence policy – was due to be published before last year’s general election but Boris Johnson shelved it for no good reason.

It remained unpublished until pressure finally forced Johnson to re-convene the UK’s security committee, responsible for it, in July this year – nine months after the public should have seen it.

And it showed that successive Conservative governments have welcomed Russian oligarchs “with open arms”, giving them access to political figures “at the highest levels” – and made absolutely no attempt to investigate Russian interference in referendums and elections; in fact, the Tories “actively avoided” doing so.

The Tories had been delighted to welcome Russian money and the oligarchs who owned it, “providing them with a means of recycling illicit finance through the London ‘laundromat’.”

In response to the report, the government said it saw no evidence of interference – but it seems clear that there is a good reason for that: nobody was looking. The report made it clear that the defence of UK democratic processes was a “hot potato” over which no government organisation wanted to take the lead in conducting an assessment of Russian interference.

So we already had evidence that Conservative government had given Russian oligarchs who donated money to the party unprecedented access to – and, we may conclude, influence over – top-ranked political figures including the last three prime ministers.

Now we have evidence that this money is likely to have come from the Kremlin, attached to demands from the Putin government.

If Boris Johnson and his government continue to deny any wrongdoing – while refusing to allow an independent investigation – the public will have no choice but to brand them as corrupt lackeys of the Russians.

I mean…

How does it look to you?

Source: FinCEN Files: Tory donor Lubov Chernukhin linked to $8m Putin ally funding – BBC News

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After #BorisJohnson complained about lack of cash, he’s had a #trolling from the #ChurchOfEngland

Realisation dawns: as he reads the passage chosen for him at the Battle of Britain commemoration service in Westminster Abbey, Boris Johnson discovers that the Church of England is trolling him.

Whoever chose the reading for Boris Johnson at Sunday’s commemoration of the Battle of Britain is a genius.

The service at Westminster Abbey celebrated the 80th anniversary of the crucial World War II battle:

The UK’s performing monkey prime minister Boris Johnson attended and gave a reading – but after he reportedly complained about having trouble making ends meet on his more than £150,000-a-year salary, it seems someone responsible for the order of service decided to have a laugh:

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”

The church should be giving more of this kind of leadership.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook